Here are some of the highlights from the show (provided by Jeff)
- How I found and developed my writing voice
- What it takes to connect with influential people online
- When I stopped acting the amateur and finally turned pro with my craft
- The 1000-hour rule of proficiency and practice
- Why artists need to claim their craft before they create their best work
- How to serve your way into influential relationships and get people to take you seriously
Click to Listen Jeff Goins: Author, Blogger, Tribe leader
New book: Wrecked
Jeff Goins blogs at Goinswriter.com.
Jeff has built up his own Tribe following of 100,000+ subscribers to his blog.
In addition he recently published his first book through a traditional publisher,
Wrecked-When a broken world slams into your comfortable life.
In addition he has self published a number of very popular eBooks:
- You are a writer-So start acting like one.
- The Writers manifesto.
- Learn about his journey as a writer.
- I think you will appreciate the number of hours and dedication that it required to hone his craft.
- Learn how he began his relationships with key supporters like Michael Hyatt and Seth Godin.
Thanks again Jeff and co-host Justin Lukasavige, host of coachradio.tv.
- The transcription of this audio podcast is available for download here.
- Make sure to sign up for Jeff’s newsletter as he makes some of his writing for free to subscribers.
This is Aaron McHugh, and today we’ll be spending some time interviewing Jeff Goins. He is a blog writer at GoinsWriter.com, has around 25,000 scribers to date. Jeff has been at his craft for a number of years, but very intentionally for the last year or two, as writing every day in practice, as he’ll talk about. He is a recent publisher of the book called Wrecked: When a Broken World Slams into Your Comfortable Life. We’ll have a chance to hear a little bit about his journey, a little about his thought process, and a little bit about the now, new challenges with his new found fame as we talk about together with him. Also here today is Justin Lukasavige, he is our co-host and helping us make this happen.
00:00:55 Justin Hey, I’m Justin Lukasavige, I’m here with Aaron McHugh and today we’re talking with Jeff Goins at GoinsWriter.com. Hey Jeff, thanks for joining us today.
00:01:03 Jeff Yeah, thanks for having me guys.
00:01:06 Justin Hey, I wanna even just jump in to this, I mean it’s a pleasure to be here talking to both of your guys, but just from the perspective of Jeff, I have heard your name from like 50 different people in the last two months. Why is that?
00:01:20 Jeff Hum, Yeah, I don’t know. I mean...
00:01:22 Justin It’s all been good.
00:01:25 Jeff Yeah, I know, I mean, it’s ah, that’s humbling, so thanks for sharing that, Justin. I mean, yeah, my book came out about two months ago and that was received really well so that may, there may be some of that there.
00:01:38 Justin Yeah, talk a little bit about that. I mean, is this the first book that you’ve got published?
00:01:44 Jeff Yeah, I mean, it’s the first traditionally published book I’ve done I’ve written a couple of ebooks over the past year, but, I’ve been writing for most of my life, but really the past year and a half I got really serious about it. I started a blog and just started really treating it more like a job, and trying to be a professional about it, doing it in my free time, but trying to really be serious about it. And a lot of cool things have happened as a result of that. I got a book contract with Moody Publishers, and then my book Wrecked came out August of this year, 2012. And, yeah, I mean just a lot of great things have happened in a short amount of time. And we had a big book launch. Had a good launch team of about 100 people who kind of did this cool little grass roots campaign and so as a result, I think a lot of people were able to get a copy of the book and have enjoyed it.
00:02:45 Justin And so I know that your book Wrecked is everywhere. I see it right now as well at GoinsWriter.com. Tell me a little bit about that. I love the subtitle. It says Wrecked: When a Broken World Slams Into Your Comfortable Life.
00:02:58 Jeff Yeah, well, I mean I work for a Christian Mission Organization and so we send people on missions trips and anybody who’s been on an experience like that or knows somebody who has can relate to this idea of being wrecked, of having your world turned upside down. I mean if you look at the book cover, the picture of a tortoise upside down with his little legs failing, and that’s what it
feels like when you go overseas or you encounter the world’s brokenness in some way, you’re exposed to extreme poverty or just something that’s outside of your comfort zone. And then you go back home, to the suburbs, or to Walmart, or to your auditorium church with, 5,000 seats, there’s a disconnect there. It feels weird. Like you’re not sure if you should feel guilty, or if you should, live out of a suitcase for the rest of your life. What do you do with that experience, and so as an organization we’re constantly encountering people who are trying to manage this tension. And so I thought it would be neat to write a book about that tension, about its, how the tension is actually a sign that we’re living obedient lives that we’re living compassionate lives, we’re making room for the brokenness of the world to kind of rub up against our comfort, or in some cases really slam against it, and in so the basic idea in the book is...So you feel tension? So you feel a little bit of dissonance between the comfortable life that you have and the needs in the world that you can help meet. Well, good, you’re supposed to feel that tension.
00:04:37 Aaron Yeah, that’s great. Hey Jeff, well thanks again for spending time with us. I did get a chance to read the book on a recent airline trip so, I think I was headed back east somewhere, so I had a couple hours and was able to go through and read on my iPad and really did enjoy just the whole story, and the process of, as you kind of described, this tension.
00:05:01 Jeff Yeah, cool.
00:05:03 Aaron Yeah, so thanks a lot. We really enjoyable. And just to give you a little bit of background too, I’ve been following your blog how for probably 8 months or so, and I’ve been really impressed with how everything from, honestly, of how great of a marketer you are. I don’t know if you’ve always been that. We’d love to talk about that a bit. Did you become one, or have you always been one. And also, just how your voice is very, both articulate as well as friendly and I think that you’re very human in your interaction in whether it’s writing about your son, or whether it’s writing about writing, or it’s writing about disappointment, or whether it’s writing about the day your book launches and wondering if anybody is going to care. So I just find that you’re very authentic. My perception is that you’re very authentic in how you approach your writing and therefore it draws people in, in a way that I think absolutely unique and I’d love to hear some of your thoughts on that.
00:06:11 Jeff Thanks, yeah, I appreciate that. I’m not trying to be humble in saying that when people say that it comes as a surprise to me. And I appreciate that, but in all honesty I’m not trying to do that. That’s not the same, not being intentional about building a community and trying to serve people, certainly doing that. People are always like, “What is it about your voice or...” and I saw people are always like maybe a couple of people a week. I don’t want to sound like yeah, yeah, Good Morning America asks me yesterday ...
00:06:56 Justin Yeah, paparazzi
00:06:58 Jeff Yeah, so you know what I think that is I think that for a long time I was really uncomfortable as a writer and I found my voice, or I started to find my voice about a year ago when I got really serious about writing on this blog. And it was just a byproduct of practice. And I honestly didn’t know what was happening, but I had a good size readership at that time, a decent size readership. And a friend of mine... I did this thing, where I asked people to make a donation to a nonprofit around Christmas time and then I’d give them a free copy of an old ebook that I had which was this compilation
of old, old blog posts from years ago from another blog and so somebody made a donation and they got the ebook and then they told me that they didn’t love my writing. They said, like they were good stories, but it didn’t sound like you. And I was like, really? I thought I’d been writing the same way for a long time and I went back and read those stories and they were really wordy, and it felt like I had to prove something, you know? And so I came to grips with this fact that wow, I am a different writer. And I really didn’t notice it as it was happening because I was practicing. I would liken that to going to the gym every day, or starting to run and one day you get up and this thing that’s always been so hard is all of a sudden not so hard. It’s kind of effortless in some respects. And you didn’t notice those muscles strengthening and everything kind of tightening and getting more focused but a year later you look back and go wow, I’ve come really far. And so for me that was just finally starting to feel comfortable in my voice, in my own skin as a writer so to speak.
00:08:48 Justin You make it sound so easy, Jeff.
00:08:52 Jeff Well, I mean if writing every single day for five years without anybody caring and then really buckling down for a year and spending every free moment that you have trying to focus on building your craft for a year, if that sounds easy then yeah, sure.
00:09:10 Justin Everybody should do it. You sort of hint that this thing that I see a lot of, probably all successful people wrestle with, which [Seth Goden] would call the dip, there’s a period of five years where you’re writing, and writing, and writing and then you wrote some more and people didn’t care. They weren’t noticing. They weren’t paying attention. You were writing for yourself and you were getting better at your craft. How did you power through that then to get to all of a sudden five years later you’re in this place of greatness?
00:09:42 Jeff Well, I don’t know that I powered through it. I mean I was really acting the amateur for all those years. I don’t think that you have to spend five years being terrible at something before you can be good at it. [Malcom Gladwell] talks about the ten thousand hour rule which was a concept which he just borrowed from somebody else. It being this, it takes years of practice to become an expert at something, I think that’s true. I don’t think I’m there by any means, but I think that there’s a lesser rule which I would call something like the thousand hour rule which is a rule...you know if the ten thousand hour rule is how long it takes to become an expert, I think it takes about a thousand hours to become proficient at something. If you think of that in terms of actual breakdown, that’s two to three hours a day for a year. So playing the guitar, or playing tennis, or writing or whatever, if you do something that focused, that intensely, for that much time for a thousand hours, you become pretty good at it. And it now...that’s how you come pass the dip is it becomes easier to do the thing than to not do the thing. It becomes easier to pick up that guitar and play that G cord than the six months prior it was like painstakingly hard to do that. All of a sudden you pick it up and go, yeah, I can do that. Now there are new heights to, sort of, attain now, but that basic level of proficiency is now been made. So all that to say, I was just playing around for five years wanting it to be easy which I think a lot of writers and bloggers do. And then finally one day I just got so frustrated cause I just kept reading all these terrible, these popular bloggers who were terrible writers frankly, and I thought, arrogantly, I thought, I can do that. And I learned a whole bunch of lessons in that by the way. I learned that I wasn’t as good of a writer as I thought that I was. I learned that you have to care about marketing. I learned that it’s about community. It’s not about how awesome your [prose] is. But that was the [impetus]. I can do this, I can try this. And that was the moment of what [Steven Prestfield] calls turning pro. I decided I’m a writer,
I’m gonna do this. I’m going to figure it out and I’m going to do it seriously. I’m not going to write whenever I feel like it. I’m going to write every single day, no matter what. And so I learned more in that year of writing, that was 2011, I learned more in that year of writing and became much better as a writer than I did those five previous years. Now I’m sure those were like preparation and the right timing and all of that, but when I was really practicing was for that year when I was writing, yeah, at least 30 minutes, some days 2 or 3 hours a day for a year.
00:12:13 Justin Then all of a sudden you’re good.
00:12:17 Jeff I guess. I mean, that’s one of those things where you’ve got your...you’re facing down, you’re just doing the work head down plotting along, then all of a sudden you look behind you and you go ‘oh, I guess I have traveled a little bit of a distance.’ I was just so focused on taking the next step that I didn’t realize that.
00:12:30 Justin My wife is learning the banjo right now and so she actually got really good like in the first week and a half and I’m looking forward to her hitting her thousand hours. So Jeff, with your ebook that you did, You Are A Writer, So Start Acting Like One, Where did that plot in that journey of a thousand hours? Where were you when you released that?
00:13:00 Jeff Maybe, that was after that first year. And the story of that is I had a friend ask me what my dream was and I said to be a writer and he said, you don’t have to want to be a writer. And he knew that I had written, that I was writing a little bit, and probably needed to do more of it, and he liked it. And he said...he was the only one by the way...he said, you ARE a writer. You just need to write. And that..I mean a lot of things all came together in a couple of months that made me realize I’ve got to do this. But that one phrase resonated with me and I said, okay, like that’s it. That’s all I have to do is just believe I’m a writer and then just start doing it? And yeah, that’s what really happened. And so a year after that, earlier this year, I decided I wanted to share this. I think this is powerful. I mean, I would speak at conferences and just talk with people over coffee, other writers, but this was the one thing that resonated with people. This idea that you already are this thing that you hoped you would be someday. And so the number one pushback that I get from that idea ...people say, oh you can’t fake it till you make it, or this sounds like some new-agey manifestation, and I think this is none of that by the way. This uniquiely applies to artists because artists are insecure people who are naturally gifted who do stuff because it is fun and creative for them, but they are very redisent to claim ownership of that as some sort of vocation because they’re worried that it could somehow tarnish the purity of it. So I find creative person after person who does something, like they paint but they don’t call themselves a painter, they write but they don’t call themselves a writer, they design but they don’t call themselves a designer and so when we have a conversation and share my kind of story and give them permission to be this thing that they hoped they might someday be, they go wow! I can’t believe that’s all it takes. And it is a shift. [Steve Prestfield] call’s it turning pro. It happens in your head, but there is a fundamental difference between your life before you turned pro and after you’ve turned pro. You’re not any better, but the way you approach your craft is fundamentally different. It’s like getting hired for a job. The first time you get paid to do something that you normally do for fun you go, oh, there’s this expectation. So there is a lot of pressure, and that pressure can be really good for you bringing you’re a game and showing up and doing the work.
00:15:43 Aaron That’s great. I really like your thought process from the turning pro to the [Malcom Bradwell] Ten Thousand Hours, to the pick yourself and just start acting and admitting and owning who you are. And the truth is not everyone’s going to be great and yet that shouldn’t preclude all of us from going ahead and pursuing and owning the fact that I am a writer, I am a musician, I am a painter, I am a golfer, I am a whatever. And I agree with that level of ownership that shifts within you and all of a sudden you begin to believe it. And one you begin to operate out of that deep and core belief, then you’re willing to risk more and stand up a little taller. You’re willing to pursue things that you may otherwise shrink back from. I think it’s a great overview in this case.
00:16:37 Jeff Yeah, and I would add that this is probably something that people are probably already telling you you are already good at. And that’s a sign of giftedness. Everybody but you believes this thing.
00:16:52 Justin Yeah, everybody but you believes this!
00:16:54 Jeff So stop arguing with the people who love you and want the best for you. I just had a conversation with this guy who’s a published fiction author, who said for a decade told him, you’re a writer, you’re a writer, and he goes no, I am not that. Now, he’s a full time author. And I had a similar experience. My wife knew this about me before I did. Again, I’m not talking about ... I’m going to be an astronaut, and all of a sudden you start calling yourself and introducing yourself at cocktail parties as an astronaut. That’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about how you need to stop undermining this calling in your life and just own it and start living up to it.
00:17:31 Aaron I think that’s great, great words. The key phrase that you said is everybody believes this about you, but....and if you’re hearing that you’re really great at...and that’s a repeated voice, then it isn’t... I wrote a blog post once about how comparing your art with American Idol. There are so many people who appear on American Idol that truthfully their family is telling them they’re great, and they shouldn’t, and yet there are some people on there that are just like the writer that you mentioned. For 10 years people have been saying you’re great. You need to do something about this. They finally come out of the closet to appear and low and behold they are amazing. So I think there is a distinction that sometimes you know, if it is a single voice in your life it may or may not be the fact. But if you are hearing it from multiple categories and different arenas of your life then I would agree with you it is worth stepping forward and believing and going for it.
00:18:30 Justin And Jeff, you hit it right on the head. That’s exactly why I started a business six years ago. And I think part of it was my wife just really getting tired of me walking around the house saying I wish I could do this. I wish I could do this. And it was the same thing over and over again. And then one day she was like, why don’t you! And it was sort of out of frustration but I also heard this...I’m giving you permission to do it. And man I was ready with 50 reasons why I shouldn’t but then I couldn’t think of any. For the next two days I was like I’m going to come up with a good reason to tell her why this wouldn’t work. And I couldn’t. I couldn’t find a single one. And that was where somebody close to me, who really cares about me.... And I think that’s the difference ... you know your friends are like yeah, you’re good at this, but if there’s this common theme with somebody really close to you that says I believe in you and it was almost like I needed that permission. I could believe it in my own mind but now all of a sudden when she gives me permission it like wow, maybe I could do this. And it just turned in my head.
00:19:35 Jeff And that whole American Idol factor is like my biggest struggle right now because I meet amazing artists who just need to be more confident in themselves and for every five of those people I meet one idiot who is that American Idol person who thinks he has the world’s next greatest whatever, and everybody is afraid to tell him no and enabling this really dysfunctional belief. But I think in my experience the fundamental difference between these amazing artists that have creative gifts that need to be shared with the world and those idiots that I’m talking about, those people who show up on American Idol, and the judges are telling them that they suck and they just can’t believe it...
00:20:31 Justin They’re escorted out and they still can’t believe it. That’s not what my mom said. 00:20:34 Jeff They are like what do they know. What do these people know. They don’t have any credentials. Who are you Brittney Spears. Well, that’s the X-Factor I guess. But I think the difference is confidence, but rather over confidence. We’re talking about submitting to our callings to being this reluctant thing and I am militant about don’t do this. Don’t be reluctant. But I also think it’s a pretty good mark of humility. Not false humility, it has to be legitimate. But the people that I know that are like oh, gosh, I’m not sure you have it, they think they do. We all know these people who are amazing at something and just need to own it and they don’t believe it. So, maybe the difference between giftedness and not being gifted at something is this reluctance to believe it, which I believe is humility. And if somebody is like you’re not as good as you think you are, and at the same time you’re probably not as bad as you think you are, but those people who are over confident, I’m warry of because again, if you were that good I would have heard of you.
00:21:50 Aaron I like it. So let me ask you a question. I love on your homepage here GoinsWriter, first quote is from [Seth Goden] and I remember reading something about how you got in with Seth and how you risked asking for his review of your work and I’ve spent some time with him and know that he get’s many requests like that. So tell us a little bit more about how you tracked him down, and what risk you took there and his great quote that says pow, this is a good one, a wakeup call and just want you need to read. Thanks Jeff for sharing your art. Seth [Goden]. Author. We’re all weird.
00:22:30 Jeff Yeah, I was really surprised that he was willing to do that but eventually I was just like, well I’m gonna ask him and so ...the back story, I’ve quote unquote known Seth [Goden] for five or six years. Online we’ve exchanged many an email like lots of people have but early on I think I read an ebook that he wrote called the [Boot Strapper’s] Bible. It’s like a manifest for entrepreneurs. It’s really great. A free thing that you can get online. Just Google it. And I saw that he published his email and I emailed him and he replied and so I was stunned by that and so very early on in this whole journey of understanding platforms and tribes and social media I learned that almost anybody within reason is accessible if you can figure out the right avenues and so we’ve always just kind of maintained this relationship where I’ve asked his advise or tried to help him when [Lynch Pin] came out he was gracious enough to include me in this media tour. And I don’t know what the reason for that was except we had developed a pretty nominal relationship at that point, but I just stayed in touch with him. And then I had this ebook that come out with 900 words. I asked him if he’d read it and he did and he liked it. I asked for months after it came out, maybe a year after it came out so I didn’t ask that right out the gate. And I kind of misinterpreted that experience. I’ve had lots of experiences where I’ve been able to interview people like [Steven Prestfield] or [Chris Brogan] or become friends with [Michael Hyat] who are kind of
like celebrities in their own write, in their own little niches. And I thought the secret was asking, and so I actually published this blog post that’s still a pretty popular post about how to influence people and the secret is to ask basically. And people want to know hey, how did you get [Seth Goden] to do this or [Steve Prestfield] to do that. My answer is always, I asked them, just asked. So I wrote this and I told Seth about it and he, in typical Seth fashion sort of like turned the whole thing upside down and made me think about it differently, and he said no, no asking is not the secret. He said asking is like turning the key’s in an ignition of a car. The really hard part, cause that’s easy to do, the really hard part is getting into the vehicle. And so what he was saying was the hard part is getting permission in the first place. To actually send him an email and him to realize it’s not spam, it’s not somebody asking for something, it’s doing the work of just kind of building a relationship over the years without really asking for anything in return and then when you do have something that you need or want to get out of the relationship as with a friend, it’s not awkward. I like that. I think that’s true. I think I do that naturally, so I don’t think about that. I think asking in the right way at the right time is important but I no longer believe this adage it doesn’t hurt to ask. I think it can hurt to ask if you don’t have permission. If you haven’t spent the time to build the relationship because now I get asked for stuff all the time and I’m like, uhhh, why, why? Why would I support that? I don’t even know you. I don’t know what this is about. It could be a scam. No, I’m not going to do that.
00:26:14 Aaron Jeff, I’ve got something I’m going to send you, I would like you to take a look at it...no I’m just kidding. Sort of backtracking a little bit. You saw this thing in yourself the moment your turned pro and all of a sudden you see it but how do you make other people see it. We’re talking about now [Seth Goden] is doing stuff, and I know it didn’t happen overnight but Seth is there, [Michael Hyat’s] there, I mean you’ve got all these other people in your corner so to speak. How did you get them to see that you’re pro?
00:26:48 Jeff I don’t know. I think part of it is you’re doing the work ahead of time. You’re practicing and preparing so that you have something to show them. You have to demonstrate competency in some since. You have to have a little bit of confidence in what you do. When I approached [Michael Hyat] to have coffee one day I’d never known that he never does that with people. I just thought that he’d think ... really I thought he was just being nice... so I did what I’d been doing for about 6 months at that time which was just connecting with people with no agenda except get to know them get to know me. I think the biggest thing people do wrong in this world in this age of connectivity and social media and instant access to everybody is they ask two times in a row. In other words they ask you to coffee or lunch or for time at a conference which is a big ask of somebody who’s busy and influential like you’re already asking them to sacrifice something, their most valuable asset, their time. Then you get them there and you ask them to do something else. What do you think that feels like? It’s like ask, ask, ask, ask, ask. I was very intentional not to do that so I would ... I met Mike and we had coffee and then I did what I’d been doing, what I’d learned to do from mentors, which was immediately follow up, send him an email, thank him, take notes while we talk, send him the notes, and say here’s what I learned from our time together I’d love to do it again whenever it works for your schedule. And I try to do that well, I don’t do it perfectly. But doing something simple like that I think shows people that you take their time seriously and I have always tried to serve my way into a relationship with influential people. Over time they realize that you’re not in this just for yourself, you’re in it to serve and they then take an interest in you. And I’ve realized how true that is. I’ve realized how much famous people and influential people get asked do to things everyday so a great way to set yourself apart, whether you have something to show them or not, is to just serve. Find a way to help, volunteer, your services. One
of the things I encourage writers to do is you have a great tool. You could interview somebody. If you’re a blogger you’re all of a sudden a 21st century journalist. I’ve told people I’m a blogger and I’ve got into free events and conferences just by flashing my blogger badge. They don’t know how many subscribers I have or if I started it yesterday or five years ago. Serve your way into relationship and you’ll set yourself apart from probably 95% of the people who are begging for these people’s attention. I did that with Mike, I tried to do that with Seth. It’s all about permission. It’s all about trust and building it over time and having patience and when I ask Mike to coffee he said yeah, in two months so I put a little note on my calendar and I followed up in two months. And when I tried to interview [Leo Babauta] who’s this super blogger online really has one of the biggest blogs in the world, he said yeah, I can’t do that for six months, I said okay, I will email you in six months and I put it on my calendar. Most people I guess aren’t disciplined enough to do that, or they just don’t care enough and I knew that part of building a platform and getting people to care about your work was first caring about other people’s work and doing the work to, not get noticed, but actually just try and spend a season serving somebody else and learning though that experience and demonstrating that you’re serious about your own work. I think people take notice of you when you do that. Again, it’s that humility thing.
00:30:58 Justin Yeah, and you know a lot of people they’re not going to follow up. Leo said, yeah, I can do that in six months. How many people are going to remember to put it on the calendar that will actually follow up in six months? Hardly anybody. So yeah, you took it to that next level.
00:31:17 Aaron So Jeff, I have a theory, wanna run it past you, see what you think. My theory is this. Because of the age of social media, and everything is instant. And twitter is a great example which I love. But let’s say for you we hang up the phone, you push send on a great blog post you’ve been working on for a month and it appears in the ether of social media for a few moments and then it disappears. Versus what you just described, is the long slow work of...it takes a lot of time. One of the things, my theory is, there’s actually a conflict there that the age old approach of long and slow development of relationships is actually the way it will always work but the social media era we have is in some way confusing people. They think that it can actually happen fast. Because we have big drives, because we have big reach, because I can send out 52 posts on Twitter a day. So what are your thoughts there on just the rub between the two of those?
00:32:36 Yeah, I think social media all it is is amplify whatever you are, or whatever you’re about, it amplifies your voice, it amplifies your message. It also amplifies your intensions and values and I liked what Michelle Obama said about her husband at the democratic convention where she said...she’s talking about platform, really. She said being president, gosh I’m gonna botch this, basically being president doesn’t undermine your values. It doesn’t chance your values, it strengths them, it highlights them, it brings attention to them. I’ll have to look that quote up because I know I botched that but it’s this idea that power doesn’t corrupt you it actually....Oh, I know what it was. Power doesn’t corrupt your values or intentions, it reveals them. Power reveals your intentions. She was saying my husband’s character is stronger now, is what she was saying. And I thought that is true for any platform, for any influence. Power doesn’t corrupt, it just reveals your true character. I think that’s true. But when you have not a lot of engagement, not a lot of people paying attention to you it’s hard to know exactly what you’re about, but when you have a thousand, or ten thousand, or a hundred thousand people paying attention to you, you’ve got a megaphone now and when you say stupid stuff, which we all do, everybody hears it. It really reveals every facet of your character and I think social media is that way. And so the people who aren’t willing to do the long, slow, relational building in real life, know that
they’ve got a fast ticket to meet somebody famous online, that’s going to reveal that intention that they don’t really care about relationships. They care about serving themselves which is what they’ve always been about. And this just makes it easier and I’ve seen that to be true. I’ve seen that really to be true with social media. This was kind of a turning point for me. I thought blogging was different then how real relationships work and so for five years I wrote a blog. I wrote what I thought was great content. I followed all of the rules. I emailed people. I linked to other blog posts, asked others to link to me. And yet I wasn’t some superstar celebrity and then I looked at all these people who I sort of thought fit that status and I was like, they’re not great writers. What is it? Is it marketing? What is it? And I realized that they were great a building relationships with people. Somebody’s more likely to retweet you or comment on your blog if they’ve meet you in real life and I’ve found that the people who were most influential in this space were not just influential in this space, they were influential in any space and they knew that real life relationship was the best way to reach people and that therefore translated to online influence. It’s not necessarily true for everybody, but maybe 9 out of 10 online influencers I meet are doing what they’re doing everywhere. This is just....
00:36:00 Justin Right, they live this way every day.
00:36:03 Jeff Yeah, yeah. Like [Mike Hyat’s] a great example of that. He’s just an influential guy and his blog just magnifies that.
00:36:13 Aaron So tell us a little bit now that you’re 25,000 readers, what is a ratio of people that are coming and they’re asking you questions and they’re asking you, going back to this relational model of, Hey Jeff, I love your work. I don’t need anything from you. Versus, hey Jeff I need something from you and now that you’re famous I want to talk to you. Tell us a little about your experience with that.
00:36:36 Jeff Sure. I hope famous was like in airquotes or something.
00:36:46 Aaron I’m sorry, and I mean more from, let’s just say we’re all average guys. You were doing average life in an extraordinary way, and so you went from a thousand readers to 25,000 and so people always want to know, hey that’s really cool and you got a new book and so there is this moment, right, that you’re living in at the moment. And I’m sure the requests have increased substantially so how are you kind of sniffing out the authentic ones and the ones you say yes to and the ones you say no to.
00:37:13 Jeff Well the reality is the volume has just gotten so overwhelming that unfortunately I’m not always able to discern it. When my book came out I was getting 300-400 emails a day from people I didn’t really know or people maybe I recognized their name from a blog comment or something, so I’m kind of at this weird crossroads where I can literally spend all day answering email or I can do that a little bit because I think that it’s important to be accessible and respond to your tribe, but then spend most of my time, I still have a day job, so then spend most of my time fulfilling my commitments and then whatever hour of free time I have in a day if I can scrounge that up I probably need to spend that not reacting to things but creating. And that’s just what I’ve been made to do. So how many people are asking me for stuff and how many people are being genuine I don’t know because I can’t really sniff out the difference. There are clearly haters, a handful of people every week who just say I completely disagree with this. You suck. Okay, great, thank you. Then there are like nannies, who saw a typo in your blog or they send you this really long email that’s, it really is intended with love but
it’s criticism. I’m not against criticism, it’s helpful, but again it’s like okay, good, thank you. But that can be really time consuming, sort of dwelling on that stuff. And then there are the people who just say thank you for this. Those seem genuine. And I tell people that I appreciate that. The best way to sniff it out is a lot of people will begin with a thank you and then they’ll ask. If you’re going to say thanks, just say thanks. If you’re going to ask, just ask. You know. Don’t do the whole sandwich model where you say something nice then ask something then say something nice because that feels more disingenuous to me than just coming out and asking. I’m not against asking. I like helping people. And then there are the people who are just blatantly asking for stuff. I think out of all those things, the most distracting ones for me...my platform is about helping people, I want to help people, what makes it really hard for me to help you, like I don’t care if you ask for something. What makes it really hard for me to help you though is if you spend eight pages on an email just telling me your story. I get more of this kind of email than any other type. They just tell me their story, and go what’s your advice.
00:40:14 Justin You didn’t know you were a full time counselor, did you?
00:40:18 Jeff I’m like, uhh, really? The best advice I can give you is go read my blog. That’s where I put all of that stuff. So I’m not going to tell you anything I didn’t already put there or I’m about to put there. And I’m not a counselor. Give me some direction. Ask one question, not five. I think a lot of it comes down to a lot of people want a quick solution. They want a quick answer. And I can provide those but it’s not going to be cheap, it’s not hard earned. You’re probably not going to use it.
00:40:49 Aaron And I think one thing we’ll do too is a time check for you, just to honor your time. We’ll go ahead and start wrapping up together. The reason I asked about that, basically, increase is you’re saying you’re getting 300 now and I’m guessing two years ago maybe you got 30 or whatever the number was. So you’re clearly having to field more of that. Whether that’s being request for counseling, or that’s career counseling, or personal counseling, or writing counseling, and like you said you’ve got a day job, you’ve got a family, you’ve got your own craft. And so I got to imagine there is this kind of thankfulness and then at the same time questions, is this really what I thought would be fun. Is this really what I wanted? I wanted to be read, I wanted to be influential, I wanted to help people. And yet wow, this here comes with some stuff that I really hadn’t intended to sign up for.
00:41:46 Jeff Yeah
00:41:47 Aaron So, thank you for making the time to talk with us today. And I appreciate for whatever reason this one didn’t smell funny. I’m glad we were able to make it though the pile and really appreciate your time and really have enjoyed your work and will continue to shoot over the thanks and well done’s.
00:42:11 Justin Yeah absolutely, thanks Jeff.
00:42:12 Jeff Yeah, no thank you guys so much. I enjoyed the conversation great questions, it’s good to talk about this stuff so my pleasure.
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