I believe in something called the virtuous cycle of a business.
The objective of any business should be to grow.
That is, grow the number of employees, grow the number of jobs, grow product offerings. Then, grow the number of customers.
The marginal revenue of each additional customer is greater than the marginal cost to serve that customer better, over a longer period of time.
You can take that net profit and reinvest it back into the quality of the business by paying employees higher wages, creating more jobs, building a better product and providing more product or service offerings.
When you focus first on improving the quality of the business, more paying customers are a natural byproduct, perpetuating the virtuous cycle.
This is the virtuous cycle of a business.
The alternative to creating a virtuous cycle is focusing entirely on new customer acquisition.
This of course means the pursuit of maximized margins by lowering quality standards, paying employees less while maximizing the volume of work they can produce in any given day.
This creates a perpetual cycle of burnt out employees producing underwhelming products for customers at a lower cost who churn at a higher rate requiring even more efforts to quickly onboard more and more new customers on top of new employees to service those new customers.
This is called the vicious cycle. The vicious cycle will slowly but surely lead to a businesses downfall.
Which will you choose?
The internet knows everything.
The internet knows exactly how many Facebook followers you have. Same thing with Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and all of the rest.
The internet also knows exactly which of those followers are sharing your articles. Spreading your message. Amplifying your ideas.
The cool part is, so can you.
So what if, instead of producing content for the masses, you narrowed in on the audience that matters the most? The ones capable of taking your content and helping you break through the noise and spread.
See, bloggers and social influencers don’t have impact because they have a lot of readers or followers. They have impact because who their followers are.
Once you identify which of your followers matter the most and focus your energy on creating content personalized to them, then the virus of your idea will begin to spread.
Having big ideas and great products is nice. But understanding the key people in bringing those ideas and products to the rest of the world is better.
Tech.co reached out for some insight on possible uses and examples of URL shorteners in marketing campaigns.
Fellow Advertisers and consumers of the world.
We, the professionals of advertising, are now joined in a great national effort to rebuild our industry and restore its promise to all consumers.
Together, we will determine the course of advertising and the industry for many, many years to come. We will face challenges, we will confront hardships, but we will get the job done.
Every few years, we gather at meet ups, in subreddits, and Slack channels to discuss the orderly and peaceful transfer of power, and we are grateful to the social networks and ad exchanges for their gracious aid throughout this transition. Your algorithm updates have been magnificent. Thank you.
Today’s ceremony, however, has very special meaning because today, we are not merely transferring power from one platform to another or from one tech vendor to another, but we are transferring power from all advertising powers and giving it back to you, the consumer.
For too long, a small group of networks and ad exchanges have reaped the rewards of advertising while the consumers have borne the cost. Google flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. Facebook prospered, but the kids left and the organic reach suffered. The ad exchanges protected themselves, but not the consumers of our country. Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs. And while they celebrated on Wall Street, there was little to celebrate for struggling consumers all across our internet.
That all changes starting right here and right now because this moment is your moment, it belongs to you.
It belongs to everyone reading this today and everyone listening online. This is your day. This is your celebration. And this is your internet.
What truly matters is not which network controls our internet experience, but whether our internet experience is controlled by the consumer.
January 6th, 2018 will be remembered as the day the consumers became the rulers of advertising again.
The forgotten men and women of our audience segmentations will be forgotten no longer.
Everyone is listening to you now. You came to the internet by the hundreds of millions to become part of a historic movement, the likes of which the industry has never seen before.
At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction, that an industry exists to serve its consumers. Consumers want a good user experience for their children, safe websites for their families, and uninterrupted streaming for themselves. These are just and reasonable demands of righteous consumers and a righteous internet.
But for too many of our consumers, a different reality exists: mothers and children trapped in pop-up cycles on our squeeze pages; call-to-actions scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our internet; an advertising system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge; and the CPMs and the CTRs and the CPCs that have stolen too many dollars and robbed our internet of so much unrealized potential.
This advertising carnage stops right here and stops right now.
We are one internet and their pain is our pain. Their dreams are our dreams. And their success will be our success. We share one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny. The oath I take today is an oath of allegiance to all consumers of our products.
For many decades, we’ve enriched industries at the expense of consumers; subsidized the growth of our clients, while allowing for the very sad depletion of user experience. We’ve defended platform updates while refusing to defend our consumers.
And spent billions and billions of dollars on ad exchanges while the internet’s user experience has fallen into disrepair and decay. We’ve made other companies rich, while page load times, user experience and accessibility of our internet has dissipated over the horizon.
One by one, kids have grown blind to advertising and left our banner ads unclicked, with not even a thought about the millions and millions of impressions that were left behind. The wealth of our online shoppers has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed to ecommerce businesses across the internet.
But that is the past. And now, we are looking only to the future.
We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every agency, in every ad exchange boardroom, and in every social platform of power. From this day forward, a new vision will govern our industry. From this day forward, it’s going to be consumer first. Consumer first.
Every decision on budget, on placement, on creative, on copy will be made to benefit consumers and the consumer’s families. We must protect our consumers from the ravages of the exchanges promoting products, stealing clicks and destroying our internet.
Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength. I will fight for you with every breath in my body and I will never ever let you down.
Consumers will start winning again, winning like never before.
We will bring back our internet. We will bring back our social networks. We will bring back uninterrupted browsing. And we will bring back our dreams.
We will build new platforms and apps and websites and communities and technology all across our wonderful internet. We will get our consumers out of pre-roll videos and pop-ups and back to sharing their favorite memes, rebuilding our internet with a consumer first approach.
We will follow two simple rules; what the consumer wants and where the consumer wants it.
We will seek friendship and goodwill with the brands and clients, but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all consumers to put their own interests first. We do not seek to impose our business, service or products on anyone, but rather to let it shine on its own. We will shine for everyone to discover naturally.
We will reinforce old relationships and form new ones and unite the online shoppers against radical advertisers, which we will eradicate from the face of the Earth.
At the bedrock of our industry will be a total allegiance to the consumer, and through our loyalty to our consumer, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other. When we open our heart to our consumer, we find there is no room for intrusive advertising.
Finally, we must think big and dream even bigger. In advertising, we understand that an industry is only living as long as it is striving. We will no longer accept advertisers who are all talk and no action, constantly disrupting, but never providing a proper consumer experience.
The time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the hour of action.
Do not allow anyone to tell you that it cannot be done. No challenge can match the heart and fight and spirit of a marketer. We will not fail. Our industry will thrive and prosper again.
We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of data, to free the earth from the miseries of clickbait, and to harness the energies, industries and technologies of tomorrow.
We all enjoy the same glorious opportunities and we all salute the set of advertising ethics.
So to all consumers in every city near and far, small and large, from mountain to mountain, from ocean to ocean, hear these words: You will never be ignored again.
Your voice, your hopes, and your dreams will define our advertising destiny. And your courage and goodness and clicks will forever guide us along the way.
Together, we will make advertising strong again. We will make advertising wealthy again. We will make advertising proud again. We will make advertising safe again. And yes, together we will make advertising great again.
“The New Year stands before uslike a fresh chapter in a book.”
Fuck that existential bullshit. 2018 will be the same shit it was in 2017. New year, same shit. Waiting for the calendar to flip to an arbitrary date to make radical change in your life is a bullshit excuse for procrastination.
Do you know what Fugazi is? Fugazi, Fugayzi, it’s a wahzi it’s a woozie, it’s fairy dust. It’s not fucking real.
If it were actually real, you’d keep that shit to yourself. Really. Research as far back as 1933 shows that people who talk about their intentions are less likely to make them happen. It’s called symbolic self-completion
Frustrated, I did some Googling to find some of the more common 2018 New Year’s resolutions. Then, I handpicked a few to make my “2018 Fuck It List.” Or a list of things I won’t be doing in 2018, because I’ve got other plans. The kind I won’t tell you about.
It also isn’t a sign of a lack of vocabulary. I know a lot of words, I just really fucking like swear words.
I’d even say I’ve mastered the art of using swear words to communicate with maximum effectiveness. Swear words have a distinct eloquence that can, in far fewer words, set the tone, emotion and intentions of a conversation.
If you need further proof that swear words have a certain ability to convey every emotion inside of our being, take a look the final words of pilots – recorded by the black box – as they crashed down to Earth.
Be a better person
Look, I’m pretty fucking great. I work damn hard. I’m really good at what I do. I’m an awesome dad. I’m a caring friend.
Yeah, yeah. I’m sure my mom would probably tell you I’ve got some areas to work on. But, who asked her? This is my fuck it list. And I think I’m awesome.
There’s a certain component to my character, and my person, of being genuinely who I am. I own my flaws and I definitely let everyone know about my bright spots.
The minute I start trying to “be a better person” to build some social resume, will be the moment I start prioritizing superficial shit over things that actually matter. The things I’ll actually be measured against while I’m being lowered into the ground.
My ultimate life metric is how many people show up to my funeral. I think that’s a great way to measure who a person actually was. I just want a fuck ton of people to come to my funeral.
So, in 2018 I’ll keep measuring against that.
“When I’m dead. Will these people think I was a gigantic asshole, or will they show up to my funeral and be sad to see me go?”
Go on more dates
Are you kidding me? It’s a shit show out there, friends.
I was in a relationship for six years. Before that one, four years.
Then, I spent 2017 as a single person. My god, was it a fucking disaster. Apparently, you only get dates online now. Like, if I were to ask someone out in person, I might be turned into the police for harassment.
So, the online thing’s cool. But, I don’t know why I look so unattractive in pictures. Seriously, I’m way more attractive in real life. I’m not sure why I look like that in pictures…
And the women. Every single woman is a “world-traveling nurse, who enjoys live music, exploring, hiking and new adventures.” Who’s, “Just as happy on a night out as laying in sweatpants and watching Netflix.”
Oh, cool. So, you’re literally like this mythical creature who’s actually completely normal?
Anyway, fuck dates and dating more in 2018. I’ll be at home watching Game of Thrones reruns, picking Cheeto’s crumbs out of my chest hair.
(But if you’re into that kind of thing, totally hit me up…)
Be more honest with my feelings
I can’t even. Do you know how honest I am? I get in a lot of trouble.
I have a rule. If you ask me for my opinion, even the casual, “Hey, Dallas. What do you think about…” I’m going to tell you.
It typically ends with someone’s feeling hurt (not mine) and then me shouting, “You know my rule!” as they walk away pissed at me.
If I was to be more honest in 2018, I’d only make it to January 8th before we’re talking about funeral arrangements and several less people attending said funeral.
Eat less calories
No, really. “Eat less calories” is actually how that resolution is worded.
Not, “eat healthier” or, “go on a diet.” – “eat less calories.”
Anyway, calories aren’t the enemy. Some of the healthiest, most fit people on the planet eat over 4,000 calories per day (2,000 is the daily recommended amount). Sitting on your ass all day drinking soda and eating potato chips is the enemy.
Unfortunately, the far majority of us are full-time ass-sitter oners. The thing that is actually killing us, is what is actually paying us enough to live.
In truth, I made some pretty serious health and fitness changes in the last 18 months with some pretty incredible results. Seriously, find some pictures of me from a couple of years ago…
But, I’ve literally never counted a calorie. I work out five days a week, eat pizza, drink beer and still sit on my ass 50 hours a week and the results are amazing.
So, fuck calories. Get active. Develop good habits, and the rest will work itself out.
Make more measured decisions
I’ve been called a “loose cannon” more than once. And I’ve earned that. I mean, there are risk-averse people, then there’s me.
It’s because I truly believe that every single decision we make can be boiled down to deciding between just two things. Risk or safety.
The safe decision provides an expected outcome. Nothing lost, nothing gained. If it’s the wrong decision, no one blames you.
The risk decision provides growth and opportunity. It’s full of uncertainty. If you make the risky decision and you’re wrong or you fail, people are quick to point out and challenge your decision making.
I believe that if you want to get the most out of life, you must lose your inclination for safety and adopt a style of life that confronts risk and uncertainty. Once you become accustomed to such a life, I believe you’ll find the true beauty in a life full of new encounters and experiences.
So, don’t overthink your decisions in 2018. Go with your gut. If it scares the hell out of you, do it.
So, there you have it. The glory that is my 2018 F*ck It List.
Now, don’t take this the wrong way. I do have goals for 2018. A lot of them. But I keep those intentions to myself. My goals are private, with built-in accountabilities, due dates, and actual progress check-ins.
As unnatural as it sounds to keep your plans private, I implore you to try it. And if you fail, start over. Don’t wait until 2019. Pick Wednesday. The 13th. March, August, or July. It doesn’t fucking matter. Anyday is better than a year from now because when next year rolls around and you’ve made exactly zero progress, you’re going to wish you started on that random Tuesday seven months ago.
So, go be the first Vegan that goes vegan without talking about it. Be the first one to privately train for a marathon. Join a Crossfit gym and don’t buy a complete “I Crossfit” wardrobe.
It’s not impossible, it’s just never been done.
Business and marketing are so ingrained in my DNA that almost every experience, story or song I hear in someway gets tied back to my work. I can’t help it. The other day, one track in particular jumped out at me. Ten Crack Commandments by The Notorious B.I.G..
If you know me, you know I love me some straight up gangster rap. The energy. The hype. The struggle. The rawness and realness. It’s all there. And, when it comes to my Mount Rushmore of gangster rappers, The Notorious B.I.G. is my George Washington.
That might sound weird coming from a digital marketing nerdlinger, right? Much to the dismay of my office mates, there’s little I love more in life than getting down on some pivot tables and audience segmentation with gangster rap blasting over 90db.
So, what was it about this seemingly ominous track that stood out to me?
Here, I’ll let Biggie explain:
I’ve been in this game for years, it made me an animal
There’s rules to this shit, I wrote me a manual
A step-by-step booklet for you to get
Your game on track.
If there was ever a voice of reason in business, a central go-to figure of guidance, a North Star of good advice – it’s probably Biggie…
So, let’s break down Biggie’s infamous crack commandments and see how they make sense in relation to digital marketing…
1) “Never let no one know how much dough you hold.”
Additional Context: “The cheddar breed jealously.”
Clients with big digital media spends are hard to come by. It took until 2017 for digital advertising spends to finally outpace television ad spend. While TV spend is nearly stagnate – expected to grow only 2.5% in 2018 – digital ad spend is expected to increase 13% to $237 billion. All positive signs for the long-term health of digital marketing.
Even without numbers to support this idea, I feel comfortable saying the majority of that digital ad spend belongs to a handful of global agencies. This leaves the remaining scraps to be clawed at by the rest of the 20-100 employee agencies scattered around the globe.
My recommendation to agencies looking to grow in the digital space – keep your spends, channel-mix and performance metrics close to the vest. We all like to brag with our fancy case studies and website animations of numbers counting upwards really fast and really high. But, the more your competing agencies can garner about what you’re doing, for who and how those tactics are performing, the more vulnerable you become to their same-industry clients, or them poaching your clients outright.
I speak from experience, having used competitor’s own case studies against them in new client pitches…
2) “Never let them know your next move.”
As digital marketing changes faster than any marketing channel before, people who to try solve problems with yesterday’s instructions will be rewarded far less. The future belongs to the marketing professional who can draw a new map and solve problems that didn’t exist yesterday.
Big problems are rarely solved by the people coming out claiming they are going to solve said problem. More often, the problem solving is done in silence, with little encouragement from anyone else.
My biggest breakthroughs (or solutions to my biggest problems) were accidents or late night experiments. These same solutions are things I apply every single day to garner results for our clients. Some of the stories behind how I found these solutions often get perpetuated to win new business. Yet, my drive to solve these problems was never for these reasons.
I simply saw a problem, couldn’t find a known solution, then set out to develop my own.
3) “Never trust no body.”
Additional Context: “Your mom will set that ass up, properly gassed up.”
Much like commandment number two, be careful about who you’re arming and with what kind of information. We have to remember the human brain is specifically designed to do what is best for the long-term survival of the vessel it operates.
After all, sympathy and empathy are relatively new evolution’s.
I can speak from personal experience here of working with a national journalist to write a story about a client. This journalist found a more click-worthy story to tell, or in Biggie’s words, became “gassed up” and used my words as the setup for his clickbait article.
This was only able to happen due to my misplaced trust.
4) “Never get high on your own supply.”
While obvious in Biggie’s industry, not so obvious in digital marketing. Instead, I’d phrase this as, “don’t develop an emotional attachment to your idea.”
Business. Never personal.
When you’re too emotionally attached to an idea, especially if it’s your own, it’s easy to develop a bias when discussing the outcome. This creates an unwillingness to adapt the idea as better opportunities emerge, client demands change, or the industry changes around it.
In poker terms, this is a classic example of sunk cost fallacy. Throwing good money after bad money.
Your “own supply” in Biggie’s words is your ego, your pride and your attachment to your own ideas. Don’t get too high on any of those things.
5) “Never sell no crack where you rest at.”
It’s not uncommon for a freelancer, hoping to one day pull in some big name clients, to take on family and friends as their first clients. Quick cash from low hanging fruit has a way to cloud a freelancer’s judgement.
Family and friends are not clients – they’re family and friends. They have unrealistic expectations, they’ll provide skewed feedback, and you’ll likely over service their accounts at already discounted rates taking valuable time and resources away from attracting more lucrative new clients.
I once had a family friend’s restaurant as one of my first freelance clients. Every time I’d go into the restaurant they’d discount my meal, throw in dessert, send me home with frozen pizzas – you name it. It was great!
The time came to grow the account through additional ad spend, additional services and of course a higher monthly retainer.
“Well, we’ve been giving you free food for months. That should cover some of this, right?”
6) “That goddamn credit? Dead it.”
Additional Context: “If you think a crackhead paying you back, shit forget it!”
Cash flow is the heartbeat of a business. Delaying cash flow is delaying growth.
The problem in digital marketing – especially when it comes to media buying – it’s not often clear what the final invoice will look like until the ad spend is spent or the hours are logged.
So, what happens is agencies and freelancers aren’t able to send an invoice until the work is complete. Commonly with a net-30 clause, resulting in the agency or freelancer carrying upwards of 60-days of debt.
The risk here is the potential for clients and their business’s to fail, taking their debt with them. Or, as is always the potential in digital marketing, clients unhappy with the results of the completed work and refusing to pay. It happens. Especially when expectations aren’t properly managed.
The lesson here is that until your business is large enough to mitigate the associated risk of carrying a client’s delinquent billings, focus on upfront cash generating services and billing practices.
7) “Keep your family and business completely separated.”
This one is a throwback to commandment number five in my book – but it’s worth repeating.
Don’t mix family and business.
Take it from me. Growing up, my mom owned a restaurant almost entirely staffed and managed by family. I owned a quick-serve restaurant with two friends. I owned several businesses with an ex-girlfriend. Owned a clothing company that collaborated with a lot of very good friends.
Almost every single situation was negatively impacted by the inclusion of friends and family. Sure, there were a lot of benefits along the way. Yep, There are a lot of a “family-owned business” success stories out there. But all things end, and when they end with family, they end badly.
8) “Never keep no weight on you.”
Additional Context: “Them cats that squeeze your guns can hold jobs too.”
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos famously implemented what became known as two-pizza teams. The idea that a team small enough to be fed by only two pizzas will thrive through efficiency, clear communication, moving fast and increased innovation.
Not as commonly mentioned is that the smaller a team is, the more responsibility the individual team members have, the higher standard their work is held to and the less likely they are to let their (smaller) team down.
Now look around you. Do you work with eight people? 25? 100? How many of those people are floating right around the Mendoza line?
Any team member or employee not carrying their weight needs to be brought back into the fold or worked out of the day-to-day functions of the business if the business culture is to remain one of efficiency and productivity.
9) “If you ain’t gettin’ bagged, stay the fuck from Police.”
If you’re unfamiliar, white hat’s operate within the guidelines and ethics set forth by technology partners, platforms and their recommended best practices.
Black hat’s operate by their own set of laws frequently looking for shortcuts, hacks and whatever means necessary to get themselves or their clients to the top of the heap.
Unfortunately, black hat tactics work very, very well and often immediately. White hat tactics can be slow, tedious and are never guaranteed.
But if you expect to be a business, or a hireable freelancer two years, ten years, 15 years from now, you have to operate within the guidelines our partner’s set.
For example, you can buy 200 backlinks for your website right now and jump to the top of Google organic search rankings (a black hat SEO tactic). But in a few months, when Google catches up, that same site can be immediately and permanently removed from Google’s listings.
How embarassing would that be to explain to your client?
Doing the right thing is always the right thing. Play by the rules. Stay away from the “police.”
10) “If you ain’t got the clientele, say “Hell No!””
Additional Context: “Cause they gon’ want they money rain sleet hail snow.”
You’d be surprised how easy it is to receive pretty substantial financing to quickly grow a business. Hell, if you’re looking for investors all you need to do is show up with an idea and a deck and they’ll throw money at you.
We’re living in wild times…
Startups – a relatively new term for any new business – takes time. It takes the investment of sweat equity and long-term decision making to build the foundation of a successful business that can support a steady growth pattern.
Creating debt early creates a snowball of bad ideas and short-term thinking. Through short-term thinking bad partnerships are made, half-baked ideas are rolled out to the public, the work is rushed and the core idea is sacrificed.
More important than that high-visibility office, the big sign and state-of-the-art technology is a highly profitable business model that will feed you, your family and your employee’s families for many years to come.
Don’t take debt unless absolutely necessary. Sure, debt can enable sustainable, positive growth if used correctly. But, stupid debt is a death sentence to any business. So, unless the opportunity the debt creates allows the business to generate enough additional revenue to offset the initial debt plus interest, say, “Hell no!”
“One two three four five six seven eight nine” “TEN”
As Biggie says, “follow these rules you’ll have mad bread to break up.” And then some other stuff I probably shouldn’t include in this blog… but who am I to argue with the great Notorious B.I.G.?
In this Inc.com article I discuss how the onset of digital marketing has changed the buyer’s journey and what steps companies need to take.
I have a confession to make.
I have a thinking problem.
It started simply enough. I would think socially. But that’s acceptable, right? Plus, I kind of liked it. Thinking allowed me to loosen up and meet new people.
Then I began thinking alone. I began thinking late into the night which was causing me to oversleep and miss work. It became hard for me to go my entire day without thinking. Sometimes, I would even think before work. Worse yet, I began thinking on my lunch breaks.
So, what could Dr. Brown say that pushed me into looking up the nearest Thinker’s Anonymous?
“Vulnerability is not weakness.”
WTF, Doc Brown. WTF.
If vulnerability is not weakness, what is it? Am I vulnerable? Should I be? Is my lack of vulnerability holding me back personally and professionally?
We live in this society that trains us from a very young age to believe vulnerability is a weakness. We’re taught as children to wake up in the morning, armor up and be tough. Don’t let the bastards get you down. Don’t let them see that you’re hurt. Leave it at home, don’t bring it to work.
“Go out and be vulnerable today, son!” – No dad ever
But by placing these artificial barriers around our vulnerability emotion we’re just numbing the pain. By numbing the vulnerability emotion, we’re introducing this halo effect where our other emotions become numbed — joy, happiness, belonging.
We can’t selectively numb emotions without affecting the others.
What if, in fact, vulnerability is simply a byproduct of great courage and strength? Or bravery? I mean, it takes immense amounts of courage, strength and bravery to allow yourself to be vulnerable, so it makes sense.
This of course, got me thinking a lot about my own life…
I’ve long believed that no matter what decision we’re making, we’re really only ever deciding between two things— safety or risk.
Safety offers comfort and security. Safety is easy. Safety is known.
Risk offers excitement and growth. Risk is scary. Risk is unknown.
My advice has always been to choose risk as often as possible.
What I feel Dr. Brown has introduced into this theory is not only do we need to continue to choose risk, we need to be able to identify when our vulnerabilities are impacting our decision making.
Our vulnerabilities typically appear in the form of us questioning ourselves.
What if I risk and lose? What if I fail publicly? What if I ask her on a date and she says no? What if they laugh at me? What if they say I’m too fat? What if they say I’m not smart enough? Tall enough? Attractive enough?
These vulnerable questions can paralyze us into non-action. When we’re paralyzed into non-action we starve ourselves and the world of the joys of new experience.
And even though I’ve been consciously aware of my decision making for several years, I now have the self-awareness to see that in those moments when I chose safety over risk it was due to me not being vulnerable enough to allow myself to choose the risk option.
As a result of not being vulnerable, I wasn’t courageous. I wasn’t brave. I wasn’t strong, and I missed out on some great opportunities.
I think back to all of the labor I invested in what feels like 35 different startups. Some failed horrendously, some nearly killed me. Some sparked major backlash, some were boring as hell. But some worked.
The ones that worked were the ones where I was completely vulnerable. By silencing the critics I allowed myself to be vulnerable, I allowed myself to be completely courageous, brave and steadfast in what my goals were. When you’re courageous and committed, you’re confident. When you’re confident you’re brave, you make bold decisions, you take chances and risk big.
My failures were all the same too. I failed when I was scared. I failed when I didn’t allow myself to make the big and brave decisions. I failed when I prioritized safety over risk. And I prioritized safety because I wasn’t comfortable with the thought of risking and losing publicly— I wasn’t vulnerable.
Discussing this topic brings me back to one of my all time favorite quotes by Teddy Roosevelt…
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
See in 2017, and this great thing called the internet, there’s a billion people who will never enter the arena. They will sit in the cheap seats and hurl stones when the vulnerable man stumbles.
The thing is, unanimous praise is reserved only for those willing to be silent.
For everyone else though, the ability to say, “this isn’t for you.” is the foundation for being vulnerable.
Don’t worry so much about the next five to ten years of your life. I say worry only about the last five to ten.
When you’re 75 years old and you’re reflecting on your life, it will feel pretty shitty to know that you never entered the arena because you were scared of what the people sitting in the cheap seats might think of you.
It’ll be shitty to know that you never strived valiantly, failed publicly and picked yourself back up.
You never knew the triumph of achievement, great devotion, or the feeling of daring greatly.
Like Dr. Brown taught me – be brave in your life. Be brave in your work. You’re going to get your ass kicked — get used to it. Choose to fail. Choose courage over comfort. Put your work out there because it’s not the critic who counts, it’s the man in the arena.
Most importantly, choose vulnerability. Vulnerability is not a weakness. Vulnerability is courage, compassion, connection, bravery and strength. Our personal vulnerabilities are what makes each of us uniquely beautiful.
When you can be vulnerable with those around you, you find out they become more vulnerable and open with you, leaving each better than before. Someone just has to do it first. Why not you?
Vulnerability is the birthplace of your happiness.
This original version of this article appeared on my LinkedIn. Connect with me over there for the occasional first look at new blogs and ideas.