One year ago today I made one of the riskiest decisions of my life. Or so I thought.
Many of you reading this blog post may have received a letter from me. It was short and to the point. I needed help. Fast.
Having bounced from job to job, I was out of work, completely adrift, and running out of time. I was still reeling from the death of my grandfather, and had contemplated moving out of San Francisco. Hiding the truth wouldn’t help. Only humility could.
I wrote a letter to 180 people whom I knew, respected and admired. I should have done it earlier; pride and fear had been holding me back.
How do I tell these people whose opinion I value so highly that my ass is flapping in the breeze? What will they think of me?
“Desperate.” “Incompetent.” “Unstable.” These were just a few of the adjectives I feared my plea would trigger. Self-criticism is nasty. It’s unproductive and it holds you back.
And it’s all in your mind.
But things couldn’t have been worse than they already were. Who cares what a few people might think or say, as long as I made change happen? And I had seen the tactic work before.
Read: How Ask For Help
A friend of mine had successfully attempted the very same thing. He sent out a letter that became his current job in less than a day. That was almost three years ago. What had held him back was pride and ego.
His ascetic lifestyle was fine for a single guy. It had even landed him on the cover of The New York Times Sunday Real Estate section in a story about bachelor pads. But he knew it was time to move on. He was dating the woman who would become his wife, and the mother of his son. Before she would commit to taking the next step with him, he needed to prove he could be a stable provider. He needed to do it for himself, though.
While this friend was infinitely capable of having an “adult” job, but first had to first confront his resistance an overcome it. In a word, it was pride. My friend and I were born under the same sign. Our pride was a stumbling block in both our lives. Change was in the cards.
When it was time to say “fuck pride”
With survival at stake it was finally time to say “fuck pride.”
I hit “Send” and the outpouring of support was immediate and overwhelming. People with whom I hadn’t spoken in years reached out to offer suggestions, introductions and encouragement.
What I learned about humility
I learned that people don’t know what’s going on unless you let them in. No one is going to offer you help if you don’t ask for it. If the only thing holding you back is fear or embarrassment, ask yourself if it’s worse than the mire of being jobless, underemployed or deeply dissatisfied. Asking for help creates stronger relationships.
Those who came to my aid when I was in need are too numerous to thank individually. Know, however, that your generosity and kindness have changed my life, and have helped me to improve the lives of others.
I’m grateful to each and every one of you. Even those who never responded, but sent positive vibes, I attribute my progress to your intervention.
If I hadn’t made that important move I wouldn’t be where I am today. There’s a long road ahead, but I’m extremely proud of what I’ve accomplished already.
Milestones and progress
On May 1, 2013 I unveiled the PR Tips For Startups blog, and soon launched a podcast of the same name. In four months we have reached a global entrepreneurial audience. Visitors from almost 1,100 cities and 100 countries have visited PR Tips For Startups in the past 30 days, according to Google Analytics. And there is still so much to be done!
Blogging and sharing my insights/opinions has allowed me to build personal and professional relationships with entrepreneurs, writers and thought leaders whom I admire. It also makes me happy and I feel creatively expressed.
In 10 days I will be traveling to Singapore to speak at a conference of entrepreneurs and investors. While in Singapore I will also be moderating a panel. This is part of the life I have wanted for myself, and dreamt of, I never could have imagined that he path required such a stinging dose of humility.
And yet, here I am.
While I’m able to reflect positively on the past 365 days, don’t make the mistake of assuming it has been a smooth ride. It has been anything but.
The gray hairs on my beard are a testament to too many close calls. And I’m certain there will be many more scrapes, and bruises along the way. I’ve learned a lot from mistakes I’ve made and hope to learn even more from the mistakes of others. That’s wisdom.
Looking forward, I want to continue the work I’ve started helping entrepreneurs tell their stories–especially those with data. I will happily share my entrepreneurial journey with any group or individual in need of perspective or a sounding board for ideas. I also look forward to tapping into my creativity as a storyteller to make the world a better place.
If you’ve been influenced by what you’ve read, or if you feel stuck and need help, I want to connect with you. Entrepreneurs succeed when we help each other. Let’s grow together!
Don’t let fear hold you back from unlocking your true potential. The first step is always the hardest. Don’t wait!
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