What to do about people judging you


A friend works in a creative field. He’s a talented artist and was telling me how he hates being judged while presenting his work. So he prefers to do the work and let others sell or pitch it.

I told him this:

You’re being judged anyway. Best you inform that judgement with your presence.

Hiding from reality rarely changes the outcome, but when we do hide, we can never iterate on the fly, we can only wait for the news.

You should totally read my book – The Great Fragmentation.

What entrepreneurs can learn from my terrible cover band

Beatles tribute band

As a teenager I was in a cover band. Which is bit like selling imitation goods at the market for discount prices. We practiced a couple of times a week, for about a year. Sure we improved, but never thought we were good enough to start doing gigs. We never left the garage. What a waste.

Maybe we were good enough, maybe we weren’t. Whatever we thought didn’t matter because there was no feedback from the market, only voices in our heads and group think. (pun intended).

But worse that that, is this. We would much rather have played our own songs, but didn’t believe we had the talent. We didn’t even allow ourselves the privilege of doing what we believed in. We ended up hidden away playing ‘songs we liked’ and never sounded as good as the originals. Which no one ever can. Our fear from ourselves killed our dream before we even started. Our net results was worse than if we tried to do originals and failed.

When starting anything, here’s a few things to remember:

  • We’ll never be ready.
  • Copies get compared to who came first, and always make less money.
  • It’s harder to compare, when you make original stuff.

Get out of the garage and be original. It is better to fail being you, than fail by not quite being them.

You should totally read my book – The Great Fragmentation.

Constraints are your friend

You’ve probably never heard of Rodney Mullen, but he basically invented modern freestyle skateboarding. The tricks you see with kids flipping their boards with their feet – it mostly came from him.

But here’s the really cool bit about Rodney’s story as he tells it:

“I learned to skate in our garage. We lived in the country in Florida, it was sort of farmish, and there was no cement anywhere else. Vert skating was the kind of skating that was done in pools, where you could get airborne and be weightless. The other style, which is what I did, was called free style, which was tricks you could do on flat ground.”

How cool is that…. he literally had nowhere to skateboard. There was no concrete to ride and glide along, so he used the little square space of his garage to learn. And he did what his small space allowed. Cool little flips and tricks you can see in this video. It was what he didn’t have – space to skate – that helped him invent something entirely new. New solutions and new interpretations of skateboarding based on constraints.

While it’s easy for entrepreneurs to think that limited resources thwart possibilities, they are actually what we need to create something amazing.

You should totally read my book – The Great Fragmentation.

Your app is not an app

8 bit smartphone

Never, ever tell anyone your startup is an app. It’s a startup that does X, Y or Z.

Saying your startup is an app, is a bit like telling people your startup uses electricity. The app side of what you do is making the infrastructure the hero, not the problem you solve.

My latest startup is all about Surfing. #SneakySurf – you might have seen me tweet about it. It’s still in private beta, and it is, lets say – ‘Smartphone compatible’ but it is much more than an app. I never sell it as such. It is a surfing company.

The world doesn’t need another app, but it certainly needs many more businesses. Make sure you don’t confuse what you really do, with the infrastructure you happen to employ.

You should totally read my book – The Great Fragmentation.

Forbes ironically forgets Economics 101

A few times I’ve had friends link me to interesting articles from Forbes. The topic looks good, I’m excited, and click in and I get this:

Forbes ad blocker request

 

What Forbes are really saying is this: “Sorry Steve, even though you have an ad blocker, and you’ve taken definitive action to not see advertising, we want you to turn off your ad blocker, so we can trick our advertisers that your eyeballs are worth paying for.”

And here is what happened. I clicked out and read something else. I’ll never read a Forbes article online again. I’m not sure if it’s a shame or a sham? Why would any media organisation try and trick it’s advertisers into believing they are getting more value than they really are. If I did do what Forbes suggested, then I’d be getting the advertisements, but ignoring them. Certainly a worse outcome for the advertiser, they’d be paying for attention they’re not getting. It seems most people agree.

Forbes ad block comments

What Forbes and anyone else putting up barriers seem to forget is the first lesson in economics – demand and supply. And content is supply rich for readers. If you lock us out, we’ll get it elsewhere. If anyone in the content game wants their audience to jump over walls they better ensure what they’re offering is not on this side of the barrier as well.

You should totally read my book – The Great Fragmentation.

Why Twitter will die if we keep saying it

No engagement on Twitter

I’ve been thinking a lot about twitter lately based on the many articles written forecasting its demise. I really hope they’re wrong, but I think they might be right. The main reason I think it will die, is because so many people are saying it. The same people who espoused it’s virtues when it arrived in 2007, are now nostalgic about a time when twitter really, really mattered. The problem with this sentiment, is that it will probably come true even if it isn’t. It’s a bit like a run on the banks. Here’s a short Sammartino definition:

A bank run happens hen a large number of a bank’s customers withdraw their deposits simultaneously due to concerns about the bank’s solvency. As more people withdraw their funds, the probability of default increases, thereby prompting more people to withdraw their deposits. The end result is the bank’s reserves may not be sufficient to cover the withdrawals.  A bank run is typically the result of panic, rather than a true insolvency on the part of the bank; however, what began as panic or opinion can turn into a true situation.

If enough people think there is no engagement on twitter, then more and more people will stop making ‘engagement deposits’ on twitter. Those who are there will get less engagement as a result. Then they’ll leave, which makes it less useful for others and before we know it we have another MySpace on our hands. It’s classic behavioural economics.

For me twitter has been valuable the past 8 years or so – I joined in Jan 2008. While it sounds kinda weird, I met a lot of my current friends through twitter, I built my personal brand there, and it became a tool for discovery and learning. It really helped me find people who cared about what I care about. It was an incredible tool, and my favourite brand for many years.

But if I were to think of one reason why I believe twitter started to stumble it would be this:

Delayed Tweets. Yes buffer, I blame you and cohort.

It’s a bit like this. All of us were at this really great party. Some of your friends were there. You met some new and interesting people. Everyone was really interested in what you were doing, and you interested in what they were doing. We helped each other, built a great eco system and it was all very give and take. But the party was so valuable and fun that no one really wanted to leave. People didn’t want to miss out on sharing a cool idea. So people started to talk more and listen less. After a while it became hard to hear and be heard. People even started sending messages when they were’t really in the room. It was like everyone put up a cardboard cut out of themselves, with interchangeable speech bubbles attached to them. The conversation turned into a noisy nightclub where no one could hear anyone speak. You’d try and have conversations with people who weren’t really there. It lost its authenticity. Slowly but surely, the value declined, and less people turned up.

Honestly, I don’t know if this is the cause, but it’s how it feels for me. If someone shared a blog post of mine it used to mean they really liked what I wrote. Now it probably means they have an IFTTT recipe set up. I’ll probably still hangout at twitter for a while yet, I might be one of the last to leave. But if there is any lessons for business people it’s this:  Twitter is classic reminder that we can never be sure of a channels long term survival. We should all be trying to build things we own and control so we have independence. We need to be our own media channel and have a place to talk to people who want to hear from us. It’s probably a portable email list. If people don’t have a reason to follow us on our own channel, then maybe our we need to create something more compelling.

You should totally read my book – The Great Fragmentation.

Entrepreneurs, it’s ok to copy

DNA

There’s a tension in our connected world about being the originator. Apparently those who invented it first always win. It is said that the best entrepreneurs are those who change things. It turns out though, those that win reinterpret that which is already here.

Here are a few examples of things that weren’t invented by who you think:

Some break dancing way before it ever appeared in the Bronx.

A graphical user interface & mouse way before Apple.

The first automobile from China in 1672, way before Carl and Henry.

So the next time you get accused of copying someone, just tell them they copied their DNA from their parents. They copied their language from their community and they should also start copying their ideas from the giants who came before them. We first must copy before we can create. Go forth and copy.

You should totally read my book – The Great Fragmentation.