In Search Of Your Next Big "O"
May 28, 2013
The most successful people always rise to the top! Andy Brooks is one of those people. If you know Andy, you know Andy will be a fabulous success in the future, regardless of his path of choice. With an outstanding personality, great work ethic, excellent helpful attitude, and an ability to achieve just about any task he is handed, Andy stood out from the first day I met him. Knowing him as I do, I asked Andy if he would be willing to do a guest column focusing on his outlook on life and success. I can see now why he has always been a stand-out. You will immediately understand why Andy is a success, and a great role model for others. Enjoy his work!
In Search Of Your Next Big "O"
By Andy Brooks
It was the spring semester of my sophomore year in college. I hopped out of bed, threw on a pair of shorts and a T-shirt and asked myself why I had scheduled a class at such an absurdly early hour? I mean 10:30a is early for a college student, right? The only part of that story that may seem odd to some people is the choice of wardrobe; shorts and a T-shirt ... in January? For one thing, I don't think I owned a pair of jeans, and those are just some of the benefits of going to college in Florida; our "winter" doesn't come around until late February and the low temperature for that time of year is a bone-chilling 40 degrees (leave a moment for people to soak up the sarcasm).
I enjoyed every minute of the 15-minute walk from my dorm room to the Communications building. The sun was shining and the girls were smiling, although probably not at me, but in my mind I knew they were all checking me out! I sat down in the massive 300-person lecture hall, took out my notebook and prepared to begin the class, "ADV100, The Principals of Advertising." I struck up a conversation with the person next to me to break up the awkward feeling of homogeneity that befalls everyone in a lecture hall that big; you're not an individual to your professor at that point ... you're just a number. Anyway, somewhere along the line as I was speaking to this stranger next to me, a girl sitting in the seat directly in front of me turned around and interrupted my conversation with my new friend. Out of nowhere, she asked if I would wait and speak to her after our class ended because she had a question for me. Uncertain as to why she'd singled me out considering the fact that there were 300+ people in the auditorium, I hesitantly agreed.
"Okay, what's up?" I asked her as the lecture hall emptied. She introduced herself and asked me if I'd ever considered interning or working for a radio station. Seeing as I was a Communications major, I had an intense passion for music and in high school had developed an incredible appreciation for Howard Stern (wait for it ... BaBa Booey!). I suppose the thought had crossed my mind once or twice. At this point I thought to myself "why me?" Why did this girl single me out and why was she asking me such a random question? She explained she worked at O-ROCK 105.9 and the station was looking for a few new promotions assistants and thought I may be a good candidate. Having no clue what a promotions assistant was or any familiarly with this radio station, it appeared as though I was staring down the barrel of my first "Big O." In case you are wondering, the "O" stands for "Opportunity"!
In hindsight it would have been very easy to just brush this invitation off, walk back to my dorm room, forget all about the conversation and continue on doing what college kids do -- go to the gym and then go to the bar, with a little school work mixed in there. But I was fortunate enough to recognize the opportunity that was in front of me and I ran with it. That one moment outside of my Intro To Advertising class ... that one completely random conversation changed the course of my life. Nearly 10 years later, I am still fortunate enough to work in an industry that I love and for which I have great passion. But it all began with an opportunity and a fork in the road --- left or right? Do I seize the moment or play it safe?
When an opportunity presents itself, sometimes it's clear and the path is laid out right before us. But, sometimes it's cloaked behind uncertainty and we're tripped up by that four-letter f-word, "FEAR." What if we fail? What if it doesn't work out the way we'd hoped?
This may seem trite, but if you don't try, you'll never know either way; success or failure, the ending will never be written because you never started the story in the first place.
I'll share with you one more example in my life when an opportunity presented itself and an on-the-run decision had to be made. I mentioned earlier that music was a passion of mine. That was putting it lightly.
Long before a career in radio presented itself, I had longed to be on the other side of the business. I wanted to create the sound that came out of your speakers. I wanted to be in the band that your favorite radio DJ played every hour on the hour.
I found some like-minded individuals and we put in the work and time that it takes to become a successful artist. For the sake of time, I'll spare you the speech on "paying our dues" because trust me, we did just that.
One day, a song we wrote caught the attention of a music supervisor at MTV and the next thing we knew, our song was playing in some of that network's most popular programs.
This caught the attention of someone else who at one time was one of the biggest managers in the business. He was starting a record label that would be a subsidiary of a major label and he wanted to sign us. There it was; after all of our hard work and all of the times we'd been told "No" or "We're going to pass" ... there was our opportunity. This new record label was unproven and the rest of the roster consisted of artists that didn't quite sound like our band so we were all a little skeptical.
Our friends in the business told us to wait. They told us not to sign and use the interest as leverage for attracting another interested party. So a decision had to be made; here was a chance to live our dreams, here was the opportunity that we'd waited for. Yet again I was presented with a fork in the road; do we veer left and hold out for another opportunity that may very well never come, or do we veer right, sign on the dotted line and let the chips fall where they may?
In my book you seize the day! For better or worse, you roll the dice and never live with regret. So, we veered right, signed on the dotted line and hung on for the ride as the chips fell.
We spent the next few years touring the country and living our dream. Did we end up with a song on the charts? No. Did we sell 1 million records? No. Did we seize the moment and run as far as we could with the opportunity given to us? Yes!
I work in radio. I knew the odds of success, but I never viewed success as selling a certain number of records or having a song in the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. Sure, that would have been fantastic. But the success for us was getting an opportunity to live out our dreams of being touring rock & roll artists and to know that our music and all of the hard work we'd put into it got us to the next rung on the ladder. We took a chance. We jumped in headfirst and never looked back.
I believe life is series of passing moments that will lead each of us down different roads and force us to make choices that will shape the trajectory of our lives. We are in control of our own destiny and something as simple as a conversation with a complete stranger may yield a completely different outcome than we anticipated.
When a window of opportunity arises, smash though that window and keep on marching until the next fork in the road. Your next "Big O" is just around the corner. Are you ready to seize the moment?