All in Due Time: A Story of Rejection and Growth

by Marcus Sheridan

This is one of those posts that may at first sound like bragging to some, but I certainly hope that you’ll take it for what it’s supposed to be—a personal reflection about hard work and progress.

You see, I’m in a pensive mood this morning as I sit in a hotel room and prepare myself to speak to a group of friends at the Washington DC Cadre group.

Last night, I spoke to MBA students at George Washington University.

Next week I fly to Minnesota to speak at Jason Falls’ Explore event in Minnesota.

The week after that I fly to Arkansas then to San Antonio to give a workshop to private companies regarding their marketing efforts.

After flying home from Texas I’ll get a change to sleep in my bed for a night and fly out the next day to speak twice at HubSpot’s Inbound Summit in Boston.

And finally, to top everything off, I’ll fly out to Columbus Ohio the follow week to keynote Joe Pulizzi’s Content Marketing World.

As mentioned before, I don’t discuss my schedule here in an effort to self-aggrandize, but rather to lead us into the next point.

Before the Work Paid Off

A few years ago, just as I was starting The Sales Lion, I not only wanted to teach through writing on my blog, but I also wanted to speak everywhere I could about my business failures and triumphs, and what I’d learned during my time as an entrepreneur.

It was during this time that I passionately contacted many, many colleges and their business schools in an effort to speak to their students.

I didn’t want money. I wasn’t looking for fame. My entire goal was just a love for teaching and a desire for the younger generation to learn of my mistakes.

But despite my contact attempts, the phone never rang. Emails were left unanswered.

And I spoke to no one.

But I kept writing.


Everyone knows I have a unique relationship with HubSpot. I believe in their company and I believe in their vision—all because their teachings and tools helped save my business in a time when we were on the financial brink.

But what I haven’t talked about before was the fact that I’ve asked HubSpot for 3 straight years to speak at their Inbound Conference. And frankly, getting in each time was a bit of a struggle.

The first year they allowed me to speak on a panel with a few other HubSpot users.

Last year I gave a shared presentation with another HubSpot employee.

This year, I finally got the invite I was hoping for, and could not be more excited to speak to fellow HubSpotters in such a large setting.

But like I said, it took time, pushing, and it wasn’t easy.

I don’t fault HubSpot for this. No, not at all. They just didn’t see the value then like they do now.

That’s reality and that’s the way success works—a lack of value brings a lack of results—no matter what field it is.

Jason Falls

Just over a year ago I heard that Jason Falls was heading up conferences around the country and inviting other social media writers/speakers to assist with his events. Always one to appreciate Jason’s thoughts on social, I decided to email him directly.

Frankly, I really don’t think Jason even knew who I was back then. Notwithstanding, I emailed him and told him I’d love to speak at one of his conferences. His response was kind, but nothing really came of it at the time.

Again, the value wasn’t yet there.

But 3 months ago, and after having another year of work and conferences under my belt, Jason gave me a call and asked me to speak at Explore—to which I’m very grateful.

Content Marketing World

In preparations for Content Marketing World last year, I’ll readily admit Joe Pulizzi pretty much had no idea who I was, and had it not been for a recommendation from another person, I never would have spoken there in the first place and been given a short 25-minute opportunity to give a presentation.

As previously documented, things worked out well in those 25 minutes and this year I’ll be honored to have a larger platform at CMW to speak to fellow content marketers.

But just as with the previous examples, it’s not Joe Pulizzi’s fault I wasn’t given more last year, as the value simply wasn’t there.


If you’re reading this post, whether you own a business or are simply a part-time blogger, I’d venture to say you’re trying to make progress in your life. You want to see improvement.

But I think often times our greatest hindrance to this *progress* and *success* we all seek is simply our unrealistic expectation of just how fast we think all of this should happen.

As I’ve said before, for an entire year after starting TSL in November of 2009 very few people read this blog, despite diligently writing 3-4 articles a week.

After the first year, things slowly picked up, but not without a constant forward push and vision.

Frankly, it wasn’t until year 3 that things turned full circle and The Sales Lion became a thriving brand and business.

A Long Way to Go

The journey called life, growth, and success is one that never stops. There are days of exhilaration, and then there are moments of forced humility.

Heck, even today, after all that’s happened I got a form email from Jason Keath of the Social Fresh conference that said:

Thank you for submitting a speaker proposal for the Social Fresh WEST conference in San Diego this September 27-28. All speaker slots have been filled and, regretfully, we will not be including your proposed session. 

A few months ago I submitted to be a speaker at this event and as you can see, they weren’t terribly interested.

A year ago such a rejection would have really bothered me. But today, it doesn’t even affect me in the slightest. For the folks at Social Fresh, the value isn’t yet there, and that’s OK.

All in due time, all in due time.

Your Turn

I’d earnestly love it if every person reading this article took a moment to share with the community your thoughts on the following:

What triumphs and accomplishments are you most proud of over these last few years? Why? Also, how has your perspective on success changed during this time period?

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