Before I get my thoughts out, a year into the second best decision I ever made, I want to be raw with something: do not let money be the reason why you don’t take the leap you want to take. That is absolute bullshit. Have an idea that you are sure will work? Run. With. It. Or someone else will. Yes, we all have bills and financial obligations, but we also have banks and loans. If you believe in yourself and the idea that you have, make it happen. Money comes and goes; it’s not like you can take it with you when you die. You’d rather a bit of debt and failure, then live a mundane, risk-free life, always wondering “what if I had tried?”
Anyway today, February 1, 2016 happens to be the one-year anniversary of the forming of Herscu & Goldsilver and I couldn’t be happier about it. We’ve gone from two scrappy independents, to a team of six and counting. Proud isn’t the proper adjective to describe how I feel, and truth be told, I am not sure I can even put it into words.
Rather, I have a few year-in-review points of reflection I want to share.
Bear with me:
- Keep your head down and work; don’t sweat what is going on around you.
I am so guilty of this I had to write it. Sweating the small stuff is worse than a drug and will completely consume you if not controlled. Focus on yourself, your goals and what is directly in front of you. Chances are, you’re just as guilty as I am and haven’t admitted it to yourself yet. So, say it with me now:
“SCREW EVERYONE ELSE”
It is so easy to worry about other people. Wonder why they’re getting the accolades, the praise, and dare I say, the attention. But guess what? Everyone gets their time in the spotlight. The most important thing you can possibly focus on is yourself, your business and making your clients happy.
- Work for free, but know your worth.
It might sound counter-productive, but the only way you’re ever going to grow is by accepting the notion that working for free is as guaranteed in business as death and taxes are in life. However, ensure you’re working for free for the right people. That is where it gets tricky. You’re going to get burned A LOT, but you’re also going to survive said burns and keep trucking. For every six burns, one person will be the aloe vera to keep you going and provide that one big lead that made the last few months of hell worth it. Trust me, even with a team, a lease, and some overhead, if I see the potential in a low/no-budget opportunity, I still work for free to this day. Nothing is ever below you or a waste of time, BUT it is up to you as an individual to see through the opportunity and know if it’s worthwhile or if it’s just smoke and mirrors. All in all, you need to let yourself fall so you understand how to pick back up, dust off, and move forward.
- Be good to people.
As fictional character Tony Montana aka Scarface once said, “All I have in this world is my word, and I ain’t breaking it for nobody.” It’s funny, but these words have stuck to me since I first heard them. I’ve lived by the notion that I don’t care if people like me or not, but if I give someone my word, regardless of outcome, I keep it. People remember these things. In business as in life, you will move quickly so be good and do well by everyone. Moreover, always make the person who vouched for you look good, regardless of the shit you’re going to have to walk-through to make it happen.
- No one owes you anything.
Some people are good by nature, others not so much. Do not scold yourself for trusting the wrong people; scolding should only come if you repeatedly trust the same people who burn you. Just keep in the back of your mind that no one owes you anything. Do good by people because you want to, not because you’re hoping for the gesture to be returned. Good Karma finds good people – it’s a fact of life.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been known to wear my heart on my sleeve and be very trusting, even to complete and total strangers – I see nothing wrong with this. I trust until I am given a reason not to and you should to. Don’t hold grudges, don’t be petty or vindictive, just be the butcher in your own life and cut out the bad fat. You’ll find things get clearer and clearer as you evolve.
- Work with products, brands and clients you would genuinely endorse.
I used to be open to everything and anything thrown my way, because, you know, bills. But when you’re pitching a product you don’t truly believe in, or like for that matter, regardless of how good your relationships are, the story just won’t catch. This is totally ok. Part of growth is learning that you need to clean shit to see the floor for what it is. Take the good and the bad, learn which is which for you, and evolve. You’ll quickly realize as the fun projects come in, that the pitching is less a pitch and more a fun conversation with the specific journalist and the creative stories flow naturally.
- Don’t be a jack-of-all-trades.
You will excel at some things, you’ll be not so great at others; this is ok. The best part of growth is the acceptance that you hire people that complement your shortcomings so you can focus on being stronger at what you’re good at. Being everything to everybody makes you an expert at nothing and actually hinders growth.
As you can clearly see, the last 12 months have been an absolute rush of highs and lows, but lots and lots of learning. Especially, but not limited to, the topic of keeping my head up. In an extremely competitive PR industry, it is hard to not let ego cloud your judgment of what is worth the energy and what isn’t. At the end of the day I’ve learned to know what our agency is worth, maintain the highest level of integrity, not rely on others for our success, and only work with projects that we absolutely love.
Here’s to year two.