Although I earned my Eagle Scout Award at 16-years-old, I cannot recall much from the weeks of adolescent summers spent at Camp Tahquitz or slogging through the endless requirements for merit badges I hardly remember earning. But, for the life of me, I cannot shake the horrible campfire song, “There’s a hole in my bucket, Dear Liza” that was beaten into my skull when trekking over so much of Southern California’s Los Angeles and San Bernadino mountain ranges. It’s one of the insanely repetitive sing-a-long tunes like “99 Bottles of Beer” or “Tubthumping” by Chumbawamba (yeah, you’re welcome for that earworm).
Why “Dear Liza” keeps coming to mind even after all these years is because of an analogy that was shared with me about my chosen profession: “The Internet is like a bottomless bucket that you’re always trying to fill up. Whatever you put in there doesn’t last long.” Although the latter half of this statement is somewhat misleading, as only earlier this week an article I had written nearly two years ago suddenly sprang new legs and shot back up to life, racking up literally thousands of new views. Digital content is evergreen, it just takes somebody digging it up again.
Nevertheless, the first portion still rings true: The Internet is like a bottomless bucket that you’re always trying to fill up. Publishing a daily magazine – particularly for a sport as intimate as personal watercraft – requires a level of dedication that many frankly, aren’t willing to commit. As I wrote (somewhat boastfully) in this June’s “The Watercraft Journal By The Numbers”: Producing…articles daily that are uniquely written, edited and published on a consistent timetable – Monday through Friday – is no easy task, as those who have broken off and tried to emulate us are quickly learning.
This truism was galvanized all the more after a conversation with an advertiser who was experiencing exponential growth due to their campaign with The Watercraft Journal, saying, “I have no idea how you come up with all the stories you do. It’s incredible. I didn’t even think there was that much going on to report on, but man, you’re there with new stuff every single day.” It’s always nice to have your advertisers recognize your hardwork, but it’s all the more gratifying when your hardwork results in their companies succeeding. That’s something else that few others can say for their publications – but I digress…
Unlike a blog or personal diary that only serves to hoist up the author (sort of like this editorial), publications like The Watercraft Journal live or die by their variety of content, the usefulness of said content to the reader, and the timeliness and appeal of the content’s subject matter. A few grainy videos of vintage racing is cool as seasoning, but don’t let the sizzle replace the steak. This means finding interesting, informative and entertaining content is almost a full-time job in and of itself. My hours spent on social media rivals that of teenage girls, and by no choice of my own. (Believe me.)
My morning routine consists of weeding through the night’s emails, sorting through the day’s priority list and then I open a folder of online bookmarks for news items that fit The Watercraft Journal’s criteria. Some stuff is better than others, and some topics don’t require immediate responses. But there I am, clicking through all sorts of different PWC websites, blogs and feeds. Sifting through endless chaff and tares to find one single shaft of wheat. Occasionally, my wife will look over my shoulder and deride, “Why are you giving them clicks? Don’t even go there.”
And she’d be right were it not for Sun Tzu. The 6th century Chinese general, military strategist, and author of The Art of War counseled, “Know thy enemy,” or better yet, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” Although I normally don’t dictate my business affairs in accordance to ancient Chinese proverbs, I particularly liked this one.
Keeping The Watercraft Journal relevant and ahead of the rest requires constant motion – much like a predatory shark. Stagnation is akin to death. To remain America’s leading personal watercraft magazine requires persistence. But as hotel tycoon J. Willard Marriott proclaimed, “Success is never final.” Success is not a destination, there is no finish line. Success is fluid. It changes shape, value and meaning; and if you cling to it, it will slip through your fingers. While this truth can seem maddening, it’s also oddly relieving. Because as success is in a ever present state of flux, so is its opposite. “Failure,” Brittan’s most important Prime Minister of the 20th century added, “is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that matters.”
Go Get Wet,