Seeing Your Work in Living Color

When you sell advice for your living, you don’t always get physical, tangible ways to see how your work played out.

Sure, you see your clients’ work or lives change, you see shifts in behavior, fresh results—you know you’ve had an impact.

But you don’t always get to hold it in your hand.

That’s one of the things I so treasure about each and every book my clients publish (and yes, I have a section of my bookcase dedicated to them—it makes me smile EVERY time I look).

And even while I’m a die-hard Kindle fan (it’s the only platform I’ll entertain for my thriller/mystery obsession), there are some books that just scream to be devoured the old-fashioned way.

So it was with great pleasure—and I admit, no small amount of pride—that I opened the final artwork for a client’s new book.

I didn’t write the book (just the back cover copy).

But the pride in seeing it in print was palpable.

It NEVER gets old.

Why am I telling you this?

Because I believe we all need tangible reminders of the work we’ve done, the difference we’ve made. Publishing a well-conceived, smartly-written book for yourself can absolutely do that. But there are lots of other ways you can get there if writing isn’t your thing.

I keep a glass jar of colored paper clips on my desk that I bought when I started my first company and realized I could buy the pretty ones—the reds, the oranges, the fun ones. Every time I look at it, I can feel the energy of my first firm and the women that helped make it, well, unforgettable.

Until it exploded in a cross-country move, the crystal gavel given to me when I was named President of a large industry association had pride of place in my office.

The Wall Street Journal reporter who profiled my firm (and included our story in her first book) has her book in a prominent spot in my line of sight. Her original article is in a safe place in my cabinet should I need to reach for it.

And I keep a hard copy version of a “brag book”—every hand-written note of appreciation for those crazy projects with clients and team members I recall fondly.

But it’s not really about looking back. Great work—making a real difference—is about being here, in the moment, right now. It’s when those moments get challenging that a reach for the tangible is a good move.

For me, it’s a reminder that brave clients with big dreams breed great work.

So, am I alone here or do you keep those reminders—physical and virtual—at hand? What reminds you of your greatest works?

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1 Comment

  • Great advice!

    In addition to testimonies and statements, etc. I draft for clients I also try to post any relevant news articles, sometimes to my website (Projects page). I often link to the items on twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Other times, client sites might share the work and that works just fine.

    Several years ago, a friend suggested a create a portfolio representative of my work and experience in government and as a columnist to help promote me early in my first “afterlife” in the private sector. I would email a PDF to my excellent local printer (their proximity obviates any need for large-capacity on-premises copier or printer) to print as needed. Those days I found people less apt to jump on to the Internet to view your work. I can still update the portfolio but any add-on would probably require some deletion since the existing size seems about right.

    I still display around my office some (framed of course) pics of bill-signing ceremonies of laws I played a role in drafting and legislating. They fit my mantra of “Making A Difference” (which you suggested I introduce on my homepage).

    My ebook also celebrates my past work as it imparts helpful and useful knowledge on public policy and politics.

    Nothing wrong about touting your good work!

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