Zoom call with coffee

On Tuesday of last week, I arrived to the University of Minnesota to teach my social media/digital marketing class. Only 11 individuals turned up, which was unfortunate.

The class has a total of 34 students. Only one student notified me through email that they would be absent prior to class.

As we sat in class together, wondering aloud where the other 22 students had gone, I shared with them a slogan I’ve been saying to students since I began teaching as an adjunct in 2019: 90% of success is just turning up.

That quote was not created by me. To be honest, I’m not sure who said it first.

However, I’ve found that to be 100 percent accurate during the past 25 years of my profession. The majority of the job is just showing up.

And I’ll tell you three recent examples of why I’ve discovered this to be true.

First, for over nine years, I’ve been writing and publishing a weekly e-newsletter. What began as the “HAPPO Report” (Help a PR Pro Out–those of a certain age will recognize the term! ), has evolved into my own e-newsletter, which is packed with local job openings, events, recognition, and articles, postings, and stories that I’ve found fascinating in the previous week.

Every Friday morning, I send it out. I send it out practically every week–the only weeks when I don’t are over the holidays or when I’m on vacation.

So, 44-46 Fridays a year, that e-newsletter will arrive in your mailbox. And something fascinating has occurred in the previous several years. Subscribers began to send me notes. Notes similar to this one:

“I can’t tell you how much I enjoy seeing your message in my email every week. I’ve shared it with others on my team, and your perspective is fantastic. Thank you very much for taking the time to work on this. You do a fantastic job.”

And here’s another:

“I’ve been a long-time reader, but this is my first time commenting. As someone who just lost a job, I find your information to be much more useful today.

And, sure, it does improve one’s intelligence! So, thank you very much for all of your hard work on your weekly mailings; it is much appreciated.”

I can’t tell you how much it means to me to get remarks like these. And the only reason this occurs is because I’ve been sending out that e-newsletter every Friday for the last nine years.

There were several weeks when I didn’t believe I’d be able to pull it off. I, on the other hand, continue to show up. Friday, Friday, Friday, Friday, Friday, Friday, Friday, Friday, Friday, Friday

Second story: My daughter, a freshman at a Minneapolis/St. Paul high school, just joined the crew for the autumn musical (they did Grease, one of my all-time favorites). She attended after-school rehearsals for many days this autumn, building up to the performance in mid-November.

When the show’s dates were announced, I assume the director told them they could attend as many as they wanted, but they didn’t have to. My daughter opted to attend each and every one, even though I don’t think she was “working” at any of them.

We told her how proud we were of her for trying something new and staying with it after it was finished. But I also made it a point to emphasize how vital it was for her to attend every practice and performance.

There’s no “success” outcome here yet (other than the fact that she showed up! ), but I’m willing to bet that if she sticks with it, continues to show up, and does crew for the next few years, she’ll not only assume a leadership role, but she’ll have had one of the most memorable collective experiences of her life. An event that will almost certainly mold her in ways I can’t really fathom or foresee right now.

Finally, over the course of a year, I met up with a lot of people for coffee–even during the epidemic, I had coffee with a remarkable number of individuals. However, arranging those coffees might be difficult.

And it’s usually my fault. In the past, I’ve joked that it takes two or three schedule adjustments before we get the coffee. Meetings with clients arise or are rescheduled. New business meetings are scheduled.

My time is demanded by my children. In the previous 12 years, I’ve rescheduled a lot of coffee meet-ups. And that is going to change in 2022. Making a plan, adhering to your word, and showing up for that coffee are all part of “showing up.”

I’ve failed to keep my half of the contract. So, starting in 2022, I’m going to make a concentrated effort to develop and maintain those plans. It will include telling customers and prospects “no” or “can we find a different date/time?” (and maybe even my family).

But I’m going to strive harder to maintain my promises–and start turning up more often as a result.

Thanks to Arik Hanson at Business 2 Community whose reporting provided the original basis for this story.