Money Talks

Cedric Brown Avatar

Somebody made an interesting remark to me via Twitter a while ago.  He asked me and a few of his other followers this million dollar question: “They say you’ve got to pay your dues, but when do you get to cash the check?” My first thoughts on that question were something like, “Huh?” But, when you really take some time to think about the question’s meaning, it really makes you wonder what it really means to “pay your dues”.  I’m hoping the question doesn’t still have you lost.  If you’re finding yourself drowning in confused thoughts, allow me to call the U.S. Coast Guard to your rescue. Or, I could just explain what the question means instead.

Simply put: everyone should know that “paying your dues” means to do your due diligence and put in some hard work.  Some would even argue that working hard is not the answer, but rather working smart is one of the keys to being successful.  Whatever your stance is, “work” is the key word that it takes to truly “pay your dues.”  And there’s a variety of ways to pay your dues.  For some, it may be applying yourself to your academic studies.  For others, it may mean actually paying your dues literally out-of-pocket to invest in yourself, either through networking events or professional organizations and clubs.  And while we’re on the topic, you may have to pay your dues to your church, too (hey, it’s a deductible expense come tax time)!

All this talk about paying dues and cashing checks has me wondering: Is this what y'all want?!?!

But, what about “cashing the check?”  That, is what has us all wondering, and in some extreme cases, sending us into a mid-life crisis.  Not that serious?  Well, if you’re thinking like me (and that’s impossible to do), cashing your check is when you finally say without a hint of doubt in your mind: “I’ve arrived!”  When you arrive, you get that invincible feeling that no one and no thing can take away from you.  While this feeling can be somewhat misleading (since at any moment everything can be taken from you), it still feels great to say that you’ve obtained everything in your wildest dreams and have earned the right to strut your Kanye West attitude – because we “can’t tell you nothin’, right?”  Let’s face it, there’s no greater feeling in the world than being successful. But, how do you “arrive?”

As I ultimately answered my friend, you cash your check when you do something that’s special.  Not special in a sense that people are worrying about your well-being, but special in a way that you’ve changed that landscape you’re involved in.  Landscape can refer to your industry, your environment, your league, your profession, or anything that has an impact on how you achieve success.  How do you know when you’ve done something to change your landscape?

Exhibit A: Chiddy Bang, the rap duo who introduced us to their new album “Breakfast” this week (it was introduced last week to the lucky iTunes subscribers).  Have you listened to their music lately?  You may be familiar with the hit single, “Opposite of Adults” which came out late in 2010. They’re mixture of techno-indie pop production with a hint of old school hip-hop flow makes them stand out in a rap music genre that many would say is heavily commercialized and lacking in depth.  Actually, if you listen closely to Chiddy’s lyrics, they talk about some of the same things most rappers do; however, it’s the creative and child-like feel to their lyrics that makes their music truly unique and fun to listen to.  Together, Chidera “Chiddy” Anamege and Noah “Xaphoon Jones” Beresin are on a mission to alter the landscape of the hip-hop industry.

Exhibit B: In a way, I’m also out to alter the landscape of the public relations/marketing industry with my freelance services.  Remember in my last post how I talked about taking my first major criticisms to abrothanamedCed?  I’ve had some time to digest the blows and work on healing my wounds.  While I admittedly have a long way to go before I’ve arrived, I still believe I’m on the right track.  Just think: if I were to brand myself as a publicist, that would leave me hanging to dry when it comes to starting conversations.  There’s a ton of publicists out here, and branding myself as such adds little value to anyone.  But, by branding myself as a “marketing communications artist”?  That gets people curious (for better or worse).  While essentially I am a freelance publicist and marketer, being a marketing communications artist is my way of attempting to change the way people think about my profession.

They say this is a small world.  I would also argue that it’s a very monotonous world, where everyone is trying to fit in and mimic the methods of others just to get their 15 minutes of fame.  I say, to hell with being like everyone else.  The world’s most remarkable people are those who are different. They’re people they don’t get involved with doing what everyone else does, but instead they’re trying to change the way everyone else does what they do.  And that’s what it takes to truly stand out in this world: people who change the landscape.  Like Dr. Seuss said, why fit in when you were born to stand out?

For taking the time out to read another one of my long posts, enjoy the video below!

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