5 ordinary people who JUST DID IT

4:07 AM

Source: Humans of New York


You don’t have permission but you can do it anyway*.

Lately I’ve been banging my drum a whole lot about blogging. About not doubting yourself and getting over unfounded fears about bringing your thing to the world.


Here are 5 examples of brave innovators. These crazy kids succeeded by ignoring their own lack of writing skills, convention and/or what was expected of them to just bloody go for it - with spectacular results:

1. Darren Rowse – Digital Photography School / ProBlogger
By his own admission, Darren Rowse was not a great writer, nor did he really know what he was doing as a blogger when he started Digital Photography School blog. He just had knowledge to share and became so caught up in, not only the incremental success he was getting as a blogger, but the progress and process he observed as he was learning how to share his knowledge. Inspired by his newfound obsession about the trials and wonders of blogging, Darren created a spin off blog, Problogger and accidentally turned into arguably the most revered blogging expert on Planet Earth.

2. Here’s the Thing (podcast) – Alec Baldwin
Alec Baldwin an interviewer? Isn’t he the best known Baldwin boy, an actor, producer, star of countless TV and movie hits from 30 Rock to Hunt for Red October, Still Alice, Blue Jasmine, Prelude to a Kiss, The Aviator and about a thousand more?

What the hell does Alec Baldwin know about conducting an interview programme?
On reflection, he probably has known a lot for a long time. Albeit, no background in journalism or masters degree in interviewing techniques, but you better believe the guy has been interviewed a bajillion times.

What else? He likes talking in a husky, sexy voice and although he never sounds anything other than sober, I always imagine him holding an Old Fashioned while he riffs and prods and ruminates.

Here’s the thing about Here’s the Thing; I’m pretty sure each week Baldwin basically talks to whoever the hell takes his fancy on any given whim – indulging his own vast interests (“artists, policy makers and performers”) but that don’t mean a damn. An underground hit, Here’s the Thing has been going since 2011 and, turns out, it's helping change the way popular entertainment and information is defined and delivered. Who knew?

3. Chyka.com – Chyka Keebaugh
Here is an example of someone who took advantage of her 15 minutes of fame and backed it right up.

Chyka is one of the Housewives of Melbourne and I’m probably not alone in thinking Chyka is the most sensible, likeable and most lovely of the lot of them. From what I can see, Chyka is using the show as a fabulous professional platform rather than a magnifying glass zeroing in on personal faults and weaknesses. Yay dignity!

Chyka.com pulls together her flair for style, etiquette and events into one lovely package that is tied with a bow and that appeals to the muser and the professional alike. She’s also spruiking her and her husband’s wildly successful company, The Big Group with aplomb and style. It’s a nice channel for them. And while Chyka is clearly classy and highly intelligent, her writing isn’t amazing (I’d love to edit it for her) and it doesn’t matter. Chyka.com is a clear example of the power of blogging – the point isn’t perfection in expression; it demonstrates that voice, expertise and the air of authority is more important than elocution.

4. General Electric
Oh dear god, corporate blogs can be so beige. Often, it’s not their fault in many ways (aka it’s not the marketing department’s fault, it’s the fear of the stakeholder’s fault but I’m not giving any lee-way here**). This blog is a case of top content and a guarantee that you will be sucked further and further down the rabbit hole the more you explore this site because it’s just that good. The world is fascinated by tech. GE gets that. GE also gets that the world wants to hear about really cool tech and science stuff – not product tidbits or benefits. It also features seriously genuinely cool art, images, music and videos that bring people back to this brand's site.  Go GE.

5. Humans of New York
How good is Humans of New York? The story of Brandon Stanton’s unprecedented phenomenon is punctuated by risk taking, passion and personal growth. It started out when he set out to photograph 10,000 New Yorkers and plot their photos on a map. It became so much more like nothing there had ever been before or like nothing he ever predicted. It became a collection of quotes and short stories from the people he met alongside the photographs. Taken together, these portraits and captions became the subject of a vibrant blog. With over eight million followers on social media, HONY now provides a worldwide audience with daily glimpses into the lives of strangers in New York City. It has also become a #1 NYT bestselling book.

If you want to hear the first-hand account of Brandon’s phenomenon and how he found the kahunas to start this beast, check out this Design Matters podcast as Debbie Millman talks to the man himself.



If you’d like to some spend another 5 minutes down the rabbit hole reading about inspiring, clever humans, check out:



* I did not come up with this opening line, I was stuck for an interesting first sentence and by chance I read this opener on one of my favourite blogs, Altucher Confidential. It’s almost out-and-out plagiarism/blatant paraphrasing - I didn't have permission but took it anyway. 

** If I may give some advice to corporate marketers it would be to please ask forgiveness tomorrow because it’s easier than seeking permission today. Nothing gets done otherwise. 


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