Day: January 19, 2017

Proving Leadership By Doing

For those of you who are still striding to reach or obtain one, or some, of your more audacious goals (and I do hope you have some truly audacious ones) I want to share something that comes from a reflective point of view.

When you’re setting goals, whatever they may be, one thing will be evident if you’re willing too not kid yourself, and understand people first, and it’s this: Most people really don’t care about, or want to hear about your goals. In fact, most will be downright jealous if you begin demonstrating that you’re actually making progress. So keep your head down, and do the work required, look for reward in the achievement – not for the praise you hope follows. Because more often than not? It’s not coming.

It’s a fact of life, so the faster you come to grips and understand it? The better equipped you’ll be in continuing the journey.

Over the course of my career one thing has been constant, more often than not I have been told, advised, warned, et cetera, that the way in which I was approaching a matter, or the way I was doing something, was either “incorrect,” “couldn’t be done that way,” “is against the grain, no chance of succeeding,” blah, blah, blah.

So, bearing that in mind. What I will tell you that’s been most gratifying over the years has been when I’ve been proven right, all, and squarely, in the face of those who were detractors, both in the beginning, as well as during the process.

Trust me, there is nothing more satisfying than being told “You can’t do that!” for whatever the reason, only to then “do it.” Of course, once the goal has been met? As I iterated earlier – don’t look for applause. It-ain’t-gonna-happen. Or, as I like to say, “insert crickets here.” You have to learn to take pleasure in the knowing for yourself. If someone says “Great job!” along the way? Take it as a bonus, not as a first cause.

More often than not I relied solely on heeding my own council. Again, this was usually in direct opposition to the prevailing “success” or “how to get ahead” teachings or mindsets being told (or sold).  Yet, in the end, it’s been yours truly whose been proved right more times than not. e.g., Acquiring some of the more coveted “brass rings” of life as for example, retiring at age 45 along with other notable business or personal achievements.

I have dreamed big dreams, set audacious goals, and met many of them. While there are some which are still “works in progress”, I’m still setting ever more. You can’t slow down or stop in life. For if you do life passes you by far faster than you ever could imagine. Because one day, not that you’ll wake up and see that time is moving by rapidly, rather, quite the opposite – you don’t wake up. And it’s over, end of story.

It’s also the reasoning behind the “why” I instruct people in business, or in personal achievement, far differently that most. e.g., I’ve actually been there, done that, and bear the scars and trophies to prove it. i.e., Retirement, and my outright disdain for the way it’s currently thought of as some panacea, just to name one. (If you think “scars” is dramatic? Let’s just say I have a chapter full of stories and examples I share that happened during my career and lifetime titled “You Think You’ve Been Screwed?”)

So with the above for some context, there was one goal I started years ago that was met with more nay-sayers or detractors than almost all of my previous endeavors combined, and that has been – writing.

There is not enough digital ink to list how many different times I’ve been told “Nobody will read stuff containing that many words.” (The going meme was anything over 400 words was ill-advised. I average 1250+) Or, “You’ll never be seen if you don’t use social media or allow comments.” (I never have and still don’t)

Then there were the times people would try to back-handedly insult me by saying “Well the New York Times™ doesn’t do it that way, shouldn’t you take that as some form of clue?” (i.e., In reference to not using any editor/editors and getting my ideas out quickly siding with content first over editing, to the howls of “serious” writers globally)

Let’s just say – Yep, I did take some clues. And that’s why I didn’t change, or stop.

So what lesson should one take away from all the above? Well, it’s this:

In a stunning self-assesment release by The NYT it revealed one of the most impacted jobs (as in there will be lay-offs) comes from no other department that the “editing vertical.” What do they do you ask? Fair question, here’s how they categorized it in their own words. To wit:

“We must move away from duplicative and often low-value line editing. It slows us down, costs too much, and discourages experiments in storytelling. Backfielders, department heads, News Desk editors and, yes, the masthead spend too much time line editing and copy editing, moving around words with little true impact on a story. Copy editors, meanwhile, spend too much time editing and re-editing stories that should be posted quickly.”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying misspelling and/or proper grammar isn’t important. It is, and no one tries harder to improve  than myself. Yet, with that said. I have always held steadfast to the premise I set years ago:

“To the people who want true information, real, pragmatic, relative information, which is actionable in their daily, business, or personal life – the content is paramount. Period. All else is secondary.

People who want this type of content or information are smart enough to overlook flaws whether they be spelling, grammatical, or stylistic in nature – if – the content is worth it. Again, period, full stop.”

The above NYT article proves out it is they who has just moved to my side of the ledger. Or, if I wanted to be so bold: “That’s the way I do it, and now the NYT is taking a cue from me.” (insert editorial screams of horror here)

As fun as the above line was to write (while imagining those screams) there was another revelation which I believe is quite possibly even more important which I’ve touted not only over the years, but even as recently when I talked about how “The old model, is the new model.” Here’s how the NYT is currently re-assessing and readjusting its business view of itself as reported by Zero Hedge™.  To wit:

“We are, in the simplest terms, a subscription-first business. We are not trying to maximize clicks and sell low-margin advertising against them. We are not trying to win a pageviews arms race,” the 2020 report said. “Our focus on subscribers stems from a challenge confronting us: the weakness in the markets for print advertising and traditional forms of digital-display advertising.”

You now what that implies? Can you say – “Eyeballs for ads” chasing in, or supplied by social media is being rejected by the (gasp) NYT?

Now where have I heard (for years) about the “ads for eyeballs” chasing business model being a foolish business model before? Wait, give me a few minutes, I’m sure I’ll come up with someone… (Hint: Here’s just one example)

Today, depending on where my thoughts or ideas are posted, my views share an audience (all verifiable using established and accepted metrics, some developed by the NYT itself) of anywhere from 1 to 10’s of millions respectively. My blog is now routinely visited by over 175 (yes, that’s another increase) countries from across the globe with an average of 10+ differing counties visiting daily. And that’s on any given article, on any given day.

That’s better (and in many ways exponentially better) than what’s claimed by many “main stream media outlets.” Yes, including some on television and radio. And: I don’t use social media, don’t use editors, don’t allow comments, and can barely spell cat without employing spell checker.

That’s not bragging – that’s proving a point.

Things are changing today. Business is moving rapidly from what was “fantasy” (i.e., net profits don’t matter – only eyeballs) back to net profits is all that matters. Otherwise – there is no business. Albeit slowly, nevertheless, it’s swinging back. (i.e., Until the full effects or realization that the Fed. is indeed going to raise rates ever further. Then? Let’s just say, watch for when the term “cash burn” is met by Wall Street like someone openly swearing in a cathedral.)

But there’s one thing that never changes: Care about customers, care about expenses, care about net profits, and know your true metrics for success first – then keep them sacrosanct. If you do that? You’ll be far and away ahead of your competition. And, what might be even more important using the NYT as a prime example…

You won’t have to try as to come back from near bankruptcy first, to realize you’ve been chasing business fables when reality decides to make its presence felt once again. (i.e., Silicon Valley’s unicorn model where 10,000,000 eyeballs of “no sales” trump 1 loyal paying customer.)

Now my only question is…

Does the “Punctuation Police” or “Grammar Gestapo” now become more infuriated at me? Or, passive?

If I were to guess? Let’s just say, “I’m not letting my guard down anytime soon.” For as I’ve said many times, “If these people had their way? Life in prison with no possibility of parole would be seen as a compassionate sentence in their eyes.”

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr