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Swallow the Icky Pill

I would go up to his office with a lump in my throat, seeking approval on a marketing campaign, creative concept, or initiative that would grow the brand. But the answer was “no.” It was always, “no.” In fact, we began to joke about “heading up to the office to get rejected again.”

It was a tough pill to swallow.

The commute was horrendous. Catching the 5:32am train meant standing on the wintery platform of the Metro North line in Connecticut and riding for 90 minutes into Grand Central, only to then transfer to the #6 train bound for SoHo and walk a few city blocks from there. More than two hours after leaving home, I’d arrive at work in NYC.

It was a tough pill to swallow.

I could see her reflection in my monitor. She would appear from nowhere and stand behind me slurping coffee like a little kid fishing desperately with her tongue for the last drops of a milkshake. Then she’d lick her chops like a bulldog and ask me why I was doing what I was doing with breath that could wilt a cactus.

It was a tough pill to swallow.

The client’s demands kept increasing. They had a desire for power that rivaled most modern dictators. It wasn’t enough for the team to pull multiple all-nighters each week to meet unrealistic deadlines, the meetings extended to Saturdays and then to Sundays as well.

It was a tough pill to swallow.

The finances were dwindling. Staying afloat while paying estimated quarterly taxes drains cash like a bathtub with no plug. Just when it felt like treading financial water was possible, some unexpected invoice or payment would be due from left field.

It was a tough pill to swallow.

Tough pills aren’t easy to swallow. They can be like brussel sprouts wrapped in sandpaper. But without them, we don’t get to enjoy the benefits of the main course they’re served with.

Take the example of the commute above: If I didn’t swallow that pill, I wouldn’t have gotten to go on an 8-day photoshoot in London for Gatorade, sip samples of Starbucks Frappuccino mixes in Seattle to test their next flavor, or work with some of the most talented creative conceptors on the planet who have become life-long friends.

Whatever role, responsibility, or position we hold in life, there is often a tough pill to swallow that comes with it. The choice is ours to judge if that pill merits a change in our circumstances, or if it should be swallowed and dismissed while we focus on the joy of where we currently are.

In most cases, I’ve learned I need to swallow the icky pill.
Dave Goldfain

Cereal Founder & CMO

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