Campaign UK

My bag of ‘Nos’


In my at­tic, there’s an old, green John Lewis plas­tic bag. In­side are 200 letters from the early 1990s that all be­gin “Dear Steve” and go on to de­tail why (insert name of se­nior per­son) at (insert name of ra­dio sta­tion) won’t be of­fer­ing me a job as a DJ at the afore­men­tioned sta­tion.

Long be­fore I ended up sit­ting be­hind a desk, my dream was to be a ra­dio DJ. And long be­fore email, good old­fash­ioned letters, with a demo tape in­cluded, were the way you tried to get in the door. As my early demo tape at­tempts de­served to be re­jected, I would send out these letters of op­ti­mism and, not sur­pris­ingly, re­ceive back the blunt letters of re­jec­tion, con­firm­ing that my tape was cur­rently not good enough but they would “keep me on file”.

I kept ev­ery one of those letters, putting them into the John Lewis bag. I’m not sure why I did this but maybe there was a sub­con­scious voice say­ing: “I’ll show them.” So rather than sap­ping my will and en­ergy, these re­jec­tion letters did the re­verse, urg­ing me on with a log­icde­fy­ing per­sis­tence that meant I did fi­nally get that job – at Sig­nal Ra­dio in Stoke.

I’ve kept that bag of letters all these years. It’s pro­vided me with a con­stant re­minder to never let “no” get in the way. And it’s served to re­mind me that if that en­thu­si­as­tic, ra­dio-ob­sessed boy could have a buck­et­load of re­silience back then, then the older, greyer ver­sion cer­tainly can now. Re­silience and not ac­cept­ing “no” – two as­pects that are cru­cial in all the as­pects of run­ning a busi­ness. From win­ning and los­ing, to han­dling clients and projects, look­ing af­ter staff and tal­ent, and keep­ing a fo­cus on the main goal, the green bag has helped in all these chal­lenges.

I haven’t got the bag out of the at­tic for a few years now, but I know ex­actly where it is, and the thought of it is enough to re­mind me that per­sis­tence, drive and fo­cus will al­ways pay off; though, ad­mit­tedly, a good demo tape can help you get there quicker.

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