One way or another, I'm gonna win ya

by Stephen Benzikie

by Stephen Benzikie

I once entered a local newspaper competition to win tickets to a Blondie concert in London and, it was promised, to meet Debbie Harry backstage. There was no better prize for a 14 year old in the late 1970s. Not normally given to filling in forms on the inky back of the Surrey Advertiser, I fancied my chances because the pop trivia questions were relatively difficult - though not for a teenager who was already developing an encyclopaedic knowledge of the subject.

Sure enough, a week later the avocado coloured rotary dial phone in the hall delivered the news that I and two others had won prizes and were needed urgently for a photoshoot at the paper's offices. I was excited, but slightly suspicious at the lack of clarity around the competition's outcome. On meeting the news team, I learned that only three entries had been correct. Each of the two boys was given the latest Blondie album, while the only girl among us was briefed on what would be the night of her life so far. The selection criterion was simply that a girl hadn't won for a long time - and with only three winners to choose from, the judges thought their decision a no-brainer.

It wasn't the positive discrimination that bothered me. I was much more miffed by the girl's obvious lack of knowledge about pop music, let alone Blondie, and was convinced that her entry had been completed by a friend or relative.

This was an early and small lesson, though nonetheless valuable, that sometimes life sucks. We often come second or third for no discernible reason, even though we have delivered all that was required and probably more. In business we pitch or tender for new clients and contracts, sometimes reaching the last two from a vast field. We might then be told that although "there was nothing in it" and "it was impossible to choose between the two of you", the business has gone to the other finalist.

There is food for thought here as the pre-summer business awards season gets underway. Entries are being painstakingly completed in just about every industry sector at the moment, involving a huge time commitment. Supporting evidence is carefully chosen and, where possible, judges are lobbied. A win or even a shortlisting or commendation can be extremely valuable in PR or marketing terms, relative to the financial outlay for entering or the hours of form filling. Award success raises profile, provides a reason to engage with potential clients and underlines the quality of a business's goods or services.

Since results are often unpredictable, are awards worth the effort? Generally, yes - as long as we manage our own expectations. We don't always get what we deserve. Forty years ago, I deserved to sit in the front row of the Hammersmith Odeon watching Blondie, before sharing a joke with Debbie backstage, perhaps having a go on Chris Stein's Strat and getting some awesome pics to impress my friends. If Girl Winner is reading this, I hope you had a great time. You never know, perhaps we'll meet again on a podium this summer. And The Winner Is...

Originally posted on LinkedIn: