Think of a profession, any profession. Doctor, lawyer, author, game designer, whatever. Now think about people that are at the top of that field. How many of them spend a lot of time online, posting the secrets of their success? Without plugging a book, or a course, or some revenue stream or another, how many of them are sitting around giving away their trade secrets for free? Have you ever considered why they don’t?
Have You Ever Considered…
Every now and again I see some well-intentioned amateurs and people aspiring to be whatever, usually a creative field, trying to crowd source knowledge on how to break into an industry, or how to be successful at one thing or another. While there are always a few people who know what they’re talking about chiming in, there’s a lot of painful misinformation that gets spread around.
There’s often an attempt to rope seasoned professionals into the project, or conversation, or thread, or whatever. This is followed by grumbling at the lack of response from said seasoned professionals. This is the part that hurts my head. The lack of critical thinking, the entitlement, and the general failure to acknowledge boundaries astounds me.
First of all, seasoned professionals working in a field are likely spending the bulk of their time working in that field. I recognized that here in 2019 having an internet presence is a necessity, but people still need to get things done. My first tip would be to stop trying to crowd source knowledge, unplug, and go spend time learning to do the thing you’re trying to become good at.
Second, and this is important, they might not be willing to share knowledge and skills, tips and tricks, that they worked hard to acquire. It could be the competitive advantage that makes them successful in their field. They might be playing their equivalent of moneyball — if everyone starts doing it, then it stops working.
Not to Be Jerk, But…
In 2012 I started a business to serve as a learning laboratory while I was in business school. It was a way for me to test ideas, make mistakes, and try out some new things. When I graduated in 2014, summa cum laude, I put all of that research and analysis into the business. In 2016, based on all of the things that I’d learned, I launched a new company. It was easier to start over than to restructure the business I started before I knew what I was doing. I have earned a modest living and managed to pay the bills ever since.
Which is why I really don’t feel an obligation to give away, for free, the knowledge and experience that I spend a great deal of time and money acquiring. I also don’t think that it would make a difference if I did. Being told something and experiencing it yourself, are two different things. There are things that I was taught in the classroom that did not stick until I did them myself in my business. They made no sense until, on a practical level, I was able to see their necessity.
This is a long way around to say that there is no substitute for putting in the work. I know that’s hard for some people to hear. They’ve been trained by consumerism to expect instant gratification. It doesn’t work that way. Any success you achieve has to be earned. It isn’t easy. It’s certainly not guaranteed, even if you expend the requisite blood, toil, tears, and sweat. Yet you can’t find any success at all until you make the effort and figure it out for yourself.