Our philosophy at We the Media up until now (possibly into the future) has been ninety-nine parts work to one part telling our story. If we were asked what we’re not good at, we’d probably say talking about ourselves. We just don’t do it.
It’s kind of like the interview question, “What are your weaknesses?”
“Some people say I work too hard.”
The mantra, “Tell Your Story,” has been coming up often in both our client work and in my own personal relationships. These are two totally different scenarios, but the effect of keeping quiet about triumphs and failures is the same none-the-less.
Coming to the realization that those who spend most of their time trying to make things happen neither succeed or fail. There are small successes and failures on their paths, but it’s rarely finite and cannot be determined as success or failure until a finite end. However, when one stops trying to make things happen, then maybe they could say they succeeded or failed.
I bring this up because of a necessity for the entrepreneur to hold both of these potential scenarios up and look at them honestly. What does failure look like? If it looks like giving up, then the term, “failure is not an option,” deductively means that giving up is not an option. I can live with that. What does success look like? I have no clue, one building block goes on the next and I don’t have any idea how many building blocks there are. So if I never quit, does that mean success is not an option either?
One might say we’ve had a fair bit of success with We the Media (WTM). It’s made of several building blocks, collectively making a house. But looking around, all I see are large buildings. If we ever become a large building, then all I will probably see are skyscrapers. Thinking this is like looking into the unending mirror vortex.
As I see it today, failure means quitting and success means never quitting, or maybe success is something I will recognize if it happens. Until then, it’s all building blocks over here at WTM.
Obsession is essential, it’s absolutely the most important component to doing anything worth talking about. Without it, we have mediocrity – we have the bored, the lethargic. With it, we have the ability to push ourselves to the limits of what we think is possible and achieve stellar results.
Ask any good designer, an obsession with perfection and getting something right visually allows for the best results. Ask any good great developer, an obsession with efficient, clean code leads to applications that run faster using less processing power with less bugs.
Make the last 10% of something the best 10%. If something isn’t right, rip it out and redo it. And then redo it again. Obsess with the details, the completion, the experience; all of it. If you don’t think you have something to obsess about, create something; or just stop reading my blog. I hope to only preach to the converted, it makes things much easier on me.
Personally, I’m completely obsessed with building a fence. What does that have to do with the internet or design? Nothing. I really just wanted to post that picture of me working on a fence in the dark – if that’s not obsession, I don’t know what is. And guess what, I re-dug several post holes, re-screwed several 2X4s, and re-cut several boards. All in the name of obsessing over the details. Getting them right gives your work longevity, for every detail you leave behind, it’s a detail you will regret.
Hell yea, bring it on. 2009 was my buck up cowboy year. Be a man, deal with some real shit, all of that. Dislocate shoulder snowboarding, first big taxes boo-boo, mis-carriage, launch of the biggest project of my life, Home Skillet Fest, The Big California Road Trip, move into the first official We the Media headquarters, sell house, become homeless, watch my sister get married in Mexico, move into new home as a renter, finish purchase of new home, Holidays – fairly reclusive through it all, fairly exhausted.
Every year, I try to work smarter – in 2010 I hope to be able to just work. It seemed like 2009 was the year of distracting and unwelcome personal stuff. Super stoked for a clean slate, a new decade, and the potential of doing it big in my thirtieth year. I’ve got a great team and great relationships with the folks I work with, excited for what the future holds.
Also noticing a trend in my life towards being more family-oriented. My family has been through a lot this year and it’s done nothing but bring us closer. While the obstacles have been difficult, I am grateful for the bonds we’ve strengthened. And always, I am grateful for the support of D. She battles the world every day and does her part to make it better for every life she touches, so proud of her. I think 2010 will be big for her.
It wouldn’t be a New Year’s post without some predictions, and in the spirit of keeping it geeky, here are five:
Mmm, can already smell that claim chowder cookin’. Happy New Year suckas.
Look, I’m not going to lie, I’m a social-marketing expert. All those friends on Facebook? I use them to get ahead and sell things. Followers on Twitter? Idiots, they’re just my segue into dollars in my pocket. Every time I click like on something on Facebook, it’s because I know that for each like I give, I’ll get at least a half like in return. Same goes for people on Twitter. For every person I follow, product I bash, message I @ reply, I am guaranteed at least a few followers.
Sure, it’s diminishing returns and empty relationships, but that’s not what it’s about! It’s about marketing man! Don’t you get it? The more people that see me participating on the social internet will only conclude know I am good at making money off of the internet. Think of how my social marketing expertise can help your company make dollars! Apply just a little bit of my strategy every day and your boss will be like, “wow, you’re really good at social marketing.” Return the favor, to yourself, and RT my tweet. I’m out.
It’s that time a year again, the weather outside is gloomy and unless you are up on the mountain twisting turns (or something else sporty), you’re probably relegated to the couch. It’s also the time of of year where I am so happy for new movie season and to have my AppleTV and its endless supply of movies. Well, endless depending on your taste. My movie collection, my favorite movies; endless.
I’m a huge advocator for the occasional movie day. They provide a chance to be inspired by stories you’ve seen before and new stories that may encourage a different perspective. They cause you to slow down. And, they clear your head of all the other things in life. My Saturday went like this, woke up to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, then Lethal Weapon, then Avatar (at the theater), then Good Will Hunting when I got home. All very different movies. I’m going to talk about two.
Here’s to post titles. So obvious! I’ve gone all tumblr-ish (still proudly wordpress powered) and switched up my site format. In the last two iterations of eleven3 I compartmentalized different types of content. Flickr photos went in one section, delicious links in another, articles in another, etc…
Officially, today, I am done with all of that. For so long, new content added to my blog meant me actually thinking about something compelling, writing it, then having the stones to hit publish. I published roughly three articles in 2009 – that’s terrible, my system is broken.
If I were to define balance, it would probably be finding the right combination of what you do for self and what you do for others. There are very few people that can operate at either end of the spectrum. We, normal folks that is, have to find the right balance of the, “have-tos” and the “want-tos.” But how?
a roof over my head and sneakers on my feet.
When I first entered the working world, I got a piece of advice that stuck with me and I often quote, “You either do what you love regardless of the pay, or you do a job you may not like that affords you the ability to do what you love outside of work.” While I would like to tell everyone to do the former, just like in 8th grade, not everybody can be Michael Jordan. Most people are forced into the latter and it takes either high-tolerance to cope or a lot of drive to get into doing something you do love.
It has always been an interest of mine to listen to the career paths of others, web designers especially, it’s like looking in a mirror (something I have developed quite the skill for). I think what’s most fascinating is the often-erratic paths people take, it’s always a different story. There also seems to be an unusually high percentage of folks that were inspired by the web and taught themselves, a theme which resonates heavily with me, no matter the industry.
“It’s been awhile” is how I seem to launch into every blog post of late. My strategy has been the somewhat defensive, “duck* & cover.” If I were to drink the blogging koolaid, I would know that blogging is essential to my business. If only…
So how does the, “duck & cover,” strategy fit into my bigger broader strategy of doing great work on the web? It doesn’t – it just means that I’m scared. I’ve started countless entries only to have them peter out into random generalizations. None of them have been post worthy, not one. If I’m going to write something, it better be good, or else what’s the point? The web is already so full of noise.