Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tackle the tough stuff, by George

When I was a young guy in advertising, I was invited to be on the board of the local advertising federation's club. I was nervous. After all, I was a young punk surrounded by these real ancient statesmen and stateswomen. That's when a real old guy (he must have been 45 years old) named George pulled me to the side and gave me some great advice:

Volunteer to take on the toughest assignment - the one that no one has done well, the one that no one wants.

George told me this with a wry smile on his face. Honestly, I wondered if he was pulling my leg. I nervously asked why and he gave me more sage advice:

If you take on a task that has already been done well, you'll have to deal with everyone's very high, maybe unreasonable expectations. Taking on the task that no one wants will give you a chance to do what no one else has done before. You almost can't lose.

I followed George's advice and took on an undesirable board task that was a perennial failure and, in doing so, became a hero in the eyes of the board. Truthfully, I did nothing particularly great. But I did take on the task that no one else wanted.

Sometimes, half of the battle is tackling the thing that nobody wants to.

Barry LaBov
LaBov and beyond Marketing Communications

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