Many factors contribute to success: hard work, passion, commitment, curiosity, collaboration. An often-overlooked factor is timing. You can reach out to a prospective client on a regular basis, but they may not have a need for your services. When they do, a well-timed call or newsletter can make all the difference.
Timing is also critical when building and growing the right team. The planets have to align for you and them. There are obstacles—life intervenes, interests change, obligations rear their ugly head, ships pass in the night without altering their course.
When I think of our newest hire, Luke Collins, who just joined us as SVP of thought leadership and content strategy, I think about timing.
I first became aware of Luke in 2010, not long after I left the Chicago Olympic bid and was figuring out what was next. I did a contract gig for a couple months with my former employer, the McKinsey Quarterly—I think it was to cover for someone who was on maternity leave. In addition to getting to know Jake, our current senior designer, I met Luke in passing. He’d joined the Quarterly earlier that year as an associate editor after stints as a journalist and McKinsey consultant.
I don’t know that I made any more of an impression on him than he made on me, but that was entirely due to timing. I had my eyes wide open for the next job opportunity, and he was likely focused on settling into his new role.
As I was slowly getting my arms around serving clients and understanding how to begin to build a company, Luke was on his way to becoming executive editor of the Quarterly and relocating to New York City. Our company continued to grow steadily, reaching the milestone of ten employees in 2017; that same year, Luke left McKinsey to become managing editor and director of publishing for Deloitte Insights and moved back to Chicago. We traded emails from time to time.
When he moved on to EY to become global editor in chief and managing director in 2019, I reached out to him and arranged to get together. My colleague Allan Gold had worked with Luke at McKinsey, and the three of us met at a coffee shop to discuss the thought leadership game. I figured our company might be able to support his mission at EY. We stayed in touch, but nothing concrete came of it. The timing wasn’t quite right.
Entering into this year, our company began to add much-needed team members: a managing editor, associate managing editor, editorial associate, controller, senior designer, editor, senior editor, design associate, and design operations manager. Suddenly, we had a burgeoning thought leadership machine that needed a senior professional to lead it, build it out further, and identify and pursue new opportunities.
I reached out to Luke to get referrals for developmental editors. We traded a few emails, and I shared more about the company, which had grown to 27 people. I found myself thinking, “If we could get someone with Luke’s skills and experience to join us, the possibilities would be nearly limitless.” I broached the subject. About 11 years after I first met Luke, the timing was suddenly right.
I’ve never been a believer in destiny or “when one door closes, another opens.” Life is often what you make it; you keep your eyes open, and sometimes all the pieces line up. This big world can be small when you’re willing to send an email, return a call, or meet someone for a drink after work (now that we can do that kind of thing again).
We are beyond excited to welcome Luke to our team and look forward to working together to shape our company’s future.
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