Creator Buddy System

Before you earn an audience, users, paying customers, investors, shareholders or employees holding you accountable to your work, you often find yourself alone and unmotivated. Unless you popped into this world as a self-starting anomaly, waking up and getting to work on something that doesn’t exist yet and that no one else cares about can feel like forcing children to eat broccoli. It helps to have business or creative partners on the project with equal or greater investment in the outcome – and sometimes that’s all you need. But even partnerships lose steam and it helps to have someone else on the outside to push you.

You may need a creator buddy: someone you never want to disappoint and who also has his or her own personal projects in infancy. Someone outside your field with whom you can learn from each other. Between the two of you, schedule regular check-ins to set goals and debrief accomplishments or failures on a regular basis. Weekly or bi-weekly works best, nothing too involved. Encourage each other to set goals you both can realistically achieve in that time and hold each other accountable. Send text messages to touch base in between. Whatever helps to keep you both on the tracks and moving forward. Before long, you’ll find yourself accomplishing more – if only in fear of disappointing your buddy if you fail.

Sounds too simple, but the work you need to do today is difficult enough. Avoid overcomplicating it with crazy motivational regimens. Find a buddy that can pull you out of isolation and give you the push that you need. He or she will appreciate it as well.

Build Businesses That Solve Problems You Understand

Better for you and your customers to tackle problems you have experience with. If you come from nowhere with no expertise in the sandbox you want to play in, you’re at a severe disadvantage because you cannot directly empathize with your customers out of the gate and need to spend that much more time on research to catch up. You’re behind before you begin.

What problems have you suffered in life and have educated theories strong enough to beat them? If you move forward without an underlying passion to solve a personal problem, what then will continue to fuel your fire? How can you possibly stay excited about an idea you have no emotional attachment to – a problem you do not understand?

I’m not telling you not to stretch yourself. And I’m definitely not telling you to skip the research altogether and go for what you know. Understand, however, that jumping into a business blind comes with much higher risk and a harder path to pave. One in ten million people get lucky building something they do not understand and making a business out of it. Press your luck to be the one or press your experience to build something you care about instead.

The Common Denominator of Success

Failure. The most successful people do not fear failure. They fail often and learn quickly. Failure informs uncontested success. If you want to succeed, embrace failure as a necessary ingredient to achieving greater goals.

Steering a Large Ship

When you are in a small raft, you have enough influence and power to pilot the entire thing in a completely different direction. When you are on a massive cruise ship, you have no power at all and must go with the flow. Nothing you can do as a cruise ship passenger will change the direction the boat is sailing (unless you can convince everyone otherwise, mutiny the bridge to navigate, or sink the ship).

The analogy applies to companies and brands. It is much easier to have stake in and pilot the direction of a small company than a large one. Big companies are much more difficult to steer and big brands much more difficult to reposition. One man or woman will fight an uphill battle if he or she wants to inspire change from within an established, large organization or industry. One man or woman can sink an organization or brand alone, but I doubt the resulting consequences and reputation will be worth it.

Cruise ships have many amenities and benefits worth the ride. You can really travel through life in style in a reputable large organization. If the company treats you well enough, it may be worth the complacency of a vacationing passenger. But do not expect to change anything you do not favor from within the bureaucracy.

If you truly want to make a difference on your own in your field, consider building a faster raft and inspiring the cruise ship to keep up. Competition may be the only key to making a difference and steering a large ship.