Would I still do it if I knew what I know today?
Because if I didn't do it, I wouldn't know what I know today...
A lot of people tell you that you have to write every single day.
Otherwise you'll forget how to do it.
I don't know if this is true.
Maybe it is.
Maybe it isn't.
What I do know though is that if I stopped writing just for one day, it would be so damn hard for me to get started again.
Simple because if you break the chain once, if you skip something just once, it will never be just once.
That's at least what usually happens to me.
You'll skip it a second time. Then a third time. And on and on and on.
Until you stop for good.
Until all the doubts start to kick back in.
And the voices living inside your head.
And then you'll come up with all sorts of excuses.
"I wasn't good enough anyway."
"No one read it."
"No one even cares."
And on and on and on.
And that's the real reason why I write every single day...
So why do I even write?
I don't know.
Why do I even breathe...?
It's easy to say “I told you so.”
It's easy to not do it.
To give into the voices living inside your head.
To stay where you are.
To never try.
Nothing wrong about that.
But the truth is that if you don't do it, you just don't know it.
And what might be even worse is that you'll never really know.
Maybe it won't bother you today.
Maybe it won't bother you tomorrow.
Or the day after tomorrow.
But what about next year?
Or twenty years from now?
No one really knows.
You'll only know it when you do it...
There's no one left anymore who could say “yes” to you. Or “no”.
Most gatekeepers are gone.
So back in the days you had at least people telling you either “yes” or “no”.
But today, no one says “yes” or “no” anymore.
As a matter of fact, the response you'll hear the most is silence.
Especially when you're just getting starting.
Silence is the sound you'll hear the most when you put your work out there.
That piece of art.
That blog post.
And silence is probably one of the hardest things to deal with.
When you don't get any feedback whatsoever.
It's worse than a “no”.
It leaves you clueless.
And that missing feedback is why many people just give up.
Why we stop putting ourselves and our work out there.
We think that silence means “no”.
When in fact silence can mean “yes”.
But we're just not sure yet.
Because we want to see more.
We want to hear more.
Because we've already seen hundreds of pieces today.
Because we've already listened to hundreds of songs today.
Because we don't know you well enough, yet.
So we just wait. And see what happens next.
We wait and see whether or not you'll still be around tomorrow.
Or the day after tomorrow.
Simply because most people will be gone tomorrow.
Most people give in to the sound of silence.
Don't be one of them...
That presentation gets done.
That term paper gets done.
That design gets done.
That project gets done.
It's astonishing what we're able to get done when we're told to what to get done.
When we have to get it done.
But on the other it's so hard to get anything done when we're not told to what to get done.
When we don't have to get it done.
Like that book.
Or that website.
Or that blog.
Or that blog post.
Or learning that instrument.
So why do we get all of these things done that we're told to but at the same time we have such a hard time getting all the other stuff done?
The other stuff meaning the things that will help us grow.
The things that can change our lives.
The things we might even really enjoy doing.
And the answer is pretty simple...
We get all of this stuff done because of fear.
Fear of losing our jobs.
Fear of not getting that degree.
Fear of not getting paid.
So if fear is the driver to get things done why not use it in our favor?
Why not use it to get all the other stuff done that we don't have to get done?
So here's the biggest fear we all have...
It's so big we try to ignore it as much as we can.
And when I say "we" what I really mean is me.
The biggest fear of almost all of us is that one day we'll all be gone.
No matter what...
So why not use that as a driver?
To get all of the things done that we don't have to get done.
To do all of these things that will help us grow.
That will help us to unleash our potential.
And you know what?
It's the one thing that pushes me every single day.
And it pushes me hard.
So will it work for you?
I don't know.
But it works for me.
Even though I still don't know how to play the guitar...
"No one cares about me."
"I won't be able to change anything."
And it's true.
It's very likely that no one wants to hear your story.
That no one really cares about you.
That you won't be able to change a damn thing.
But what's also true is that when you believe that no one wants to hear your story, that no one cares about you, that you won't be able to change anything, then it just won't happen.
Because you let yourself off the hook.
If you don't believe in your story, if you don't believe in yourself, in your change, then it's very likely that no one else ever will.
So maybe people do want to hear your story.
Maybe people do care about you.
Maybe you will be able to change something.
Even if it's not true.
Even if you're just telling yourself that story.
I know. It's a very simple story.
But a very powerful one.
It's the story that changed my life...
Don't spend your time thinking about all of the things you can't do.
And instead spend your time doing the things you can do.
Because the more you do and the less you think, the better you'll get.
And the better you'll get, the more you'll move the needle away from impossible and closer to possible...
You don't work on things that matter.
No one really works on things that matter.
Because nothing really matters.
And the only way you turn something that doesn't matter into something that matters is by putting in your blood, sweat and tears.
By giving it all you got.
Only if it matters to you will it matter to people out there.
If it doesn't matter to you, if you're not willing to put in your blood, sweat and tears, the truth is that it'll never matter to anyone out there.
So if you want to work on things that matter do this...
Give it all you got.
And put in your blood, sweat and tears.
That really is the only way.
No matter what you're working on.
Because nothing ever really matters.
You have to make it matter...
What happens when everything goes according to plan is that, well, everything goes according to plan.
Which is great.
At least at first.
But what happens when everything always goes according to plan is that you get addicted to things going according to plan.
And when you always want everything to go according to plan, you'll never really do new things anymore.
Simply because the only way that things will always go according to plan is that you follow the same old plan over and over again.
That you do the same old things over and over again.
That you never really try out new things anymore.
And never really learn new things anymore.
So after all, maybe it's not so bad if things don't go according to plan.
Every once in a while...
It's not what you do on your good days that will make you.
It's almost always what you do on your bad days.
Simply because at one point your good days will be gone.
And you'll have to face a couple of bad days.
Or maybe even years.
That's just the way it goes.
So at the end of the day it's all about what you do on your bad days.
When nothing seems to work out.
When you feel like giving up.
When you've almost given up hope.
When you've been knocked out.
Those are the days that will make you.
Or break you.
It's never really your good days...
Building your personal brand isn't about you.
As a matter of fact it's about everybody else, except you...
If all you do is to post once or twice a week.
If you publish just one or two books.
If you create just a few pieces of art.
Or a few songs.
It's easy to not notice you if stop right after you've started.
If all you do is what everybody else is doing.
If you put in the same amount of work that everybody else is putting in.
The truth is that the only way to get noticed is to show up more often and longer than anybody else...
What my mission really is.
After all they say you have to have one message.
But the truth is that there are so many messages.
So many missions.
And they change every single day.
The world changes every single day.
You change every single day.
I change every single day.
You discover new things every day.
One day your message might be this.
And then another day your message might be that.
It's hard to focus on one single message for your entire life.
All you can really do is to focus on living your life.
On getting better every single day.
On helping others.
And on sharing your message(s) with the world.
And maybe that's your message.
Maybe that's my message.
Maybe your life is your message.
Just like someone a lot smarter than me said a long time ago.
Maybe the way you live, the way you think and the way you do everything you do is your message.
No matter how many people end up reading, seeing or hearing that message.
It's hard to write something down and then make that your message.
Or your mission.
It's hard to focus on one single thing for the rest of your life.
But through the way you live, the way you think and the way you do the things you do you might end up inspiring others to do the same, to turn their lives into their messages.
After all we only have this one life.
So why not make this one thing, this one life we all have our message?
It'll probably be the most beautiful message in the world...
Do you get up every morning and go to work because you're afraid that if you don't you might lose your job or do you get up and go to work because you're looking forward to all the opportunities ahead of you?
Do you stay in your current relationship [replace with job, friends, etc] because you're afraid that you might never find someone else or do you stay together because that's what really makes you happy?
Do you do what you're currently doing just because you're afraid of change and the things that might go wrong when you do something else or do you do what you're doing because it allows you to grow and to unleash your potential?
Whatever you do in life, you can always do it either because of the negative consequences or because of the positive consequences.
And it's really,really tough to live a life that's guided by the fear of negative consequences...
Why do you do what you do?
Look for that new job when you still have a job.
And not when you don't have a job anymore.
Invest in yourself when everything goes right.
And not when everything goes wrong.
Build relationships on the way up.
And not on the way down.
Go for a change when you're strong.
And not when you're weak.
Because change is hard.
And it needs a hell lot of energy.
So try to go for a change when you're strong.
And not when you're weak...
To someone who has a degree in business or to someone who doesn't have a degree in business but has built a few multi million dollar businesses?
To someone who has a degree in writing or to someone who doesn't have a degree in writing but wrote a few bestsellers?
To someone who has a degree in nutritional sciences or to someone who doesn't have a degree but has lost 100 pounds and was able to keep his weight down?
Probably the latter...
And that's what's happening in the 21st century.
People realize that degrees and information are losing more and more value.
Simply because everybody has access to information.
And because there are more graduates out there for less and less jobs for graduates.
What really matters these days is what you do with that information.
What really matters are the results.
The things you make.
The things you create.
And not the concepts or strategies you develop.
Because without implementation these things are useless.
Finding your way through the abundance of useless information that's out there, applying it and turning it into real world results is the name of the game.
Because people want to learn how they can create those results themselves.
And that's the real challenge these days.
Because it's hard.
It's hard to get results.
It takes a hell lot of time.
Because there's no guidebook.
There's no blueprint.
There's just trial and error.
And figuring out what works and what doesn't.
But at the same time it's also a huge opportunity for everybody out there who's willing to put in the work to make stuff. To create stuff. To create the results.
And for the first time in a pretty long time it doesn't really matter anymore where you're from, how much money you have right now, where you've studied or how old you are.
The only thing that really matters these days is to be able to create something out of nothing.
To make stuff.
To create stuff.
And to create results.
Because once you get the results, people will listen.
The information economy is dead.
It's all about results now.
The world is changing.
What about you?
So the other day someone said that my profile picture isn't high resolution.
And that someone who gives other people advice on personal branding needs this kind of stuff...
And you know what?
He doesn't get it...
And he reminded me of pretty much everything that's wrong in this world...
We're taught from a young age that we have to be experts.
And then every single day of our lives we buy more into this crap.
We see the people on the top with great material.
Who put out great content.
Who have great pictures.
Who write books with great covers.
Or what not.
Who run around all day with a camera.
We see the Gary Vees of the world and we're intimidated.
We only see the end product.
We only see them when they're on top.
And we think that that's the way it has to be.
That that's the reason why they're now on top.
But the truth is that they didn't start that way.
The truth is that they're on top now because of something else entirely.
They're on top now because of the quality content they provide.
Because of the hours they put into the game.
Because of the sacrifices.
And by the way, the only thing that will ever lead to quality is quantity.
That's the only way to mastery. Doing it over and over again...
So the way all the Gary Vees in the world started is that they just started.
Just like all I did was that I just started.
So you just have to get started.
And then never really stop again.
And you don't need any fancy equipment to get started.
Or a fancy video camera.
Or a cameraman.
Or high resolution pictures.
Or a fancy office.
You don't need any of that.
The only thing you need to get started is to get started.
And that applies to pretty much everything in life by the way.
Not just branding.
You just gotta get started.
And then never stop pushing.
Everything else is just an excuse.
No matter how much or how little you have.
One of the best things I ever did in my whole entire life was that I started working for free.
I worked for free for myself.
I worked on many projects that didn't work out and I made close to nothing.
For almost three years.
But I wanted to develop my skills.
I wanted to understand how things really work.
So I rejected dozens of offers to work for other people.
Simply because when you work for someone else you don't learn a damn thing.
Or maybe you do.
I don't know.
But it's almost always the stuff they want you to learn.
The stuff that helps them.
But not you.
It's never the stuff that will help you when you're out there on your own.
It's never the skills that will help you to become independent.
To make money on your own.
To break free.
Because what everybody you work for wants is to keep you small.
So you don't run away.
And stick with them.
Working for a lousy salary.
So here's the truth...
When you go out there and work on your own stuff you won't make a lot of money.
For a long, long time.
Or maybe you will.
I don't know you.
But I for sure didn't.
And I'm not talking about being a freelancer.
Or raising money.
Because that's the same thing.
You'd still be working for someone.
And you'd still have a boss.
The only difference is that your new boss isn't called boss anymore.
And your new boss has a lot more power over you than your old boss.
So every once in a while try to work for free.
Work for yourself.
On your own things.
And learn the skills you need to go from zero to one...
The things you don't want to do.
The things you're afraid of.
The things you're trying to run away from.
The things you know you should be doing but don't.
The things you've never done before.
The things you're likely to fail at.
The hard things...
Those are the things.
Those are the things you should do.
Those are the only things worth doing.
Because those are the things that will help you to grow.
To really unleash your potential.
Those are the things...
… and never finished it, then go back and finish it.
It's almost always the things we don't really have to do that we don't finish.
Like that book you maybe started a while ago.
Or that blog.
Or that online course.
Or that painting.
Or that website.
Or that song.
Or that piece of art.
Or that long trip you planned.
All of these things are scary.
And take a lot of courage to finish.
That's why we never really finish them.
Or we never really start them in the first place.
The thing is that all of these things, the things we don't really have to do, the things we don't really have to finish are the things that will help us grow.
These are the things that will ultimately help us to unleash our true potential.
But then again.
You don't have to unleash your potential.
You can stay whoever you are.
And you can stay wherever you are.
Where it's comfortable.
For some people that's the right thing to do.
But here's the thing...
If you don't finish just that one thing, it's very likely that you'll also not finish that second, that third or that fourth thing.
Finishing is so damn hard once you broke the chain.
Once you didn't finish just that one damn thing.
And then it'll get harder and harder to finish anything.
It'll get harder and harder to finish the things you don't have to finish.
When the truth is that those are the only things you absolutely have to finish...
Most of the stuff we see out there is the polished stuff.
The stuff without any flaws.
Without any typos.
With a perfect cover.
Or a perfect caption.
But what we usually tend to forget is how the people putting out this popular stuff really started.
When no one knew about them.
When they were putting out their raw stuff.
Their unpolished stuff.
Their stuff full of flaws.
Because that's what starting looks like.
And sometimes even ugly.
But what it's all about at the end of the day is to put your stuff out there.
No matter your equipment.
No matter the typos.
No matter the flaws.
It's all about showing up.
Over and over again.
And by showing up over and over again will you move up the value chain.
You'll be creating more and more value for more and more people.
And you'll be producing more and more quality work.
Because quantity is the only way to quality...
The Internet is a big place.
A really big place.
That's why some of the most successful websites out there are the ones that help you to find things.
To discover new things.
And on and on.
The real challenge isn't anymore to put out stuff.
The real challenge is to be found.
So what did you do today to be found?
What did you do today so that more people will find out about you and your work?
It's very likely that people won't care.
When you put yourself out there.
When you write a book.
Start a blog.
Launch your product.
Or your service.
And that's ok.
It's not just ok.
You just need one person who cares about what you do.
And that person is you.
And no one else.
And the more and the longer you care, the more people will start to care.
It's that simple.
But not easy...
When I started writing back in 2013 I had no clue about anything.
I didn't even know how to setup a blog.
Or a website.
So I went ahead and started posting my thoughts as updates right into Facebook.
This went on for quite a while.
Then at one point I realized that I might need my own blog.
So I was looking around at what other people were using back then.
And then I saw that Seth Godin was using Typepad.
I liked his stuff. And he seemed to be pretty famous.
So I decided to use the same platform he was using.
By the way, I get asked that question quite a lot why I still use Typepad.
Well, there you go.
Seth is the reason.
There really is no other reason.
And the fact that I never change a running system.
But that's not what I wanted to talk about.
So when I started I really had no clue about anything.
And I can still remember like it was yesterday when my goal was to get 30 views on my blog a day.
And I was struggling to get those 30 views every single day.
For quite a while.
And on the weekends I wanted 50 views.
I don't think I ever made those back then...
I had to work my ass off just to get those 30 views on my blog.
But every time I reached those 30 views I felt like a king.
Like everything was possible...
And today, about three and a half years later I have posts that get tens of thousands of views.
I posted entire books on Medium and thousands of people read the entire books.
Inside of Medium.
It's all just so surreal.
But at the same time I also get posts that get less than a hundred views.
My last 10 posts or so on Medium all got less than a hundred views.
I don't know.
I really don't know.
And that's pretty much the only thing you have to know about writing.
You can only write for yourself.
And no one else.
If you write for others, if you write for views, clicks or likes you'll give up.
Sooner or later.
This applies to pretty much everything in life by the way...
I've seen it over and over again.
People give up because they write for others and not for themselves.
But then again this is really just a reminder to myself to keep writing for myself...
I don't know how to be any of those things.
But someone wrote this after she read some of my stuff.
Maybe she's right.
Maybe she isn't.
I don't know.
But what I do know is that I'm mostly driven by fear.
Most of my decisions were based on fear.
Fear is pushing me.
It's pushing me when I experiment with new things.
All the time.
It's pushing me when I'm thinking about becoming obsolete.
I was also mostly driven by fear when I quit my job.
And the only reason I might seem like any of the above is because fear pushes me.
Over and over again.
I quit my job because I was afraid that over time I would get too comfortable, that I would get lazy and then spend the best 10-15 years of my life there until I would be replaced by some sort of algorithm. Or whatever.
I just don't want to rely on someone or something that I can't control.
And for me working for someone means that this person basically has power over my life.
I know it sounds exaggerated but it's the truth.
You always feel safe. Until you don't...
I only want to rely on myself.
Because that's the only thing I'm able to control.
I don't want to rely on a grumpy boss.
Or shitty clients.
I also don't want to rely on a single stream of income anymore that could disappear within just a few seconds.
And I'm not being pessimistic here.
I'm just being realistically optimistic.
Does that even exist?
I'm realistic because the world is changing.
How will it change?
I don't know.
No one knows.
The only thing I know is that I can get ready for it and learn the skills I might need.
Fear pushes me to take action.
But I know it can also do the exact opposite.
And I'm optimistic because even though I went down the road less traveled I'm convinced that in the end everything will work out just fine.
No matter what...
So even though it might look like I'm brave, daring and risk taking I'm really the exact opposite.
My fear drives me to look brave, daring and risk taking.
I know it sounds counterintuitive.
But it's the truth.
It's my truth.
And honestly speaking I admire people who can stay calm and act like nothing is going on, like nothing is ever going to change when the truth is that there's a hell lot going on. That basically everything is changing.
Sometimes I admire those people's ignorance and inaction and I'm even a bit jealous.
Or maybe they're right and I'm the one who's being ignorant.
No one knows...
Still, for me those people are brave, daring and the real risk takers...
There's stuff that works.
And then there's that stuff that doesn't work so well.
And it's so damn tempting to write for the algorithm.
Simply because the algorithm means more views, more clicks, more of everything.
So what is this algorithm?
How does it even work?
Well, that algorithm is none other than the people feeding that algorithm.
And you know who those people are?
Well, it's mostly the readers.
So don't complain about that algorithm [replace with whatever annoys you].
You're part of that algorithm.
Because you're feeding that algorithm with everything you do.
It's hard to fight the algorithm.
Because we are the algorithm...