MGU 156 | Online Identity

 

The huge role of social media in today’s digital world is undeniable. Nevertheless, it can adversely affect our online identity if we allow it to control us instead of the other way around. This may fuel our ego, push us to the brink of depression, make us addicted to going viral, and give us a false sense of presentation. Corbett Barr of The Fizzle Show discusses how to avoid falling to the firm grasp of the online community by sharing his decision to delete all of his social media. Together, with Jason Wrobel and Whitney Lauritsen, he explains why aiming to get viral posts is not enough to become successful, why we should not be skeptical of minimalism, and how we can take care of the real identity we have outside of our screens.

Listen to the podcast here:

How To Reinvent Your Online Identity With Corbett Barr

I am looking forward to this conversation because it all started when I read an email titled It’s Time for A Clean Sweep. This came from our guest, Corbett Barr, somebody whose work I’ve been following for many years. As I was reflecting on this, I was looking back to see if I could trace the history of when I started listening to a podcast called The Fizzle Show and studying the work of this company called Fizzle. I was able to track it back to 2015. I was reflecting on some episodes I listened to, and I was knee-deep in studying entrepreneurship, small business, developing my work and thinking about where I wanted to go as an entrepreneur. I’ve been following Corbett’s work ever since.

I got this email in October 2020 that said he had deleted everything on social media. It immediately caught my attention. He said he was calling it spring cleaning or a midlife crisis and starting over in a way, deleting many blog posts, side projects, videos, podcasts because he was reevaluating how he existed online. At the end of the email, it said, “Does this resonate with you? Have you considered something similar?” I have in my own way, but this reminded me of some things that Jason has been going through. I immediately forwarded it to Jason and I’m like, “Here’s an example of someone that I appreciate and admire his work and look what he’s doing.” It occurred to me that perhaps we could invite Corbett on the show to talk about it and here he is.

This something that I’ve been looking forward to. We’re going to be talking about digital housecleaning. One of the phrases that in another email that Corbett wrote was that he wants to make digital room for who he’s become and who he intends to be. We talk about this on the show. This is a wonderful thing, Corbett. Even though it’s familiar to us, I feel like not enough people share these moments of their life. I’m grateful that you wrote that email and even more so that you came on to talk more in-depth about it.

Thank you for having me on. I looked forward to this opportunity to chat with both of you ever since we scheduled it because I know that you like to go deep and focus on the mental processes, the thoughts and feelings behind what we’re all working towards. This should be fun.

My first question is for you, Jason. How did you feel when I sent this over to you? Did you resonate with it immediately? Did you check it out? What is this been like for you, given that it’s similar to a process you’re going through on your own?

When Whitney forwarded me your public declaration, Corbett, it was like, “Hell yes.” There was a thing in me of witnessing through your process and an open and vulnerable public share of someone who finally did what I’ve been dreaming about. I’m sure you’ve probably received hundreds of emails, God knows even thousands, probably reflecting a similar sentiment. It was a crescendo of a conversation I’ve been having for many months with not only Whitney, our dear friend Adam Yasmin, who is at the forefront of a lot of things in digital wellness and reading digital minimalism, watching The Minimalists, watching The Social Dilemma and all of the compound conversations when I received your email, it was like, “This is fascinating. I want to dig in this man’s brain.” It did reflect back to me something I have been considering doing, which is the reason I haven’t done it is because it frightens the hell out of me. My first question to you Corbett is, as we dive deeper into your mental process behind this, why take this tack, which is wiping the slate clean? What are the attendant fears, if any, misgivings? What was the resistance you had to push through to finally do it?

I’m glad that I decided to do this publicly because, for a long time, I had been wrestling with these thoughts and feelings in my mind about this sense of digital baggage and divergence between who I have become, and how I was being represented by all of the things that I had published over the past years that I’ve been active online. Instead of continuing that conversation with myself, I decided at some point, this might be interesting to other people. If I’ve been wrestling with this so much, other people are feeling this way as well. If you pay attention to the Zeitgeists, you can sense that there’s a lot of trepidation, concern about social media and talk about depression and all kinds of other things that it causes for people. I had wrestled with this for a while. Every time I opened up my social media feeds, if I checked in on Instagram, I didn’t find myself feeling better afterward than I did when I started. I set it aside for a while and then I came back to it and I let everyone know in 2019 that I had been going through a bit of depression and that I felt like social media wasn’t the place for me to spend time if I was feeling that way. I also started to wonder if social media wasn’t causing it on its own.

I can’t say that I have all the answers, but I decided that for me, it was time to wipe the slate clean. In terms of fears that I felt in doing so, first of all, I knew that with social media, all of that stuff that’s out there can be recreated. I had tens of thousands of posts and most of those came out quickly. It’s not as if I had spent a lot of time on them. Does the world care what I was thinking about eating several years ago? Not that all of my stuff was superfluous like that, but a lot of it was. I recognize that it felt it was holding me back more than it was doing me any good.

MGU 156 | Online Identity

Online Identity: Minimalism is not about living with absolutely nothing. It is being more curatorial in decisions about what to keep.

 

It’s relatable. A lot of us pause because our lives are interwoven with social media, especially for those of us who have been doing work online. I know for me it’s been several years of believing that I had to do social media. Studying all these different tactics and seeing this as a marketing avenue and telling other people like, “This is the way to go.” If you’re not everywhere, then you’re not reaching enough people. That can lead to you feeling like, “If I am not on social media, then will I even be communicating with people anymore.” Fortunately, we do have email and that is how I found out about everything that you’re doing. I didn’t find out about that through social media.

That’s another great reminder. Email is such a powerful communication tool. One that I much prefer to social media, I feel like it’s easier to reach people through email. You’re cutting through a lot more of the clutter and not having to deal with some algorithm, even though newsletters come with their own set of challenges and can often be ignored or in spam. I much prefer that as a communication method. I’m grateful that you sent that email because I wouldn’t have seen it otherwise and that in itself is a reflection on, do we need social media as much as we think we do?

The interesting thing about that to single out email is that email is a free and open protocol that was written many years ago. Social media is not. I’m sure that you two have seen The Social Dilemma and recognize that behind the scenes, there is a lot of manipulation happening to make sure that we are spending as much time as possible on the platform. From a wellness standpoint, it’s not as if they care whether or not social media is being helpful to you, making you feel good. As long as you’re glued to it, that’s what matters to the platforms. Whereas email doesn’t have some people pulling the strings behind the scenes. That’s interesting to note, and also that if you think about podcasting, for example, it’s another open protocol.

You create audio, put it out there in the world and if people want to listen to it, they can. As an individual creator, you can put ads in it or try to get people to take action in some way, but it’s not as if the platforms have a whole lot of intermediary between you and your listeners. Your listeners can pull your feed from a number of different places. That idea of open protocols matters. I would hope that at some point there will be some decentralized open social media protocol. I know there’ve been attempts at it, but it would be interesting if instead of having to worry about Facebook or Twitter, trying to manipulate us, if instead, we were able to reach people in a way that doesn’t have to be as direct as email over some free and open protocol.

In a lot of entrepreneurial spaces, I’ve heard some rhetoric about, “What about your brand equity? What about all the goodwill you’ve built with your community over the years?” If you’ve been an active blogger and social media content creator to potentially delete one’s “social equity” or “brand equity” by removing content from our feeds, there’s been conversations I’ve had where people like, “You’ve put all this work and you’ve been doing this for several years and you have all these hundreds of videos or hundreds of blog posts.” Seeing what you’ve been doing, was there any hesitance for you from an entrepreneurial perspective, looking at this as like, “This might affect my brand image. It might affect my online equity. It might affect my social proof.” Were any of those considerations for you or did you zoom right past those things and be like, “Fuck it. I’m going to do this?”

No, I’m not the kind to jump quickly. I ruminate a lot and think about things before I take action. In this case, on the social media side, I felt like this could all be recreated. It’s not that big of a deal. I didn’t delete my actual profiles because I’m not sure what I want to do with social media and what I want my relationship to be there. Instead of canceling my accounts, I deleted all the content, which leaves me with some of that social proof. I’ve still got the connections, the numbers and verification so I can go back to it if I want to. On the blogging side, videos and podcasts, I’m trying to do housekeeping.

With housekeeping, it doesn’t mean that you throw everything away and start over, or even with minimalism. It’s not as if you live with nothing. You’re more curatorial in your decisions about what to keep. I have been reviewing old posts trying to ask myself if they’re still valid, if they’re still useful. Also, looking at analytics to say which posts are still driving traffic, which ones are linked to, which ones are the search engines still representing? In those cases, I have been keeping some things. On my personal blog, I ended up deleting 95% and kept about ten good posts left there.

I archived everything as well. If I need to go back and look at things or a reference of some sort, I have those personally. At the end of the day, any good work that you’ve put out there, if you’ve written a book or something, that’s great. It’s out in the world and that’s something you can point to and reflect on, but your relationships and your reputation are the important things. Those aren’t made through some social media connection. It’s not because someone is following you, it’s because you’ve made an impact on someone. It’s because you have said something or produce something that someone else found valuable. It’s because you had an actual conversation with someone at some point.

Even though I removed all of that stuff, and I’m now living naked without any social media posts out there, when I sent that email saying that this is what I was doing, many people reach out to me, including new people that I had never heard of but who had followed me for quite a while. People that I knew from IRL conversations at conferences and other things, and also people that I had known online in various places over the years. It made me realize that the connections that you’ve made and the relationships and the reputation that you bring, that’s where the value is. That’s not contained in any of the archives of work that you’ve produced online.

Everything on social media, even though deleted, can always be recreated. Click To Tweet

That is such a huge point of all of this and something that I’ve noticed myself. We can get caught up in the numbers, we can get caught up on how we do our social media posts. One thing I’m curious about for you, Corbett is how your relationship with social media has been and your perception of it. For us, for better or for worse, much of our careers are based on social media. I started with the blog but the next step was YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, back in 2009. It felt like without social media, what would I be? Who would I be? That’s part of the big challenge for me. Jason, I believe it’s about the same. YouTube was a huge part of his career. The reason he had his TV show. It felt like if it weren’t for those things, would we have had any of these opportunities?

It becomes more like, “If we release all of this, will we even matter anymore? What impact do we have?” Thank goodness we started this because even when you were talking about the difference between email and podcasting versus social media, I also noticed the energy behind it is different. With the podcast, it is. Even on the hardest days, even when we’re tired, we still show up without much resistance versus, when I’m tired the last thing I want to do is social media. The last thing I want to do is make a YouTube video, but I am thrilled to do this no matter how I feel.

The energy behind it, which also leads me to another subject I want to touch on at some point, since you used the phrase digital housekeeping I also think about the life-changing magic of tidying up, the Marie Kondo method and how you can tune into that energy of what brings you joy, whether it’s what platform should I be posting on, or in your case, Corbett, “What posts do I keep?” Not only is it about the analytics of what’s driving traffic, but I imagine as you were going through your whole history of content creation, you were probably thinking a lot of what did you like, and what do you feel proud of versus what did you do because you felt like you had to, it was trendy or you thought it was going to bring you traffic.

There are two important conversations here in what you said. The first being, how do you relate to social media and how do you reconcile the fact that a lot of the opportunities that have come to any of us who are creators online, a lot of those opportunities came because of social media. They present an incredible platform for reaching people. The majority of the world’s population is spending time on some form of social media. Without them, it’s a lot more difficult to reach. This has been a revolution for people who want to build an audience, who want to build connections with people all over the globe, and who want to share their work without having to worry about traditional gatekeepers. Back in the day, if you wanted to get published or you wanted to have a TV show, you had to convince people at a network or at a publishing house in order to line that up.

Any individual can start publishing. If your content is good and you’re smart about the way you use those platforms, you can find yourself with an enormous audience that wouldn’t have been accessible to you several years ago. On the social media side, as creators, we have to distinguish between being a consumer versus being a creator in our relationship to social media. If you watch a film like The Social Dilemma or read a book like Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now. You are consuming that from the consumer’s standpoint. Those movies and books are aimed at how social media affects you as a consumer, as a person who’s passively reading or participating but not for any bigger, broader means necessarily. They didn’t address in those pieces what it means to be a creator and why social media can be important to us.

I had found myself at various times over the past few years not recognizing the difference between those two. Blurring the lines between them and getting sucked into social media because of all the manipulation that happens and because of human insecurities and the things that social media makes us feel and want to do. I found myself passively consuming and starting to feel bad about myself in some ways if someone else seemed to be living a more amazing, more successful, more rich and full life on social media. That’s what a lot of people publish these days. There’s a lot of this, “Look at me. My life is amazing.” It made me realize as a producer that I don’t want to be publishing that stuff because I don’t want that to be people’s relationship with me.

I don’t want them to feel bad about themselves because of something I’m doing that is amazing because of the way that I presented myself on social media. Also, it’s made me realize as a producer that my relationship to social media doesn’t have to be one of passively consuming and using it in the way that most people do. I can use social media simply as a channel to reach people, publishing things that are worthwhile and valuable, but that doesn’t mean that I have to spend time on the platform itself. In fact, there are ways to publish to most of the platforms without having to have an app installed on your phone. In fact, I removed all of the apps, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, everything from my phone, and yet I can still publish from my web browser. That means I don’t have to worry about checking it in bed. I don’t have to worry about notifications or anything, and I can jump in and jump out. In my relationship in the future to social media, I have a feeling if I continue to publish there will be one of trying to gain the benefits of using it as a creator with trying not to get sucked into it as a consumer.

I also am curious with this awareness you created around the level of passive consumption you were engaging in, and perhaps you had alluded to the comparison trap and looking at everyone’s lives with their relationships, their cars, their watches, their houses, their bodies and this seemingly never-ending stream of the same tropes being parroted over and over again in the entrepreneurial community. What did you notice in terms of not only the awareness around passive consumption but as you started to make this shift of more intentional usage and deleting and re-imagining your online identity or even your messaging? What effect did that have on your mental health? You talked a little bit about depression. That’s something we talk about extensively here, the effect of anthropology, society, social media, on our collective mental health. In this whole process, what’s been that journey for you in terms of your depression and your mental health?

MGU 156 | Online Identity

Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now

In 2019, I had found myself increasingly depressed and stuck. I felt boxed in in my relationship to my work and my relationship to my digital self. I found that it was worsened the more that I tuned in to social media. The more that I felt like I had to keep up with what a lot of active people will tell you in the digital realm about being everywhere and publishing. You see some people with energy and activity, you start to feel like, “I have to do that. If I want to play in this digital realm, that’s part of the cost of doing business.” That bummed me out. I had to go through some things personally. I saw a therapist for the first time in my life.

I had to take a step back from my work in general and keep the lights on, but not do a whole lot that was new. When I came back at some point to social media, I posted something about the depression that I had felt and how it was in some ways related to this digital revolution that we’ve gone through and with social media. I posted it on Instagram, and I got by far the most engagement I’ve ever gotten on a post because a lot of people resonated with it. They said, “Yes, I’ve been feeling this.” Also, because when you open up and bare your soul and say things on these platforms that most people aren’t saying, especially if it’s not something that you’re prone to say, then people connect with it.

The humanity of it, opening up and telling people that, “I haven’t been active here because I have not felt like this is a healthy relationship.” A lot of people reacted to that. However, at that time I didn’t have a good plan for changing my relationship to it. At that stage, I was admitting out loud that it had caused me some mental strife. When I went back to social media, I fell into the same old patterns again. Those patterns on some platforms were sharing photos to let my friends and connections know that my life was going well, pictures of you doing fun stuff and trying to look enthused about it. I found myself getting deeper and deeper into that hole again. In 2020, when I finally got some headspace, I love what Whitney said about this Marie Kondo and Spark Joy.

I started to ask myself, “Why did I assume that I had to participate in the way that everyone else does, or the gurus tell you that you should participate? Why did I have to carry around all of this digital baggage when a lot of it wasn’t bringing me any joy anymore?” There are a lot of parallels there, and there is some magic in tidying up your digital world. When I finally did it, I felt free in the idea that I could chart my course going forward. I didn’t have to follow someone else’s guidelines or patterns. None of these platforms are even all that old. Why do we assume we have to use them in a certain way? For example, why do we assume that because you publish something, it has to live out there forever?

There’s this reticence to delete old stuff because it’s supposed to be some magic archive of everything that you were thinking at the time. Once I finally did that, I felt free. I felt like I finally had a blank slate in front of me. It reminded me in a way of the feeling that you used to get when you were finally leaving a job. Maybe you had several weeks between jobs or at least your new job was going to be a whole new set of problems and you almost felt like your old job was not your worry anymore. None of us truly move between jobs anymore because we have these online personas. Even if you’re in a career, you probably maintain that online persona so you never get that freeing feeling of being completely between projects. I finally felt that again once I deleted everything. It was magical for a while and it still feels amazing. I have all the possibilities in the world.

It’s wonderful to know this perspective and funny enough, as you were speaking, Paul Jarvis, who we mentioned, because your website, Corbett, reminds me of his, with the minimalism. It’s text on a white background. When I first saw it, I thought, “You can make a website without with just text on it?” I had this mentality for as many of us did probably influenced by people like Marie Forleo. It has to be snazzy and pictures everywhere and it’s got to have this modern template and it’s all about being eye-catching.

As I’ve been working on my own transition and started a new website, I wanted to go for this minimalism. I wanted to have that blank slate that you’re talking about, but I felt self-conscious and I started to think, “Are people going to come to my website and be like, ‘It’s simple. This is boring. Why doesn’t it look like all the other flashy female entrepreneurs out there?’” I found myself reflecting on all these fears about my digital appearance. That ties into all these fears I have about my physical appearance, showing up online and worried that people are going to make all these assumptions, judgments or not like me as much based on how old I look, how pretty I look or how many followers I have. All of these are big fears.

Before we dive into that further though, I feel a little in shock because I found out that Paul Jarvis completely wiped everything that he’s doing too. For the reader, we have a whole episode with Paul and now I want to have him back, or I wish he was part of this conversation. He deleted his Twitter too. Maybe in the past week that I was interacting with him on Twitter and it’s gone. It doesn’t exist. I guess it sounds like you didn’t know that either. I found in his email newsletter that he ended his newsletter too. What’s the term you used, Jason, not the eject button, but the detonation button?

You detonate all of it.

Bare your soul on social media and people will connect with it, especially if it's not something you're prone to say. Click To Tweet

That’s what he did. He said he’s been writing his newsletter for several years and he doesn’t feel like he has anything else he wants to say. He needs a break. He’s focused on his company, Fathom Analytics and that’s it. Between the two of you, Corbett and Paul, it’s inspiring because I appreciate both of your work. I’ve been following for such a long time to see that that’s happening with more than you, Corbett. Not to say that you’re the only one that’s ever done this, but I wonder if this is going to become a big trend. Do you think so? Is that has been a feeling that you’ve been getting from the responses you’ve received in your announcement?

Paul is amazing. He’s written many things that have impacted me over the years. I have no doubt that he will eventually produce some content again in the future. We all have to decide on what’s important to us and how the way that we live our digital lives consumes much of our attention and time that it may not be productive to what our overall broad goals are. For Paul, building a business is his important thing. He recognized that writing a newsletter wasn’t necessarily helping that. That’s incredible. Paul has books out there and you can read about the Company of One. It is an amazing book that he published in 2019.

I would imagine that there will be some trend here given that people reached out and mass. I shared a picture of my inbox after I sent the first email to my list about starting over. People wrote to me. I was getting multiple emails a minute for a little while there. It was great to hear from people and to respond to them. However, what I don’t want to happen is for people to blindly decide to hit the detonate button because it’s become something that is trendy necessarily. What I hope instead would happen is that the trend is in each of us taking a step back and considering our relationship to our digital selves and where we want to be spending time, how we want to make it useful to us and not that we all necessarily do the same thing.

It’s amazing and freeing to realize that “Wait for a second, you can delete things?” To see someone like Paul, who has built up such a following and such credibility over the years, do that, it makes you wonder how much value is here if someone like that can move on quickly. There is likely still plenty of room for various platforms to be useful to different people. I hope that there’s some thoughtfulness here. Whitney, you brought up digital minimalism, which is another interesting concept. That doesn’t necessarily mean being totally unplugged or killing everything. It means being thoughtful. Seeing someone like Paul, or if you recall from a while back, another Canadian friend from the digital world, Justin Jackson had written an article that he called Words. He published an article or a blog post that didn’t have any formatting at all.

It used the default font, default colors and centered his text. He made the point that this is a web page and you are reading it. The fact that it doesn’t have a freely, current, flashy design on it doesn’t impact the fact that you’re reading it and the fact that I’m making a connection with you over this page. That was one of the first times that I recognized that you could have a minimalist presence online and still have an impact on people. It’s interesting, Whitney, that you brought up the difference between male and female entrepreneurs and the way that we present ourselves online. All of the worry about judgments that people are making based on our appearance and how we feel like we have to present ourselves in certain ways.

There’s probably something interesting to dig into there, but even as a male entrepreneur or as a male person who is participating in social media, I often feel the same about judgments being made about my appearance or me and my physical presence in general. That was a lot of what I didn’t enjoy about Instagram, especially because it’s such a visual medium. That’s something that I can on podcasts and in written content completely ignore for a while. I can write whatever I want and for some reason, the same feeling of judgment isn’t there. I guess it’s because it’s all about my thoughts or my voice and not about who I am, what background I come from, what my physical appearance is. There’s also something in terms of the mediums that bring us joy, not just the individual posts or the things that we’ve written or produced, but the specific mediums that bring us joy. It’s because one social media platform or type doesn’t make you feel good doesn’t mean that another might not. It also doesn’t mean that you might not be able to use a certain platform in a way that doesn’t make you feel self-conscious or prone to the comparison game.

In a sense of the separation of the essence of who we are versus these external identifying factors seems to me at least to be a process of disidentification on a certain level of “My numbers are not me. My Instagram following is not me. My newsletter list is not me. My website is not me.” If we even want to go into it, this physical body may not be me, depending on your spiritual beliefs. To me, there’s a level of this that goes beyond this simple mechanistic action of like, “I’m freeing myself.” To me, it’s like we talk about shedding the skin.

We use a lot of analogies here of this idea of the chrysalis of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly or a snake shedding its skin and regenerating itself. There seems to be, to me, at least, a deeply spiritual element to everything you’re talking about because it seems that you’re getting may be closer to the essence. In one of your blog posts, you talked about making room for who you’ve become and who you intend to be, which is beautiful, simple and eloquent. I guess if we don’t let go of the old stuff, we don’t get to shed that skin and become the new version of ourselves.

MGU 156 | Online Identity

Online Identity: You must decide how your digital lives consume your attention and time, and how it affects your productivity.

 

You’re dead on here in terms of the spiritual sense. If you think about eastern philosophies and trying to be present in the current moment and the way that they talk about the ego, how damaging the ego can be and how finding the ability to set that aside, especially if you’re trying to become better at meditating. If you think about social media, what it’s done is, it has taken our ego from being something that we had some control over because it was mostly an internal conversation with ourselves about how we felt our standing in the world was or what it was. It turned it inside out so that now our ego is splattered all over the web because people can see what our standing is on various platforms, whether you have a certain number of followers, whether your content is getting light a certain number of times, whether you have that special checkmark next to your name.

All of that becomes this ego in the world effect where instead of being able to turn it off and have a nice weekend by yourself, where at least you’re not having those egoistic thoughts. You can’t turn that off because these judgments are happening about you, regardless of whether you are in front of someone, because someone is out there judging your digital self. From a spiritual or even an existential or a human standpoint, I don’t think we have grappled at all with what this is doing to us. I’m not one on the page of all social media is evil and we all need to dump it and leave. That there may be some happy medium. I believe that there are benefits for us as creators, but we have to consider our relationships to it from not only a business standpoint and a wellness standpoint, but also, as you’re saying, Jason, probably from a spiritual standpoint.

You mentioned this jump in, jump out strategy that you’ve been doing with social media where you post from a computer instead of an app on your phone. You release the content, you jump out and you’re not doing this passive consumption you talked about. What are some other things you’ve been experimenting with to re-landscape a healthier relationship to social media and content creation? At this immediate point in your process, where are you at with the reinvention of that relationship and how are you engaging it in a more balanced way?

I’m in the experimentation phase for sure. That phase is going to involve me trying various things and seeing how it feels. I’m not going to decide on a direction and move forward without evaluating along the way. Instead, I’m going to try out some different ways of interacting on various platforms and notice what it does to me and how it creates and fosters connections and delivers value to the people, the audience that I care about. The first part of that process has been stripping everything back to the bare minimum. First of all, deleting all of my content, but also deleting my bio so that I’m not saying that I’m anyone or anything in particular. As Whitney noticed, it meant that I stripped all of the design elements off of my website to the point where it is literally dark text on a white page centered on the screen.

That doesn’t mean that website is going to look like that forever, but I wanted to hit the reset button in a lot of different places, everywhere that I could online. That meant trying to still have a foothold and still have a presence there, but not letting anything from my photos, my design, the archive of my work say anything about who I intend to be in the future so that I can work from first principles and move forward from that clean slate. I knew that I wanted to publish. I wanted to at least tell people that I was starting over, but I didn’t want to communicate anything other than those words.

That’s where I stripped everything down to the bare minimum. It turns out that it feels amazing to have a super minimal website and that will be one of my principles going forward. Maybe not as minimal as it is, but certainly less than those flashy websites that you feel many entrepreneurs have with amazing photos of themselves and headshots. As soon as you publish that, you don’t feel great about it anymore anyway, and much of it focuses your attention on your appearance and your website’s appearance as opposed to your thoughts and the value that you bring to the world.

The other side of it that’s interesting too is that if we start to tune in and going back again to this idea of Spark Joy as Marie Kondo taught me, which is incredible, that book, even though it was trendy and sometimes I’m skeptical of things like that, like, “How good could it be if everybody loves it.” It ties into this whole conversation too. That book is popular for a reason. It’s remarkable, this simple idea of thinking like, “Does this bring me joy? Does this spark joy within me?” On the other hand, you can also notice when something makes you feel tight and makes it feel like you’re forcing something. I feel a sense of relief when I participate in minimalism and I see other people doing minimalist work, I also feel a sense of permission.

That was the other thing that resonated with me when I saw your email, Corbett, and also when I look at your Instagram. I feel a sigh of relief. I feel a sense of curiosity too, which is cool. You are writing I’m starting over and linking to your website. How could you not click over to that? It’s fascinating because it feels rare and unique, but there’s a sense of like, “I’ve seen words. I’m not seeing a face that I will naturally compare myself to. I’m not seeing all these numbers that I start to feel like I’m not good enough, or perhaps even I’m better than because of these numbers.” When I see a simple website, I feel the same way I think, “I can focus on what he’s saying. I’m not getting distracted.”

It will hold people’s attention longer because we’re used to scrolling around, but a simple website with words forces you to read something to decide if it’s worthwhile for you versus you go to any other website and there are buttons and you get a little skim of it you move on. It can be more effective and help people tune in to what’s important for them as a consumer. As another creator seen this type of content, it’s helping me recognize that I would much rather be doing that than focused on the flashy, because the flashy doesn’t spark joy within me. I feel like it’s pressure.

People must not blindly decide to hit the detonate button just because it has become trendy. Click To Tweet

It exhausts me, it drains me. It makes me not want to participate. I’ve struggled with that over the years. It was like I was trying to force myself and mold myself into a shape that I am not. You might be able to force yourself in, but it’s always going to feel tight. It’s not going to feel like the right fit. When you take yourself out of that forced mold, you go back to your original shape anyway. Seeing content like yours, Corbett, I feel like that’s my shape and why have I been trying to force myself to be the Marie Forleo side. Maybe I’m more of the Marie Kondo side.

This is getting heavy. It’s bringing up a lot of realities about humans and the way that we relate to one another. Faces and bodies are these relatable things because it digs into that old code that’s deep in your brain about recognizing faces and evaluating them. It’s no wonder that they have been front and center on social media for so long. Maybe they’re oversaturated. Because you can evaluate faces quickly doesn’t mean that you can’t burn out on it. That sense of relief that you get from seeing words instead of faces is interesting. There’s more to explore there. Another thing that I’ve been thinking about in terms of social media and using it in a way that’s beneficial to me is not necessarily to feel like I have to reinvent and create something new for each platform.

It’s exhausting to have to show up to each place and come up with something that is unique for that environment. We may find more traction on certain platforms because we’re creating something that’s for that platform. At the same time, if I spend an afternoon creating a piece of content that I feel is good, true and useful to people, then it makes more sense to figure out how to package it for each platform instead of creating something entirely new for each of those platforms. To me, that means finding ways to turn a blog post into something that can exist on Instagram or YouTube or even a podcast. I don’t know where it will go exactly, but a way for that thing to exist so that I can spend more thoughtful time with each piece of content, as opposed to feeling like I have to show up and churn out a bunch of interesting things because when you’re tired, the last thing that you want to do is to tune into social media.

When we force ourselves to do something that is taking energy from us constantly as opposed to giving us energy, over time that’s a recipe for burnout. You might be able to force yourself to do it for months or even years, but I don’t think if you show up to your work and constantly feel drained from it that you are ever going to do your best work, nor are you going to be able to do it for long enough to reach those elevated levels of work that all of us hope to achieve at some point in our careers or our lives. I don’t think you’ll be able to get to that place because you’re constantly either going to have to reinvent because something doesn’t feel right, or you’re going to end up burning out and having to pull the plug on everything.

I’m glad you’re speaking to this with such eloquence because I feel like many things you are saying are reflecting things I’ve been sitting with for so long. There’s an element of relief and feeling refreshed at another human being expressing things that I’ve been pondering. There’s always that magical thing of like, “This person is expressing themselves in ways that my inner voice has been expressing that I haven’t communicated with any other human.” The thing that I’ve been feeling for so long, Corbett is a sense of burnout. It’s this thing that once brought me joy no longer brings me joy. The unwinding of the reticence with some societal programming of, “You’ve put several years into your career already, you’re going to throw that all away?”

That voice of society, my parents or another voice saying, “You’re a man in your mid-40s, are you having a midlife crisis? Is this what this is? Are you freaking out? Is that why you bought your motorcycle? What the hell’s happening?” It’s been this interesting process, as you’re describing yours, reflecting on my own that has been fraught with self-inquiry. I’m wondering again if I’m in some midlife crisis, if I’m detonating my life, if I’m letting go of the last several years of work, and if I am doing that, what’s on the other side of it? There is the excitement, the freedom and the autonomy of letting it go. The other side of it is the fear of like, “What am I going to do and who am I going to be on the other side of this?” My stumbling block and letting go is if I do let it all go, there’s no telling what’s on the other side and that can be exhilarating or it can be terrifying.

Doesn’t this relate back to the ego conversations that we were having before? There are income considerations, letting go of work sometimes means what happens to that revenue? How will I earn a living in the future? There’s always that. There’s a lot of feeling like you have built up this persona and that there’s value there, and that the value that people see in you is based on that digital persona. Isn’t that sad at the end of the day? We, as humans, walk around in these meat suits as they call it. It’s sad if we reduce the complexity of who we are as humans to how many people are following us on some platform.

The work that you have published in the past, as long as you archive that, reflect on it, you can always transform that into something that will be even more valuable in the future. Instead of worrying about tearing down who you’ve become online, if you start looking forward to who you might be in the future and how this person that you’ve built for yourself might be weighing you down and keeping you from achieving something bigger. That’s the way to look at it. Also, how to let go and realize that the journey is what you need to be enjoying at this point, instead of the markers or the social proof of the accomplishments that you’ve already made.

MGU 156 | Online Identity

Online Identity: Just because one social media platform or type doesn’t make you feel good doesn’t mean another might not.

 

It resonates big time because I feel like there’s a conditioning of chasing carats of you accomplish these certain markers, these guideposts along the way. Ultimately, what I’m curious about and for the three of us is, instead of chasing those carats of metrics, vanity metrics, social numbers, and believing that those make us what we are, which clearly they do not. What do we replace that with? Do we replace that with perhaps learning how to trust our intuition more and go with our gut? Is it like we’ve been discussing, and Whitney brought up early this idea of what sparks joy? What sparks enthusiasm? What are the guideposts for both of you in being led to your creative spark or being led to, “I don’t know where I’m going, but I need to pay attention to acts to get me there?” What are the things you’re paying attention to?

I always try to peel the layers back and ask myself what makes a fulfilling life to me. Sometimes this can lead down an existential rabbit hole and you can get sucked into philosophy. It can be unproductive in some ways depending on where your mental state is. I’ve found that getting existential, if I’m in a low period or a depression period, that’s not the best time to get super existential. It’s been helpful to me to wonder over time and decade by decade, what am I going to feel a fulfilling and good use of my time on this planet is to me. I’ve been able to bring it back to three things personally.

First of all, I want to be healthy. That means that I want to be mentally healthy. I want to feel good and I want to stay fit and trim as well. I want to be the person that is treating my body in a way that allows me to do the activities that I want to do for a long time into my older age. My wife and I live in Mexico every winter for 3 or 4 months. From living down there, we’ve gotten to know a lot of people who are much older than us people sometimes in their 70s, even 80s, that we go golfing, tennis or go surfing with. Some people remain incredibly fit and active and mentally vibrant as well to old age.

I want to make sure that that is the foundation for a good life for me. On top of that, I want to be happy. That means having good times with great people. It means playing and doing fun things. It means building things that I am proud of. It also means traveling and experiencing things in the world and making a good home, nesting and enjoying my home. The last piece for me, my health, my happiness, and finally, there’s some level of being successful. Being successful means some degree of being recognized for the work that you do, and this is where it can become a trap. People following you is a marker of them thinking that you are doing something that’s interesting and valuable. We have to be careful about that relationship. This is where I’m spending the most time thinking about how do I define success for myself. There’s some level of income and financial stability involved there. There’s also some level of recognition for the work that I’m doing, but that we have to figure out how to do that in a healthy way.

It’s interesting knowing you talk about success too, Corbett because that’s such a huge part of why I feel like it’s a challenge when your work is dependent on social media. I certainly don’t think any of our work is. For us, for better or for worse, got into this whole influencer world. I was reading your piece on your website and you’re talking about YouTubers. It’s been interesting because I’m fascinated by that world. I’ve met incredible people and had amazing experiences by being a content creator and seeing this uprise of being an influencer is super fascinating. Unfortunately, it’s become almost like a virus in some ways, because for both Jason and I, having had what we’ve perceived in Jason, I’m curious about your perception on this.

Based on our conversations that you and I, Jason have felt like this virus mentality. I’m using it because when you spend enough time in a certain line of work in a certain field and around other people that are doing that same work, we all start to adapt to the same viewpoints. I feel like sometimes that’s where I’ve lost my sense of self because I’ve taken countless classes on YouTube, countless programs on Facebook and Instagram. I had the pleasure of listening to these people that are shaping those worlds that are teaching me how to do things and understand them. Us as creators, we got together, we would share tactics and read articles. It became this obsession with optimizing my work.

That’s when I started to feel like I was losing who I was because I was in this world of optimization and this world of basing my success on these metrics. I feel like I’m in this place of waking up. I’m curious if you felt that way too, Corbett, because I imagine it’s similar given that the whole reason I found The Fizzle Show and your work was because I was in that optimization world and looking for more people to guide me on this journey. I was constantly reading books and attending workshops, taking courses and like, “What can I do to be more successful.” Yet, over time I started to realize there are different versions of success. Also, having this underlying passion and desire to spread the word about wellness.

I had to start coming back to that and recognizing that that too is part of my success, if not all of my success. Most people would agree that ultimately success is, do you have enough time to spend with your loved ones? Do you have enough years in your life to experience life and do small things? Jason and I started noticing, and the big inspiration for us developing our business together and this show, I starting to think how odd it was that some of the people that we looked up to and saw as successful were the ones that were burnt out and getting four hours of sleep and feeling obsessed with the hustle. I cringe anytime I hear the word hustle. It makes me uncomfortable because I equate that as the pressure to do certain things in order to get a certain level of success that I don’t even think is for me.

How many times have you talked to an influencer or someone who is Instagram famous or YouTube famous and heard the same thing about how grueling it is and how burnt out they are or have been?

Social media has turned character inside out, and now ego is splattered all over the web. Click To Tweet

All the time.

It’s common. A lot of times it’s the people who are the most successful. I have friends from being in this world who are orders of magnitude more successful than the average person and yet a lot of times they wrestle with more than we do. It’s all amplified at that level of success, especially when that success is all about you or your appearance, or keeping up this inflated vision of who you are and portraying that to the world. Unfortunately, the influencers out there, their interest is in making people think that being an influencer is the ultimate so that they can keep the eyeballs and the attention on themselves. It’s this whole constructed universe of being famous for being famous and getting people’s attention on you, and you have to continually make your life look more and more amazing.

It ends up being exhausting. Anytime you listen to some of your favorite from the past or anyone who’s been famous from the past, there are a lot of detrimental things to being famous, yet now that we have social media, everyone feels like fame is within their grasp. If only they publish the right things, they’ll wake up one morning and something will have gone viral and they’re the next overnight success story. We’re all subconsciously playing this popularity game almost as if we’re back in high school again, except now the stakes aren’t making it to the senior class council. It’s that you could reach a million people and achieve this level of fame that wasn’t accessible to people before social media. It’s a game of smoke and mirrors and it’s a bit of a shell game because you do find out that most people who reach that level of “success” end up being the most unhappy.

Even you are phrasing it around how a lot of influencers feel like they have to keep up that game of smoke and mirrors all the time, it true. Jason and I have talked at length about how some of our friends or acquaintances have faked much of who they are. Buying followers and posting highly edited photos, or that classic instance of posting a photo and then behind the scenes it’s completely different. We see these highlight reels and think, “This person must be this way or live this way.” It’s a frame that they captured and wrote a good caption for. In a way, it makes me sad because I got caught up in that game and I’m trying to step away from it, but it’s tempting. It draws you in.

For instance, I love TikTok. That’s my favorite entertainment platform. I have to be mindful about how often I’m on there because I get sucked in. The thing about TikTok that makes me uncomfortable beyond the privacy concerns as we touched upon when we had Paul Jarvis on the show. The other bigger concern that I have is the obsession with going viral on TikTok is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. TikTok gives you a much more opportunity for that. It’s truly one of, if not the only instances I’ve ever seen that, aside from back in the day, when you could do Facebook Lives and have your entire audience watching you, it was cool. You were guaranteed all these people watching your live video for a certain period of time. In TikTok, there’s a 1 in 5 chance that your video is going to go viral.

It was tempting for me to an extent, although I don’t create on there as much as I consume. When I’m consuming, it is almost every single day I see a video of somebody saying, “My video went viral.” You see a noticeable change in how they’re doing everything. Now that they’ve gone viral, they feel different. They feel like they’ve succeeded something. The other side of it is people waiting to go viral and they’ll write in their captions, like, “This better go viral. If this doesn’t go viral, I’m giving up.” All of these phrasings on TikTok, which is where my concern is. People are revealing this obsession and this deep desire to have a ton of people watch your videos as if that’s going to change your life.

Having been on the other side of that, I don’t even use the word viral for myself and my content, but I’ve had some of my content reach a lot of people much more so than other pieces that I’ve created. It didn’t change me like having a “viral video” or “viral posts.” It’s temporary. That’s the thing that creators don’t talk enough about. Going back to the smoke and mirrors concept, whether it’s a celebrity with a one-hit-wonder or an influencer who gained all these followers, like, “Now what?” We don’t talk enough about what happens after those things. Jason mentioned it too, one of his favorite quotes from a celebrity. Is it Jim Carrey, Jason, who says it?

Which one?

MGU 156 | Online Identity

Online Identity: Figure out how to package your message for each platform instead of creating something entirely new for each one.

 

It’s about, “I wish everybody could.”

Could be rich and famous beyond their wildest dreams so they could see that’s not the answer. It does bring up this concept though if you get a little bit of attention, a little bit of significance, a little bit of “fame” then the instinct for a lot of people is to keep chasing that. If I get a little bit of a hit, then I want more. It’s addictive. The danger is that you find something that “works” whether that’s a viral video, even a series of videos or The Today Show calls you up. The thought process is, “I must keep creating more of this exact thing because this is the thing that’s giving me the attention and the significance and the fame that I want.”

There’s a cost for everything. To me, the cost is in ignoring our spirit, our soul, our higher self, whatever you may or may not believe in. If there’s a desire to create a certain type of content, work or art in the world. We ignore that to do what we perceive as continuing the fame and the significance, there’s a cost involved. At a certain point, your soul or your spirit says, “This isn’t feeding us.” “It’s making money. Look at how popular we are.” You see this and your soul is like, “I don’t give a shit about that. I want you to be authentic. I want you to be who you are.” What does that even mean? It’s like we get locked into the drugs and the addiction of fame, the success and the money. We keep creating things to get more of that at the risk of being who we truly are.

It’s not a good definition of wellness, that’s for sure. You mentioned money. Money certainly has utility. The fact is that going viral with one TikTok video or a YouTube video is not going to make you any money. How many times have you seen someone show the millions of views that they got to a YouTube video and the $18 that they made in advertisements from that video? People have this incorrect view of what any piece going viral for them will do. There are examples of people who have built huge platforms. Whitney was referring to an article that I wrote about how creators are vital and desired that networks and publishers are giving deals to people that first establish themselves on social media.

You see people like Sarah Cooper from TikTok who did the viral voiceovers of things that the president was saying. She got a Netflix show from it. That’s amazing and well-deserved on her part. She’s talented. It’s not as if you can’t achieve something meaningful from these platforms, but a single viral video won’t do anything for you. It’s not going to vault you to overnight success and it’s not going to fill the hole you feel in your soul that is needing validation from other people. If Jim Carrey says that all the fame in the world and money isn’t the answer, he’s the person that I would believe because few have experienced more fame or wealth than that. We hear this over and over again and yet it’s hard for us to believe. It’s almost like we have to see it for ourselves before we believe that fame and wealth aren’t the answer. It’s not as if some level of fame and some level of wealth might not be great. I enjoy making a bit more money in 2020 than I did in 2019 because it changes things. I can take a different trip. It’s not as if my day-to-day is any happier or that I feel any more fulfilled.

I love going to a conference or being out somewhere and being recognized by a stranger because of some work that I published online. I get a good feeling from that, especially if I’ve got a bunch of friends around and they’re like, “You’re famous. How cool is that?” That feels good for a moment, but that doesn’t change the fact that I can sit here in front of my laptop during the week and feel like I’m worthless or that I can’t go on anymore doing what I’m doing because it’s grueling and it’s not fulfilling me. Wealth and fame can feel good temporarily, but they’re not the answer. This all relates back to trying to have a healthier, more well-rounded relationship with your work. Realizing that at the end of the day, you have to enjoy the process of the work itself in order to build a long-term sustainable world for yourself, where you can show up every day and do the thing that you need to do to put food on the table, to make you feel good, and to not burn out in doing it. You have to love that work. At the end of the day, it has to be the reward in itself aside from any level of fame or money that you might achieve.

There’s an interesting sub-segment. In the entrepreneurial world, there’s a lot of shame that I have detected over the years of shaming people for choosing to have a 9:00 to 5:00 job or a salary job. There’s been a lot of rhetoric over the years of like, “Why would you trade your freedom for a paycheck? Why would you trade your sovereignty for health insurance?” It’s been a fascinating, bizarre, surreal 2020. I wonder if it would be mentally healthier for me to have something salaried and steady for a while because I’ve been on my own as an entrepreneur for a decade. Whitney included that for the first time in a long time in 2020, I had these thoughts of making things a bit more mentally stable, working with a friend in his company and turning that leaf over and seeing what’s there. All of these judgments started to come up with like, “You’re giving away your autonomy and your sovereignty. We don’t do that. You’ve got to be freed. You’ve got to be an entrepreneur.”

There’s glamour around all of this that we’re talking about of being a content creator, being a social media influencer, being an entrepreneur, that it doesn’t show you the reality of mental health. I was reading an article that talked about the unspoken prevalence of mental health issues in Silicon Valley among startups and entrepreneurs. It’s this not so secret-secret that people struggle with depression, suicidal ideation, and anxiety. This is a much longer question that ties back to this imagery, making entrepreneurship and content creation seem like this fantasy life. It’s far from the truth in many regards. That can also have a damaging effect on people’s mental health, where they get into something, and they’re like, “This is fucking hard. There are sleepless nights. This is difficult. Should I even be doing this?” We don’t talk enough about that side of the thing. It’s too much of the glamorization and not enough of the daily mental struggles that can come as a result of choosing a life like that.

This relates back to when we were talking about influencers having an interest in making you believe that being an influencer is the greatest thing ever. There is also this whole mechanism of people teaching entrepreneurship and wanting you to believe that entrepreneurship is the greatest thing since sliced bread so that you will continue to invest in and spend money on those courses. It’s possible that I’ve been guilty of doing that to some degree. It’s also that a lot of people who are successful in entrepreneurship are fairly early in the game. In those early days, it is all fresh and exciting. A lot of times you are sharing things with the world at a point in your life where you do feel like entrepreneurship is the greatest thing ever because you’re still in that honeymoon phase. You’re still feeling the rush of not having to show up to the office and not having to report to a boss. Most people aren’t happy in their jobs either. It’s possible that more entrepreneurs struggle with depression, anxiety and so on. I have dealt with plenty of that myself.

People keep creating things just to get more, even at the risk of being who they truly are. Click To Tweet

I don’t think that it’s the right answer for everyone to be an entrepreneur. It takes a certain amount of will, resiliency and emotional stability to handle the rollercoaster that is entrepreneurship. This past 2019, Jason, after several years of being completely independent, I ended up taking on a fairly big client project. It was partly because this client project related to a product that I was selling, and they were going to be one of the biggest customers for this product. In taking on this project, I was able to accelerate the timeline. Working with a team, having a bigger, more stable, more substantial paycheck, and being appreciated for all the work and all the experience and knowledge that I brought to the table, it ended up being a great year for me. That meant some days basically spending all day working on this client project and probably on average spending at least a day or two a week on it. It ended up being a nice change for me. It may not be that there’s one answer for anyone. I don’t think there’s even one answer for each person, even for each person at various stages of our lives and our careers.

It makes sense for you, Jason. You take some of the pressure off and you don’t give up all of your entrepreneurial activities. You give up half of it or 75% of it, experience that stability and experience that camaraderie that comes with working for a team and see how it goes after that. I don’t think that because we have committed to entrepreneurship at some point that there’s no going back or that there isn’t some interesting hybrid, especially that many people are working remotely. It’s not as if working with a client or working on a team but doing so remotely would necessarily change your day-to-day that much. You’d be able to affect bigger change than you can on your own.

As we are coming closer to the wrap-up of this episode, I want to touch on self-worth with both of you. There was an overarching theme here of finding our true north as creators, as artists, as entrepreneurs, somehow finding a level of autonomy and authenticity with what we’re creating, tuning out the noise. Part and parcel of that is this idea of self-worth. I’m curious, Corbett, if you have struggled with self-worth issues. If so, what are some techniques, strategies, things you practice to remediate that and bring you back to a clearer focus of who you truly are?

Being in my mid-40s, things have changed quite a bit. Some of those questions of self-worth in your 20s and 30s, and for some people their whole lives. Earlier in your career, some of it comes from wondering what your value is in the world and trying to identify what your worth is. Not that self-worth has to come from external factors. The greatest source needs to be internal and from the people that you value in your lives. There is some aspect of fulfilling your life’s purpose that involves finding something that you can be good at and that can be valuable to a broader set of people beyond yourself and your family. Self-worth is interesting. With publishing things publicly or trying to reach a broader audience, there’s so much that can be wrapped up into it.

You can end up feeling like you’re putting your self-worth on the line every time you publish something new, or every time you share something new because you’re waiting to see if people react to it. If they don’t react to it, there’s this tendency to feel like, “I’m a failure.” Even though your worth is determined by the total of the things that you’ve done. It’s determined by how you feel about yourself and how the people closest to you relate to you, and not necessarily what strangers think, especially because there are many trolls and a-holes out there in the world online when things are done anonymously. I’ve struggled with it. It’s something that I think about a lot. It’s also something that tends for me at least to improve year after year as I become more confident in the things that I’ve done and as I care less about what strangers think about what I’ve done.

That confidence side of things is such a huge element of this. I found that having conversations like this with other creators and entrepreneurs is helpful. Going back to this idea of smoke and mirrors, and that honeymoon phase that we can go in of, “I get to control my life more.” I remember that vividly when I left my last full-time job. It was like, “I can do this. This is great. Why isn’t everybody doing this?” For many years, I was coaching other people on working for themselves. I still have a big passion for monetization and helping people figure out how to monetize. What shifted is helping them do it in a way that feels authentic to them and is based on their own confidence versus doing it the way everybody else is doing it but not feeling like it’s right for you.

The more that we can talk openly about this, the more that you realize that it’s okay to do things differently and pave your own path and it’s okay to go through all these different phases because Jason has been a chef all these years doesn’t mean that he has to continue being a chef. He can pause and he can go back to it if he wants. He can completely throw it out and do something different. That’s one of those simple parts of life, yet it feels complex. It’s easy to forget that we’re allowed to change and we’re going to change whether we want to or not.

I don’t know why there’s this idea that we have to pick a path and stick to it and if we don’t stick to it, there’s shame involved. It’s been interesting for me as I’ve been reshaping and redefining who I am. Part of me thought it would be like, “One day I would go from this person to that person.” The truth is it’s an ongoing transition. I might transition again into something more radical at some point and that’s okay. Taking that pressure off myself to make a black and white leap from one phase to another and say I’m constantly in transition. I don’t know how long this period is going to last or take. That’s all right. I don’t think people even need us to be one way or another. We’re more used to seeing people in one light or another. In Jason’s case, they’re used to him being a chef, but they’re still going to love you, Jason, no matter what you do. Ultimately the people that care about you care about you at the core and not you as in whatever job you’re working or career path you’re on.

I was enamored by the stories I heard from Matthew McConaughey as he was on his book tour. He wrote a book called Greenlights and he’s done a lot of interviews. He went through a metamorphosis that changed him from being typecast as this happy-go-lucky, stoner character into doing a string of movies that are profound. One of which earned him an Oscar nomination and changing the way that the world thought of him. In order to achieve that metamorphosis, he had to go unemployed for two years. He had to turn down all the opportunities that fit into his old mold and continued to look for and to try to convince people to give him the opportunities that he knew were inside him. It’s how interesting it is to think about if he went through his career only doing one type we never would have gotten to see The Dallas Buyers Club, Mud or his role in True Detective on HBO, all of these incredible performances.

MGU 156 | Online Identity

Online Identity: Most people who reach the level of success on a digital level only end up being the most unhappy.

Inside of us, we’re always learning new things and building a new foundation that’s underneath. In order to use that new foundation and become a higher expression of ourselves and what we want to see in the world, sometimes we have to take a leap. Sometimes we have to emerge from a chrysalis. There’s no doubt that that’s scary becoming an entrepreneur. Remember how scary that was taking a leap from doing a full-time job to betting on yourself. You have bet on yourself and you’ve had some success, it’s scary to think about “throwing” that success away to leap and hope that there’s another net there. Have confidence that the skills that you’ve learned, the relationships that you’ve built and the things that you’ve learned to be true about yourself are all going to help you achieve the next thing. If you speak the truth, there are going to be people out there willing to listen. I’ve enjoyed this because this is a rare opportunity for us to get to sit down and have a deep conversation about the things that mean the most to us from a wellness and happiness, mental health standpoint at the end of the day.

Thank you for acknowledging that because it comes full circle into this whole conversation. Fizzle was a huge inspiration for me, not as an entrepreneur learning from you guys, but when we were developing the show, many people wanted us to make it short. We were advised by podcast experts like, “Keep it bite-sized. Make it 10 minutes, 30 minutes, but God forbid you go beyond 30 minutes.” There are many examples of people doing the hour-long shows like Fizzle and Smart Passive Income was another one that I listened to for a long while. We kept hearing all these people, telling us to make it shorter and different and staying all of these things. Jason and I discussed and we’re thinking, “Let’s make and see where it goes.”

That’s what we did. We naturally fell into this rhythm of making our episodes 90 minutes long on average. It’s interesting whenever we invite guests on the show because some people think it’s bizarre. We want to book them for two hours because we’re used to this soundbite world. We’re used to planning everything. We had a guest that was uncomfortable, but willing to do a show that wasn’t structured at all because we don’t do much planning. We know a bit about our guests, but we don’t think about what we’re going to ask or where we’re going to go aside from some loose ideas. That resonates with us. That feels good to us. That’s what makes this easy. We had to push through these fears that we wouldn’t be accepted, that people wouldn’t want to read.

Another part of Fizzle that inspired me too, is how, at the beginning of your shows, you guys are laughing, goofing off, talking about things. You’d read the title of the episode and it’d be like, “Seven ways to come up with a good title for your product.” That’s what I would listen to the show, but you guys will be talking for 10 or 15 minutes about something completely random for a while, laughing and making jokes. I loved that because then I got to know each of you. I felt more drawn in and it felt more special versus other entrepreneurship shows I used to listen to, “We’ll cut right to the chase,” and they felt formulaic.

There’s one in particular, a popular entrepreneurship show I used to listen to. I started to lose interest because it always sounded the same. I knew what questions he was going to ask. He had his voice on for the show, but I didn’t feel like it was the real him. Jason and I wanted to make a show that felt like the real us, even at the risk that we wouldn’t get as many people tuning in because they might want a 10-minute or 30-minute show. That’s okay. That’s not what our show is. Our show is organic. That’s why we’ve continued to do it for close to 200 episodes, whereas many people give up because perhaps they’re either second-guessing themselves the whole time or they’re trying to fit themselves into some mold that doesn’t feel right for them and why should they continue.

True breakthroughs and real creativity that leads to something that hasn’t been done before has to involve an enormous amount of courage to do things that other people aren’t willing to do, are too scared to do, or because some elites or some gurus tell you that this is the way things are supposed to be done. You won’t achieve the level of breakthrough necessary to get people’s attention and to explore the bounds of your abilities and creativity without doing something that involves a lot of courage.

There’s so much in this episode. It’s rich in the sense that I want to reiterate how many things you’ve said that has resonated deeply with my process and where I’m at tucked away in my chrysalis. I’m sure there are a lot of readers too that are deeply vibing with everything you’ve said. For anyone who wants to go deeper into your journey. I’m going to be following along with how your personal evolution and metamorphosis takes shape. I want to acknowledge you for the courageousness, the authenticity, the vulnerability, these things can often be like “buzzwords” but you are bringing who you are to the table. You don’t know where all this is leading but you’re trusting that the net will appear. I want to acknowledge you for not giving me permission to keep going, but it’s almost a level of comfort in hearing where you are, how deep you’re in it and that you keep going not knowing where it’s leading. It’s inspiring to me. I want to thank you for being here and bringing your presence and your authenticity to the show.

Thanks for giving me and the audience the space to explore these things. It’s refreshing and I appreciate it.

Dear reader, if you want to follow up with Corbett, you can go to his website, CorbettBarr.com. We will have all of his social feeds. We don’t know what he’ll be posting if anything. To keep up with his journey and his metamorphosis, his personal and professional evolution, go to his website. To connect with us, you can shoot us an email directly, [email protected]. You can follow us on all of the social media networks. We’re not sure what evolution we’re going to be going into with our social feeds. It’s all an experiment and we’re all doing our best. We would love to hear more about your journey. If you’re in a similar space of reinvention, metamorphosis, or evolution, shoot us an email, shoot us a DM. We thank you for your readership, your support, your love, and thanks for getting uncomfortable with us!

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About Corbett Barr

MGU 156 | Online IdentityCorbett Barr is a serial entrepreneur, consultant, software architect/developer and content marketer. He’s an accomplished senior-level talent with over two decades of experience. A true multi-disciplinarian with the strongest skill sets in software development/architecture, content marketing, entrepreneurship and management. Proven track record spanning from management consulting for Fortune 500s, to founding a VC-backed startup, to bootstrapping web-based businesses in content marketing, online education and SaaS. Technical skills sharp as ever, coming fresh off of architecting and developing a new discussion platform for online communities using Apollo GraphQL and Vue.js, backed by continuous integration and serverless technologies on AWS.

 

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