All good stories involve dying. The often-literal death of a mentor almost inevitable requires the hero to grow and move on in his journey. But there is also the shedding of a character’s old identity in exchange for a new way of being. Not to mention, the loss of friends and foes throughout any adventure are a necessary part of the process. Death is a part of every great story, and so it must be for all great lives, as well.
Is personal change something that happens instantaneously in someone’s life or does it take a long time? Can we choose to change, as the self-help gurus assert, or are there other factors, like environment and genetics, at work as well that limit us? Is it even possible for us to become our best selves or are we doomed to lives of mediocrity? The answer, I think, is, “It’s complicated… but there is hope.”
I’m calling it a rule, but really it’s an idea: What would your life look like if you could only have an impact on a handful of people? What would you do differently in your work if you couldn’t help everyone? This next year, I’m answering that question and challenge you to do the same.
A few weeks ago, I did an episode of The Portfolio Life called “Don’t Build an Empire, Find a Few Friends Who Care.” It was about how the secret of marketing and getting your ideas to spread is really just about having a few friends who care. You want to create remarkable work and put […]
Often, we think the way to stand out from the pack is to be better. And sometimes that is the answer: to become an improved version of who you were yesterday, to do what the “other guy” is doing with a few added features. However, this is often a losing strategy, as you are making iterative improvements on someone else’s work. A better way to become world-class at what you do is to change the game completely. Don’t be better; be different.
I’ve often wondered what would it be like to be a nomad and travel the world. I did this for a brief time in my early 20s and then stopped, and recently I’ve been falling back in love with travel. I’ve bumped into some really interesting people who have traveled the world. I’ve learned that travel is not so much about the places you go or the people you meet, but instead, it’s about the person you become.
“Just be yourself” is probably the worst advice we could ever receive or give. Few of us actually know who we really are. And yet, if we can acquire this art of self-awareness, everything changes.
Recently while speaking onstage, I heard myself say something I didn’t plan on saying. I didn’t rehearse it. I didn’t have it in my notes. It just came out. The line was: “Sometimes, the good has to end before the better can begin.”
The best marketing you can do for your work is not to build an empire, but to find a few friends who care. We all want to reach the masses and see our work get into the mainstream. We want to have an “impact.” But the only way to reach the many is to first reach the few.
This is all marketing is: Finding a handful of misfits who appreciate your work before anyone else does, then giving those people the tools to help spread the message. The way we get a Harry Potter, Apple Computer, or Amanda Palmer is not by trying to reach everyone all at once. Quite the opposite in fact.
Whether you want to write books, make art, or share your music with the world, having an email list of fans is a must. Email is the most effective way to communicate with your people.