OK, I have to rant. As a mother of a ten year old, what is Disney thinking; what is the creator of Minecraft – Markus Persson thinking? Sell the rights to someone and start making money now. Today you lost one million dollars in sales, it’s before Christmas and every kid in America wants cool Minecraft toys and you guys have completely missed the mark! Minecraft.com is currently offline says the website. As a marketing person, I live to see people succeed online, grow their businesses and become successful through great online marketing. To see this opportunity blown – sure there are a few toys, swords, one Lego set, etc.. but this is a case of the people at Disney losing touch with their audience and the people at Minecraft being such super cool geeks but getting bad marketing advice. Kills me!
My mother never thought I was very smart…so she never told me I had to get high grades in school. She always just told me “do your best”. I’ll never forget the morning prayer “Dear Jesus, please clear the cobwebs from her brain”. Seriously, this is for real – clear the cobwebs from her brain. My best was a b average with the occasional c in history – oh how I loathed history! She never made me feel less than her other smarter and more talented kids – Jay with the photographic memory, Cheryl the natural artist or Pam the pianist who was super smart to boot. Because to mom success was doing your best, it was trying and that was all that mattered. Despite this she told me there were no limits in life, nothing I couldn’t achieve – and I believed her and still do, thank you mom.
But mom was right. Success is not about getting perfect grades, accomplishing something business, or being great period and certainly success is not about money. Success is knowing you did your best. You took that risk, that you tried. So many people live “safe lives” never going outside their comfort zones…
But you did. You tried something that was outside your comfort zone and whether it works or not. Now you ARE a success! Yes, you, you know who you are and I am so proud of you.
Success is doing your best, win or lose, you are a success because you didn’t cower from the opportunity or run away from things, you are a success because you jumped in and played the game.
(For the record, my dad DID think I was smart and told my mom she was wrong. They only fessed up on this once I was an adult and graduated college with high honers - they would never admitted this to me otherwise, so please don’t tell your kids you don’t think they are smart… wait until they grow up and see what happens. )
Everyone is an uproar over President Obama’s words… “You did not build this alone” statement to business owners who worked days and nights to achieve success. As an entrepreneur I can understand the resentment as I don’t ever get a break from the business. It weighs on me day and night, 24-7 and on weekends. I am jealous of those who can shut off work at 5pm on a Friday. Yet I would not change a thing, I love my life, my job, and the company that I did not build alone (my ego takes a blow to say this but deep down I know this is true).
Yes, I work hard, harder I think than most but that sounds so abrasive, egotistical, I am afraid to share that sentiment. But did I do it alone? Not even for a day.
Tomorrow I meet with a friend of a friend who doesn’t want to ship her ad dollars away, someone who believes in community and wants to support a local business. In 1997, the local business journal wrote an article about my startup and Steve and Kate Ramirez called me to talk about doing their website. Steve probably introduced me to over a 100 business owners who would soon be my clients. I think of Scott Flagel, who advised me to buy LakeGeorge.com. I remember a computer network guy, I don’t even remember his name, he told all his clients that I could get them top placement in the search engines and they called me. He never got a commission, he told them about me because he believed in me.
How many people helped me along the way? Countless, and the number keeps growing.
I think of the employees who built the company with their ideas and ingenuity and I can not say “I built this”. I think of my husband who built the technical infrastructure and who always has my back both in business and who supports me emotionally and spiritually. His unconditional love powers my spirit and builds my confidence. No “I” did not build this. I may be the “face” of the company but I am not the company. The team that is brilliant, passionate, works late hours, that cares… they built this too.
No, I did not build this. You did; my friends, my clients, my employees, my family and I am forever grateful.
My first job that I liked out of college was working for Peter Fressola at United Colors of Benetton. He was the PR director and I will never forget the millions of red correction marks he made on my first two paragraph article for the company newsletter. Each time that I submitted my article he would send it back (patiently) with red marks and notes on how to be a better writer. Peter was kind to me, he was a perfectionist but rather than doing it himself, he was a teacher and he is the first person to whom I owe much gratitude for where I am. Patrizia Spinelli (also at Benetton was my second mentor). She taught me how to dress. OK, I admit I’m still not where she wanted me to be. I remember her with such love and adoration, she would smile and laugh and say “no no no Saaaraaaaa” and add a scarf to my outfit.
20 years ago when I moved back to Queensbury after living in NYC, I found a mentor in Larry, the Director of Marketing for Jiminy Peak. He invited me to Jiminy Peak taught me everything he knew about marketing. He was not my boss and he had no reason to be so generous with his time, except that he was truly an altruistic person who loved this art. Mary Brandt was my next mentor, she taught me not to fall into the blame game. She was open to new ideas (and I had quite a few of them) and we made them happen which brought business but due to my youth and inexperience, I did not plan each idea through as it should have been planned, this caused chaos. When the other managers were angry (because we had too much business and not enough staff or fore-warning from me that there would be so much business)… she brought us all together in a positive learning environment and taught me how to learn from my mistakes in a positive way.
Next was working for Jeff Jacobs, a marketing genius who taught me to look and interpret stats, numbers and analytics. We learned to “mail your buyers, mail your buyers, mail your buyers” and to decipher between one time buyers and loyal clients.
Now it’s my turn… who do I inspire? whose life do I change? I really didn’t think anyone until I got this amazing email from my first graphic design assistant 20+ years ago. How nice it was to hear from her… do I remember her, she asks… of course. This was my first thank you. My first note ever to say I had a positive influence on her life. How now, do I keep paying it forward?
I pay it forward with you Julia, knowing that you are kind and when another child has gotten the books knocked out of their hands by a bully, I know you are the first to pick up their books. I pay it forward with you Sean, when someone needs a friend or a bear hug, I know you will offer it. I pay it forward with you Kristina, who is gentle and kind and sensitive and will be the best friend anyone could ever hope for as you are deeper than the blue sea. Thank you my darlings for being the people I hoped you would become and pay forward the many kindnesses that have been paid to me.
My heart aches when I hear it… I had a miscarriage or she lost the baby. I am overwhelmed by sadness. Both for the one who is currently experiencing the pain and as the memories become real once again.
What do you say to someone who has lost a baby or even to your own wife. There is no words that are right. Just hold me tight, cry with me and when the timing is right – don’t let me lose hope. Hope, after fourth miscarriage I’d lost hope. That was the most devastating of all. My sister-in-law Margy, came over, no words, she just held me and let me cry and my husband never gave up or left my side, he was gentle, thoughtful and fully caring about my state of mind. That is what a woman wants.