Creators' Corner #18 - Peak You, planning ahead and a meme about the Greeks

Creators' Corner #18 - Peak You, planning ahead and a meme about the Greeks
Photo of the week: Jess and I moved to a new apartment last week. After 30,000 steps and 100 staircases, we were finally in and I made an oath to never move again (until next time, of course). There's still some unpacking to do, but my pride and joy (our bookshelf) is taking shape.

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Thanks for all the responses last week. The feedback was incredible. This strengthens my conviction to open up more and share what's on my mind. Also – sketches and memes make it more fun for everyone. Catch the previous edition of Creators' Corner here.

Line-up this week:

  1. Personal monopolies
  2. Embracing "Peak You"
  3. Planning ahead vs. going with the flow
  4. A tip for other creators
  5. What I'm reading

1. Personal Monopolies

A few readers have asked for more info on personal monopolies and how to think about creating their own online niche.

"Your Personal Monopoly is the unique intersection of skills, interests, and personality traits that make you one-of-a-kind. Build yours by obsessively learning about an important topic, tackling ambitious projects, and writing about your best ideas." – David Perell

Let's break it down:

  • Personality: this is who you are and what you stand for. This is your unique voice, perspective and overall vibe. Think memes, jokes and 'wonky'-ness.
  • Skills: these are the things you've studied, the expertise you've accumulated, the hard skills you have to offer the world. For me this is being an actuary - someone who can calculate risks and contingencies. And now more recently, I've picked up the skills of a creator – website building, distribution over social media, online writing, newsletter creation etc.
  • Interests: this is the part the creator chooses. Our interests are the things we are naturally attracted to and passionate about. While the first two components are fixed to some extent, you have carte blanche on the last component as the creator. For me, this is online writing and the creator economy.

You can then apply your personality traits and skills (who you are and what you know) to your interests (what fascinates you) to create something truly unique. Something only you are known for.

Email me if you'd like to brainstorm your own personal monopoly. I love talking about this topic.

2. Peak You

I spoke to my friend, Tobi Emonts-Holley, about the Twitter bio exercise I wrote about last week.

Tobi has been on a blistering run this year. He and I were hovering at the same numbers (~300 Twitter followers and 50 email subscribers) towards the end of last year. He has since shot up to 19k (!) followers and 500 subscribers . And delivered incredible value through countless threads and articles.

He says his trick was to embrace being "Peak Tobi" – the best version of himself. He has stepped out of the shadows and fully embraced being the go-to-guy on productivity and parenting. Speaking of personal monopolies, he has really nailed it.

Through doing this, he created a virtuous loop. By claiming to be an aspirational version of himself, he had to live up to it. By sharing his morning routine, he had to be the person living that routine. By sharing his approach to parenting, he had to be that parent. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I think a part of me is scared of embracing ‘peak me’ because of what this implies. I would need to embody being that person on a daily basis. There would be no more hiding in my comfort zone. But this is where real growth happens, as Tobi has shown.

What is the peak version of you and does it also scare you to embrace it?

Update: Tobi took down his Twitter account on Friday (the day I finished writing this segment) after receiving online abuse. It is sad to see one of my friends being subjected to a mob attack and the intentional misrepresentation of his message. I know he will come back stronger from this. He has inspired many people through his writing. While his account is down, you can access his material on his blog here. #BringPeakTobiBack

3. Planning ahead

I always laugh when people want to know my 5-year and 10-year plans. There are so many contingencies we can't plan for. Three years ago I was working on a way to join my ex-girlfriend in the US. Now I'm in Germany, in a happy relationship and on a completely different life course.

One of my friends shared the following diagram and quote from Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration. It is written by Ed Catmull – co-founder (with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter) of Pixar Animation Studios.

From Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull

One of Ed’s team (Ann) drew the initial pyramid above to plan where they wanted to be in two years time. Ed then started drawing lines on the pyramid to show how he'd prefer she approach it:

The first line I drew (Fig. 1, above) represented where we would aim to go in three months. The next one (Fig. 2) represented where we might be in three more (and you’ll note that it didn’t stay within the boundaries of Ann's two-year plan). Chances are, I said, we would end up somewhere other than the top of the pyramid she’d imagined. And that (Fig. 3) was as it should be. Instead of setting forth a “perfect” route to achieving future goals (and sticking to it unwaveringly), I wanted Ann to be open to readjusting along the way, to remaining flexible, to accepting that we would be making it up as we go.

I believe it's good to commit to the person you want to be and to have big dreams, but planning too far ahead can be counter-productive. Catmull is completely right that we will (inevitably) end up at a different (and potentially better) place than we aimed for if we remain open to possibilities.

Thanks to Eric van Heeswijk for sharing this.

4. A tip for other creators: get more lateral

"Rightness is what matters in vertical thinking. Richness is what matters in lateral thinking. Vertical thinking selects a pathway by excluding other pathways. Lateral thinking does not select but seeks to open up other pathways." - Edward de Bono

Lateral thinking leads to more solutions and unique solutions to a given problem. It also creates humour and suspense in writing.

Read my thread for 5 tips to improve your lateral thinking:

5. What I'm reading

I'm currently reading the Story of Philosophy by William Durant.

It's a brilliant 101 guide to the lives and opinions of the world's greatest philosophers. I can definitely recommend it if you don't have the time to read all the major works and original pieces.

I had just finished the first two chapters on the two Greek philosophers, Plato and Aristotle, when I received this meme.

Have a great week and happy creating.

-- John


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