Today’s Tea Leaves

We’re going to see an exodus back to personal blogs and email lists. The creative industry is remembering that ownership matters in a world where the margins of getting noticed and standing out are getting thinner. To set yourself apart sometimes takes controlling the entire experience. So use the platform to gain strength and then bring your audience with you. If you’re dependent on traffic and the algorithms on the platform change…

Traffic is one thing, brand recognition and loyalty are another.

So if your business is built on the former, your window of opportunity is shortened. A loyal following means more leeway through rough patches and transitions; as long as those loyal to you will follow you to the next platform. Just remember:  the platform changes the context of your product. So what works for one channel must be adapted to the new, where you hope you can keep some of the magic.

Peer to Peer died out and is now being reborn. Now I might be a bit early on this but the fantasy of going back to an internet without being ruled by a few titan companies is being stoked. Napster and Bit-torrent lead the charge, but the new models for P2P will emerge to advance on the territory of the media giants like Facebook. Facebook the media company, even though they deny it. They own your content, sell you as the product and now they will even compete by investing in content of their own. So the micro-influencers have competition with each other, with brands, and with the very platform’s themselves.

Ultimately this is more like P2P, which will be more akin to the original version of personal connection. What we’re really waiting for here is social platforms who’s model isn’t ad-driven.

Specificity is key, as is letting your freak flag fly. We’re seeing the extreme of this in the media. When people are desperate for attention they go to the extreme and thing can go over the top. Those who are in it for the long haul know to avoid this game and play with more serious actors, building a quality product and loyal connections. But those looking for a quick buck will continue to clamor for attention, only to be replaced by the next news cycle.

So if you’re going for mass appeal, it’s about building a bandwagon product. Why? Because we simply don’t have enough time. We’re nervous to invest time or money into anything that’s not proven. The supply of great product is too large. Look at Hamilton as the guide. It didn’t pander, but it’s also heading towards $1Billion revenue. Since it’s scarce, it’s sold out every week and people know it will deliver.

Testimonials are key. High profile testimonials are better. But the thing is, most times when people get blurbs for their book, those writing it didn’t read it and aren’t the target demo.  So be somewhat skeptical about the high praise and the band-wagon mindset.

Seek the contrarians. The rise of the algorithm gave us the rise of filter bubbles. We only see ideas from our own network which we agree with. Finding voices with an outsider opinion and domain knowledge is key. Loudness is irrelevant, just find those who flip things on their head and back it up with credibility and insight. Keep an open mind.

Freelancers and artists will invest ever-more in online learning, coaching, and programs. But the old model of Lynda/Skillshare etc. will fade, mostly because 95% of people simply don’t finish the courses. So new courses will aim to build a community, which means they can’t hit as much scale as digital, which means that the prices will go up. And the best of them will instead be more private coaching and conferences.

The new model for education is emerging and it is not college, and the alternative is cheaper, but not by much. If you want a great post-grad education via coaches, programs, and conferences, this will cost you.

The internet promised us free learning, and it’s here. But if you want insights that only those at the top are privy to, payment will often be the gateway.

I praise Tony Robbins for his latest book on investing, “Unshakeable.” He tried to do the impossible, take the best knowledge in the finance and distill it in a book that only cost’s you $30.

The problem is it’s too late. Millenials and beyond won’t be looking to the market. They’ve seen it tank, they’re in debt, and they know that the rules changed because of high-frequency trading and building wealth into the 2030’s likely doesn’t mean what worked from those who got their start decades ago.

So instead it will go to cryptocurrencies. They’ll be with it when it skyrockets, and they will all be there when it crashes. The smart ones will hedge, and the others will learn a lesson the hard way.

Our culture is in the process of learning lessons the hard way. Which creates turmoil and stress, but the silver lining might be the fixes that come from taking the bruises.  It’s part of the cycle.

What we really need, is customized, programmatic learning with a support group that helps you fail. So again, coaches that you can work with for years will be more beneficial than a hodgepodge of classes over the same time period. And nothing will beat dedicated experience with failures along the way.

The job of the course leader and coach is to reduce the amount and intensity of failures as much as possible. Ditto for the government. We need the ability to take risks without losing EVERYTHING. And many are already so close to that, that they can’t leap. We need systems where doing something new doesn’t mean danger, because we’re living in a world where it really means growth and opportunity.

Personally, I’m hoping for people can find the attitude about maximizing who they are, instead of seeing how big the gap is between them and some star. I’m over the Instagram famous showcasing their life’s hits and rappers flaunting cash, and I’m attracted to those making meaning, connection and purpose right where they are.

Is the answer to our inequality instead more personal courage to connect and build from the inside out? Can we create changes that help us make meaningful work for those who are listening instead of chasing the latest wave for ever-more attention?

Is this type of cultural energy towards being seen hard-wired, or will leaders emerge that break us from these patterns?

xx David

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