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#FollowTheLeaders: What Defines True Success?

In our first installment of Follow The Leaders, a new blog series from Parklife, we asked three entrepreneurs to explain what makes a great leader in their eyes. Just like leadership, success is a concept that draws many different definitions from different people. So this month, we asked three entrepreneurs at the top of their game to answer a different question: What defines true success? Keep reading to hear their thoughts!

Aaron Gard, Partner and General Counsel at GreatestFan

Aaron Gard is an entrepreneur, author, attorney, and fundraiser. Many of you know his work with regard to the Blue Blood Rivalry multimedia enterprise, as an advisor to startups at Durham’s Forrest Firm, or from his work in development at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Law. He brings a wide range of perspectives to his work, fueled by an insatiable desire to help his partners succeed.

This answer will vary widely for everyone. Even for me, it varies from one project to the next. If I had to nail down one theme that runs through everything I work on, I'd say helping others is key. If I'm able to help others, then I've been successful. In today's social media world, so much attention is focused inward. Look at me, self-promotion, likes, followers... It's all very disconcerting and screams self-interest. I got off social media months ago, and it's been so good for me. It's allowed me to keep my head down and work on meaningful projects that can help others. It's allowed me to worry less about what other people think, and concentrate on projects my colleagues and I believe will be successful.

Katy Munger, Mystery Author and Retired Marketing Executive

Katy Munger is the author of 15 books in the crime fiction genre and a former reviewer for the Washington Post. She is considered to be a founder of the Tart Noir subgenre that first gained popularity in the 1990s. In addition to her prolific career as a writer, she also worked as a leading marketing consultant to several Wall Street financial clients, and later had a stint in the nonprofit space before retiring this year.

From a personal standpoint, I think true success is finding a way to spend the finite time you have on this earth doing what you love as much as possible, whether that means building a company from the ground up, gathering with family and friends, writing books, cooking for others, sailing the seven seas—or whatever it is that makes you feel truly happy and alive. This is not always easy to attain because it requires knowing yourself and being able to listen to yourself without being influenced by other people's expectations for you or by their definitions of success. And sometimes attaining a life that lets you do what you love means walking away from big money or turning your back on fame. It takes a while to realize this, but age helps. As you get older, you learn to evaluate almost everything you do with a simple question: "Does this make me happy?" Wisdom is knowing the answer to that question and being unafraid to make changes to your life when you need to.

Jackie Ferguson, Co-Founder and Head of Content and Programming at The Diversity Movement

Jackie Ferguson spent most of her career in sales and marketing, providing executive support and human resources services for businesses ranging from startups to Fortune 500 companies. She now dedicates her time to The Diversity Movement, a professional training and consulting organization that helps organizations integrate diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies into their work.

Success is defined by the numbers—but not just the numbers on your profit and loss statement. Success is about your retention numbers, which indicate that you have a culture that your employees value. You don't want to become stagnant in your processes and technology, and miss the changing needs and habits of your clients and customers. Lastly, success is the ability to continue to expand your market reach, ensuring that your messages resonate with an increasingly diverse society.

Big thank you to these remarkable individuals for participating in #FollowTheLeaders this month. Stay tuned for more installments!

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