June 21, 2015 – The Early Days of Obscurity

Thoughts after reading “Rework” by Jason Fried and David Heinemieier Hansson :

********

I do miss the early days of obscurity.

No one knows me.  I was happy being in the shadows.

The really important stuff doesn’t go away anyway.

But an audience coming at you, people coming to you, to see what you have to say, to listen to you, to readers.

If they like what I have to say, they’ll probably also like what I have to sell.

When you build an audience, you don’t have to buy people’s attention- they give it to you.  This is a huge advantage.

Sharing valuable information will surely slowly build a loyal audience, then when you need to get the word out, the right people will already be listening.

Businesses are usually paranoid and secretive.  They think they have proprietary this and competitive advantage that.  Maybe a rare few do, but most don’t.  And those that don’t should stop acting like those that do.  Don’t be afraid of sharing.

Letting people behind the curtain changes your relationship with them.  They’ll feel a bond with you and see you as human beings instead of a faceless company.  They’ll see the sweat and effort that goes into what you sell.  They’ll develop a deeper level of understanding and appreciation for what you do.

Wabi-Sabi – beauty of imperfection.  Wabi-sabi values character and uniqueness over a shiny façade.  It teaches that cracks and scratches in things should be embraced.  It’s also about simplicity.  You strip things down and then use what you have.

Leonard Koren – Pare down to the essence, but don’t remove the poetry.  Keep things clean and unencumbered but don’t sterilize.

Leave the poetry in what you make.  When something becomes too polished, it loses its soul.  It seems robotic.  Talk how you really talk.  Reveal things that others are unwilling to discuss.  Be upfront about your shortcomings.  Show the latest version of what you’re working on even if you’re not done yet.  It’s okay if it’s not perfect.  You might not seem as professional but you will seem a lot more genuine. 

Call someone.  Write a personal note.   Pitch her with some passion, some interest, some life.  Do something meaningful.  Be remarkable.  Stand out.  Be unforgettable.  That’s how you’ll get the best coverage.

Stories that start on the fringe can go mainstream quickly.

Principles:

  • Emulate Drug Dealers. Make your product so good, so addictive, so “can’t miss” that giving customers a small, free taste makes them come back with cash in hand.
  • Make something about your product bite size. You want an easily digestible introduction to what you sell.  This gives people a way to try it without investing any money or a lot of time.

You will not be a big hit right away.  You will not get rich quick.  You are not so special that everyone else will instantly pay attention.  No one cares about you.  At least not yet.  Get used to it.

Trade the dream of overnight success for slow, measured growth.  It’s hard but you have to be patient.  You have to grind it out.  You have to do it for a long time before the right people notice.

How long someone’s been doing it is overstated.  What matters is how well they’ve been doing it. 

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