“A Genius Is The One Most Like Himself”

I have been obsessed with two words this year: impact and legacy. How you create something of meaning in this world and how it has positive and lasting effect on others. This is the tone in which I work with writers and publishers – not how many books they sell, but how much of an impact and legacy they build for themselves and others.

I see so many people running around trying the digital marketing flavor of the day. I saw these promises for an advertisement to a training program about Pinterest this week:

  • How to Get MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF EXPOSURE for your business quickly,
    easily and for free.

  • Learn 3 SURPRISING STRATEGIES for driving tons of traffic to your site
    each day.

  • Ways to improve your SEO by using Pinterest.
  • How to MAKE MONEY PINNING!’

If you close your eyes, you can almost see the person who wrote this lifting headlines from some headline writing book, or some advertisement from 1957. Those same psychological triggers used for generations now in ad copy. The program being advertised here actually looks very good if you have a need to become more active on Pinterest. And after all, as the rest of the ad states, the training program is a $500 value, but you can get it for just $97. Ah, modern marketing.

So how do you not follow the leader like mindless lemmings? How do you not follow trend after trend in social media, always finding a mere 1% of the value that the person you are following found with the same tactics 12 months ago?

This:

“A genius is the one most like himself.”
– Thelonious Monk

That if you want to have an impact and build your legacy, you have to create something unique in this world. And yes, you have to work your ass off doing it.

Thelonious Monk

It is easy to be envious of others who stumble into massive success. Those who wrote a book that is not really original or amazing, but manages to sell millions of copies quickly. Yes, it would be nice to win that lottery. But chances are, you won’t win it. I won’t win it. And I’m fine with that. Because you can create your own luck, your own impact, your own legacy.

I was watching a documentary on Woody Allen, and he described an early job working at a summer resort where a staff of entertainers created an original live revue show every single weekend. The moment you finished one show, you had to begin creating the next one. As Allen describes the experience:

“You couldn’t sit in a room waiting for your muse to come and tickle you. Monday morning came, there was a dress rehearsal Thursday, you had to get that thing written. It was grueling, but you learned to write. From there, I managed to go directly to the Sid Caesar Show.”

The documentary also showed the wide range of activities Allen took on as he figured out his voice, his audience, and worked his way through the business, including boxing a kangaroo on television.

Woody Allen

Many call Woody Allen a comedic genius, and like many documentaries of famous people, it shows that it took a lot of time and work for that genius to really find the path to connect his inner voice to the world. In the documentary, the owner of a nightclub describe Woody’s first stand-up gig as a failure, but when he came back 9 months later with the same jokes, he won the audience over. Woody had to find his voice, even though his material was the same. As Monk would say: he had to become more like himself.

What Thelonious Monk learned from years of playing jazz with others was captured in what is called Monk’s Advice. It’s a brilliant document to fellow musicians he would be playing with on stage:

Thelonious Monk's Advice

Justine Musk shared great advice recently as well that aligns to this:

“When you mimic someone‚Äôs style, you are in effect hiding behind them.”

She references a post by Abby Kerr who makes this plea: Stop Mimicking A-Listers & Other Brand Idols. And she shares good proactive advice on finding your voice and honing your brand.

Justine Musk

This week is Independence Day here in the States. It is sometimes easy to forget the price that others paid for such independence. That it took extreme sacrifice to decide to forge a new path. It took great risk and a vision that turned fear into action.

For what you are creating with your life… how are you forging that path? How are you working to create a truly unique impact, and building a legacy that will last beyond a job title?

Thanks.
-Dan

Start Small and Personal: How To Approach Any New Project

So many writers I work with are apprehensive about certain aspects of platform development. So when we approach something like creating a newsletter, they come back to me with these grand plans for a newsletter with 8 sections, and a really “professional” tone.

My advice to them is often this: start small and personal. I take you through the reasoning why in the video above.

Thanks!
-Dan

Why Many Writers Get Little Support From Friends and Family

I often ask writers if their family and friends are aware of their writing, and if they are supportive of it. Frequently, writers tell me that their friends and family are NOT supportive. So today, I want to discuss why this is, and share some really compelling quotes from writers I have spoken with.

Thanks.
-Dan

Is the Momentum of Your Writing Career Too Much to Manage?

Today I want to talk about the “problem of success.” That point when all of your efforts to develop a platform starts setting things in motion. When you finally get that sense of momentum, when people engage with you, when people start asking things of you. How do you balance the needs of your writing, the needs of your own platform (blogging, social media, etc), marketing opportunities, and community engagement? And how do you do so while still honoring the other needs in your life: family, friends, personal wellness, your day job if you have one, mowing the lawn, etc?

With some of the successful authors I am working with, I find that momentum is both an INCREDIBLE opportunity, and a challenge as well. That a lot is asked of their time, and they are forced to make decisions on a daily basis as to who to say yes to, and what opportunities cannot be addressed at this moment.

This is a topic that is very important to me, and one that I am doing a lot of behind the scenes work on with a new project. Stay tuned…

The video above explains this all in greater detail.
Thanks!
-Dan