25 May 2018

no clones required

Image credit: Unsplash

You don’t have to be everywhere in social media to make your mark.

When I was working in a fancy social media agency, we had clients who could afford a team to manage all their social platforms. We built content strategies, staged photo shoots, launched shiny campaigns that got covered in the trades, mapped out content calendars, and analyzed the performance of said content in excruciating detail. These were the kind of companies that were shelling out $10K/month minimum to be in the game.

But who’s rolling around with that kind of coin? Who has a team doing their bidding?

I can’t even get my cat to pose for pictures on Instagram. He pulls a Greta Garbo and shields his eyes with his paws as soon as I whip out my phone. Really, Felix? Really?

Even when my clients had big budgets I’d tell them that they didn’t need to be on every single platform in order to be successful. Rather, they needed to be playing where their customers played. And they needed to be present and serving at a level that makes their customers pause mid-swipe. My clients had to be surgical about understanding their customer in order to connect with them in a way that didn’t feel forced or phony. Don’t publish content for the sake of having something online, I’d say, which is the equivalent of opening your window every morning and screaming out into the street.

Everyone will think you’re fucking crazy, and if you live in New York people will simply shrug, pass you by, and eventually, tune you out.

Don’t listen to the Gary V minions. You don’t have to be the embodiment of spam to make your mark. You just have to pick one or two platforms and get good on them.

All the kids are chirping you have to go LIVE! In unison they shout, you have to have a Facebook group, a podcast, a newsletter, an Instagram pod, a retreat, a weekly Live, blah, blah, blah. YOU MUST DO ALL THE THINGS TO GET ALL THE MONIES.

I’m here to tell you that’s a pack of lies.

You don’t need to do all of the things, just some of the things.

First, start by assessing your brand and business. Are you selling physical products where images need to be at the fore? Or are you a novelist who wants to be read? Marry your product with you’re the behavior and habits of your intended audience. Then, evaluate what you’re best at and prioritize, based on your resources, time, and life, what platforms will make your work shine.

People who don’t know me have a perception that I’m extroverted, bombastic, and a worker of the room in real life when nothing could be further from the truth. I love writing. I love the barrier between self and others, which emboldens me in a way that connecting face-to-face can be sometimes challenging.

Writing is home to me and it’s been the way that I’ve sold myself for as long as I could remember. I compel people with words before they even meet me. Or I try to.

Facebook groups, retreats, Lives, and anything involving large groups of people give me anxiety on the level of vertigo, and I truly believe that if you suck at something, you’ll only shine a bright, glaring light on your suckage if you pursue that which puts your gifts in the dimmest light.

If video makes you want to hide under the covers, but you have physical products to sell, consider marrying your images with text that cultivates a relationship between you and your customer. It is possible to crawl before you leap.

I made a conscious decision for my business to let my writing lead the way. I can’t create beautiful Instagram stories or potent Pinterest boards, but I can tell you stories that carry a level of intimacy by way of your inbox. I can write medium essays that will inspire you to burn so bright you blast all the bulbs. And in true introvert fashion, I can start a podcast and a blog that puts my words out into the world in a way that’s thoughtful and deliberate.

Don’t put out anything less than extraordinary. Don’t put out anything that doesn’t move you. Don’t speak simply to make sounds. That’s how you’ll cut through the garbage and the noise because you’re being honest, compelling, and true.

Warmly, Felicia

This post originally appeared in my weekly newsletter. Each week, I send storytelling, marketing, and brand building advice, tips, and tutorials. Sign up here to get on my list

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  • Do the thing that chills you down to the bone. I’ve been thinking about time a lot, as well as ambition.
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When I was young, I was hungry. I was aggressive and relentlessly ambitious to the point of being myopic. I had to prove something to the world, myself, perhaps my mother, and I needed to collect these totems or the signifiers of success.
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But there comes a point when you shift from desiring success to significance. The shift is imperceptible, but it happens because you start to be aware of time and the fact that you have fewer years ahead than behind. That realization is potent and frightening because death takes it all, strips us of ourselves and we return to that from which we’ve come. We can’t cart along our trophies and bank accounts and handbags to the afterlife. Those things have been reduced to dust and they no longer have any meaning.
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You start thinking about time and its value. Am I squandering it? Investing in it? Living it? Breathing through it.
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I’m frightened of death and the irony that I wanted to take my own life two years ago doesn’t escape me. I don’t have faith that could hold my hand and guide me through and out of the dark. I simply believe there’s nothing and this life is the one true thing I know of.
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Suddenly success morphs into significance because you start to do the math and wonder what you’ve done in this one beautiful life that will leave its mark. Maybe we’ll all be forgotten. Maybe we’ll leave indelible prints that linger. I don’t know.
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What I do know is that the definition of success is elusive. Just when you think you have it, it changes form. And the things I wanted five, ten years ago aren’t that which I desire now. There’s want, but it’s a different kind of want. There’s the want of designing a life that’s conscious, graceful, impactful, curiosity-driven, and remarkable.
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I sat down with a peer today and she trusted me as a marketer, and as someone at her level who could lend perspective. She has the tools, it’s just a matter of me being her guide and telling her that she alone can grant herself permission to shift her business and change her life.
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Who has a little one (pet, baby, cactus) they play with during the day to keep sane?
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  • My mother had died a year ago and this wasn’t about her. My pain exceeded her. I was in new terrain — a dark country to which I’d emigrated yet it was foreign to me. This wasn’t like the darkness of before, this was a fresh hurt. A ground that had given way beneath my feet and the fall felt bottomless. There existed no end to it. There was only the enormity of the hurt and its persistence. I woke to it. I carried the weight of it. I fell asleep to it. Even now I couldn’t meet my friend in the day because the light had become an assault.
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You don’t understand, I said. This is constant. Again with the blank stare. The discomfort and confusion. I had created a ripple, a disturbance in one place. I was no longer the fun friend who cracked jokes and entertained her for years. I had become something other.
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All I wanted was for her, for anyone, to say: I love you. I’m here for you. Tell me, what can I do?
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Have you thought about going back to yoga? she asked, signaling for the check. This is just a slump. You’ll snap out of it. You’ll see.
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It was if a curtain had fallen over our table and the room had gone black.
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I wrote about depression. HIT THE LINK IN PROFILE AND CLAP YOUR HEART OUT.
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  • Part of being a consultant is self-care. Now this isn’t about fancy candles and spending piles of money. This is about managing stress, anxiety, and the crippling self doubt we feel when we go at it alone.
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My self-care is all about meditation, medication, yoga, walking to clear my head and get the creative juices flowing, not taking on crazy clients, saying no, having me time and doing the thing that gives me calm—cook.
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For years I published a food blog, lovelifeeat.com where I documented thousands of dishes I made, baked, and ate.
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While I’m no longer feeling the blogging vibe and I had to hock the fancy camera, I’m back to cooking yummy food.
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  • I used to be a woman who did things. I was a doer, a maker, a builder, and then I was a woman who stared at a wall. I’d become an abandoned construction site, in a constant state of disrepair. The hammers grew heavy. The cement cooled. The nails dulled and rusted brown. And then I woke up from staring at a wall and looked around and nothing felt familiar. I forgot the blueprint and all my plans. What was that building, that woman, supposed to be? For miles, all I could see was the semblance of something, a stack of bricks, a room incomplete. What was supposed to be here? I kept asking myself. ✨

I put on my shirt and shoes and try to walk myself back to the woman I used to be. And watching myself get cut and bruised in the process. But I’m used to this, I think, passing time tending to my wounds. ✨

How do I go back to building when the tools feel heavy in my hands? ✨

How did I get here? ✨

I look at pictures for clues. In 2002, I started an online literary magazine because none of the cool kids would publish my work. My writing was too raw, dark, and messy for print. I wasn’t cool enough, connected enough, or willing to kiss the right ass.
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I’ve always been more of a kicker than a kisser.
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The journal was beautiful, smart, and cultivated a following enough to get the attention of The New York Times, Poets & Writers, and The New Yorker. I was proud of the five years I devoted to the journal—how I built it on Moveable Type and then fought with the printer on proofs when I decided to launch an annual print edition.
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I don’t tell people about the times I’d hurl 40-pound boxes up and down streets. I don’t tell people about manning a table at a book fair knowing all the cool kids in publishing hate you because you upset the queen bee. And I definitely don’t tell people that I used to get stone-drunk at book parties because the idea of talking to the judgy smart set was unimaginable sober. Never do I talk about the hours spent sad and alone.
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  • The most advanced yogis aren’t the lithe Lululemon-clad women who kick up into handstand. We claim to be egoless, yet we grandstand our heel hitting wood while the motley lot peer up from their books and their phones, while we holds our breath for a moment before coming down. Our practice has begun because we’re able to hear the sound of a heel thumb against wood.
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This isn’t yoga to me, it’s showing off. Truly skilled practitioners settle into their breath because that is the most difficult thing one can do. That is the union: stillness and movement coalescing, folding in on itself like a note held too long, sorting itself out. When I started my practice in 2002 I was driven by ego; I regarded the asanas as a succession of poses I could master. Little did I realize that holding a Warrior pose would reduce me to a shaking mess. How could I know that my physical impairment — a shattered collarbone that never healed, only prevented one arm from growing, so I was left with one arm markedly longer than the other — would make many poses anatomically impossible?
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How I could know that it would take me seven years to sit still for 15 minutes?
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I hadn’t prepared myself for how my practice has shifted in the years since I’d left it. I practiced for 7 years, daily. I stopped and every attempt to start again has been a challenge.
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When I left NY, it occurred to me that I was going at life SO HARD. Everything was about killing it and crushing it and every violent metaphor you could muster. Then I got here, slowed down, and wanted to settle down.
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I’ve been in LA for nearly 3 years and I’ve finally returned to that mat. My body has changed. My ability to do certain poses has changed and I remind myself that I can’t compare my advanced before with this new after.
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I found a studio that’s a lot like the one I used to love, and my teacher told me that my practice is in me. The precision and attention are there, but the strength and prowess aren’t. I’m reminded of the meaning of yoga: union, and how my practice is a union of all my selves. The woman I used to be and the woman now. And the work is seeing the beauty between the two.

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