How to Prepare for the Lottery

August 27, 2009

A week before the school year started, I answered my phone to an unrecognized number only to experience something akin to (and here is where I date myself) a Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstake winner moment – sans Ed McMahon. 

My son’s elementary school started a dual-Spanish/English language program last year and I had ‘entered him to win’.  Alas, to no avail.  Kindergarten came and went and there was no knock at my door.  Best I got was ‘runner up’. 

Fast-forward a year and he’s IN. 

Just like that, we went from raising a child in one language to two. I am first-generation born American. Raised in a Spanish-speaking household, I am fortunate enough to be fluent, without much effort. I made a promise to my Dad that I would do the same.  I tried, really I did, and for the first almost-four years my son spoke Spanish as well as he did English.  Then came the day he bluntly told me he would speak Spanish ‘no more.’  I wish I could lay all the blame on him, but in reality it was no easy feat on my end.  As he aged, so did the complexity of our conversations. It became apparent to me that by insisting that we only speak Spanish, I was building a barrier between us. 

Clearly, healthy communication is difficult enough on its own – no need to complicate it further.

This experience helped me realize that no matter how hard I try to prepare and control the environment around me, there is always an element of the “lottery” lurking. 

“It’s smarter to be lucky than it’s lucky to be smart.”

That lottery element seems pervasive – I had a fantastic networking meeting this week that under ordinary circumstances would have exceeded my expectations. Instead it left me disappointed because of this one line:  “I wish we would have met two months ago, my firm just hired blah, blah, blah….”  Honestly, the rest of that sentence was a blur.

How do we avoid heading down the existentialist rathole?  Prepping for meetings and following through in light of the idea that somehow ‘luck’ comes into play can be very frustrating.  That being said, doing the homework – in the case of my son’s education, applying for the program, is essential to the possibility of having your lottery number called out. You’ve got to have a ticket in order to win.

By the way, I do know Ed McMahon never actually worked for PCH but I do find it fascinating that I believed he did until I ‘Googled’ it.  Apparently I am in good company.  Theres’s no big prize to register for but maybe my MarketingSmack will resonate and encourage you to stay the course.  You can find my MarketingSmack at or visit us at


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