Creating Opportunities

“Helen Woodward, an influential copywriter in the 1920’s, famously warned her co-workers that “if you are advertising any product, never see the factory in which it is made…Don’t watch the people at work…because, you see, when you know the truth about anything, the real inner truth – it is very hard to write the surface fluff which sell its.” No Logo Naomi Klein

In my copy I wrote “FUCK THAT.” Doing the opposite of what Helen is trying to get at is pretty much the guiding principle for how I make my decisions and run my operations online. I only work on stuff that I like.

It’s not idealism either. When you work on subjects you’ve had a long term interest in you make connections faster, relate to the community better and work harder. In short – you’re able to actually do your job.

As we’ve see over and over again – with Fanlib and BlueCollar most recently – you cannot fake it. You can get lucky for a little while but eventually it all comes crashing down. It’s a suicide rap.

When Tom (and that other guy) started Myspace, one of the first things they did was set Tila Tequila up with an account because she’d be having problems with Friendster. The rest, we know, is history. But how did they know to do that? Because they spent enough time there to know the ins and outs of the social scene and they saw how important marquee users were. They turned personal into business, not the other way around.

There’s this delusion that marketing is about strategy or connectors or whatever. But before any of that its about knowledge of the terrain. Maybe it’s possible for you, but for me, I can’t drag myself to learn about shit I don’t care about. In other words, you can only leverage new media in areas that aren’t new at all – the ones you know backwards and forwards because they’re not business to you, they’re your life.

So new media isn’t about flickr or twitter or mixx or anything of those things. It’s about you. That might mean baseball or gossip or creepy goth people. It could and should be anything.

In terms of practical advice, what they basically means is this: Spend your time learning as much as you possibly can about what you like. The business and the social and the technological opportunities will come from that base. In fact, it’s the only place they ever have and ever will come from.

Written by Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday is the bestselling author of Trust Me, I’m Lying, The Obstacle Is The Way, Ego Is The Enemy, and other books about marketing, culture, and the human condition. His work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared everywhere from the Columbia Journalism Review to Fast Company. His company, Brass Check, has advised companies such as Google, TASER, and Complex, as well as Grammy Award winning musicians and some of the biggest authors in the world. He lives in Austin, Texas.