“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I set aside childish ways. “ Corinthians, 13:11
A few weeks ago I spoke in Sweden and, as I always do, got a squad together of attendees to hit some bars and see the city after my talk. One dude in our circle was a tall dude in a cornflour blue shirt, grey blazer, and regulation Swedish beard. He ran a mobile gaming studio. So far, so normal.
For whatever reason, we all got to talking about bands, and I was surprised to hear he went to (legendary German metal festival) Wacken as a teenager.
As the beers flowed, he told us he hadn’t had a drink in six years, and he regaled his tales of a goth teenage life a decade ago (He would later show us photos on his phone with full eyeliner on).
He had accepted the roles of being a man in a conservative society. (I was in the north of Sweden, not Stockholm). It appeared as if he missed those halcyon days that he was so disconnected from.
Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t, but it’s a pattern I see over and over with most adults.
“Do you remember when you were young and you wanted to set the world on fire?”
Against Me – “I was a teenage anarchist”
The top quote from the Bible sums up most peoples’ attitudes to growing up very well.
Ask yourself “What would I do if I was given a billion dollars?”...then find a way to build a business around it.
At set ages, you MUST stop the things you like, because everyone around you is doing the same…even if you like those things.
Like everything else in life, it takes guts to swim against the tide and voice unpopular opinions.
There’s an idea of “cultural capital” which is: Aged culture, music, arts etc. that have been socially validated are easier to say you like to get credit, even if they aren’t your favorites.
Thus: Saying Steve Jobs was a legend is a safer bet than saying you admire the Snapchat founder.
Saying you like Bowie, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones will get you more respect than saying you love Fall Out Boy on first dates (er, or so I’ve heard…)
Popularity by consensus strangles individual thought.
As Y-Combinator founder Jesica Livingston said recently:
“There’s too much downside in sharing any opinion that could easily be misinterpreted online. Even facts are dangerous to share if they don’t align with what people want to believe.”
At some point in your entrepreneurial journey it hits you that some aspect of childhood has died (in a dead-end job, you tend to daydream so much that this doesn’t happen).
I remember a couple of months after Planet Ivy launched bursting into tears under the stresses of poverty and personal relationships and thinking this was basically the end of my youth.
To a certain extent it was. 99% of the friends I knew from back then I never see, ditto the same places/parties. I found myself single, with my own apartment in the coolest part of London (Shoreditch), never going out and grinding to get my startup through two rounds of investment.
So what happened after a few years of grind?
Everything I liked about who I was has returned.
Sober now, but the travel, the meting new people, dressing what I want, saying what I want, having the most fun all came back, a little in 2015 then massively in 2016, my favorite year in years.
I lost a lot of the “seriousness” that comes with running a business and could be playful, read a lot more, do childish things once again.
I reconnected massively with the me of back then under new terms.
A good way for you to so this too is to think about what you enjoyed most as a kid, and how you could do that now. Further to that, asking yourself “What would I do if I was given a billion dollars?”
Then find a way to build a business around it. Many people normally say something creative here, and then follow it with:
“But that would never work for me”. 😒
I normally respond by telling them:
A) Here is a list of people I’ve found making a living off that within five minutes of Googling, and
B) The selling information business is literally perfect for creatives to make a living from their 1000 true fans from. So what’s your excuse?
Mine has always been being a writer, and how I’m getting to do just that.
What is your eventual goal? What are you going to be?
Originally written for Traffic & Copy