Up until I was in college, I was a huge fan of soap operas. As I got older I got (sadly) more interested in the stories and in the characters. Especially all of those 6-pack abs. Hem. Anyway…on a soap opera, there is a lot of actor turn-over, so you’d tune in one day and you’d hear this voice come on saying, “The role of Cassanova Villanova Smith is now being played by…” and the new actor’s name would be given. The characters were always completely ignorant of the voice and of the fact that their son/brother/lover/father looked completely different. But you knew that it was somebody new.
I think a lot of people in Social Media approach the online world as if they can step in to the shoes of someone like Brian Clark, Darren Rouse, Guy Kawasaki, or Chris Brogan and have a voice come on saying, “Now playing the role of…” However, there is a fact that is being overlooked.
Times have changed.
It’s a simple matter of history
I’m not saying this to poke a hole in all of your dreams. You could end up greater than any of the people we call A-listers now. But you won’t get there in the exact same way. You won’t end up with the exact same thing.
Because they’ve already done it their way, and they exist ahead of you.
I keep coming back to the analogy of lasagna. The people who were around when Twitter was first getting started paved the way for everyone who would come after. They are the trailblazers, the early adopters, the pioneers. They began passing forward knowledge as they learned what worked and what didn’t, and in the process, as more people joined Twitter and looked to them as role models, they got bigger and bigger (plus they were doing lots and lots of other stuff too, which always helps).
After that first layer of lasagna was set down, the next big wave of people came in. They looked at the pioneers and said, “Oh, OK, I get it.” They became a sort of bridge between increasing numbers of new people and the pioneers. But they were not the last layer of lasagna. More and more layers keep getting piled on as more and more people get added to the pan. I am fairly certain I’m on layer 1 million!
The ramifications of many layers of lasagna separating us
The online world that you are coming into if you are new – the online world that I entered into last year – is very different from the world as it was when Brian Clark, Darren Rouse, and Chris Brogan were just three dudes. How do we know this?
Well, when they were just three dudes, there wasn’t a full layer of lasagna that they were building up to, really. They created the show.
All of us are now moving about in a world that has been existing without us for awhile. If you really want to be “the next,” that means you’re going to have to cut through every single layer of lasagna that exists between you and the person you want to be version 2.0 of. You would have to recreate the world that they excelled in and repeat all of their steps, with the exact same people, in the exact same way.
I am not sure this is possible. And you know what? I’m not sure this is the best thing to shoot for.
Change up the recipe
It should not bum you out that you can’t be “the next…” Why? Because at this level that we are at right now, we can entirely change the recipe of this pan. Maybe there has never been a layer of spinach lasagna before. You could be the first to try that. Maybe there has yet to be a layer of spicy Italian sausage. You could be the first layer of that. You could be a trailblazer for the online world where there are already layers of “A-Listers.” You could reach out to the layers coming in on top of you and say, “Hey, this is how I found success in a world where there were all kinds of ceilings over my head. And I still made things delicious, by the way.”
Be the first you
The people who we refer to as the a-listers, the influencers, the super kids, whatever you want to call them – they are special people who made it big online and decided to share how they did it with us. We can’t copy the precise details of that action. We need to bow and say, “Hot dog…that was awesome of you.” We need to look at the advice and find the kernels of wisdom that will remain relevant for years to come, regardless of platform. But this needs to be done not in an effort to recreate what has already happened, but rather to build on what exists to create something entirely new. You. The very first, and the only you.
Let’s make this one crazy layer of lasagna.
Are you with me?
Image by Jenny Rollo. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/buzzybee