My 8 Best Decisions Ever (plus why you shouldn’t create art)

I Need Your Help

On May 13th I’ll be golfing 100 holes in ONE day to raise money for children who desperately need speech therapy and cannot afford it. My personal goal is $2500. Anything you can donate to help would be amazing.

Please donate here.

All funds go to Orange Effect Foundation, where we have over 400 speech grants to children in 37 states. OEF is a provider of speech therapy and technology to families as a last resort option (insurance won’t pay for it and the family cannot afford it themselves). Thank you for reading this.

Big Announcement

The incredible B.J. Novak (from “The Office,” Writer, Best-selling Author, Comedian) will be the closing keynote at Content Entrepreneur Expo (CEX) 2024 in Cleveland May 5-7.

B.J. is a big get for us, and he joins an already incredible lineup of content creators.

I hope to see you there. If you are a content creator of any kind, it’s worth the trip.
Reserve your place here.

You Aren’t Creating Art

Rick Rubin is a music executive, founder of Def Jam records and former president of Columbia Records. He’s been critical to the careers of The Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Aerosmith, Johnny Cash and so many more incredible artists.

He says in this Instagram Reel that when someone is creating something, the audience comes last. He believes that, if you are creating real art, you have to be creating it for you, and not care about fitting it to a particular audience.

He says “when you make something, when you are making art, truly for yourself, you’re doing the best thing you possibly can for the audience.”

I agree…if you are creating art.

But if you are a content creator, you aren’t creating art. You are creating content for commerce.

I’ve heard Seth Godin talk about making and shipping art consistently. Are my posts on content creation or social media or content marketing art? In my case, they aren’t. They are, what Mr. Rubin would call, commerce.

We are building a business on the back of a content model. We are working to satisfying the needs of the audience…maybe go beyond their expectations. And if we do that correctly and consistently, they become a loyal audience, one that can be monetized.

I can’t think of this as art. Most likely, your blog posts, Instagrams, TikToks, YouTube…this is not art. You are developing these things because you are working to build a business where you’ll never have to report to another person.

If we start believing that the content we create needs to first and foremost be like our own diary entry, we will probably fail. Oh, is it possible that the stuff you created for you could catch on with an audience? Absolutely…but not in this model.

Creating art is amazing. Everyone should do it. But you are not creating art, you are in the commerce business. You need to satisfy an audience.

Do you agree?

Btw, I go into more detail on this on my Content Inc. podcast. Check out the episode on Rick Rubin here.

This Old Marketing on YouTube

Robert Rose and I are working hard to build out our This Old Marketing channel on YouTube. Last month we added YouTube shorts (you’ll love them), which has added an additional 15,000 views. Needless to say, we are bullish on YouTube.

Check it out here and please subscribe!

My 8 Best Decisions Ever

Now that I’m a seasoned 50-years-old, I stumble into many discussions with younger professionals about some of the decisions I made as a newbie. After my last coffee meeting where this topic came up, I wrote a few of these down.

Note: I left out marrying my life partner, having kids and a few other things, but you’ll get the point.

Set Goals. Create Habits.

My first real job was as a data processor for an insurance company here in Cleveland, Ohio. During most of my lunch periods I would find an unoccupied room and read self-help books. By reading books like “Seven Habits” and “Think and Grow Rich,” I developed a personalized goal-setting process that worked for me.

Over the years I set time-based goals that were measurable, and then created everyday habits that supported each goal. I reviewed these goals every day.

I believe if you want to accomplish anything in life, you need to set a goal to achieve something, and work on your habits that turn those goals into reality.

In my experience, people who don’t write down or review their goals barely accomplish anything meaningful in life.

Here’s my personal process in detail.

Get a Roth IRA

Roth IRAs are individual retirement accounts where you can invest after-tax money and then the investments you choose grow tax free. The Roth IRA was created in 1998, which was the same year my wife and I opened an account. We started by investing $20 each per month. When both of us began to make more money at work, we invested more on a consistent basis. Now, over 25 years later, these accounts have grown significantly.

Every person under 70 should have a Roth IRA.

Get a 529 Education Account

Our oldest will graduate from college in May. Outside of some well-earned scholarships for our oldest, the rest of their college expenses have been paid for through our 529 account.

It’s like a Roth IRA for education expenses. If you use the 529 proceeds for education, it’s only partially taxable.

We literally opened the accounts for each of our kids during their first month of life.

Call Your Boss

In 2001 I found myself in a management position for the first time. The problem? Our little department was not well-known in the overall organization, and definitely didn’t get any respect.

I was advised by one of my mentors to call and set a lunch date with the CEO.

“Are you kidding?” I asked. It seemed so silly for me, just two years with the company, that I could call up and ask the CEO to lunch.

Well, I did it. It took me months working with the CEO’s secretary to make it happen. I bought him lunch.

That meeting led to so many opportunities I can’t even express it into words.

No matter who you are and what your role is in your company, call the boss and arrange a meeting. Tell them who you are and what your aspirations are. Tell them how you can help the company.

The worst thing that could happen is you get a no…but even the fact that you tried will be remembered.

Hire a Scheduling Manager

I believe everyone should have a person who schedules meetings for them. Outside of the fact that I am terrible at setting up meetings, the chore takes a lot of time, and having a buffer between you and the person you are meeting with is a life hack.

I easily save five hours a week by not scheduling meetings. In addition, some meetings aren’t necessary, and my amazing scheduler knows which ones I should take and which ones I shouldn’t.

Spend Time with Your Kids Separately

Spending time with your kids is one of the most important things you can do as a parent. I have two children, and there have been times when I forget how important one-on-one time with each one is…for them and for me as a father.

A few years back I took an unforgettable trip with my oldest to New York to see Billy Joel. This year, I’ll go with my youngest to spring training baseball in Arizona. My plan is to have one of these every year with each child (as long as they’ll allow it).

Assign Housework

Maybe you’ll relate to this. After a while, when you live with a significant other, routines and patterns emerge. Sometimes these are good. Sometimes not.

There was a period years ago when my wife started to take over all the chores around the house. This evolved over a long period of time. I absolutely let this happen. This was not good.

Finally, I wised up and asked if I could have some chores that were just mine. One of these was washing the dishes. That’s MY job. I take pride in it (and sometimes even enjoy it).

I believe one of the reasons my wife and I have such an amazing relationship is because we separate the workload around the house.

Get a Password Manager

I use Dashlane and recommend it.

It doesn’t matter what software you use, but I have saved days, maybe weeks of time by not having to constantly search (and create) passwords. You’ll thank me later.

What are you best life decisions? I’d love to hear about them.

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