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Vegas, Sweat, Highlight Reels & Success


For several years, maybe decades, I’d been a fan of this particular musical artist. A genius, in my opinion. And for just as long, or longer, I’d been heading to Las Vegas – from one to four times a year.

I’ve Grown Up Loving Vegas

Growing up in a workaholic family, Vegas was our dream. It was subsidized by people who liked to gamble. My family didn’t gamble much, so we just enjoyed cheap stays, tons of food, lounging at the pools, and watching the shows.

I continued to head to Vegas as a college graduate because that was the home for the major computer conventions (anyone remember Comdex?).

I Saw A Great Show

It was on one of these trips that I got to see my favorite artist at the MGM Grand. The show was incredible – one of the best hours I’d ever experienced. And then it was time to get out of their auditorium and head into the casino.

So you can imagine my surprise, shock, awe and delight when I discovered I was standing by the door where some of these artists were exiting from. Pure chance. Pure awesome. And that’s when it happened. My favorite artist walked by.

I Won’t Ever Forget

No, I didn’t stop him. I didn’t ask for an autograph. I said nothing. I was likely just in pure shock. But I’ll remember it forever.

Know why?

Because he was sweaty and stank. Can you imagine my surprise?

I should have known that anyone who performs for a straight hour under those lights would sweat and smell a bit stale. But I was shocked. I mean, he stank.

Everyone Sweats & Stinks

Here’s what I know, and what I’ve heard from Steven Furtick,

“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”

It’s easy to be surprised when famous people stink. But if you think about it, we all sweat the same way. We all stink. Ok, some of you perspire. 🙂

But seriously, it’s a challenge we all deal with. We see others’ and their stories and we put them on a different level. We all compare.

And we tell ourselves that we’re impostors & they’re the real thing.

Success is Iterative

I love the overnight success that comes after ten years of hard work. That’s the kind of sweat (and stink) I dig.

I know there’s another kind of success – the “I was at the right spot at the right time and things just worked” kind. But I hate that kind. Know why? Because there’s a lot less sweat.

There’s something about working consistently to refine an idea until you find a way to make it work that I appreciate. It’s the thing I look for in folks and companies that I coach. I don’t work with recent college grads, because they want quick wins and shortcuts.

Muscles to Learn

Success that comes from iterations also has a byproduct I really appreciate – the discipline and muscles to learn. A year ago a friend, Joshua Strebel, wrote a series of posts about the history of his company, Pagely. It’s a story that includes statements like, “I have to admit, here’s where we made a mistake.”

Recently, I asked Joshua to share his story at WordCamp San Diego, in our Business Track, because I appreciate his iterative approach to building his company. Most importantly, he’s not a rockstar on a stage that’s completely different than any of us. He still sweats. Sometimes it stinks. 🙂  But that doesn’t stop him from hard work and tons of iterations.

Stop Comparing. Start Iterating.

I’d like to end this post by showing you the video of his talk. But know two things:

  1. He’s not sharing his highlight reel; this is Behind the Scenes.

  2. He uses words that your mom may not like.

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