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But There’s So Much Content Out There! — This is going to be BIG

But There’s So Much Content Out There! — This is going to be BIG


I’m very lucky.

I know a lot of really smart, interesting people. That’s why I find myself telling a lot of people that I’d love it if they shared their thoughts more often in public. I don’t much care whether they do it in writing, or a newsletter, a podcast or on LinkedIn—but I feel like I every time I interact with them, I learn something or I’m inspired to think about things in a different way.

Yet, the response I get most often is, “But there’s already so much content out there!”

I’ve never quite related to that way of thinking—mostly because I don’t actually find most online content to be that good. Remember, you don’t have to outrun the bear. You just have to outrun the slowest camper—and in the world of online thought leadership, there are a lot of slow campers.

When’s the last time you flipped through LinkedIn or in your inbox full of newsletters and a ton of time disappeared because of the high quality of content you were consuming? If anything, you’re probably unsubscribing or muting a few folks with every visit to wherever you get your content because it isn’t doing much for you. The opportunity is undoubtedly still there for someone to add something new and different to the mix.

This fear also never really made sense to me because, at some point, you will have to direct some non-zero amount of professional attention to yourself. You’ll send someone a resume, or a LinkedIn profile, or you’ll fill out a job application. You’ll pitch a new client by e-mail or you’ll ask people you’ve worked with to recommend you.

It’s hard to avoid—like showing off your small, perhaps cluttered first apartment to someone for the first time. You can push it off all you want, but I don’t think anyone’s ever gotten married to anyone before they’ve seen where they live.

Given that, why wouldn’t you want to present something a little bit different—something that shows off your best thinking? Our resumes are sometimes out of our control. A job could lack the potential for creativity you had hoped it would provide. The company you work at could run into financial trouble and your budget could get cut. There are all sorts of ways you may be professionally hamstrung in the past, but still with lots of untapped potential to show off to someone new.

How can you do that without showing someone how you think?

One of my VC coaching clients is looking for a position with a new firm. She’s incredibly smart, but her firm turned out to be a bit of an unexpected dead end. I asked her in what situations she felt like she had her best foot forward. Her answer was quick: “One on one and in person.”

“Great!” I told her. “Do some IRL interviews and record them.”

I told her to go find the best thinkers she could on a particular topic of interest and sit down for a discussion with them. I listed off all the things I thought it could do for her:

  1. It would sharpen her thinking. It’s very easy to get caught up in processing your day to day deal flow without leaving enough time to come up for air and do some research. I told her that her answers in her next interview would be better after a half dozen conversations with the most thoughtful people in her space—people who could challenge and inspire her.

  2. Who she could convince to sit down with her would say something about her network and access. So much of getting ahead in the world is who you know—and if you prove to a new employer or client that you can convince top-tier folks to sit down with you, it’s impressive. If you can’t, you need to train that muscle better and do some network-building. Who she picked also says something about what she perceives as interesting, which is more information for her next employer.

  3. It would show ambition and a willingness to go the extra mile. Right off the bat, you’ll show better than everyone else who has roughly the same level of experience that didn’t sit down for these discussions. Why didn’t they? Are they not interested in learning, growing and building their network? Would they not be able to ask interesting questions?

  4. It would remind your own network that you exist. When you show off your interests by talking to interesting people, you become top of mind again for people in your network—and you never know what opportunities your professional networks might have for you. Being findable increases your chances of serendipity.

A lot of people worry that when they put themselves out there, it won’t be any good, or it will be boring. That’s possible—and that’s a risk that employers and clients worry about as well. What if you interview a top founder and muddle your way through it, coming off as not particularly knowledgeable? Well, how good a venture capitalist do you think you’re going to be? If that’s going to be the result when you talk to someone successful, I don’t see how you were going to get the job anyway. If anything, putting yourself out there helps you level set where you need to improve—because hiding isn’t going to win you a job or a client anytime soon.

I promise you that your second post, be it a video, an interview, an essay or thread, will be better than your first. Your third will be better than your second, and your tenth will be lightyears ahead of your third. That’s not just because you’ll get better at the medium—becoming a better writer or speaker. You’ll soon become a better thinker and processor of information.

Some of the most valuable things I’ve ever shared only resonated with a very small audience, if they resonated with anyone at all. Still, I’m glad I got myself into the practice of writing—twenty years ago this month.

It is very true what they say. The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago.

The second best time is now.

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