“Genius can come from anywhere.” — Jimmy Iovine
In 1975, before Jimmy Iovine became one of the most successful people in the history of the music business, he was just a young engineer about to quit a gig.
He was a nobody, working with an unknown artist who spent three weeks searching for a single drum sound for a song, and he was over it.
So he decided to quit.
But the album’s producer pulled Jimmy aside and gave him a piece of advice:
“Stay in the fucking saddle.”
The artist was Bruce Springsteen and the song turned out to be Born To Run. The rest is still-developing history.
It’s a cool story (from the excellent documentary The Defiant Ones) and an important lesson.
Don’t end your ride because it’s bumpy.
Now, on to this week’s ideas…
“Do you ask your audience to multitask? Probably. Does it hamper your ability to activate them? Definitely. That’s why you’ll find more success — short and long term — if you focus on a single action you want your audience to take when they encounter your work.”
If you’re trying to build an audience for something then you probably have a million requests of them — follow this social account, share this video, read this article, subscribe to this mailing list, buy this product, etc.
But all those asks may hurt you more than they help you. In this post, I break down how to use a one-action strategy to activate your audience and explain why you get more when you ask for less.
“Give your identity a very small footprint. The fewer things you define yourself by, the fewer constraints you have on further growth.”
Be careful how you define your identity.
Tynan, author of Superhuman Social Skills: A Guide To Being Likeable, Winning Friends, and Building Your Social Circle, offers up some powerful thoughts about why you should never label yourself.
He explains how having a “small footprint identity” frees you up to explore new things and evolve as you encounter new experiences.
“ The best networkers are givers. What the system does is force you to be a giver, and to do so in an extremely consistent way.”
I haven’t tried this networking strategy yet, but it’s so simple and obvious I have no doubt it works.
Here’s how it works: You create a list of the five people most critical to accomplishing your goals and contact them once a week to provide value to them.
Then, do the same on a weekly basis for the next 25 people on your list and on a monthly basis for the next 150 people on your list.
“The Facebook algorithm immediately thinks that because my mom liked it, it must be a family related piece of content — even if it’s obviously about theoretical math, a subject in which my mom has no interest or knowledge.”
The algorithm Facebook uses to determine who sees your posts is plenty complicated, but here’s an interesting factor I hadn’t considered before.
Chris Aldrich explains how Facebook’s algorithm has a mom problem — specifically, that when his mom likes his posts, the algorithm assumes they’re family-related and then only shows them to his other family members.
But don’t worry, if you’ve got a super-supportive Mom with a quick Like-trigger finger, Chris also shares a way to combat the damage she’s doing to the reach of your posts.
(PS: don’t worry Mom, I would never block you from reading this newsletter on Facebook…or would I?)
“We’re not a distracted generation, but we are distracted when we’re using a web browser.”
It’s easy to point to technology and our inability to stop staring at our phonesas the reasons we can’t concentrate these days, but there may be a different cause.
This Fusion video looks at why you can’t concentrate any more and suggests you’re being intentionally distracted by companies and platforms who make more money when you click things than when you focus on them.
This is also one of five ideas I shared about focus in our For The InterestedFacebook group this week — join here to check out the rest.
“A lot of success in life and business comes from knowing what you want to avoid: early death, a bad marriage, etc.”
What if the best way to achieve your goals is to focus on the things you don’twant in your life or work?
Metalab founder Andrew Wilkinson explains how to tap into the power of anti-goals to create a better day for yourself.
He does it by considering what would be the elements of his worst possible day (like a packed calendar) and then using them to inspire a set of rules based on anti-goals like, “No more than two hours of scheduled time per day.”
“Combine ideas from your product with an idea from your general knowledge. Combining those two existing ideas results in creativity — a brand new idea.”
If you’ve ever struggled to come up with a topic for a blog post, this is a must-read.
It’s loosely based on the 1940 book A Technique for Producing Ideas and starts with you creating a list of 20 broad themes or lessons you want to share with the world.
Then, each night you jot down 10–12 small experiences you had that day or things you noted. When it comes time to write, you simply look for ways to combine one of your broad lessons with one of your specific life experiences and write a post that explores the connection.
And if that doesn’t work for you, you can always try my 50 idea technique.
“It’s certainly good for children to have goals they’re working toward. But instead of always encouraging them to focus on what’s next on their to-do list, help them stay focused on the task or conversation at hand.”
It turns out most of the ways parents teach their kids to be successful fly directly in the face of what it takes for kids to be happy.
Quartz details how a happiness researcher found six types of success advice that prevent kids from being happy including that telling kids to focus on the future instead of live in the moment, telling them stress is inevitable instead of helping them learn to relax, and teaching them to play to their strengths instead of allowing them to learn how to fail.
“Chumps prefer a beautiful lie to an ugly truth. The sucker wants to believe certain things about life and so projects these wishes on to the real world, seeing what he wants to see, not what is. A hustler thrives on reality, ugly or unpleasant — finds his poetry in the real. He sees the whole table and plays it as it lays.”
Robert Greene, author of The 48 Laws of Power, uses shooting billiards as a metaphor to explain how to see all the angles and improve your thinking.
His advice includes to not get upset by the unknown, to understand money is a tool for power, and to remember emotion trumps strategy.
“The pressure to do things quickly or have success happen right away is ingrained in our culture of instant-gratification, but really your real life is so long.”
This 99U post offers an interesting way to explore the typical lifespan of a creative career.
It features a group of creative professionals explaining what they wish they knew at various ages.
The observations include that careers are never linear, there’s a difference between empathy and compassion, that you can’t control everything but can adapt to anything, and more.
The Lunch Read is a newsletter that curates entertaining, essential and thought-provoking articles from the week and delivers them directly your inbox on Wednesdays, just in time for lunch.
It’s one of my favorites and I highly recommend you check it out at TheLunchRead.com.
If you subscribe to it (which you should), mention “For The Interested” as the referral.