A Few Ingredients As A Recipe For Success
Different people will give you different formulas for success. But of late, there seems to be one common keyword that pops up in most success lit:
On this article, we will not fixate on that trait. Rather, we are here to show you three other common threads that run through the success stories of women who have reached the top and beyond:
Overcoming extreme odds. No other woman can typify a successful life carved out of odds than Oprah Winfrey. Hailed as an influential woman whose “Persuasion can build a nation,” as equally influential Beyonce sang for her in a tribute, Oprah Winfrey’s earlier life was no bed of roses. She spent her early life in poverty as an orphan: shuttling homes between her grandmother and her mother. Her grandmother was a severe disciplinarian, while her mother was barely there for her emotionally.
Her childhood and teens were marked by severe domestic conflicts. She was sexually abused as a child, and gave birth to a baby boy at Age 14. The child died soon after birth. Her early years in US broadcast media had been marked by tumultuous romantic relationships, and like her mentor Maya Angelou, her many troubles seemed to be medicated by her desire to reach for her dreams, and reach her dreams, she eventually did.
At age 32, Oprah Winfrey became a millionaire when her talk show went national. At age 41, Oprah’s net worth hit $340 million, which caused her to join Bill Cosby in the ranks of Forbes 400. Winfrey and Cosby were the only African-Americans on the list in 1995. Since then, Oprah Winfrey has consistently been on the list. More so today, as she diversifies her businesses.
As you can see from Oprah’s story, she may have used the odds she faced as a reason to keep fighting and to work harder towards overcoming exactly the things that were in her way. While she may not have bulldozed odds every single time, she seemed to rise up after every fall. That is why when she reached success, her heart easily empathized with children and women who faced the same degree of odds that she had. With some facing even greater odds than she ever did, she gave them life-uplifting breaks. This is seemingly her way to give them a better shot at life than she had. This is the driving force for most of her advocacies, especially the scholarships and her work in Africa.
Not being satisfied with “good enough.” One attitude that separates the run-of-the-mill workers from the star employees and future corporate successes is that of not being satisfied with “good enough.” On this link is the story of Nadia Comaneci, the woman who redefined gymnastics, by getting the first-ever Perfect 10 in the history of the sport.
“Perfection is to be just ahead of somebody, a little bit.” –Nadia Comaneci, 9-Medal Olympian, 1976
If you’ve watched the video, you will note that Nadia was not satisfied with her performance nor her practice for her routine. She said this of her routine, even as she performed it in the Montreal, Quebec Olympics arena:
“I didn’t feel it was quite perfect. […]Even though it looks good on the outside, I thought I could have done it better.”
Indeed, Nadia was one fierce 14-year-old. Gifted with raw talent, the one thing that made her a cut above the 1976 Olympics’ gymnast crowd was her exacting demand for more from herself. Her coach, Béla Károlyi, says this of her:
“‘[If] the competition is going to be tough, I’m going to be even tougher.’ That was Nadia.” — Béla Károlyi, 1976 Olympics Coach for Nadya Comaneci
While this Olympian gymnast had broken Gymnastics boundaries that the judges had no way to score her on the scoreboard; even though she singlehandedly put Romania on the map; even though Nadia Comaneci had changed the entire game as they knew it in 1976, if you note, internally, Nadia was NOT satisfied with her performance. Even as she gave a performance that the judges deemed:
Perfect: Freedom from fault or defect.
She still demanded more of herself. And while her own definition was more down to earth: that perfection was about being “just ahead of somebody, a little bit,” she was, like most people who made history, pushing the boundaries of what she can do.
She did her routine effortlessly, as they described in the video. But while natural grace and talent had gotten her more than half the way, she wanted to demand more of herself, which took her the whole way and beyond.
This is what success means. For the women we admire in Media and Advertising, surely, pushing themselves further is one of those ingredients.
Realizing what is more important in life. Sure there is no harm in indulging in a good Cole Haan bag every now and then. However, our best and brightest Media Planners who worked their butts off all the way to the top have one key ingredient to get themselves going: they know that at the end of the day, their high-powered job in ICOM, Aegis, GroupM, Havas, Omnicom Media Group, Universal McCann, Publicis Groupe, is just another job. Their hearts break when they miss their kids’ birthdays, and at the end of the day, they’d rather sip a warm cup of coffee in their suburbian refuge from the maddening urban crowd than hobnob with the rich and famous.
The best Pinay Media Planners know that an SUV is just an SUV. And while their tenacity and ferocious climb to the top may be fired up by their exacting demands on themselves, what may keep them there may well be their understanding of what is more important, what is true, and what is, honestly, down-to-earthedly REAL.
Photo Credits: Reach for the Stars, Benjamin De Brousse