Before you give up, check out this top advice from our role models.

We all face it sometimes! We put our hearts, energy, and hard work into something, only to realize it does not translate into something we expected.

If you work for a corporation, you could spend hours on this very important work project, only to learn from your boss that it’s not going to materialize as there was “a change of direction.”

If you are an activist, you could prepare an exciting event for your community, only to have three people actually show up. 

Or, if you are an actress, you could go to dozens of castings, only to hear “if you only had slightly different hair” or height, or whatever else they’re missing.

Maybe you are a journalist who worked days and nights on an article that the editor decided to drop at the last minute.

Or maybe you run a side project after-hours, and you feel like it takes longer than expected to reach enough people to scale it.

Or maybe you build a YouTube channel, or a podcast, or a website, or an Instagram page, and you barely receive several “likes,” while another creator generates hundreds of thousands of views by uploading videos of him smelling socks. 

And then this feeling comes: should I give up? What if that doesn’t make any sense? What if I quit my job and move to the mountains and become a shepherd? Or stop going to those castings with this hair? Or should I move from journalism to PR, at least the pay will be better? Or maybe I’m not cut out to be a social activist? Or maybe nobody cares about this little project that I’m doing? 

Well, before you quit, read the advice from some of the role models that we featured on W Insight. I compiled some of the most inspirational excerpts from our interviews for you (and me!). You will thank me later!

  1. Pulitzer Prize winner playwright Martyna Majok,
Photo Martyna Majok (private archives)

About moments of doubts:

I have doubts all the time. Every hour, every minute. It’s active combat. I have to push through it, especially now in COVID. But I think I keep going so I might have the chance to be in a rehearsal room again with other people. And to see what we might make. What other stories there might still be

Martyna Majok in “Pulitzer Prize winner Martyna Majok discusses playwriting as a career choice” (LINK)

About setting goals: 

You can’t really say: I’m gonna win a Pulitzer or I’m gonna get a good review, that’s the goal. That’s kinda outta your hands a lot of the time. But you can say: I’m gonna write the most honest version of a story that I’m capable of at this point in my life. You can look for collaborators that get you. A team of people that brings out the best in each other. And you can hope your work is well received. There’s some goals you can plan (somewhat) and some goals you maybe can’t

About being afraid of failure:

You only have one life. This is it. (This is also me speaking to myself, by the way, reminding myself.) We can continue to be afraid, or we can race toward the thing that makes us feel our fullest. I won’t even say “happiest” because happiness is fleeting. Race with your finite life toward that thing that makes you feel most alive. You’ll absolutely stumble along the way. You will absolutely fail at times. But think about where you’d like to be, what you’d like to do, find out what steps might take you there, talk to people, read, make, and, brick by brick, continue to throw yourself into your own life

2. Magda Wierzycka, ex-CEO of Sygnia Limited and one of the wealthiest women in South Africa

Magda Wierzycka (Photo provided by Sygnia Limited)

About luck (that we have no control over): 

Never underestimate the role that luck plays. There are many people who start companies, who take risks, who work hard and are still not successful. So, unfortunately, luck is that magic ingredient, which I think makes the difference between people who are successful and people who are not. And that is completely beyond your control. (…) (But) Of course, you need to be clever in terms of the decisions that you make. When we started Sygnia, for instance, we didn’t have a business plan, so I sat everyone down and asked: What’s the business model? What do we all have in common? We had one guy who was incredible at coding, another one in operations. I also had some administration people. We brainstormed: What’s our edge? What’s different about us?

Magda Wierzycka in “Millionaire’s advice to women who want to have it all” (LINK)

3. Wojciech Szaulinski, a producer who has worked with top brands, such as LVMH, Tom Ford, Salvatore Ferragamo

Wojciech Szaulinski/ Photo credit: Kuba Kijowski 

About trying to break into the creative industry with no savings left:

The internship paid close to nothing and in New York that’s probably even less. I was running out of savings, so to get by I started driving a truck, helping in a moving company and doing all sorts of deliveries. After hours I networked, I wrote to people who were at a similar career stage, emailed friends in Poland who worked in the creative world, and used every opportunity to ask people: do you know anyone living in New York City, who might need my help? (…) I used every occasion to go for coffee – or very often a drink with new people. Even if I didn’t know if it made any sense – but it turned out every one of these meetings mattered. At first, I did not know that, but when I received some callbacks a few months later, I realized networking is a key.

Wojciech Szaulinski in “How to achieve success in the creative industry? This producer has some tips” (LINK)

4. Jacobo Fe Gismera, screenwriter

Jacobo Fe Gismera/ Photo credit: Indrek Arula

About moments of doubts:

I feel like it’s a matter of time. I know it sounds very repetitive and cliché, especially when you constantly hear things like “keep working” and “be resistant,” but nothing happens over time. Of course, there are moments when I’m a bit sadder, and I keep asking myself why this or that project takes so long? Why is there no progress? And it’s true that some colleagues from the industry have told me, “I pass, I cannot do this anymore” – it’s hard. Luckily, I have a very supportive family, friends, and girlfriend. I keep going and take new projects to avoid getting stuck and attached to one idea. Some writers spend years on the same project with no results. I have a different approach. I try one idea; if it doesn’t work right now, I go to the next one and see what happens next.

Jacobo Fe Gismera in “Screenwriter’s take on Hollywood and the value of mentors” (LINK)

I hope you changed your mind about giving up!

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Summary by: Joanna Socha

Edited by: Phyllis Budka

Featured photo by  Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels

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