Advice to My 18 Year Old Self

Asymmetrical Press released a book called “Advice to My 18 Year Old Self.” Branding is not a logo. Branding is who you are and where you’re going. Who I am has not changed significantly over the years as much as my comfort with who I am has. At 40, I give myself significantly more permission to be myself than I did 22 years ago. I have become more confident in the brand that is me. This same concept applies to artists, businesses and products.

Here’s my letter to me, at 18.


Dear Joshua:

ME at 18You are smart and see things differently. Stop worrying that people don’t think you’re smart. Your confidence will be far more useful than trying to prove how smart you are. Don’t try to suppress your imagination and A.D.D., use it like the FORCE to envision millions of ideas, all while everyone else in the room is still listening to the question.

Embrace mistakes. Make a ton of them, as quick as possible. Try new ideas. Experiment with the old. Question everything; this will get you in trouble, but just smile and take it as a compliment. Read Socrates and Aristotle.

Be kind. Not everyone sees things the way you do. Warning, the way you see things can create a very real threat to other’s status quo. Don’t feel so bad about the relationships that didn’t work outyou’ll soon meet a girl, marry her and have a super amazing kid.

Who you say you are isn’t interesting, people don’t care. What you do is everything. Just do things. Create. Make the world better. Do, and then you’ll never have to tell people who you are. They’ll know.

Serving your community will be your everything and that look will way different than you think it should look at 18. The more you learn how to speak for others, the more you’ll gather people and empower them to speak for themselves. Remember, a great leader works their way out of a job. Also, remember, sometimes, silence justifies those who are doing wrong, so don’t be afraid to speak up. Freedom comes with responsibility, so, don’t waste your liberties by watching tv and wasting time.

Don’t worry so much about finding a jobget some experience under your belt, and when you’re ready, make one up and be the best at it. Live in such a way that you won’t need to retire.

Finally, Joshua, know that all that you do for the world is great, but that the sooner you catch on that your humor is the best way to warm people up to the real lessons you want to teach, you’ll see that everything goes better. It’s like that great philosopher said, “Just a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down.” Humor is how you’ll remind everyone that they will inherit the earth.

Sincerely,

Your 40 Year Old Self

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The Humility of the Artist

I was reading Seth Godin’s blog post this morning and it profoundly hit the nail on the head. Here’s what he said,

It seems arrogant to say, “perhaps this isn’t for you.”

When the critic pans your work, or the prospect hears your offer but doesn’t buy, the artist responds, “that’s okay, it’s not for you.” She doesn’t wheedle or flip-flop or go into high pressure mode. She treats different people differently, understands that she is working to delight the weird, not please the masses, and walks away.

Isn’t that arrogant?

No. It’s arrogant to assume that you’ve made something so extraordinary that everyone everywhere should embrace it. Our best work can’t possibly appeal to the average masses, only our average work can.

Finding the humility to happily walk away from those that don’t get it unlocks our ability to do great work.

Knowing who you are and where you are going is branding. That is the brand, whether the brand is you, a product or service. Being confident in allowing your brand to be itself is not arrogantit is strategic. We must be artists, creators, innovators; we are all original.

I asked a client (singer/songwriter) the other day in a session, “Who was Michael Jackson like?” “What about Prince? Or Miles Davis?” The answer, obviously was no one. They were confident in being themselves and they created forms of music that no one before them had created. We don’t really consider musicians who followed in their footsteps to be legends. Being legendary requires being unique, different. It required these artists to be themselves, not attempting to please everyone, but pushing to have personal integrity and originality in their work.

Michael Jackson Prince Miles DavisNo one can be you. There is no competition to you. When you choose to be yourself and stay focused on a clear path, you don’t really compete with anyone. You now have something unique. Now all you have to do is market, effectively tell your story to a specific demographic. Branding and marketing…defining who you are, where you are going, and sharing that story effectively. 

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What Does the Fox Say?

Love what Seth Godin had to say about the newest viral music video on YouTube.

The viral music video of the moment is right here.

The question for the marketer, music or otherwise, isn’t, “what are the hooks and tricks I use to go viral?” No, the question is, “is it worth it?”

What does the fox say has the hooks and tricks in abundance. It has Archie McPhee animal costumes, nonsense words, just the right sort of production values, superfluous subtitles, appropriate silliness. It would probably help the cause to add spurious nudity, but give them points for getting the rest of it right.

To what end?

If your work goes viral, if it gets seen by tens of millions of people, sure you can profit from that. But most of the time, it won’t. Most of the time, you’ll aim to delight the masses and you’ll fail.

I’m glad that some people are busy trying to entertain us in a silly way now and then. But it doesn’t have to be you doing the entertaining–the odds are stacked against you.

So much easier to aim for the smallest possible audience, not the largest, to build long-term value among a trusted, delighted tribe, to create work that matters and stands the test of time.

“Baby bump bump bay dum.”

4 Common Misunderstandings About Content Marketing

Sure, you know about content marketing—but do you really know about content marketing? I found this great list at Zemanta this morning. Clients always think creating content is a no-brainer, but you need to be strategic and consider a few things.

Do you think content marketing is the same as blogging, for example? (It’s not.) Does launching a content marketing strategy seem either too easy or too hard? (It shouldn’t.) The truth is, most companies today are still a little fuzzy on what exactly content marketing means.

So to help you clarify your understanding, here’s a look at four of the most common content marketing misunderstandings!

1. Content Marketing = Blogging

2. Creating Content Is Easy—We’ll Just Throw Something Together

3. Creating Content Is Hard—We Have Nothing to Say

4. Content Marketing Means Losing Money

READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE…YOU WON’T REGRET IT!

This is My Art

Seth Godin, one of my favorite modern thinkers, released his newest book today. “The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?” is nothing short of brilliant. Two things might hold someone back from sharing the art they’ve got inside: The fear of telling the truth or the lame strategy of hiding the truth behind a sales pitch. If you can find the voice, stand up and tell people what you care about.

Your art is vitally important, and what makes it art is that it is personal, important and fraught with the whiff of failure. This is precisely why it’s scarce and thus valuable—it’s difficult to stand up and own it and say, “here, I made this.” – Seth Godin

Watch this video…go ahead and do it. Now.

At some point, art must involve a human. A human with intent. Your hand can be your heart or your words or your effort or a hug, but, yes, the work of a human. If you de-industrialize the process and return it to humanity, to connection, then yes, it’s art and yes, it will connect to other humans more effectively.


MY ARTThis is my art:

I’m good at helping tell your story to people who don’t really know it, yet need to know it. I create pictures that don’t speak a thousand words, but instead speak a few strategic words that provoke an inevitable response. I’m gifted at the art of ignoring boxes and rethinking possibilities. In essence, my art is helping give your art wings.

CALL ME 626.467.5335

ALSO, check out our LOFT and how it may support you.

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If Facebook is Lucky Charms…Instagram is Just the Marshmallows

If Facebook is Lucky Charms…Instagram is just the marshmallows. That’s the breakfast-themed wisdom laid down by the filmmaker, Casey Neistat in his charming and informative guide to not sucking so bad on Instagram. It’s not the pictures that really matter, it’s the documentation of life that really intrigues folks. Thanks to Mashable for sharing this video.