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Henry Fonda, one of the most celebrated actors in American history, had every reason to be confident before an audience—yet he threw up before every performance.
Despite his awards and celebrity he suffered from stage fright throughout his entire career.
According to The War of Art author, Steven Pressfield, the lesson here is twofold: First, fear doesn’t disappear with success, awards or age. Secondly, “the warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.”
For years I’ve wrestled with imposter syndrome. I’ve spent countless nights researching, writing and editing blog posts. The majority of which have never seen the light of day. To hit “publish” would mean facing my fear of criticism and embarrassment regarding the validity of my ideas.
In 2020 I made a promise to myself: Hit “publish” once a day and apparently I wasn’t alone in wondering where this might lead.
A recent survey of 2,500 people, including 500 small business owners, by Invoice2go, regarding the top ten hobbies respondents thought they could spin into future careers, “writing” (42%) was at the top of the list.
I chose LinkedIn as my medium. It seemed like the softest landing space, filled with people in my industry open to sharing insights. I committed to my daily grind with the goal of experimentation, making connections and gaining a little more self-confidence. I found much more than that.
1. Growing my tribe
When you share your ideas publicly, you attract others who think similarly.
I struck up friendships with founders, CEOs and CMOs whom I admire— people I never would have had the chance to connect with otherwise. I reconnected with old friends and collaborators. I reconnected with a former mentor, Om Malik, whose conversations were a highlight in an otherwise awful quarantine. I found that in publishing my thoughts, I was starting a conversation.
2. Inbound business
When you share your ideas publicly, you’ve set up a method of attracting and self-selecting potential clients.
Peers often report that my posts are always at the top of their feed. Because I post so frequently, I’m always at the top of their minds. That’s the benefit of recency bias. On several occasions when brands were looking for agencies, these same people referred us. We got several pitches we never would have been invited to otherwise.
Faced with the challenge of writing something different each day, I had to be on top of the trends in my industry. I found myself discovering insights I otherwise wouldn’t have come across.
Sometimes this meant scouring blogs, scrolling through Twitter, digging through the app stores and sifting through the latest data. I was always in search of the next great insight to share with my growing audience.
As a byproduct of my daily hunt, I was more up-to-date with what was going on in my industry than I had ever been before. I was able to spot trends and anomalies quickly.
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The best time to connect with anyone is before they’ve blown up. When they’re getting started and just under the radar, that’s when you can really get to know someone.
In my daily search for new insights, I connected with a wide array of founders and emerging platforms. Triller’s Chief Growth Officer, Bonin Bough, read some of my posts. Together, our teams developed a pro bono campaign, starring Curtis Roach, to promote safe greetings in the wake of COVID-19. With New York City Students returning to the classroom, Triller and Mekanism developed the ‘Safety Shake.’
On many occasions my project connected me to people building companies that needed investors and advisors. I’d never seen myself as an angel investor, but it happened and I’m loving it. In making my interests public, invested in a half a dozen companies that I really believe in.
5. Leveling up
A healthy sense of doubt keeps us from doing a lot of stupid things. In reality, no one is as focused on your shortcomings as much as you are. I’m not claiming to be the next GaryVee, but I’m not throwing up backstage anymore either.
I began with very little engagement and around four “likes” per post. Over the course of the year, my following has grown to over 6,000 followers. On any other platform, this wouldn’t be much, but on LinkedIn you can build a strong, tight-knit community that pays dividends in opportunity.
Audience or not, publishing my work taught me how to overcome apprehension. I found at the end of the year that my fear hadn’t been protecting me, but holding me back. I still publish on LinkedIn everyday.
There is still more to learn and that is in and of itself is the greatest reward.
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