Progress anxiety, Facebook culture, and baby animals

progress anxiety

My mind is spinning with ideas and observations about our world but not all of this is suitable for a dedicated blog post. So today, I decided to ramble.

Random thoughts unleashed …

Progress anxiety

A problem I see in the world right now is what I would call progress anxiety.

When I started blogging more than a decade ago, nobody knew what they were doing. Blogging was new. So you just dove in and learned. Today, something like blogging is a science with complex services and systems in place to optimize every thought, headline, and sentence.

Same with video or podcasting. There is so much available information to absorb that you get progress anxiety and simply fail to launch.

With so much advice available, people are paralyzed. They want to get it right and want to absorb it all but that’s nearly impossible. Just start. Create your content for three months. Stumble, learn, re-assess, improve, read some more, and keep moving forward. But you have to start.

Build an organic community

I have a friend creating an interesting new online community. But he’s using an obscure platform that requires more clicks and registration. Then I would have to learn how to use the darn platform and remember to visit it every day.

I don’t think ideas like this will work because the community is not native to our daily experience. I’m on Facebook and LinkedIn every day. If I saw a reminder or a new group posting alert I would probably check it out. But I don’t need another platform in my life. Nobody does.

I am a Millennial

A lot of people resent Millennials and Gen Z because they place a priority on meaningful time off, adventure, workplace flexibility, and a career oriented toward values and purpose. I like those same things. Maybe I’m just a Millennial in with gray hair.

A lot of people regard Millennials as “entitled.” I think much of this attitude comes down to a matter of timing. Millennials (and Gen Z) are digital natives growing up in a relatively peaceful and prosperous era where you can get anything you want delivered to your door in 24 hours. Why wouldn’t you want everything right now? Who has time for patience when you have Amazon?

I am inspired by this generation. They are hard-working, fearless, and re-inventing our world. It’s time for the older generation to listen, be humble, and learn from them. This is a great post I read that also reflects my feelings on the subject: My semester with the snowflakes.

Start from the bottom

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you may have seen that I am learning to paint with watercolors. It has been a long time since I have entered a discipline at the absolute bottom and beginning from step one. Very humbling and yet energizing. I recommend it. When was the last time you started something completely new?

By the way … I only post my GOOD paintings … one out of 10!

Mental health and marketing

Great marketing is about finding ways to meet un-met or under-served customer needs.

One of the things I’ve been thinking about is the whacked-out mental health of the world right now. Record levels of stress, depression, anxiety, isolation. The needs of the world are changing in so many unexpected ways. What does this mean to marketers? It means a LOT, but I’m a little afraid of the implications.

What a world.

I think I witnessed an all-time low in spam. I got an alert on a reference to my business that was a fake obituary for me. It was an obvious malware site asking me for information to enter. I cannot even fathom the psychological make-up of a person who does something like this.

Relax with baby animals

Researchers believe that taking a break from work to look at pictures of baby animals can reduce anxiety and stress. So this one is on me. Hedgehog for the win.

progress anxiety and baby animals


Why so serious?

This may come as a surprise to you but this blog used to be much funnier. Over the years, I’ve made-up poems, song lyrics, original cartoons, and even a post called “How to Become a Google Whore.”

Year by year {grow} has become a lot more serious. I turn a funny phrase now and then, but I rarely have an intent to write an entirely funny post.

I’m not sure I know why. I think part of it has to do with the fact that there are more eyeballs on me now? Maybe part of it is I feel less funny?

Swatting mosquitos

I am developing a LinkedIn sixth sense. With good accuracy, I can now predict which new connections will immediately spam me with an unwanted and tone-deaf sales pitch. I have been able to hone this skill based on the increasing number of desperate pitches on this platform!

Sell the house

I was working with an entrepreneur the other day to help him focus on his business direction. His website offered an overwhelming number of tools and solutions, but it was unclear exactly what customer problem was being solved. For example, “content marketing” is a tactic, not a problem being solved.

My advice to him: “Your website lists a lot of tools. These are the same tools anybody has. You can use those tools to open a jar of peanut butter or you can use those tools to build a unique and magnificent house. If you want to differentiate your business, you can’t sell the tools, you have to sell the house!

The Facebook culture

A company will succeed or fail in the long-term based on the company culture. The company culture comes from the leader at the top.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg …

  • Only does the right thing when he gets caught
  • Dismisses the requests of his biggest customers
  • Has been sued for $9 billion in unpaid taxes and billions more for privacy violations
  • Runs a company with virtually no customer service or appeals process to help its daily users and small customers
  • Routinely has walk-outs over employee mistreatment “I think Facebook is hurting people at scale,” one employee wrote.
  • Enables and encourages extremists because hate-oriented content drives advertising revenue

How long can a company like that last? In 2012, I predicted that Facebook would become the most dangerous company on earth. It is heading in that direction.

Creative urges

I’m worried about the state of creativity. Breakthrough ideas come from serendipity … chance meetings, attending conferences, traveling to new places. When we are spending most of our time on Zoom and Netflix during a pandemic, is the world in a creativity desert? Ideas happen at the water cooler and at the breaks.

New book in the works

For the last year, I’ve been thinking about a certain idea for a new book. It’s a natural extension of my body of work to tackle “what’s next.”

Developing a book idea is a big deal. For me to commit to the time it takes to research and write a book, I have to be 100 percent certain about the concept and my dedication to what will be an intense and all-encompassing year-long process.

Early this year, the idea “locked in.” I was ready to write.

And then the world changed. I’m struggling to make sure my idea is still relevant in the context of a global upheaval of everything that used to be “normal.”

I’m getting closer to resolving the gap but isn’t it fascinating to consider that in a period of a few months, we’ve had to re-think the whole idea of “next?”

Did you enjoy this format of shorter thoughts?

Keynote speaker Mark SchaeferMark Schaefer is the executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions. He is the author of several best-selling digital marketing books and is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world. Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

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