A PR Insider Reveals the Secret Lives of Successful People

The popular images of what makes for success is really a recipe for burnout that successful people know to avoid.

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By Katherine Keller

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I started my career in marketing and PR. I was taught how to convince you both to serve your family boxed macaroni with powered imitation cheese and that you deserve to own a new luxury car.

Marketers get into your mind. We convince you our lotion gives you the skin of an infant, our clothing confers the style of Heidi Klum and you will embarrass your friends if you do not purchase our handbag. We pick and choose what and how we want to present our products to the world.

When I started my business, my responsibility was to market the products of entrepreneurs who own home-based businesses. I handled the PR of making them look as professional and successful as possible. Leaders hired me to market them as people who have it so together, other people will follow them, read their books and purchase their products.

Related: How Successful People Make Their Own Luck

It is always the same drill for each client: get high quality headshots, a beautiful content-rich website, post all over social media, fill their event calendar, Instagram photos of them on the beach or with their luxury cars. Marketers and PR representatives do this because you, the consumer, believe myths about what life is for successful people. If you do what we portray them doing, you could end up in therapy. If you do what successful people REALLY do, you can become successful.

Here are three strategies we use to market success.

1. They say "yes" to everything. One week they are speaking at a conference, the next week they are announcing a new book launch, the following week they are helping in a soup kitchen. When our client is at an event, creating a new project or signing on to a new partnership, we make sure you know about it. They seem to be everywhere because it is my job to make them look busy. Society believes successful people are busy.

Because of this, new entrepreneurs presume they have to say "yes" to everything. They never turn down interviews, always agree to partner in joint ventures and speak at every engagements they are asked. They are very busy spreading themselves too thin and running ragged. It is only a matter of time before their health deteriorates, they lose focus and start dropping balls because they have too many tasks to focus on.

Related: Put Yourself on the Road to Success With These 5 Principles

Successful people do not say "yes" to everything. Mostly, they say "no." They are extremely selective of their time. They know where they are headed and only say yes to what moves them in that direction. Eliminating time-wasters from their schedule is important to them. They focus on what they are truly passionate about.

2. They never have free time unless it is a vacation. One of the biggest success motivators for many people is freedom to travel. Any time one of my clients is near a body of water, a mountain, a beautiful palm tree or a boat, they take pictures for me to post all over the world wide web. Their websites and social media pages are filled with either business photos or travel photos.

The truth is that successful people take lots of "down time" to spend cooking with their family in the kitchen, riding bikes or watching the football game on Sunday. They understand the importance of getting time away from work every day. Most successful entrepreneurs have found that they have a clearer perspective and more creativity when they are outside of the office.

3. They have all of the answers. As marketers of entrepreneurs, we toss around the word "expert" a lot. An expert is defined as, "A person who has mastery of a particular subject" and "authoritative knowledge." I portray my clients as people with mastery who are authoritative.

However, as knowledgeable as my clients are, they are the first to admit they do not have all of the answers. Most of them listen twice as often as they speak. They are more of an expert in the art of listening to what is, and is not, being said than sharing their knowledge.

The truth is, while society has an inaccurate sense of a successful person's life, we all can benefit living as they actually live. We want a life focused on what we are passionate about, with "down time" to spend with our friends and loved ones but without the burden of others assuming we have all the answers. The great news is, when you let go of the mistaken image of a successful life, you have a greater opportunity of being successful.

Related: The Single Most Important Habit of Successful Entrepreneurs

Katherine Keller

President of Katherine Keller International LLC

Katherine Keller is the president of Katherine Keller International, an online marketing, branding, copywriting and graphic design agency. She also works with small business entrepreneurs, building their success mindset and overcoming fears.  

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