Success Is Like Making A Good Omelet

Who doesn’t love a good omelet? A fluffy creation bursting with flavor from your favorite ingredients? When you think about it now, were you ever concerned about the eggs that had to be cracked in order for you to have the omelet of your dreams?

No? My point, exactly. Let me explain.

One of my earliest jobs was as a magazine advertising salesperson in the global yachting industry. Prior to accepting this position, I had never stepped on a boat, no less a yacht, and had never sold advertising. I was the most imperfect fit! However, my marketing degree and professional acting experience sold the publisher on the idea that I the brains and the bravery to pull it off.

I jumped feet first into the niche world of marine publishing. What I found out rather quickly was that compared to the big boy magazines, like People, Time or Vogue, small industry-focused publications were often supported by a close-knit and small group of industry influencers. As I called on prospects, mostly yacht builders and yacht suppliers, I also realized that most advertising buys were based on long-term client relationships forged at boat show cocktail parties and not on hard data.

Since I couldn’t manufacture those types of relationships overnight, I decided to take a different tact. I would use numbers.

The publisher of the magazine I was working for had researched the competing publications and discovered discrepancies in what our #1 competitor claimed their circulation was and what their audit showed. I was curious to know what the competitor’s advertisers would think about these discrepancies, even though our magazine didn’t even have any kind of audit.

So I sent a couple of emails.

The blowback was immediate and painful.

The publisher came into my office within a few hours and demanded to know what I had done. He had received calls left and right from the competitor’s publisher and their advertisers about this rogue salesperson who had dared to upset the apple cart.

I was scared. I also thought I was justified to question the integrity of the data they used as a selling point.

The publisher asked to see the email I had sent. I forwarded to him.

A few agonizing hours later, he returned to my office. He sat down and looked at me as I waited for the end to come.

When he finally spoke, these were the words he said, “To make an omelet, you have to break a few eggs.”

And then he smiled.

In the end, he liked what I did and didn’t see anything wrong with it. After all, were #3 in the industry, what did we have to lose? Perhaps my straightforwardness needed to be softened a bit. Diplomacy does have its benefits. But in general, he like the approach and soon after, it became the basis of a strategy that would move us ahead of the competition.

What I learned that day, that has always stuck with me is this:

Change requires a shift in the status quo. Most people don’t like disruption. To either be the cause of it or be on the receiving end. It means they have to get off of autopilot and start being more aware and intentional. This requires effort and alertness.

Here’s the secret: If you can look beyond the immediate discomfort, either that you are imposing on others or that is being imposed on you, to the bigger picture, you can gain the strength, conviction and tenacity needed to get you through and move into higher territory.

As for the competing magazine? They never got comfortable with what I did, but it did force them to up their game. As a result, all of the magazines in the industry decided to be audited and for a while circulation numbers were the new standard. In short, we all got more focused, more strategic and more innovative. In the end, it was the advertisers and the readers who won with better quality magazines and higher quality circulation.

Don’t let the sound of a cracking eggshell concern you too much.

Decide to succeed and make an omelet today.

Jo-Aynne von Born, Executive Coach, Workshop Facilitator

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