Monday, August 22, 2011
David Perry on Being a Successful Connector
David Perry is the CEO / founder of David Perry & Associates, Inc., an award-winning full service communications firm with international reach based in San Francisco. DP&A’s specialties include community and government affairs, social media, public/media relations, crisis communications, web and graphic design and a full suite of video production and special event services.
Perry serves on the Board of Directors for ChinaSF whose goal is to attract and retain Chinese investment and business expansion into San Francisco and the Bay Area, and to also support San Francisco Bay Area businesses in their business efforts in China. With offices in Beijing, Shanghai & San Francisco, ChinaSF is a public-private initiative of the San Francisco Center for Economic Development (SFCED), in close partnership with the City of San Francisco’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD), supported by funding from private sector partners.
He was kind enough to carve out some time to share his views of success and productivity in the following interview:
LCL.- What is your definition of success and have you achieved it?
DP.- I remember after my mother died, finding a scrap of paper in her desk in her handwriting that said: "Success is a journey, not a destination." That has stuck with me for the last 34 years. Success is doing work you enjoy and feeling that you've contributed something to the common good, no matter how small. It's self-measured, not gauged by others.
LCL.- How do you help others become successful by means of your services?
DP.- I'm what the book The Tipping Point refers to as a "connector." I like putting people together: media with clients; clients with customers; friends with friends. My job is, as I say in my firm's tagline, is to "create dialogue fearlessly." I don't believe anyone can truly control anything -- certainly not in the realm of public relations or communications. Communications are not controllable, but you can help create an environment in which informed conversations takes place. That's what I do for our clients and colleagues.
LCL.- What does a typical day look like for you?
DP.- Like right now -- 6:30am: hour of reading news and social media posts on my iPhone, huddled in the dark in bed with coffee on one side and husband on the other.
8am: gym (unless some early morning crisis averts that discipline)
9am-6pm: client correspondence / email and the deluge begins. I'm a great believer in "to do" lists and every time I have an idea I type it into my daily calendar so that I don't forget it. Typical day involves advising clients on media strategy; setting up a media preview or launch for a client and in-between actually writing original copy / text about a project. And -- always -- throughout the day I'm talking / e-chatting with members of the press and sharing info about our clients. Every one of our clients gets "pitched" in some way, every day. I have a number of standing meetings with clients but if I can, I avoid them. Most meetings are deadly and inefficient for advancing a real workload. I'm constantly getting info via social media and email and much prefer one-on-one and short exchanges of info to old-fashioned business confabs. In the evening, although I'm often pulled into an after work networking or client event, I'm home with my contact lenses off, feet up and laptop on my lap checking to see what "to do" list items got digitally crossed off. Weekends -- one day of nothing and one day to be proactive about work projects, think and create original written content.
LCL.- Do you believe in balance (family/work)?
DP.- Yes. My husband and family come first. I love my work but the main reason I love it is because it gives me a life that is creative, diverse and helps support my at-home reality. Balance isn't always "1/2 work”.
LCL.- What would you tell others who want to live a successful life but feel they aren’t quite there yet?
DP.- Breathe and stop complaining: nothing ever got achieved by negativity or fear. This isn't mystical advice - it's practical. Whatever you're feeling negative about, stop and ask yourself: what have I got going in my life that's positive? The fact is: anyone reading this article has more advantages and gifts than 98?% of the world's population. Use those gifts to help others, and be patient with yourself.
LCL.- What have you yet have to do in life?
DP.- Take a full year to do nothing but write. That, I would like to do. My favorite writer is P.D. James, who didn't start her (incredible) writing career until after she finished a 30-year stint working in the British civil service. I'm hoping I get the same chance!