Lessons from the debuts of Gary Vaynerchuk, Lauryn Hill, Jim Henson and more.
Great creators are intimidating.
Their work can lead you to question whether you’re capable of doing what they do.
But here’s the thing: They couldn’t do it when they started either.
So rather than compare yourself and get discouraged, it’s more helpful to study how far they’ve come and realize you too can go on that journey.
When you check out the early creations of people you admire, you’ll discover they were not nearly as glamorous, polished, or talented back then as they are today.
Their success is a result of ongoing learning, effort, and commitment to their craft.
They developed their creative ability over time and so can you.
Below are the “first” creations from 10 of today’s most iconic creators along with key lessons from their early work to help you on your own creative journey…
- Seth Godin’s First Blog Post
Seth Godin has written one of the most popular blogs in the world for almost two decades, but his first post was…boring.
In 2002, Godin published his first post — a three-paragraph entry about how boring most stores seemed at the mall with the exception of the Apple store.
He’s published another one just about every day since then.
LESSON: You don’t need to wait for a life-changing insight to start sharing your ideas — you just need to start.
via Seth Godin
- Jim Henson’s First TV Show
In 1955, while a student at the University of Maryland, Jim Henson created Sam and Friends, a five-minute puppet show that aired daily on a local TV network.
This was decades before The Muppets would make it on television, but it featured the birth of a character named Kermit who you’ll certainly recognize.
LESSON: Your early work may not be great, but it may contain the seeds of greatness within it.
- Lauryn Hill’s First TV Performance
At 13-years-old, the future hip hop legend made her television debut on Showtime at the Apollo’s amateur night showcase…and was booed by the crowd.
LESSON: Don’t overreact to initial criticism, don’t panic, and most importantly — don’t give up.
- Jenna Marbles’ First YouTube Video
Jenna Marbles, whose real name is Jenna Nicole Mourey, is a comedian and actress with 20 million YouTube subscribers and more than 3.4 billion views of her videos.
But it all began in 2010 with a video she wasn’t even in — everything started with a grainy music video starring her dog.
LESSON: You can’t know what your “thing” will be until you start. You’ll discover it as you go.
- Issa Rae’s First YouTube Series
Long before she created the HBO series Insecure, Issa Rae built a following for her YouTube series Awkward Black Girl.
But that isn’t actually where she got her start on the platform.
Four years before that series, she created and directed a YouTube series called Dorm Diaries, which offered a satirical look at black life on Stanford’s campus.
LESSON: Just because you don’t hear about the creations that didn’t catch on, doesn’t mean they weren’t crucial in a creator’s development.
- Joe Rogan’s First Podcast Episode
Joe Rogan hosts one of the most popular podcasts in the world, but you would never have guessed that’s where he was headed based on his initial episode.
Recorded in 2009 from a live-streamed broadcast, the first few minutes feature he and producer Brian Redban figuring out the equipment and Rogan saying, “I don’t think we’re quite high enough for this.”
LESSON: Big things start as small things.
- Seth Rogen’s First Standup Comedy Performance
Years before his success in television and on the big screen, Seth Rogen was just a Vancouver kid who wanted to tell jokes to people.
So, at 12-years-old he took a comedy workshop, started to do stand up, and even got a few laughs.
LESSON: Your first attempt at something probably won’t be great, but it may not be as bad as you fear either.
- Lilly Singh’s First YouTube Video
Lilly Singh has her own late night TV talk show that she landed thanks to her YouTube channel that has 15 million subscribers.
She’s a comedian and actress…but her first video was simply about how to tie a turban.
She made it because she felt “there is a serious lack of pagh-tying tutorial videos on the internet.”
LESSON: Be the kind of creator who solves problems — not the kind that just complains about them.
- Gary Vaynerchuk’s First YouTube Video
The social media guru’s first video may have looked like a hostage video, but it was actually kind of brilliant.
Back in 2006, Gary Vaynerchuk launched Wine Library TV as the “first video wine blog” and while it may not feature the Gary V so many have come to love these days, it does feature one of his core principles — it’s designed to give his audience value.
LESSON: The more you care about your audience when you have a small one, the more likely you are to attract a big one.
- Oprah Winfrey’s First Nationally Syndicated TV Show
No creator has ever been more powerful than Oprah, but when she put together the first episodes of her nationally syndicated show she was so unknown that no celebrities would agree to come on as guests.
But as you’ll see in the backstory below, she made the best of what she had.
LESSON: Nothing can stop you from making something and putting it into the world. Find a way.