“If you’re doing what everyone else is doing, you’re doing it wrong.” — Casey Neistat
This week’s ideas include everything from how to figure out what you want in life, to how to build a huge Facebook following, to how to get yourself the ultimate job security.
Let’s do it…
1. DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU WANT? TAKE TWO MINUTES TO READ THIS.
“You feel stuck because you don’t know what you want — not because you don’t have what you want.”
Life’s full of questions, but only one you have to answer.
In this post, I suggest how you can think through life’s biggest question and why you need to answer it — even if your answer is wrong.
2. HOW CASEY NEISTAT CREATED A NEW GENRE OF FILMMAKING
“Neistat’s revolutionary move was bringing more than a decade of videographic experience to a subgenre that prizes amateur craft.”
This Nerdwriter video essay is one of the most thoughtful explanations of online video I’ve ever read.
It explores how filmmaker Casey Neistat’s unique style has made him a YouTube star and credits his blend of technical expertise and amateur feel with establishing a new genre.
This is a must-watch if you’re at all interested in the online video space.
3. INSPIRATION DOESN’T WORK HOW YOU THINK IT DOES
“Inspiration is taken from the well of cumulative knowledge you have built up over years. It is the unrelated and irrelevant pieces of useless information you have accumulated which in one moment aligns to arrive at a new conclusion or idea.”
This Chris Herd post reminds me of one of my favorite Steve Jobs quotes: “Creativity is just connecting things.”
Herd believes inspiration is falsely portrayed as a type of magic that appears in a lightbulb moment, when in reality it only occurs when you combine active pursuit with a necessary base of knowledge in a particular field.
I couldn’t agree more.
4. THE MOST DEFENSIBLE THING YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR CAREER IS TO BUILD AN AUDIENCE
“Building an audience is job insurance.”
This Sean Blanda post breaks down why it’s important to share your work with people outside your company and build an audience for yourself in the process.
He points out that too often creatives wait until they need a job to share their story which is too late and suggests your industry needs to hear your voice.
5. MARIA TATAR IS A PERSON YOU SHOULD KNOW
“It’s no accident that many children’s books begin with bored children, like Alice on the riverbank reading a book and nodding off. How do you move from boredom to curiosity — how do you animate the child? My answer is: by using the shock value of beauty and horror, administering jolts and shimmers that flip a switch in the mind.”
Maria Tatar is a Harvard literature professor and expert in the study of fairy tales.
In my profile of her you’ll learn how fairy tales are designed to teach us to cope with dysfunctional families, why bedtime reading with children is a great opportunity for adults, and discover 10 lesser-known fairy tales worth your attention.
6. HOW DEFAULT SETTINGS RULE THE WORLD
“The might not seem like much, but defaults (and their designers) hold immense power — they make decisions for us we’re not even aware of making. Someone, somewhere, decided what those defaults should be — and it probably wasn’t you.”
Default settings are dangerous. Most people don’t change them and they tend to be designed to get you hooked on whatever app or product you use.
This ProPublica article looks into the power of default settings and breaks down how they impact us every day — even offline with things like eating vegetables and getting a driver’s license.
7. HOW TO GET 44,000 FACEBOOK FANS IN 3 MONTHS
“It’s the promotion part that always gets people in trouble. Your priority may not always be your audience’s priority.”
This Sean Everett post breaks down learnings from a recent experiment where he and a friend attempted to grow a large Facebook fan page from scratch with only a small ad spend behind it.
The post details exactly how they approached it and what they learned about community, content, and promotion while building a niche community on the world’s biggest social platform.
8. PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION LESSONS
“In the land of multiple messages, clear messaging is key. You can’t break through the clutter, this is the high concept election, if you can’t convey your message in a sentence, it’s lost.”
Bob Lefsetz shares his observations about lessons learned so far in this year’s presidential election including that advertising is overrated, media is distrusted, and facts don’t matter.
9. THE PATIENCE TO CREATE WHEN NOBODY’S CONSUMING
“It feels like very few of us admit to these low moments in our creative lives, when it feels like we’re making art and nobody cares. But we really need to talk about it because it affects almost all of us and it’s ended countless creative careers before they’ve even begun.”
In this video essay, Adam Westbrook uses Vincent Van Gogh’s life story as a way to explore the experience of creating something without an audience for it.
Westbrook cleverly ties this to our current social media world where anybody can create anything and share it online — if they can deal with the reality that few people will consume it.
10. DO YOUR FOLLOWERS VALUE YOUR INSTAGRAM POSTS?
“Just because you post something on Instagram, it doesn’t mean anybody values it.”
I was asked recently by an artist how she could ensure she provides value to her followers on Instagram, so I put together this post to answer her.
In it, I explain how to figure out your target audience based on your goals, how to measure what they value, and share a couple tips to find out exactly what you do that your followers value.