On Saturday afternoon I visited a posh salon in Los Angeles. The place and the people were way cooler than I am but hey, a friend gave me a referral card worth $25 off a haircut there.
It was a lot like I imagine heaven must be. There were endless cappuccinos, people speaking French and an air that everyone is fabulous in that West Hollywood-Beverly Hills kind of way.
In fact, Meryl Streep was being adored next to me, and she deserved it. She emanates a lightness of heart and liquid grace that previously I associated only with crème brule. Creamy goodness.
And, because everyone in the salon was fabulous, someone recognized me from CNBC and told me how fabulous I am. I suspect they Google you before you come in to make sure that if there’s even a hint of celebrity in your body of work, you are celebrated for it. The woman stopped short of asking for my autograph and I stopped short of asking Ms. Streep for hers. My “fan” did press her contact information on me, actually onto my iPhone.
I came away from the experience with my hair several shades lighter and much, much shorter. My bank account was clipped just under $500 (with the $25 off). C’mon, I had to buy the products, because everyone there was doing it, and they are fabulous. I was thinking for a moment that I was fabulous, too.
Here’s where the story takes an ugly turn.
Swinging my shiny new do, I drove to the new building we’ve renovated with just 20 hours to go before the soft opening and about 100 hours of work to do on it. There was paint on coving running around the perimeter of the space, sticky stuff on the bathroom floors, six thousand feet of recycled rubber flooring to vacuum and mop. At 6 PM, it was just the CEO who’s launching this business and me. All the workman, sub-contractors, even the cleaning people had called it quits before it was quitting time. That is if quitting time means the job is complete and the deadline met.
In one last desperate SOS, I offered $50 to two workers scurrying away. I only did it because we needed two ladders to put up the sign, and without theirs, we had just one.
So at 3 AM on Sunday, I dragged myself home and finished the welcome packages, lined up everything to go, and wrote myself a checklist. At 5 AM I crawled into bed. My mind raced back through the day – did I have everything we needed for the opening just 5 hours away?
And in that mental back tracking, I remembered the posh salon, Meryl Streep and the moment of fabulousness.
I doubt Meryl went back to a building and scrubbed floors. Even the woman who played the part of my fan must have enjoyed a more elegant day. Almost everyone had, I felt sure.
But, no matter where they dined or wined or went for amusement, I don’t know that anyone had a better day than I did. There is something life affirming about digging deep when you are so tired it is impossible to go on, and go on. There is something outstanding about finding the one person, and he’s your partner, who works alongside you and does all the heavy lifting (literally).
Personal brands: don’t quit before quitting time. Stay and get it done. Then, double check your work. Don’t go to bed without making a checklist for the next day. In front of the door, line up all your files and briefcase. Locate your keys.
Successful personal brands much like all star athletes: play tired, play hurt and play as if it’s the last game of the regular season with a championship tournament slot on the line.
That’s how Meryl Streep does her craft and career. I just build companies and wash floors.