On Success

Today’s guest post is by Peppercommer Matt Lester.
OnSuccessVisualI grew up in a Pennsylvania coal town. Mine fires, just below the surface, were a constant threat, often consuming whole neighborhoods in a flaming, sulfuric haze. There was a palpable gloom to the place. Opportunities were scarce. High School football was serious business, and the only way out for the majority of guys. I regularly got my butt kicked in front of 10,000 people under Friday night lights. After high school, most shirts came with a blue collar that didn’t guarantee much more than minimum wage. So, for most, if you survived, it’s probably because you left.

I’m one of the lucky ones, now perched in the warm glow of a climate controlled Park Avenue office, happily creating marketing campaigns – a modern day Don Draper, sans the booze and babes.

Yet even from here, I can still see my inspiration, my mission, as clearly as yesteryear. My discomfort with leaving my hard-working brothers and sisters for a cushy office job was countermanded by the knowledge that, if I did a good job, my family would have good jobs. If my clients grew and prospered from the marketing ideas my colleagues and I generated, thousands more families across the country would have jobs. As each supply chain fueling these companies expanded, the number of jobs expanded exponentially. With that, I’d have done my job.

Of course, the above model of success requires management that truly wants change and growth and has the energy and enthusiasm to engage, even if that engagement requires a cultural change. To embrace change, to embrace a new model, requires vision, courage and trust in ones marketing partners.

I am proud of the awards I’ve won. But I’m most proud of being part of a marketing team – client and agency working as one – for a national retail chain that grew from 50,000 employees to 140,000 (not to mention the jobs the supply chains added to keep up with demand).

People love smart, engaging and effective marketing. All of us, as marketers, can be proud of the fact that when people ask, “Why did they do that?,” we are the ‘they’. I take pride in that.

That, to me, is success.

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