The Measuring of Success

Posted by on August 21, 2013

A Monday Morning Memo from The Wizard of Ads

“How will we measure success?” is the question we ask every new client of our firm. The client’s answer to that question gives my company direction and purpose. It gives us a yardstick with which to measure our performance, and it shows us our client’s heart. Over the years, we have learned hundreds of different ways in which people measure success. Some are brilliant, some are mundane, and some are tragic.

An anonymous friar writes, “If I had my life to live over again, I’d try to make more mistakes next time. I would relax, I would limber up, I would be sillier than I have been this trip. I know of very few things I would take seriously. I would take more trips. I would be crazier. I would climb more mountains, swim more rivers and watch more sunsets. I would do more walking and looking. I would eat more ice cream and less beans. I would have more actual troubles, and fewer imaginary ones.”

“You see, I’m one of those people who lives life prophylactically and sensibly hour after hour, day after day. Oh, I’ve had my moments, and if I had it to do over again I’d have more of them. In fact, I’d try to have nothing else, just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead each day. I’ve been one of those people who never go anywhere without a thermometer, a hot-water bottle, a gargle, a raincoat, aspirin, and a parachute.”

“If I had it to do over again I would go places, do things, and travel lighter than I have. If I had my life to live over, I would start barefooted earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall. I would play hooky more. I wouldn’t make such good grades, except by accident. I would ride on more merry-go- rounds. I’d pick more daisies.”

This friar believes we should make the most of each day and I agree, but his writing reveals that he is looking back instead of forward! He doesn’t seem to understand that he is free, even now, to change his actions, his attitudes, and the methods he is using to measure success. I wish I were a friend of this friar, because he definitely needs a friend to slap him silly. Having gained his attention, the friend could then tell the friar, “Three things are certain. One: Each of us is allowed to measure success in any manner we choose. Two: Each of us is a product, not of our environment, but of our choices. Three: It’s never too late to change. Now go make some changes and please quit whining.”

Many of you reading this are thinking, “What does any of this have to do with advertising? I thought you were an advertising consultant.” That’s a fair question, and it deserves an honest answer.

To excel in advertising, one must learn “what makes people do the things they do.” Therefore, my staff and I continually study human choices and responses so that we might learn how to create that most persuasive of all advertising, the ad which speaks directly to the felt need of the customer. During our daily observations of humanity we have met people who live their lives and evaluate their success by criteria imposed upon them by others. Often, these “others” are people they neither like, nor respect. I don’t understand how this happens, but it does.

In the spirit of the coming new year, let me ask you two questions of my own:
What makes you do the things you do? And how will you measure success?

Roy H. Williams

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