Such a strange, difficult year. Lots of us are thinking about the artists we lost — poets, musicians, cultural icons.
Of course, famous people die every year — but this one had a nasty streak. Bowie, Prince, Ali, Cohen, Fisher, and so many more. People who went far beyond entertaining us.
We never met them, but they changed everything.
Because they found the courage to speak, and sing, and cry out with real voices. Screwed up, weird, flawed, masterful. Sometimes broken, sometimes triumphant, but real.
Truth and courage
Every year, the first week of January inspires us to look ahead, to resolve to be better.
This year is not normal.
This year, it’s not “lose five pounds (again)” or “finally get the junk drawer organized.”
This year, our challenge is to be honest enough and brave enough to change the world.
You have something to say — whether it’s with your blog, with a podcast, with video, with your art or your music. You have something to contribute that no one else can.
We need that now.
You have a voice that’s irreplaceable. It can’t be turned into a clever algorithm. It can’t be duplicated and it can’t be churned out for a penny a word.
We need that now.
It’s about you
As we progress (if progress is the right word), one thing is clear: any time communication can be automated, it will be.
Sports scores, statistics, facts and figures. Anything that can be charted and analyzed by a machine can be turned into some form of automated content.
You will never find success writing like a machine. If your work can be done by a bot, it will be.
Individual, fresh, genuine human voices have always been what worked. They connect us with one another. They present ideas in ways we haven’t thought about before. They make us laugh and they make us angry, and they make us think.
We don’t need any more cynical, mass-produced content.
In 2017, as automation takes over so much routine communication, real human voices become more important, not less.
It’s not about you
If you run a business, you’re changing the world.
If you write content for a business, you’re changing the world.
Not by selling more “best-of-breed solutions for disruptive excellence.”
But by making art that builds the connections between human beings who want things and human beings who make things.
I know there are plenty of people who will think I’m nuts for saying that the content we craft for our businesses can be art.
I don’t care.
Business matters. Making a living matters. Supporting your family matters. And I am never going to tell you to be complacent about those things.
But don’t do it at the expense of your human voice. It doesn’t work, and it’s not what the world needs from you. Sing the song only you can sing.
2017 needs you
We need people who are not afraid of hard work and big ideas.
We need people who understand that the web is made of real human beings, with problems and feelings and complicated lives.
We need people who will resist the epidemic of unkindness.
If you ever thought that this abstract thing called “content” was more important than connection to your audience, you were misreading the situation — badly. Content works because it builds a connection to real people.
2017 needs your voice — your unique expression and humanity.
Of all the “back to basics” advice we give, this one (in my excruciatingly humble opinion) is the most important.
Be strategic, for sure. But don’t let that erase or diminish your genuine and courageous human voice.