Debra Swersky
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It's Not About Pudding


Amy Poehler is hilarious. Her book, Yes Please, as hysterical as it is, imparts some surprisingly good life advice.

As an actress and comedian, Amy has been nominated for several awards throughout her career. In her book she talks about these awards and makes the analogy that awards are just like "pudding." You don't really want any pudding until you know that you can have it... and then it's all that you can think about. This makes sense... who doesn't like pudding?

Recently, I was put into a pudding situation. I was nominated for an award and invited to attend the awards ceremony. By being invited it meant that you were the recipient of an award, but you weren't told which one. When I received the invitation to attend the ceremony I recalled the line from Amy Poehler's book: The worst part about being nominated for any award is that despite your best efforts you start to want the pudding. You spend weeks thinking about how it doesn't matter and how it's all just an honor... 

I certainly told myself that it was an honor to be invited to the awards ceremony. And I definitely invited the people to attend the ceremony who had helped me to get to the point of nomination. But, I did the best job of telling myself that the award I won was political... "they needed to give it to an Evening MBA student," "the recipient was a male last year, so they needed a female this year," or "no one else was nominated, but someone had to win it." I began to believe that the award that I was winning was meaningless... I thought that by convincing myself that I wasn't going to win a prestigious award that I would appreciate the journey more.

But then, at the awards ceremony, I was recognized as the recipient of the most prestigious award of the evening.

Ruh-ro. Now what? I had spent my mental energy telling myself that I wasn't good enough to receive this prestigious award... but there I was, receiving it. I sat there during the ceremony listening to the Dean and thought to myself: Who was this person that the Dean was talking about? Did that person really commit herself wholeheartedly to her studies, the Babson community, and her development as a leader? That person, I was convinced, didn't sound like me... but it was. I did graduate from Binghamton University. I grew up, majored, participated in, and worked at all of those places, activities, and companies that the Dean was talking about. That was my name that he read.

Since winning the award I've gone back and read through Amy Poehler's advice about wanting the pudding. Amy would combat her desire for the pudding by focusing on anything else but the actual pudding. She would work with her fellow nominees to create skits to perform at the awards show. Whether she won or not was inconsequential... she was just going to keep doing what she was good at, regardless of recognition. 

The same rings true for me... and I didn't even realize it until the pudding was in sight. With or without winning the award, I was going to keep doing exactly what I had been doing to be nominated. That's the journey that I should have been thinking about. Only by being nominated was I able to understand that reality. 

Awards are nice to receive, and they certainly build credibility, but at the end of the day, it's what you did to get nominated and what you'll do after you're recognized that will define your future.

Debra Swersky