Month of Learning

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Digging Deeper Into Your Own Experiences 

car crash with two apes at the wheel

Knowing what works for you and what doesn’t, helps you plan better as well as minimise taking on unnecessary risks.

Dig deep into, and mine, your own experiences for guidance so that whatever New Year resolution or goal you set yourself can be achieved in a way that sits with who you are, what people know you for and what you want to be known for (and can sustain in the long term).

Simply following what others suggest is pointless if it results in you feeling out of sync, over-exposed and uncomfortable. 

I came across this quote from Bruce Lee whilst watching Game Changers on Netflix, “Research your own experience; absorb what is useful, reject what is useless and add what is essentially your own. Take what is useful and develop from there.

Those words mean so much in a B2B context. 

This article isn’t just about ensuring you do something that suits your personal style and the voice of you/your company. It is about recognising that it’s your own experiences, for example, your take on adopting a particular initiative, that offers the best and most memorable way for you to differentiate yourself and your business, and help others find resonance in your message.

Your experience – living through something – gives you the space to show up, assess, iterate and share how you worked out the answers for yourself.

This approach moves you away from the broadcasting, “same as everyone else” crowds to carving out and honing your own, unique identity. 

Let Me Explain

The intersection of a good place to create, build and live is where:

— You’re not just swimming in the same waters as everyone else

— You’re not in a place so far into unchartered waters that you end up exposed you for your lack of knowledge and experience 

Example 1)

Sending a press release to a media outlet that will publish any content it receives. Think about what you need to do to not get lost among what everyone else is doing. In this instance, look to building personal relationships with key contacts within the media outlet you’re targeting. 

Always be looking for an approach that will differentiate you and make you memorable within the audience you need to target.

Example 2)

Booking a huge venue for an event when you haven’t invested in building an audience who are familiar with your point of view and tested your concept and format out within smaller venues. 

– Don’t get ahead of yourself and move too quickly. 

Making Informed Decisions

The best place to position yourself is at the sweet spot where: 

— Your experiences allow you to make informed decisions 

— Where you’re also continually engaged in learning and so are able to build on your existing knowledge and so expand what you offer. 

You launch, you go live, you learn. 

For instance, if all I did was send emails to you about coming to the You Are The Media Conference, you probably wouldn’t want to come to the conference.

I have learned that combining the ask with sharing additional value is far more effective and minimises risk. Some of my audience may not be quite ready to commit to attending a ticketed conference but they’re still benefitting from the value the weekly email provides in terms of guidance, articles and tips (and building goodwill for the future).  

The You Are The Media Workshops in 2020 are new and naturally carry risk. However, knowing who is out there among the YATM community – the learning some can offer to community members and the sort of things those members are interested in learning about – makes progressing with organising the workshops a more pragmatic decision.

The only way I became better as a presenter/host/frontman for events such as the You Are The Media Conference and the YATM Lunch Clubs was to come back to it time and time again.

Someone asked me if I ever get nervous when presenting a YATM Lunch Club and my answer is ‘yes, I do.’ I still get anxious standing up in front of people, but by creating an ongoing opportunity to do so, it gets slightly easier, the more I do it.

Every live event still presents a way for me to learn, iterate, practice and be in the moment. For myself, I’d like to keep that sense of being nervous. The alternative, being assured and cool as a cucumber, presents its own dangers of complacency. 

What About You?

When it comes to digging deep into, and interrogating, your own experiences as a way to guide your narrative and bring people closer to you, it all comes down to trusting your intuition and combining that gut feel with what you know about your sector and your audience.

Here are some pointers for why it’s better to be slightly uncomfortable when it comes to building your space, rather than erring towards complacency or thinking you can hack your way to getting results quickly with limited experience:

Failing, finding that certain things don’t work, becomes part of the learning process. I decided to pull the launch of You Are The Media Bristol in October as there was limited interest in the venture at that time.

I realised that it was a tall order expecting people to come into a new space they were unfamiliar with. However, with a new You Are The Media website focused on learning and community, attendance at our first Bristol YATM Lunch Club in February looks like having a higher than expected number of attendees – we’d planned for 20 people and are already looking at double that number.  

Habits and creating familiarity are good which is why it can be hard to try and adopt something new. Spending a life posting within someone else’s space (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) can feel safe – an easy outlet. When you’re brave enough to put your thinking in your own owned space, not just transmitting your thoughts via a third party, it can be harder to get people to come to and engage with you there. However, when they do, you benefit from others being present in your own space and part of an email list that you own. 

Over time you can start to see an impact being made. By researching your own experience you start to get comfortable with how you can, as an individual, make an impact that fulfills your goals and meets your audience’s needs.

Lets Round-Up

People fail when they attempt something that doesn’t fit with what they stand for or is too far outside of their knowledge and skill base.

Although you can’t hope to build credibility from a base of zero, you do however, when you’re starting out, say, blogging or creating video, have to be ok with being raw.

Trying something completely new is difficult. It’s far easier sticking to what you’ve done before, what’s worked in the past for selling who you are and what you do. But that “living on Easy Street” also means that over time, you’ll be getting limited rewards.

With something new, the risk of failure and the damage it can do to your self-esteem may seem overwhelming. Failing and stumbling is part of the process of doing better – it’s how you, and everyone else, learns.

You’ll create the biggest impact for yourself and your business in the coming months if you don’t push yourself too far, too fast or give in to the low risk, low reward of playing it safe.

What might seem like it’s a distant future right now, at the start of 2020, can come a whole lot nearer the more you engage with being in that sweet spot of building on existing knowledge and extending yourself to learn. 


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