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.”

WHEN YOU SELL UNLIMITED HOPE…

I was reading Seth Godin’s blog this morning and this stood out to me:

When you sell unlimited hope…

then all news is bad news. That’s because news is fact, what happened, not hope, and the truth can’t possibly be as good as the hope was.

The problem with marketing promises that spin out of control, that pile expectations on top of dreams, is that when reality appears, when the quarterly numbers or the new policies or the final product arrives, it will inevitably disappoint.

This is the challenge of the Kickstarter artist, the growth stock CEO and the well-published author. Dreams are irresistible, but they will never match reality when it finally appears.

The desire to promise the world is nearly uncontrollable sometimes. If you do this then everything will be alright. If you follow me, then life will be better. If you buy my new CD, it will change you forever.

Chances are, even if they are beneficial, they will not meet the expectations put on them. The old proverb says, “For though a righteous man falls seven times, he will get up again.” We get better though the journey, through mistakes and through failures.

Next time you’re selling something, consider whether your product is promising the world or supporting the journey. And consider which one will benefit your customer for the long haul. Which one will bring them back over the years?

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Why Storytelling is the Ultimate Weapon

I read a great article from Jonathan Gottschall, author of The Storytelling Animal, who says science backs up the long-held belief that story is the most powerful means of communicating a message. Here’s a snippet of the article.

In business, storytelling is all the rage. Without a compelling story, we are told, our product, idea, or personal brand, is dead on arrival. In his book,Tell to Win, Peter Guber joins writers like Annette Simmons and Stephen Denning in evangelizing for the power of story in human affairs generally, and business in particular. Guber argues that humans simply aren’t moved to action by “data dumps,” dense PowerPoint slides, or spreadsheets packed with figures. People are moved by emotion. The best way to emotionally connect other people to our agenda begins with “Once upon a time…”

Until recently we’ve only been able to speculate about the story’s persuasive effects. But over the last several decades psychology has begun a serious study of how the story affects the human mind. Results repeatedly show that our attitudes, fears, hopes, and values are strongly influenced by the story. In fact, fiction seems to be more effective in changing beliefs than writing that is specifically designed to persuade through argument and evidence.

Read the entire story: WHY STORYTELLING IS THE ULTIMATE WEAPON by Jonathan Gottschall

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Social Media Isn’t Dead…It’s Boring

I just recently finished reading an advance copy of The Impact Equation by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. This isn’t a book about social media. It’s about how to improve your goals, have better ideas, get those spread across a platform of value, and build a human network that matters. I highly recommend it.

In a recent blog post by Chris Brogan, he made the statement, social media isn’t dead, it’s just boring. I’ve said it before, but branding and marketing is storytelling. Part of the reason social media has got boring is because there is less storytelling and more yelling. The difference between yelling at your audience by saying “buy this now” and sharing a peice of your story by telling them how excited you are and how hard you’ve worked and how innovative and life-changing the same product can be is like night and day.

Here’s a snippet from Chris’ article:

The strategies around and behind The Impact Equation boil down to 5 Cs.

COMMUNICATION

If you can’t convey your ideas in a way that stands out (Contrast), that are simple (Articulation), and that resonate with an audience (Echo), the game is over before you begin. So, The Impact Equation is a book about communication.

CONTENT

If you don’t start building a platform of value around ideas that are easy to share (Reach), those ideas won’t get around and get a lot of attention (Exposure). The Impact Equation is a book that talks about how to tell bigger stories.

COMMUNITY

Where people have the most ground to make up is in nurturing a network of people who care about what you choose to share. Without relationship-minded effort (Trust and Echo), you won’t likely get beyond capturing people’s attention for a little while. Meaning, people won’t be inclined to share. The Impact Equation is definitely a book about community.

COMMERCE

We don’t write much about how to make money in this book. Both Julien and I have been successful in our businesses, and we’ve both helped other companies succeed with a lot of the tactics and strategies covered in this book. But this is a book about business and leadership and value-generation and extraction. Make no mistake, The Impact Equation is a book about commerce.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

I believe in the principle of Service Craftsmanship, that service begins before a prospect has even become a customer. We talk a lot about how to nurture relationships (Trust) and how that sets you apart from people who don’t treat every touchpoint as a chance for service excellence (Contrast). There’s also the realization that if we treat people the way we want to be treated (Echo), we will earn more of an opportunity to serve. The Impact Equation is most definitely a book about customer service.

 

Read the rest of the article HERE.

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Psychology & Advertising

If you think advertising is not about engagement and manipulating human behavior…you are missing something. But, it doesn’t have to be all evil and dirty. Imagine using these powers for good. If your brand, your product, or even YOU is actually going to benefit society in some way, why not find ways to engage and convince your future followers to pay attention and buy into your ideals. Utilizing color, smell, positive memories, music, or a vast array of other triggers to get your target audience to make a decision and even a commitment is key. Watch the video below to learn more about Psychology and Advertising. Enjoy.

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