📍Did you Lose Yourself

Have your passions taken a backseat in your business?

I have a confession - I might watch too much YouTube 🫣

This week I’ve been thinking about the idea of getting lost from your passions. Your why. The reason you swing for the fences. Why you put up with so many ramen cup meals… if you’re reading this you probably get what it means to follow your dreams when others think you’re crazy

I started a new book this week (shocker) and on page 4 he used an example that hit close to home:

Imagine a business puttering quietly along… Then, their products begin to sell. Demand might even soar. It’s magic. The business begins to grow. Customers like the product and they start telling their friends. Everything is great, right? All the business owner’s problems seem to be behind them.

But, then, things take a turn.

The business owner is pulled out of their sweet spot, the sweet spot they were in when the company took off. They spend too much time trying to put out fires, and the business starts to decline because the owner is managing problems rather than continuing to create the magic that grew the company.

How to Grow Your Small Business by Donald Miller

Miller is setting the stage for why it’s important to “professionalize your operations” even as a small business (really important, not what we’re gonna talk about today). I think this also applies in its own way to creativity.

Coming back to YouTube, in my corner of the platform the past year has kinda felt like we’re going through a reckoning of creators realizing they’ve built themselves into a corner (they don’t love) by following the tried and true advice of “the easiest way to grow is taking your best-performing content and create more of the same”.

My favorite example of this recently is Tub & Blue, two golden retrievers that consistently get hundreds of thousands if not millions of views on reels of them playing with a tennis ball in the pool. Basically the same thing over and over.

On YouTube tho, creators have been burning out pumping out the same content over & over that’s no longer fulfilling their passions.

Here are two examples, that really brought it home for me - both car related don’t hate me

Hoonigan

For a long time, Hoonigan was one of my favorite car YouTube channels, it had a good variety of content, they worked on cool projects, they had a unique editing style, and it felt like the guys were generally enjoying the videos they were making. Then in a period of about 18 months, they sold the company & one of their founders tragically passed away.

Personally, their content started to feel somewhat repetitive. They had found a video series that worked incredibly well for them (This vs That, unconventional no prep drag racing), and it was really easy to batch & profitably sell to advertisers.

Except they lost their individual creativity, and I started seeing less and less of my favorite people - they were feeling uninspired and struggling to show up on camera. And then last fall I saw the dam break and most of the OGs on the team started leaving:

Donut

With all my favorite people gone from Hoonigan, I basically don’t watch their content anymore but I started to enjoy another similar team of creators that had started a car media company - Donut.

Over the past few months I’ve started to enjoy some of their content - and then at the end of a video they posted last week 2 of the main guys said their were starting their own channel - BigTime.

Basically the exact same thing - the company had grown too rigid for them to be able to work on the projects and create the content that they originally started a YouTube channel for. So they’re hitting reset. Trading a sure thing for a new channel that they can follow their passions.

My three big takeaways:

1. Personality is what connects with your audience

When I finally started trying to figure out what was happening with Hoonigan a few months ago I found a lot of comments that basically said they had also stopped watching Hoonigan because the people and stories that they subscribed for had all disappeared, and it was just cookie cutter content left.

As a small business operating & marketing online, these days it’s a very crowded and the personal connections to you is a big reason why your audience keeps coming back. For us personally, our IG stories about trying to get rid of the groundhogs under our deck are some of our best-performing stories on IG in a few months.. it was a relatable personal story that we were telling in a semi-creative way.

How does your personality show up for your audience & customers?

2. Creativity is delicate

As a business grows, systemizing is the goal for most things. It makes tasks quicker, reduces costs, and enables outsourcing. But some things (ahem creativity) don’t always scale & systemize the way you think they should.

In April during their investor call, Nike CEO John Donahoe said “What’s been missing is the kind of bold, disruptive innovation that Nike’s known for and when we look back, the reasons are fairly straightforward… it turns out, it’s really hard to do bold, disruptive innovation, to develop a boldly disruptive shoe on Zoom.” The rest of the business did fine with transitioning to remote work during the pandemic but the innovative & creative parts of the business just don’t scale & systemize the same way.

As you grow your business how are you protecting the creative parts that make you unique and different?

3. Sometimes a re-start is what you need

Everything you’ve done up to this point is teaching you skills. But sometimes it’s easier to start over with a clean slate than carry the baggage of what hasn't been working for you.

Starting over doesn’t mean turning your back on your connections, network, & tools. The perfect example of this is with the BigTime announcement that they were leaving they negotiated a way of announcing that to the Donut audience (of 8.8m subs). The first video of their brand new YouTube channel now has 2.1 million views in less than a week and they have 661 thousand subscribers.

If you’re thinking about starting over to focus on your passions, what can you leverage to get “up to speed” way faster this time?

I’d like to challenge you to take a moment to think about what your passions are & how you’re protecting them over the next few days.

Have a great weekend,
Lyndon

Ps this may be more than just a conceptual thought for me - next week we’ll be announcing some changes we’re making to bring our creativity back into our business - along with launching a paid podcast where we’ll go deep on the changes we’re making and why. Hit reply and let us know if you want to be one of the first to know when we launch.

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