A long, long time ago in Adelaide, Australia. More recently, when I landed in New York City as a foreign correspondent for The Australian Financial Review, the country’s leading business newspaper. It was June 2001 – a hot city summer full of promise for a brash young journalist full of ideas, blissfully unaware that the world as we knew it would change entirely a few months later.
When I was due to return to Sydney, I just felt I hadn’t really experienced life in the U.S. – I’d been working nonstop for more than two years, writing until around 4am daily, which was my first-edition deadline in Sydney. So, I quit and stayed. It was financially disastrous, but three things saved me. After two years of freelancing and not making ends meet, I got a book deal that paid my rent for six months. Then, when I was on the verge of bailing on the U.S. entirely, my green card came through. And, finally, I tried a career switch by joining McKinsey & Company in New York as a management consultant. I was a terrible consultant, but it led me back to content via the mysterious world of thought leadership.
Someone I’ve never met and don’t know: whoever approved my green card application. I’d been told it could take upwards of two years for a decision on permanent residency, and I’d mentally accepted my U.S. adventure was over and gone back to Australia searching for jobs. Then, miraculously, my application was approved. Just like that. Being able to commit to building a career here completely altered the trajectory of my life – and I have an American wife and two beautiful sons to show for it. Oh, and I guess I’ve done some work too!
It needs to stop trying to sell stuff. Seriously. The kind of relationships we want and need to build with audiences are the polar opposite of transactional, especially in a world of commoditized content. If you can build a genuine emotional connection and be regarded as objectively trying to help users rather than help yourself, the former takes care of the latter. Tough opinion to sell in an ROI-driven world, though.
There are no wrong paths, just interesting detours.
Luke is the Global Editor-in-Chief of EY (Ernst & Young), responsible for the development and implementation of the 300,000-person professional-services firm’s thought-leadership strategy. By converting the knowledge and experience of EY colleagues into crisp, memorable storytelling, he helps leaders make better decisions through distinctive insights that not only tell them what they want to know, but what they need to know. Luke began his career as a newspaper journalist in his native Australia and was a foreign correspondent and wrote for newspapers and magazines worldwide before joining McKinsey & Company as a management consultant. He was then an executive editor at McKinsey Publishing before becoming global Director of Publishing at Deloitte.