Are You Contagious?

I was on a conference call today when it hit me.

A few colleagues and I were chatting with some fine folks who founded and run a non-profit agency, which we had decided to help on a pro bono basis. As we talked about why they created the agency and what their hopes and dreams are, their enthusiasm reached through the phone and grabbed me. Their passion was contagious and I had caught it.

Many non-profit staffers are unashamed evangelists for their agencies’ causes, of course. They usually sign on with the agency – or in this case, create it – because it serves a need they are passionate about. My question, though, is why can’t more of us who work on the for-profit side exude the same energy about our brands?

Sure, our days are long, our colleagues sometimes difficult and our pride is often swallowed. But those are all things those in the non-profit world face, too. The difference is that they believe in the brands they serve so strongly that they look past the lows and forward to the highs. And that is what makes the difference.

We don’t have to work at a non-profit to believe in our brands. We just have to find the right agencies, the right clients or the right companies to hang our hats at every day. Of course, those places will be different for each of us. But we can join the cause with those whose visions we believe in and get thrilled by the prospect of helping achieve them.

Whatever the profession of choice is, life is far too short not to be passionate about your day job. As I told a recent interviewee who was applying for a position at my agency:

“I spend more time each weekday with my colleagues than I do my family. And I love my family. So if I’m going to spend more time with colleagues than with people I actually love, then I want them to be passionate about working here, too.”

Yes, we all have rough days in this business, but are you energized by your work more days than not? Is your passion contagious? What ways do you keep priming the pump so it pours out every day and positively effects those around you?

Update – *After posting this, I bounced over to my Google Reader. While scanning through my RSS feeds, I found that Geoff Livingston wrote a post earlier today along the same topic. It’s well worth a read, so I wanted to share it with you, too.

*Image by Alex de Carvalho.

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9 responses to “Are You Contagious?

  1. David, excellent conversation starter as always. This is why I love working on the agency side – because I’m surrounded by energetic professionals and they keep me sharp as well as excited about what we’re doing. Another thing that has helped breathe new life into my work is social media. Blogging and integrating new media applications into the daily work of PR have filled me with passion and possibility again. I’ve been doing this a long time but right now in our industry there is so much changing that it’s exciting getting to pioneer new and better ways of doing things. Whoever said “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” had it right. When you love what you’re doing and you’re on fire about it, then it really doesn’t feel like work despite long hours, early mornings and late nights.

  2. Unfortunately I am not.

  3. Nice post. As someone who works for a nonprofit, I see passion for mission a lot, and it is “contagious.”

    “Sure, our days are long, our colleagues sometimes difficult and our pride is often swallowed. But those are all things those in the non-profit world face, too…” Thanks for pointing this out, too. I’ve found that challenges in the for-profit and nonprofit worlds often more similar than one might think.

    Thanks. I’ll have to check out Geoff’s post as well.

  4. @Lara – Thanks. I haven’t had the pleasure of working on the client side yet, but the energy level within most agencies is one of the reasons I’ve loved agency life so much throughout my career so far. Well, that and things like Beer Cart Thursdays. 🙂

    Learning about social media and ways to (appropriately) integrate it into clients’ communication strategies has definitely helped give a boost to my passion for the business, as well.

    @Scott – I totally disagree with you. Every time you talk about your upcoming book or the topic of your next podcast, you become instantly contagious. I’ve seen it first hand.

    @Elaine – Thanks for sharing your view from the non-profit side. Here’s hoping that things at Goodwill of North Georgia today DON’T include a long day, difficult colleagues or any pride swallowing. 🙂

  5. Great post as always…a couple years ago I was going to night school at UCLA trying to change my career to landscape architecture until I realized that I actually love recruiting! I am also a big believer in working in-house on the agency side, as I find that there are some very passionate people like yourselves on this end and I love to interact with people that are full of soul! (I am still following artistic pursuits on the side which is where they fit in best for me…) Another related topic today on Seth Godin’s blog:

    http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2008/10/maybe-you-cant.html

  6. David, if only I were getting paid to do those things. When it comes to my day job I’m about as contagious as a bottle of Listerine.

  7. David, as always, beautifully put. I feel that the only way to do great work and is to put your blinders on and make everything you do about the work. Forget the politics. Forget the negative energy. Forget that you are not valued or appreciated enough. And just remember why you got in this business in the first place and focus on the fun part of creating, that’s the only kool-aid any of us should be drinking. Because, face it, if we’re drinking the bad kool-aid, well we know how that story ends and it sure ain’t pretty!

  8. Pingback: Why do you practice PR? « Everyday PR

  9. Pingback: Why do you practice PR? | The PR Practitioner

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