Monday, January 24, 2011

How to Succeed, Even If You Are Ugly

James Altucher explains a problem he had at an early age:
In 7th grade, when we were learning how to square dance, I heard one girl say to another girl whose turn it was to dance with me, “just don’t touch him and you will be ok.” For the rest of that week I pretended to be sick so I could stay home. ‘Square Dancing Week’ was over by the time I got back to school. It didn’t matter. Square dancing wasn’t an important skill to learn in suburban New Jersey.
He then tells us about a guy who thinks he is ugly and so plays the guitar in a YouTube video with a baseball cap hiding his face and has had over 85 million page views:

What impressed me most about the simply labeled “guitar” video was how totally unpromotional it was:

A) The title of the video was “guitar”. Not, “best guitar ever!!” or even “Canon Rock” which was the song that is being played.

B) The guitarist has a hat pulled over his head so you can’t see who he is. The entire video becomes about his technical virtuousity and the beauty of the song rather than his performance ability.

C) He put the video up anonymously under an account called “funtwo”. In fact, after the video came out and started getting millions of views, there were several attempts from people who claimed to be funtwo but weren’t.
Altucher then analyzes what made the video a success:
So the formula is simple:

1.improve every day. If you are frustrated you don’t have 80mm pageviews, just focus on your practice and keep improving. Want more money? Focus on practice and keep improving. Want the girls to touch you? Focus on practice and keep improving.
2.keep “beginner’s mind”. Never assume you are too good to learn. I think the greatest danger in getting to be the best at something is the cloak of ego that wraps itself around you.
3.Non-promotion. And although Jim Cramer once told me that “nobody else will promote you. You have to learn how to promote yourself” and I thought it was wise advice, I also firmly believe that the sincere and powerful voices will rise to the top. And its those voices that will rise above the hate and desperation that tends to flock around self-promotion.
4.Steal and get rich. funtwo takes JerryC’s composition which is a takeoff on Pachebel’s Canon. When you master a field, its ok to play and improve on everything that came before you. In fact, thats often a good starting point as well.
5.And if you’re ugly, hide your face.
The guitar video is here, along with Altucher's full analysis.

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