On Being a Public Figure Online

Several years ago I made the decision to become a public figure online. Now, I can’t say that I sat down and made an informed decision but nonetheless, it was a decision. As I have recently been thinking over the effects this has had on me and my life, I wanted to share some of them this week.

Why did I do it? Truthfully, much by chance. I’ve always had an ambition for creating something bigger and a passion for education and teaching. Incidentally, as I was growing up came the internet. Though being active on forums, sharing your knowledge, you ultimately become a figure in the community.

By jumping on the Twitter bandwagon in 2008, starting an educational website (with Adobe tutorials), the smaller community that was forums could quickly grow to a larger global one. What had I just done? I had (consciously or unconsciously) decided to become a public figure.

How has this affected me? There are some obvious implications. Where most people my age are able to have personal social media profiles, mine still have to reflect a public brand. It also means that I have given up any notion of privacy online a long while ago. Why? Because people read and expect you to always be your public self.

This becomes especially apparent when you meet someone who cites something you wrote on Twitter or from a blog post. I’m very flattered when this happens, and very humble that people read what I write. However, it always serves as a wake-up call that you have to moderate not just what you share, but what you do quite extensively (basically, you have to grow up even quicker). You have to exercise far more self-control, which is not always easy.

At times I’ve wondered how life would have been different if I had never done this. Often I have wondered how it would be if I had just been a “normal” teenager growing up. I shall never know…

Only recently have I been able to come to terms with this, and realize that in fact being this public figure is who I am, what I do, and a necessity for doing what I do. And if I love what I do? You bet!


On The Secret of Launching Things That Are Just Good Enough

Have you ever spent hours and hours trying to craft something into perfection? Maybe an essay, article, website or product? Ask yourself honestly: Was it worth it?

In my experience, perfection is overrated. While it is true that the devil is in the details and that you will win a lot with perfection in most situations—the road to perfection will take more time than you have.

Instead, spend that time on launching something that is good enough to get your customers or stakeholders excited and spend the time you win on improving it rapidly with the feedback from actual users. There is nothing worse, for your reputation or your financials, than launching a product that it turns out isn’t exactly what your customers want. Few products are.

An argument that I typically hear when coaching start-ups is that they cannot risk anyone finding out about the product. While this fear is warranted in some situations, products and services aren’t as easily copied as you may think. It still takes a competitor considerable resources to beat you to market, with a better product than what you are already starting to launch.

Quickly iterating (or what we throw around with all the craze: being agile) is simply the key of launching something that eventually will turn into something big, while minimizing your financial risk. Try it. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the outcome.

Business / Marketing

On Flexible Working Hours and Trusting Employees

Last week, I wrote about my goal of becoming an early riser. Today, I want to highlight how flexible working hours, and in turn just trusting your employees can do wonders for your team (especially if they are remote).

It may seem a no-brainer to trust your employees, yet I have worked closely with organizations and in teams who felt the need to exercise their control through trying to enforce special hours—even for a distributed team.

Here’s the thing, while I am not strictly against office hours (they are good for lots of reasons!) being able to shift away from them can make sure team much more productive. Plus, I am a firm believer in that putting trust in people is one of the best ways of making them excel at what they do.

If you have good internal communication channels, it is more likely that flexible working hours will actually improve your teams output, rather than the other way around because let’s face it, much of our days are, and should be, spent working by ourselves and trying to be productive.

Looking for my quick recipe? Go the middle ground. Let people be flexible with when they work, as long as they get the work done and as long as they overlap somewhat so that the same is actually working at the same time because issues do arise that are best solved spontaneously together.

Apart from that, trust your employees to do a good job—whenever they want to do it—and I promise that you’ll see an improvement in your team output.


On Being an Early Riser

“The Early Bird Catches the Worm”. This is just one of the many sayings about the importance of being early. If there’s one thing that studies commonly show about “successful people” it is that they tend to rise early.

Myself, I am a wannabe morning person. I’m not the one to sleep away the whole mornings, but I am also not the one to naturally get up really early. But I want to be.

Why is this you ask? It’s actually quite simple. You get ahead. Quickly. Just think about it. If you are up and start your day at 5am, you will have had time to catch up on the news, do some important work and be ready to tackle the rest of the world as it wakes up around 8-9am. It works because most people do not get up early, but if you do, you are already at an advantage to everyone else.

As uncomfortable as it may feel, a personal goal of mine is trying to be an early riser. At least a 6am start is where I want to end up. I also know that I am much more effective in the morning hours compared to late at night in general.

I’ll be the first to admit that it is a bit of a challenge, but improving is never easy and we all like a bit of a challenge once in a while, right? So we’ll just have to see in a few months: Have I become the early riser that I want to be?

Business / Productivity

On Networking vs. Building a Network

I’m sure you have also been to one of these parties where someone is schmoozing their way through, deciding instantly if you are someone who could be valuable to them. Sadly, this has become known as networking.

Generally, speaking about networking, people tend to be too business focused and naive. See, it isn’t all about immediate business, it is about building a network with fun, interesting and kind people. Instead of thinking about what this person can do for you right now, be human and make friends.

Networking with the goal of building long-term relationships are what builds up a good network with people. Plus, just as with traveling and meeting people, it is much more fun.

I make it a point to actively keep growing my network. Reaching out to people. Connecting. Talking. If you feel that you don’t have a good enough network—and you should!—make it a point to try and connect with someone new every week. Just think about what a great network you will have in just a few short years.

Let me tell you the real key though. It is being genuinely interested in people, what they do and who they are. This is how you build long-term relationships that are worth something both personally and in your career or business.

Business / Marketing