For weeks, my friend Roman have been debating whether we should to start a Youtube channel. Youtube is the place to be. Everyone who is serious about growing a following and leading a small community also needs to create video-content.
There are few exceptions, of course, people whose primary medium is writing (Ryan Holiday), or podcasting (Joe Rogan). Yet, even these guys appear on video. You’ll be able to find a lot of video-interviews with Ryan Holiday; Joe Rogans podcasts also end up on Youtube.
They, too, understand that Youtube is the place to be. For a content creator, there is almost no way around it.
Personally, I almost never watch Youtube. Partially it’s because I don’t have Wifi at home. But even on a month of Youtube premium I barely watched anything
To me, consuming long-form content (books and podcasts), is the most effective and aesthetic way to learn. I’m not a fan of the salesy vibe that characterizes most video content. In this video you will learn three steps to clean out your wardrobe.
Your Needs Versus Theirs
I don’t want the steps. I want the philosophical discussion about what a clean wardrobe means, how it relates to the psyche, the longitudinal studies on cleaning it out, and the reasons why people don’t. I want the whole story. I want to understand.
Most content on video-platforms caters to short attention spans. If you asked me for advice, I’d tell you to stay away from social media, period.
Unless you’re a content producer and social media is necessary for your business, there’s no reason you should be on there. Download the podcasts, get some of the worlds best books from the library. Ideas-wise, you’ll be set for life. You’ll also avoid turning your brain into mashed potato.
Attention is your most valuable resource today. Only long-form content will protect it.
Back to the discussion with my friend. He suggested that I shouldn’t become involved in Youtube if I’m not myself a consumer.
‘Teaching personal development on the internet doesn’t make sense,’ he said, ‘if you’re not excited about the content yourself.’
But what if you are interested in that type of content—and simply have a different approach. I’ve been studying self-help for half of my life—starting from when I was only 14. Now I’m 28. I’ve watched, read, and seen a lot.
Should You Stay Away From What You Don’t Consume Yourself?
Most content is recycled and has been around for ages, and that’s okay.
It’s also why I’m no longer be excited about this content— I can get better information reading primary literature.
But even when I read psychology textbooks, I treat the information in the same way I’ve always done. I try to find principles that will make my life better.
It’s not that I just like ideas.
When I read, I usually have a purpose. I want to learn something specific. It’s like there’s a running program that screens for information that might be useful to improve my life. I’m still into personal development—just not the same way I used to be, the way that, perhaps, many people still are.
There is something to the argument that you should stay away from the channels and businesses that you don’t consume yourself.
How can you give self-help advice on the internet when you would personally prefer a book (free from the library) any day? Won’t you lose motivation doing that? Can you ever be authentic if you don’t buy into the idea yourself?
My friend had a point.
Clearly it would be weird for you to work in a cigarette company if you believed (or perhaps “knew” is more appropriate) that smoking kills.
But what about teaching personal development on the internet—knowing that most people would be better off reading some psychology text books, ancient spiritual texts and studying up on economics? Isn’t that unethical?
Perhaps our problem is that we don’t see other as who they truly are.
What Most People (Seem To) Want
Most consumers don’t want to read text books in their free time or spend hours deciphering the flowery language of the Tibetan Book of The Dead. They want quick answers while they’re sitting on the bus to work or eating a hasty lunch.
Humans are lazy. We search for advice when we have a particular problem, but we often don’t have a general desire to learn.
It’s therefore unlikely that most people will ever read primary literature. Maybe you can be the one to tell them that they should, and maybe they will follow your advice.
But most people will always prefer to consume their content shortened, summarized, and curated. That’s what they want, which may be different from what you and me want.
If you want to learn at the highest level and process the information as deeply as you can, you’re different from the pack. But maybe you can use this.
Maybe you’ve just stumbled upon a market opportunity.
Matching Your Way With Others Needs
You could turn processing information into your job.
Incidentally, that’s exactly what you do when you teach people self-help on the internet! Aren’t gurus simply reading and recycling information for the masses—information they’ve got from somebody smarter than themselves?
I’m not the most intelligent person out there, neither am I the best communicator in the world.
But I love my type of learning, reading, and the growth I get to witness in my own life. Personal development has been with me for a long time.
Maybe information that seems trivial to me is pure value to you. There might be people who’ll be more than happy to learn from our process.
Perhaps we set the bar too high when we think that we shouldn’t teach anything that we won’t consume ourselves.
Learning To Share
You will only ever consume information that’s interesting and challenging to you—knowledge that’s above your level.
At the same time, you cannot appropriately teach or communicate the information you’re currently learning.
Therefore, the idea that you should only share that which is on your level of is skewed.
We can only ever share just below our level. When we communicate, information is lost. Rarely can anybody ever put their thoughts into words precisely.
Therefore, we need to take into account for the lost bits of information when we share what we know. The resulting message will always be just below what we’re capable of computing.
But there are eager consumers who will benefit from that very message which is slightly below your level. That’s because many people are just below your level or even several steps behind.
That’s the case with any journey in life. Personal development is no different.
Getting Over Ego To Create Value
We have to overcome our own self-centeredness and consider other people’s situation.
Just because you don’t buy a product on ‘how to become a better lover’ doesn’t mean that the other guy won’t.
Just because you’re frugal and hate paying for anything but the essentials, doesn’t mean other’s don’t like to spend.
That’s right, we tend to forget that people love buying stuff.
They enjoy buying books, seminar seats, and online programs because what it says about them. They use things to supplement their identity. Occasionally they might even care more about how the purchase had made them feel than actually fulfilling their desire.
Just because you don’t want to have yourself as a teacher doesn’t mean that others won’t.
Clearly, nobody wants to have have themselves as a teacher.
There’s simply not a lot you can learn from yourself. The trick is to remember this next time you worry that people won’t be interested in your content just because you don’t find your content particularly interesting.
People are weird. You are weird. You need to stop thinking that only your preferences exist. Look at the market instead. Look at what other people are looking for. Maybe some of them are looking for you.