Start Your Own Whatever

It’s great that you participate. Now, create. Hurricane Sandy Relief

Start something. Who cares what? The other day, on a whim, I started a group to talk about health and fitness. I did it because I wanted some place to post what I’m learning about food and nutrition and fitness and motivation and the like. I’m not qualified. I’m not an expert. Hell, Jacqueline, my girlfriend, has her masters in Nutrition, is working on her PhD, and has more certifications than I can shake a stick at when it comes to all this. I’m so unqualified it’s silly.

So why did I dare to start a group to talk about health and fitness? Because I don’t have to be the expert. I can just create something, find people who also want to participate, and then we’re on to something.

But that’s my interest. That’s one of my interests. And if you’re part of that, awesome. And if you’re part of a lot of things, awesome. But what are you going to create?

Plant Your Damned Flag, Already

If you’re waiting for the world to tap you on the shoulder and provide you with your kingdom, it’s not coming. If you want to make something, then start. Start anywhere. I do my work online. What do you need?

  1. Make the theme of your intended group really obvious. “Talking About Writing” won’t get anyone’s attention. “Deadly Pen Club” would make me click right away.
  2. Make an easy place for people to gather and participate as equals. You might love Facebook groups, forums, whatever. I prefer Google+ communities right now. But who cares? Tools are tools.
  3. Make a strong effort to engage newcomers and make them feel welcome at the party (#1 reason people don’t participate is they don’t feel welcome or seen).
  4. Find a way to schedule regular real-time experiences of some kind, but make the lion’s share of the interactions more non-real-time (like posts on a forum or tweets to a hashtag).
  5. Serve the community. Serve hardest and you’re technically the leader. Yes, you have to lead them. But lead by serving. (Google “Servant leader” and you’ll have an avalanche of help.)
  6. Do something with the group. Make something happen. Find a hill and conquer it. Whatever that hill may be.
  7. Repeat.
  8. Grow more leaders.

That’s the recipe.

If You Don’t Want to Lead

Hello, introverts. You can breathe again. I’m done scaring you. There are plenty of roles for supporting cast in the universe and you give a LOT of yourself to such movements. Please don’t worry about the above unless you feel so moved. It’s all okay.

Everyone else? Start something.

What’s your story? What’s your flag? What do you “want” to do that you haven’t started yet?

Is bravery the issue?

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  • Susan Giurleo

    Had you all the way to reassuring the introverts. Hello, introverts. Many successful people in internet land are introverts. We work and socialize here because it’s easier than face-to-face. But if you want things to happen in your life, you need to start something. Being an introvert is no excuse. Start something, please. We need your contribution.

    • Chris Brogan

      You may be right. : )

  • Justin Sturges

    Dude, love the kick in the shorts. Doing a comedy improv class to help kill my nagging introvert. On the road to awesome, thanks!

    • Chris Brogan

      Yes, AND! Get it going! : )

  • Annabel Candy

    I start things – a local blogging meet up group which I’m finding hard to keep going. Might be the introvert thing…

    I’ve also started a quest called 52 Exercises in which I do a different exercise every week. I’m dabbling in health and fitness too so your group sounds great – maybe I can join :)

    Starting things is easier than thinking about starting things. That’s fatal and makes me delay actually doing anything for ages. But keeping going with things is hardest of all.

    • Chris Brogan

      I’m watching a whole lot of those starts, so that’s pretty wild. You’re doing great work, young miss. : )

      • Annabel Candy

        Oh, that’s brilliant to hear – especially the young bit ;) Thank you!

  • CallTheMarketingGuy

    Loved your article Chris. I am a big fan of “Start Your Own Whatever.” and I think more people should go out and do it 8 years ago I started an adult gaming group on the PS3 called the “Old Man Clan.”. I did it just because I hated gaming with screaming 12 year olds, and I was terrible at video games. That “Whatever” expanded in 10 countries around the world with over 500 members. These guys have become some of my closest friends. One of the key reasons why it became so large is that we applied – “Make a strong effort to engage newcomers and make them feel welcome at the party.”. All the other gaming clans based their qualifications on gaming skills, where we based our qualifications on personal attributes. If you were a cool person, we welcomed you in. One of the great quotes I try to live by is -“Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.” – Tom Peters.

    • Chris Brogan

      I *love* that! You’re totally right. I want a bunch of grump 30-50 year olds to game with! And you know I love Tom Peters, so yeah. : )

  • Steve Woodruff

    Introverts can be masters at starting stuff (esp. on-line, where a degree of control and asynchronous interaction can feel “safer”)

    • Chris Brogan

      True that. Sing it!

  • Melissa

    This is apparently the theme for my day. I had just mused “out loud” on Twitter and FB if it was possible for an extreme introvert with anxiety problems to learn to be a teacher. In the ten minutes since, I’ve seen 2 posts on FB about doing things that scare you and then this. I think the Universe is trying to tell me something…

    • Chris Brogan

      And did you listen?

      • Melissa

        I made myself ask people for input on overcoming my mental issues and making inquiries toward renting space to set up meditation classes. It’s only small steps, but it’s more momentum in the direction I want to go than I have in nearly 17 years.

  • Farnoosh

    Oh this phrase “Start your own whatever” cuts deep to my core, Chris. YES YES, and YES! It took me forever to figure it out, to break free of the corporate chain and of the cultural expectations and parental bonds (to name a few obstacles) and now, there is nothing in this world that can buy me back into that world of being someone else’s puppet …. creation is the key that drives what I do now… the what is less important but the act of creating and starting my own series of whatevers….. :)!

    • Chris Brogan

      And here you are being a super cool author and stuff!

  • Tania Dakka

    Love this kick in the teeth! Love it! I’m off to sort my plans and set my wheels to spinning!

    I consider myself a bit introverted (I live inside my head, I prefer my own company to being out, etc), but I love playing ringleader in the Google+ communities. I love the interaction and learning. I love giving feedback (and getting). So introverts…give it a try.

    And try our Brave groups for a start!!

    • Chris Brogan

      Did you ever notice that you consider my thoughts as combative. You’ve used “kick in the teeth” and “slap in the face” and other related terms in the past. What if all these ideas are “gifts for Tania to play with?”

      • Tania Dakka

        LOL!! I hadn’t noticed! Perhaps – just perhaps – I welcome the combat? And absolutely consider them gifts? Your gifts generate energy…and often my energy is best exerted on a punching bag.:) I will try to use more positively connotative metaphors (or parallels? I get confused) :)

        • Chris Brogan

          Or if you’re happy with the combat, then have at! : )

  • Mitch Jackson

    Going to focus on and consistently apply all 8 items to my new Google+ “Trial Lawyer Tips Community” that I started in January. Muchas gracias!

    • Chris Brogan

      De nada, sir. : )

  • Catherine Just

    Loved this. Especially when you say “Plant Your Damned Flag, Already”
    I start things. a Soul*full eCourse, the annual Soul*full Summit, photo courses, photo retreats. But I keep thinking about what’s next, what’s next. What do the people who are reading my newsletter and following me on twitter want and need, and what do I REALLY want to be doing with my life. I’m constantly questioning it all. Sort of like planting a flag and then running! hahaa

    • Chris Brogan

      What’s now powers what’s next.

  • Cara Lumen

    This is so perfect. I’m an 80-year-old metaphysican in a
    senior center in the conservative state of Kansas and I’m studying Taoism. As I discover new concepts that excite me, I have no one to share them with. I know I
    have to find my like-minded Taoist explorers on line. This is a great way to find them. Thank you for the nudge!!!

    • Chris Brogan

      Wow! Cara, what a great story! How do I reach you?

  • Daniel O’Beirne

    so true! best from Spain

  • Susan M Steele

    Also disappointed to see the slight against introverts — because the rest of the message is so good and so needed. Starting things doesn’t have anything to do with whether or not you are an introvert or an extrovert. We *may* be slower to start, but our products are usually more well thought out and considered because we’ve taken the time to think ahead.

    • Chris Brogan

      Did you think I slighted introverts. We don’t see eye to eye on that. I accept that their different.

    • Jacqueline Teo

      I agree with Susan. Introverts are perceived as slower because they think it through. Extroverts speak as they think so they’re perceived as more decisive. In fact, both probably took the same amount of time in decision making.

    • William Mullane

      Isn’t the internet the PERFECT place for introverts to lead and thrive?

  • John Kamal

    I like the way you put it. Loved the assurance that I don’t have to be an expert to start something. That has been one of things I usually struggle with.

    • Chris Brogan

      You’re hereby knighted. No expertise required (unless you’re a surgeon or an airplane pilot).

      • Robert Kennedy III

        Wow, since we are giving away knighthood, ummmmm, how about………

  • Teresa

    I am reading your book “Google+ for Business” right now and see how this social networking sight can really help you make connections with people. For introverts like me, this may be a little uncomfortable at first, but well worth the time and effort. Thanks for sharing great ways on how we can build relationships with others.

    • Chris Brogan

      But look! You’re an introvert and yet you commented. : ) You’re in. : )

      • Teresa

        Ha ha! So true! :)

  • RealSheree

    Love the concept, Chris.

    I hadn’t really considered starting a group or community to promote the wholistic life ideals of The Ben Franklin Follies, but maybe I will.

    • Chris Brogan

      Doesn’t Ben deserve it? : )

  • Monica Nielsen

    Great and Inspiring Chris, I got it! I am extrovert however, my business partner is introvert. We accept are differences and learning the real magic is in the middle and can be very powerful. I feel your post was presented very well and really provided a much more physical clear vision of what am I planting and how can we make a difference. I stand tall and proud and give you standing ovation for a post that helped make my journey more clear. We disagree, but we agree to disagree and learn from each other. Help each other grow and develop into unique individuals.

    • Chris Brogan

      The world needs both. That’s for sure. Working from your area of strength is what matters most.

  • Robert Kennedy III

    Does an introvert HAVE to be an introvert? I mean, if we can create, can’t we create ourselves too….at least who we are being? OK, enough with the philosophical drivel, LOL. I love to create. My challenge has been finishing the creation. Is it ok to quit a specific creation if its not working? Well, actually, I’m not looking for permission….validation maybe :-). I love the motivation to create though. That is soooo me! Thanks for this article.

    • Chris Brogan

      Quit anything you don’t want to finish. But maybe read Seth Godin’s The Dip. It helps you decide if you’ve quit too soon or too late. : )

      • Robert Kennedy III

        Thanks, Chris. I will check this book out.

  • OBVAVirtualAssistant

    Excellent post! It brilliantly paints the gloomy picture that exists today in this world. There is so much turmoil going on that it places a dim light on the prospects of being successful. So people tend to step back. But I would also tell them to start whatever of their own, success is always not a factor.

    • Chris Brogan

      It’s crabs in a bucket. You could get out but the other crabs of our collective discontent seem to be the challenge.

      • OBVAVirtualAssistant

        Could not agree more.

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  • Dave Crenshaw

    You’re a great example, Chris! You don’t have to be an expert to start something. Awesome.

  • Chris Healy

    My flag is in part the topic frequently commented on below. I want to talk about introverts and extroverts, and the characteristics that make it easier to connect with others meaningfully. What skills and behaviors make it possible to attract and positively influence others? How do you get that? Can you get more of it?

  • Malika Wadhwani

    This is such an inspiring and encouraging post. Spirituality is my passion and I have so much knowledge I want to share. Every time I think of my own blog, the ‘What If’s’ scare me away.You make it sound so easy. Thank you.

  • Tracey Kazimir-Cree

    Today my good friend called me to give me a pep talk about my business and had all sort of extroverted ideas on building up my brand. Most of them made my heart race with fear.

    Then he told me something someone told him: “You don’t have to be fearless; you just have to fear less.”

    So that’s what I’m working on today. Maybe tomorrow I’ll make something.

  • Deepti

    You a genius Chris. Love what you write – all your sunday newsletters too :) You know the problem with the world – the intelligent are full of doubts whether to start or not..while the fools cocksure.
    But yes Im convinced its important to START.
    The post needs to be printed and put on our desks!

  • Marquita Herald

    I think you are awesome Chris, but you really disappointed me with the Introvert comment because it’s yet another example of how extroverts seriously do NOT understand what makes an introvert tick. It’s not about being afraid to put yourself on the line – it’s about making intentional choices. For anyone who thinks introverts are more comfortable left behind the scenes – consider Julia Robers, Candice Bergan, Harrison Ford, Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep are all introverts.

  • Margaret Mills

    If you think Ricky`s story is impossible,, 1 weak-ago my friends sister basically brought in $7119 just sitting there 20 hour’s a week from there apartment and there friend’s mom`s neighbour was doing this for four months and brought in more than $7119 in there spare time from a laptop. follow the information from this site… jump15.comCHECK IT OUT

  • Michael

    Chris, love the reminder to just take action. It’s so easy to get caught in the ‘reasons’ why we shouldn’t. It’s good to be reminded to just ‘plant your damned flag already.” Thanks!

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  • Rob Eddy

    Large organizations could learn a thing or two from this list. I’m in the job market and I’m astounded at how far behind the times many of the companies are. They continue to wallow in tradition and I don’t see any innovation. And they wonder why internal morale is horrible and profits are flat.
    START to do things differently, and the results might be different.
    Nice post, Chris.

  • Dominick Evans

    Hey Chris,

    Great post! I agree wholeheartedly. I am glad you joined that group. So often, being busy I forget about nutrition. It’s a nice reminder of trying to eat better, even on the run.

  • Sparkle_Agency

    Chris you nailed it on the head!

    After years of super-participating, volunteering and (to many people) almost over-contributing, I finally started #SparkleSOS a social media turnaround show (panel of experts) on Google+ Hangouts on Air and YouTube. We quickly discovered a HUGE appetite for the conversations, questions, problems & celebrations of aspiring and achieved book authors alike navigating publishing perils, sharing solutions and mentoring.

    We became a monthly “meetup” (I initially thought it could be a multi-subject, weekly show), and specifically focused on promoting Book Authors & Publishing conversations month after month – within a few months I was surprised to have Guy Kawasaki ask me if he could be on our show sometime! I was blown away.

    Now, I’ve welcomed a co-host & producer, we’ve booked and had Hangouts with a handful of business and online leaders who are “celebrity” book authors and every month I try my best to fill the panel with a variety of people ranging from inexperienced, but aspiring (like myself), experienced book authors looking to take it to the next level, and “celebrity” book authors & publishers.

    Even more importantly, people who I admire for authoring & publishing their own book, who have joined us on #SparkleSOS Book Authors & Publishers have started referring to it as “our group” and recommending it to key people Kindle Select and Indigo/Chapters (Canada’s larges chain of bookstores/online book retailer & marketplace).

    This warms my heart & makes al the late nights & weekends worth the effort.

    I’ve been asked to travel & “run” the Google+ Hangouts on Air “Room” at numerous upcoming conferences in 2013 with keynote speakers like Mari Smith, Scott Monty, CC Chapman, and have begun receiving requests from businesses to coordinate the creation of their own white label (using their branding) Hangouts and sponsored #SparkleSOS episodes.

    The biggest shock of all is that it’s finally brought me to a place where I can control my own schedule, travel, clients and maximize my income, and leave my FT job as a social media community manager for a tech/mobile app company.

    Although it’s scary to take the leap, I also feel fulfilled in a way I have never experienced before.

  • Candie Price

    Great article! I’ve done a lot of what I wanted to do on my short list and now find myself having to expand the list! Trying to focus, rebrand and figure out what should be at the top of that list! Getting there!

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  • Stylechik

    Great article and excellent timing! I started and led a Facebook group in February, called Meat-Free February. Participation was amazing and it brought people out of their normal “food” comfort zone to eat healthier!

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  • Farhan Fawzer

    Absolutely motivated.

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  • helentfield

    Alexis. even though Tammy`s blog is great… last week I got
    themselves a Maserati since I been earnin $7247 this past 4 weeks and-over,
    10/k this past munth. it’s by-far the most financialy rewarding I’ve ever had.
    I started this five months/ago and almost immediately was bringing in over $79,
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  • Barbara Mckinney

    We must remember
    that there is no perfect timing for everything. What matters most is you, if
    you really want it then do it. We don’t really have to be expert before
    starting a new business,the only thing we need is a positive thinking and
    self-esteem. Thanks for this article

  • Darragh Mulryan

    I think for a lot of people bravery isn’t the issue, but commitment, I’ve often started goals and tasks and kept up with them while I was still motivated but that motivation would decrease after long periods of time. Keeping up with something seems to be the hardest part of it. At the moment I’m writing a marketing blog (seen in my profile) to have when I’m finished college which is a year and a half away. Hopefully I can stick to it

  • Mary G. Robinson

    you think Eddie`s story is good,, 3 weeks ago my girlfriend’s mum earnt $8197
    just sitting there fifteen hours a week from there house and there roomate’s
    mother-in-law`s neighbour has been doing this for 10-months and actually earnt
    over $8197 in their spare time on-line. applie the information on this link,
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  • Joseph Manna

    I have one more idea to add — it’s to get in the habit of getting version one out there. Not that you want to publish or ship garbage, but you want to not focus on perfection.

    Great post, Chris!

  • Carmen Amato

    Chris, thanks for the pep talk with a unique spin, as always. As a mystery writer I’m usually caught up in a small world of characters, murder and motive. The discussion of starting something and sharing interests was a great nudge to take a break with a purpose. The concept of “servant leader” and serving others is a strong, supportive concept and your how-to list is perfect. I also find Google+ to be a great interactive platform is likely the place to start.

  • Willie R. Boyland, Jr.

    Good even Mr. Brogan. I used to do some freelance work for this Hip-Hop site a few years ago. I did quite a few articles and a couple of album reviews, and I was really excited about this company because it was a grassroot movement that asked me to write about what I loved…..HIP-HOP!!!! The relationship with me and the company didn’t work for whatever reasons, but I’ve always wanted to get back into writing/blogging and maybe a little freelance work, but I need direction. I’m just trying to find out where to begin and how to get me foot back in the door?

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  • Rachael Tiow

    Hi Chris! <3 your article!

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  • Julia Barnickle

    Love the article, Chris (sorry I’m a bit late to the party…!) It’s so true that we don’t have to be an expert to get started – we just need to have an interest in something, and in sharing our thoughts and experiences with other people who have a common interest.
    I think the heading “If you don’t want to lead” is slightly misleading, though. There are numerous examples of introverted leaders (Gandhi?!). As an introvert myself, and working with introvert clients, I know that we may come across as unwilling to lead – but really, we’re caught up in the “I have to be an expert, and I’m not an expert yet, so how dare I suggest that I am” loop! I’m constantly trying to get the message across that it’s just as useful to share stuff with people while you’re learning it – because, quite often, that’s when you’re most excited about it and are better able to convey that excitement.

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