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On Finding Your Point of View

Yesterday I wrote about creating a content program from square one. A lot of you have asked about it, so I wanted to give you a quick idea of how it worked.

After I sent the email, I met up with a friend who asked this question:

I get that I need a market, and a point of view in order to create remarkable content. But how do I find my point of view?

If your brain works anything like mine, it needs immense amounts of repetition to clarify what’s going on inside. That is, finding your unique point of view is not a mechanical or quick process. By definition, finding your unique point of view can be game-changing for you and your business, and could even be ground-breaking in your industry.

There’s this pervasive misconception that, if we were serious and disciplined enough, we could just find our best ideas right now. Author, speaker, and corporate consultant Simon Sinek struck gold with his first book, Start With Why, at the age of 35, catapulted largely because of his TED talk video. This isn’t the norm.

Peter Drucker is widely considered the father of modern management, and his story is a bit different. Drucker, like Sinek, was an academic and published author. According to Amazon, his top 3 best-selling books are The Effective Executive, Managing Oneself, and Managing the Non-Profit Organization. Those books were written when he was 58, 90, and 81 respectively. He’s credited with publishing 39 books in his lifetime, and one book posthumously.

What’s the difference between Simon Sinek and Peter Drucker? Perhaps it’s the internet exposure, or timing, or intellect, or luck. It’s impossible to know. But the combination of factors catapulted Sinek to authority much quicker, while lowly Drucker is “only” known as the father of management the world over. Both succeeded overwhelmingly, one happened to do it a bit faster.

You may have heard of the “sophomore album slump” in music. For many artists, the second album is 10x harder than the first. Only until I saw this in practice did I understand why it was the case, and it can be summarized like this: artists have their whole lives to create the songs on their first album, but they have 1-2 years to put out their sophomore effort to capitalize on their first album. That means Ray Lamontage had 32 years to create the material on Trouble (including a full 6 years of writing, recording, and honing his effort), and only 1 year to create and record the material on his follow up effort Till the Sun Turns Black.

This is all to say the obvious, that it takes a really fucking long time to reach mastery.

Here’s the key difference between your point of view and a musician: you’re not in the hits business. You’re in the hit business, singular, if you want to create authority. That is, you only need one unique and memorable point of view to sustain your content efforts, now and forever. Simon is now and always will be “The Start With Why Guy,” unless he comes up with a better idea, and it’s certainly not necessary.

Of course finding your point of view just ain’t easy, especially compared to the ease of me typing out “find a point of view.” Yes but how, you ask?

I’ve yet to come up with a formula for it, but here are the elements that I view as absolutely critical:

  • Immersion: you have to plunge deep into the waters of your area of expertise, hardly coming up for air until you suffocate; just before you do, get some air, then go in and do it again
  • Creation: be a creator of ideas, or even just a translator of ideas and concepts; you have to make things and hash out the hard questions to reach your point of view, in my not-so-humble opinion
  • Refining: talk to people in your market about your point of view, and see what they have to say; if they don’t either love it or hate it, it’s probably not that unique; lukewarm isn’t what we’re going for

And there’s a three-part test you might consider using to determine the uniqueness of your point of view:

  1. It’s counterintuitive and/or few other people would say it
  2. It explains a trend others are feeling
  3. It’s simple and memorable

I’d love to hear about your worldview, if you’re willing to share. Go ahead and hit reply if you’re willing.