Earlier today, I received a notice that a certain restaurant chain was interested in providing me with some free meals in exchange for reviews and tweets about them. When I shared the news with a friend, they asked “how can I get a free lunch too?”
Here’s the secret: there’s no such thing as a free lunch.
What they didn’t really understand was that the lunch wasn’t just given, it was offered in exchange for some promotion. However, that offer would not have even been extended if I didn’t spend the past two years building up my social media network and increasing my influence online.
As Eddie Cantor writes, “it takes twenty years to become an overnight success.”
Most people don’t see the blood, sweet, and tears that go into a project before it has been launched. When a band has a “breakout gig” or “first single,” they’ve probably already been working for at least 5-10 years. When a new actor or actress lands a leading role, it usually comes after decades of preparation in the way of school, participation in drama/theater, and taking on roles that they had to take just to get their name out there.
If you want a free lunch, you’ll have to pay for it first with years of consistent, brilliant, hard work. After you pay your dues, you might even be entitled to a little more than that. Don’t do it for the free lunch. Do it for who you’ll become once you earn that right.