By Mark Schaefer
I come from a world that celebrates impatience.
Most of my career was spent in a large public company where there was only one standard of progress — beat the expectations of Wall Street, every quarter, every year, without excuse, without end.
Life was run in the short-term. It was not unusual to compromise long-term benefits for short-term realities. I can name at least three projects I was involved in that were impatiently de-commissioned before their time — and ended up being enormous successes for other companies. I’m not necessarily being critical of these moves. Executives were simply responding to the conditions of their day, and in fact, the expectations that still persist at every public company that has to answer to shareholders.
And that is why this number — 30 — is so hard to deal with.
The magic of 30
In the process of writing my book KNOWN: The handbook for building and unleashing your personal brand in the digital age, I interviewed nearly 100 people who are known in their fields. Naturally, I wanted to discover how long it took them before they started seeing some results of their hard work (which, without exception, involved creating content of some kind).
I kept waiting for the overnight success. I wanted to hear how people did this in a quarter, or six months, or a year at the most.
But I never heard those words.
Instead, what I determined was that it took, on average, between two and three years for a personal brand to really ignite. Two and half years. Wow. That’s 30 months of patience.
Coming from a corporate mindset, I did NOT want to hear that. I wanted to know how to be successful NOW. But the conclusion is inescapable. To build a successful personal brand today — to become known and realize the mighty benefits that come with it — you must steel yourself and prepare for the long-term.
The resilience imperative
The fact that there really is no such thing as an overnight success, no quick-start formula, no exception to the rule that I could find, made me realize that in this noisy digital world, vicious consistency is more important than having a big idea. Constancy wins over personality. Endurance may even trump talent.
Becoming known today means running a marathon and the winners will be the gritty few who keep going, not those who can merely run sprints fueled by “passion.”
Some of the advice that came through in the book included:
“Nothing replaces perseverance. Lots of people have talent, and few convert that talent into something meaningful. There’s nothing sadder than seeing a project die before its time.” – Dr. Jamie Goode, wine blogger
“I believed in what I was doing but it took three years for things to fall into place.”– Isadora Becker, chef and YouTube food vlogger
“Resilience is an imperative. I believe in resilience so much and if I had to pick just one character trait for success it would be that.” – Zander Zon, YouTube bassist
“Never lose sight of why you started your own movement and keep going even when you’re unsure of your impact.” – Jennifer James, founder of Social Good Moms
So, we need a “30 Month Mindset.” Can you handle that? Are you in?
Mark Schaefer is the chief blogger for this site, executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant. The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world. Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.
Illustration courtesy of Flickr CC and Tsaiproject