What The Media Tycoon Told Me About Building Success

The Long RoadI 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.

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56 Responses to What The Media Tycoon Told Me About Building Success

  1. Pod October 1, 2014 at 10:07 am #

    another great post Chris.
    “Overnight success after many years effort comes to mind”. Or….. ” the harder you work the luckier you get…..”

    Cliches for the right reason!

    • Chris Savage October 1, 2014 at 1:50 pm #

      Thanks Pod- hope the new venture is going well. Chris

    • Michele Harvey October 1, 2014 at 7:49 pm #

      I have just become a Wrestling Possums follower and loving your posts. As an ex Marketing Exec now mom and active community volunteer in crisis communities. I have come to realize that you do not have to be in business to get value from your posts Chris doing anything worthwhile requires motivations,inspiration and “turning up” to make a difference even if it seems like a drop in the ocean.

      • Chris Savage October 2, 2014 at 9:28 am #

        Thanks Michele! Delighted you are now following! Chris

  2. Russ Feilen October 1, 2014 at 10:07 am #

    Great post Chris!! I often tell myself to ‘keep moving’ even when you don’t feel like it because somewhere along the line your persistence pays off!!!

    • Chris Savage October 1, 2014 at 1:50 pm #

      Thanks Russ- exactly right. That’s the message I got out of the schlep story. Chris

  3. Tim Burrowes - Mumbrella October 1, 2014 at 10:13 am #

    Please – keep schlepping. As one of the 7,199, I’m always pleased when an email from Wrestling Possums drops into my inbox…



    • Chris Savage October 1, 2014 at 1:50 pm #

      Thanks Tim- I really appreciate that, and appreciate the support you have given the blog over the past three years through your various events and publications. Chris

  4. Leonie October 1, 2014 at 10:16 am #

    Hi Chris, please keep ‘schlepping’ because I’m sure there are many ‘fans’ of your blog – like me – who look forward to your pearls of sense, guidance, reassurance and wisdom who take what you give us and don’t say anything. But don’t think we don’t use those pearls. I regularly pass on your blogs, or parts of them to my team. Contributing the content that you do isn’t easy. Perhaps the Possums can give you some ideas of where would appreciate a different perspective. Please, don’t stop. There is so much rubbish posted, tweeted, ‘shared’ daily – people just share to feel like they’re part of the game but your content is valued. Thank you.

    • Chris Savage October 1, 2014 at 1:48 pm #

      Wow! Thanks Leonie. That is really valued. Thank you. I have had a lot of responses to this post and realise maybe readers feel I was fishing for the feedback. As much as that is my usual form, actually this time I did not in any way think my message would encourage ‘keep going Chris!’ responses. It wasn’t in my mind. But I am not complaining! It is making me feel great. And your note has done just that. Thank you. I WILL keep on schlepping- and that’s a promise! Chris

  5. Sam October 1, 2014 at 10:20 am #

    Great post Chris, can’t agree more – the more you grind, the more opportunities will come your way.

    • Chris Savage October 1, 2014 at 1:45 pm #

      Thanks Sam.

    • Chris Savage October 1, 2014 at 1:48 pm #

      Thanks Sam- hope you are well. Am In Melbourne for the next couple of days with a busy schedule- but have reserved time for a Siglio Bar visit tonight. Bliss! Chris

  6. Jim October 1, 2014 at 10:23 am #

    Form is temporary.
    Class is permanent.
    Chin up and crack on boss.

    • Chris Savage October 1, 2014 at 1:45 pm #

      Thanks Jim- appreciated. One correction- in my case, it’s ‘chins up’, sadly!

  7. Sam October 1, 2014 at 10:23 am #

    Great post Chris, often just by maintaining the grind, opportunities come further down the track.

  8. Ian Hamilton October 1, 2014 at 10:25 am #

    You are too harsh on yourself, 7000 following your blog, you have earned a place of respect. Be sure to be grateful. Sometimes we get jolted by things when we most need them, you have written on several instances like that. Probably like many reading your blog I find my own reflection and relevance on a busy journey and am guilty of not commenting and moving on. Keep up the great work!

    • Chris Savage October 1, 2014 at 1:49 pm #

      Thanks Ian- appreciated. I made up the number of followers of course- there actually is just you, me and my mother, but so be it! Chris

  9. Adrianne October 1, 2014 at 10:27 am #

    Thanks Chris. I needed that.

    • Chris Savage October 1, 2014 at 1:46 pm #

      Adrianne- thanks. We all need it I guess. I get so much inspiration for myself just writing the blog…thinking about the issues…knowing how tough it is for all in our business and in others. We need to take the positive energy where we can get it- and feedback from subscribers (positive or negative) always makes my heart lift. Thanks again. Chris

  10. Donald Alexander October 1, 2014 at 10:43 am #

    Like most of your postings Chris this has a strong point and never giving up is a common theme. We all need a little prod every now and then and then some reflective time to ponder, and then get up and move forward. Your writing fits that category, warm regards, Donald

    • Chris Savage October 1, 2014 at 1:49 pm #

      Thanks Donald- appreciated. Hope the weather is warming up in Bathurst! Chris

  11. Anne-Marie Elias October 1, 2014 at 11:06 am #

    Hi Chris
    I met you several years ago around 2007/8when I applied for a role, I succeeded and then something happened and the role didn’t exist : ( despite this I have never forgotten your integrity and kindness. In fact I went on to work for Council on the Ageing and I contacted you for pro bono assistance which was to provide free media training ( thanx Sam North) and PR for grandparents day. What an incredible company you have fostered and nurtured. Please don’t be disheartened you are a good man doing great things in the world.

    • Chris Savage October 1, 2014 at 1:47 pm #

      Anne- Marie- thank you for that. Thank you. Of course I remember you and remember what happened. I was so pleased it worked out well for you at that time and you seemed juiced at the Council. Hope all continues well. Was not aware you were a Possums subscriber. Thank you for that, and for the feedback. Chris

  12. Angus October 1, 2014 at 11:24 am #

    Great post Chris. Keep on keeping on!

    • Chris Savage October 1, 2014 at 1:46 pm #

      Thanks Angus!

  13. Oscar October 1, 2014 at 11:28 am #

    Keep the genuine stories coming Chris

    Follower Count is Bullshit.

    It’s about engagement with your tribe

    If you want the data and stories to back it

    • Chris Savage October 1, 2014 at 1:46 pm #

      Love I, Oscar! Hope you are well and happy. Zenos soon?

  14. Alida Robinson October 1, 2014 at 11:41 am #

    Hey Chris. I have to say that I am not a very good tweeter/facebooker but I regularly email your posts to others in my network. I just find your blog uplifting all the time. I like to find the inspiration in each installment so keep up the good work. I am glad that your persistence is bearing fruit so to speak. You only get back when you put in and persistence is the key. Love schlepping. Rolls well off the tongue

  15. Alida Robinson October 1, 2014 at 11:42 am #

    Hey Chris. I have to say that I am not a very good tweeter/facebooker but I regularly email your posts to others in my network. I just find your blog uplifting all the time. I like to find the inspiration in each installment so keep up the good work. I am glad that your persistence is bearing fruit so to speak. You only get back when you put in and persistence is the key. Love schlepping. Rolls well off the

    • Chris Savage October 1, 2014 at 1:44 pm #

      Thanks Alida- appreciate the support. Chris

  16. Richard Burrage October 1, 2014 at 12:01 pm #

    Hi Chris,

    I am sat in Jakarta, where I am spending yet another week, schiepping around. It has taken 30 months but we now have a team of 35 doing some great work for some demanding client, profitably. Schiepping works!

    I read your posts and delight in the concise, light hearted truisms. Please preserve.

    • Chris Savage October 1, 2014 at 1:43 pm #

      Thanks Richard! Good to hear from you! We must coordinate visits and share a Jakarta meal soon. Appreciate your support and very glad things have worked out in our recent mutual dealings in Vietnam. Chris

  17. Liz Whiteway October 1, 2014 at 12:25 pm #

    Hi Chris. You’re blog’s a great example of what I want mine to be. Genuine personal insights that join the dots, and not just a “carrier pigeon” for other people’s ideas to get the numbers up. Keep blogging…..

    • Chris Savage October 1, 2014 at 1:44 pm #

      Thanks Liz- send me your blog details and we’ll get it up on the Possums links. Chris

  18. Lisa October 1, 2014 at 12:31 pm #

    Hey Chris,

    I loved this post and I have certainly felt the same as you, losing heart with my work as a HR Director and losing heart with my blog. The keeping schlepping around is such a good term to remind us that sometimes we just have to keep keeping on and then we get to experience “unintended consequences” where people make connections and we get opportunities to do the things we love that give us energy and heart. Thank you.

    • Chris Savage October 1, 2014 at 1:43 pm #

      Thanks Lisa- that’s great to hear! Chris

  19. Dianne Cassen October 1, 2014 at 12:58 pm #

    Hi Chris
    I love your posts, and often share them on LinkedIn or forward them to people I know would appreciate them. I also know how hard it is to write a blog, so I really respect and value your efforts. It is always a wonderful thing to see a Possum email in my inbox! Thank you so much. And thank you for explaining what schlepping means. 7,000 is a lot of followers, and there are probably many others that you don’t know about….

    • Chris Savage October 1, 2014 at 1:43 pm #

      Thanks Dianne- appreciate that feedback! Chris

  20. Nick Ryder October 1, 2014 at 1:15 pm #

    Thanks, Chris. Great words of inspiration again. Hope you keep the passion alive for Possums – it’s more valuable than you probably think.

    • Chris Savage October 1, 2014 at 1:43 pm #

      Thanks Nick- appreciate that feedback. Now- stop reading these silly blogs and get back to work! (Just kidding!! xxxxx ). Chris

  21. Clive October 1, 2014 at 1:49 pm #

    Just when you feel that the light at the end of the tunnel may be facing extinction, resurrection arrives via your example – “Persistence. Consistency. Determination. Relentlessness.”
    The batteries are recharged and ready for another ‘schlepping’ assault – many thanks.

    • Chris Savage October 1, 2014 at 5:47 pm #

      Thanks Clive- appreciated

  22. MK October 1, 2014 at 4:01 pm #

    Hi Chris,

    Your post couldn’t have come at a better time. I have been in ‘schelp’ mode for a while, and it was getting me down. This morning, I received an unexpected but very welcome piece of news that my ‘schelpping’ has paid off.

    Your truisms inspired me to stay and schelp in this industry many times throughout my career, and for that I am immensely grateful.

    Please take heart in your posts. Each post is as much a rallying war cry for you, as it is for the rest of us.

    • Chris Savage October 1, 2014 at 5:46 pm #

      Thanks MK- appreciated. Chris

  23. Eda October 1, 2014 at 5:02 pm #

    Very good use of the photo! A great message as well. It’s a journey and the road is long, dull, uneventful, uninspiring, tiring… Well, the road is nothing. It’s all your spirit. Keep inspiring and you will be inspired.

    • Chris Savage October 1, 2014 at 5:45 pm #

      Thanks Eda!

  24. Joanne October 1, 2014 at 5:32 pm #

    As always your posts continue to inspire even if you don’t know it. I really enjoy receiving the posts so keep it up. 🙂

    • Chris Savage October 1, 2014 at 5:46 pm #

      Thanks Joanne- I certainly will do just that. Chris

  25. Chris October 1, 2014 at 9:26 pm #

    Hi Chris, Another exceptional story. Keep on schlepping. You may have 7199 subscribers but its shared with a lot more than that number. I share with my immediate family and that’s 5 more. How many more people like me out there are sharing. You have a ‘Gift”, continue using it as it makes a difference to so many people.

    • Chris Savage October 2, 2014 at 9:29 am #

      Thanks Chris. Appreciated. Go the Boks! ( except vs the Wallabies)!! Chris

  26. Colleen Rose October 4, 2014 at 3:38 am #

    Chris – I am a fanatical Possums follower and I recommend your blog to anyone who will listen! I am horrified that you feel unappreciated!! Just because numbers aren’t growing doesn’t mean that you aren’t making an impact on the many dedicated followers every week. So often I am feeling down or unmotivated and a Possum arrives that just talks to me and lifts me up. You make a difference – keep on doing it!

  27. Matt October 21, 2014 at 8:11 am #

    Keep up the great work. I hadn’t read the blog for a few weeks and just came back to it and I am feeling inspired for the day ahead after this post! The best things in life are free!

    • Chris Savage October 21, 2014 at 9:54 am #

      Thanks Matt!

  28. Sue February 8, 2016 at 6:45 am #

    Dear Chris,
    I was introduced last year to your blog by a good friend that knew you from his time in Australia. I love your articles, and have used them in my discussions with graduates that I work with on careers and work readiness. Your writings are real, though provoking and full of helpful advice. So please keep writing and I hope it cheers you up that you have readers in the Netherlands who appreciate your work! 🙂
    Your latest article (Feb 2016) on Jake Bailey really touched me, and I watched his speech on youtube, and cried the entire time. Such a deep message from one so young. Praying for him and wishing him the best.
    So thank you, and I wanted you to know that I love Wrestling Possums!
    Warm wishes,

    • Chris Savage February 11, 2016 at 4:55 pm #

      Thank you, Sue. That is very kind of you and it gives me great heart to get that feedback. Thanks again. Chris

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