The industrial revolution taught us to mass produce, scale and evolve exponentially. It taught us to lead from the middle, refine our craft and ascend the corporate ladder. It also taught us to ask to be picked. It taught us to get an education, build a resume and get it into the hands of the gatekeepers. It taught us to hold the gatekeepers in high esteem (because they were picked by people who were also picked) and to cross our fingers. There is no denying that the industrial revolution taught us a lot, but one thing it failed to teach us is the day it died.
Today, the only one who can pick us is us, and our only gatekeepers are ourselves. The question is no longer, how do I win over the gatekeepers? But instead, how much do I really want it? It’s not necessarily easier for us to get what we want in the connection economy but, considering we are the only ones standing in our own way, it is more straightforward. The connection economy has changed the rules and those who are paying attention are winning. They are the ones replacing the cover letter with a podcast, the resume with a blog and the portfolio with a website. They are the self-made actors starting their own YouTube Channels. The self-made dancers taking their routines to social media. The self-made authors building their audience with blogs. The self-made musicians publishing for free on iTunes.
The fact is, Youtube, iTunes, Google, Facebook, they all want you but they won’t call you. Just the same way Simon Cowel won’t call you to apply for the X Factor. Instead we must pick ourselves.
Seth Godin picked himself. He cutout venture capitalists by investing his own money in his own businesses. He cutout event organisers by paying for speaking gigs until he had built up enough of a following to be paid. He cutout traditional book publishers by blogging everyday until his audience was large enough to support self publishing.
Today, he is one of the most sought after speakers in digital marketing with 14 best selling books and a handful of self built businesses to his name, one of which he sold to Yahoo for $30 million. He has mastered the balance of art and commerce, and he did it all by picking himself, not just once, but every step along the way.