Dreaming. Doing. Whining. Shining.

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(By Deborah Parenti) Since the days of the ancient Babylonians, some 4,000 years ago, people have made New Year’s resolutions. Today, most focus on self-improvement, which may account for the dismal success rate, reported to be in the single digits.

Perhaps some of the reason for failure stems from too much hope and not enough strategy, too much vision but not enough effort. As humans, we are subject to the frailties of our earthly nature. Dreams are big, but reality and everyday distractions intrude along the road to fulfilling loftier aspirations. The kids get sick, this month’s budget is in the tank, and after days of brainstorming big goals and bright ideas, you turn around and no one is behind you, much less alongside you. The can is kicked down the road.

And so a lot of life’s ambitions fail to launch or get stuck in neutral.

I remember a sales rep presenting his annual budget years ago. Along with the numbers, he included a narrative to substantiate them.

There was a lot of “hope” written on that page — literally. He was “hoping” one client would increase spending and “hoping” a new prospect would finally commit. What was lacking was a plan — a strategy designed to get the increase and bring in the new client. In other words, hot air that was only good for popping popcorn, if that.

For many, the easy part is the dream — or in some cases, selling the dream. We’ve all encountered Pied Pipers who can charm and enthrall with the dramatic flair of award-winning actors. Their words are hollow, however. When the work needs to begin — when the rubber hits the road and the time comes for growing the dream into reality, they’ve moved on to chasing the next shiny object because selling a dream is easier than executing one. The truth is, success takes diligence and effort. It’s like farming. You till the soil, plant the crop, water and weed until one day, you reach the point of harvest.

It also reminds me of an evening radio show hosted by the late Maggie Jones, an astrologer, on a station I managed. It was fun, lighthearted, ’90s entertainment; no life-or-death issues were addressed. Maggie did a special segment every evening she called “Whiners and Shiners.” She took gentle jabs at the whiners for using every sign and symbol as a reason to burrow under a rock. Shiners, on the other hand, saw opportunities as something to seize and challenges as something to conquer. Shiners were congratulated and applauded.

The new year is a good time to think not only about what we want to accomplish, but to resolve how we’ll do that. And resolve whether we want to be “whiners or shiners.”

Do you want to grow your career? What steps are you willing to take to make it happen? Since graduating from college, how many industry seminars have you attended? It’s interesting to think that people will pay thousands of dollars for a degree but balk at funding their continuing education once they are employed.

Certainly, it’s always a great benefit (and smart on the company’s part) if the company will foot the bill for employees to attend a Radio Show, an NAB, a CRS, or a Hispanic Radio Conference. Not to mention other learning opportunities, some of which may be local or near one’s home base. But if the company doesn’t pay — or split the costs — there is still one possible option. Pick a conference you think will help you grow, and budget for it yourself. Resolve at the first of the year to save toward it. You will be making an investment in you — and it will also send a message to your employer: You are serious about enhancing and advancing your career.

Among those who have the influence and power to make changes and chart the course of our industry, may your joint resolution be greater, tangible action. If you believe FM chips belong in cell phones, band with others to market the message to consumers, the ones who can make the biggest difference with manufacturers. If telling a better story to Madison Avenue is your hot button, work together to develop the strategy. At last year’s Forecast, such an initiative was proposed and endorsed by several in leadership positions. Thirteen months later, I have yet to see a press release or followup story. We’ve got to stop talking and take action.

We’ve got to turn dreaming into doing. Happy New Year!

Deborah Parenti is Publisher of Radio Ink. She can be reached at parenti@aol.com

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