by Aron Daniels
I finally got Amy on the phone after her very first meeting with a potential advertiser for the magazine. We had recently signed the contract and were the new owners of PCWJ. Being graphic designers and not trained as salespeople, the advertising meetings were far outside of our comfort zones, so I was excited to hear how that first meeting went. Everything was scary in the beginning and I just knew she’d knock it out of the park. I could hear the frustration in her voice as soon as she started talking.
Amy, always fully prepared for every situation she is walking into, had been hit by a curve ball right out of the gate. The woman with whom she had met was familiar with the format in which the magazine for had been for many years. Pitt County Women’s Journal was a very different product than what we envisioned.
The woman spent the entire meeting systematically telling Amy why our idea of a more upscale, glossy-printed, locally-authored monthly magazine was not what people were looking for, that there was not a place for it, that we were turning our back on the small businesses who wanted the “more approachable” product that it had been with newsprint, a smaller number of pages, and a different pricing structure. She hated the idea of social media and website integration, and essentially told us that we were not being faithful to the local community by expecting them to pay so much, and that the online companion to the print was all just smoke. She did not have any redeeming thing to say and sent Amy out of her very first meeting with a really bad taste in her mouth.
It was hard to hear. It was all the fears that we’d had swirling in our minds as we took on this new adventure. Fortunately, we pushed on and found out that those harshly worded sentiments were not widespread and that many people were excited to join us on our journey. A few meetings in and we had the bones of our first issue together, a number of specific advertisers the nay-sayer had mentioned by name, certain that they definitely would not be able to afford our “unreasonable” rates.
Now, this story is not about showing that woman that she was wrong, or to brag about how amazing we are. It is about the inevitable place in every journey when a voice insists that you’ll never make it and that you do not have anything valuable to give. In our case, we were contending with our internal voices of inexperience and personal doubts about a new business role, as well as the occasional voice of someone who did not understand what we were trying to accomplish with the magazine.
Sometimes life puts a mission in front of you and you have to decide whether to take it up or leave it for someone else. If you find that it is your mission, then do it fully. It does not matter if someone else would do it differently, if someone else is doing something similar, if you’ve found failure before and you’re scared, if you don’t see all the steps to accomplish the mission, or anything else your internal voice whispers in your ear. Use discernment, think things through, and where your passion and intellect meet, you will find a place where you can have an incredible impact.
As we enter 2020 we have a continued vision for our magazine, for our design business, for our marriage, and for our kids. As you find your next mission, there are going to be voices, people, and circumstances that feel like you’ve hit a wall. It’s your job to acknowledge them and then climb the wall.
Deep down, I would love that woman to call us and decide to advertise. It would make my day for her to finally see our vision. We’d be glad to include her! But, the thing I hope more, is that we are true to our vision and that we bring life into this community with what we have to offer, even if it’s different than it was before.
Don’t give up when you encounter resistance. If you keep going you will see that being faithful to your mission is worth it.