When I first got on to Twitter about 3 years ago, I made a comment about some business and how their product was disappointing me. That business responded to me personally and publicly, asking me what they could do to improve. There are a number of ways any given person could respond to this—what I would have called at the time at least atypical—interaction with a business; my reaction was surprised distrust. But businesses use Twitter as a low-cost customer survey system all the time—my reaction was only a sign of what a n00b I was to the network.
Again, my existence has recently been acknowledged by a business I mentioned by name: Publishers Lunch. (Such is a symptom of the power of blogging plus Google Alerts: if you mention them, they will browse.) I said in my last blog post that to get mentioned by them by name was one of my professional ambitions. Well, they mentioned me by name!
I’m decidedly excited about this because I’m refusing to react as I reacted as a Twitter n00b back when. I could construe the actual mention, “[Keep trying, Greg Freed]”, as sarcasm, something I would otherwise be likely to do because a lack of context defaults to snark, my primary form of casual communication. But instead, I’m taking it as at least one of my previous employers took it: as a light hearted joke and maybe even encouragement.
I mean, I don’t know the Publishers Lunch people (I met one at a barbeque once) and they don’t know me, but we both take publishing seriously, which is where the ambition and mention both find their source. But something I consider strange happens when I tell people in publishing about this particular ambition: the general reaction is to kind of sneer and ask why. And I can understand this reaction from people who have received the honor before: like any award, it must lose its luster after you win it. And I can understand this reaction from people who assume they’ll be worthy of a legit mention some day: publishing is small, and insulation can give rise to snootiness bordering on arrogance.
But I am neither of these types of people; neither established nor confident of my coming establishment in the industry. I am a southern semi-intellectual who bought access to this particular echelon through a master’s program, and there’s every chance that if I don’t assign goals for myself, nothing will ever happen for me. And if one is going to begin assigning goals, baby steps are the best way to start. Leaps and bounds only occur once you’re really settled, really rooted to your place.
I want to thank Publishers Lunch for this mention. Getting mentioned by the industry-leading news magazine is only a baby step to someone like me, someone who consistently over-reaches, constantly takes bites bigger than they can chew. But what Publishers Lunch did here was to divide one of my first steps into more manageable pieces and then give me one of them as a gift: I have been mentioned by name in Publishers Lunch. Now I just have to get mentioned in earnest, which was the only goal I saw before.
You see? Now, because of their generosity and humor, I feel like I’ve made a kind of progress and success, which I wouldn’t have otherwise felt. And that’s the outcome of attaining an ambition. If this were a video game, this would be an achievement I’d have earned through just playing the game.
Have you ever set a professional goal that’s been looked down upon by others? Have you ever achieved part of a goal that you didn’t realize before was a goal in parts? Tell me about it in the comments below!