This morning I came across an article from a good friend of mine Mack Collier titled “In Defense of the Silent Experts” . I seriously needed this article, i’ve actually been frustrated with this since i’ve experienced being turned down for opportunities I feel because I haven’t wrote a book, I am working on a product now, I’m too young, my blog sucks, etc…etc… the list goes on and some of the reasons are ridiculous. Beyond my own frustrations, I know there’s many of you out there that feel like they can’t possibly be of any value because of your own list of reasons in your head.
Something also has been happening that has been quite unsettling on social networks, i’ve seen “experts” rip “new” people apart just for trying to get started in their industry, just because someone doesn’t have x amount of experience in an industry, doesn’t have the “authority” you have, it NEVER makes it okay to belittle those who are just trying to be heard or want to be a part of your world. You should be thanking them for even listening to you in the first place.
This rips my heart out to watch happen. I still remember when I was a newbie, a broke, blue-haired kid straight out of college, eating yams out of a can in Greenville, SC. There was no books to help me get started, I didn’t know anyone in the industry or how to network. I was scared out of my mind to even jump into conversations on Twitter or Facebook about social media or technology because I always felt like some of these people knew so much more than I did and would think I was an idiot. But they didn’t, the ones that changed my life were the ones that took me under their wing and were patient with my seemingly dumb questions. And to this day, I will always thank them in every speech I give, every book I (eventually) write. Because of them, I grew stronger, more confident, I wanted to learn more and teach others what I learned.
I’ve been thinking a lot of what really qualifies people to be experts or truly worthy of notice, what makes one’s ideas better than another’s and I am sure I could debate this forever. But it’s not in the debate that matters, what matters is making a change in the hearts of those that might not feel like they are even worthy to try in a world flooded with opinions and experts.
“No one should feel like their ideas aren’t ‘good enough’ or don’t pass muster with someone that others have identified as being smarter than they are. There’s no one arbiter of what ideas are and are not worth sharing.” -Mack Collier.
Yes, let’s stop doing this…. to ourselves and to each other. To me, what’s really important is not becoming an expert, but having that knowledge when you leave this world. “Wow, you did some epic things and along the way helped a lot of people or made a significant change in how the world works with their expertise.”
Mack also tweeted at me this morning with something that hit the nail on the head. ” Too often, and especially on this issue, the loudest people get the most attention. Those busy doing shit don’t.”
Since I moved to Seattle from Florida… i’ve been heads down working on building a product, Meshfire. A new way of managing social media, it’s beyond that, it’s a way of focusing on what matters most… interactions, building relationships and communities. Cutting the noise out and getting things done. In creating Meshfire from scratch with my amazing team over the last two years. We’ve all sacrificed… money, our reputations, relationships, friendships, our health even.
But has it been worth it?
Just the stories alone of the people that have used our product to accomplish some amazing and monumental projects. The friendships I have created with my team, our customers, our community… my new home in Seattle, new opportunities… a new life for me and my family. It’s all been worth it.
In this time when I moved of January of 2013, It was a time of rebirth for me, in a moment which I couldn’t describe as being anything less beyond serendipity. I had two suitcases with my whole life in them talking to someone on the airport about Seattle and my story. I remember someone told me to check out what a rapper from Seattle named Macklemore was doing because I reminded them a lot of him. What? I’m a techy nerd type and he’s a rapper talking about shopping at Goodwill. However, I looked more into his story and saw the similarities of struggle and passion of trying to be different and heard in a sea of voices, dealing with those trying to take my money, my hard work and make it their own. I never would have thought exactly a year later, i’d be sitting right behind Macklemore on the plane back from Vegas after the launch of my product Meshfire. The universe speaks louder than the loudest of the “experts”. What that surreal moment meant to me, is truly sacred.
For me, as the above story guidance comes from the strangest places, I recently watched the first season of NBC’s Dracula. In this version of the story, Dracula takes on the role of being an American entrepreneur in London, he has built and is trying to launch his wireless energy project. At the same time he faces not only business competition from Edison but sabotage from an elite secret society called the Order of The Dragon. Even with a few centuries of knowledge he still faced harsh criticism from the press and many other challenges of his expertise.
In reflection here’s some valuable lessons from NBC’s Dracula that I could relate to…
- Being The New Kid in A Strange Land – Want to try something new but afraid of rejection by others? Jump into conversations you can relate to, tell your stories, become the expert of your industry in other industries, say something. do something. be something. People will take notice.
- People Will Try To Destroy You- Weak people are threatened by powerful ideas, different ideas. Your friends can sometimes become your enemies, those who supported you for their own gain usually end up revealing their true selves eventually. Trust me, it’s always one of those “Et tu brutus?” kind of moments and can rip you apart. Be careful, it’s a wild world out there. As soon as you start accomplishing anything there will be at least one person if not thousands who will try at anything to challenge anything good you do. This is why I now have a rule on negative people in my life… it’s easy, I just don’t trust continuously negative people anymore. They just don’t create anything but more negativity.
- Even If You Have A Revolutionary Idea People Will Tell You It Sucks. – Guys, every damn day I deal with rejection… it’s the curse of the entrepreneur. Those people might have things to say about what you are working on, but never let those people define you. I can’t count know how many great people were turned down multiple times and never let this stop them.
- Don’t Let Setbacks Stop You- Things will blow up in your face, people change, industries change. It helps to have support from your family, community or loved ones. Always being one step ahead helps, keep reading, keep learning about new upcoming things in your industry, become the expert of these new topics. Share your experiences of failure with others. You might find someone else out there who has already been there that can help guide you through these tough times or you might find your next opportunity.
- Be Human, Don’t Be A Monster – Help others, accept your flaws, celebrate other’s success, lift others up into the spotlight, share your stories of learning for others. Don’t destroy people for your own gain. Keep your fans close and your enemies as examples. Always there to pick those up who have been turned away by others. I try to help as many people as possible, if you can’t help point them to someone who can.
One scene from Dracula in particular really hit home as one of those as he is sending out press invitations to the unveiling of his wireless energy technology.
Harker: Sent invitations to every newspaper as instructed.
Dracula: Excellent. And these are?
Harker: Their refusals.
Dracula: What reason do they give?
Harker: They say you’re a charlatan peddling snake oil, like P.T. Barnum
Dracula: Well, if they want a circus, I’m gonna give ’em one. One they won’t soon forget.
Sigh, yes. I’ve been there as many of you have “Different century, same crap.”. Some of us have heard “You are just another social media expert peddling snake oil” or seeing friends attacked or blacklisted because they dare to have a voice that isn’t exactly what their industry wants to hear.
Even though, most of the time, those people tend to be the ones I hear the most positive reactions about “You know what, that person really helped me with my life…” or “I really can relate to that person…” the ones that are usually putting down others or saying the same old thing over and over again because that’s what the industry wants to hear, I never hear positive phrases. Mostly expletives and words I did not know you could call people.
Sometimes you just need to carry on, just try your hardest regardless of what anyone else says…. if you’ve got passion, you’ve got potential. Recently, Macklemore wrote a blog post summing up the crazy journey of last year from struggle to success… one paragraph really summed things up.
“THAT is why I make music. THAT is why ‘The Heist’ worked. People were so thirsty for something NEW. Somebody that said what they were ACTUALLY thinking, not what they thought people wanted to hear. Production that was inspired by all different genre’s, that redefined what Hip Hop music sounds like. That is progression. And the masses were ready to make progress.” – Macklemore
It’s time for progress, it’s time for new music so to speak. There’s a lot of people out there that can’t share their voices because others have drowned them out of opportunities or they give up because the “experts” told them they are wrong. It’s time for some new opinions and more support of those that are struggling to be heard.
Anyways, here’s to those who feel unheard… you aren’t alone. In 2014, find your voice and find your people.
Let’s give em a circus…