If you follow any marketing blog or visit LinkedIn frequently, you’ll find a steady stream of posts titled “Five Things You Need to Know About (fill in the blank).” Most likely these will be regurgitated information, posted multiple times, by similar people. The internet evidently wrote a huge permission slip for people to stop thinking for themselves and then armed every self-declared marketing guru with enough Seth Godin quotes to retweet. I’m not suggesting that there isn’t a time or place to utilize the “re,” some ideas deserve to be shared, but soon enough people will skip you and go straight to the source. To get in the spirit of things I’d like to offer up my “5 Things about 5 Things,” that I hope you retweet.
I used to be a junkie of marketing, sales, and business strategy books. I would read several books a month and jump from one big idea to the next. My buzz word vocabulary was beefed up and I could shoot the bull with most business professionals “in the know.” I tucked away little nuggets from each book and stored them in my little bag of tips and tricks, until eventually I realized something significant: I no longer had original thoughts. As ancient scriptures suggest “There’s nothing new under the sun.” I had lost my ability to curate the world around me from my own point of view. This was extremely alarming to me considering I was claiming to be an “expert in my field” as the director for a Cincinnati video production company. So, I did what every enlightened student does and I quit reading. The result was a sense of freedom with a touch of I don’t give a $#@! This decision cleared my mind and gave me room to have original thoughts.
After I gave up my addiction to pop marketing icons, I realized that I needed to do something. I needed a project that was mine, something only I could give commentary to based on my experience. So on January 2nd of 2011 I decided to run a marathon (I was kinda serious about it, until my wife doubted my commitment.) Twenty-six point two miles later I slowly finished the race fueled by fumes of skepticism, but I now had a unique experience to share with the world. Along the way I started to take notice of my everyday personal, family, and work experiences and began to see them through my own point of view. As a digital film director I produced short films, watched lots of movies, and took a stab at writing a script (which didn’t fair so well.) To be honest, I was still afraid that my point of view wasn’t that unique and therefore I just kept “re” posting other peoples ideas.
CRASH & BURN
I can’t tell you how many blogs I’ve tried to start. Usually they last for several weeks and then I lose momentum or get discouraged, but I don’t count those attempts as failures. A crash and burn experience is essential for continued learning. I’ve learned what works for me as a thought leader, and I’m continuing to build on those learning’s. If you’re too afraid to mess up, you’ll never find out what works for you and you’ll continue to search for the next 5 things to repost. If you do crash and burn, at least you’ll have a great failure story to share, and potentially you’ll connect with other failures in your industry who appreciate your attempt. Of course, there’s always the chance that you succeed and that’s something to celebrate.
CELEBRATE LITTLE VICTORIES
We live in a culture of “big:” big drinks, big money, and big ideas. But not everyone can do big things all the time. Every quarter something good happens: deals are closed, market share is gained, and brand recognition is increased. You have opportunities to celebrate these little victories and turn them into stories. Find away to connect these victories, and what you learned, to your target audience. Only a few select individuals get to celebrate a start-up fairytale of overnight success, but there are lots of people who understand what it’s like to give a great presentation or have an awesome lunch meeting. Look for simple victories and proclaim them. HAVE AN OPINION
If you want write about your own 5 things you need to have an opinion. People need something to react to. Imagine a concert with no band or a restaurant with no food. What’s the point, right? We curate our everyday lives with “likes”, reviews, and tweets. We share what we learn and we rant our epiphanies. Opinions are the currency of our lives. As you continue to establish your point of view, find ways to communicate it in a way that creates something for people to react to. The Internets have conditioned us to “like” things, but I’m a big fan of Love and Hate. I’m not encouraging anti government rallies and boycotting of brands, but I think we should be passionate people who communicate our point of view in a way that is clear and evident. Don’t leave your audience wondering where you stand. Put your ideas out there and invite them to respond. Can you think of one historic speech that was average? Search for the best “ok” band of the 80’s. Your results will be beneath the first three pages of “best bands ever” or “top bands of all time.” Your big ideas may or may not get retweeted, but atleast you won't end up on the top five most annoying people who repost way too much list!