Here is the shovel, now bury your dream

In Ehrgeiz, Journalismus on Februar 17, 2015 at 8:41 pm


A short note on self-marketing. Every freelancer and especially every journalist takes classes in self-marketing. Me too. According to whatever book or guru, the heart of self-marketing is to find out what you really really want. Deep down. (The popular book that is going around right now: Don´t be who you are, be who you want to be). Let´s say, you always wanted to combine a sushi café and a blues bar. Well, if you really really want it, you probably will be good at it. Open up a sushi blues bar, practice your two-five-ones, and let the algae roll. Or more often: write a book, write for the New Yorker, start an organic farm, start a business to replace plastic, develop an app that can tell you which plant you are looking at, advise developers of computer games on ancient Greek history, start a children’s book plus app editing firm, become a gallerist (very popular), become a yoga teacher, study at Harvard, start a vegan wellness farm (I just made that one up), spend the winter months as a renowned international journalist in Key West, be (omg) an artist.

But here is the bad part. To drag them out of fantasy land into reality it costs real money, and real time. So far, none of the above fantasies have become true, despite hard wishful thinking and even a bit of doing. Usually the self-marketing victim spends a couple of months or years on her idea. They work on their brilliant idea in their spare time. It takes up their nights, weekends, and half of their already meager income or the inheritance from their hard-working parents. The screenplay sits half-written in the drawer, or else it has already been rejected half a dozen times. Key West turns out to be a depressing place if you are not as rich as Hemingway’s wife, and the rent of the yoga studio is twice what your yoga class brings in. The book project ended up on the couch of a well-paid psychoanalyst. The truth is, some make it, most don´t. But the latter get told they have to try, and spend their money on trying. First, on those classes, then on websites, image videos, social marketing, photos, brochures, more education, elevator pitch classes, crowdsourcing strategies, networking cloths, expensive domains such as keywest-media.com. Then there’s the sun studio, permanent makeup, business cards, Christmas postcards to potential clients, haircutters, cool glasses, voice training, and advanced body language. All for nothing. My advice: be who you are, an average shmuck, and spend your time and money on something that makes more sense; a trip to the Bahamas, a comfortable bed, a voucher for a three star restaurant for your parents 60th wedding anniversary. Whatever, but stay out of lala-land.

Plus, when you wake up a sleeping dream – let’s say, to start a noncommercial podcast on public health with the intent of mobilizing people to fight against health inequality, and you work hard for it, and it fails, then disappointment sets in. Let me put that into perspective with an analogy from the medical world. You have a terrible migraine, and you take a homoeopathic pill against it. It doesn´t do anything. Now you take a couple of ibuprofen: because the first pill didn’t do a damn thing, the ibruprofen is less effective. It is all operant conditioning. And just to remind my readers: I did my PhD on that. Every treatment that raises hopes, but fails, makes it harder and harder for the next treatment to work. So be careful, be very careful with raising hopes, with experimental therapies, with dream your dream classes.

To make it short: I offer for all self-marketing-class-victims a course on “how to become who you are (mediocre like all of us but yet somehow lovable)” and stop dreaming. I promise a great side effect. Your bank account will grow, and you will have more free weekends, relaxed evenings, and less disease-inducing status/happiness/fame envy.
20.8.-21.8.2015: “Bury your dream”, weekend class with expert Fabienne Hübener, on the North Cemetery, Munich. Bring a shovel. http://www.buryyourdream.com


Photo: Jewe! / photocase.de

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