What, you didn't know that Luciano Pavarotti was huge on Twitter?
Oh yes. Or at least, he could have been.
See, every day I talk with various people about their projects. Inevitably, I hear a lot of questions that are rooted in this premise:
"How can people give me their attention?"
In other words: "How can I get more for myself?" The more in question varies: interest, customers, website traffic, subscribers, money, whatever--but it always relates to an increase in focus on the individual.
There's nothing wrong with any of those things. I'd like more too. But motivations can be interesting predictors of success. The more that we want tends to come along when we give more, but when we give because we want to receive, it doesn't always turn out so well.
If it sounds complicated, it's not. Here's the secret:
Some singers want the audience to love them. I love the audience. -Luciano Pavarotti
Interestingly enough, in the business I'm in, I've noticed that almost everyone who is successful in the long-term lives by this lesson. Yes, there are a few exceptions. But you can usually tell how it goes down within a few minutes of meeting someone--and these days, you can "meet" someone whether you're in the same place or not.
Therefore, the better question to ask is:
"How can I give more?"
Sometimes I'm ashamed at my giving to receiving ratio. Look at that guy Jonathan Fields! He's always saying nice things about me. I can't keep up. I wrote him and said, "Dude! Slow down. You give too much." (To which he said: "There's no scorecard." Of course he would say something like that.)
Look at that guy J.D. Roth! He writes about me all the time, even knowing that some of his more conservative readers think I'm crazy for spending my money on flying to Cape Verde without a good reason.
Quick update on that: British Airways is still on strike, but last night I made it back to London on a charter flight operated by EuroAtlantic. I'd never heard of EuroAtlantic before, but BA switched me over to them and it worked out OK. Next stop: Sal Island.
These people, the Jonathans and J.D.s of the online world who give back all the time, are incredibly rich in goodwill. I feel like I am permanently in their debt, and it makes me want to give them whatever it is I can give.
And of course, it's not just the famous people. It's Everyone Else. All of you who read from more than 100 countries now. Every day I look at the comments, the emails, the trackbacks, the fun things everyone is doing and think... am I really giving enough? How can I give more?
Understand: there's nothing wrong with promoting your thing, asking for help, making a living. I don't even think there's anything wrong with wanting more.
But I figure the first step is to adopt Mr. Pavarotti's perspective. It seemed to work out fairly well for him, even without a fan page or a LinkedIn profile.
Give back. Show love. If you want to change the world, love the audience.
What can you give the audience?
Follow Chris Guillebeau on Twitter: www.twitter.com/chrisguillebeau