Here’s an email I got from a Bluecloud student this week:
My name is Anonymous Student and I recently joined your Bluecloud community. I’ll try to keep this story short, but today I traveled from XYZ, to San Francisco to present an App idea to you. I went to the Twitter building first, then galvanized, then the mailing address at the bottom of the website.
[I finally learned you were in] New York and would be back Friday. If it isn’t too much to ask i would really appreciate meeting with you on Friday. Once again, I apologize for all this, but I am striving to take action.
My contact info is below. Please feel free to call or text me anytime. I look forward to hearing back you and hopefully meeting with you on Friday.
Phone Number: 555-5555
Alternate Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
DAMN. That’s a first. Hats off to this guy for going the extra mile.
I’ve been conflicted about what to do.
I believe my purpose in life is to contribute and inspire people and I genuinely think this was dropped on my lap for a reason.
My first reaction was to say “Yeah man, let’s chat and get your app business on fire!”
But then I thought about it for a few days.
Is this really the best thing I could do?
Is sitting down for 30 minutes the biggest impact I have have on this young man for a prosperous future?
I thought and thought and thought about it.
Here’s the response I came up with:
Hey Anonymous Student,
Thanks for reaching out and I got the video 🙂 Just getting back to my desk which is why I have not responded.
Here’s the thing man – I know where you’re coming from and I totally love that you are willing to go all out to make something happen. When I was your age I did similar stuff where I would pull off these big moves in hopes of finding big results.
I would put in all this excitement and energy, pull the rip cord and then go do something extreme. A good example is when I was starting to build websites, I would build the websites first then go pitch companies THEIR OWN website without them even knowing I was doing it! I figured, of course they would love it – I just put in all this work to and it was going to be such an amazing story and all that.
When I got there – I received a reaction that was not really what I was expecting. Most of them told me “We’re not interested” not because of the money or anything…but because they just didn’t want a website. They didn’t want the hassle, it’s not part of their brand, whatever. It made no sense to me – don’t they know how much I’m trying to show them I can help them!
Another smaller lesson was about 6 years ago I applied to be in this contest where I would be a blogger at a ski resort, all expenses paid. The more views you got on your video submission, the better your chances of winning. I pulled all the stops. I emailed every influencer I knew, including Seth Godin. I asked them if they could PLEASE tweet about it or post of FB or even give me 5 mins of their time. It would CHANGE MY LIFE FOR GOD SAKES!!
Literally 10 minutes after I had written Seth that email he responded (see following screenshot). In a nutshell he was telling “Dude, I am not the solution you’re looking for. You don’t need one person to direct you – you need a million “micro-yeses” from the world”
I couldn’t believe it. “WTF DUDE” I thought. “DON’T YOU KNOW HOW BAD I WANT THIS TO HAPPEN??”
Looking back, I now realize….I didn’t really want it. I wanted someone to catapult me to the top. I didn’t want to spend 100 hours hustling and getting thousands of people to view my video and share it. I wanted one top dude to make my dreams come true. I also talked about how much it would help ME…and nothing about HIM. I just assumed me was some altruistic guy who sat around helping people all the time because he is such a great person/marketer.
There’s a big difference between finding “wormholes” in business and “big breaks”. Wormholes are when you make connections that other people don’t see. You accelerate faster than others. Things grow and fail at a faster rate because you are constantly trying to make things happen. Wormholes are a byproduct of hustle.
Big breaks are when something happens that you weren’t expecting, catapulting you to a level you’ve always dreamed of. These also happen as a result of hustle, but can also happen because of timing and luck.
So many people focus on getting that “one thing” that will get them to the next level, they forget that if they do get there and didn’t go through the sludge (or The Dip as Godin calls it), they won’t stay there.
If Seth Godin had said “Hell yeah man, i’m going to blow this out for you!!” and I had won, I would have thought that I was a genius marketer. I would have won the contest and told everyone how I got Seth Godin to blow it out for me and I was an expert at influencer marketing.
But eventually, that would catch up to me.
I’m telling you this because I am now in the position where Seth was, and I finally understand what he was trying to tell me – do the work. If you and I had been emailing for a few weeks and you had this plan fully laid out, vetted by hundreds of your friends, wire framed out…AND you spent a few weeks going through my website and helping me get more users or posting daily in Bluecloud Select FB group to help dozens of people or whatever else, THEN we’d have something to talk about.
But, even though I really love meeting with people (especially young people) and helping them, I can’t do it today.
I hope you don’t take this as my being a holier than thou or patronizing email, rather an opportunity. If you’re willing to fly to SF and go to all the offices to try and meet me, what else are you willing to do? What if I told you that flying here was only 5% enough to sit down with someone who could help you and inspire you, how much more would you do to get 30 mins in the conference room? Not necessarily me, but anyone who you want to talk to.
You have the drive, you have the potential. Now it’s time to put in the work.
All the best,
Here’s the email to Seth Godin (click for full size):
(and a screenshot of the the video I emailed him about)
Anonymous Student – I hope this finds you well. I want you to succeed, man. I do.
In my own life, I have found deep solace in knowing that we are pushed into our purpose.
I hope this helps you find your path.
UPDATE: I replied to the exact email chain I posted abolve to Seth letting him know I wrote this. Here’s what he wrote back.
Tudo em nossa vida é um aprendizado,
obrigado Carter pelo ensinamento.
Darn, I would have liked to email Seth. JK. Actually, I guess I’ve been living under a rock because I don’t even know how the dude is. Just wanted to say Thanks for this post. It was terribly interesting. Not exactly sure I agree with you not meeting that kid because that sort of tenacity does deserve reward, but in fact, he’s got a reward in your thoughtful letter to him. In fact, he may have gotten more of your attention than if you had just met with him. BUT the way it all panned out, the rest of us got some interesting insight into your path, as well as a great lesson and encouragement. Still feeling a little sorry for that guy though.
@Donna – Yeah, I wrestled with that for a while. It was not an easy decision. Part of it was practical (I had 4 other meetings that day), but the other piece was that I honestly didn’t know how I could help him if we met. Would vetting his idea help? Would the inspiration be enough? I honestly don’t know.
If nothing else, I have a lot of respect for him, not because he flew to SF, but because in the last few days he has been going 100% terminator mode to learn, take action and kick ass. I have no doubt I’ll be the one flying to see him in a few years 🙂
That was as great post. Very cool, very raw.
And so soon after flying home from New York! (When do you guys sleep?!)
It is already my impression that you, Mark, and any and all others involved with Bluecloud, are passionate about this blog, and it is really great to read this straight, unabashed, uncut thought about about the essence of business, Apps or otherwise.
You have mentioned several times throughout your postings, about your recomendation of reading “The Slight Edge”, by Jeff Olson.
I agree that this book is a classic of the ways of life and business.
This situation is quite appropriate to the essence of that book (and audio).
To paraphrase; It is the small, unoticed seeds that one continually sows, that reap the future rewards.
Or more precisely, Jeff echoes the thoughts of the late, great Earl Nightingale;
“Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal” .
So the takeaway here is to put in the time, before you ………. try to rush past the unsmelt roses, to get to the Director of Agriculture!
On the other hand, it is so often said that nobody should ever give up after the first rejection.
They say it takes 3 “No’s” to make a “Yes”,
It is also said that the shipping tycoon, billionaire; Aristotle Onassis sat in front of an investors house for days, to get him to see him about a Shipping Investment, which launched his career.
One way or another, I think it is important to go with your heart, and do what resonates with you, without violating or imposing on the space of others, for your own personal pursuits.
Cheers Carter, and to all of you Appreneurs!
Greg, App Design Universe
Great post! I can image the pain and feeling of the anonymous student but I hope this motivates him better and hope he will understand your decision one day.
Hey Carter. A great post – it’s somehow impressive that you put some effort to think about this situation for a while and then write a longer email, sharing your own story. It’s nice that you’ve provided some mentoring to the Student, as well as other people reading the post now. I feel that it is often underestimated how psychology and ideas being background to what we do, are important in business.
Hope we’ll hear about this young man and after six years or we’ll come across another life lesson blopost in which he’ll write about it from his perspective: today’s and then – hopefully, from the top level.
Thanks for a bit of reflection for today.