Funny how life has a way of changing a person. Looking back, I realize that we can be truly different people as we progress through life. The wisdom that comes with age or the experiences we face dramatically change our personalities, our beliefs, and the manner in which we engage with others. A combination of those has made me realize that you must find your purpose before life kicks you in the teeth, and forces you to find it.
It wasn’t that long ago that I was boasting about being named to various “top XX” lists, having my book with Danny Brown ranked among the top 100 business books of the year by Neilsen Bookscan , opening new businesses or keynoting one of many industry conferences.
Then life kicked me in the teeth; I lost my son to depression.
While I still operate my businesses, I’ve stopped travelling to promote the book or myself. I’ve stopped marketing myself to my peers. I’ve stopped networking to keep my name prominent in a vanity-laced industry. I’m no longer advertising myself to event producers, and even stopped working on my next book.
Without that self-promotion to my peers, inclusion on “best of” or “top XX” lists have diminished and invitations to keynote conferences are fewer. Yet, at the same time, business has improved and – all things considered – I’m a happier person (well, a better person). That change has given me a different perspective on my work and my life … and that’s translated to even better work for clients.
Today, while quietly serving my clients, any free time I have isn’t spent networking but is focused instead on raising mental health awareness in schools. I still keynote conferences but the audience is made up of students and parents in schools or clinicians at medical conferences, not other marketers.
Unlike the conferences I’ve frequented for the past 10+ years, no one tweets and no one posts selfies at the after parties…it’s about the work, not the people delivering the work.
“I’m honoured to be named to the <top-social-media-influencer-list-of-the-day>” is the obligatory statement I, like so many others, often posted when being listed in various best-of lists. The reality is that I (again, like so many others) was really being listed for my ability to market myself rather than the work I accomplished for clients. In most cases, those list producers had no clue what results I had driven for my business or clients.
Today, I have other things to be proud of. I’m truly honoured to be named to the board of directors of the Halton Suicide Prevention Coalition. I’m truly honoured to have been working in the background helping school counselors connect with more students silently suffering with mental health issues. I’m truly honoured to have had the opportunity to silently and privately counsel other parents who have lost their kids to depression. I’m truly honoured and grateful to have the confidence of a larger base of clients who care not about how popular I am but how well I perform my job.
I’ve also discovered that the rate of response to articles posted here or on my other social channels has changed dramatically since I stopped the overt self-promotion. Marketers who also belonged to our self-promotion society, were quick to respond to/share/Like most things I posted, regardless of how inane the content may have been. When I stopped trying to be the most famous marketer in the world, most dropped away. Again, the lack of “famous engagement” did not have a negative effect on my business or output. In fact, the opposite may be true.
My ability to market myself, I’ve discovered, had little-to-nothing to do with the good work I did for clients or the reason they chose to work with me.
With each accomplishment, I no longer have the instant reaction to post an announcement to social media in order to document my personal success. Life caught up to me; while losing my son is something I may never truly recover from, finding my personal purpose has made me a better person, a better steward to my business, and a better servant to my clients. I have gained a perspective I wish I had 10 years ago.
Find your true purpose before life kicks you in the teeth
I wanted this last post of 2015 to be an indication of what to expect in 2016. We’ll continue to share insights on the latest trends in customer experience, influence marketing, and business but we’ll focus a little more on the “insights” part of that statement with a good measure of social responsibility.
Asking marketers to not market themselves is like asking a human to not drink water or breathe air. It’s what we do; it’s in our blood. However, the adage “marketers ruin everything” rings truer for me today than ever before.
We throw ourselves into this mutual admiration society in hopes of bolstering our egos and/or artificially building a persona that will win accolades or referrals. We want our 15-minutes of fame. Social media is creating a new breed of marketers that are self-focused and that’s reflected in the vanity metrics most push as a measure of campaign success.
Being a great marketer does not preclude one from being a humble being. Great marketers don’t need to be self-serving or vain. Being a great marketer can be achieved by doing everything but thinking of oneself. It’s achieved by being focused on your community and your clients and by doing good work for each.
So do yourself a favour: Find your true purpose in life before life kicks you in the teeth.
Feed Your Community, Not Your Ego