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To Succeed in the New, New Economy, Don’t Mail It In

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Ever since I wrote about The New, New Economy, I’ve been having lots of interesting conversations with people about it. Readers have also asked that I share more specific recommendations for “what works” now that a lot of online marketing strategies feel increasingly outdated.

I still stand by the general assertion that building relationships and producing quality work are the most important predictors of success, far more than any tactic or “hack.”

As a good way to illustrate this, last week I recorded a podcast for The Art of Charm, founded and hosted by Jordan Harbinger. I’ve known of Jordan for a while and we’ve emailed a bit, but I don’t think we’d ever spoken before. The hour-long conversation covered a lot of ground, and I was especially struck by something he said in the beginning.

When I complimented him on recording more than 500 episodes (!!) of his show—to my knowledge, only John Lee Dumas, another guy I talked with recently, has done so many—he said something like this:

The way you stand out in this field is by not mailing it in. Don’t get me wrong: I could mail it in and would probably be fine. If I interview an author, I don’t have to read the book. Most podcast hosts don’t. But when I make myself take the process seriously, never mailing it in but always doing as much advance research as I can, the end product is so much better.

And that’s why we’ve been able to stand out. One, we’ve produced a ton of episodes, and our listeners are very loyal, and two, I’ve tried to improve over time and always do my best possible work.

Note: this quote is paraphrased, so if I got something wrong, it’s on me, not him.

There’s an obvious lesson here: the winners in the New, New Economy will be the ones who don’t mail it in.

And the thing about mailing it in is that sometimes in life, you can mail it in. You don’t have to give A++ effort to everything. If you try to do that, you’ll burn out or just not be able to give enough attention to your core goals.

But for whatever those core goals are, if you want to excel and stand out in a world of amateurs, you do have to go above and beyond. You have to give more and dive deeper. You have to read the book before you do the interview, even if you have three interviews and three books a week. You have to care about your customers (readers, listeners, clients, etc.) and seek to improve as you go along.

I think if you start with this perspective—“I’m not going to mail it in”—it will be much easier to navigate whatever technological or social changes happen along the way. Those things will always be in flux. Your commitment to excellence should remain resolute.

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