Thursday, August 24, 2017

Maintaining Balance In Our Bodacious Dog Mom Life Part 3: Stop Focusing On Popularity

Shortly over 10 years ago, I started my career with a privately owned online deal site. Less than a year after becoming an independent contractor, the company was sold to a major media company. I stayed on board until 2012 when the original owner of the deal site bought it back from the media company. A week before that happened, I was hired by another company. I gave my notice and transitioned. Since then, in addition to working for this company, I've been an independent contractor for several well-known entrepreneurs.

Periodically, throughout the past decade, when working on various large scale projects, there's alway been an emphasis and push to get in with the popular circles. This included popular and trendy retailers, the big names in the entrepreneurial world, submitting articles to online publications like Mashable, Entrepreneur, Forbes, and getting friendly with celebrity status Mommy Bloggers.

It was always a big deal when someone from these, and other, groups acknowledged you. It was an even bigger deal when they agreed to do an interview with you. There was no amount of effort too great when it came to achieving all of that.

A former client of mine from a few years ago used to send me virtual Starbucks Gifts Cards when I scored an interview with a high profile blogger or sealed a deal with a popular retailer. I love Starbucks, but the closest one is over 20 minutes away. Eventually, I started ordering Starbucks online. Ground coffee. Flavored syrups. A couple of glasses. A Christmas ornament.

In short, in my former line of work, it was all about who you knew, who you sat with, who you had lunch with, who gave you a shout out, who you sipped cocktails with, etc.

When we launched Bodacious Biscuit Love, I utilized my experience over the last decade to make it all work. That included my efforts to gain access to The Popularity Club.

Let's face it, The Popularity Club resides in most places. Work. School. Organizations. Rescue groups. Volunteer groups. Sports. Etc.

The Popularity Club consists of a handful, or more, who have been deemed what I refer to as "celebrity status." They may have thousands of followers. They're known by name. Most everyone wants to be acknowledged by them. If you're invited to one of their large or small parties, it's a big deal. When you're lucky enough to get a photo with them, that's rather spectacular. If they reach out to you to do or assist with a fundraiser, you suddenly find yourself walking on sunshine. You wouldn't dare say no to them or speak up when they didn't follow through with a commitment.

You get where I'm going with this?

My marketing brain wasn't in it to be seen with them or to piggy back off their followers. My intent was to get my foot in the door. Meet them. Learn from them. Find a suitable place amid their efforts and mission where our mission could collaborate and fit in. They had years and years and years of experience. My brain is like a sponge. I wanted to learn, observe, obtain much-needed wisdom and possibly get some exposure.

What ended up happening is I put in a great deal of effort to do stuff for them...but, they never followed through on their end. And, they very seldom gave me the time of day.

One such example, out of a few, was during the Summer of 2015. We were invited to an event that was well over an hour away. We said yes. The group who invited us supported our mission and they're really great people. To this day, they continue to invite us to events.

Aside from that, there was another perk. We were going to meet a woman who is very well known here in Connecticut. Her following, along with her group's following, is tremendous. She's done so many wonderful things for animals in need. At the time, she was one of my idols.

Prior to this event, we had done 2 fundraisers for her and the organization she founded. One small. One really, really, big. And, we had donated a lot of biscuit love to her throughout the year and on the holidays. Lisa had even made a trip to her establishment, an hour away, to deliver biscuit love. 

I reached out to let her know we'd be in the area on such and such a date. She agreed to stop by and meet us. I was beyond excited. I baked lots of extra biscuits for her along with some fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. We had a huge box of goodies for her.

The event was located in the parking lot of a popular luncheon spot. I figured we could grab some lunch, eat at our display, chat, share experiences, and I could ask her questions and she could share her wisdom.

The day of the event, I was bursting at the seams. We had Lobo with us. Our display looked awesome. The traffic was slow, but we chatted with other vendors and enjoyed the music.

My "idol" was an hour late showing up. She arrived with a couple of other people. We met. Hugged. We presented her with the huge box of goodies. Shortly after, she asked if we could hang onto the box while they looked around.

Sure, not a problem.

They returned to grab the box. We asked if we could get a group photo with Lobo. They did. The photo session was rushed because Lobo's barking got on their nerves.

They left our display area. Put the box in their vehicle. Returned to the parking lot area and went inside the luncheon place to have lunch.

I have no shame in admitting that I had to hold back tears. I was crushed. Lisa handles stuff like that much better than I do. She knew I was crushed. I knew Lisa was pissed because of what had happened. She knew how much it meant to me to finally get to meet this woman. She knew all we had done for her and them. She knew this woman was my idol in the animal rescue world. She had listened to all of my excitement on the way to the event.

I sat in my chair waiting for them to exit the luncheon. Lobo was on my lap. He was exhausted. They finally left the luncheon about an hour later. They didn't stop by our vendor area to chat, say thank you or even for a quick goodbye. They didn't even wave.

I'll never forget the look on Lisa's face when she witnessed the same thing I was. She just looked at me with the most sympathetic look on my face. She knew there was nothing she could say at that very moment to ease how I was feeling.

On the way home, though, it all came out. The both of us vented.

How does any of this have to do with restoring and maintaining balance?

For starters, regardless of your motive, trying to get your foot in the door and getting friendly with The Popularity Club requires a lot of time and energy. While you're devoting all of that time and energy to that, there's a lot going on around you that you're not paying attention to or letting slide.

A few years ago, when I was being pushed into getting friendly with some celebrity Mommy Bloggers, I didn't have time to focus on the non-celebrity status bloggers who were exceptionally talented, writing books, and had a reputable following. My client didn't want to hear about those people.

Now those bloggers are doing incredibly well and have published several books. I read their blogs almost every day and they're my inspiration.

Some of the former celebrity status Mommy Bloggers are now considered has-beens and have fallen off the charts.

The Popularity Club isn't all it's cracked up to be. Sitting at their table isn't as great as you think it is. Your time at that table is probably going to be short lived. That duration will all depend on what you're doing for them at the time.

When we did a fundraiser for someone in The Popularity Club, we got a ton of likes on our Bodacious Biscuit Love Facebook page. Their followers noticed us. However, when the fundraiser was over with, they unliked our page and moved on.

Too much time and effort towards The Popularity Club will throw off your balance. You'll lose sight of those who have stuck by your side since day one. You'll get a little lost.

We learned that the hard way.

Now, we focus on what's important to us. Helping pet parents in need. Providing Bodacious Care Packages. Helping our local shelters. Creating homemade dog treat recipes so Dog Parents can have access to healthy, inexpensive, homemade treats. Creating DIY Dog Mom Projects with supplies that are easily attainable. Providing resources for low-cost spay and low-cost and vaccinations (coming soon).

Sure, on occasion, a well-known organization or someone with a gold card to The Popularity Club will reach out to us wanting 50 bags of biscuits for their fundraiser or several Bodacious Raffle Baskets. Due to the changes we've made, we're not able to do it. We don't care who you are. How many followers you have. How many people worship the ground you walk on. If we can't do it, we can't do it. Simple as that.

No one gets special treatment. 

We're definitely not in The Popularity Club. And, we don't care. I'll take it a step further and say that we don't care what people think or say about us.

What matters to us is staying focused on our mission and providing as much as we can, when we can.

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