What if you weren’t afraid?

I was reading a story on LinkedIn Pulse the other day and it inspired me to write this post. One of the founders of Angie’s List had quite the dilemma when he finished school. Stay close to family and look for a job or move far away to Columbus, Ohio  where he was offered a one-year gig with a little known start-up with little pay. After all, it was a job, but the uncertainty and fear paralysed him until his father said, “What if you weren’t afraid?”

After that, his thought process completely changed and he moved to Columbus to help start Angie’s List, which has been in business for 18 years (The company is currently under scrutiny after never turning a profit in those 18 years, but I digress).

What if you weren’t afraid?

I’m a HUGE fan of Johnny Cash and Eminem. A bit odd seeing them side by side on paper, but they both were/are fearless. That wasn’t always the case (and probably still isn’t), but they both managed to plough through fear and continue to do so.

In Eminem’s case – he wanted to be a rapper. As a white boy growing up in one of the toughest areas of Detroit trying to get involved in a scene predominately dominated by a different race, most thought he was crazy. He was ridiculed relentlessly, but he didn’t stop. Can you imagine the paralysing fear he must have faced day in and day out?

To this day – he still battles fear as all of us do. Most recently he released a song apologizing to his mother.

This after a couple decades of slamming her in his music and in the public. He also has pledged to never perform “Cleaning Out My Closest” in concert. A song in which he tears his mother and father a new one.

Eminem has grown not only as an artist, but as a person. He’s ready to admit his mistakes to the world. He’s also more than willing to let you in to his life; the good and the bad. Can you imagine releasing your diary to the world to the scale Eminem has? Think about it. Does it scare the shit out of you? Hell, my palms are sweating just thinking about it. But, what if you weren’t afraid?

Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash always wanted to be a singer, but he was conflicted because his father never had faith in him to pursue such a career. For ages, Johnny wanted to please his father.

After high school, instead of hitting the road as a musician he decided to join the Air Force, in hopes of pleasing his dad. In this time away from home, his passion for music grew even more. He’d play with the guys overseas and come back home hoping his father would be proud of him not only for his service to the country, but for his music as well.

Again, his father gave him nothing. Johnny was afraid his father would never respect him. However, Johnny kept moving forward and continued to dabble in music until he finally drew up the courage to pop in to Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee (where he lived at the time) hoping to get a recording contract. He failed on multiple occasions, until he won over the producer with a couple rock’a’billy tunes “Hey Porter” and “Cry! Cry! Cry!” As we now know, this was only the beginning.

What if Johnny was crippled by his father’s criticism? What if Johnny never left his home in Arkansas to try and break into the music scene in Memphis? What if he never walked into Sun Records? What if Johnny left fear get the best of him?

You will be afraid

In life and in business, you WILL be afraid. There is no doubt. Whether it’s starting up your own businesses or deciding to switch job titles within your current company. There will always be an element of fear.

Ask yourself – what if you weren’t afraid? What would you do? How would you see the challenge in front of you?

By flipping fear on it’s head, you begin to see a new path. A path to innovation and change. Try it right now. Think of a challenge you are currently faced with. Now, what would you do if you weren’t afraid?

If you’re interested in discussion your fears – email me at effumarketing@gmail.com or leave a comment below.

Or maybe you’re too afraid to let me know your fears…

– Jordan


Defying expectations: The Jamie Lynn Spears brand

Remember her? A child star, a teen mom and of course the little sister to Britney Spears. Well, she took some time off to be a mom and now she’s back in a different way.

Alright, she’s a singer, but instead of going into the pop-princess world, she took a different lane and went country. Instead of going where she would undoubtedly get compared to her big sister time and time again, she defied expectations and did something a little different. Heck, I thought she would have called it quits to live a life as a mother, but you can tell she still has the burning passion to be an entertainer.

Alright, what can your brand learn from this?

1) If you don’t have a passion for something, you probably shouldn’t be doing it.

2) Instead of taking the simple route, challenge yourself to do something different. Jamie Lynn easily could’ve used the Spears brand name to get decent traction in the pop world, but she would always play second fiddle to her sister. It would be like trying to start up a dark soda business going directly at Coca-Cola. YOU WILL NOT WIN! Even if your product is better, Coke was there first and it will crush you.

3) It’s okay to be vulnerable, if it’s real. Jamie Lynn has lived an interesting life from child-star, to kid sister to a giant star, to a teen mom and now this. However, I have never felt more connected to her until now. The song and video above is so simple, so stripped down, it makes her feel vulnerable and real. She’s someone I can see enjoying a cup of tea with while having a real conversation. I can’t see doing that with her big sister or with say, Miley Cyrus.

Do you have a passion for what you are doing? If not, can you fake it? Are you challenging yourself and your business to be different or are you a sheep always following someone else’s lead? Is your business vulnerable or real? Would anyone want to sit down with you and have a cup of tea?

Take 5 minutes and answer the questions above. It may save you a ton of time and money in the future.

Oh Lordes

She’s young, from New Zealand and she’s been number one for weeks on the Billboard Hot 100. How is it that a non-American, teenage singer can topple the rest of the competition? Simple…she’s different and her song is about as far away as you can get from the other pop-tastic tunes that litter the Top 10.

When the majority of pop songs are over produced, over written and have elaborate, and sometimes shocking videos. Lorde’s Royals is so simple. She wrote it herself and the beat is uber-simplistic. Plus, the music video is as stripped down as you can get.

When you listen to the radio or your iPod or whatever, it’s amazing at how much the song sticks out because it doesn’t sound like everything else. Is it a good song? Sure, but it also immediately grabs your attention within the first 5 seconds because it’s so different. If Royals sounded like bubble gum pop, do you think it would have the power to stay at #1 for as long as it has or would it even hit #1? Maybe.

Being different matters in life, in music and in business. Why crowd yourself in a lane that’s already taken by your competition? Make an effort to be different. Try doing the exact opposite of what your competition is doing and you may find yourself on top of the charts. It worked for Lorde’s, so why can’t it work for you?