This week I’m excited to embark on my next big project more on that at the end of this post, but first I want to share some insights from a recent book I read called Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon. There’s a dichotomy in schools of thought when it comes to learning, hustling, or creating:
- Do in silence, show the end product.
- Show the process, progress publicly.
In this book, Austin Kleon explains why the latter is better and makes a ‘fair-play mate’ type of argument for why we should all create in public. Over the last year or so, I’ve been more public with my projects and I can definitely say that I’m a huge advocate for it now. The main benefits I’ve found include:
- Creating accountability
- Building a feedback loop
- Seeing your progress
- Establishing a community/following
“By letting go of our egos and sharing our process, we allow for the possibility of people having an ongoing connection with us and our work, which helps us move more.” — Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon
Here are my two biggest take-home lessons from the book.
The instant feedback loop.
Sometimes, when I write these articles, I think who cares? This is all pretty obvious stuff, why am I even bothering? Then I remind myself, what is obvious to you is magic to others. My main goal in creating this weekly newsletter other than it being a weekly opportunity to share insights was to develop a hell of a lot in the process in terms of writing ability, thought formation, and personal branding. Each week, on Wednesday I publish a new post, and this is now the 16th instalment. Ironically, this week’s post is coming out on a Thursday — screw it I just finished exams and my life lacks order.
One of the biggest notions set out by Austin Kleon is that in order to progress, we must first launch ourselves on the centre stage (aka the public domain). Create, create today, and create in public. He says in the book:
"...the only way to find your voice is to use it."
I don’t think I’m quite there in my writing style or idea conveying ability, but I’ve made a tonne of progress. Only because I did it in the public domain. Each week, you guys reply to me with a fair share of opinions and feedback. This helps a million, not only because it gives me the opportunity to spark further conversation or debate, but I can directly input the feedback into the following week’s post. That’s the type of feedback loop you’d completely miss out on when working in private.
Let the people find you.
The other big message in Show Your Work! is about creating a personal brand. We live in an extremely digital environment - names can be searched, profiles can be hunted down, in other words, we can be easily found. Why not give whoever is trying to find you a much better impression of yourself. A line from the book goes:
“You have to make stuff,” said journalist David Carr when he was asked if he had any advice for students. “No one is going to give a damn about your résumé; they want to see what you have made with your own little fingers.”
Given that you are not at all competing against big brands or corporate companies, it would be pretty straight-forward to rack up some decent SEO against your name — go ahead, search my name on Google and notice how you are instantly able to find my blog and newsletter. Instantly you know more about me than I could ever convey in a double-sided curriculum vitae. Visibility is leverage.
By far one of the best outcomes from starting this newsletter is the incredibly supportive and like-minded peers I’ve been able to find and connect with sharing many of the same interests. It has completely turbo-charged my networking ability and I’m all for it. If there’s one quote to take away from the book it’s this:
“Be so good they can’t ignore you.” If you just focus on getting really good, Martin says, people will come to you. I happen to agree: You don’t really find an audience for your work; they find you.
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