The Powerball of Publishing


Yes, I bought Powerball tickets. It was my first time ever playing the lottery. It was fun to imagine what would happen if I won a billion dollars. Right? I’m sure a lot of you all bought tickets, too. No matter who we are or what our life situation, we are all dreamers at heart. (Although, by now it seems like a distant dream.)

I didn’t win. Did you? Well, that’s not true. I think I won 12 bucks. Meanwhile, life goes on…

It got me thinking, though, about the publishing industry and the state we’re in. In a lot of ways, we’ve all been trying to win the Powerball of publishing: buying tickets in startups and social strategies, placing bets with advertisers, even though we know—those of us who can do even a little bit of math—that it will never solve our problems or pay for the work we do. It reminds me of the person who spends more money on lottery tickets than on real-life needs and investments and then finds him- or herself in a deep, dark financial hole.

Publishers, we’ve done this to ourselves. The big jackpot has been awarded, and we did not win. Who did? Facebook, Google, Apple, and Amazon. For now. (Ironically, these companies are at the moment more the means of delivery for content, not the makers of content itself.) There will be another jackpot, another Powerball at some point. But for this moment, these companies have won and we have to go back to our normal lives and try to remember why we do what we do.

I also remember when those big winners were startups. People didn’t jump on them like the next new hot thing right away. People scoffed. I remember one executive saying that Amazon would never succeed because all it was selling was books. (I think that was the day I went out and bought Amazon stock…because I love books!)

And I think that’s what we forget—we businesspeople who are trying to meet or exceed budget, be bigger than our competitors, win the industry race or the Powerball lottery. We forget that what really wins is serving people. You know, customers. Those people who buy stuff. Whatever we choose to call them, they are our North Star, the thing that should guide us through whatever storm and get us safely to our destination—even if our devices don’t work or the power goes out.

Now, I know advertisers are people too, and they are also our customers. We love and need our advertisers. But let’s not forget that their whole business is about reaching people. Our people! The people who care about what we do. People who love what we do.

If we serve them well, we don’t need to play the lottery because we’ve already won it.


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One Response to The Powerball of Publishing

  1. Alice Green January 27, 2016 at 1:09 pm #

    Having retired from 40 years of working for two different non-profits, and hearing what my family and friends say about their working situations….I would say that the folks who work at Rodale have already won their own “work lottery” – because we all have to work somewhere, but where better in this world to work then at Rodale? I’m just grateful I found Maria’s Farm Country Kitchen on my computer – because it does warm my heart to know that there is such a wonderful place for folks to work and really enjoy it!! Thanks Maria, for creating such a great ‘work lottery’ for so many good people!!

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