Getting to be THAT guy

I went to print something off Mahalo yesterday and it didn’t have a “Print This” button–which causes a bunch of annoying ass problems with stuff getting cut off or printed out of order. And instead of getting frustrated and leaving, I remembered something: I could just email Jason and he’d probably fix it.

And that’s what he did, he responded and cc’d me on his email to the development staff. THAT is the way to establish a business. Sure, he’s the CEO, but is his time better spent in those Santa Monica lunch meetings (where I know for a fact that very little happens) or interacting with the people who actually use the product?

That guy–the accessible guy the audience turns to when they have a problem, he never existed before. He’s not a middleman, he is the man. This is new and it’s pretty fucking easy to be that guy. It’s responding to emails, posting your contact information, contributing for free to communities and adding value, it’s about embracing instead of infiltrating. Look at Jason, he thought that would be a big source of traffic for Mahalo so he has his own incredibly active account there and now he can leverage that in any number of ways. I’m one of those guys at Rudius. I’m 20 years old, I wasn’t entitled to be but I went ahead and did it. And now, it helps me at the Agency because I have an idea about how these communities work and what they need. You can be that guy at whatever company you work at too. Find someone to protect you as you develop and build–or do it on your own behind the scenes (it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission). People who control assets don’t get fired and if they do, they still walk away owning something.

Remember Robert’s 5th Law: So much depends on your reputation–guard it with your life. Getting to be that guy is easy, staying there is hard. Having just that tiny bit of knowledge creates all sorts of pressure from people to exploit it. Like I said before, they’ll want the benefits without paying the cost–to have cede and control at the same time. They don’t care about you or the audience, they only care about now. Think about it, just 3 years of blogging made Steve Rubel more powerful and recognizable than the owner of the national corporation he worked for. It would be short-sighted to sell out now or think that your leveraged as peaked. As always, you only get to cash in your chips once, so do it right.

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.