If You Build It, They Won’t Give a @#$%

Welcome to the densest, most competitive information marketplace in history.

Never before have people been so ready to send out more marketing messages. Never in history have people cared less.

Just five seconds ago I was invited to yet another religious Facebook group for a religion I’m not even a part of. Gee, thanks.

You already know this intuitively. There’s a reason people don’t join your groups, subscribe to your mailing list, or share your content. It’s why they’re not telling friends about your business. It’s also why, in the long run, you will become the vultures and hyenas of the attention ecosystem.

Effective immediately, the reality of the new world is that

if you build it, they won’t give a shit.

3 actual facts (that will actually help you)

ONE. Your ideas are actually total garbage. You are probably surrounded by yes-men, idiots, or both. They tell you that your idea is great because…

a) they have no idea how ideas succeed in the actual real world. Their only exposure to ideas is through the front page of the Huffington Post, the newspaper, the radio, or their Facebook wall. But I have a message for you! Exposure to ideas that have already won does not help you create winning ideas!!!

b) they are lying to you and you are surrounded by the wrong people. A business is like a living creature. Your idea must be exposed to the environment to survive, and you have created an artificially safe environment around you where people don’t tell you the truth.

If you actually think your idea is great (when it isn’t), the onus is on you. Your ideas are failing because of you. They are not interesting, they are not positioned correctly, they are not different or clear enough and you aren’t willing to put in the work to fix it!

Is your idea competitive enough? If you cannot launch a blog post, a marketing campaign, or a business and have people go WOW, instantly, then scrap it immediately and design it again. It isn’t good enough. Give it more edge, or more round. Make it stand for something. Notice and exploit a weakness in the marketplace, or a rising trend (not a fad!).

ONE THING YOU CAN DO RIGHT NOW. Multiply by 5 or 10 the number of ideas you throw out every day. Twitter, Facebook, blog, wherever else. See what swims and what sinks and then correct accordingly for tomorrow.

TWO. No one actually hears your idea. You are responsible for your own success and no one else. If you have no mailing list, no blog (or ability to get other bloggers’ attention), you are straight up DOA. No one will give a shit because no one actually fucking even knows you exist.

This is different from the previous problem, where people may know you exist, but they don’t care, because your idea is horrible (by the way, there are only two kinds of ideas– horrible and great– nothing else). The problem of platform is that no one has the ability to HEAR YOU because you have no direct connection to anyone.

The way I’ve encountered this most recently is through differences in book launches. You can watch Chris Guillebeau launch his book in a crazy successful way because he has impacted enough people enough times already and so they care about him. Yes, they care, and they will stop their day to help him out.

ONE THING YOU CAN DO NOW. Build a permission asset that will carry forward with every project you work on. It’s about YOU, not about the project, and so the people that follow will continue to be interested even past the project’s completion. Also, personal is the new cool.

Anyway, if you can’t build platform, you are 100% screwed. I think that’s clear, so let’s move on.

THREE. The people you know have no ability to help you. In the past three months since I have been working on my new project, due to my existing network, I have been able to get in contact with billionaires, CEOs of super successful companies, or people with just straight up valuable insight. 

You might be like “oh look at Julien showing off” but hey, you know what? That’s bullshit because I worked fucking hard to have the network I have. And the people I know who have the same are among the most fearless, driven people I know.

Can you be counted among the most fearless and driven people you know? If not, you will never reach the people you are capable of reaching, and they will not be able to open the doors that need opening.

Here’s how I explained it to a friend the other day: “How do you expect to get deals done if you don’t know who’s signing the paper?”

ONE THING YOU CAN DO NOW, AND SHOULD. Connect mercilessly and remove your negative impression of “networking” out of your head. As Peter Thiel recently said, the best sales are covert sales. Likewise, the best network building is actually nothing more than just hanging out.

In other words, if your network building comes from “networking events,” you are fucked, because no one interesting actually goes there.

Platform, Idea, and Network are the new marketing. Here’s why.

Everything else you work on can be valuable, sure. But the reason these three are valuable is because the Idea, the Platform, and the Network are all MULTIPLIERS. They each compound on all of your success by producing more effort for less work.

But the trick is that the work is actually just front-loaded– like Kickstarter– and comes at no promised reward because there’s no project you’re currently using them for.

But your idea creation process will drastically help your future ideas because you’ll be subconsciously aware of what the market wants.

And your platform will continuously build, creating a bank account, compound-interest like asset which grows over time.

Finally, your network and its value will multiply your efforts ensuring every door becomes open when it needs to be opened.

Conclusion. Julien is a fucking genius. Bye.





56 responses to “If You Build It, They Won’t Give a @#$%”

  1. Kim Avatar

    I think I love you. Ha ha, no, seriously.

  2. Andrew Avatar

    haha, the ending the was epic. As always, sweet fucking article, Julien.

  3. Jessica Avatar

    Epic brilliance, thank you!

  4. Carrie Reynolds Avatar

    Brutal as always, but never lacking in honesty. Thank you for being fearless. Perhaps one day I’ll be as fearless as you. We all have to have a goal to work toward, eh?

  5. Mayank Avatar

    Absolutely Fucking brilliant.

  6. Steve MacCormack Avatar

    Love it! So friggin’ unbelievably true.

  7. Jonas Ellison Avatar

    Mad knowledge. Again.

  8. Jeff Goins Avatar

    LOVE this. I agree that the platform is about the personality and worldview behind the person, not just whatever topic you write about. If we’re friends, I care about YOU, not just your interests.

  9. Janelle Avatar

    Julien, only you can get away with that last line haha

  10. Sophie Lizard Avatar

    “Exposure to ideas that have already won does not help you create winning ideas!!!”

    Counterintuitive, but so true. Thanks for the reminder!

  11. Charles Green Avatar

    Righteous an righteously right. Great stuff.

  12. Charles Green Avatar

    Righteously right. Great stuff.

  13. Lu Avatar

    Hands down the best thing I have read today. Absolutely LOVE this.

  14. Susan Cooper Avatar

    Awesome!!! and so well said. I love the post. You had my attention from the start to the end. How right you when you say, connect mercilessly, removing your negative attitude about networking. 🙂

  15. Justin Evans Avatar
    Justin Evans

    Hey Julien. I’m fearless and have no platform. Does that leave me 50% fucked?
    Great post. I’m even going to tweet it.

  16. Dean Avatar

    Julien, you nailed it here man. One of the best posts I’ve read for a number of different reasons. My non bullshit network is about to read this post in a few minutes. Thanks for putting this together.

  17. Ricardo Bueno Avatar

    Re: “Conclusion. Julien is a fucking genius. Bye.” <== Love it!

  18. Willis Avatar

    All of this makes sense to a point, but I am having a hard time applying it to specific situations I have encountered recently. Here is what I mean:

    Ideas for me = products
    Platform for me = Blog
    Network for me = duh

    However, if I am inside of the product domain of a certain idea, it may not relate at all to my personal platform because I am in some niche of the economy. Thats pretty imperfect, but it is also reality. Are you suggesting some conclusion that I am missing here?

    1. Julien Avatar

      Willis– Positioning by Al Ries.

      If that doesn’t help, get at me after you’ve read it.

  19. Justin Kozuch Avatar

    I don’t often use cuss words online, but I’ll make an exception here.

    Fucking brilliant piece, Julien. I love this.

  20. Anna Avatar

    What? I don’t need to be shouted and swore at over the internet, thank you! There is truth in some of what you say, but not in all of it, and reading something in that kind of tone just makes me angry!

  21. Jo-Anne Avatar

    Another awesome post loved it and I can so relate……..

  22. Jeff Slobotski Avatar

    You continue to amaze, and inspire, me.

  23. Joe Avatar

    Hi Julien. I know what you are trying to say, but I think you are also confined by the reality of the internet marketing infrastructure as it has developed over the years. Your free kindle ebook is actually pretty kickass, and I got it only in part because it was free. But Flinch also did not annoy me the way all other gaudy ebook sales pages annoy me. 10 different fonts and colors and font sizes deters me like nothing else. Only idiots must buy aamateur indie ebooks.

    Anyway, this is what I discovered. I used to have a FB page with hundreds of “friends” who weren’t really friends at all. As a result, as you say, no one paid much attention to my product, which is basically the most rocking live band you will ever see, with the exception of maybe Cowboy Mouth. At the end of last year I deleted my FB account. Not just suspended it, but deleted it. I had to let a lot of things go. I didn’t even save any photos or anything.

    I then created a new FB page, invisible to the world at large, and began adding only meaningful people as friends, most of them actual friends. I decided to turn the tables on marketing myself. I asked people to market themselves to me, by being true and meaningful people to my life and that of my band. I have way fewer friends, but they matter.

    Most exciting, because they matter to me and I to them, we all care. I care about not shamelessly promoting my product to anonymous nobodys to get people to shows, because I respect these people. My people care about me and are interested in the fact that I put my heart and soul into an awesome rocknroll experience for them.

    Whereas before I might get a 1 or 2% response rate, much of it negative, I now get close to 60%, most of it positive. 1% of 800 people at a show is 8 people. 60% of 80 people at a show is, well, I don’t know because I am too lazy to get a calculator, but it’s a lot more than 8, I will tell you that.

    This is much funner and better for everyone and these friends tell other friends about HIATUS rocknroll. The new friends need to “sell” themselves as being true quality people before I will let them into my inner circle.

    So what I am trying to say here is that marketing needs to be turned on its head. Instead of marketers trying to sell their wares, it is the customers who need to sell their worthiness to be blessed with your product. This does not work for every product out there, but it works for good ones and it automatically filters out the crap that requires deception to sell itself.

    They will come. But only the cool ones. And only if the product is meaningful. It’s a mutual interaction of love and respect. Ignore everything that does not have this essential component. Work to make your product awesome and they will come. Refer back to your Guide to Awesomeness, as I often do. You may have lost sight of the core principles.

    Thanks for all you do. I love everything you do for us and even when you are wrong it creates insightful discussion. Your product is meaningful. I care and so I came.


  24. Jacob Avatar

    I think this article applies if you’re in the business of marketing, or making online “concepts” with little substance. In my line of work, electronics engineering, one is certainly not surrounded by yes men. If everyone around you are douchebags, maybe you should consider if you’re in a douchebag business, and decide to do something real instead.

  25. Tristan Avatar

    Whatever truth was in this article was greatly overshadowed by your arrogance. How about backing up some of your claims?

  26. Steve Kloyda Avatar

    Awesome post. If you act and sound like everyone else you are nothing more than a brown cow. Thanks for sharing!

  27. Bill Avatar

    Julien, You may be right, but you seem like a real prick.

    And here you have surrounded yourself with yes men.

    1. kindness first Avatar
      kindness first

      Man, I have to agree with this. If I’d read this post first, instead of another one, I would’ve been outta here fast. These are the words of an arrogant young man who hasn’t experienced much in life. That assessment may or may not be true, but OMG if anyone is surrounded by yes men, it’s you right here, Julien. Wake up and smell the bullshit, dude. This post is lazy, chaotically unclear writing and offensive in its entitlement to anyone but your fawning fandom. Not buying it. (And yes, I am being kind first. Word to the wise (not the oh-so-
      clever): Don’t surround yourself with yes men.)

  28. Barb Avatar

    Thanks, I needed that!

  29. Kimberly Avatar

    Hi Julien: What’s a permission asset? Is that internet marketing speak for an email list? If so, (or even if not) – what’s the best way to build the permission asset?

    1. Julien Avatar

      Short answer. Ask. Then ask again. Without being a douche.

  30. Christine Avatar

    Right on! My boyfriend and I talk about this a lot. He’s a web designer and many of his clients think just because they’re building a website that they’ll get a ton of traffic. They don’t always listen to his advice. Well said, Julien!!

  31. Dave Delaney Avatar

    Best. Ending. Ever.
    I appreciate you taking the time to talk about networking on my blog Julien. For those who missed it: http://daveadelaney.com/an-interview-with-julien-smith/

  32. Rachel Spratt Avatar
    Rachel Spratt

    Hi Julien,

    I’ve really appreciated most of your blogs, but you’re not the first enthusiastic young person I’ve read or heard discuss the importance of the ‘new exponential networking/marketing’. Although your idea has merit, it starts to sound empty when there is no actual content you discuss. Who cares if you can network with the best and the brightest if you don’t care to share the actual IDEA you’re trying to market.

    This kind of whirlwind mindf*&$k is only exciting, say, if you’re a nuclear phycicist, and you can teach your fellow man how to cure himself of bad thoughts, sickness, whatever, by showing him how he can network with William Tiller or whoever. There are only so many thoughts we can process in a day. There are so many people we can meet, there are only so many papers we can write, books we can read and understand, new ideas we can grasp, etc.

    I hear no real content in your recent blog. This one seems like a bunch of new agey blah, blah, blah. What is your audsience here, who are you marketng to, what are you selling?

  33. Justin Avatar

    I love your writing style. Extremely impactful and to the point. Thanks for dropping some knowledge on us once again.


  34. Ms.NaniJo Avatar


  35. Toby Howell Avatar

    Always at the perfect time. Now I just get over the biggest hurdle…putting your knowledge to the test. Also figuring what way to go about it.

  36. David Slezak Avatar

    So Julien… when can we hang out? I like bourbon. You?

    1. Julien Avatar

      Bourbon also!

  37. Esteban Avatar

    Great make your personal network your business network. So annoying to those of us who could care less about your business or just want to hang out socially. I will give you the fact that anyone trying to market or sell has to be fearless – those who are have a rare trait that is required to swim in the waters of self promotion.

  38. Fernando Avatar

    Good article…already got me moving. So you said “ideas that have already won does not help you create winning ideas!” I’ve been devouring Copyblogger’s stuff for 3 years now, trying to copy it in Spanish but it hasn’t worked. But then I found your book reading list (incredible quantity BTW) and found “The Accidental Genius” about free-writing. I bought it and I’m going to start using it to come up with my own ideas….lots and lots of them. Probably going to have to throw a bunch away, but at least it’ll be original. Tanks for the Julien! (we met briefly at an Austin American Marketing Association chapter luncheon with Chris Brogan).

  39. DC Corso Avatar
    DC Corso

    Well, that explains my complete and utter failure as an author. If only I understood what anything in this article means, maybe I wouldn’t suck so badly at things like “platform” (which is useless with no audience) and networking (which as far as I can tell, is just more marketing BS but what do I know). I know I should go to more LitQuake events, but honestly, I’m a writer, not a schmoozer. So it’s back to walking dogs for a living for me. Thanks for confirming that I am in fact stuck in Loserville forever. KMN.

  40. Neill from GTR Avatar

    Ok, since you don’t want ‘yes men’ sucking up to you.

    What have you actually ever sold that doesn’t have anything to do with ‘self-help / being awesome / pr / online marketing etc.’?

    You know.. the whole ‘lets feel good about ourselves, blog about it and teach other people how to feel good and blog about it’-scene.

    Why should we listen to you?

    I asked Chris Guillebeau the other day after he blogged that you shouldn’t listen to people who haven’t actually ‘done it’ themselves. Unfortunately he deleted my comment.

    1. Julien Avatar

      Well I won’t delete your comment but you are being kind of a douche despite having a good point.

      I actually have a project right now that’s none of those things. It will either prove that I know something or it will make me flop as a charade. 🙂

      In the meantime you can either ignore me or pay attention, it’s your call dude. This is the internet, there are lots of options. 🙂

      1. Neill from GTR Avatar

        Why do you think I’m being a douche?

        I’m not saying I don’t ever get value from your writing, otherwise I wouldn’t be here.

        1. Philip Luca Avatar

          If you’d take the time to read a few more posts, you’d see that Julien has done and is doing way more than just write. Where do you you think he gets this ideas from?

          1. DC Corso Avatar
            DC Corso

            I found Neill’s comment to be refreshingly challenging, not insulting, which is why I assume he asked it. I’ve been reading Julien’s posts for quite some time and have read bios but haven’t seen mention of actual business products either aside from ebooks and consulting. I appreciate that people seem to think J. shits gold, but I don’t think it’s insulting or douchey to ask a simple question: specifically, can you illustrate with an actual example why the above is universally true? Cause I’d benefit a lot from something tangible in that it’s easy to say “theoretically this is true” but it’s easier for my brain to see it in practice and not just a theory using every buzzword out there. Anyone? Cause I could use some help!

    2. Ralph Avatar

      There’s nothing wrong with challenging a guy’s stNCE. I can see where you’re coming from because there are tons of douche-canoes on the net just like IRL. Did you like the response you got?

      1. Neill-GTR Avatar

        I’m grateful that Julien answered my question unlike some others (Eve Bogue, Corbett Barr, Chris Guillebeau).

        But I’m not a douche for asking it.

  41. Derek Avatar

    Damn bro, that’s real talk right there…

  42. Ryan G Avatar

    Totally with you about only big ideas being matter anymore. To take it further I would add that those big ideas must include other people and that you must be effective at leading and rearing those people to realize your big ideas too.

  43. Joel Leaman Avatar

    I stopped writing posts on my blog a month ago because I had nothing new to share. You’ve just challenged me to write something new that people can use, that’s easy to do and will have a big impact. 10 minutes later, I’m done, it’s out and up there. My inspiration for the post was the Pareto principle (80:20 rule).

    I love your style of writing. Don’t stop telling it how it is.

  44. Jelena Milosevic Avatar
    Jelena Milosevic

    It’s so simple! Why people make all complicated? To hide their drawbacks?
    This is so right conclusion:”Julien is a fucking genius. Bye.” I totaly agree 🙂

  45. Jessica Avatar

    I guess I should forgo the networking event I am supposed to attend on Monday night. I’m not being sarcastic but it seems as though you think they are a waste of time.

    I can’t tell you b/c I’ve never joined anything before where they had these kinds of “gatherings”.

    Will keep you posted.

  46. James Stott Avatar

    Thanks for your honest insight. A rant every now and then helps people sit up and take stock of where they are at and what they are doing.

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