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The Most Likely Resultmorguefile

This is it – your project is almost complete.

You took the uncertain and difficult steps from start (creating the idea) to finish (bringing the idea to life), and now you’re ready to ship.

It’s tough work, creating something from scratch, but you didn’t give up. And now is the moment of truth – the point where you reap the reward for your hard work and labor.

Confident, you launch your project and…

Nothing happens.

Nobody one-clicks your book on Amazon; nobody enters the store; nobody calls the ‘buy now’ number…

Crickets.

You check to see if it’s a system error, or maybe the server isn’t updating properly, or maybe there’s a traffic jam down the street…

Nope – everything is normal, but nothing happened.

Great and Everything Else

The reality for most aspiring artists, writers and entrepreneurs is that no one will notice what they do. And when they ship, no one will pay attention (a few of my prior entrepreneurial attempts fall squarely in this bracket).

Of course, the initial thought to remedy this is advertising and marketing – “if only I can get my message in front of enough people, then I can make a sale…”

This could work – statistically, the more people you expose a message to, the greater the chance of your message resonating with someone.

But more than likely, no amount of attention will change anything.

Why?

Because most things aren’t great.

Pareto

In 1906, an Italian Economist by the name of Vilfredo Pareto noticed an interesting trend in the distribution of land: 80% of land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population.

Going one step further, he analyzed the distribution of other data sets, including the number of pea pods in his garden that contained peas (20% contained 80% of the peas).

This observed distribution became known as the Pareto principle –most things do not distribute evenly, but unevenly, and they generally have a ration of 4:1 (specific distributions vary but are nonetheless uneven).

The Pareto principle applies to everything, from public sentiment (only a few bands have the majority of the attention) to effectiveness (most seminars and newsletters and eCourses simply aren’t effective).

This distribution most certainly applies to startups, art, and creative pursuits:

Most will be ignored.

Are You Overvaluing Your Origami?OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“Well, that might be the case for other products, but mine is great. I put so much time and energy into it it must be great – the right people just haven’t see it.” (internal dialogue of the archetypal entrepreneur)

This response I’ve heard a million times (I’ve told myself the same thing many times before).

Sadly, it’s usually not true.

In a study conducted by Dan Ariely (Psychology professor and author of Predictably Irrational), researchers found that people overrate their own creations based on the amount of effort they put into them:

“Our research shows that labor enhances affection for its results. When people construct products themselves, from bookshelves to Build-a-Bears, they come to overvalue their (often poorly made) creations. We call this phenomenon the IKEA effect, in honor of the wildly successful Swedish manufacturer whose products typically arrive with some assembly required.

In one of our studies, we asked people to fold origami and then to bid on their own creations along with other people’s. They were consistently willing to pay more for their own origami. In fact, they were so enamored with their amateurish creations that they valued them as highly as origami made by experts.”

In other words, it’s impossible to objectively valuate something if you’re invested in the process.

You can believe your product is great – you can HOPE it is – but the true value of your product is the value given to it by the market (i.e. other people).

The John Carter Mistake

In 2012, a little movie called John Carter was released into theaters.

Actually, it wasn’t little at all: it was one of the most expensive movies ever produced. And when it finally shipped, it bombed. Hard.

But here’s the funny thing – everyone (as in, everyone involved in the project) thought John Carter would be a blow-up success. That’s why producers invested $250,000,000 (yes, that’s millions) into the project.

Even when signs pointed to no (actually, to hell no), producers kept pumping money into the project. The thought was: throw enough money at it to get it in front of everyone’s face and we’ll still come out of this alive…

The producers behind John Carter thought if they could scream loud enough, they’d get enough people to notice what a wonderful movie they created. Counter intuitively, every dollar pumped into this movie, instead of increasing its chances of success, actually increased the chance of it failing (greater the investment, the greater the needed return).

And as far as getting people to notice them?

Well, they got their attention – but it didn’t matter.

Great Work

So if you’re shipping a project and people don’t respond, it’s probably not because you’re not screaming loud enough…no amount of screaming will change anyone’s mind.

And it’s probably not because you didn’t put a ton of time and effort and resources into your project…it doesn’t matter how much money you pump into John Carter…it’s still John Carter.

No, the reality is that you probably haven’t hit great yet.

And if you want people to notice and to stick around, you need to do great work.

This is probably disappointing for the person looking to make a quick buck or catch an uptrend – for the person in the trenches superficially (i.e. the writer who doesn’t write).

But for those of us in it till the end, for those of us who enter the fray every day, this should come as a comforting thought.

The Outlier and Your Life’s Work

Every project we undertake is a chance to improve our skills and hone our craft.

Every hardship we suffer through separates us just a bit more from the rest of the pack, as others will surely quit.

And, as others quit, we rise to the top – we become outliers.

By committing to the process (especially when it’s difficult), and having the grit to see it through, as sure as 80% of land in Italy is held by 20% of the people, you’ll find yourself, years from now, holding your “unfair” (see: completely fair) share of the success distribution.

So take heart – your project might bomb, people might ignore you, and things might not go as planned…but if you strap on your helmet, pick up your rifle, and go over the top just one more time each day, sure enough, you will find victory.

Remember, it’s not about a singular win –it’s about creating your life’s work.

And you create that one project at time, one small win at a time, over the course of your life.

Keep fighting.


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Play

You Can Change Your LifeClay Hebert

Or at least that’s what Clay Hebert did.

In 2008, Clay was at a crossroads.  Should he continue to work for Accenture, where he had a guaranteed salary and could easily move up the ladder?  Or should he branch off on his own path, a path completely uncertain and paved with obstacles and possible failure points.

It turns out serendipity was on his side: it just so happened that as Clay began soul-searching, he noticed a blog post by Seth Godin titled ‘If You Could Change Your Life’…

Would you?

And for Clay, the answer was yes.

Starting From Scratch

After the 6 month intensive MBA program, Clay went straight into bootstrapping his first business: Tribes Win.

At Tribes Win, Clay worked with a plethora of clientele, from entrepreneurs to authors, and helped them build their Tribes.

After the success with Tribes Win, Clay moved onto bootstrapping two more companies: Workhacks.com and Spindows.com

Both businesses have the chance to redefine their genres (and yes, you should check them out).

Things we talk about:

Spindows

  • The fear of walking away from a guarantee into the unknown
  • How to overcome fear
  • The difference between Freelancer and Entrepreneur (and why it’s crucial you know the difference)
  • “Product Market Fit” – and why you need to use it, whether you’re a writer or an entrepreneur
  • The power of the lean startup versus conventional business development
  • Why you should TEST and VALIDATE your business before you jump into your next venture
  • How to multi-task like a ninja…but also why it’s not recommended for most people!

Quotes to Live by From the Interview:

“Don’t start by building, start by validating.” (tweeeeet!)

“Get out of the building and talk to actual customers.” (tweet it!)

Socialize:

Twitter

Facebook

LinkedIn

Additional Show Notes:

Crush It

Hugh Mcleod

Spindows

Purple Cow

Tribes Win

Work Hacks

The Lean Startup

Launch Rock

Skillshare

Re-Route to What?2 Days with Seth Godin

This past weekend, while I was finishing up my new book, I had a Community seasons 1-3 marathon playing in the background (some of the best writing on TV, bar none).

There are so many great lines from the show, but one scene had me in tears of laughter, followed by some really deep thought on the choices we make in life (don’t worry, I’ll explain).

In this episode, Greendale (the community college the protagonists attend) is competing with a neighboring community college to be the first community college to simulate a moon landing.

After a series of ridiculous events, the main characters end up stuck inside a Kentucky Fried Chicken RV Moon Landing Simulator (I said it was ridiculous).

The only way to get out of the simulator is to successfully fake land on the moon.

But there’s a problem: the group of protagonists caught in the simulator have no idea how to use it.  The only person who can help them is their friend outside of the simulator: Abed.  Abed proceeds to lead a group of students to coordinate the fake moon landing before the competing school does– it’s a race against time and every second counts.

At one point, Chang, their ex-Spanish professor, races up to Abed holding a piece of equipment in his hands:

Chang: I worked out a way for them to reroute the power from the auxiliary battery!

Abed: Reroute to what?

*Chang silently walks backwards out of the room

Life and Choices

aintgotnogrammar: Señor Chang: I’ve worked out a way for them to re-route the power from the auxiliary battery! Abed: Re-route to what?

In a lot of ways, life is a lot like this scene.

The only problem is we’re usually playing the part of Chang…

Life throws us into a situation and we need to figure out how to get through it unscathed.

But instead of working on the important things – the things that will actually fix the problem or complete the mission – we put our time and effort into the things that are ultimately inconsequential to our project.

I was speaking with an aspiring writer the other day.  I asked him how his book was coming.

He told me it’s been really hard.  It’s taken him way longer than he expected.

I told him that’s normal – it takes time.  I asked him how much time he put toward writing this week.

None.

But he did find some great logo designers online for cheap.

Just last week, I was on the phone with an aspiring entrepreneur friend of mine.

As an entrepreneur, your main job is making sales.  If you’re not selling, you’re not really an entrepreneur.  My friend knows this.

I asked him how many sales calls he made, and how many people he’s spoken to about buying his product.

None. 

But he did find a cool plugin that adds social media buttons to all of his pages.

Another person I know picked my brain about entrepreneurship and starting a business.

He was interested in starting a carwash.  I thought it was a great idea – carwashes can make some really great money in the right areas.  After talking conceptually about it for some time, I gave him some pointers for where to start (identify cashflowing carwashes; figure out their business model; copy it).

He told me my tips were great and they’ll come in handy after he goes to business school.

These are just a few examples from my own experience.  There are many more like this.

Isn’t it clear what the problem is?

The Simple Solution

Is to stop hiding and start doing the hard work.

Whatever it is you want to do – write a book, build a business, create or break a habit – isn’t it glaringly obvious that you already have all the tools you need to begin right now?

The answer isn’t a logo designer – it’s you sitting down to write your book.  The answer isn’t a plugin to get people to your facebook account – it’s you selling your product.  The answer isn’t business school – it’s you hustling to figure it out.

Seth Godin opened up the Revolution conference back in 2012 with this thought: everybody is so worried about getting their ducks lined up in a row that they spend all their time lining up their ducks…

Well here’s the truth – you already have your ducks, and they’re already lined up.

So now what are you going to do?

Start Doing the Hard Work

This isn’t a sparring match – this is the main event.

Like AJ Leon says: this is your one and only life.

How are you going to live that life?

You can continue to prepare to live the life you intend to live, you can spend your time getting your ducks lined up in a row, and you can put all your effort into rerouting the power from the auxiliary battery…

Or you can start living the life you choose this instant.

Want to write a book?  Sit down and write.  Want to be an entrepreneur?  Start selling.  Want to start a brick and mortar business?  Validate your business model and get hustling.

Yes, that means doing the hard work – now, not later – but it doesn’t happen any other way.

And why would we want it to?

Good luck, and keep creating.

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