Living on the content edge

The Icarus Deception

Did you read Seth Godin’s post Ridiculous is the new remarkable (where he refers to the above book)?

At the end he said:

“Two more thoughts on this:

Ridiculous isn’t safe. If you do something ridiculous and you fail, people get to say, “you idiot, of course you failed, what you were doing was ridiculous.” Which is precisely why it’s so rare. Not because we are unable to imagine being ridiculous, but because we’re afraid to be.

And second…

Don’t be ridiculous because it’s a clever marketing strategy. No, be ridiculous because while the effectiveness allows you to be, the real intent is to be generous or thrilling or to touch some stars. Because you can.

I’m not sure I agree with the tenor of the post, but, one thing I’m sure about, is that there is too much content being produced that is anything but remarkable, let alone ridiculous.

Trying to find what you want isn’t hard. But finding something that goes w-a-y beyond the ordinary most certainly is.

No one wants to fail. And so people play it (dead) safe, the consequence of which is a vanilla wash on everything they produce. Of course, not everyone goes for the safe-as-houses route. Some go for the shock approach, where taking the most extreme or cynical path is all they know. The trouble is, as much as we might find it threatening, annoying or mildly subversive (sometimes we might even laugh, in a sort of nervous way), even that tack becomes predictably boring.

Stop and focus.

If you are at the sharp end of producing content and are feeling a sense of disappointment at the lack of engagement, you might be tempted to cock a snook at your audience and just press on. Alternatively, you might start thinking more carefully about your buyer persona and write expressly for them (I think it always helps to visualise the exact person you are writing for). Or, and this is where I do agree with Seth, you might be better off taking a pace or two backwards and asking yourself if anything you have done to date comes close to his or your definition of remarkable. If not, how can you change things?

Having followed a slew of people – bloggers, recording artists and poets – one thing that I am clear about is that the great ones believe in their work (Art). They are rarely the most prolific (Julien Smith and Paul Graham are good examples). Instead, they produce thoughtful and personal pieces where you know that they invested more than a cursory 30 minutes in bashing something out.

Perhaps we all need to start reframing our work. We have to be prepared to move much closer to our creative edge, and write about or create something we passionately believe in. If not, we will be destined to forever chase our tail for a story or hang on someone else’s coattails in the hope that some of their shine will fall on us.

Before you begin crafting your next piece of content, ask yourself:

  1. What is this about?
  2. Am I willing to commit everything to it (and I don’t just mean your time)?
  3. Do I believe in what I’m doing?
  4. Will people care?
  5. How much adversity can I put up with before I quit?

And please don’t feel that you can’t go back, start again and create a new profile. It happens all the time. People will be much more interested in hearing about the real you then some faux personality.

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