Sunday, August 24, 2014

What It Takes To Be Successful: The Definitive List

My dog Gus Gus
Who could resist this guy?
Recently, my LinkedIn newsfeed has been chock full of tips on how to make me successful. Or, rather, a form of successful that equates to the weird ideal of a workaholic life coach or CEO.

So, I decided it was time to take back my morning, and write the definitive list of what it takes to be successful in life.

1. Go to sleep and stay asleep. On almost every single “what it takes to be successful” list is a gentle admonishment to get your lazy self out of bed earlier. Despite flying in the face of virtually every scientific study on the subject, somehow ambitious people have gotten it into their heads that waking up hours before dawn is a good thing.

Waking up a 4am is insane. Unless, I guess, you go to sleep at 8pm every night. Which brings me to my next point.

2. Watch Million Dollar Listing or Project Runway. Why? Because they’re fun. Life is about more than work and thinking about the impact of technology on the global economy. Watching great reality TV is like drinking coffee: why wouldn’t you do it? For the record, Million Dollar Listing Miami is superior to the other two franchises.

3. Rescue a dog. Or a cat if that’s your thing. Why? Because good people like animals. A dog makes you a better person. Gus, my partner in crime, always cheers me up after a bad day. Who doesn’t love a good game of “Rawr” (which involves me chasing him around the house while yelling “rawwwwrrr”). And pets help you get your steps in!

4. Go get a drink. All work and no play makes you dull as dirt. Smart people know that social time is as important as work time, and that being the company wallflower won’t get you anywhere. Many a disagreement has been resolved over a pint, and wine-o-clock has saved more than one team’s morale.

5. Play Cards Against Humanity, because that game, to butcher Benjamin Franklin, is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

Ultimately, successful people remember my favorite quote by Dr. Seuss: “why fit in when you were born to stand out?”

Saturday, August 16, 2014

You Have To Be A Challenger

Photo: Flickr/Bill Selak

Earlier this year, fellow Minneapolis-based General Mills not so quietly put a stake in the ground supporting diverse families. During the Sochi Opening Ceremonies, Chevrolet became one of the first brands to ever feature a gay couple during an Olympic spot, and my former employer, Coca-Cola, produced an ad called ‘America Is Beautiful’ that featured ‘America the Beautiful’ sung in seven languages.

It was, in my opinion, Coke’s strongest creative moment in years.

These are just a few examples of a select group of brands that are doing what it takes to win hearts and minds. They are brave organizations putting out brave content. And the world needs more great content, not more shiny objects or snark.

At Spredfast, we counsel our partners to #BeBrave. Regardless of vertical or product, brave content has a few core beliefs:

You have to stand for something: The days of saying “this social issue isn’t relevant to my business, so we are going to stay out of it” are over. Inequality, injustice, and racism are not optional issues for any brand that wants to be relevant. And sometimes, there is positive ROI in just ignoring the folks who think otherwise. Acting like an ostrich doesn’t even work very well for the ostrich.

Be moving, be funny, and be useful. Pick two of three.

Give hope and optimism and fight despair. Things might seem tough, but there’s never been a better time to be alive. People help each other out, pick each other up, and usually do the right thing. Make those moments the focus of everything you say. If your brand relies on scaring people, or is generally odious, LinkedIn can help you find a better job.

Delight customers. It should be why you’re in business.

And if you can’t do any of the above, and you keep hitting a brick wall, and you can’t do work that you’re proud of - go work somewhere else. Your soul will thank you.

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