Have you made bouillabaisse lately? It’s the traditional Provençal fish stew from the port city of Marseille. To make one you fill a pot with all kinds of fresh seafood including fish, mussels, clams, octopus, and langoustines and a whole mess of vegetables such as leeks, onions, tomatoes, celery, tomatoes, and potatoes. The whole mix is brought to a rollicking boil and then served with grilled slices of crusty bread and rouille – a mayonnaise seasoned with olive oil, garlic, saffron, and cayenne pepper. Yum, right?
While the bouillabaisse boils away on your stove it fills the kitchen with fragrant garlicky deliciousness. It’s hard to keep from lifting the lid and inhaling deeply, maybe even dunking a piece of crusty bread into the bubbling broth.
But be careful. Because when you raise the lid on the bouillabaisse all kinds of things can come shooting out of the hot pot. Some of the splatters can stain your clothes, some can burn your arms, and some just dirty up the countertop.
It’s the same with getting married, starting a family or starting a business. You try to put only good things into the bouillabaisse pot but when you check on it later the results aren’t always as ‘delicious’ as you expected. And each time you reach into the proverbial pot to see how the bouillabaisse is coming along, you risk getting burned.
Spouses disagree. Kids fight back. Clients aren’t always as thrilled with your work as you thought they’d be. Hell, even blog readers post comments that aren’t always as complimentary as you expected.
But just like the French stew that often tastes much better than the sum of its part would suggest, our relationships often pay delicious dividends that we never expected.
Take this blog for example. When I uploaded my first post seven years ago, my intentions were simple. I wanted to get some hands-on experience to help our clients transition their businesses into the nascent online world and I was hoping to generate some new accounts and revenue for my ad agency. Both those things have happened, but the road to success wasn’t always smooth or linear.
When I started the blog I expected readers to be complimentary – and most are. But I also naively assumed that people who didn’t like what I wrote would either quietly unsubscribe or post thoughtful, albeit critical, commentary. Boy, was I wrong. If I posted some of the nastier responses I’ve received they would singe your eyeballs. I’m constantly amazed at how much time and vitriol anonymous forums encourage – this blog included.
At the same time, I’m also amazed at the thoughtful commentary and insight my readers share. If it’s true that we teach what we need to learn; then my habit of writing about things I’m learning about has been rewarded with great advice time after time. For all of you who have contributed to my blog (and my growth), thank you.
For those of you thinking about writing a blog and wondering if it’s worth the time and effort, here are some other great benefits this exercise has given me.
- I was asked to comment a specific issue on FOX Business. That invitation has grown into over 300 national TV appearances so far and provided lots of great opportunities.
- Our agency has received many new business requests from different companies.
- I’ve been invited to tour the LA facility where Singer Vehicle Design remanufactures classic Porsche 911s. I haven’t been yet but I can’t wait to get to LA. WOOT!!
- I’ve received invitations to speak at conferences around the world and have visited some wonderful places and made some great new friends.
- Mike Faith, the CEO of Headsets.com, was generous enough to send me a wonderful Bluetooth headset for my desk.
- Mike Pappas started running with our group.
- Over 53,000 people have registered for this blog and at least 18% of you read it every week. Your comments are my favorite part of the blog bouillabaisse. Thank you.
Yet the best thing is that this bouillabaisse of a blog disciplines me to think more deeply about issues that are on my mind and to organize my thoughts into cogent conversations – while it also forces me to work on my writing. And it helps me build a stronger relationship with you.