On Your Grind

When you start working on a new creative project, do you focus on how satisfying it is to you personally or how massively game-changing your work will be to the outside world (and to your bank account)? We know that there are ways to gauge how successful a project is, but what are the factors involved in that? And how do they work together?

A big question deserves a big team to help us chip away at an answer, so I’ve gathered a “dream team” of professional experts from different areas of the media and marketing world and different corners of the country to give us their perspectives.

We have a personal branding expert (Leonard Kim), a marketing guru (Hilary Murdock), an entertaintress (“Red” Rachel Richards) and a PR priestess (Caren West). The team agrees that the ultimate “success” isn’t just something that makes you feel good, but that you keep hidden in a folder on your desktop. And, at the other end of the spectrum, it’s not something cheap and stupid you made just because it’ll get tons of likes, pats on the back and pageviews.

It’s a “just-right” mix, Goldilocks, of both internal and external forces that drive you to higher heights and leaves your audience feeling oh-so-satisfied, too.

Do what successful people do.

Leonard Kim, a keynote speaker and personal branding extraordinaire, says success starts with YOU. He shares how this works for him.

On Your Grind Leonard Kim
Photo: Joshua M. Shelton

“When I built my online digital empire, I didn’t go out there and set goals for myself,” he says. “Instead, I celebrated achievements. But I was only able to attain these achievements by sticking to habits that successful people do each day, like write an article daily or keep my head clear or think of what I’m grateful for each morning.”

Leonard says you are successful, right off the bat, when you simply do what successful people do and reward yourself for sticking to those good habits (with an ice cream, maybe). Don’t get crazy.

When it comes to developing good habits that support her success, “Red” Rachel Richards tells us about one thing that’s made a big difference in her life and her work:

For Hilary Murdock and the marketing world in which she slays-all-day, her daily habits revolve around being organized and allowing “good enough” to be great.

“It’s easy to go down a rabbit hole of googling the history of Tanzania or wanting to find the absolute best image of a glass of water with ice cubes,” she says. “You absolutely must be able to decide that something is ‘good enough’ versus perfect. It’s more important to do a very good job and to hit deadlines versus do the best job that no one sees, because you’ve missed the deadline.”

This idea reminds Rachel of a great quote about perfection that she shares here:

PR maven Caren West, president of Caren West PR, a group that manages public relations campaigns and events for national and international lifestyle and entertainment brands, keeps it real when sharing her daily must-do’s.

“Look,” she says, “I can spit out the obvious of what I think are must-do’s – work hard, network, exercise, get plenty of sleep, build in time for creativity, meditate, etc., but I am far from perfect, and honestly just always try to do more than my best.”

In addition to that, she says her secrets to success are:

  • – Being authentic in what she does and who she is
  • – Being genuinely thankful for the people that work for and with her
  • – Believing in both her and her client’s dreams
  • – Listening
  • – Working hard
  • – Being passionate
  • – Having integrity at all costs
  • – Saying no
  • – Giving back
  • – Always striving to be a better person

It’s not always so easy!

Caren also helps us keep it real in giving us her perspective on that beautiful, if sometimes mythical-seeming, balance between the internal and external metrics of success. Long story short? Don’t be dismayed if the dance between them isn’t always so graceful.

‘One of the toughest factors about public relations is measuring results, value and success, and proving our worth, because it’s not always tangible,” she says. “It’s an endless struggle, and there are so many external factors that we often have no control over that contribute to the overall success of a campaign. It’s wildly frustrating and equally challenging and exciting at the same time.”

On Your Grind Caren West
Photo: Teodora Nicolae

In her world, she can hustle for a client, get them placed in magazines, on websites and on TV shows (all things that mean “success,” on paper) and elements that are beyond their control (like the true experience the client gives its customers) can still cause their cake to fall flat.

In order to navigate those outside forces and still stay (reasonably) sane, Caren invokes another metric of success: the good ol’ gut check.

“We have our tried and true measures of showing value, i.e. earned impressions, ad equivalency value, social media analytics, meeting set goals, making sure the client is happy, evaluating if a campaign and/or placement has positively affected the bottom line,” she says. “The second is truly where we live and breath, and that’s the ol’ gut check. Knowing we did everything we absolutely could, exhausted every resource, left no stone unturned, made miracles happen, created an uptick in sales, landed meaningful press, and genuinely contributed to the overall success of the brand.”

Focus on internal success first.

When the external markers of success come (like getting a mention in a blog, receiving a first upvote or comment, or landing your next feature), Leonard says you can use that as more fuel for your internal fire.

“You need to celebrate these wins and feel good about them,” he says. “That way, you will be motivated to continue on and do more. This feeling should be similar to the type of feeling you get when you pass a level that took you weeks to complete on Candy Crush or when you beat the hardest competitor you know at a game like basketball.”

He says his focus is always internal success.

“You don’t need to prioritize your internal and external success, because your internal success leads to your external success,” he says. “Once you have your external success, you just need to take a small break from your everyday routine to fit in that celebration.”

Big thanks to our dream team for their input! They have more in store for you next week. And we want to hear from YOU: how do you balance the inside and outside signs of success? Tell Kyle: @KyleCollins on Twitter or@KyleInterviews on Instagram.

Connect with our experts:

Leonard Kim  |  Website  |  Twitter  |  Instagram

Caren West  |  Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Instagram

Hilary Murdock  |  LinkedIn

“Red” Rachel Richards  |  Instagram  |  Twitter

Videos by Brandon Deyette.