You’ve Got Business When People Care What You Create
Ultimately, making money is about creating things people want. You can write, sing, dance, vlog, code, cook, or create anything you want, but if people don’t care, there’s no business.
What do people want? Well, I don’t know—happiness, enlightenment, the next cool gadget, a new content from their favorite content creator, who knows. Maybe you can ask them.
Just kidding. The worst way to know what people want is to ask them.
Lips lie, actions don’t.
The Confession Of A Banker
I want to paint, but I’m a banker. Painting is for painter, not banker. Banker, banker, banker, I’m a banker, and a banker doesn’t paint!
Every weekday, I go to my boring office, talk with boring people, and shuffle boring papers around. Nine-to-five, nine-to-five: that’s my life. I always watch painting videos on my lunch break, but, alas, I always have cut it short because I have to get back to work. There’s a canvas sitting silently in the corner of my living room—with few brushes beside it. It has been sitting there for nineteen years. Nineteen years! When I sleep, my dreams are often filled with the imagination of me painting on that canvas—painting freely, like a painter—but outside my dream, my hands feel handcuffed when I try to paint. In fact, that canvas has collected more dust than paint. I can’t, I can’t, I simply can’t paint. After all, I’m a banker, not a painter, and a banker doesn’t paint.
A Band-Aid-Based World
Imagine having a terminal illness, and you had to pick between two doctors: The first would work twelve hours a day, every day, for two decades, giving you treatments with complex, high-tech machines and brightly-colored prescription pills to soothe the pain; the second could cure you in two hours. Which doctor would you pick?
Deep And Narrow, Not Wide And Shallow
I don’t think my work is for everyone, and that’s fine. In fact, if nobody sees my work as weird, it’s a red flag.
Most writings, podcasts, videos found out there tries to appeal to everyone, and they bore me to tears; on the internet, everyone tries to copy everyone, and the result is a soup filled with common things, packaged in a common way. Memorable, interesting, captivating people create unique, valuable things, and their work is a stark contrast against the common stuff out there—like a yellow ball in a sea of red balls.
Success, for me, isn’t having made everyone happy—that’s a popularity contest. If my work touched your heart, if my lame jokes made your day, if my stories made your imagination spins, if you’re so moved by my work that you shared it with your inner circle, my writings have succeeded.
Thank you for reading.
A Small Note For Creators
If you have any of these and you remove it, your readers (or listeners) probably won’t miss it.
- Three empty, vapid paragraph for SEO purposes
- 30 seconds podcast intro that says nothing
- Ads that disguise as “recommendations”
- Sign-up-for-my-newsletter popups
In fact, they might even thank you for removing it.
This piece of writing is a storytelling robot. I could be sleeping right now as you read this, but it’s still talking to you. Isn’t it cool? Look, look, I can invent a new fictional character called Laila. Boom. Laila loves her cat, and one day, her cat died of old age. The end. I could write ten paragraphs about Laila, or I could write two sentences—just like I did—or I could manufacture another plot: a pink dragon that came down from the misty mountain to hunt Laila’s cat. I can invent any character I want, I can make the robot tell any story I want, and I can create as much robot as I want. It lives inside the screen, it works all day, and it doesn’t complaint.
Isn’t it cool?!
Who Belongs To The Block List?
When someone is “talking to”, there’s a sender and a receiver. The sender wants to influence the receiver with a message—often by interrupting; the sender speaks, and the receiver is forced to listen. There’s no genuine listening. But when someone is “talking with”, things are different: there’s no sender or receiver; there are two humans having a conversation—both talk, both listen.
No one likes to be “talked to”. Here’s one evidence: no one likes unsolicited advice, which is a form of “talk to”.
Ads on TV is “talk to”; heart-to-heart conversation with a friend is “talk with”. Spam email that sells pills is “talk to”, but email from the newsletter you want to hear from is not.
TV ads annoy people by “talking to” them. Pre-internet, it worked because people had no choice—they ate what they were served. But now, there’s this magical button called the block button—it’s free to use, it’s one click away—and with this button, internet consumers can instantly banish annoying people—or companies—that “talk to” them.
P.S. If you’re curious, you can check the list of people you’ve blocked. They’re probably there because they annoyed you by “talking to” you.
Pen And Paper Is A Delightful Friend
I’ve never met a person that listens. In a conversation, I’m almost always the receiving end. I enjoy it quite a bit, especially with strangers in their old age (those folks are often ignored by their children, and they rarely have anyone to talk with). But sometimes, you know, I want to talk too.
I used to try to find a person that would listen to me. When meeting new people, I’d say, “Maybe it’s him; maybe it’s her.” Having found that person would be delightful, but I couldn’t. I just… couldn’t. In a conversation, everyone’s busy inside their head, and they “listen” so they could talk. When I say a thing, I’m often interrupted with, “You should do this,” or, “Maybe you can try that,” or, “Wow that’s sad… but let me tell you a worse thing that happened to me.” Goddamit, all I wanted was talk!
This is why I find pen and paper to be such a delightful friend. If I have something to say—no matter how long, stupid, or blasphemous—I can pour everything. A beautiful story, a sinful confession, a nonsense rant, it doesn’t matter; the paper doesn’t judge, the pen doesn’t criticize. They’re the listening ear I’ve been looking for my entire life.
My Dear Theo
Back in the day, Van Gogh often wrote letters to his brother, Theo, and today, those letters are stored in a museum. His letters—or at least, the ones I’ve read—are about his daily life. Nothing fancy: simple words, few sketches here and there. But these letters are special because they’re authentic—every sketch, every word came from his heart. He wasn’t trying to impress a crowd or sell anything; he just wanted to write to his brother. I could feel the warmth just by reading it.
In a sea of fake people, having found an authentic person is like having found a gem. I’ve found a handful of these gems, and Van Gogh seems to be one of them. I wonder what a dinner with him would look like.
Red, Black, Red
So let me come to you / close as I wanna be
Close enough for me / to feel your heart beating fast
And stay there as I whisper / how I loved your peaceful eyes on me
Did you ever know / that I had mine on you?
—Eyes on Me, FF8
For few hours, I was waiting in anticipation. I pretended to look at the passing clouds, but I couldn’t help but think about her—the voices inside my head couldn’t stop talking. The anxiety felt tingly; there were butterflies in my belly.
“Oh, is that her?” Yep. Red hair tie, black t-shirt, red shorts—nothing fancy. She walked towards my direction and sat beside me. I said hello and continued watching the clouds.
“You here only for a while?” I broke the silence.
“Yeah, kinda. What about you?”
“The clouds are beautiful today,” I stupidly replied.
Her eyes were soft—like the eyes of a loving mother—but looking at it made me fearful. So, instead of peering into her eyes, I mostly glanced at her leaf-shaped earring. Many things I wanted to say to her—many longings, many bottled-up feelings—but my tongue was tightly locked. She stared at the ground most of the time. Perhaps she felt the same way. After a very, very long silence, she said, “Hey, I, uh… gotta go.” I looked at her, knowing that it was my last chance to do so. She was pretty, as always. “Sure,” I replied. As she walked away, she gave me her last goodbye with a smile and a wave. All I could do was smile back. Bitterly.