On the Survey Monkey survey that I posted in December, several people told me that they wanted to know more about what I do to make money. When I’m not dancing for tips in a skunk costume at a Knoxville club or delivering powerful back-up vocals for the Black Eyed Peas, I spent a major portion of my working hours on marketing and advertising projects.
My company is called Bright Newt, but that’s a story for another time. Other than a screenplay or a textbook, I’ve tackled just about everything kind of writing: website copy, SEO content, brochures, press releases, television and radio commercials, articles, e-newsletters, print ads, billboard headlines. I also help my clients name their businesses or develop new taglines. I teach some of them how to effectively use Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube for their businesses. I’ve audited websites and told the owners what could be better or more strategic. I’ve served as a Creative Quarterback to ensure that a product launch happens on schedule. I’m even in the process of editing a dissertation.
The short version is I’m a storyteller, translator, and janitor—mostly with words but sometimes with other tools. The secret version is I do my best to keep my clients from sabotaging themselves.
What we learn in middle school we carry with us into the business world. We learn not to stick out, as though being noticeable is synonymous with being ostentatious, tacky, or rude. We try to conceal our differences. The pudgy kid gets picked on for wearing Levi’s Husky jeans. The smart kid gets picked on for studying “too much” and aceing the geography test. In pursuit of “cool” or “normal,” many of us stop taking risks.
“I like that shirt but I could never pull it off.”
We don’t make waves.
“I’d love to try out for the school play, but I wonder what the other football guys would say.”
We avoid drawing attention to ourselves.
“What if I was the one to sing the national anthem before a basketball game? No, no. What if I missed a note? Everyone would be staring at me. I’d be humiliated.”
At some point in college, I realized that the people who are most successful in the business world are the people who aren’t afraid to make a splash. In fact, they’re the ones who love to do a cannon ball.
They were the dorks from middle school. They’re the computer nerds and the guys who geek out over NASA’s latest launch. They’re the ones who frustrate the administrators by hacking the school’s system and freezing every computer screen with the message: “David Lipscomb sucks.” They weren’t the ones obsessed with popularity. They didn’t win “Most Attractive” superlatives. They were too busy being passionate and riffing on Dungeons & Dragons with fellow losers to concern themselves with what the meatheads were saying at the other lunch table.
I guess what I do for money is help organizations find their inner dorkdom and prevent them from sabotaging themselves with sameness.