There’s this unfortunate delusion that’s been sold in the world of entrepreneurship, especially in the online space…

The road to growth is paved with content. Write, film, record, and produce killer content. Put it out there, and the world will rush to your doorstep.

You don’t have to put your “self” out there anymore, just put your content out there. #boom. #success. #winning!

But, then, there’s that nagging little thing called… reality.

Forget the fact that I hate the word content for the moment. The problem with this strategy and the claims that go along with it, is that it preys on a particular fear, and it’s based on a lie.

The fear is exposure and judgment. We’re terrified of exposing ourselves to “in the flesh” failure and rejection. We don’t want to go “out there,” be “in the room” or even “in the world” when the lightbulbs don’t go on and everything we’ve worked to create falls flat. It’s easier to just put our “content” out into that scary space. That way, we can stay cloistered and protected in our little content creation caves and have everyone come running to us. If it fails, it’ll still hurt, but not nearly as badly as if we’d been face to face, talking to someone and being rejected by them out there in the bountiful, yet exposed badlands.

We tell ourselves, when people reject content, it’s about an idea. When they reject conversation it’s about us. And, it’s easier to handle a failed idea than a denied self. So, we hide. Not just behind an idea, but behind the screens that serve as both a shield and a sword. Because, we’re afraid of being in the room when the other shoe falls.

So, that’s the fear. But, what about the lie?

The big content fib is that it’s the end-all, be-all. It’s that content done well is all you need.

Content, we’re told, is king. It’s a fantastic mechanism to build an idea into a platform, a brand, a reputation, position, entity, business or organization. This, in fact, is a partial truth. Crafted, curated and distributed in the right way, over a window of time, it can make a huge difference. I’ve leverage the power of editorial, video and audio to build what I’m here to build with great effect…over 8 years. And, I will continue to do more and more of it.

That said, with the exception of the unicorn-rare and largely non-reproducible viral outlier, content is more about sustained growth, positioning, trust and, yes, eventually, leads, than it is a high-probability vehicle for launch and accelerated growth. It’s important, but increasingly, I wonder if it’s also a way to hide from the other piece of the launch and growth pie. The hustle side of the equation.

Content is your long-game, but hustle is your now game.

And, by hustle, I’m talking old-school, or what the cool kids now call “outbound” marketing. That includes things like:

  • Street teams
  • Guerrilla marketing
  • Advertising (yes, despite rumors of its demise, it still works)
  • Hosting and attending meet-ups, gatherings and events
  • Engineering publicity opportunities
  • Speaking to the right people, in the right place, about the right things
  • Building and participating in groups, both online and offline
  • Coffees, lunches, brunches and drinks
  • Being stunningly generous and building meaningful relationships
  • Calling everyone you’ve ever known and begging for help (aka, “inviting partnership”)

When you are looking to go from zero to real, unless you are either willing to risk an extremely low-probability viral moonshot or take a longer, slower path to growth, you cannot just put videos, podcasts, editorial and images out there, hope someone will discover them, follow them back to you, fall in love and pay you money.

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Yes, those things have power. Create them. Use them as levers to move people. But don’t rely exclusively on them. And don’t hide behind them because you are afraid of the more deeply felt pain of a failed hustle. Understand that, with rare exception, these elements are players in a longer, more nuanced content game, not an instant path to attention, income and impact.

When you are in launch mode, content does not let you off the hustle hook.

Both matter, and both operate most effectively over different time horizons. Hustle is your now game. Content is your medium to long game, with the occasional now-game hit.

Are there outliers? Yes. Of course.

Might you be one? Sure.

And we all love to point to the successes of those outliers in defense of our desire to hide behind the page or the screen or the mic in a protected room. To lean solely on the desire to create assets that go into the world and do the work, rather than getting off our behinds to do the same in real life.

If taking a content-driven moonshot were the only approach to launching a business or brand or practice, I’d say “have at it.” But, it’s not.

I’m often asked to advise authors, consultants, private practice pros and other wisdom-workers on how to launch a book, a practice, a company, product or brand. They all want to go big, fast. But, I’m not all that interested in conversations about how to invest a lot of time and money into a .0001% chance to explode virally, when a much higher probability path to success exists, even if that path requires you to do things that force you to drop the delusion, leave the cave and get past the fear of the hustle.

As an introverted, sensitive maker, I don’t like that any more than you. Doesn’t change the reality on the ground.

“Content is a complement to hustle, not a replacement for it.”

My friend, Lewis Howes, is a great example of this. When he launched his book, The School of Greatness, he’d already spent years building an audience around content in the form of a popular podcast. But the book was a new product, a new venture. He knew he wanted to hit The New York Times bestseller list and that was measured in sales over a one-week window.

So, he didn’t just rely on content. He hustled like I’ve never seen anyone hustle before. He got on planes, trains and automobiles, traveled to where people were, pitched himself all over the place, made deals, trades, spoke, consulted, pushed hard in mainstream media, created publicity opportunities, and more.

We’re seeing this same thing in real time with another legendary content-creator, Gary Vaynerchuk a/k/a the King of Hustle. Rising to digital fame as the host of Wine Library TV a few years back, he built a mega-keynoting business, launched a few giant-selling books (with a new one just coming out now), then leveraged his notoriety to co-found a digital media agency, Vayner Media, along with his brother A.J.

He now produces a live-streaming video show, a regular advice series, and has built a sizable audience, along with a podcast. Thing is, he and his team didn’t build Vayner Media, a world-class speaking career, and launch mega-books by creating content and waiting for clients to arrive. As is Gary’s mantra, he worked fiercely. He hustled maniacally.

Even fellow introvert and Quiet author, Susan Cain, stepped into hustle mode to make the leap from aspiring author to international circuit speaker, bestseller and then founder of an enterprise-level consulting firm around the unique needs and capabilities of introverts in business, and education, and life. Yes, she wrote a tremendous book that gave voice to millions. And she hired a crew to create a website, and populate it with editorial content, and now a podcast.

But, she traveled almost non-stop for the better part of two years, speaking at large organizations, and events, and building relationships that could eventually turn into allies, evangelists, introductions, and clients, both before and after the book, and brand hit. And, she built a team to continue on the seeds she planted with her own fierce blend of content and hustle.


This brings up an interesting question. Actually, two.

What if you’re an introvert, and being “out there” empties you out?

Do you still have to do it?

Short answer…”yes, but.” You can do it in a way that honors your own engagement style. Build opportunities to step fiercely out, then as fiercely back in and create deliberate windows and activities that refuel your tank. One approach that works well for this introvert is to step out into the container of a smaller, safer group (my team) who I then empower to step into the bigger world in an expanded and partially delegated “hustle ripple.”

Also, it’s important to know that your definition of hustle is not the same as anyone else’s. What is sustainable for one person, might destroy another. So, be sure to do it in a way that moves the needle, but also allows you to be okay, physically, emotionally, spiritually and energetically. Keep it aligned with what matters most to you.

That brings us to the second question…

What if you just don’t care about speed?

If you have your needs covered, if you have alternative sources of business and revenue that will allow you the gift of breathing room for a longer, slower launch and build, you may be able to rely on really well-crafted content to play a much bigger role in not just your positioning, but your audience building and lead-generation.

If you have the runway for a slow-build, hustle becomes less of an issue.

But, if you have limited financial or temporal space to play with, if you need to make things happen quickly, if you have bills to pay, expectations or commitments to meet, with very rare exception, content alone is not enough.

And, if you’re looking toward content as a way to not just grow, but also hide, it’s a safe bet that’ll eventually catch up to you. So, you might as well explore how to peacefully navigate the hustle now, when the stakes are lower and room to breath more available.

Think of it this way…

Content + hustle are the flour and yeast in your launch bread.

Together, they rise. Divided, they fall.

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How People with High IQs Think (Practical Examples)

You don’t have to be the Einstein of our generation to be successful. But in some companies and institutions, IQ has a tendency to correlate to qualities they value, hence the kind of people they seek and want to work with. IQ tests directly measure your ability to correctly identify patterns and logic problems under a time limit.

Those skills have a significant correlation to other skills that we value in a 21st century, post-industrial economy. It correlates with the ability learn complex concepts, learn to think critically, learn to identify opportunities etc.

IQ is probably overrated today. We place way to much value on IQ, and take it as being far more meaningful than it is.

These are two practical examples (from Calvin and Raffaele) of how people with high 1Qs think (from a social, intellectual, and practical point of view). How they perceive everyday interactions and situations. They originally shared these experiences on reddit.

1. Calvin Chopra, An inquisitive autodidact

I tested about 4 months back; my IQ was 150. My Myers Briggs Test Type (MBTI) is INTJ and I am 17 years old.

Socially: It is pretty screwed up. I can’t get along with kids in my school or other people around me. Also, it is an INTJ characteristic that people perceive me as arrogant; in fact I am very humble. I tend to be the silent one. I don’t talk much and sometimes I am shy.

I don’t talk to people in my age group, but instead have friends who are older than me. I also don’t believe in small talk; I don’t want people calling me unless it is extremely important and I think a real conversation is better any day.

However, When I am with like-minded people or in a place where I can discuss  ideas, I am good socially and I consider myself to be an ambivert contrary to the MBTI test. I am swift then. Also, I am good at reading people’s expressions and know what they are thinking about, but sometimes I don’t even know that they are listening to me.

I despise smartphones, any and every form of communication. I don’t use my smartphone quite a lot and I might switch to a feature phone. Also, I permanently deleted my facebook account after joining Quora. I don’t keep up with my old buddies.

Intellectually: At an early age, I discovered that I was passionate about robotics and computers. Also I am a voracious reader. I read, think and talk about subjects ranging from Neuroscience to metaphysics.

I am good at school now. I love to be intellectually engaged. I have a hard time doing dull work, but I motivate myself and do work well. As for music, I find solace in classical works of Beethoven, Chopin, Tchaikovsky and the likes.

The dark side of this intellectual prowess is that I sometimes have to deal with analysis paralysis and I tend to over-plan things. I think and worry a lot, sometimes. Other times I get lost in my imagination; when I am inactive I tend to do thought experiments and try to analyze or build things in my mind.

Creativity: My mind has an inclination towards abstraction; I would study the fundamental nature of something, make assumptions and inferences and would try to build an abstract model. I would then try to use that model. That is why I love robotics.

I love to work on abstract stuff; I would do stuff with Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning and then use these domains to develop robots. Abstraction and Application, I work on these constantly.

Practicality: I was a strong idealist earlier; now I believe that practicality and idealism should go hand in hand. With my idealistic mind, I made many mistakes. I learnt from those mistakes and take my decisions wisely now.

I analyze the situations I am in, anticipate outcomes and know what will be beneficial for me. I do not have the Dunning Kruger effect, I know what I am good at, I know what I am bad at and I know that I don’t know much.

Procrastination: If I don’t have a plan, I will procrastinate, a lot. I need to make a plan a night before. That is the only way I can be productive. I don’t really need to be motivated to do something; having a purpose is enough. The next best thing would be a plan.

Although I don’t follow a plan rigidly but I keep working on things till bed time. I constantly make day logs and edit my plan, and I have a good work ethic. I am a non-conformist and brutally rational. I do not care about what others think about me, but I do not harm them either. If my apathy harms them, then I am in a dilemma.

[Note: Whatever I am or whatever I think, I do not attribute it to my IQ. Whatever I have achieved is by devoting time and effort in order to enhance my skills.

I believe regardless whether your IQ is 100 or 140, you can achieve solely by practicing and improving your skills; a priori intelligence is just because of genes and environment. You can be anything you want.

Also, People cannot be compared; there might be millions of people intelligent than you, millions dumber than you. If you want to get ahead embrace who you are. Be unique, do something only you can and discover your real potential.]

2. Raffaele Tranquillini, 16-year old student, programmer

Sorry for my English, my native language is Italian and actually I am 16 year old, so still learning. Even if I am not 160 or more, I have taken a few reliable IQ tests in the past and obtained scores between 145 and 150 in all. I’ll try to give a detailed answer to this question.

Notice: additional factors may influence this answer. I am an INTP on MBTI personality scale and I’m left handed (I’m not sure, but this may influence)

Childhood: in short, I was a strange child. At the kindergarden I used to look always behind the computers to see how cables were connected; I learnt reading and writing when I was three, and my kindergarten nannies remember me that I was extremely lively (too lively, sincerely), very good at puzzles that were designed for elder children, and that I used to talk always about things like gizmos, mechanical systems, possible projects using windmills and things like that.

In addition, I was not extroverted and not very friendly to my mates and teachers (that I now love for accepting me for how strange I was even when, often, I was completely crazy). At the primary school, the situation was different.

I got bullied very very often both from schoolmates and teachers, that, in a school of the peripheral area of a city, hated me because I was smarter than other children.

They used to put the blame on me for everything that happened in my class, they lied to my parents about things that, for they, I did (they were serious things, so my parents didn’t believe me) because they were just envious, exactly like my classmates.

Now I don’t like children and I hate everything related to the period of primary school, because it remembers me all that bullying of teachers and classmates.

The only positive aspects is that this experience taught me not only to respect everyone and avoid bullying, but to be always as generous and correct as possible with other people in order to avoid they made the same bad experiences.

Social skills: they were quite poor, but in the time with my very analytic behaviour I learned how the “society algorithm” works, and I am in some things even more able than normal people, because I don’t do anything in a spontaneous way in social occasions, and instead I know how to simulate well an emotion or another. However, there are still many points where this “algorithm” I learned doesn’t work, and that translates in social difficulties.

Everyday life: the main difference is that I see patterns everywhere. Patterns and algorithms. In addition, I am usually really fast in thinking logically, and when I speak I usually try in my head in 1/10 of second 4-5 different sentences and choose the best one (something not the best for that situation, though).

Then often I figure out many different solutions in a very short time to a problem, including the solution that I think will be the wrong one but the one that the others will choose, and I can’t explain the right one.

Often people tell me that my solution is wrong and I am stubborn, but I know it is correct, and after hours they will notice I was right. In addition, I always talk very very fast to keep up with my thoughts.

Other aspects of social life: I often feel alone among the people. I am between them, but I feel separated by a wall that isolates me on a place that is just physically near the people around me. They don’t understand me. They misunderstand me (in a bad way).

I feel as I had some sort of veil that doesn’t let me interact with them. And nobody believes me if I try to explain that. (This is one of the the many symptoms of Asperger’s I have… But I’m almost sure it’s also the IQ)

Interests: my mind is very good in some directions and very wrak in others. For instance, I am not good at maths (high school maths is IMO boring and I don’t want to study it) except for the very small part of it involving logical thinking.

I am very good at writing, but my main, obsessive hobby is programming. I love it, and I am programmer since I was 8. I love it because it’s good to use my logic. I’ve always been very bad at sport. Especially, I have never had coordination. I love quiet places, and I need to walk alone in quiet places for some kilometers every day to relax.

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