Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
January 7, 201212:22 PM

The Deception Of Malcolm Gladwell, Seth Godin and Gary Vaynerchuk

You will never make it unless you work harder and much faster.

It's funny how Malcolm Gladwell, Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuk and others (including me) are often criticized because their work is mis-interpreted as, "in order to accomplish what these authors are saying, you have to give up everything and only focus on work," or that these people's success is directly linked to a lack of sleep, energy levels or ignoring family responsibilities. The core message around the discourse is that in order to be successful, you can't be all that successful in other areas of life (family, friends, community, etc...).

That's a lie. It's a myth. 

There is no doubt that there is always some level of sacrifice when you are committing to your 10,000 hours (as Gladwell defines it in Outliers), but trust me: it's incredibly hard to be that successful or smart without sleep, taking breaks and connecting to your family and friends. But, that's not the point of this Blog post. I'm willing to bet that the people who say things like, "It's easy for Seth Godin to say that, he doesn't have two screaming babies at home," never take five additional seconds to think about what that sentence really means.

It's not about Malcolm Gladwell, Seth Godin or Gary Vaynerchuk... it's about you.

When you say things like this (be it in your mind, to a friend or in a Blog post), what you are really saying is: "This is my belief system and I'm not willing to change it." Our habits, the stories we tell ourselves and our belief systems are not right or wrong - they simply are. They can be adapted and changed. The reason most New Year's Resolutions fail is because the change is so dramatic that it causes too much internal struggle and friction. Things won't change fast, but things can change dramatically if you just give it some time to both become a more natural habit and to develop slowly into your belief system.

How I lost 100 pounds in under one year (this is not an infomercial).

In the late eighties, I was extremely overweight, overworked and stressing out. After making some very difficult (but wise) decisions about my stress and work, came the even more difficult challenge of losing weight. Have you ever tried to lose weight? Quit smoking? Quit drinking? Anything that falls into those quadrants is difficult. I didn't have an appetite for exercise and I didn't have an appetite to give up on my appetite. After trying some diets and joining different gyms, nothing was really working/taking hold. I decided to slow down. After meeting with a dietician it became very clear what needed to happen: I needed to stop eating things like sugar, fried foods, white bread (and other starchy stuff), cheese (which I love) and other high-fat foods. I also needed to increase the amount of water, fruits and vegetables that I consumed. On top of that I needed to exercise. Even reading back to those past few sentences, it seems both overwhelming and daunting.

Here's how it happened (and yes, I just made this system up to see what would happen):

  • I tried to stop eating sugar for one week. Once I did one week, I tried it for three more weeks. After a month, it was a habit. A part of my daily life.
  • The next month I did the exact same process for fried foods.
  • The month after that, I removed white bread, white rice and the high starch foods.
  • The month after that, I cut my intake of cheese in half (I love it too much to give up) and tried cheeses that were either lower in fat or had healthier ingredients.

It started working.

In between those first four months, I did my best to supplement my urges with drinking more water and by adding in a some fruits and vegetables here and there. I also didn't beat myself up when I slipped... that's a part of life. The process was so slow and so gradual that I didn't even realize how much weight I was losing or how quickly my belief systems were adapting to this new way of living. I decided to start doing some light exercise as well. Simple things like: no more elevators (walking the stairs) and walking to a destination instead of driving every now and again. I also started riding a bike (something I used to enjoy immensely as a child).

The talent factor.

By the eleventh month, almost all of the bad weight was gone (close to 100 pounds). By then, my life had completely changed. I wanted to do more active things (running outdoors, biking, martial arts), I was meeting different people because of it and eating differently (which gave me newfound energy and passions). I began to imagine what else I could change, so I got that much more engrossed with bettering my mind and spirit (reading, writing, etc...). Then, I had a moment of depression. As great as I was at losing the weight, exercising and taking care of myself (I'm proud to say that, to this day, I have not put the weight back on - which is, actually, the real hard work in the process), I realized that it just wasn't my thing. While I was good at losing weight and exercising, I wasn't talented in sports or motivated enough to let it consume my day-to-day. Things slipped. Not a whole lot, but they slipped.

It's all about talent.

When you're talented at something, you don't slip. Let me correct that: when you're talented at something, even the slip-ups have a better result than if someone else did the exact same thing, only they were lacking the talent. Malcolm Gladwell, Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuk and others are very talented at what they do. It is their art form... and that's the big secret. Hard word, high energy, dedication, consistency, focus and everything else won't add up to anything if you don't actually have a knack for what it is that you are doing. When you say things like, "I'm not willing to to sacrifice my life to be like Seth Godin," what you're failing to realize is that what you consider a "sacrifice," Seth considers a "habit"... and one that he's very comfortable with and talented at (and he knows it). Furthermore, when it's something that's highlighting your talent, it does come more naturally.

The recipe for success.

Sadly, there isn't one. You have to work very hard to develop new habits daily, have an acute ability to identify what truly piques your interest (and act on it), dedicate yourself to working on that area and nurturing it and hope - with everything that you have - that it truly is something that you are talented in. Something that highlights your unique abilities. My realization that fitness and diet wasn't a talent of mine didn't make me quit, it just made me realize that I have to be vigilant with it and that I have to be accepting of my mediocrity. My current fitness goal is this: to get in a good 30-40 minute sweat as many days during the week at possible. My current diet goal is this: to eat as healthy as possible and make sure I'm not moving the notches on my belt in the wrong direction. That honesty fits with my current belief system (but I'm open to it changing).

Get started. 

Be patient and really start out slowly to make the changes feel like they're not changes at all. Slowly will also help you define if this is a talent of yours or something that needs to be readjusted. I bet you can find something to start with today: how about commit to watching one hour less of TV every week and spending that hour reading about the industry you serve? My guess is that within one to two months, you'll be in love with the work that you do or you'll be looking for a place that better defines your talent and passion.

Is there anything that you would like to add?

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by Andrew Mann
    Mitch Joel

    Could not agree more. Discipline, doing what you said you would do and showing up are the three biggest reasons why I have a successful business, but they are not very sexy and certainly not as glamorous as social media et al

    Reply
  • Mitch this is a fantastic blog post - filled to the brim with valuable tools, real life experience and wonderful references.

    Thank you for reiterating what I feel inside and needed to hear from an outside source.

    I too used the one week at a time method over the summer - as I was using alcohol as a coping mechanism for my grief of losing my best friend. Two bottles of wine every night was numbing the pain, at the same time it was scaring my daughters and my husband to see me drunk every night. July 17th I stopped drinking for a week, then it turned into two weeks and I reached my 30 day goal.

    This allowed me to deal with and feel the grief I needed to feel and move forward.

    The same is applying with a non-profit I am forming - I wanted it to be launched perfectly - there is no perfect. Last night I created my list of 5 steps each day next week towards making it a reality.

    Thanks again for the valuable information this is definitely a refer back to post.
    And thanks to my friend Kim Page Gluckie of MPowered Marketing for sharing this on Twitter. Looking forward to reading through your site.

    Have a great day.
    Lee

    Reply
    • Best of luck Lee... it's hard to overcome our demons, but we often think that others who have done it have some kind of magic. More often than not, they're able to identify how to chunk it down into manageable pieces... another component of great talent.

      Reply
  • Posted by Arnt Eriksen
    Mitch Joel

    I totally agree with you, Mitch. It's about finding your true passion and be persistent. That way you can excel in what you do. Everyone is best at being themselves, so there is no point trying to be someone else... you'll fail. Focus on your talents and strengths - be aware of the areas that are challenging and be open and willing to change.
    It's that simple, yet so difficult. But you yourself and the other guys you mention are driven by passion for what you do - therefore you have success. :) Happy for you!

    Reply
  • Posted by Chris Bailey
    Mitch Joel

    All of this is so very true and honest. What immediately resonated with me is what you say about the stories we tell ourselves. For every myth we create that holds us back, there are countless imaginings that can propel us forward toward more purposeful things. The key is always recognizing our own crap - never an easy proposition.

    It's taken me a while to really understand that the only one holding myself back from doing amazing things is me. Any time I might have feelings of envy toward folks like Godin, Vaynerchuk, or others, my problem isn't with them...it's with me.

    Reply
    • ... and that was really the core of what brought this Blog post on. As famous as these people are, there are an equal amount of people who criticize them... when I read the criticism, what I'm really reading isn't just jealousy, but this sense of, "I can do this too." My general thought is always the same: "you can... so go and do it!"

      Reply
  • Posted by AJ Borowsky
    Mitch Joel

    Yes! And as you say in relation to exercise, "My realization that fitness and diet wasn't a talent of mine didn't make me quit." You aren't going to play for the Yankees but that doesn't mean you don't exercise. I'm not going to sell as many books as Seth Godin but that doesn't mean I won't write them.

    I define my success and I decide if I've reached it. Vaynerchuk is better at business but that doesn't mean I'm a failure.

    Reply
  • Posted by Karen Richards
    Mitch Joel

    I loved this post. I think there are things in life you just have to work hard at, but if you are lucky enough to be truly talented at something, hard work becomes a passion not a sacrifice. Great personal story as well thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  • Posted by Nicole Drummer
    Mitch Joel

    Solid post. Recognize what needs to be changed to get you to your target, then make small, manageable changes to get you there. So simple, yet for some reason very hard for so many people to do.

    Reply
  • Posted by Rachel Swann
    Mitch Joel

    Love this post and your attitude towards your diet. I work with mums wanting to lose weight permanently and this is exactly what I teach.

    As you say it goes for all areas of life and we just have to recognise that success is driven by attitude and mindset not luck.

    Reply
    • smaller plates and chewing everything in your mouth before taking something else also helps out in a huge way. My other big lesson was always thinking to myself, "am I eating because I'm hungry or am I full"?

      Reply
  • Posted by Scott Sprich
    Mitch Joel

    Great Post. I actually commented a couple days ago on one of Gary's posts stating the very message you used to loose weight. Take it one week, even one day at a time, when you set a new goal like losing weight, to read more, to exercise, whatever. Once you make it one day, go two and so on. That's the only thing that's every stuck with me and then it takes no thought because it becomes habit, and we are solely creatures of habit. Still working on those 10,000 hours and people should look into that if they haven't. After almost 3 years of internet marketing I'm finally getting IT. Thanks again for this.

    Reply
  • Posted by Conor Neill
    Mitch Joel

    I came to this post expecting to disagree... and then found myself engaged and then nodding my head in agreement. There is something beyond that initial plateau of performance that can really only be reached if I have a talent or something special in me that truly resonates with the habits. True. There is a need to find where my own gifts and passions coincide with discipline and daily habits. I think I am finding it. Great post.

    Reply
    • It's a huge part of success and all too often people dismiss it and criticize those who have uncovered it. It's somewhat tragic. That being said, I'm glad you wound up no disagreeing with me ;)

      Reply
  • Posted by Ari Herzog
    Mitch Joel

    I would add a simple quotation applicable to everything in life.

    "Where there is a will, there is a way." - Unknown

    Good for you for finding your way.

    Reply
  • Thanks Mitch - these are much needed words - always good to read your view on things - happy new year as well.

    Reply
  • Posted by Merlene Shedlock
    Mitch Joel

    Exchanging bad to the bone habit 's for healthy energising habits is a bit like the 'changing of the guard'.
    Good on you, thanks for the inspiration. I so need to change my diet.

    Reply
  • Posted by Andy Strote
    Mitch Joel

    I see one of your other New Year's resolutions is to answer every comment ;-). Nice post! Bang on.

    Reply
  • Posted by Ken Montville
    Mitch Joel

    For a minute I thought this post was about habits and beliefs.

    First, I appreciate the weight example. As common as it is, it is also something I struggle with (to the tune of about 120 lbs too much). I've been through the programs and the gyms. So, yeah. I can relate.

    Where I struggle even more is with the talent part of this. I don't know whether it's a mid-life crisis or what but, for the life of me, I can't put my finger on what I would be good at. If I hear or read the word "passion" another time, it'll drive me to drink. What store do you go to to get some of this "passion"? What's the seminar you attend to learn the "talent"?

    I understand the concept. I just haven't been able to put my finger on whatever it is that would energize me the way it [talent/passion] seems to energize others.

    Thanks, though, for the much needed reminder to start somewhere and start small. BTW, I originally saw this on Zite. Pretty cool app but you can't comment from there.

    Reply
    • I don't think there is a course or conference for that one, Ken. My only recommendation is to be open to experiment and try different things. Lately, I've found myself completely fascinated with documentaries on architecture (no clue why). Is it a talent of mine? Doubtful, but it opens me up to be more creative and that can help in the discovery process. I wish you the best of luck on your journey... it's not easy. If it were, we would all be Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuk and/or Malcolm Gladwell.

      Reply
    • Posted by Dave Doolin
      Mitch Joel

      Ken, I wish I knew for sure, but I suspect it's in the process of mastery. I've found after trying many things that there comes a time when I am heartily sick of whatever it is. Too often, that's where I've stopped in the past.

      Now I press on through the boredom.

      It's working.

      Slowly.

      Reply
  • Posted by Helen Antebi
    Mitch Joel

    Taking one small but very intentional action on something that you have a hunch or a feeling about is essentially a new opportunity for the brain to start to assess whether there is a fit or foul! I often have my clients take one or two actions at a time towards their new ideas, like informational interviews for a new career, or experimenting with a new communication style. Then reflect on how they feel after the experience - more excited or even a bit scared = keep going, less excited, blah = reassess. It is a blend of strategy and intuition that can really help folks to find their path and sets them up for success rather than deep diving and feeling bad when it doesn't work out. Thanks for a great post.

    Reply
    • My combatives coach, Tony Blauer, used to say, "practice doesn't make perfect... perfect practice makes perfect." To follow-up on your thought: most people just practice and they don't even know why. They wind up becoming mediocre at something they're not all that interested in.

      Reply
      • Posted by Dave Doolin
        Mitch Joel

        Yes, the "perfect" part is really important, and something most people don't understand.

        Thank you for this excellent and inspiring article. One thing all this social media stuff keeps ramming in my face is that attitude really does matter a lot. It's probably the most important thing.

        Reply
  • Posted by John Spence
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch -- absolutely superb -- right on target, but I would like to offer that I feel there might be a recipe for success - I actually did a video blog on it late last year. Here is a link to it in YouTube: http://tiny.cc/eiudj

    Kepp up the fantastic work!!! John Spence

    Reply
  • Posted by Sarah Manley
    Mitch Joel

    I also agree with this post; taking the time to do your job (for me, it is marketing), is a discipline for any business. I posted a very similar post on Monday. Here's the link. http://www.vimm.com/your-2012-marketing-diet/

    Reply
  • Posted by Kristi
    Mitch Joel

    Excellent post-so full of discerning insight and wisdom about how we really 'tick.'
    I heard someone once say passion was what made your heart beat fast? What upsets you?
    In my case, it is human trafficking and this year I made small changes, just like you said. It is my passion and educating/speaking about it is what I love. For now, for this season, I have found what I love and am thriving. (and have two screaming babies!)
    Thanks again for articulating 'finding your groove' so well.

    Reply
  • Posted by Jessica Malnik
    Mitch Joel

    This line really stood out to me, "It's not about Malcolm Gladwell, Seth Godin or Gary Vaynerchuk... it's about you." I think so many times we become our own worst enemies by comparing ourselves to the "a-listers." These guys are great at what to do, and they have found a way to stand out from the crowd. But, we aren’t them. While we can all learn a few things from them and their successes, it doesn’t mean you need to be like them or do things just because it works for them. Like you said, the key to standing out and being successful is to figure out your talents and what ignites your passion. Then, own it.

    Reply
  • When I need inspiration for making big changes, I think small first. Brick by brick, the way the pyramids were built. I have a teenage daughter and at that age, it's very hard to get them to think beyond the next minute, but as a mother, I know my role is to allow her to visualize the future in a way that she feel she can control. And so as you say, work towards managing change that builds upon success to lead to the next success. Brick by brick. Great post Mitch. I'm going to send it to my daughter. Happy New Year!

    Reply
    • As I keep repeating, this post is more about the "talent" - the hard work of figuring out if you're actually all that good/great at what you passionate about/practicing. It's the hardest part to work through.

      Reply
      • Posted by Rosh Sillars
        Mitch Joel

        Maybe your message was lost in your example of how you over came an obstacle (weight) to achieve success.

        Rosh

        Reply
        • That happens to me... a lot :)

          Reply
        • Agreed, i'm not sure you can have a talent for losing weight. the hardest thing I think is for folks who have a passion for something, practice it endlessly and are still at best mediocre. We see that every season on American Idol. The world is brutal so they get the message, in the laws of natural selection But as someone said before, there's so many very very talented people who can't make a dime at their work, certainly artists and other creative folks, while mediocre financial experts rake in millions.

          Reply
          • My point was that after losing all of that weight and spending so much energy on it, many people become trainers, coaches, etc... and I headed down that route, but I quickly realized that being determined, knowledgeable and committed to it was not enough. I simply wasn't talented at it... and that is key.

            Reply
  • Posted by Karen
    Mitch Joel

    I know I have the drive to work hard and achieve, but my biggest doubts come in about my talents and abilities. I wonder if at least some of those people have similar doubts and give up before they ever get started because they're afraid of failure due to lack of talent. Mind you, perhaps that just means they're in the wrong arena in the first place - we all have talents and not everyone can be industry leaders.

    Personally, I don't have ambitions to be Seth, Gary, Malcolm or any other big name, but when I am finally doing what I love in a way that I know is helping people, then I know I'll have reached that moment of success. It *is* about me. Because what I want is different at the end of the day than what they want.

    Reply
    • Karen, I think that when you're talented and you're sharing... people connect with it and that's how you become like Seth, Gary and Malcolm. To say that you don't want to be like that would be attributing a limitation to your capabilities... please don't do that... you never know ;) I bet Hugh MacLeod never thought that drawing on the back of business cards would bring him the attention and success he has... don't limit yourself :)

      Reply
  • Posted by Sachin Kundu
    Mitch Joel

    Very true Lee. Success comes to those who are willing to do a extra step than others.

    I think there is an aspect of strength to talent. Talent is inborn while strength is developed when talent is practiced.

    Its best to take what you are good at and keep working on it. Thats what Seth, Gary and Malcolm also do.

    Any change is like starting an avalanche, first climb the mountain and then pushing a big rock. After that the momentum does its deal. Problem is people squirm at the idea of climbing the mountain.

    Reply
    • I think that people also don't have a strong enough faith and belief in their talents. They feel that they have to follow what they believe to be conventional ways. Life is also about raging against that.

      Reply
  • Posted by Keith
    Mitch Joel

    I found this article via Google Plus (can't remember who shared it, think it might have been Robert Dempsey), and I wanted to share a recent debate I got wrapped up in on Twitter. I said something to the effect of "If you are lazy, your bank account will reflect it" and of course, I got bombarded with attacks about people being poor and not being their fault, etc... That wasn't at all what I was talking about though. If you are capable, and you sit on your but tweeting and Facebooking all day, where do you think that will get you? If you are a straight up "hustler" it will probably work out better. That was my point.

    I know that there are people that are unemployed that are hurting right now, but a few months ago, I had 1 full time, and 2 part time jobs, and the full time one was 60+ hours a week. I know if you really want it, you have to go get it!

    Last month, I quit all those jobs, and was able to start my own biz again. It has been almost 3yrs since the housing bust ruined my last biz, I was even washing dishes at one point to survive and feed my daughter. So, I guess I don't accept the "pity parties" I hear usually.

    I have made a ton of changes recently in my life to become less negative, more positive, and lead a better overall life. You don't have to be Gary V, Seth, or anyone else. But you might have to work your butt off!

    My motto for this year:
    "Direction, not intention, determines destination" (not sure where that came from, but I found it written on a piece of paper and it hit me like a ton of bricks).

    Reply
    • You have to know what you want out of life. Be able to decide what it's going to "cost" you and then focus all of your energy on it. This sort of stuff is not a secret. The point of this post was that the little bit of "secret sauce" is talent... don't discount talent and working at things that are really in your sweet spot.

      Reply
  • Posted by Roger Toennis
    Mitch Joel

    But perhaps there is a recipe.

    It starts with your point about talent.

    The biggest challenge for each of us is recognizing, and then even more importantly, embracing, focusing on and leading with our individual core talents.

    When we are talented at something, and it is effortless to do that something, we take it for granted. We don't respect our talents because we've been taught that only through hard work, sweat, pain and struggle can we follow a path to success.

    In this mindset we fail to lead with and leverage our talents. Instead we admire and desire the talents in others that we don't have.

    This misconception leads us to pick the hardest road in front of us, the ones where we immediately struggle, instead of picking the easiest initial path along the direction of our natural themes of talent.

    Picking a path along your themes of talent does not stay easy though. You begin to find struggle and challenge even in your talents if you push hard. Quickly that talent transforms form core talent into a refined "strength" that is a result of experience and study.

    The difference with struggle in your direction of natural talent is you find that kind of struggle pleasant and invigorating and attractive. So you persist.

    We run fastest and build up the most momentum along our natural talent trajectories and it is along those trajectories where personal success and satisfaction and happiness are to be found.

    How to get started? Know your core themes of talent. 10 years ago I did the "Strengthsfinder" profile and it showed me my top 5 themes of talent out of a possible range of 34 different themes and it changed the course of my life into a path of entrepreneurship.


    Reply
  • Posted by Rosh Sillars
    Mitch Joel

    Wow, excellent post Mitch.

    You've offered your readers sound advice.

    Personally, I work in threes. Three focus goals for the year (not that I don't have secondary monthly and weekly goals). I write three things down everyday. Each item represents one thing I can do toward my three annual goals. It's amazing what is also accomplished along the path.

    It doesn't always take a lot of activity to develop skills and success, but it does take action. Regular and consistent activity is even better.

    Rosh

    Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    It's the myth of the big change. I don't think big changes exist. I think little changes become big changes. And everyone focuses on the big changes because they are sexy and fun to think about. And best of all, it's so big, that you don't have to do anything about them. It would be great if that big change happened.

    But the reality is, everything happens 15 minutes at a time. And nobody likes to talk about that, because that's a pain in the ass. There's nothing sexy about 15 minutes of preparing to run a marathon. It's dull, it's probably painful, cold and dark. The marathon is great. Having run a marathon is probably even better. But that 15 minutes after you get up early to go for your run before work. In the dark and cold, when you'd rather just go back to bed, that's the 15 minutes that matters.

    Nobody writes books about that 15 minutes.

    Reply
    • This comment made me laugh (in a good way). All I could think to myself was: "big change sure does happen... in very slow increments over long periods of time and by people who haven't seen you in a year or two." Spot on.

      Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    I feel that this is one of your most personal and touching posts. Many thanks for letting us know about some of your past challenges. I first met you in 2006 or 2007 and I've watch you evolve into an international figure. Every time I see you in person, I see a well grounded brilliant person. I have great admiration for your ability to keep focused. I am totally in agreement that change come in small amounts at at time. I also build my life along those lines.Believing in oneself is the biggest challenge in my view. That too comes in small doses, but it does eventually add up. Thanks for the advice on creating new habits. It's a very interesting way to look at change. All the best to you!

    Reply
    • Thanks, Micheline. I do try to not be too personal on the Blog. Why? Many people who have very personal Blogs tend to be perceived as self-involved. I prefer being more of a Journalist when it comes to my Blogging (but that's just my style) :)

      Reply
  • I agree with you and really enjoyed reading/skimming. My fav part: "Things won't change fast, but things can change dramatically if you just give it some time to both become a more natural habit and to develop slowly into your belief system."

    Reply
  • Mitch,
    This is a wonderful post and an even more wonderful conversation. As a physician, I have spent much time with others who thought they were meant to be a doctor. Sometimes the talent just wasn't there. Those are the folks who spent the last 20 years TRYING to like what they were doing, but not succeeding. Those are the folks who, when you see them at your 30th reunion say they wish they had taken their careers in a different direction. You can't spend 10,000 hours doing something you absolutely hate.
    When I counsel young people about having a career in medicine, I always make sure they know that while there is perceived benefit in "sticking it out" there is no real benefit to be derived from continuing to push yourself to do something you just don't derive any joy from. It's never too late to stop and take an accounting of what DOES move and inspire you. A little talent and a lot of practice and you can change what you do each day. Your life will be richer for it.
    Thanks again for such a poignant post.

    Reply
  • Posted by Rich Nadworny
    Mitch Joel

    Very interesting post. Like Seth, Gary and Malcolm, you're talking about change (and all the resistance that comes with it). But you're example is informative: even if we think change is too hard or we don't want to do it, almost all of us have some significant example in our lives where we have changed. I think that is the true power of the post: we are all capable of extensive change in our lives since we've done it before. The question is, why aren't we doing more of it?

    Reply
  • Posted by Ralph Dopping
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch,

    Had as much fun reading the comments as the post. I suppose that's the interesting part of writing (er, blogging). The discourse (your word).

    Anyway, when does one discover whether the talent is there? I don't know but if the passion, the desire and the dedication is there for what you love then how can it not be successful? Like the best ribs you have ever eaten. Cooked low and slow to bring our the flavour and tenderness. Weird analogy but like you intoned, it takes time. If you spend the time and nuture it let's hope it pays off in the long run. Like losing all that weight.

    Thanks again for the inspiration.

    Reply
    • It's a great question and see you this everyday on shows like American Idol. What makes these people think that they have talent? It's impossible to figure out and may well be one of those unknowns in life... much in the same way we talk about people who "just have it."

      Reply
  • Posted by Jim Gray
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch-I really enjoyed this post. I have a lot of people ask me how I do what I do. And I tell them it's about setting initiatives and doing whatever it takes to make them happen. I focus on my work and my family. I don't have any hobbies. We are moving to Colorado Springs this month and I've had people ask if I ski, climb, etc. I tell them that I work and hang with the family.
    On a side note, I'm overweight at the moment and your post has given me great hope and some inspiration!

    Reply
    • Best of luck on both the move and the weight. Start slowly with the weight. Trust me, as you do it, you will recognize how much better you feel. It's funny, even when I break down and eat junk food, my brain/body is now trained to be upset. It, literally, pisses me off that I ate that food and my body doesn't feel all that great either. I'm still learning.

      Reply
  • Posted by albert maruggi
    Mitch Joel

    quick question Mitch, on the personal side, are you married, kids? I ask because it's important to shape my thinking about this post

    Reply
    • I am... with young kids, too.

      Reply
      • Posted by albert maruggi
        Mitch Joel

        I enjoy your writing and know that you and your readers will see this contribution as merely another perspective. To understand perspective, background is important so here goes - I'm 53 with 5 kids, my parents died when i was young and they were too. I grew up in NYC worked in the Twin Towers and through my career i traveled a lot and had a salary where we were not wanting.

        Now my perspective.

        A) Love the concept that hard work need not be work but habit. Nonetheless there is sacrifice, something must give because time is finite. When I was in great shape, that meant 120 miles per week cycling, somewhere between 10 and 15 hours - what didn't I do with those hours is a list of things, simple.

        B) Talent, it's over blown and usually a source of false pride. Lots of people have talent the same talent, God, one look at the web and you see plenty of talent. Translating talent into success (the kind defined by society) includes luck, timing, perseverance, money, and many other factors. Hell, with greater access to each other one person's success can be built on the foundation of another person's talent. That's right I echo Mitch Joel stuff and look smart, hey it's all good right : )

        C) Priorities change and some are more demanding. News Alert, college age kids sometimes take more bring power than toddlers. If a priority is a relationship, whether it's kids, spouse, partner, company, hobby, dog, it will impact your time and decisions. If your business requires you to travel, then you travel, if does then you are not home if you are needed.

        After the Twin Towers and it's inhabitants were attacked, it changed my life and made me focus on priorities. I quit my corporate gig and stayed close to home. Simple stuff, my kids were ages 12 - 2 at the time. I spent these last 10 years differently than if my priorities were growing a business to $10 million or becoming VP of Mkting for a Fortune 500.

        It's not just a function of working from home, it's time, focus, dedication. So I both agree with the concept of pursuing passions instead of working, and developing habits, but the end result is still the same - priorities e.g. belief system as you call it, will determine how you spend your time, and time is fixed.

        You say that
        "The core message around the discourse is that in order to be successful, you can't be all that successful in other areas of life (family, friends, community, etc...).

        That's a lie. It's a myth" This may well be a semantic difference, but my perspective is when you choose your priorities and pursue them, by your own definition of success, then you can be successful. Success is not for others to define because they have no idea of what is essential to your well being. Life is not an American Idol contest or a Stumble Upon ratings thumbs up or down.

        We'll never know what the outcome would have been if I stayed on my previous path, what I do know is I'm content with how I spent my time and arranged my priorities and that's all that matters.


        Reply
        • I really love where you have taken my thoughts. I'll just add that the core idea here came from the notion that for people like Seth Godin to be successful, he must never be home and neglecting his family,etc... and my experience has been that those who are most successful are the ones who make rules that don't allow that happen. This feeling of "one over the other" is usually created by the person who is criticizing, because they see it a sacrifice in terms of their beliefs.

          Prior to starting Twist Image, I created several rules, including that I will go to bed and to wake up without an alarm clock (meaning, sleep when tired and wake when my body's ready). That I would either always be home for the end of the day (for family time) or be out of town for a max of 1 night (two if it's absolutely critical). That I would dedicate 15% of my work week to community-based initiatives... and more.

          My point? Most people think that I'm able to do what I do because all I do is Blog or because I don't have kids or... whatever they think. They, as defined in this Blog post, are wrong.

          Your choices (as listed above) as different from my choices... I don't see yours as a sacrifice and I don't think you would see mine as such. Yet, people do define success and talent by imposing their own view of "what it takes."

          Reply
  • Posted by Karl Sylvester
    Mitch Joel

    I appreciate this post, it's something most professionals can relate too. My question to you: was there a point in your career you felt as if you were working disjointedly from your talents, and if so, what did you do to realign yourself?

    Reply
    • Personally, it's something I can only acknowledge or recognize by looking back over my career. And, with that, I'm able to be more effective at managing this realignment as I mature. As we'll often uncover, sometimes our biggest flubs and blunders bring out the true core.

      Reply
  • Posted by Natalie Sisson
    Mitch Joel

    Totally agree Mitch. I am actually a big fan of fitness but even I noticed I've let things slip - by my standards. And I can't harp back to my 2004 days when I worked my ass off for 9 months to get to 10% body fat and win a bodysculpting competition.

    Now that I'm embarking on a 6,445km bike ride across Africa I'm realising it's imperative that I make my fitness and nutrition a priority around my business. At the end of the day as you noted, when you feel good about yourself you have more energy, you focus better, your more productive etc. So it makes sense.

    We have to quit comparing ourselves to the Seth's and Gary's and be our own best self.

    Reply
  • Posted by George
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch, came across this post and was very impressed. I thought about the saying "do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life" after reading your post and it is so true.

    Thank you for putting words to a very interesting topic.

    Reply
  • Posted by Rob
    Rob

    Nicely done, Mitch. On all counts.

    Reply
  • Posted by JR Moreau
    Mitch Joel

    Such a hard lesson to learn and keep in mind when you're in the thick of transforming yourself so dramatically. I basically set off on a similarly intense journey about 7 years ago and sometimes I feel like I'm in shock when I compare the then to now and what it took (or what I had to sacrifice and become habitual about) to get here. It was all worth it, but it also wasn't going to work methodologically for anyone but me.

    Reply
  • I agree with your overall position, Mitch, but there's one thing I don't see you focus and I think is important: balance. Doing your best work is one of the best missions you can ever have, but I don't agree with an all-work life. It may even feel good to you (I understand that to people like Malcolm Gladwell, Seth Godin or Gary Vaynerchuk it must certainly feel), but let's not forget about families and even leisure time (which is important to lay off your mind). Either way... not to say they (or you) are wrong. I just have a slightly different view of things.

    Reply
  • Posted by Kathy Rees
    Mitch Joel

    Great post. I also came across this through Chris Brogan the other day the #12in12 on twitter or Http://fiteralla.com I think is the url. It's about adopting a new task/goal/action for one month, doing it every day, then at the end of the month, either dropping it or getting another one, and committing to it for one month only. Either way you will end up with 12 new experiences for the year, and it I think it really ties in with what you were saying Mitch about doing things slowly.

    Your writing is really superb btw enjoy each new post.

    Kathy

    Reply
  • Posted by Filip Galetic
    Mitch Joel

    I think "talent" is an overrated term. Often you can overcome not being good at something by changing your attitude from obstacle-focused to growth-focused.

    Reply
  • Posted by Tim
    Tim

    It's about Seth Godin being like every other self-marketing genius: no one who religiously follows him realizes it's Godin himself that is the product, and his books are long on feel-good moments and short on actionable ideas for specific kinds of workers or businesses.

    Reply
  • Posted by Bjorn Commers
    Mitch Joel

    I'm late to the party here, but that was a great post- thanks for writing it. I would also recommend reading Charles Duhigg's "The Power of Habit" since he spends a good amount of the book writing about the importance of being incremental when changing a habit.

    Reply
  • Posted by Glen PERGL
    Mitch Joel

    Great Blog Mitch. 'Money for jam' comes to mind i.e. good money to be made from those easily convinced that the gifts - talents which some of us are born with can be learned or exchanged for money?

    As an example, yes - you can sing, anyone can. But you may never be able to sing like me - irrespective of the time you put into it, sacrifices made or money you pay a teacher for singing lessons.

    On I on the right track here Mitch?

    Reply
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