Aside from health and happiness, it would seem that success is something we all wish to attain. How do we measure success? $$$, awards, choice clients, a steady and secure job, dental benefits? However one measures it, it don't come easy.
A couple of years back, during my brother's commencement at Northeastern University, Reverend William H. Grey III encapsulated a few ideas that I had been musing over in nebulous fashion. The Reverend, after serving 13 years in the U.S. House of Representatives for the state of Pennsylvania in many distinguished positions, resigned to take the position of president and CEO of the United Negro College Fund. In brief, he gave a rip-roaring speech, and in the process outlines his recipe for success, something that he knew from first-hand experience. I took notes.
I'm sure he wouldn't mind if I were to spill out his simple ingredients from my bully pulpit. I could give you the fire-and-brimstone version, but sometimes brevity works just as well. But remember, the Reverend never mentioned design or AIGA. I leave it to you to mix them together. Here goes.
Excellence. A constant striving for excellence is paramount. That means a continuous process of self-education and a goal of performing at the highest caliber.
Gratitude. There is no such thing as the self-made man or women. Everyone has a parent, grandparent, spouse or equivalent, friend, teacher, or someone who was there for you when you needed it. Don't forget that on the way up.
Service. A sense of service, of giving back, is key. Someone, somewhere helped yo get where you are today. Whether it's one-on-one, in a classroom or a community, don't fail to share some of what you have learned and gained with others.
Love. Ain't got it, ain't got nothing. Love what you do and love some more. Sound corny? Think about it.
So there you have the ingredients that truly measure success. No skimping on this recipe - you’ve got to mix it all in equal proportions. Of course, the catch to this simple mixture is that you've got to cook it up yourself. Go whip up a batch. Season as necessary. And if you want the fire-and-brimstone version of the above, give me a call.
[The above was written for the quarterly newsletter for the Boston Chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts.
Upon publication I received only one bit of feedback, a short note from Tom Corey, president of Corey + Company, Watertown, Massachusetts. Before Tom passed away in 1997, his firm was responsible for many leading entertainment identities such as Mtv, VH1, and Nickelodeon. His brief note said "Marc, Thanks for reminding me. Tom." Of all the awards or recognitions I’ve ever received, that note has always meant the most, as Tom was always a hero of mine.]