Cafe Witness

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What Does Success Mean to You?

I've been creating Something to Be Desired for four years now. I consider us to be "successful" in that we've kept the show online and interesting despite numerous hurdles.

And yet, whenever someone asks me what my goals are... I realize I can't articulate them, because I haven't defined them for myself.

Things Are Changing

I've been having a lot of conversations lately with social media folks -- and reading a lot of blogs and Twitters -- that lead me to believe the bulk of the people in this space have a hard time defining what success means for them, and therefore understanding the steps they need to take in order to get there.

Last year, PodCamp Boston exceeded expectations because it had never been done. This year, although attendance was up, it was still about 50% of the registered total. Was that a "success"? It depends on whom you ask.

Most of the no-shows were people "outside the fishbowl" -- those interested parties who weren't yet creating content and therefore weren't 100% invested in having a conversation about it.

"How do we get those people involved?" was the question a lot of us have been asking for a long time, and there still aren't clear-cut answers.

Maybe that's because we're not demonstrating that social media is a "successful" investment of OUR time and resources yet, simply because so few of us know whether or not we ARE successful. It's hard to lead by example when you're not sure where you're headed.

What Constitutes Success For You?

Are you a creator? Does the thrill of making something from nothing give you an unequaled charge?

Are you a collaborator? Do you prefer working with others to make something greater than any of you could have done independently?

Are you seeking an audience? What kind of audience? Is it more important for you to have a wide, "mainstream" appeal in your work, or a smaller, highly-engaged readership / listenership / viewership?

Are you seeking investment? What kind of investment? How much money / resources? From whom? What would you do with it if you had it?

Are you seeking to make a living at what you're doing? To become profitable? What's your break-even point? Where will that money come from?

What do you want to be doing in a year? In three years?

Very few of us seem to know the answers to these questions, which therefore prevents us from being able to take the steps to accomplish them. As a result, I see a lot of rudderlessness throughout the medium. I see disinterest, worry, cynicism and frustration. (I should know - I'm the generator of a significant amount of it.)

So, if that's the case, why don't we refocus for a moment and ask ourselves, honestly: What does success mean to you?

And, to kick-start the conversation, I'll list my POV. To me, success would be:

* Being out of debt
* Making a comfortable living
* Having health insurance
* Working as a writer / director / producer
* Having STBD viewed by 10,000+ people per episode
* Earning enough money from STBD to pay the cast
* Seeing STBD become one of the top shows in modern media
* Collaborating with creative people from multiple fields
* Helping shepherd other people's ideas to fruition
* Investing in / growing other small businesses
* Being able to donate time / resources to charities
* Being able to travel


Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  • That's an excellent question. Many of my ideas of success mirror yours.

    * Being out of debt
    * Making a comfortable living
    * Having health insurance
    * Working as a writer
    * Collaborating with creative people from multiple fields
    * Helping shepherd other people's ideas to fruition
    * Being able to travel

    These, too:

    * Creating an audience for my creative work, be it screenplays, novels, or graphic novels
    * Being sought after for brainstorming
    * Having a group of reliable and diverse coworkers willing to take chances

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:33 PM  

  • I still have trouble answering the question, "What do you blog about?" I think that once I can confidently answer that, I'll be able to progress beyond where I am now.

    In addition, when I can explain what I do to, for instance, family members who barely go online weekly, I'll feel like I can someday broaden my audience to those other than "blog readers."

    To add my personal details to a few points...

    *Being able to travel, but when I am traveling for work, to be able to afford a 4-star hotel, at least on occasion
    *Being able to make a comfortable living, but also able to create my own schedule
    *Having health insurance, but also a family to provide for
    *"Helping shepherd other people's ideas to fruition" - So well said. And it would be wonderful to have the ability and power to make people recognize another's talent

    As far as the things that I hope will get me there...

    *500+ unique hits, daily
    *25+ blog comments, daily
    *Getting published in print, or *have recognized therein
    *Being able to provide useful and intelligent information for others to further their own social media (being respected enough to asked to lead a BlogHer conference?)
    *Further my education in something a bit more traditional (Renaissance Literature) to keep myself balanced

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:11 PM  

  • I think you know one of my big and most current measures for success.

    Good post!

    By Blogger Woy, at 8:18 PM  

  • Nancy: Do you need to create an audience, or do you need to expose your work to an already-existent (and likely to be appreciative) audience? One of those is a much easier goal than the other...

    Rachel: I also struggle with the issue of being pigeonholed as a blogger. Am I writing about social media? Pittsburgh? Humanity? Caffeine?

    Or is this blog a spattering of my thoughts about multiple subjects? Is there room for that on the internet? Who can say yes or no?

    (I wouldn't put too much stock in explaining your life to your family, either; my parents still ask me "how's the movie?")

    So what do you think you need to do to be respected as an authority?

    By Blogger Justin Kownacki, at 9:41 PM  

  • Good question. I wish I had a good answer. It seems a lot of bloggers (and I'm speaking in the land of personal bloggers here, not published writers who are also bloggers, or social media connoisseurs who are also bloggers, or those who blog collaboratively for a cause or company, etc.) just have an X factor. Something that keeps people reading and interested, even if their life isn't all too interesting, even if they sign on and blog without reading other blogs or studying what works.

    I'm sure proficient writing doesn't hurt, but besides that, it seems it's just finding your thing, doing it for a long time, and hoping it works.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:30 AM  

  • Justin, good point. I think I need to expose my work to the right audience. The question is how. *ponders*

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:35 PM  

  • My vision of success as of this very moment:

    1.) I leave my house only when I want to leave my house. Work comes to me.

    2.) People know what I've done, and have applied it to their own lives for their own needs.

    3.) I've successfully trained a few protoges who do the same stuff their own way successfully.

    That's my view.

    By Blogger Chris Brogan, at 10:04 AM  

  • Like I just tweeted, I answered the question for myself some years back, in a PDF -

    Nice question, worth revisiting frequently enough.

    All success

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:57 PM  

  • Success is the possibility to help yourself and the others in the same time.

    By Anonymous Increase low sperm count pills, at 9:00 AM  

  • Success can transform a man into his dream into the real dimensions. It's a very intimate perception on a simple thought.

    By Anonymous premature ejaculation cure, at 7:03 AM  

  • Well for every person, Success has a different meaning. there goal are also different to achieve it.

    By Anonymous Performer5 ejaculate more cum pills, at 10:47 AM  

  • Very motivational and impressive eassy.... You must be writing a book on success ;)...Thanks alot for this great post...

    By Anonymous Vimax Volume semen pills, at 3:17 PM  

  • To be should first know what he/she is capable of doing...then working according to it....:)

    By Anonymous Phen375 weight loss pills review, at 12:19 PM  

  • Quite worthwhile info, much thanks for the post.
    Parksville real estate | cast aluminum | Tanzania map

    By Anonymous Paul, at 6:41 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home