This time, right now, is probably one of the biggest opportunities you will ever have in your whole life.
This isn’t just hyperbole or cliche (though it’s also both). In reality, huge things are emerging today that you have access to at almost no cost. If you get your hands on them, they’ll let you transform your world in a way that’s unprecedented.
This can happen, if you want it to happen. Just a fact.
I got an email the other day from a guy who I’ve been talking with for a while. He told me his blog wasn’t going well, and he needed traction and wanted to know how to build his “permission asset,” etc. To gather email addresses. To develop an audience.
And I looked at my mailing list on BreatherÂ and thought “There is no blog so good that it can gather this many emails so fast. No blog is even half as interesting as a real fucking thingÂ that you are actually making. Something you invent. Nothing.”
Another way of saying this is: There is no social media expert even half as interesting as an actual entrepreneur. Even a failing one.
It’s true. It’s about skin in the game. It’s about the story. And the story of “this huge thing happened, and then… I talked about it!!!” — is just not that exciting.
So I got a comment on my blog from someone a few months back. I don’t remember where it came from but it said: “Julien, you’re just a talker. You haven’t actually done any of this stuff before, ever. Why should we trust you? How do we know you’re steering us right?” Etc.
This guy was right.
It’s not that I was a phoney, exactly. But I was a talker— a very good one, actually. I was one for a very long time. As time went on (and I wrote the post linked above three years ago), I became conscious of it. Though, in fact, I have made millions of dollars for clients, and though I never really talked about it, I had never really made something big myself.
So when I had this idea, I thought, “My God, I could really put myself into this. This is something.” This is one year ago.
And this is a time where you realize, and you encounter, potential failure — not just private failure, but public failure. And it’s daunting. You can’t always stand up to it. It hurts– even in the abstract. So you don’t want to do it.
I was lucky though. I had written a short book about it– a book that actually called my future self out, saying: “Listen, you fucking wuss. Take the hard path. Do it. To do anything else would be to make a choice unworthy of you. Do the right thing.” So I did.
And the hard road, indeed, is hard.Â It just is. But I had to go, and I went, and here I am, mid-way through.
In a way it reminds me of walking the Camino de Santiago a few years ago with Helen. When you start, ok, there’s no problem, but when you’re on the path, you’re like holy shit!Â – and that’s when you get tested. The testing is, in fact, impossible to predict or understand while you are on the sidelines.Â And that is a good thing.
It’s a good thing because it divides people, actually. Of course, there is always the “we are all good people and everyone deserves respect” thing. So in that way, people are not divided. But they are in the “I have willingly sought out potential embarrassment and downside for myself in exchange forâ€¦” something. Glory, self-respect, whatever it is. The ability to go out and assume risk is important. It’s vital, actually.
A friend of mine,Â Chris Guillebeau, was talking at Le Web as well on the day after I launched Breather there. He said to the audience to “seek out a quest.” By that, I think he means, “go get something bigger than yourself.”
Chris is right, but the problem is that we feel so minuscule in the world today, because it is so large and ineffable. Julian Assange expressed this in an essay several years ago on this blog, saying prophetically, “I believe I have found a way to have an impact on the whole world– but just because you haven’t yet, it doesn’t mean you should quit. Keep going.” (I’m paraphrasing.)
Meanwhile, the easiest thing is still to lay back and not do much. But it is an error to do so unless it’s deliberately intended for recuperation. In Paris last week I got run over by a rollerblader (yes, really), and fucked up my elbow. So I don’t plan on going rock climbing any time soon, but if you are anything else but injured, you probably need to be doing more.
But what are you going to do more of?Â Well, exactly. It’s hard to know. But this is what I mean about opportunity.
Things are unfolding now. 3D printing. Drones. Internet of Things technology. Things people do in their spare time. The social media subway is gone, and you probably didn’t catch it, and that’s ok. There is something else coming. So what you need is just to stay on the edge.
And this is the thing about the edge. It’s hard to imagine from far away. You can’t guess about it unless you’ve seen it. It’s hard to imagine from Omaha— you have to be damn good to do it.
I was in San Francisco a few months back, mid-way through raising the $1.5mm we got for our company, and I met this dude from Montreal. And I start saying something like “oh you know how Uber lets you reserve a black car with your phone,” and he’s like, “uh,” and it’s clear he has no idea what I’m talking about.
So I tell him. No big deal. But the next thing out of my mouth, because this guy has an agency he’s trying to start, is “how can you try and make things for clients if you don’t even know what the present looks like?” You can’t!Â The future is not accessible to those that don’t understand the present. Not technology-wise, anyway. (Feel free to prove me wrong.)
Anyway, a long time ago Ryan Holiday and I realized we got confused for each other a lot. But I don’t think that’s going to happen much anymore, which is just as well, because I think he’s probably better than me. I am no longer “in marketing,” although I know about marketing. I can tell you about Twitter, if you really want, but I am not a Twitter guy, nor a social media guy, just the way, a few years ago, I became “no longer a podcasting guy.” I still have lots of friends in that business, and they are doing great work.
But I, personally, have moved on.Â I am rebuilding myself in another image.
When was the last time you did so? Do you remember when you last shed your skin?
Anyway, I wish you luck with what you are working on. Let’s keep fighting the good fight. I’m rooting for you.