What The Media Tycoon Told Me About Building Success
I had been losing heart recently about something I love doing. Then- at breakfast last week with one of the most powerful media industry leaders in Australia- he said something that gave me the compass point to getting my mojo back. Simple. Powerful. It’s a secret to success.
A colleague asked me to join him at a breakfast meeting in Melbourne with a genuine icon of the Australian media industry. I jumped at it. A long-time friend of our group, this leader had agreed to share his thoughts on how to build long term success in doing business in Indonesia, where the company has a market leading digital capability. He did not disappoint-with wisdom and insights literally flowing off his tongue. But it was this throw-away line that I grabbed and have used to help me get something very close to me back on track. I’ll tell you what it is- what he said- and then explain the story around it.
“If you want to make progress, you simply have to keep schlepping around.”
He explained this Yiddish word – ‘schlepping’- meant: “… to keep moving around – to continue a journey or path- sometimes with effort, often reluctantly or laboriously.”
I needed that. You see- for the past few months, I have been losing heart in this blog, Possums. Subscriber and follower levels were not increasing- or at the most, inching forward….7,201…..7,202…. The number of retweets and sharing of posts via social media was dropping. The amount of negative feedback via emails increasing. Every day I’d get ..’ping’…. another notification or two of people unsubscribing (usually because they had left their employer and their email address was defunct, but still….). 7,201….7,200….7,199……Point is, I was kind of feeling ‘spent.’ Struggling to find content, and it seemed to me, the audience was drifting away. So- I stopped writing for a while.
Then five things happened in a week:
- I was in a hotel lobby in Singapore. A guy walked up. “Hi- you might remember me. I’m Peter. I worked at Ogilvy PR eight years ago. I am now a senior sales guy at Blah. I read your blog every week. Only yesterday I quoted something you’d written, when I told a colleague you don’t remember what people, say, or do, but you always remember how they made you feel………”
- An hour later, at a meeting, a colleague I had not seen for over a year said: “And I realized she was exactly the sort of person you described in your blog a few weeks ago…some people energize you, some deplete. And she’s a depleted.”
- A senior HR executive emailed to ask whether – having read an idea in a Possums post- we had a capability in a certain employee communications area and could we help her company roll out blah blah blah…… I am seeing her in Melbourne later this week.
- I received an invitation to speak at a conference in March 2015 attended by 100 plus CEOs of the largest foreign owned companies in Australia- some clients, many juicy prospects. The conference organizer mentioned in the invite that she is a Possums reader and wanted me to cover some content she had read in a post.
- And then, last night- an email from a very senior businessman. His son apparently was at a talk I gave (based on material developed for Possums) last week, and had mentioned his reaction to the talk to his Dad. As a result, this invitation to speak in two weeks at this client’s annual leadership meeting of his top 60 public affairs and marketing team. Two of our companies already work with them. Two others are pitching big work. Perfect timing.
So- my heart has lifted.
I have realized that by keeping on schlepping around- to keep going, even if it feels like progress is limited and outcomes marginal for a while- … by keeping on, good things come from it. Very good things. Things that add value- to individuals, businesses, my own tribe. And importantly- for myself. Things that pump my tires in a world where we’re surrounded by static that deflates. Frankly- I need the positive reinforcement. Not sure why. No doubt it’s not flattering. Don’t care. It’s me.
Here’s the point: “Keep turning up.” Woody Allen says it’s 85% of the secret of success- just turning up. Persistence. Consistency. Determination. Relentlessness. Even when you don’t feel like it. Even when you don’t think you are making a difference. Keep schlepping around. Good things DO come from it. You ARE making progress, ARE making a difference. Promise.