I thought I'd be a writer. And just write all day long. And do nothing else.
What a great thought that was. I could already picture myself spending the next 10 years of my life writing a bestseller every once in a while and enjoying life to the fullest.
But then I realized that being a writer isn't actually about writing.
Just like being a musician isn't really about being a musician.
Just like being an artist isn't really about being an artist.
Nothing really is what we think it is.
Especially when you're just getting started.
When you're just getting started it's about so much more than just mastering that one skill.
It's about so much more than becoming the best of the best in your field.
The world is so crowded right now that even some of the greatest writers, musicians, artists or whatever will never be discovered.
Simply because just being really, really good at one thing isn't enough anymore. No one will magically find out about you anymore. It's just way too crowded out there..
When you're out there on your own it's about so much more.
It's about figuring out how to get people to find out about you.
It's about being everywhere where your potential audience is.
It's about being able to send tons and tons of traffic to your website, blog, album, art or whatever.
It's about being able to convince people on stage. On video. On audio. Or in written form.
It's about being able to leverage all the existing tools and platforms out there.
Tools and platforms that enable you to potentially reach millions of people.
Tools and platforms like Facebook (ads), Twitter (ads), Instagram, LinkedIn, Wordpress, Amazon, Ebay, Etsy, Spotify and on and on and on.
If you want to succeed you've gotta figure out all of these things. And it doesn't matter whether you want to be an entrepreneur, a writer, a freelancer, an artist, a designer, a musician or whatever.
At then end of the day all of these things are about the exact same thing. And essentially everybody who creates stuff, everybody who's out there on his or her own is essentially a marketer. And a sales person. Like it or not.
If you aren't, or aren't willing to learn all of these things you've already lost before you even started. I know it's a tough pill to swallow. And I was struggling with this a lot myself.
I thought that everybody would read my stuff. Watch my stuff. Download my stuff. And buy my stuff.
But the truth is that no one read my stuff. Watched my stuff. Downloaded my stuff. Or bought my stuff. Simply because no one knew who the heck I was. And after four years, still barely anyone knows who the heck I am.
So after four years I've realized that whatever you want to do, you've gotta master a few micro skills. And these skills are the exact same in every field. They are the same for a designer. A freelancer. An entrepreneur. An artist. A writer. A YouTuber. A painter. A singer. And pretty much everything else out there.
And these aren't skills just for entrepreneurs or people who create stuff. These are the skills that are essential for survival in the 21st century. A time where more and more people compete for less and less jobs that are more and more being filled by algorithms instead of real human beings...
# SELF AWARENESS
We live in a time where we're basically told all day long what to do. By our bosses. By society. By teachers. By professors. By clients. And on and on and on. So we lose touch with ourselves. And when you lose touch with yourself you become like a robot.
You just do the things you're told to do and that's pretty much it. I know I'm generalizing a lot here but at the end of the day that's what it boils down to. And when you just do what you're told to, when you lose touch with yourself, it's just really, really hard to be self aware.
So how can you become self aware in a world where we lose more and more touch with ourselves every single day?
I don't know. But here's what I did...
A few years ago I realized that I'm the only one to blame when things go wrong. No matter what.
Maybe I listened to the wrong advice. Maybe I did something wrong. Maybe I allowed someone to treat me in a way that he or she shouldn't have treated me. Maybe I did something I shouldn't have done. Everything will always be my fault!
So whenever something goes wrong I'm the only one to blame. And I have to figure out what I did wrong, where things went wrong, take responsibility and try to adjust it.
I have to figure out why my assumptions about the world were wrong. Why people reacted differently from what I expected. So I automatically have to become more self aware. Because I'm the only one to blame. I'm responsible for everything.
And this is almost impossible in the current work environment. Or any environment as a matter of fact. In our current environment we can outsource responsibility to dozens of layers above us. The layers that told us what to do.
So if something goes wrong we're never the ones to blame. It's always the layers above us. Or below us. Or in between. Dozens of layers to blame. And nothing to learn.
So to me, one of the ways to become more self aware is to take full responsibility for everything that happens. Especially for the things that go wrong...
It's not about who you know. Because sometimes you just can't be where the party is. Maybe you live in a different city. Country. Or don't have enough money. But what you can do is to try to bring the party to you. To put yourself out there for everybody else to see. So people can see you. And find out about you.
At the end of the day it's not about who you know but about who knows about you.
So how can you increase the number of people who know about you?
It's pretty simple. Show up. Try to be everywhere. On audio, video, your own blog and pretty much everywhere else where you can find people. Or master one platform and then take over the other platforms. It doesn't matter.
What matters is that people know about you. I don't know anyone. But through my blog and the stuff I do online some people know about me. And the stuff I do. Maybe it's just a few people. But it's enough people.
And that's already worth a lot more than just knowing people through networking events or whatever. If someone knows you because he or she enjoys your work that's always a big plus. And can be leveraged a lot better. Which I unfortunately haven't really done as much as I should have...
97% of the people out there won't care about you and what you do. And most of your friends won't care about what you do. And then there will be people who will try to argue with you. People who will try to bring you down. People who'll try to convince you of their point of view.
Don't ever try to argue with those people. Don t ever try to convince anyone of your point of view. Just do your thing for the people who care about you. People who want to hear from you. People who want to see your stuff. Watch your stuff. Listen to your stuff. Or read your stuff.
Don't create your art for anyone else. Ignore everybody else. That really is the only way. And try to never argue. Ever.. That's why I disabled comments on my blog. I don't want to waste my time arguing. Life is too short to argue...
You've gotta master all the platforms out there. Or at least know how to leverage them to send traffic to whatever you are creating.
Maybe you're writing a blog. Maybe you're recording songs. Or maybe you're creating art. One of the most important skills to invest in is the ability to leverage everything that's out there to send people to what you have to offer. If you don't know how to do that it's like you don't even exist.
So how do you learn how to send people to what you have to offer?
The only way is to do it. Through trial and error. To try as many different things as possible. Maybe you try writing guest posts. Maybe you write a blog and try building an email list. Maybe you take a couple of hundred dollars and try to figure out Facebook ads. Or Twitter ads. Or LinkedIn ads. Or maybe you just add thousands of people on platforms like Twitter, Facebook of whatever. It doesn't matter. What matters is that you do stuff instead of just reading about it...
There is no such thing as sales. Sales is just a word for the moment when people trust you enough to buy your product. And all of the things you do before are to build up trust. So that people see you as a trustworthy person, artist, writer, corporation or whatnot.
And no one really gets this. Trust is the most important thing when you're creating things. As a matter of fact the only purpose of social media is to build up trust. Social media is used by brands, corporations, individuals and artists for the only purpose to build up trust through content.
Content that will allow people or brands to build up trust. To get back in touch with their fans and to build up more trust whenever they want to. Getting in touch with your friends is just a byproduct. As a matter of fact, we are the product on social media.
The actual sale is just the last piece of the puzzle and it follows after a variety of different things that build up trust. These can be all kinds of things. A blog post someone read. An ad. A free song someone listened to. A picture someone downloaded. A video someone watched how you created your art. It doesn't matter.
At the end of the day the only thing that matters is that people trust you enough to buy your product. Read your book. Buy your paintings. Buy a ticket to your show. If you start with the sale before you do any of the other stuff to build trust, you're not going to be able to sell anything.
People say that on average it takes 7+ interactions with someone, a product, a service or a company before potential customers are thinking about buying. Sales isn't about sales. Its about positioning yourself as someone trustworthy. Someone who's able to solve their problems...
Ignorance and empathy are pretty much the same thing. When you understand why people do what they do, you can also ignore the wrong people and listen to the right people. But not only this. Empathy will help you at pretty much every stage of whatever you want to do.
So how can you learn empathy?
I don't know. And I think it's really hard to learn empathy.
Sure, I could tell you to put yourself in other people's shoes. Or I could tell you to think more of what other people might think. But then again, all of this is pretty much useless if you don't know how to do it.
And I guess it all starts by being self aware. By doing the things I said above. By taking 100% responsibility for your actions. Because then you'll be the only one to blame. And then you'll be forced to understand why things went wrong. Why people didn't react the way you thought they would...
At one point you also gotta work on your public speaking. Or your speaking in front of a camera. In front of an audience. Showing up in person, showing your face over and over again is what builds a real connection.
No matter if you have a blog, want to become a writer, a singer, an entrepreneur or whatever. If you want to be able to convince people, if you want people to trust you, you've gotta work on your speaking and presentation skills.
And the only way to get better at it s is by doing it. Over and over again. Maybe you go to a Toastmasters event. Maybe you organize your own speaking tour. Maybe you shoot a bunch of videos. It doesn't matter. What matters is that you get better at it. Quantity is the only way to quality. Always!
None of this really matters if you're not consistent. And yes, I consider consistency a skill. because I think it can be learned.
Again, I don't know. We're all different. And what works for me might not work for you. And the other way round.
The only thing that ever worked for me though was to do my thing every single day. Whenever I don't do something every single day I get lazy. And come up with millions of excuses. Until I stop doing it for good.
So why is consistency so important?
Because that's the only way that you'll get better at it. And at the same time that's the only way people will start to notice. That's the only way to cut through all the noise out there. That's the only way to become the signal.
It's probably the most important micro skill you need. And probably also the hardest to learn...
Is part of the whole marketing and sales stuff. If you know how to write, people are going to listen to what you have to say. And if you know how to write, people will have the chance to find out more about you, what you do, what you stand for and how you might be able to solve their problems.
And once you had someone's attention over a longer period of time, it's a lot easier to get that attention back. Or to hold that attention and leverage it into something bigger. Attention builds trust. And trust is the most important thing...
I also consider this a skill. And it goes hand in hand with consistency. Because if you're not authentic, if you're doing something that's not you, then you'll never be able to be consistent. It's just hard to be consistent, to do something over and over again when it's not really you...
# BE INTERESTING
You've gotta be interesting. So how can you be interesting? There are many ways. And you've gotta find your way. You can be funny. You can be authentic. You can be smart. You can be consistent. Or persistent. You can be adventurous. You can be anything you want. But whatever you do, try to be as authentic as possible. Be yourself. And everyone can be turned into something interesting. I'm proof. You just read 10 minutes of my stuff and the only reason why you read it is because I show up in your inbox or newsfeed every single day. Now that's interesting. You've gotta stand for something. Try to own a word in people's heads...
# LEVERAGING FEAR
We're all afraid and in fear. I'm always afraid. I'm even afraid that no one might like this. Even though I shouldn't. And fear will never go away. Ever. It will always be there. It will always try to hold you back. It will always try to keep you small. Learn how to live with your fear.
So how do you learn to live with your fear?
Here's what I do...
I try to spread my risk across as many different things as possible. Because I'm constantly in fear that one thing might stop working tomorrow. So I'm somehow in a weird way leveraging my fear to do more things.
I'm leveraging my fear to constantly try new things. To constantly learn new things. Because every single day I'm afraid that tomorrow I might be obsolete. That tomorrow everything I've built over the last few years will stop working.
I'm not saying you should be paranoid. But that's just the way I work....
# BE PERSISTENT
The longer and the more often you show up, the more people will start to notice. It's as simple as that. Simply because the longer you do something, the better you'll get. And the better you get, the harder it'll be to ignore you.
# TEACHER & STUDENT
The best way to learn something new is to teach it. Teaching will help you to better understand the things you're learning yourself. But the world we live in changes all the time. That's why you can't just be a teacher anymore.
As a matter of fact, you've gotta be able to go from teacher to student and then from student to teacher and back. The people who are winning today go from teacher to student and from student to teacher. They do this all the time...
Alright. I guess that's about it for today. It's Saturday night. It's almost midnight. And I just ate half a bag of chips writing all of this right here...