I can hardly even believe it, but for two days, I was famous on the Internet! I got a deluge of emails, my blog got thousands of views and my favorite sites found me worth covering. My friends, the ones I admire most, started coming to ME for advice. For those two days, I felt like I was a different person.
Of course, this isn’t even worth bragging about. It wasn’t about me. It was about a series of factors that came together, and I was in the right place at the right time.
It was about luck.
Luck is random. It’s not something you can cultivate. However, I’ve learned that there are a few ways to increase your chances.
Convince people to like you
Susannah said it best. She had a lot of smart, talented entrants to her contest. But she picked me because I was likeable, and she could see herself working with me. That was lucky.
You don’t have to change to be likeable. You just have to find the right boss. It helps that Susannah sometimes writes about porn and I sometimes write about Japanese fetishes like cat ears. That’s certainly not something that would make me likable to every person, but in this case, it worked.
So really, the best way to be somebody people like is to like yourself. Be shameless about your personality. Don’t do ANYTHING half way. Some people will find you really obnoxious. But others will find you irresistible! Think about it — nobody wants to read a blog that doesn’t piss some people off.
Do stupid, risky things
The best thing I learned in grad school was to never play by the rules. A company doesn’t have a hiring page? Send them your resume anyway. Maybe they weren’t hiring… until they saw that you’d be perfect.
In a way, it was stupid of me to enter Susannah’s contest. At least in an economical sense. It’s like entering the lottery — there are much better ways to earn money than to try for a chance to win it, even if you don’t make as much. Likewise, there are much better ways for me to get my writing published than to enter a contest for a sliver of a chance. I could have spent that time writing on my blog, for example, and be guaranteed publication.
Somebody once told me that everything that makes life worth living is outside of your comfort zone. That’s why this introvert, who’d like nothing better than to spend Saturday night watching anime alone, makes an effort to go out whenever possible. I list networking meetups for journalists on my calendar, and try to attend one once a month.
I know there are opportunities out there, but they won’t come to me. Unless you’re a really big deal, they won’t come to you, either. We have to seek them out.
Be jealous of other people
Sad but true, this is maybe my chief motivator to succeed in life.
I am always discovering strong, successful, brilliant women like Gala Darling, Amanda Hocking, Alexandra Franzen, Jessica Hische, and now Susannah Breslin, who absolutely amaze me. The only thing I have in common with them is that I am also a writer and a creative-type person. In every other way, they are ten times better than me. And so, I am constantly pushing myself to emulate them.
Let’s say you spent all my time around people who don’t really care about their careers. Maybe they’re great people, but they work dead end jobs and are fine with it. They just choose to focus on other things.
Chances are, you’d start to be like them, too.
It makes sense. If you look at the people in your life and feel like you’re doing pretty well comparatively, you won’t feel the need to reach your full potential. But thanks to the Internet, this is almost a defunct way to live. If you can’t find people online who have already done the things you dream of doing, you’re not looking hard enough. I am surrounded by powerful role models who inspire me to work harder whenever I turn on my computer.
Isn’t it interesting that when we hear about moments of success, we never hear about the subsequent decline? When we read about people who are successful, we hear about their “big break” and then a constant rise to the top. That’s not effortless. The beginning was luck. After that, successful people work tirelessly to keep it up.
Already, my inbox is empty and my blog hits are falling back to normal. The tireless search light of the Internet has moved on, just as it always does.
You can bet I am going to keep doing what I do and taking risks, doing my darndest to make it happen again.