Celebrating The Small Victories
February 23, 2016
One of the best publicity stunts that I ever orchestrated in my radio career was in the early days at Kiss-FM in Cleveland, the most ghetto, guerilla radio station that ever existed. After the heritage Top 40, Jammin' 92.3, flipped formats in 1999, Randy Michaels bought a little, 3000-watt religious frequency licensed to the western suburbs. He fired the well-meaning Christians who were doing the Lord's work and put on subversive, secular, Top 40 music that could only be heard by about 8 communities on the west side of Cleveland.
I might be the only PD who was ever hired under the pretense of "This thing will never get ratings, but don't be an idiot and we will move you somewhere else." I was told that the station would be "lucky" to crack a one share in the ratings. With a staff that consisted only of me, Mike Kasper (my night guy/MD), a promotions coordinator who had just graduated from the Ohio center for broadcasting, and a sales guy who voicetracked middays, we set out on a quest to create radio anarchy.
We struck gold in the form of a promotion called "Body Like Britney," which was pretty edgy for a Top 40 at the time. After Britney Spears had just finished a sold out Cleveland concert, we went on the air and offered one lucky mom a chance to win a choice of liposuction, tummy tuck, or a boob job.
By the time the media got ahold of the story, they spun it as the station was telling 15-year old girls they needed plastic surgery to be attractive. Anyone who listened to the promos knew that wasn't the intent, but we sure ran with the publicity. We were vilified in the Cleveland Plain Dealer and by every local TV station in town.
Then the story caught fire and went national. We were featured on Extra, painted as "sexist" in Cosmopolitan, and publicly denounced by Britney's camp in a press release.
Then the story went international. German TV crews came into my office to shoot a story, asking me to hold a Britney Spears doll during the interview for reasons I still don't know (and prefer not to). But perhaps my favorite moment was doing an interview via satellite with the BBC in London.
As a station with no marketing budget, no station vehicle (I would wrap my Jeep Cherokee in vinyl banner roll at events), and only about 4 employees, this campaign put us on the map.
But it was when a Senior VP of Programming came to town soon thereafter that I felt my enthusiasm diminish. His advice to me was to "Move on. Now you need to create ten more of these."
I'm sure his intent was to keep us motivated and not rest on our laurels, but somewhere within that experience, I lost my ability to enjoy success in the moment.
Kiss in Cleveland would eventually move onto a 50,000-watt signal and become a huge player in the Cleveland market. As I stood in the studio the night we moved onto the new frequency, I couldn't appreciate the fact that we had achieved the goal we worked so hard for. I could only look ahead to my obsession about becoming #1 adults 18-34.
We ended up reaching that ratings goal, but I was already on to mentally planning my next job in a bigger market.
Shortly after arriving at KDND in Sacramento, our team overcame the "Hold Your Wii for a Wii" controversy and went to #1 in every demo. My bosses at Entercom went out of their way to acknowledge our success, but I couldn't. In fact, I don't even think I put up any of the plaques they would send me every year. They sat in a box on the floor. I had already mentally moved on to the next goal.
The interesting thing is that despite achieving success after success, I never really felt successful. I was so busy setting the next lofty expectation for myself that I closed my eyes to any success I was having the present moment.
The result was that nothing ever felt good enough, because I couldn't allow myself to feel the wins. Looking back, this might be my biggest career regret.
My guess is that for any high achievers who are reading this, you might find yourself in the same boat. So here is a solution.
Take out a legal pad and write down every accomplishment and achievement in your life over the last 5 years. Each year should be at least a page in length. This won't be easy, and might feel like a lot of heavy lifting.
This isn't just limited to professional milestones. It could be about personal growth. Did you run your first 5k in 2013? Write it down. Did you shave 3 minutes off of you time in 2015? Great! Write it down. Did you learn a new skill or craft just for fun? Acknowledge it. Give yourself the credit you deserve!
Then see if you can keep this mindset moving forward. Before you shut down your computer at the end of each day, can you think back and celebrate one small win? Can you remind yourself that in an industry that is placing more and more work upon its employees, that you didn't just survive, you made progress?
By allowing yourself to integrate success into your identity, you will begin to realize that you are infinitely more successful than you have given yourself credit for. Be grateful for the small wins. Gratitude and success go hand-in-hand.
I recently conducted my first online webinar, where I shared the tools to set an awe-inspiring vision for your life and strategies to accomplish any dream. Listen to the replay here and get more info on my "Download Your Dreams" coaching experience to help you live the life you REALLY want.