I’m up to my elbows in NDAs and have no appetite for the crow I’d risk eating with a premature announcement, but recently, a few leaders have taken a chance on me. In doing so, they’ve made my dreams come true to an extent my professional “poker face” (what little “poker face” I have) has all but failed to conceal.
It’s not often one recognizes themselves at a turning point in life. I can say, with complete certainty, that — decades from now — I will look back upon this stretch of time as being the catalyst for much of my future success. I can’t say I’m on track to becoming a bankable creative in league with J.J. Abrams; only time will tell. But, having spent the past two years creating content intended to speak directly to boardrooms and C-suites across the globe, I thought I’d let this brief retrospective bring closure to that chapter of my life.
It is nothing short of laughable, in my mind, to draw such a comparison (between yours truly and the walking demigod who brought Star Wars back into my life). I shoot for the stars and spend every day of my life fighting to refute the acceptance of anything less. That said, if I ever achieve so much as a fraction of the success he’s had, I will straight up boil, season (to taste), and eat my own shoe à la Werner Herzog.
The powerful people who’ve taken a chance on me have (or are about to) receive a truly stunning return-on-investment.
Unlike my statement on future success, this bold claim doesn’t come with an asterisk. It’s a statement I’m comfortable making because it sets expectations for which I am singularly and entirely responsible for meeting. At some point, the people who’ve put their faith in me will step back and reflect on that ROI. I know this moment is coming and I’m currently working hard to shape their feelings in the wake of that reflection.
As a copywriter and creative director, I’m often tasked with crafting the “experience” of my target audience — how do I want those consuming my content to feel as they digest (“digest” what they’ve “consumed”, get it? … whatever). I’ve set my sights on a simple reaction: stunned silence.
I’m proud to report that I’ve left at least one of the stakeholders in my success with such a response.
…I’ll drop the flowery language for a second. To recap, I’ve left one of the people who’ve accepted some amount of risk in allowing me to inch closer to realizing my professional dreams in stunned silence when reflecting upon the extent to which I’ve delivered a return on their investment.
I’ll be honest: from my perspective, this feels f***ing amazing. It was a hard-fought victory that pushed me to my physical limits. Psychologically? Well, I’m a creative-type. Quirkiness comes with the territory. Let’s just pray I can pass off my “quirks” as just that (and not the mental scarring of a consummate workaholic)! In other words…mentally? I’m absolutely shattered. And, with God as my witness, I have never been happier.
I’ve worked 20-hour days every day for the last five years. In all this time, the closest I’ve come to “vacation” was a surgery in 2019; I lost 80% of my stomach and was answering emails later that day. And I’ve done it all with a smile on my face because I live for this.
I accept that motivations may vary. Some people want money, fame, fancy titles; I won’t argue for the nobility of one cause over another. Heck, some people are out there trying to change the world. Me? My motivation is simple: I’m going to be the greatest storyteller this world has ever seen (or die trying). My reward comes, not in the destination, but in the journey. I realize, now, this brings me to the takeaway I have to share with you (leaders):
Invest in an indomitable spirit.
I’m not perfect. I make mistakes (so many…many mistakes). I can be pushed, strained, and bent; but I will never be broken. I do not tap out; I do not know how. This is the nature of an indomitable spirit.
No investment is without risk. But, no matter the motivation, an investment in indomitable spirit will be met with a reward — 100% of the time.
If you are reading this. And you are in a position of power. And you have ever, in your life, thought something to the effect of “I could could give opportunities to women, BIPOC, or those identifying as LGBTQIA+; but what does my organization stand to gain?”, (first off, I bet you’re fun at parties, but second) listen up…
I’ve had to overcome almost zero adversity and have known only privilege in my life. I have no reason NOT to exert maximum effort each and every day. That’s not to say every individual belonging to an underrepresented minority exhibits an indomitable spirit, but if you’re looking for the “real deal”, they’re almost always the safer bet.