In a 2007 interview with Charlie Rose, Steve Martin gave a simple piece of advice to young performers, “Be so good, they can’t ignore you.” That really struck me. A lot of creative people forget to diligently work on their craft so it’s the best it can absolutely be. Instead, they focus on trying to get publicity or marketing themselves. At the end of the day, all the publicity in the world won’t get you anywhere if you suck at what you do. Michael Jordan was a really good basketball player, Oprah is a really good TV show host, Anderson Cooper is a really good journalist, and Tim Ferriss is a really good human guinea pig. Like Gary Vaynerchuk says, “If you’re putting out good shit, people are going to notice.”
So that’s the internal mantra I’ve taken to heart. I will continue to work on my skills as a writer, blogger, and online personality until I get really good. Helping people create a better world is a life-long mission that I’m willing to invest in.
Excited, but Scared
Over the last couple of years, I’ve been slowly working on building a personal brand around the things that I do. (Like Oprah, but without giving away my car.) The trouble is that—and I’m sure many of you can relate—my interests have been incredibly varied and dispersed. It’s like I’ve had career ADD, although I’m pretty sure that’s just called indecisiveness. I’ve started and ended projects around different hobbies, but most have fizzled. I thought that the main reason they failed was that I wasn’t consistent. Consistency was definitely a factor, but there were a couple of other reasons as well:
- They didn’t connect to a higher vision: I would look at the project as a way to get more visitors, revenue, or visibility, instead of making sure that it fully resonated with me.
- I approached them like tedious jobs: the passion element was missing (see #1), so every project eventually became a chore that I wasn’t willing to invest in.
Now I’m starting again with a new approach, and like diving off a cliff, it scares me and excites me at the same time. I’m putting myself out here as my own brand—the Alex Cequea brand. My thoughts, ideas, and projects will be on full display on this site. I won’t have a buffer of online anonymity. This is a good thing, and I’ll explain why.
The Power Has Shifted
We’re hardwired to respond to stories, and throughout history, stories have come from the top and been retold by the members of our tribe. The technologies of today have changed all that. For the first time in history, the tools to tell your story are available to the masses, so the memes in our society don’t solely come from the top anymore. I believe that in order to take full advantage of these tools, you have to give up anonymity.
A lot of people think that the ability to find and share information is the most important contribution the Internet and social media has given to society, but I think they’re wrong. The true power of these tools is the ability to build an audience—a power historically reserved for the elite. The only way you could have an audience in the past was through built-in organizations in media, politics, or religion. You had to be Johnny Carson, the president, or the Pope. Now media is in the hands of everyone with access to the Internet (which you could still argue is in the hands of the elite, since only 34.3% of people worldwide have access to the Internet). Still, this is a powerful shift, and it’s the reason why I think it’s important for everyone to build a personal brand.
Why a Manifesto?
I chose the word “manifesto” because this is my personal declaration of truth. I vow to work on my craft until I’m so good I can’t be ignored. This is a shift in focus in my life, and I invite you to come along for the ride. I want to connect with people who are excited about creating a better world and willing to put in the work to make it happen.
A Better World, But How?
That part is up to you and me. Every post and piece of content on this site will go through the following mental filter (which I happily stole from Upworthy.com):
“Would the world be a better place if one million people saw this?”
If the answer is yes, then I’ll post it, if the answer is no, then I won’t. Please send me your ideas for content and projects to get involved in. Let’s make it happen!