Doing the Work is Sexy


Dorothy Parker said, “I hate writing. I like having written.” I know many people who are like that about their business, their trade. I know many more people who love to fantasize about what life will be like when they make it, but they like to skip over the part with the hard work, or they give it a sentence or two.

Here’s a hint: the work part is what brings the money part.

How to Get Very Lucky In Life

A few days ago, I came a lot closer to being able to cross something huge off my bucket list. I can’t talk about it just yet, but essentially, I was able to shoot video and talk with a legend of mine. That didn’t happen because someone was looking around to find the right kind of person to do this interview. I asked for it. And I asked for it after having done that person a decent job turning around some work in short order, on top of the work I’d already handed in.

In essence, I was able to check something off of my bucket list because I worked hard enough to earn the shot at doing it.

I’m lucky like that all the time. I spent 12 years (and counting) learning how to create compelling information and nurture relationships with the people who interact with that information. After twelve hard years (many of them without making a cent or receiving much recognition), I get lucky. Luck just comes pouring in all around me. I just sit back and let it all just happen.

Yeah, right.

Luck, Like Love, is a Verb

Both luck and love are verbs that run on work. In 2012, one of my three words is “practice.” I’ve said it repeatedly like this: “the practice is the reward.” When I practice, and when I do the work, I attain luck. Your relationships work like that, don’t they? Your business relationships require nurturing. Your personal relationships require nurturing. Everything you do to add value requires work. Playing a musical instrument, singing, painting, sinking the three point shot in basketball, dealing without flipping over the cards ( Hi, Dad!), are all skills that come from a lot of work.

Make the Work Sexy

I’m on day 9 of 12 in 12 and it’s hard to stick with something every single day in a row. But by making this commitment, I’m already seeing the fertile soil where the seeds of my effort will eventually yield results. When I tackle this work every day, I start with a smile. I force a HUGE smile onto my face. WHY? Because it gets me closer to feeling like the work is sexy. When I write the 2000 words I have due every day on my book, I celebrate each finish with a private cheer and I make sure that I celebrate that work. Why? Because the practice is the reward.

Tell No One

Read this post by Derek Sivers. He’s pointing out something important that I first learned from Jacqueline: telling someone about your goals and talking about your goals out loud can have the opposite effect that you’re intending. It can signal the body that you’ve already accomplished the goal, and then a bunch of interesting reactions happen that keep you from actually doing the work you just got done telling everyone you were planning to do. I had that conversation last night with Rob Hatch as well. Evidently, talking about work is far less sexy.

But Chris: YOU Tell People Your Goals

I do, because I’m trying to model what goals can do for you. But believe me, that does make it harder. I’m writing this on day 9 of my #12in12. I don’t really want to jump down and do an hour of yoga. It’s not the work that’s hard. It’s that “hour.” But when I go back to the 25 minute program, that’s not all that useful to me. So, I’ve made it harder on myself.

But secretly, and don’t tell anyone this, I like it even more because it means that I have to work even harder to achieve these goals, because if I’ve done all the bragging, and all those chemicals supposedly tell me I’m done, then I have to work with even more effort, and something about the challenge of that is fun to me.

Being The Boss Is Sexy

I’m the boss of my own company now, and some people think that’s sexy. Of course, those of you who own your own company know exactly how nonsexy it can be (often), but let’s let the mystique linger a bit, shall we? Besides, I have a hunch.

I was an owner long before I was the boss. I owned my desk at my telephone company job, and that got me better opportunities, because I owned everything I could and make it my responsibility to do even more than the role required on paper. When I moved to my wireless telecom roles, I owned every one of them. I worked harder on projects that weren’t my assigned work while completing the job they paid me for as well. So I was an owner before I became the boss.

And now, as a boss? I never call Rob my employee. I call him my partner. He technically works for me, but Rob works with me. When I ran New Marketing Labs, we called our clients partners, too. Because business is about belonging.

So if you’re not the boss yet, become an owner. Either way, it gets you closer to doing the sexy work.

There Is Work in All Things

Watch a gorgeous red-tailed hawk find a heat pocket and glide on it a while and you’ll see all the grace and beauty of flight. But that hawk flaps more often than he glides, and his entire life is boiled down to trying to hunt for food in a dwindling habitat (which is why we can observe more and more red-tailed hawks). A duck sliding like glass across a pond is paddling furiously under the water to stay in motion.

Do the work. Make it sexy. The practice is the reward. runs on the Genesis Framework

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  • newmediajim

    that’s what Mrs. Long says about housework :)

  • Daniel Waisberg

    Great article Chris, very insightful

  • Daniel Waisberg

    Great article Chris, very insightful. 

    Reminds me of a quote I once heard: “Some people say I became successful suddenly. What they don’t know is that it took me 25 years to become successful suddenly” (Vik Muniz) 

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  • Naked Girl in a Dress

    This post is timely for me. I landed a freelance gig as a social media consultant a few days ago to help with the launch of a political site in the first week of the New Year. Between this new gig and my teaching schedule in the next two months, I am surprised by what revenue I have “banked” already for the new year. 

    I have been excited about the results in the first 8 days of 2012, but continue to come back to the realization that it was the work in 2011 that allowed me to start off so successfully this year.

    Passion for what I do and hard work brought about this “lucky” start to the year.

    Love this post Chris!

  • Raul Colon


    I see it very often with a lot of people who go back to get degrees they sometimes think success comes with having the right degree or on occasions the right amount of degrees. 

    Many of them I see lack drive in what they do and they expect that their academic experiences in the past will carry them know. 

    A lot of things we do especially when you are doing thing out of passion and because you like them over time can pay off. People will call it luck success etc and on occasions those who emphasize more that you had great luck where the ones that would have quick one/tenth of the way into it. 

    by the way I loved the Duck Analogy! 

  • Samantha W.

    Chris, this is an awesome post and strikes a chord.  I just started reading a book “Stop Saying You’re Fine” by Mel Robbins (started yesterday) and this post really resonates with a lot of the messaging in that book.
    And, as a side note – I’m going to steal your phrase this week: “The practice is the reward” – I hope you don’t mind – I’ll treat it nicely. :) 

  • Owen Marcus

    Work is sexy when it is fun. It’s fun when you are doing what you want to do.

    As you would say, it doesn’t mean everything you do is fun. It means that at the end of the day you not only got closer to your goals – you added value to your life and someone else’s.

    I was blessed 35 years ago to have stumbled into a field that gave me purpose. Even on those days after a large lost, I still felt I was making a difference. My failures were mine. They weren’t perpetrated by another. They were something I at least co-created.

    After college I traveled taking one depressing job after another. Working as a construction foreman in the blizzards of Colorado I vowed I would do what it took to find meaningful work. I thought it was going to grad school. Fortunately circumstance saved me.

    Because of my misery of bad work I took a chance on a little know profession. That leap of faith transformed me and my professional life. Suddenly education then work became sexy. Every day I come home feeling blessed because I found a sexy career.

  • The Franchise King

    Nice post, Chris.

    I want my sexy back.

    And being the boss…it’s still much better than the alternative.

    The Franchise King® 

  • Kimberly

    I was (for realz) just thinking last night about how hard you must have worked to make all of your success happen.  Thanks for further articulating what the dealio is here.

    I was reading the story of a now famous author who started by publishing her own book online because not one big house would publish it for her.  (“Switched” author, I think it was, Amanda Hocking).  She said she learned that you can’t just have passion, you have to have a GREAT WORK ETHIC!  And that is where most people fail to connect their passion and dreams to the success part.  It’s the work ethic.  AND yanno what?  Work sure as hell can be FUN and SEXY.  *meow*  :)

  • Kimberly

    p.s.  A lot of that work is internal as well.  In business and in relationships.  Just this weekend I was hurt by something my partner said/did and it took me just over one whole day and night to let go of it.  It was an amazing amount of work, but I’m getting faster at letting things go the more I …. wait for it . . .P R A C T I C E.  :)

  • Brandignity

    I LOVE the calling your employees and clients “partners.” 

    Most “old school” business professionals LOVE the idea of a hierarchy in the work place.  The “I’m better than you” complex which is completely outdated these days.  Modern day companies are jumping on board but there are still people out there that  treat their employees like crap which is definitely not the way to go.  

    You’re so right, if you work hard, you WILL see results.  I’ve never met a  successful person that has ever said “building my business was easy.”  

  • Ryan Hanley

    Uncomfortable success Bro!  Keep killin’ it… You lucky SOB…

  • Social Bullets

    Success is something which is not very easy but it’s also not impossible. Telling your goals to people may affect your productivity is true but discussing the goals is a need to do better work. 

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  • Mike

    Insightful post (as always) Chris.

    It’s like my wife and I tell our two boys: “sometimes you make your luck.”  The world owes you nothing.  You need to get off your butt and make things happen for yourself.

    I’m so tired of people who are constantly looking for the ‘easy way’ to success.  There is no easy way.  It takes hard work, determination, and sometimes blood, sweat and tears.

    Been there.  Done that.  Thanks for the reminder.


    P.S.  Enjoy your yoga session.  : – )

  • Bassam Tarazi

    Great post, Chris! I was telling someone the other day who was upset that they weren’t getting enough readers/clients. She said, “How come no one is coming to my site. They are supposed to be.” And I said, “The minute you think someone is supposed to do something for you, is the minute you failed.” I told her to keep tinkering, to keep putting in the effort, to control the things she could control.

    Also, while stating a goal can sometimes have the opposite effect that you had intended, making a goal public and having people follow up with that goal is a way to keep the false sense of accomplishment at bay.

    Keep rocking, man! Your stuff makes the day better and makes my brain work, which is always a good thing.

  • Josh Cantrell

    Chris, a helpful quote that encapsulates some of what you just wrote is on the wall in our Think Tank:

    “I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.” -Thomas Jefferson.

    Thanks for the post.

  • amandamagee

    I’ve been working at a higher awareness of where I am now being more important than the point of focus I have as my goal. This isn’t to say that I stop pursuing the goal, but just that I cease to see not physically touching the goal right this second as failure. This perspective also keeps me agile enough to change my tack as conditions sometimes demand.

    The sexy thing is compelling.

  • Pauline

    I like your last paragraph, and quite true there is work in everything.

    If we were to define work as that which makes us exhausted, guess that would encompass everything including sleeping and eating.

    The secret therefore lies with keeping your eye on the ball, this should be the motivator.

    Thanks Chris

  • Sarah

    This is perfect! I’m a freelance editor outside of my day job, and it’s decidedly less than glamorous to stay home on the weekends and stare at my computer screen for hours upon hours at a time. The sexy part is handing over a flawlessly perfect manuscript (before the due date, which is always my personal goal) with only my fiance knowing about the headaches and crossed eyes I suffered in order to deliver. It’s the perfect system — look like a magic-worker, work like a maniac, and get a supportive shoulder-rub from the one person familiar with me from both perspectives.

  • Ashley

    I like how you say “luck” is a verb. It’s true. Great, great post!

  • Yasir Khan

    As a consultant you are, in effect, your own boss – something which can be very satisfying and extremely enjoyable!You have the ability to be far more independent than permanent employees. freedom to work when you choose, where you choose (depending on available projects of course) and for however long you like. There is a direct link between work effort and reward which sometimes doesn’t exist as an employee.

  • Minter Dial

    One of my favorite quotes has always been: “Luck comes before work only in the dictionary.”  I particularly like this quote because it works in pretty much every language I know, except in German (and Russian curiously)!

  • Anonymous

    Fantastic observations about work and luck, Chris! I just recently got comfortable with being the boss. My attitude changed, gradually, of course, and everything else changed with it, including how colleagues and clients view me. Respect is powerful, and brings more “luck” – thanks for encouraging us every day….enjoy your new quest, and I look forward to hearing more about your 12 in 12 success.

  • Matches Malone

    There is no luck. Only divine intervention. 

    Totally OT: Will you be hanging out after your keynote, or leaving immediately tomorrow?

  • Alba Figueroa

    The key here is consistency.  When you consistently do you best work you get your best rewards.

  • Sarah Arrow

    Have you read “Do the Work” by Steven Pressfield? I highly recommend that you do (if you haven’t) In the book he quotes someone on writing (I forget who, maybe Somerset Maughn) and the quote goes along the lines of…
    “I’m lucky my inspiration turns up at 9,30 every morning when I sit down to write”. He goes on to explain that because he sits down to write, that inspiration arrives. If he didn’t, it wouldn’t. It’s your practice.

    There is no shame in doing the work, you appreciate something more having earned it. There is no deeper satisfaction in having tried hard, persevering and achieving the goal. Ok, there’s spaghetti carbonara, but that’s tasteless compared to doing the work. 

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  • Henry Louis

    Hi Chris! I like your way of presentation about how to make your work sexy and attractive. And also, as Alba mentioned here, consistency also plays very important role in getting best rewards. Nice post.

  • Gildo Bittencourt

    Um post tão bom que chega emocionar !

  • Laura Leigh Clarke

    hi Chris – Love your point about not telling anyone. I think of it in terms of creating and maintaining tension between the goal and the current situation. I agree with you when you say as soon as you start telling people about the goal, its like you’ve already acheived it, and so you lose the tension which would otherwise be pulling that goal into you now reality.

    Great post!

    Laura Leigh Clarke :-)

  • Dr. Letitia Wright

    I agree, being the boss is sexy and doing the work is sexy! It was great seeing you in Long Beach, CA at the Ent Magazine event! 

  • Dawn at Aimee Mobile Marketing

    EXCELLENT! I agree with all you said and could feel the honesty and passion as I read it.  I have experienced that weird thing that happens when you share too soon.  Thanks

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  • Daniel Milstein

    That is true. As an author and business man, I can relate to how you said, “I was able to check something off of my bucket list because I worked hard enough to earn the shot at doing it”. I hope more people discover your blog because you really know what you’re talking about.  Can’t wait to read more from you!

  • Spatch Merlin

    About not telling anyone of your goals. It does makes a lot of sense to me. I have been reading a lot of web sites publishing their year’s goal and I like reading it but it never dawn on me to publish my set goals in my site. I guess, we share the same principles here. Also, if you make your goals known to everyone it is like letting them know you failed if you don’t meet them at the end of the year. 

  • Jason Goldfarb

    So many people just don’t want to do the hard work! The good stuff all comes with hard work. Terrific post Chris.

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  • Jacko

    Excellent Post.  I think love is a verb and a noun and also an adjective because it really describes how to go about doing things. 

    Its important to understand love though because its how you should feel about what you choose to do.    Don’t be a corporate zombie all your life.

  • لعبة نت

    Lol i don.t seed work is sexy . i see its get me like donky :)

  • Hooker

    The hawk analogy is amazing.

    Writing can be a chore for me some days, but to me the writing is a reward. It’s an awesome feeling to create something from nothing.

    What’s even more awesome is when someone likes it.

    My new goal is to make it sexy :)

    Thanks Chris

  • James@vps hosting

    Everything is sexy once you get to know what you really want to do and when you are happy doing it. Everything is sexy when you become an expert on your craft. 

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  • Brad Lindenberg

    Great article

  • Marjorie Clayman

    Only 868 tweets? Geeze…I hope you can shake that off :)

    I really love this post. I meant to comment on it earlier in the week but got carried away on a heat pocket of my own (well, that sounds a lot nicer than “This week was CUHRAZY.”) Anyway, I love the duck analogy a lot as well. Just watch those feet a’paddling and see if you can keep up. Hummingbirds are good for that too. They look like they’re just floating along but that’s only because they are flapping their wings so fast you can’t really see it. 

    I’m not sure there really is luck per se. I think there’s preparation meets opportunity. Now that’s sexy stuff. 

  • JCB Workwear

    Some good food for thought there – especially about NOT telling people your plans. It sounds wrong but can understand the thought process behind it.

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    LOVE the 12 in 12 idea and well done for getting to 9 already! Have just signed up for it as well now.

    It’s not just the work though as it’s lovely to look back on the work after it’s completed  and think “I / we’ve done that” and find being busy actually encourages you to be busier! :)

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