Month of Learning

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Why You Need To Pick You

When you pick yourself and start creating content on your own terms, you’ll eventually be able to choose the team you play on, rather than looking around waiting for others’ approval or acceptance.

Everything you build comes back to you when ownership of it is 100% yours (and you’re not building on someone else’s platform). Over time, as people feel comfortable and see the value in showing a commitment to what you’ve created, the returns can compound.

The best thing is that the tools and technology you need are already there, waiting for you. You don’t need to make a huge investment in say, software, but you do need a firm foundation: It all starts with making a stand or wanting to work out a problem or find a way to work through something, taking others with you on your journey so they can learn from your experience. 

A Brief Explanation

Stepping up and picking yourself to do this work is about being accountable for everything you produce, create and share. What you share is not only relevant to you but can resonate with others. You’ll know you’ve taken that responsibility on when you deliver within a particular medium, over and over again, consistently.

As James Altucher says in Choose Yourself, “You build a house by laying a solid foundation: by building physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health”.

Were All Waiting To Be Picked

From lining up against a wall in the school playground at break time, to filling in entries for awards or responding to a ‘call for speakers,’ we spend a lot of time hoping someone will pick us. The fact is that very often, it’s safe to say, no one is going to pick you.

It feels dispiriting not being chosen. I’ve spent a lot of time hoping that someone would choose me. I’ve sent proposals to talk at conferences, asked girls to be my date for prom night at college, submitted ideas to be included in podcasts and pitched for work and to present courses, eg a content marketing course for https://www.theidm.com. A good many of these resulted in rejection. And it was mostly because what I was trying to do, was please other people.

Alternatively what you can do is build your own space and then sit wherever you want.

You Are The Media was my ultimate experiment to see what could happen when you picked yourself. It was an example of reinvention, just as much as it was an idea based around the concept of owning your media space. 

I recognised that if no one was going to take my work and share it with their audience, I would go out and build my own audience, sending a weekly email to them. If no one was going to pick me to talk at their conference, I would go ahead and produce my own conference. If an organisation wasn’t going to take my idea for a course, I would go ahead and make my own course and choose who I wanted as teachers and facilitators. 

Here is how an intro looks….

I hope you don’t read this last paragraph and think it the ultimate form of self-indulgence. I just want to prove to you that the returns from picking yourself can be achieved. You don’t have to spend your life waiting to be picked, you just need to be ready to fight for yourself.

The best thing is that the hands that produce this space are yours and this is what makes it attractive to others. Transparency means a lot in todays world. 

Prove It To People

If you make something worthwhile, people will be willing to join in too. Here are some principles to live by and a process that’s taken me around six years to see a return on.

This is how you can pick yourself in a world which offers no guarantees:


Mine ideas.

To get to a point of clarity, it is perfectly fine to dabble until you find the space that you want to delve deeper into. For instance, I jumped from idea to idea, delivering events that attracted limited attention. To get a spark, keep playing with those wet matches.

Trust yourself to start.

Have that seed of an idea with which to gain traction and build subscribers or followers by sharing something that will be of specific value to them. Whilst these may only be small returns, you don’t need to be thinking about scale at this moment in time. It’s more about the process of getting into a habit of doing something and returning to it time and again.

Have courage in the quiet.

It can take time for people to trust and commit to you. When you begin you have to be fine with only being for ‘the few.’ It’s more about discovering a rhythm where you consistently produce resonant content. What you’re coming forward with may be something that hasn’t been presented in this way before. 

See people starting to join in.

If people start recognising you for your particular perspective or point of view, and you never get too far from it, it becomes easier for them to commit to you. Having people join you is one of the most empowering and joyful experiences you can have. You and your work feel validated. Get to know these people better – they can be your ‘front row flag-wavers’ for years to come.

Raise the bar with your intentions.

This is where your original idea starts to manifest itself in different media and you challenge yourself even more. For instance, raising the bar for YATM came with delivering a lunchtime event in 2016 and then a conference in 2018 (read the full YATM story https://www.youarethemedia.co.uk/about/). This was a means of delivering the physical proof of the concept so people could see for themselves that other people were involved, rather than continuing to live behind clicks, subscribers and ‘take my word for it.’

Admit that in time, money should be a measuring stick.

If all it is, is a passion project, then it can become an expensive hobby. Making money should be a by-product of the hours of work you dedicate, because having funds coming in, makes things easier to progress. However, if you start out with an intention of making a handsome return from the start, it flips the whole dynamic and you get nowhere fast. Be led by impact first, rather than return.

What can you improve?

Creating something that is intended to help people, means you should never rest on your laurels. The moment you start to become complacent is when someone else will catch you up. For instance, as soon as the pandemic entered our lives, we kept the live YATM lunchtime event, we were just one of the first to move it online. It was full of problems to start with, but YATM Online has now become a comfortable place to be, so that when the YATM Month Of Learning was introduced, people jumped on because they were already familiar with the YATM way of online delivery.

Stay true to your original idea.

Even as the whole initiative progresses and grows, you have to stay focused. It’s easy to be tempted into delving into areas that become more about ego than about supporting your original idea. But continuing to fuel that original impetus should always be what keeps you going. 

Spend time with the people you enjoy.

Remember you’re not just there just to fit in. Accept that you won’t be for everyone and be ok with that. After all, when you build a strong network of people around you, it becomes better to be famous within that family, than to get cursory likes from strangers on platforms where no one really knows you. 

Acknowledge that learning is everything.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a seasoned pro or a fledgling creator, the whole fun of the journey is to figure out how everything fits and then share your workings out. Being in it for the right reasons, is how you’ll eventually create revenue whilst remaining relevant. 

Know you wont finish.

A stand-out comment from 2021 so far, came from Mitch Joel on a YATM Online (and covered in an article called ‘how to be popular’). Mitch said, “Decide on what you think you can’t stop doing. Choose a medium on which you know you would not stop.” I’d add to that, that you should realise that you’ll never know everything so you’ll never get to an end point or finish line – learning is continuous.

Lets Round-Up

via GIPHY

It’s better to be relevant to the people who matter, rather than spending your entire life on someone else’s platform looking for attention. Scary and isolating to start off with, it becomes easier as more people join you. If you built your own platform and people feel a part of the space you spent nurturing, you’re in a strong place.

It all comes down to being up for the fight and sticking to the standards you set yourself rather than delivering a weakened version of yourself, just to fit in. Of course it’s easier to be the person that others want you to be, rather than being true to the person you really are, but if you have the opportunity to pick yourself – pick yourself every time.

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