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Bringing Others Together To Slay The Monsters

the things you are not

When you recognise the thing you are not, it becomes easier for others to come on board with you.

Bring people together to fight the monsters.

It is up to you and others to save the village before it gets burnt to the ground.

This article is about being recognised for what you are against, is just as important as what you tell the world you are.

Let’s kick this off, by sharing with you what I mean. The thing I am against is businesses who become over-reliant on someone else, or another channel to broadcast their message to attract others. I am against those who believe that gaining the attention of others is by relentlessly paying for the attention of others. This means you own no space, you grow no audience and you are always at the whim of others.

When you know what you are not, it becomes easier to create and share. This makes it easier to produce content and to filter out what is progressed or what would never make the cut.


The Easy Route Has Been Done

This is not about blaming others, throwing the competition under the bus, or just being boring by saying what everyone else has already said. This is not about taking the easy route that you are against blandness or the mundane efforts of others, that would be far too easy. It is about taking a stand and becoming the thing that you never ever wanted to be or ever want to become.

It is the thing you fight against, battle for and know that the monsters are somewhere on the horizon, peering over.

Netflix is against sleep

Airbnb is against isolation

Gilette is against inequality

The recent Gilette ad provides an interesting case in point. It highlights how a company encourages a responsibility ie. humility and empathy, just as much as what they are not ie. mucho macho, sexism, old connotations of gender.

It all comes down to portraying a narrative where there is an understanding. Mark Schaefer said in a recent {grow} article the importance in having meaning in what you portray, “connecting meaning to a brand is marketing. Meaning is money. And it’s just the beginning of this trend.”


Maddie’s Stand

Become the figurehead against the thing you stand against.

the things you are not

This is something that Maddie Crawford set up with Get Your Shirt Together Day on January 21st.

A day to raise awareness (and money) for mental health. This date is known as ‘Blue Monday,’ the most depressing day of the year. The day when being a better human has fallen to pieces with the new year’s resolutions non-existent and that lovely break over Christmas with the chocolate oranges is now a distant memory.

Maddie’s premise for the day was simple, wear something vibrant, it doesn’t matter if you get a funny look from your workmates, you are all part of this together. You represent people who are part of the same village. The monsters represent the formula of Blue Monday that was created in 2004 by psychologist Cliff Arnall.

The model is: 

[W + (D-d)] x TQ 


M x NA

The equation represents (W) weather, (D) debt, (d) monthly salary, (T) time since Christmas, (Q) time since failed quit attempt, (M) low motivational levels and (NA) the need to take action. These are the things that Madison fights against to create a day when the villagers come together as one and bring others from the neighbouring villages together to stand together.

It becomes easier to share your approach with others when you become vocal about the things you are not.

Hands up this takes guts. For instance, Maddie has been open that she has struggled with her mental health as a teenager and diagnosed with BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder). You can read her story here.

The point I want to highlight is that in order to create good work, we have to find no place to hide. This helps you become more open when you are left bare for all to see. This is how we create our best work when we put ourselves in places that feel uncomfortable.


The Monsters Are Loose


Unease is where the monsters live.

When you look around every social space we participate within a world where comfort is reflected back at us. The client wins, the success stories, the pristine-looking video in the feed, the positive feedback, are all played in front of us. You have to make your own way, while everyone else behaves as though a quote saying, ‘live, laugh, love’ is seen as acceptable.

We have all been trained to present our best selves, it is how we look more professional and more attractive for others to work with you. Whilst it is difficult to present a vulnerable side when you can’t escape, you make something that is worth doing and accept full responsibility.

So, rather than looking at vulnerability and being vocal about it, call your village to arms and what you are all fighting against.

This isn’t about blame, but getting others on the right path and leading the fight for what you are against. Seth Godin said on Monday 21st January, “There’s always a chance to contribute and the opportunity to speak up. And if we don’t, who will?”

It is far too easy to tell everyone what you are. ie. honest, believable, trustworthy. Flip things around by being vocal about what you are not.


Your Call To Arms

Your goal is to connect the role you play, rather than collect the points of popularity.

Here is how to go about finding the thing you battle against.



–  Stop sounding the same as everyone else and being predictable. You see it everywhere and ingrained within us all to tell everyone the ideal worlds that we work within and always bring our best selves to the table. We have heard it all before. Being committed, professional, creative, passionate is what we all are. How can you be different, when you sound the same as others? 

Find your genuine edge. This is the thing that highlights the monster and starts to make the monster even more real. For instance, it could be the complacency of your industry, the excess that you see around you, those who cut corners, or the wastefulness within your marketplace. It is stronger for people to make an attachment to what you bleed for, rather than the glory of who you think you are.

Stand up and say ‘we fight against…’ Once you recognise the frustrations within your marketplace and the thing that genuinely gets you angry/frustrated/disheartened then it makes it easier to express. Better to create from the heart, rather than what an industry or the status quo expects and has worked to for generations.

Find your pulse. By pulse, I mean longevity of the thing that you find conflict. For instance, by knowing that I am not about companies throwing their resources to someone else, but rather steal from social media and bring back to our own places (audio, video, writing), makes my approach easier. This means that there is plenty to cover and being in tune with what is happening in the big wide world.

Stop painting the illusion of success. A way to build trust and to differentiate is to recognise long term value that has honesty about it. By highlighting the things you stand against, is not about claiming some form of universal wisdom, but to acknowledge that you’re doing the thinking for yourself.

No one else apart from you cares about your competition. The worst thing you can do is look over your shoulder and hold the mirror up to yourself, rather than the world that is in front of you. There has to be a place to create from genuine emotion, rather than commercial gratification.

Show people an alternative that is worthwhile, more robust and has more soul. That is what this is all about, to show people a better way and to uncover/expose what is wrong and provide something that doesn’t deviate from what people come to expect.



Let’s Round Up

When you make it clear to others of what you are against, it puts a real heart into your content marketing efforts.

It feels better to acknowledge what lurks on the horizon than to play it safe, every time. There is a sense of gratification and meaning when you figure out what is broken and what needs to be done. In terms of creating your own structure, have a read of this article where what you say is broken down into fact, experience and opinion.

When you acknowledge the monsters and bring people together to fight, there are far stronger outcomes that allow you to create bonds with others and more importantly, you get to work with better clients, who get it.

The outcome is everything coming together that is centred on the connection; conversation; meaning; reach and relevance. It is tough to make the call for everything you are not, but no one ever wanted it to be easy. This is why you’ll leave it to others to cut corners, tell everyone how well they’ve done and why their achievements are worthy.

There are no heroes to slay the monsters, it’s up to you to recognise, figure it out and put yourself in a place that hasn’t been sunk by everyone else.

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