The Psychology Of Surprise Is The Key To Great Headlines – Not Templates

There are multiple ways to write a headline but only a few reasons why all great headlines work.

Headline templates are a great source of inspiration. 

But relying on them without understanding WHY they work puts you at a disadvantage.

What are the underlying principles that make a headline great?

The answer to this question can empower you to get more eyeballs on your content.

Copywriters or marketers will tell you that you need a catchy hook to get someone’s attention.

One of the underlying mechanisms that make a catchy hook work is “the psychology of surprise.”

This human mechanism is often under-valued, and I’ll explain why the science of surprise is the most critical aspect of getting people’s attention.

Schemas: A Fundamental Aspect Of Being Human

Before August 2006, everyone thought that Pluto was an official planet in our Solar System.  But when the International Astronomical Union (IAU) downgraded Pluto to “dwarf planet” status, this was a big surprise.

If you’re interested in our Solar System and Space, this likely got your attention. Maybe you even invested some time into researching what happened.

Over the past several decades, cognitive scientists have discovered that we all have “schemas.” 

Schemas are organized clusters of knowledge you hold in your mind about a subject or event.  Before August 2006, your “Solar System Schema” was that Pluto was an official planet.  

“Schemas can be regarded as cognitive representations of humans’ informal, unarticulated theories about objects, events, event sequences (including actions and their consequences), and situations. Schemas serve the interpretation of present and past, and the prediction of future events, and thereby, the adaptive guidance of action.”

The Cognitive‐Evolutionary Model of Surprise: A Review of the Evidence

When you hear people talk about mental models, they’re referring to this concept of schemas.

Mental models typically have more practical connotations (whereas academics may be criticized for getting lost in the study of schemata).

I believe both approaches have value. 

Either way, I’ll be using the terms “schema” and “models” interchangeably in this post.

They represent our conceptual and perceptual perspective of how the world works (on both a small and large scale).

I couldn’t tell you how a car engine works.  My model is incomplete and not very accurate.

Compare that to a car mechanic, whose mental model of a car engine will be more accurate than mine. His knowledge and experience are far greater.

We Pay Attention To Information That Doesn’t Match Our Existing Schemata

When we acquire new information that doesn’t match our existing model, our “schema-discrepancy detector” gets triggered.

This mismatch creates the sensation of surprise.

When Pluto was no longer an official planet, this created a discrepancy between our existing “Solar System schema” and this new information.

This mismatch forces you to pay attention and focus (especially if it’s an urgent and relevant problem in your life).

Researchers studying this phenomenon explain the significance of surprise and how it gets our attention. 

“Unexpected events cause an automatic interruption of ongoing mental processes that is followed by an attentional shift and attentional binding to the events, which is often followed by causal and other event analysis processes and by schema revision.”

The Cognitive‐Evolutionary Model of Surprise: A Review of the Evidence

If you want to learn the art of getting people’s attention, it’s essential to understand how to surprise them.

Make Your Headlines Counter-Intuitive

Entrepreneur and thought leader Michael Simmons understands how to grab people’s attention.

He’s figured out that an idea or headline that is counter-intuitive is the key to getting people to pay attention to you.

What does the word “counter-intuitive” mean?

Within the context of cognitive science, it’s an idea that triggers our “schema-discrepancy detector.” It’s an idea that is NOT currently a piece of our schema or model.

This counter-intuitive idea creates the sensation of surprise and gets our attention.  

If the relevancy and urgency of the topic are high, we invest in it. Combine these with other forms of motivation (like acute wants and needs), and you’re heading in the right direction.

For instance, I used Buzzsumo to research the most engaging headlines in 2020, and a lot of them reference the Covid-19 pandemic.

The following headline is trendy – urgent and relevant – and implies that there’s information that we don’t know (triggering the schema-discrepancy detector).  

Once you understand that surprise is pivotal in getting someone’s attention, it’s time to apply it ethically.

Ethically Surprise Someone And Get Their Attention In 4 Steps

With knowledge of how the psychology of surprise works, we must use it ethically.

Nobody likes clickbait.

So if you want to grab someone’s attention by using a counter-intuitive headline, keep the content congruent and valuable.

With quality being our intention, here are four steps for grabbing someone’s attention: 

Step 1: What’s your content topic or idea?

Step 2: What’s your audiences’ schema or model of how that thing works? What’s their understanding of it?

Step 3: What do YOU know that does NOT exist within their current schema or model? Trigger the “schema-discrepancy” mechanism.

Step 4: Simplify the idea so it’s coherent and understandable.

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How To Develop Content And Innovative Ideas: Don’t Focus On Positive Feedback

“For the new entrepreneurs who are just getting started out there, what’s one piece of advice that you’d always recommend?”

Elon Musk shifts his eyes to the left, contemplates the question, then responds to Kevin Rose’s question.

“In terms of advice… it’s very important to actively seek out and listen very carefully to negative feedback. This is something that people tend to avoid because it’s painful. But I think this is a very common mistake – to NOT actively seek out and listen to negative feedback.” 

When explaining how he implements this in his own life, Musk explains, “When friends get a product, I say, ‘Don’t tell me what you like, tell me what you don’t like.’ Otherwise, your friend won’t tell you what he doesn’t like.”

Musk is right. Feedback can be painful.

You think your new idea is brilliant and share it with excitement. Then the listener sits there, unimpressed.  

Since we want to avoid pain, it’s tempting to exclusively focus on positive feedback (and the behaviors that reinforce it).

But if you’re trying to develop high-quality content or an innovative idea, then focusing on positive feedback is the worst thing you can do.

Seeking Negative Feedback Is Critical For Creative Work And Experimentation

“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.” 

– Elon Musk

I used to avoid feedback. 

I think the fear of negative feedback prevented me from taking action altogether.

But as I began building relationships with other entrepreneurs, they’d naturally share their opinions about my content and ideas. 

Since I knew they had good intentions, I was more willing to receive it.

This eased me into accepting the value of negative feedback.

Now, I proactively ask my friends what they don’t like about my content and ideas.  

And they’ll be brutally honest with me! 

Here’s my friend responding to one of my articles.

For anyone who wants to improve FAST, I recommend coaxing people for negative feedback.

Many times, people just won’t give it to you.  They don’t want to offend you or hurt your feelings, so they shy away from how they actually feel about it. 

This withholding of negative feedback is especially true with your friends.

By proactively coaxing them for their honest opinion, you’re letting them know that it’s okay to be honest. You won’t take it personally.

This form of feedback has delivered several insights for my content and brand. 

Receiving negative feedback is critical when you’re doing any sort of creative work that requires experimentation.  

The Reason Why You Don’t Seek Negative Feedback

A big reason why feedback is challenging is that it’s easy to attach our self-worth to it.

When we attach our self-worth to incoming feedback, two possible scenarios arise:

  • If we get positive feedback, we frame it as a “win.” We feel better about ourselves and are more motivated to continue experimenting and taking action.  Yet, we can take this too far and become addicted to validation, blinding us to receiving constructive criticism.
  • If we get negative feedback, we frame it as a “loss.”  We feel worse about ourselves and are less motivated to continue experimenting and taking action. If we maintain this perception of failure, it becomes a downward spiral.

In other words, we’re riding the emotional rollercoaster of content creation.

Here’s another way to think about it.

Every time someone says, “I don’t like your content. Your idea needs some work.” 

What you end up hearing is, “I don’t like you. You’re not good enough.” 

If negative feedback reinforces low self-esteem, then you’ll always avoid it.  And improvement is nearly impossible.

When we experience “wins” and “losses,” there’s a complex cascade of both physiological and neurochemical changes within your body.

Neuroscientist and clinical psychologist Ian Robertson explains partly what happens when you win, explaining, “Winning increases the dopamine receptors in the brain, which makes you smarter and more bold.”

In biology, this phenomenon is called The Winner Effect.

Dopamine plays a vital role in learning comprehension and retention. Elevated states of dopamine help facilitate improved performance and heightened learning potential.

So when you’re trying to develop content or an innovative idea, you’ll want to be as resourceful as possible.   

But when you’re losing (or more accurately – perceiving something as a loss), your physiology and neurochemistry changes and makes you less resourceful.

Experiencing this “loser effect” isn’t helpful when receiving negative feedback.  It’s meant to be constructive, not destructive.

Bottom line: it’s critical to learn how to receive negative feedback without triggering this “loser effect” inside us.  

I, for one, have struggled with this a lot.  And I have a tip that’ll help you get better with this.  But first, let me speak to a common objection that pops up. 

If Winning Reinforces More Winning, Why Shouldn’t We Focus On Positive Feedback?

If we become more resourceful when we “win”, why wouldn’t we focus on positive feedback?

It’s a good question.

And I’ll start by saying that I don’t recommend hammering someone with feedback to diminish them.  By using social intelligence, we can discern whether or not we’re speaking too harshly.

If I can see that my friends interpret my feedback destructively, I switch tactics quickly.  

But here’s the reality.

If you were to take that approach – and only focus on receiving positive feedback – then sure, maybe you’d feel better in the short-term.  But you’d miss out on feedback that can help you improve in the long-term.  

By focusing on receiving negative feedback, you can improve the quality of your content, ideas, and ultimately your life.  

Here’s How You Can Start Interpreting Negative Feedback As A “Win”

I gravitate towards Elon Musk’s advice – seek negative feedback.  

But this only works if you first detach your self-worth from the incoming feedback.  This process takes time, but it’s something you can learn. And eventually, you’ll naturally seek it because you know it’ll help you get better.  

Negative feedback CAN be a win.

As Ryan Holiday says, “The obstacle is the way.” 

Here’s a quick way to get started.

Begin seeking your friend’s and family’s honest opinion. The people you trust.  

Proactively ask them for their honest feedback on your content or innovative idea.  

This request may be uncomfortable at first. But eventually, you’ll train yourself to realize that this negative feedback is intended to help you grow and succeed.  

It’s much easier to learn how to do this with people you trust instead of strangers. 

With practice, you’ll begin cultivating a healthy relationship to negative feedback.  You’ll let it become a more common occurrence (instead of avoiding it or tuning it out).

You can now start iterating and improving at an accelerated rate because you’re receiving valuable data for how you can improve.

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Research Reveals Your Perception Of Time Will Indicate Your Success

“Remember to dream big, think long-term, underachieve on a daily basis, and take baby steps. That is the key to long-term success.”

– Robert Kiyosaki

Within the past two and a half years… I’ve noticed the quickest rate of personal growth and development occur during the past six months.

And here’s why.

I used to rarely publish content.

Within the past six months, I’ve created more content than the previous two years combined.

So why didn’t I publish a lot of content before?

My perception of time was holding me back.

Specifically, short-term thinking was the reason I rarely published content.

When I adopted a long-term thinking approach, I became much more consistent with my content creation.

If I didn’t do this, I would’ve plateaued and given up by now.

Having a streamlined content creation process truly makes sense if you’re looking at the future implications for your life and business.

And if we can become more future-oriented, success is inevitable.

In this post, I’ll be diving into the type of thinking that differentiates visionaries, thought leaders, and successful entrepreneurs from the masses.

Jeff Bezos’ Insane Business Decisions

Self-made billionaire Jeff Bezos has undoubtedly made significant business decisions.

So what’s at the core of his decision-making process?

Here are a few examples that reveal Bezos’ thought process:

  1. When he was deciding if he should start Amazon, he used a “regret minimization framework.” He imagined his future self on his deathbed and considered the following question: “Would I regret not making this decision?”
  2. He’s spent billions of dollars running experiments that won’t bear fruits for 5–7 years and were likely to fail.

To the average person, these types of decisions are crazy.

Initially, I thought they were crazy too. But I’ve learned that there’s a method to the madness.

And this is a recurring pattern that you can find in visionaries, thought leaders, and successful entrepreneurs.

Bezos’ actions indicate that he’s very “future-oriented.”

These Decisions Only Make Sense When You Use A Future-Oriented Perspective On Time

Let’s use an example that’s more relatable for most: your health.

You have decisions that fulfill both short-term and long-term goals (and accompanying benefits).

An emphasis on short-term benefits will have you focus on maximizing taste and pleasure. This could result in eating junk food, over-eating, not exercising, etc.

An emphasis on long-term benefits will focus on actions that contribute to longevity, vitality, and sustainable energy.

Depending on how you perceive time, each makes sense. There’s a payoff for each.

If you’re focused on maximizing pleasure in the present… then eating junk food and not exercising makes sense.

If you’re focused on sustainable vitality and longevity for the long-term, it makes sense to experience some “discomfort” in the short-term so that you experience long-term benefits.

Within health, we can see the negative consequences of only focusing on the short-term.

Your perspective on time will also impact your content creation and business success.

According To Research, Your Perception Of Time Will Indicate Your Success

In Philip Zimbardo’s book Time Paradox, he shares how our perception of time profoundly impacts how we live and the decisions we make.

In academic jargon:

“The abstract cognitive processes of reconstructing the past and constructing the future function to influence current decision making.”

In other words, time is abstract.

And your relationship to “time” will influence how you make decisions in the present moment.

For example: if you think long-term, then eating that cheeseburger doesn’t sound like a good idea. But if you only think short-term, perhaps you’ll eat a cheeseburger every day for the next month.

How will this impact your health over time?

After surveying more than 10,000 people with the Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory (ZTPI), he concluded that there are 5 main categories for how we perceive time:

  • Past positive
  • Past negative
  • Present hedonistic
  • Present fatalistic
  • Future-oriented

Without going too deep and boring you with details, his research concluded that future-oriented people tend to be more successful and accomplish their goals.

Let that sink in for a second…

Your perception of time can actually create more fulfilling outcomes in your life and business. And this is something that EVERYBODY has control over.

Thinking Long-Term Enables You To Make Higher Quality Decisions In The Present

What stops us from being future-oriented?

If you struggle with thinking this way, it’s not entirely your fault.

Instinctively, we’re not wired to think long-term.

But understanding how our brains function can help you overcome this human tendency and experience all the benefits of being future-oriented.

We all tend to focus on what’s urgent and push-off things that feel “non-urgent.”

This is actually a cognitive bias that’s been coined the “urgency bias.”

We tend to focus on urgent matters. Non-urgent matters are less of a priority.

If you’re being chased by a lion, tiger, or bear (oh my), this becomes helpful.

But when we’re not in extreme physical danger, it’s not as helpful. And it can actually hold us back.

The reason why this is so powerful is that your success relies on future opportunities.

Right now, these are “non-urgent” because it may take weeks, months, or even years to actualize.

Imagine having the opportunity to teach at an event or meet a potential business partner but lacking the skills to create a fulfilling outcome when that future opportunity arrives.

If you’re not prepared for these situations, then you miss out on huge opportunities.

And the only way to ensure that you capitalize on these opportunities is if you think long-term.

Content Creation and Long-Term Thinking

One criticism of content creation is that it’s not instantly gratifying.

It’s somewhat true. You probably won’t experience success after a few pieces of content. It usually takes a catalog of content to truly thrive.

HOWEVER. This doesn’t mean you can’t experience success along the way.

And it doesn’t take as long as you think.

But even more important… this long-term thinking approach to content is actually your biggest opportunity in the current market.

And here’s why:

  • A short-term approach focuses on “ego-metrics” and instant profitability. If this is the ONLY approach used, then profit eventually declines since you aren’t prepared for future opportunities in your market.
  • A future-oriented approach focuses on building community and long-term sustainability. This prepares you for future opportunities.

Most people are thinking short-term.

In fact, Former President of Y Combinator Sam Altman refers to long-term thinking as “one of the few arbitrage opportunities left in the market.”

Having a strong, growing community is one way you position yourself as a healthy and successful brand.

And a “future-oriented” content process will aid you in developing this.

Think about your personal and business timeline:

3 months, 1 year, 5 years, 10 years in the future…

What will your business look like?

Your content creation process can be a game-changer… the Archimedes lever that completely transforms your business development, growth, and profit.

If you only think short-term, you’ll be riding the “emotional roller coaster” of content.

Your content will lack purpose, and you’ll find yourself unprepared for future business opportunities.

If you can think long-term with your content, you’ll notice more motivation and discipline within your process.

You’ll have built a strong community.

And you’ll be more prepared for future opportunities in your business.

Have you been thinking long-term or short-term?

How To “Future Proof” Your Content Creation Process and Prepare For Huge Opportunities

“What is important is seldom urgent.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower

At the end of the day, we want a content solution that allows you to meet your short-term obligations and succeed and sets you up to create a business you want in the long-term.

Here’s a helpful tool that can help you do this.

Below is the Eisenhower Matrix, inspired by Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Though you could use this tool for every domain of your life, this will be geared towards content marketing and business development.

Focusing on the top row is exponentially more productive than the bottom row.

I’ll start with what I consider to be “higher-value,” then descend to less valuable types.

1. Important And Non-Urgent Content

The green square is the realm of long-term thinking.

This type of content aims to build an audience.

This not only includes generating more followers but also focuses on valuable content to establish a relationship with your existing audience.

This is achieved by increasing content consumption frequency by creating great content for your audience to invest in (adding additional touchpoints throughout the customer journey).

The purpose of this is to earn trust.

Here’s why I emphasize “customer-centricity.” I’ve observed that it’s easy to become lazy once we acquire a subscriber, prospect, or customer.

But long-term success will require a community of true fans.

How can you build this without adding continuous value to your audience?

This type of content is what Michael Simmons would call “blockbuster content.” He does a great job explaining it in this article.

2. Important And Urgent Content

The blue square is important and urgent content marketing. This type focuses on getting people’s attention and being “top-of-mind.”

This is where lots of people focus.

It’s where people get to “know” and “like” you. It’s filled with entertainment and storytelling.

It’s content that prioritizes a dopamine release. Instant gratification. Action-packed.

This is the realm of social media posts and other easily-digestible pieces of content.

I want to be clear here, this type is important.

It gets people’s attention and encourages people to invest in your business and brand. And every marketer knows that attention is the currency of online business.

However, if you exclusively focus on this type of content, it doesn’t set you up for long-term success.

You’re missing valuable content that builds trust (and true fans).

3. Non-Important And Urgent Content

The yellow square represents administrative content. This type has minimal contribution to marketing and sales growth.

Answering emails is a typical example here. Though it may be urgent, it doesn’t move the needle for your brand and business.

These types of activities can be batched or outsourced altogether.

4. Non-Important And Non-Urgent Content

The red square is the last category. And I personally recommend avoiding it.

This type of content either adds zero OR negative value to your business.

It’s ultimately content that doesn’t serve a purpose—an investment with zero ROI.

It doesn’t help build your personal brand, business brand or promote any offer that can help people (and grow your business).

An example of this would be content that tends to “vent” or solicit validation.

This is incredibly tempting on social media.

There’s a difference between being a self-aware role model (and making that transparent to your audience) versus soliciting validation.

There’s a difference between standing-for-something versus venting.

On the surface, this type of content may appear attractive, informative, or entertaining.

But when you pull back the layers, there’s very little intention behind it, and it doesn’t make a positive impact for yourself or others.

Simply put, the top row adds lots of value. The bottom row adds very little.

Are you thinking long-term?

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How Being Lazy Literally Forced Me To Create More Content In Less Time

“For the simplicity on this side of complexity, I wouldn’t give you a fig. But for the simplicity on the other side of complexity, for that I would give you anything I have.”

– Oliver Wendell Holmes

In one of my favorite movies Limitless, Edward Morra is a struggling writer who feels completely and utterly stuck.

He has a book deal and doesn’t even have one sentence completed.

And on top of all that… his girlfriend just broke up with him.

In this scene, you can see how helpless he feels.

Creative issues.

This is how we can all feel when we’re stuck and aren’t confident in our creative abilities.

It’s not until running into his Ex-brother-in-law where he receives an opportunity to transform his current situation (albeit, a magical pill).

I can’t give you a magic pill that’ll solve all your content creation challenges.

But I will give you a framework and quick tactic you can use to leap out of feeling stuck and begin producing some excellent content for your brand and business.

In this post, I will share a framework that will help increase your productivity with content creation. You’ll spend less time and create more.

And I’m going to share a particular tactic that I’ve been using that has allowed me to produce many quantity ideas (without sacrificing quality).

Time And Energy Constraints Force You To Think Of Better Quality Options

Wow… I feel lazy!

In December 2020, I was relatively lazy compared to how hard I was working at the beginning of the year and throughout the summer.

I suddenly realized it’d been almost a month since I’ve been out of the flow of creating content.

To give you some context, getting into the “flow of content” for me looked like a 30-Day Facebook Live Challenge, and then producing 3 short-form content pieces and 1 long-form content piece each week.

A couple of months before this, I joined an Instructional Team that partnered with UC Berkeley to help teach a Digital Marketing BootCamp.

So I found myself being spread thin by multiple obligations. And on top of that… I was losing motivation.

I still had a desire to produce content. But any free moment I had, I just wanted to relax and be lazy.

Seriously, it’s already been almost a month??

This realization kicked my butt and forced me to re-focus.

As I tried getting back into the flow, it felt more challenging.

Before, I had the luxury of spending a lot more time creating content.

Now… I had much less time.

And the cherry-on-top was I seemed to have an abnormal amount of “creative issues.”

Hey, I’m only human.

But once I stopped beating myself up for it and accepted my situation, something cool began to happen.

My time and energy constraints forced me to consider different content approaches.

Rather than spend more time and energy, I began looking for higher quality approaches. Quality ideas that didn’t require me to exert more energy.

This was when I came across the book One Week Author by Dana Derricks.

And the most significant insight from that book was how his students could create 100+ page books in just weeks using a simple tactic.

Filled with inspiration, I began experimenting with this tactic.

And over the past couple of weeks, my creative process has completely changed for the better.

More ideas have begun flowing, and I’ve started building momentum again.

I’m going to share with you how I’ve been able to do that.

The Benefits Of Being Lazy And Bored (And Why You Should Embrace It)

Contrary to what mainstream entrepreneurs and “hustlers” tell you, it’s OKAY to go through periods of laziness.

It’s natural. It’s human. And it’s impossible to be “on” all the time.

And if you try ignoring it, burnout is inevitable.

But these lazy periods are also an amazing opportunity.

They force you to reconsider your current ideas and processes to find better ways that help you achieve the same amount of work with less effort.

80/20 thinking.

This is how I’ve experienced my recent “lazy period” regarding my creative process for content.

Gather All The Sand First

Let’s imagine that you wanted to build an awesome sandcastle inside of a sandbox.

But in that sandbox, there was a limited amount of sand. Not nearly enough to build a cool-looking castle.

You discover that there’s a sandbox a couple of blocks away that has all the sand you need.

So you decide to gather some.

What do you think would be a more practical approach?

1) Do you think it’d be better to grab some sand, start building the castle, and then go back and get more sand when you run out?

2) Or would it be more effective to get all the sand you think you need at one time… and put it all in one location before you start sculpting it?

From my perspective, you can save A LOT of time getting all the sand you need first, instead of going back and forth multiple times.

And once you have all the sand you need, you can start building and sculpting the castle to your liking.

Two Creative Thinking Processes For Creating Awesome Content

There are two types of creative thinking processes when you go through a creative process of any kind.

Generally speaking, you have divergent and convergent thinking.

Convergent thinking is being able to converge ideas into their simplest form or a simple set of ideas. It’s about taking complex things and narrowing down the idea… shaving off aspects that don’t add value (or combining elements more effectively).

Divergent thinking, on the other hand, is when you generate lots of ideas. A traditional brainstorming approach would fall under this category. It’s about generating complexity by developing more ideas or options.

Convergent thinking narrows-down and refines, while divergent thinking expands and generates options.

And a quality creative process is ultimately an oscillation between both of these. Let me explain.

To give you a visual of what I’m talking about, look at the bell curve below.

Content Creation Creativity Process

On the left side, you have the initial idea or vision of what you want. For content creation, this would be your main topic.

This initial idea is simplistic. And it doesn’t carry much value yet because you still need to take action on it.

And then you move right by engaging in divergent thinking. The content piece rises into complexity. This is because you’re generating more ideas and options for your content.

Then eventually, you engage in convergent thinking. You refine the content until it comes back down to simplicity.

And the result is a powerful piece of content that’s both compelling and valuable.

So back to the sandcastle example.

You start with an idea for an outcome you want: let’s build a cool sandcastle.

It’s simplistic. And not much creative energy has gone into its production.

But it would help if you had some sand in the sandbox to build it—the raw material.

And ideally, you’d want to put all this sand in one location first (or as much as possible).

This is a period of divergent thinking. It’s a process where you’re generating more resources and putting them all in one place.

Then once you have all these resources, it’s time to go through a period of convergent thinking.

You’ll begin building, sculpting, and shaving away elements that don’t serve the ultimate result you want.

It’s a process of integration and simplifying until you have a great outcome.

The Biggest Mistake Content Creators Make: Using Both Processes At Once

When you engage in the content creation process, do you ever start micro-managing yourself every step of the way?

In other words, do you judge your content while you’re “in-process?”

If yes, then no worries. It’s common.

I’ve struggled with it. And I know tons of people who have too.

Maybe you’re trying to write, and when you generate a couple of lines of content… you begin editing and refining before you’ve even written 100 words.

And if you do this the whole way through, you’ll be wasting way too much time (and stifling the creative process).

This is the challenge you run into when you use both divergent and convergent thinking processes simultaneously.

It’s like having one foot on the gas and the other on the brakes.

Not much progress will be made.

It’s much more helpful to recognize which thinking process you should focus on and lock-in.

Then oscillate between the two when it’s appropriate.

Judging Yourself “In-Process” Ruins The Quality Of Your Content

Great content is all about simplicity on the far side of complexity.

A compelling piece of content has a sense of completion to it.

This is because valuable content emerges from a synthesis of different ideas.

And to best synthesize all of these ideas, you want to have all the sand in one location first. Then build and refine.

The key here is not to judge your ideas’ quality while you’re going through the divergent thinking period.

Self-condemnation literally destroys the creative process.

It’s important to embrace chaos within the creative process. If you do, then you’ll eventually find order.

For example, this post you’re reading was initially a mess! I had to move content around like a puzzle to create what you currently see.

Since this divergent thinking process is a huge bottleneck for lots of people, I’m going to share a simple process down below for breaking through “creative blocks.”

The better you get at this, the more quality content you’ll create.

Your audience will love it. And your brand will grow as a byproduct.

A Laser Quick Tactic For Creating More Content In Half The Time

Here’s the process that I’ve been experimenting with for the past couple of weeks.

As I’ve mentioned, recently I’ve gone through a period of laziness.

And this process has helped me produce a consistent amount of content while working fewer hours.

This process can be customized to your content creation needs, depending on your brand and business goals.

This is particularly helpful if you want to develop more written content. However, the general principles can benefit any medium of content creation.

You’ll be able to generate lots of content for your blog, social media posts, and any other platform that consists of written copy.

So the basic process starts with recording your ideas by speaking into an audio recorder (your smartphone being the most accessible option).

You can speak faster than you can write. And you’re more likely to free-associate and generate more ideas while you’re talking.

It might feel weird to do this at first. But remember, self-condemnation will stifle the creative process.

Over-time, some fantastic insights will emerge because you’ve silenced that self-critical voice.

Step 1: The Initial Idea

So grab a device to record yourself, and consider the following question, “What’s the initial topic you want to share content on?”

This is starting with the end in mind. We’re at the left-side of the bell curve.

Step 2: Divergent Thinking

Next, go through a divergent thinking process. Embrace complexity.

Create a brief outline of everything you want to talk about.

Go on a walk (or somewhere that makes sense for you). Press “Record.” And riff on the topic.

Again, don’t judge yourself here. Quantity is more important.

We’re moving right on the bell curve.

When you’re done, send your recording to a transcription service.

I’m currently using Temi. It’s pretty inexpensive. Right now, a 10-minute recording is just $2.50.

After it’s been transcribed, it’s time to go through the last process: a convergent thinking process.

Step 3: Convergent Thinking

I do some editing and proof-reading to make sure everything looks coherent (Temi does a pretty great job with accuracy).

Finally, I move some puzzle pieces around, making sure all my ideas become refined and helpful for this piece of content.

And then I publish!

That’s exactly how I created this post.

So to summarize:

1) Choose a content topic.

2) Create a brief outline of what you want to talk about.

3) Record yourself sharing ideas from the outline.

4) Send the recording to a transcription service (e.g., Temi).

5) Edit and proof-read the transcription.

6) Sculpt your piece of content. Move pieces around. Refine it.

7) Publish!

Can You Write A Book In A Week?

can you write a book in a week

Earlier, I mentioned I bought a book about a month ago from this guy named Dana Derricks. He’s a successful entrepreneur, and he’s written a ton of books.

For most of the books that he’s written, he’s created all the source content by recording himself speaking over an outline.

He’s written 13 books this way.

Most people haven’t even written 1.

This has allowed him to create books in weeks (instead of months or years).

In fact, he claims that his most recent book was created in 1 week.

He started with an outline of what he wanted to talk about and aligned each section to the book’s main idea.

It’s an impressive feat to create an entire book’s worth of content (over 100 pages) in weeks.

Recording yourself speaking is a practical way to do this.

The caveat to this is to make sure you’re producing quality. Fluff is fluff.

Recording content doesn’t automatically make it higher quality.

However, it does allow you to go through the divergent thinking process a lot quicker. And it can help you generate more content in much less time (and less effort).

Lots of online marketers are using a similar approach to repurpose content.

For example, let’s say you have a ton of videos, podcast episodes, or interviews.

They can be transcribed and turned into various pieces of content:

  • Long-form content
  • Short-form content

And if you’re feeling ambitious, each can be used in a multi-channel approach:

  • Using long-form content for various blogs (personal and guest posts) and open-publishing platforms (medium and quora).
  • Using short-form content for blogs, open-publishing platforms, and social media platforms.

So if you’re someone who does more video or audio content, then you have the option to step-up your content by transcribing and re-purposing it.

Ultimately, this process has saved me lots of time and energy.

Give it a shot and let me know how it goes!

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Applying Elon Musk’s “Single Best Piece Of Advice” For Content

“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.” 

– Elon Musk

Imagine placing your hand on a boiling hot pot and not feeling any pain.

Sounds like a superpower, right? 

Well, some people have a form of peripheral neuropathy where they don’t feel physical pain. It’s called Congenital Insensitivity.

They can still feel sensations and pressure. For instance, touching the boiling hot pot will feel warm. But it isn’t perceived as pain in the body.

Unfortunately, many people who experience this condition have extensive injuries: Broken bones, burns, and sometimes much worse consequences.

And they learn to live with it, or else their life is threatened. 

Imagine an impulsive child who’s never taught what’ll harm their body… 

Physical pain is your body’s way of giving feedback.


Not only is feedback important for your physical well being, but it’s also valuable for your business.

In this post, I’ll be sharing how you can utilize feedback in your content creation process to get better results.

Elon Musk’s “Single Best Piece Of Advice”

Do you want your message to have meaning for your audience and customers?

According to Elon Musk, gaining feedback is the “single best piece of advice” that he recommends for growth. 

I’ve seen a couple of interviews where he’s shared this.

It’s casually mentioned in an interview with Mashable. 

And he also talks about it during his interview with Kevin Rose.

It’s a key trait across great leaders and high achievers. And I’ve noticed how impactful it’s been in my life.

For a moment, consider a time in your life when you improved fast. Perhaps a period when achieving your goals seemed effortless. 

What kinds of feedback were you receiving? Was it coming from a quality source?

In the past, I’ve developed the fastest when I had a mentor or peers pushing me to be better.

There’s nothing mystical about joining a mastermind, having coaches or mentors.

Though the results may appear magical, you’re improving because of the sheer amount of feedback you’re receiving. And if this feedback is coming from a high-quality source, then all the better!

Having A Feedback Loop Sets The Pace For Improvement

The better your feedback system, the quicker your development.

This is especially the case for your content creation.

In fact, it’s probably one of the most powerful components in your content process.

In Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) they have a saying: 

“The meaning of communication is in the response you get.”

And feedback reveals whether or not your content has meaning to your audience.

Based on the responses, you can tweak the content so that you’re more effective in moving forward.

You’ll begin to:

  • Establish an environment where you can create a big impact.
  • Build more trust with your audience.
  • And grow your following.

The Power Of Feedback Loops

Having a feedback loop gives you a competitive advantage.

Over time, this results in building a strong audience. And it establishes an environment that enables business growth and profitability.

But to get massive results from feedback, it’s important to understand how it works.

Let me give you a scenario, inspired by Michael Simmons:

Let’s say they’re two jewelry repair companies that launch on the same day. And each gets 1 review on yelp.

The better repair company gets a 5-star rating and the other one gets a 4-star rating.

So now, let’s assume that each potential customer visits yelp before going to the jewelry repair company. And after getting the repair done, they leave a review.

Most people will choose the better-rated company, right?

The better repair company will:

  • Attract more people
  • Get more 5-star reviews (assuming they maintain high-quality service)

The other company with 4-star reviews will:

  • Attract fewer people… or none at all.
  • And get fewer reviews (and the reviews they do get will be lower quality).

Which company will grow faster?

After a week, the better jewelry repair company will have multiple 5-star reviews. Whereas the other company may still have just one 4-star review.

What’s happening here?

Optimizing one factor (yelp reviews) creates a reinforcing feedback loop that helps the company grow fast.

The 5-star reviews are “fed back” into the process. This encourages more people to show up, generating more leads and customers.

Creating Feedback Loops For Your Content

Without feedback… there’s no improvement.

They’re many names for this model: positive (reinforcing) feedback loops, flywheel, upward spiral, etc.

But for simplicity, just remember that improved performance comes from a “reinforcing” feedback loop.

This happens when an output reinforces more of the inputs.

A common example of this is compounding interest. The money you put into an investment reinforces more money.

Two Types Of Feedback For Your Content

feedback loop fro content

They’re a couple of feedback categories:

  1. Internal Feedback
  2. External Feedback

The creative incubation period functions as “internal feedback.” When you step away from writing and revisit the topic later, new insights rise to the surface. 

The external response you receive from an audience is external feedback. This includes content engagement, comments, likes, shares, etc.

Both of them “feed-back” into the content creation process.

This gives you the ability to produce more value… gaining more trust, creating more engagement, and growing your audience.

In the image above, you can see how this process flows:

  1. The content you create will “feed-back” into the content creation process.
  2. The deeper you dive into a topic, the more understanding you gain over time. You can call this the “incubation phase.”
  3. Since you’ve gained valuable feedback from your audience, it informs the inputs that go into the process.
  4. The better the flow of feedback, the more value you can produce through your content.

What If You Utilized Feedback Loops?

Having feedback mechanisms do more than just help you improve your content.

It allows you to:

  • Acquire valuable information that can be used to create a better product or service.
  • Gain insights about lucrative niche opportunities.
  • Improve your copywriting and sales messages.
  • And a lot more…

How would your business be impacted if you established high-quality feedback loops?

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How To Identify The Constraints In Your Content Creation Process

“Do not many of us who fail to achieve big things … fail because we lack concentration — the art of concentrating the mind on the thing to be done at the proper time and to the exclusion of everything else?” 

— John Rockefeller

Does your content creation process enable you to achieve your business objectives?

More growth? Profit?

The ability to adapt and improve at a quick pace?

Sometimes it’s challenging to identify the weaknesses in our current process.

But as the 80/20 principle suggests, there’s only a handful of inputs that create exponential results.

I want to share how you can identify these inputs and create exponential results.

Your Content Creation Efforts Are A Process

And within that process, there will always be a constraint that jams the “flow” of content.

Why is this a problem?

Your online business success is in direct proportion to your ability to produce value for your audience and customers.

And your content serves a major role in producing this value. If you aren’t producing both high quantity and quality content… then you’re producing less value.

This puts constraints on your overall business success!

One way to identify these blocks in your content process is by looking for the bottlenecks (and removing them).

The Theory Of Constraints

Dr. Eliyahu Goldratt introduced this Theory of Constraints model in his 1984 book, “The Goal.” Since its conception, it’s evolved and used across multiple business domains.

The basic idea is that every process has a major constraint that’s jamming the “process throughput.” It reduces the flow of the process, hindering your progress towards your objectives.

  • A car accident puts constraints on the flow of traffic.
  • Toxic relationships put constraints on your happiness.
  • Unhealthy foods put constraints on your vitality and energy.

And by unjamming this constraint, the flow improves.

The constraint sets the pace for how fast you progress towards your goals.

If this bottleneck isn’t addressed, it could create some serious problems over-time. Imagine never addressing your health bottlenecks…

But if you can quickly identify these constraints and solve them, then you’ll have a more optimized system in place.

Identifying these constraints is vital.

The Theory Of Constraints And Your Content Process

I started to notice that I had a large quantity of content laying around. These were pieces of content that had been published on one platform… and then never used again.

Something needed to change. I wanted to use these pieces of content to add more value to my audience.

This would allow me to stretch the value of every piece of content I created.

*Side note: Any accumulation of resources that are a “Work In Progress” usually indicates that a bottleneck is nearby.

For me, this meant that I had a bottleneck at the re-purposing phase of my content process.

So I began experimenting with ways to solve this constraint.

This included re-purposing content on different platforms, consolidating relevant content together, etc.

This improved the flow of my content process.

Perhaps you’re having a “duh” response. But when you’re in the trenches of your own process, these bottlenecks tend to be blind spots.

How can we identify them more easily?

Here’s How You Can Identify The Bottlenecks In Your Content Process

Here are the three questions you’ll want to ask when identifying bottlenecks:

1. What needs to be changed?

2. What should it be changed to?

3. What actions will cause the change?

Let’s use my example above to break this down.

What needed to change? I wanted to use the content that wasn’t being utilized and re-purpose it across different platforms/audiences.

What should it be changed to? Having a system that re-purposes this content without spending an obscene amount of time.

What actions will cause change? Develop a system that organizes my content and consolidates relevant pieces together (and then distribute them to the appropriate platforms).

What are the constraints in your content process?

Your ability to diagnose these constraints and quickly resolve them will increase the “flow” of your content.

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What Do Bill Gates, Einstein & Oprah All Have In Common?

“No one learns as much about a subject as one who is forced to teach it.”

 — Peter Drucker

This content creation secret is the pathway for sustaining success as an entrepreneur.

I’ve been observing multiple coaching calls and conversations with entrepreneur friends that have surprised me.

And I’ve gathered an insight that I think you can gain tons of value from.

People tend to think they’re afraid of failure.

What if I told you that this isn’t entirely true?

In many cases, people are actually afraid of success…

This is the self-critical voice that’s been coined the “imposter syndrome.”

At the core, it questions your value…

  • “If I were successful… could I sustain it?”
  • “Am I worthy of success?”
  • “Could I keep it up?”

I became painstakingly aware of this voice when I started along the entrepreneurial path.

And as I began to build my business, I’d question my value constantly… maybe you do something similar.

I shouldn’t have been so judgmental about my results at the time. It would’ve been healthier to just see it as feedback for improvement.

But as we all know, it’s much easier said than done.

I’m going to share how you can be the type of entrepreneur who can sustain success… and share an approach that’ll help you overcome imposter syndrome.

And instead of relying on “luck” or a “hail mary” for success… you’ll systematically become the type of person who can sustain it.

Teach To Get Exponential Results

What if I told you the secret to growing your business online (and sustaining it) was found in your ability to teach?

And by teaching, I’m talking about your content creation!

This is an approach that people like Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Thomas Edison, Leonardo da Vinci, Oprah Winfrey, and Bill Gates used to get exponential results!

Though their approaches differed, they engaged in some form of teaching.

This will enable you to:

  • Increase your learning potential so that you can sustain success when it lands.
  • Learn how to create an ideal environment for selling your products/services.
  • Make a bigger impact.

Let’s dive deeper!

Be Prepared To Ride The Wave Of Opportunity

Ride The Wave Of Opportunity

Do you want to be the kind of entrepreneur who can sustain success when you get that big opportunity?

Recently I was reminded about the importance of “opportunities.”

This is a little personal, but it’s relevant for this piece of content.

Memories of my past “failed” relationships have been creeping up. And when I look back… at least one partner in the relationship was emotionally unavailable (sometimes both).

We weren’t prepared for the “relationship opportunity” in front of us.

Since we hadn’t become the type of people who could manage and healthily process our own emotions… we couldn’t sustain a successful relationship.

And we missed out.

Now I don’t condemn this younger version of myself. But it made me think about how important it is to start preparing for your big opportunity in all aspects of life… especially your business!

If you’re not prepared when a big opportunity arrives, then you’ll miss your shot.

Imagine catching this “wave of opportunity” and riding it towards your highest potential. This is when your business gets exciting!

Do you feel ready when that big opportunity lands?

Or are you haphazardly creating content hoping that it goes viral?

In other words, are you focusing on developing your skills or your popularity?

Ironically, when you focus on getting “better” you inevitably get “bigger.”

Enter The Explanation Effect For Content Creation Mastery

“When one teaches, two learn.” — Robert Heinlein

One of my favorite thought leaders is Michael Simmons. And after three years of research and more than 150 hours of research, he discovered a breakthrough mental model.

And he coined it the “Explanation Effect.” Check out his article here.

Many of the highest achievers on our planet use this mental model as a guiding principle for their work. Simmons mentions Bill Gates, Albert Einstein, Oprah Winfrey, and many others.

The main idea is that when you teach your knowledge to others, you elevate your own learning potential and amplify your development.

Why is this the case?

Well when you begin teaching your knowledge, you quickly become aware of the gaps in your thinking.

This helps you in a few ways:

  • It provides valuable insights.
  • It helps you earn at a much deeper level.
  • And it gives you more understanding at a much quicker pace.

If you observe some of the highest achievers on this planet… notice how often they teach. They view it as one of the highest leverage activities for sustainable success.

Teaching Is A “Future-Proof” Skill-set

And here’s your opportunity…

Your content creation process gives you the ability to teach your knowledge!

And when you have a process that also emphasizes marketing… this is how you can marry both business and personal growth together.

When we integrate content creation into our daily lives, we can increase our learning potential, build a strong audience, and make a much bigger impact in the world.

This model isn’t new. It’s actually been around for centuries and we’re just now waking up to its power.

For example, Aristotle regarded teaching as “the highest form of understanding.”

This is partially why I’m so passionate about teaching content creation.

Not only will it help you achieve your business goals… but it makes YOU better.

So when that big opportunity comes your way, you don’t have to rely on luck.

You’ve systematically developed yourself into the type of entrepreneur who can sustain success.

And this is why having a streamlined content creation process is so powerful.

How To Become The Type Of Entrepreneur Who Can Sustain Success

Again, one of the biggest blocks entrepreneurs have when growing their businesses is the imposter syndrome (or fear of success)!

And we can use our content creation process as a vehicle to overcome this.

To accomplish this, we’ll want to engage in “deliberate learning.”

Learning experts define this type of learning as codifying and articulating past experiences.

This is a fancy way of saying reflection.

The Biggest Deliberate Learning Mistake

When I went to college, the professors had us engage in lots of deliberate learning. Tons of assignments. Essays. Presentations.


From personal experience, many learning curriculums miss one of the most important variables.

Experiential learning.

For deliberate learning (or reflection) to be effective, it needs to be based on experience.

Just reading a few books and teaching will give you limited learning potential. It also lowers the quality of content being shared.

So when dialing in your content creation, here are a few questions to keep in mind:

  1. What’s my existing knowledge of the topic?
  2. What personal experience(s) are connected to this topic? This doesn’t have to be a grandiose experience… just a reference to how the topic works in reality.
  3. Can I share this with a relevant audience?

What piece of content are you creating next?

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Creating Content Without A Vision Just Passes The Time…

Creating content without a vision just passes the time.

We need a north star when steering the ships of our businesses.

In ship navigation, the captain uses an “error correction” approach when directing the ship.

They understand where their ship is headed. They know their “north star.”

And if the ship ever goes off course, they merely correct the error.

They don’t see this error as a “failure.” They understand that there are factors outside of their control.

And when they become aware that they’ve gotten off course, they realign the ship towards this north star.

In this article, we’re going to develop a content vision that focuses on your audiences’ needs (not yours).

This’ll allow us to create content that resonates with an audience.

High Impact Content Is Always Informed By This “North Star”

Planning and creating a larger vision is common practice within lots of business domains.

However, I notice it’s often neglected when dialing in the content creation process.

And since content creation is a major pillar for online business success… we must discover this vision.

If you neglect this process (and don’t constantly revisit it), you’ll end up wasting your energy, time, and money.

Not having clarity on your “north star” creates a stagnant business that lacks both direction and action.

High impact content is always informed by this higher purpose. And every piece of feedback we receive from our content (both internally and externally) will allow us to keep moving in the right direction.

We start this process by asking the following:

What’s the “ultimate result” you’re helping your audience achieve?

And this “ultimate result” becomes your north star for your content creation.

When you’re steering your business’ ship towards getting more leads, customers and profit… you’ll simultaneously be moving in a direction that makes a LARGE impact on your audience and customers.

Creating a vision for your content ensures that you accomplish both business growth and a positive impact.

Aristotle & Developing Your Content Vision

Aristotle Developing Your Content Vision

Creating a “content vision” ensures that you accomplish business growth and create a big impact on your audience.

Here’s how.

Back in the day, Aristotle introduced this idea of Teleological Causation. This has become an interesting area of study for both physics and philosophy.

The main idea of teleological causation is that something exists because of its higher-order purpose or intention. And this is the case for most complex systems.

Here are some examples:

  • Since people wanted more efficient ways to travel… the automobile was designed.
  • Since people wanted more efficient ways to pick up food and eat it… utensils were designed.
  • Since entrepreneurs wanted an automated AND efficient system to support their revenue stream… the idea of “funnels” was created.

A higher purpose or vision caused an action to occur at a lower level. It’s a “top-down” causation model. Let me explain a bit more…

How Teleological Causation Transformed My Health

Here’s a personal example of how “Teleological Causation” has worked in my life.

I have Type 1 Diabetes. And my health has been both a challenge and priority throughout my life.

Growing up, my health vision was to build a ton of muscle mass. I was inspired by bodybuilders and wanted that aesthetic look.

So I began taking action that was in alignment with traditional bodybuilding approaches. Heavy weights. High protein. Etc.

When I was in college, I started to feel the cumulative effects of this approach on my joints and digestive system. To be honest, my health was in shambles despite my “aesthetic” look.

This is when I shifted my health vision. Instead of trying to build muscle mass… I set my purpose on optimizing my hormones and gaining more energy.

After some research, my new vision caused me to COMPLETELY change my lifestyle:

  • I began intermittent fasting
  • I started meditating consistently
  • I began consuming a moderate amount of protein (instead of a high amount)
  • And so on…

In essence, if I didn’t change my health vision… my actions in the present moment would’ve probably stayed the same.

And now my health is much better!

Teleological Causation For Your Content

Many people think that their business goals will be achieved from a “bottom-up emergence” paradigm.

For example, if I build a funnel and create some content, then “business success” will emerge.

But without a clear vision first, you won’t be compelled to take the proper actions to actually fulfill that vision.

When you create a future vision… this motivates you to take action in the present moment so that you begin to create this “future vision” into reality.

And in many ways, this vision changes your behaviors.

Your vision or purpose INFORMS the actions you take now.

When you create a “content vision,” every piece of content you create will be filtered through this vision.

This will enable you to create content that gives you the ability to build trust and grow your audience.


Because if your vision is focused on solving specific problems for your audience, your content will be automatically filtered to add value.

Understanding this principle of teleological causation is vital for your content marketing and business success.

Create Your Content Vision

We create content visions so that we’re clear in our direction. And once we’re clear on this direction… we feel more confident to take action.

Here’s your first step for dialing in your content creation vision or purpose.

Identify the ultimate result that you want to help your audience achieve.

And once you have a general idea, turn this into a “how-to” statement.

For example: “How to help low-carb dieters lose 20lbs of weight.”

Once this purpose is set, every piece of content you create can be aligned to this higher vision.

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Get A High ROI On Every Single Piece Of Content

“Losers have goals. Winners have systems.”

-Scott Adams, Creator of Dilbert

What if every piece of content you created had a positive ROI?

Maybe you spend countless hours creating a piece of content you think is amazing.

Scratch that. You know it’s amazing…

You put all this time and energy into creating a great piece of content. And what comes next?


You get very little traction (and sometimes none at all).

I know this struggle all too well.

And not only do I personally struggle with this… I’ve observed this pattern at play in countless other entrepreneurs.

So I’m going to share how you can gain a high ROI on your content EVEN IF you’re not getting the immediate results you want.

Winners Have Systems

Scott Adams likes to say that “losers have goals” and “winners have systems.”

This is a principle that I’ve held onto for many years.

The essence of this quote is asking the following question:

How can I pursue a goal so that EVEN IF I “fail” miserably… I still develop my skills, abilities and/or relationships through the process?

In regards to content creation… how can I win and grow after every piece of content?

The top complaints I hear about content creation is how it’s a long-term approach to business success. It’s not instantly gratifying.

Though this may be true for your ultimate business objectives (revenue, profit, etc.) you can still receive high ROI after every piece of content you create.

It’s highly unlikely to produce one or two pieces of content and have success emerge. Content creation is a process.

Are there exceptions to the rule? Of course. Even a broken clock is correct twice a day… but that doesn’t mean I should allow it to inform me of the time and put it on my wall.

Success is more likely to emerge after you’ve developed a catalog of quality content.

Different forms of ROI can be achieved in your content. And these can transform your business over-time.

And the quickest and most efficient way to achieve this is by having a streamlined process.

By having a content creation engine in place, we can streamline our success and use every piece of content as an opportunity for high ROI.

Let’s Talk ROI

To get a high ROI on every single piece of content… we need to first be clear on what this ROI is.

As an entrepreneur, I know that most things don’t work out exactly as planned. So by focusing only on short-term financial metrics… I could end up wasting countless hours and energy on something that may NEVER work out.

Instead, I’d rather invest in experiences that’ll give me large amounts of learning and skills. These are resources that I can use for future successful endeavors.

This doesn’t mean I don’t focus on achieving these short term goals. I do.

But I have a higher purpose outside of “get more money.”

And by focusing on experiences, I’m setting myself up for future success (even if my short-term goals don’t work out 100% as planned).

The world is evolving and changing. And innovation is accelerating at an unfathomable rate.

And if we’re not learning from every single experience we have… then we’re wasting our time.

We’d be wasting our time because we’d be unprepared for future opportunities.

These current experiences will prepare you for these future opportunities in ways you couldn’t have even imagined.

For instance, almost a year ago I decided to learn professional coaching & teaching. And I created goals that forced me to learn these skill-sets.

And they’ve paid off in unpredictable ways.

For example: recently I’d been asked to join the instructional team that teaches digital marketing to UC Berkeley students.

And if I hadn’t learned how to professional coach or teach, then I wouldn’t have been prepared for that opportunity.

Pursue a high return on experience.

It’ll pay off in unpredictable ways.

3 Important Facets Of A Content Creation Engine That’ll Give You Massive ROI

content creation engine

They’re a few ideas I’d like to share today that’ll completely transform your relationship with your content.

Here are 3 important facets of a content creation engine:

1. Having A “Higher-Purpose” Keeps You On Course

It’s important to understand that you have business “goals” and a higher “purpose” for why you create content.

For instance, your goals could be to generate more leads and revenue. Your purpose could be to create a positive impact for your audience (I recommend customizing your purpose so it resonates with you).

Your goals are “finite” because they have a measurable outcome. They can end or be accomplished.

Your purpose could be considered “infinite” in the sense that it’s a continuing process.

And ideally, each of these finite goals fulfills this “infinite” process.

For example, growing your business online (leads and revenue) could fulfill the higher purpose of making a positive impact.

So why is this distinction important?

Goals focus on outcome-orientation. Purpose focuses on process-orientation.

If you want to create an effective content creation process, you’ll need a higher purpose for it.

Not every piece of content is going to give you thousands of likes & comments. If you don’t have a higher purpose for creating your content, then those posts will discourage you.

Discouragement will lead to less action. Less growth. Less results. And over-time… a failing business.

It’s a deadly downward spiral.

However, if you’re clear on your higher purpose, you can tap into a process-oriented mindset. So even on your “off” days, you still win.

Every action fulfills this higher purpose. And because you’re taking tons of action, you gain a massive Return On Experience.

2. You Learn And Develop Faster When You Teach

In one of my favorite articles written by Michael Simmons, he shares a powerful model that he coined the “explanation effect.”

Here’s the article.

The main idea is that we learn, develop, and accelerate our growth when we teach others.

Teaching reveals gaps in your own knowledge and gives you feedback on where to improve. This creates a cumulative effect over time.

You’ll have a much greater learning potential compared to someone who isn’t teaching.

And content creation is a form of teaching!

So every piece of content you create, you have an opportunity to get better. Learn. Develop. And accelerate your growth.

And when you focus on getting better, you turn into the type of person who naturally attracts leads and clients.

I’m not proposing you just passively create content and hope for people to find you. However, having a content creation engine that focuses on getting better will turn you into a person who can sustain success.

You’ll have the skills and abilities needed to maintain success… instead of suffering from the “one-hit wonder” phenomenon.

3. Discovering A Profitable Niche

Chris Rock is very experimental with how he develops his jokes.

When he writes a joke, he DOES NOT think to himself… “This is a good one, I’ll use this for my next big performance.”

Instead, he begins by going to smaller venues and experiments with his material. Then he observes the audiences’ feedback.

Which jokes do they like? Which ones do they not like?

Once he has enough feedback, he consolidates the BEST jokes and uses them for his next big performance.

A streamlined content creation process works the same way for discovering niches.

Discovering your niche can be a big challenge.

It takes time to become clear on your audiences’ specific needs and develop solutions to overcome them.

But research alone won’t give you these insights. You receive “diminishing returns” after a certain point of researching.

The only way to TRULY figure out what your audience wants and needs is by their direct feedback (similar to Chris Rock’s approach)

And content creation can be a powerful vehicle for doing this.

Over time, it’ll show you what your audience cares about.

And then you can consolidate your best content into premium offers that’ll serve your audience at a higher level.

This could literally be the catalyst for a profitable business, products, and services.

The more refined your content process, the more likely you’ll find these gems over-time.

How To Begin Developing A Content Creation System

There are a few things you can do to start building this content creation engine:

  1. Develop a “higher purpose” for creating your content. Every time you create and share content, you fulfill this purpose. That’ll get you into a process-oriented mindset.
  2. How can you start creating content so that EVEN IF it doesn’t achieve your “desired results”… you still developed your skills, abilities, and relationships?
  3. In what ways can you start running tiny experiments with your content? Use Chris Rock as inspiration.

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How The Father Of Ambient Music Discovered A Brand New Niche (And What We Can Learn From Him)

“I prefer to shoot the arrow, then paint the target around it. You make the niches in which you finally reside.”

 — Brian Eno, Father of Ambient Music

Sometimes innovation and creativity come from tragedy.

Imagine the pain of your lungs collapsing. Then not too long after… you slip on the wet road and get hit by a car!

Talk about bad luck.

Well, this was Brian Eno’s reality in 1975.

But something unexpected happened as he lay bedridden.

On one fateful day, a friend came over to visit him.

She offered to play a music record for him as he lay resting, and he agreed.

She chose some 18th-century harp music.

Brian Eno’s guest left, but kept the music playing…

To his dismay, the volume was too low for his liking. And he couldn’t reach to change the volume.

Initially, he was frustrated with the inconvenience…

But as he lay there, he noticed the sound of rain pouring down outside.

And he could hear the harp music just loud enough above the sound of the rain.

At that moment… he was inspired by the sound that emerged between the harp music and the rain outside.

And this is the origin of Ambient Music, which is now a very popular genre!

Ambient music focuses on tone and atmosphere. It’s a good choice when you’re trying to enhance the “vibe” or ambiance in the environment. And it’s frequently used as background music for studying or relaxing.

Brian Eno successfully discovered this niche.

And he’s made other noteworthy contributions to the music industry since, such as being one of the producers for Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida” album. And much more.

“Plant Seeds” To Discover Your Niche

Here’s the good news: you don’t have to be bedridden to discover your niche!

I’m going to repeat his quote from above: “I prefer to shoot the arrow, then paint the target around it. You make the niches in which you finally reside.”

To understand this quote, it’s important to look at his philosophy as an artist.

In an interview, Brian Eno mentions that artists are “much more like gardeners. We’re planting seeds, and how they come up is different every time. It’s constantly surprising.”

His style of creativity is all about “planting the seed” and seeing what grows from it.

In other words, he doesn’t wait to gather the “perfect” amount of data or information before taking action.

He takes action, plants some seeds & watches for feedback.

How To Gain Clarity On Your Niche

I want to lay out a basic process when discovering your niche, inspired by Brian Eno.

Step 1: Take Action And Plant Seeds

In the spirit of Brian Eno, start planting seeds.

Begin taking action. Build your audience. Test your content ideas.

See what works.

Shoot the arrow. Then paint the target around it.

The deeper and deeper you explore your niche, the more clear you’ll become.

Step 2: Gather Feedback

As you plant the seeds, notice how they grow.

Do they grow at all?

This will give you more clarity on your niche over time.

Perhaps you begin noticing patterns about your audience.

Maybe they’re all experiencing similar challenges.

These are amazing insights for serving your audience and dialing in your niche.

But don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you need to do more research to discover these insights.

Clarity comes from both discovery AND development. Knowledge AND experience.

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