I was terrified to climb this mountain

Last week I hiked seven and a half miles to the top of an 11,750-foot mountain.

Here I am at summit:

Reaching the Summit - Michael Smart PR

Often when I’m hiking less intense trails, I’ll come around a bend and I’ll see a newbie hiker coming toward me. He’ll be overweight, red-faced, huffing and puffing. And when he sees me, he’ll immediately look down at his shuffling feet.

He looks down because he’s a bit embarrassed. He wishes he wasn’t breathing so hard. He saw me moving pretty fast, wearing my technical hiking boots and fancy hydration pack. He thinks that I’m mocking him in my mind.

But I’m not. I’m smiling at him, and then I say something like, “Great day for a hike, huh? There’s a great view ahead.” Because I want to encourage him.

Because I WAS him.

Six years ago, I weighed 30 pounds more than I do in that picture up there. I had a torn-up knee and a jacked-up back and the only exercise I got was changing the channels on my TV. But I can see that mountain from my house, and I hated that I was so intimidated by it.

So I decided to climb it. I laced up my worn-out tennis shoes, threw a water bottle in my kid’s school backpack, and started walking. First around the neighborhood, then in the foothills, then in the mountains.  After a lot of practice, I was on the summit.  And on the way down, I looked the veteran hikers in the eye and smiled. I shouldn’t have waited so long.

I see lots of PR pros start to leave their pitching comfort zone. But too many figuratively “look down” when they encounter others on the same path who seem to be having more success.

They blame themselves, thinking they’re not cut out for this part of the job. Or they blame their organization or clients – “media just aren’t interested in this topic.” But the truth is they just haven’t found their stride yet.

When you see someone else finding pitching success, celebrate with them. Then ask how they got there. Their victory doesn’t mean that you’re somehow lesser.

You’ll be surprised at how excited they’ll be to help you get to the top, too.

Nowhere is this more evident than inside my Inner Circle coaching program. Multi-decade veterans are in there giving pitching advice to younger pros and offering to partner with them on pitches.

And one of my guest trainers just shared a simple one-sentence follow-up technique that his agency has used with great success. Since then, several Inner Circle members have told me that it’s working for them, too, including one who used it this week to secure a WSJ interview with her CFO.

The Inner Circle isn’t for everyone – first you decide if you’re a good fit. You do that by getting on the wait list here.

There’s plenty of room at the summit,

This article was originally published on July 29, 2016

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