I started journaling in 1998. It wasn’t called blogging until much later. I had no business intent. I just wanted to share stories I’d written that the mainstream had no interest in publishing. Along the way, I learned a lot (mostly by failing and adjusting), and became a New York Times bestselling author who speaks to princesses and heads of huge companies like Disney (also in the princess business). How did I get here?
Evolution is a Matter of Perception, Growth, and Persistence
When I started, I wanted to share stories. Along the way, I got interested in other topics (self-improvement, media, marketing, health, etc). I changed my blog (eventually journals became blogs), but what I really was doing was the same: sharing what I observed and providing some kind of learning you could use for yourself.
I had no idea how business would come of this. I just was doing my thing, mostly late at night, hidden in the corners of my job, etc. No one said I would find success. No one said anything. Most people didn’t care. It took me eight years to get my first 100 readers.(Feel like tweeting that?)
And then a random event changed everything.
From BarCamp to PodCamp
In 2006, I attended BarCamp Boston. It’s an event where people go to share software advice and related geekery in a very open “unconference” style. Whoever shows up are the speakers. Everyone is on a level playing field. Everyone can create the content of the event.
I didn’t know a thing. I felt dumb as a stick. But I had fun. Christopher S. Penn was there, too. We struck up a friendship. He saved me from making a bad choice in recording some audio.
And then we created PodCamp. The idea was “BarCamp for media makers – bloggers and podcasters, mostly.” We had no right. We had no experience. We had no permission. And the event rocked.
PodCamp Started Everything
At that event, I met tons of people who changed my life. I met Julien Smith (and wrote two books with him, one a NYT Bestseller). I met Mitch Joel (legendary man). I met and went to work for Jeff Pulver who gave me the best course in entrepreneurship and community-powered business the world would ever know. I reacquainted with Rob Hatch, who runs Owner Media Group with me. And hundreds more.
But what was the key lesson? That I needed no one’s permission. Chris and I learned everything, shared everything, and made everyone in the event the star. That’s the key kernel to everything I have done and become since then. PodCamp was the real powerful example/iteration of what COULD happen and what mattered most to me: make your own game and live by your own mission.
The Tools Were Just That: Tools
Along the way, I wrote more and more about the tools: Twitter, podcasting, blogging, media making in general. But here’s where everything got a bit messy because what I thought I was conveying to you was “these tools let you do YOUR THING really well, and without anyone’s permission.” What it seems most people heard/received was “THESE TOOLS let you do your thing really well…” and the permission thing fell into the dumpster.
That’s my fault. I learned that from Tamsen. I didn’t help extrapolate the lesson I most wanted to teach. And it led me into this huge and deep circle of LOTS of attention, because as it turns out, people REALLY want to talk to me about the tools, and don’t care as much about the insights I thought I was delivering.
So, my last several years of “fame” and attention pretty much grew out of a perception gap: people were thinking something like this: “THESE TOOLS made Chris Brogan really successful and let him live the life he wanted to live, doing the business he wanted to do.”
The truth is different. I wanted something different. I wanted to work on my own terms. I wanted to serve the people who mattered the most to me. And I used those tools to help get me there. The media wasn’t the message. The media was a delivery mechanism.
Evolution Goes On
As the world at large gets more and more excited about “social media,” I continue to work towards helping people find their freaks and do the work they want to do. I use these tools all the time. Even though email marketing accounts for over 70% of my business, I use these social tools like blogging (still a must in my mind) and sharing via places like Twitter (a kind of short-hand fast way to connect to humans). I have a podcast because I fricken LOVE the medium. But the evolution is this.
I’m so very clear on my mission. It wasn’t always this way, except it sort of was. I just couldn’t see it before. All along, I’ve been pushing towards this intent to experience things, learn a lesson, and equip others for success with what I learned. And not just people. I serve owners. You can own the company, or just own your cubicle, but if you don’t own your choices, and believe there are #noexcuses any more, but simply your actions, then you’re not who I serve.
Getting clarity and alignment around my mission changed everything and it’s how I’ll most help you.
A lot of people come here for inspiration, for mindset, for a chance to better understand how to build a life and a business on your terms. Great! Because that’s what I’m here to show you. I’m here to show you that you don’t have to be robots, that you don’t have to “fit in,” that you can build a powerful life through finding your own path. And that evolution, dear friend, is what’s most changed for me since the good old days of 1998.
That’s core to what I’m doing with The Owner’s Path and all the work I’m creating here. And it’s core to the messages I share with you. I hope it’s helpful. And I’m glad you’re here.