I’m a fan. You’re a fan. We’re all fans.
There are tons of great people out there worthy of having fans.
If you’re a fan of someone in your field though, reconsider. Instead become an imitator.
Fans sit on the sideline and observe. They read every book, they listen to every note, they discuss their heroes’ acrobatics with others.
Imitators follow their idols’ footsteps. They put in the same amount of work that was done before them. They dress like their idols dress, talk like they talk, and soon walk like they walk. Then they’ll start believing it along with everyone else.
Call me an imitator, you’re flattering me by mentioning my name with the greats.
A friend asked me the other day: “How can I improve my public speaking quickly?” I responded: “The same way you get good at anything else, expose yourself to the ideal environment.”
You see, it’s all about exposure. Sure the work matters greatly, but how do you build momentum and give yourself the best chance to follow through? You seek out and expose yourself to the ideal environment for that given discipline. You go to where the pros are and you make sure to stick around somehow.
Your subconscious brain is better at picking things up than your conscious brain is. Even with minimal work on your behalf you’re already absorbing and picking up the habits that this specific group of people have. All by exposing yourself to an ideal environment.
Exposure to the ideal elements is also an important factor.
If you’re an entrepreneur you have to expose yourself to risk. Business risk, relationship risk, any and all types of risk. You have to make risk a consistent part of your diet, you should become comfortable being uncomfortable.
Expose yourself to judgement. Whenever you’re bashed for work you’ve done that’s the price you pay. You’re “down in the arena taking punches instead of up in the stands as a spectator.” Spectators never lose, but they never win either.
Expose yourself to different disciplines. If you live in a closed off world your ideas will be stifled as well. You run the risk of becoming a big fish in a small pond. Without a broad view of the world you have no way of knowing whether you’re good at something or not. This is what makes Olympic competition so engrossing. These people are the best in their country, but are they the best in the world? Only exposure to other world-class talent can answer their question.
Each day I become a bigger believer in the axiom “You are the company you keep.” It’s much more efficient and fun to reach a goal by merely surrounding yourself with the right people than alternatively putting in 10 times the amount of work in the wrong environment.
Here are the people I want in my corner:
1) Truth-seekers: This is the person who’s always questioning why things work the way they do and are curious to see if changing something will alter the results.
2) Risk-takers: If you’re going to accomplish something great, you need a few of these around to keep you honest and willing to step outside your box.
3) Prideful: Excessive pride is often frowned upon but when it comes to being a professional you should always aim to be the best at what you do, even if it’s not glamorous. I feel energized when I walk into a fast-food establishment and get great service from someone who might only be making $7 an hour. If they take pride in their work what’s our excuse?
4) Super-connectors: These are our colleagues who are worldly and open minded. They don’t judge things on the surface and therefore are willing to expose themselves to different environments, people, technology, and tasks. These are the people who end up teaching you the most, bringing new worlds to your doorstep, and often open the most doors for you.
Since these traits aren’t mutually exclusive sometimes you’ll find someone who fits into two or more of these buckets, and you better welcome them with open arms.
At the end of the day possessing even just one of these qualities makes you a positive influence in my and anyone else’s life. To be the best you have to roll with the best.
“Aim for the moon. If you miss, you may hit a star.” That’s what they say, right? Cliche? Maybe, but it underscores an important lesson: Life and Business are not efficient.
We never get compensated the full amount we feel we’re worth. We never feel like we’ve received 100% of the dividends our work has earned us. Our name is perennially stuck in the level right below the individuals we’re just as good as.
There’s always that extra chunk of value that remains unsqueezed inside the orange peel of life. All the more reason to aim higher.
If your goal is to one day be a US Senator, aim instead for President and you just might end up a Senator. If you’re happy to just be a working actor, train like you want to be better than Meryl Streep or Daniel Day-Lewis. Lord knows they probably aspired to be the greatest entertainers who ever lived.
Asking for more, and expecting more of yourself elevates your thinking. It frees your mind from the petty worries underlings deal with and forces you to tackle the problems that will lead to greatness.
According to Einstein a problem cannot be solved from the same level of thinking that created it, so what makes you think you can become a king while thinking like a baron?
Ask for more, receive more.
Just when traditional book publishers thought their financial struggle was getting tough enough, here comes Fifty Shades of Grey to make it tougher.
It seems like all the females I know between the ages of 25-45 are reading the Fifty Shades trilogy. Hard to believe that a novel which started as fanfiction, a piece written by an “amateur” based on an existing universe, is now a bestselling trilogy with movies on the way. And the books became a sensation despite being released through an independent publisher all on the strength of word of mouth.
We first saw hints of these self-published successes with Amanda Hocking who self-released her own novels in affordable ebook form. But the success of Fifty Shades is on a grander scale.
Which leads me to the question floating in my head: What exactly about the book made it spread so quickly? Apparently it’s not the quality of the writing, which according to critics is subpar at best.
Critics are just that, critics.
So if we look elsewhere for the reason it became a hit, somewhere down the line marketing kicks into effect. Marketing in the sense that the author saw an opening in the market and satisfied the need. The need for something which females could escape into. The need for something risque they could talk about with their co-workers. Maybe even something that would give them ideas for their own love life. Who knows?!
As a man, it’s hard for me to pin down exactly what made women rally around this trilogy. But it doesn’t mean I’ll stop trying. The answers I’ve received from my female friends seem insincere so my journey continues.
I will end by saying that the author has done a good job of letting this book be “of the people.” No pretentiousness. No high-brow smugness, she admits she’s not that good of a writer. Instead the book started spreading because it gave romance enthusiasts exactly what they craved without dilution. That sounds like a good product to me.
Why is it that so many successful people seem to have reached their status despite the odds being stacked against them? I’ve always been fascinated with this idea because it seems like we all have to overcome some adversity at some point in our lives to become great. Many of us went through tough childhoods, or experienced major career turbulence, or were just plain victims of sudden unfortunate circumstances. For those of you who don’t do as many Barnes and Noble runs as I do, I’d like to share some ideas from a pop psychology book called Succeeding When You’re Supposed To Fail by Rom Brafman.
The book labels overachievers as Tunnelers, because they seem to have tunneled their way under or through adversity to emerge unscathed on the other side. So what makes tunnelers special? According to Brafman they all have some important attributes in common. Here are the ones I think are most important to acknowledge:
1) Limelight Effect: Tunnelers don’t blame the outside world for the outcomes in their lives. Their limelight of responsibility is always pointed internally at themselves for both good and bad situations. Essentially it’s about being accountable for the position you are in now. Attributing events externally robs us of the drive we need to effect change and navigate out of adversity.
2) Meaning Making: Tunnelers find ways to make meaning for themselves. The book talks about a prisoner of war who managed to survive years of brutal prison life by giving himself goals like staying mentally and physically sharp. He ran miles in little figure-8′s inside his cell, and gave himself exhausting math problems to solve. He didn’t pin his hopes on his eventual release which was outside of his control.
3) Unwavering commitment: This is the capacity to stick with something until completion. Those who succeed are the ones who see obstacles as challenges and not setbacks.
4) Even-tempered: Tunnelers succeed because they avoid emotional rollercoasters in the face of adversity. They are able to cut themselves some slack when they fail. Think about it, if your friend failed at something you would still be supportive as long as they tried. Why do we punish ourselves when we fail then? We need to treat ourselves no differently than we would our close friends.
5) Presence of a satellite: A satellite is a mentor of sorts. All tunnelers have a satellite at one point or another in their journey. Someone who’s there to support them mentally and emotionally when times get rough. According to Brafman “The right satellite can awaken new potential and possibilities in our lives and help overcome gaps in achievement.”
These are the main attributes of those who succeed against adverse odds. So ask yourself, am I a tunneler? Do I have the five qualities mentioned above? Even if you answered no, it doesn’t mean you can’t develop and train yourself to possess these important traits when times get tough. And they always do, but they don’t last as long as tough people do.
Can you think of any other important traits that I missed? Let me know in the comments section below.
Why oh why do we let minute details swell up to the point they ultimately overshadow the big stuff? I see it happening in all walks of life, and as much as I try to keep things in perspective, I fall into the same pit.
Call it human nature. Call it being nitpicky. But whatever you call it, it must serve a purpose because attention to detail is ingrained in our lives.
Example: Last weekend I went to a restaurant with some buddies. The experience was very pleasant. Good waiters. Good drinks. Good music. And a good environment. Everything was good, until the bill came. We looked at the menu so we knew what the prices would be, but tacked on to the bill was an “entertainment fee.”
Yes, I know a lot of places in New York do this, but we were oblivious to the charge when we sat down. The entertainment charge was a minuscule fraction of the total bill, not even worth arguing over. But we all left the place with a bitter taste in our mouths. The feeling of enjoyment quickly wiped out. Such a pleasant place should be above nickel and dime strategies.
I would’ve gladly payed a few extra bucks per drink which would’ve equaled out the entertainment. A hidden fee however just ruins your view of the business. Good business is above all honest.
If you own a business, work tirelessly to be transparent and make the particularities count. We’ll pay you what you ask if the experience is worth it. But when you sneakily cheat us out of petty sums, our mind only sees the failed details. Next time we’ll offer our patronage to the place down the block with $20 cocktails but free mints.
Most salespeople will tell you that your existing customers are the best place to look for new business. They’re easiest to reach, and they must already like you somewhat if they’ve been buying your wares.
For those that make their money from intellectual property, I especially urge them to worry first about their existing customer base. This means musicians, authors, and the like. Don’t obsess about the audience that’s bootlegging your music or books. 95% of them wouldn’t buy them even if bootleg versions weren’t accessible to them.
As painful as it might feel, let others bootleg your stuff. It creates name recognition, and that’s the best marketing vehicle to acquire new high-revenue customers that you would’ve had to spend money to reach otherwise.
Adele has sold more albums than anyone in the past 10 years, but I’m willing to bet her album has been ripped and downloaded illegally more than any other as well. Her true fans will pay for her stuff. And they’ll pay for more Adele concerts, MP3s and merch when it becomes available. All the while, the random bootleg CD might just fall in the lap of a future fan waiting to be converted. The acquisition cost of this new fan is technically free.
Promote the spreading of your work, whether through legal or illegal means. Your revenue will come one way or another.
Humans have shorter and shorter attention spans as each day passes. We’ve become very adept at ignoring all the noise.
How do you plan on breaking through the noise? Simple. Just think about the one thing.
What’s the one immediate thing that stands out about your product? Or about your marketing campaign? Or about your story? Amplify this. Give it to them right away, then let them discover all your other superb features on their own.
The one thing doesn’t have to be the best part of your product, just the most remarkable. All we need to entice us to buy is to know that your stuff is special somehow, the quality of performance then closes the deal. That’s the job of the one thing, to whet the appetite.
Back in the day the one thing could’ve been a clever ad campaign. Not anymore. Now it truly has to be part of your product. Obsess about making the best product you can, but also obsess about finding the one thing.
It’s never glamorous when you’re the first one doing it. It’s never the cool thing to do. Yet that’s what makes it cool eventually. The risk.
Trying something different with your business, or with your marketing mix, or with your product is never cool in the beginning. People just don’t understand it at first.
But your day will come. Be different consistently. Do it with passion and purpose. Not just to sell your offering, but to create a whole new sphere and pave the way for others. And what’s more glamorous than that, huh?