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[Podcast] Seeking Success Through Bite-Size Entrepreneurship (Damon Brown)

By Bob Sparkins  |  Published Jul 28, 2023  |  Updated Jul 28, 2023
Bob Sparkins
By Bob Sparkins

A marketer with 17 years of experience, Bob has taught over 1,000 webinars and spoken at over 50 events.

Blog Dammon Brown 2

A prolific author, keynote speaker, and business coach, Damon Brown uses his various platforms to encourage nontraditional creatives to build their businesses on their own terms and timelines.

In this episode, Damon shares his journey from tech journalist to bootstrapping and selling two apps. We also talk about how fatherhood influenced his approach to business and how you can craft your own path within bite-sized entrepreneurship.

Key Takeaways

  • Consider a bite-sized approach to entrepreneurship. Let your side hustle fit your life instead of forcing your life to conform to your side hustle.
  • Follow the 4 FATEs to get the job done: Focus, Agility, Time, and Energy.
  • Serve your community for the sake of impact, not just revenue. The communities you serve will support you in return as long as you have their best interests at heart.
  • Focus on a Minimum Viable Audience. Targeting a specific audience is more effective than trying to appeal to everyone, particularly when you’re starting out.
  • Timing matters. Knowing when to take on challenges while balancing the other key areas of your life is essential.
  • Avoid direct comparisons from social media. Constantly measuring your status and business success against other (potentially inauthentic) representations on social media can be paralyzing.
  • Create things the world needs now and for a better future. The impact you produce may be felt during or after your lifetime.

Resources Mentioned

Podcast Block Blog@2x

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Who is Damon Brown

Bob Sparkins: Damon, thank you so much for joining me for this episode of The Lead Generation.

Damon Brown: Yeah, thank you for having me, Bob. I appreciate it.

Bob: I can't wait to get into all the really cool entrepreneurial lessons that you've learned and some wisdom that you've gained as a writer and everything else that you've been doing. But the first thing I love to ask is, what is the way that you love to transform the lives of your clients?

Damon: Yeah, for sure. One of the things I try to do is help non-traditional entrepreneurs. There are people who are side hustlers, people who are solopreneurs, people like myself. I did two startups. The second one got really popular called Cuddlr. Ended up having 250,000 users, and I'll be on the cover of the Wall Street Journal. We sold it about a year after we bootstrapped it, but it was the same time that I was a primary caregiver of my wife and I's first son. He was one going on two at the time. We sold it, actually around his second birthday.

And so really helping people figure out how they can live full lives while making an impact on the world.

You only have so many resources, right? So how can we make those resources be the best? I'm a TED speaker. I'm also a business coach. So trying to take all the stuff from the TED stage, all the stuff from my business opportunities and my years of coaching to kind of solidify it into the books that I do, as well as my TV show.

Bob: That's awesome. I want to make sure we cover some of that backstory too, here in just a few minutes. But I wanted to talk first about the writing that you have done for so long. So back going 20 plus years.

Becoming a Modern Anthropologist

You've been writing about video games, you've been writing about social media and all kinds of things in between. What kind of got you into writing? Like, what about the written word became such a passion for you?

Damon: You're embarrassing me because people are, like, doing the math right now. So I’ve been doing this for a while. Yeah. It's going on a quarter of a century as a full-time freelance journalist and as an author. And it really started, believe it or not, when I was two or three years old.

I was born in the 70s, so I was born in the era of the Atari 2600, but also the dawn of the Macintosh, the original one and all those things. So, as my mom would say, I was born with a joystick in one hand and a keyboard, or a typewriter in the other.

It's always that tension of, how can we use technology to communicate better? And then some of my earlier works, including some my first, second and third books, they really were looking at how can we use technology as a marker for how civilization and how pop culture has changed?

Video games are a big part of that. I'm definitely part of the video game generation. So I've been a longtime video game journalist for Playboy, the New York Post, AARP the Magazine, and I've done about four or five different books on video games. The most prominent one being Porn and Pong: How Grand Theft Auto, Tomb Raider, and other sexy games changed our culture? And the argument with that came out in 2008. It was like my first major book.

The argument with that was that video games should be in the same pantheon. Be a pillar. If you want to run with the Greek idea, it should be a pillar of society. As much as books, as much as plays, as much as now theater and film.

We can use video games as a gauge to figure out where we are culturally. That was my main agenda as far as with all the work that I did with the various video game magazines, as well as with the more mainstream magazines.

Then around the time that I was about to become a father for the first time, I came across this idea. I was talking to a friend of mine, he's trying to remember a quote. And I was like, I can't remember where that quote is from. Do we have an app for that? And he said no.

As usual, that's when everything starts. Everything gets flipped over. The chess pieces just fly all over the place, and you realize you have another path that you need to go on.

To get meta for a second, a lot of the people that are supporting now, and I coach probably between three and 400 people at this point within my coaching career over the last five, six years. Everyone is at that point where they're like, what I'm doing right now, suddenly there's this off road path. And what I'm doing right now doesn't fulfill me as it did for, umpteen years.

So how can I pursue this path without losing everything? Particularly as we get older, without losing everything. Like being able to take care of my family, being able to take care of myself, be an upstanding citizen, not run away and go to the circus.

And so what I essentially did is I continued to be a freelance journalist, continued to do books, and I side-hustled this app called So Quotable. And it really took off around the time that I became a dad. And my son was about three or four months old, and my mom, his mom, my wife ended up going back to work.

And so I spent a year working on it on my own, solopreneurring it, programming it myself, getting out the door. It got the attention of TED. TED asked me to do my first TED Talk. It was fantastic. Just the experience was just phenomenal.

And then that got the attention of a friend, of a friend who was starting an app called Cuddlr, which connected people for Hugs, which is similar to Tinder and Grindr, which were popular back in 2014, 2015. We end up launching it, and then as I talked about before, we end up getting it acquired about a year later.

To me, it ended up being the transition from these parts of history are really important culturally. I'm going to document them as well as possible.

I have two degrees in journalism, so I'm one of those magazine nerds for sure. And then along the way it transitioned to I want to go deeper than magazines and newspapers. I want to do long-form, as we call it, in journalism. So I started writing books.

Books got me on the road with public speaking. And then suddenly when I had that app idea, I was like, wait a second. Maybe it's not just about me documenting the culture. Maybe it's about me actually moving the cultural needle. And that ends up being integral to the coaching that I do, as well as with the Bring Your Worth show that I have on YouTube. Helping other people when they recognize the cultural needle needs to move, helping them with the resources to do so. And so it's kind of shifting from observing to observing a lot more to actually getting involved and changing the culture. And that's what makes me so proud. As far as being able to help other people out.

Bob: I love that. And I love that from what I could see of your writing, I haven't read your books yet, but what I've seen in the reviews is that people appreciated this observational approach that you had in the late 90s and early 2000s. It would have been really easy for you to come out with a very judgmental book about porn and video games. And what I've read in the reviews was it was very observational, not a critique, so much as just like, here's how it's happening, here's why it's a good thing, here why it's a bad thing, here's where it's influencing different things. And as you mentioned, just giving people the sense of value. And I think that you're turning that from what I gather from your talks and your newer books, that value is really important to you, right.

This idea that all of us have some form of intrinsic value that we're trying to bring to the world. And when the time is right, let's move the world further, whether that world is our families or our towns or our countries.

Understand the Value You Bring Early

Can you talk a little bit more about that from an intellectual perspective of where you see value, like why some people might have a hard time initially knowing that their value is there?

Damon: No, absolutely. You encapsulate it perfectly when the time is right, and that's really when the challenge occurs.

So with my own work with Porn and Pong, I spent five years working on that book, and I was still in my 30s, actually started in my 20s. It was a long process at that period of time.

What shifted quickly was that first year, people were like, all right, so this is about pornography and Super Mario Brothers. I don't understand.

Then by the time I was about halfway done with the book, people are like, oh, well, you know, they have that Grand Theft Auto thing, and that's a little bit weird. Did you hear about that hot coffee mud and all that weird stuff that they're doing? Okay, so you're researching that. That's different. Okay.

By the time it came out, people are like, why isn't there a book about this already? So you essentially need to start before other people actually see the value in what you're doing.

Now, this gets into a lot of stuff that we're dealing with today, which is why this period of time with the Pandemic and the civil unrest, particularly here in America, this is like that time to really have those discussions.

Because when you talk about specific communities that aren't having the resources or the acknowledgment that they traditionally have or have had stuff taken or stolen from them because they come up with these ideas. Even the idea of social capital, and you're putting all this energy into these social media networks, and then you're realizing that the leaders might not have your values in mind, and suddenly that history is erased or shifted, as we're dealing with as we speak, it becomes really important to know your own value within your community.

Now, my community happens to be nontraditional entrepreneurs, so I am tuned into them as much as possible. That's where my radar is. If no one else gets it, that's fine. And going back to the books, there's some of my earlier books that actually did quite poorly. I had a bestseller, and then the next book just went flat.

But then I literally had people contact me over the last year or two talking about a book that came out three, four, five years ago saying, I found this book, and it's exactly what I need to hear now.

That's the energy that we need to put into the world.

But before we do that, though, we need to value our own vision and our own community. And not everything is for everyone. And there are certain things such as Cuddlr, which went mainstream, about as mainstream as you can get with an app at the time.

But that was actually created because we understood that technology could be used to separate people, which was a big discussion at the time with Facebook and Twitter back, say, ten years ago. But we also realized that technology, based on my research and with the two founders I was working with, we realized that technology could actually bring people together.

But that was, like, a disruptive idea at the time, and people didn't get it.

So our job was to go and say, we're going to create this for the people that get it. Seth Godin talks about having the minimal viable audience, right? So we've heard a minimal viable product, MVP, really popular in Silicon Valley when I lived there many years ago. That's when you get a prototype out the door to the right people, they give you the feedback, and then you iterate it or you update it, right?

Minimal viable audience is a similar concept, which, again, I know from Seth Godin, is to say, this is the audience for it. I'm going to build something that's perfect for this audience. They're going to give me feedback, and I'm going to build it again, in my case, that's how I built my career, where it's like, I'm going to start with something small. No pun intended, but it was The Bite-Sized Entrepreneur, which was my first serious business book. I self-published it. It became a bestseller on the Amazon Business list, and I was like, okay, they want this. We need to do more of this 100% based on audience feedback.

But to answer your question, it's not just the whole audience feedback. It's the feedback of the audience that you're trying to serve. And I think separating those two things allows things to become bestsellers, allows things to get acquired, allows you to ideally make a living with the stuff that you really care about as long as you're serving that community that you said that you're trying to commit to.

Bob: I love this concept of minimum viable audience. It certainly fueled the growth of Leadpages, and it certainly influenced Clay Collins as he created this company back ten years ago as well, and certainly influenced me as an entrepreneur at the time, too.

So I'm glad that you brought that up, because I think a lot of the people who are looking for the Side Hustle Dream, maybe they're in that stage of, like, that itch is there, they're looking to create some product and get the feedback instead of solving a problem that an audience faces.

Bite-Sized Entrepreneurship

So I think this is an important jumping-off point. Now for that part of our discussion. You already hit on this? A little bit, but I'd like to dive a little deeper into this concept of bite-sized entrepreneurship, and people who currently have a lot on their plate, maybe they’re parents, maybe they're nine to fivers or night shifters or whatever the case may be, but they don't have 20 hours a day to just go hardcore. We talk about hustle porn in our industry, right. Of people going all in…

Damon: 20 hours a day, right?

Bob: Exactly 20 hours a day. And that's the way you got to build something. But I think you have a different approach. I love to dive a little deeper into what that means and some lessons that people can learn from it.

Damon: Yeah. So Bite-Sized Entrepreneur, I did that myself, so I'm very much what do you call it, proof of concept when it comes to the book. I'm like, oh, yeah, this works, because this is what got me here now.

And so the bite-sized entrepreneurship is basically saying, I actually have a life. My life is not my business. My life is not to get acquired. My life is not to become a millionaire. My life is my family.

Even the day job that I have might be a big part of my life because I care about my day job.

At the same time, I have a particular vision, and/or I can get the particular resources to make an impact on the communities that I care about the most and that I'm most aware of. And so it could be, to use a fancy word I always love. It could be a zeitgeist. So a particular mindset.

Again, I'm dedicated to nontraditional entrepreneurs that transcends a lot of things. So I've worked with people in Northern Africa, work with people down in South America, particularly in Bogota. I've worked with a lot of people here in North America. That has nothing to do with gender, race, whatever.

If you recognize that the next challenge is, how do I fit this into my current life? How do I do this without upsetting the apple cart? One technical or tactical thing you can do is actually stretch the timeline. I talk about this in the Bite-Sized Entrepreneur and also in my latest book, Career Remix, where when I worked on So Quotable, the quote app, my wife went back to work. My son was three going on four months old, I believe. Somewhere around that time, he was young. And what I would do is I know that he would wake up at 06:00 AM. Every morning on the dot. We didn't set alarms. He just always do that. Unfortunately, he doesn't do that anymore, but he used to do that when he was a baby. So I would wake up at 03:15 AM. Every morning, and from 03:15 AM. To 06:00 AM. That would be my startup time. Now, if you multiply that, that's 15 or so hours a week, maybe 14. Using that, I was able to get so coldable out of the door in time for me to do my TED Talk that following March would have been about a six, seven-month process. Let's just say five months.

As I say in my books, that five-month process for me, for my friends in Silicon Valley and other folks who were single and or didn't have kids, that might have been a five-week process. For the hardcore coders that I knew, people that launched products, that would have been a five-day process. But every morning, literally, I had to tell myself because I'm not the most patient person. So I had to tell myself and be like, no, you're happily married and you have a mortgage, and you're making sure that your wife is good and the breastfeeding is going on and you're cleaning diapers. Oh, and there's a living being here. You've never been a father before.

So that five days for your friend is five months for you. So just make peace with that. And I think that's the biggest hurdle with people that I coach with, a lot of people I connect with during my keynotes, is that they want to kind of graft these expectations from someone else's life and someone else's resources, even someone else's skill set.

I call it a toolbox, someone else's toolbox onto theirs. And it's like, at the time I was approaching middle age. I got a baby at home. I'm a first-time father. I still got a day job. I'm still freelancing. I'm still supporting my books. It's not realistic for me to do it within this period of time.

Now I'm giving the time analogy because there's different resources that we have that are available to us. So I did a book a couple of years ago called Build From Now: How to Know Your Power, See Your Abundance. Nourish. The world. And I talked about the four different resources that we have. We have focus, we have agility, we have time, and we have energy. I call them the FATEs. There's four of them.

There's a free quiz that's available buildfromnowquiz.com. After you listen to this, you can check it out. It's buildfromnowquiz.com. It's completely free. It takes two minutes.

What I realized in getting the feedback from the readers as well as the researchers data as a coach, is that these four resources, we all have them available, but depending on the period of time and season that we're at in our life, then they're at different levels. So I'm not going to do an all nighter right now because I'm middle-aged.

So my energy, which is the e and fate, is super low right now compared to, say, when I was a teenager. But my focus is super high because I'm a focused gentleman right now. I know exactly what I need to focus on, right? Like, I'm talking about the entrepreneurs that I want to help and all that. I am laser-focused, so my focus is really high. So that means I should not do all nighters, but I should have dedicated periods of time during the day where the kids are away or they're busy.

I tell my wife, hey, I need a minute. And I'm just focused and locked in for a half an hour and the amount of things I can get done that way are way bigger than any all-nighter I could do.

I've tried to do all-nighters over the past year. I've fallen apart. I've recognized my age immediately.

So to summarize, the answer to that bite-sized entrepreneurship is knowing that you want to make an impact on the world, knowing that you are probably the person to do it. You have the vision and or the resources, and also you realize that you have an entire life that you need to maintain, that you need to keep, and you want to make sure that all the things are juggled. And in my different books and also in the TV show, I show ways that you can balance all those things out.

Bob: That's awesome.

Damon: Thank you.

Bob: I really love this idea of permission to have a season where you can be hardcore versus take your time and really enjoy life because you don't want to sacrifice, or at least I don't want to sacrifice my relationships. I know that in my own past when I was a high school teacher and I was starting my business, I certainly had that sacrifice in mind and it negatively impacted. So being able to observe that for yourself I think was really key and it's certainly important for those listening.

Don’t Rely on Rented Marketing Real Estate

I'd like to take a little bit more deep dive into social media for a moment. So first of all, to set the stage, you actually wrote one of the early books on Facebook for the Complete Idiots guys, you also wrote a Twitter book back in 2012. This is when it's pretty new. It's only been around for a couple of years.

I'd love to know what you think about social media as a harmful or helpful tool for these bite-sized entrepreneurs because it seems like they can be both pro and con. So where do you see social media for the people who are in that bite-sized entrepreneurship season of their life?

Damon: That's a really great question and I'm glad you brought up the books that I've done. Someone who I helped do a social media marketing book just shared that it's the 10th anniversary of the book and so she tagged me on, ironically on social media. And so I've been reflecting on that anyway. A few things have changed. I'm going to give a quick macro thing and I'm actually working on this right now as we speak. So there'll be some content on the Bring Your Worth Show talking about it. Where the beginning of the Internet when it really took off—I'd say back when I was in high school, college—it was about search. So obviously at Yahoo, Google, and so forth. Then about ten.

Bob: Don't forget about Ask Jeeves. We got to make sure to give Ask Jeeves a little credit, too.

Damon: Did you say Web Crawler? Is that what you said, right? Yeah. Oh, my gosh. Right?

I can tell we're the same generation. You know the vibes.

So 10, 15 years later, then, of course, we had social media. I'm not counting MySpace into that, because that was kind of or Friendster, but really, like the billion-dollar companies, billion multi-billion dollar companies. So obviously, that's Facebook, that's Twitter, and at the end of that, with Snapchat. I wrote about that in one of my books where I'm like, I feel like that era is about to end, but I didn't know what the next thing was going to be. It was a book, again, that I wrote about ten years ago.

The president/CEO of TikTok, I just saw him speak at the TED Conference earlier this year. What he said was what I just said, he said that, and he said, the reason why we're doing so well is that the third generation, 3.0, whatever, is about content, they don't care what platform it's on. They want the content, which is why TikTok is doing so well.

That's the direction that we're going in. And so when I work with bite-sized entrepreneurs and I've been talking about this for a while again, I've done several shows about this and talked about in the books is that when you use social media you want to look at it as you renting an apartment, or renting a condo, whatever your place is. Or you leasing a car.

So you're under the terms of whatever platform you're rocking with. They can change the terms at any time. As I mentioned in passing, I used to live in Silicon Valley around the time I was there, they had something called I believe it's called the Hays Act or the Hayes Law, something related to Hayes.

There was a shift where these rent-controlled places suddenly didn't have to be rent controlled anymore. It was around the time that the rents were skyrocketing. There are people who have been in their place literally as long as I've been alive, who had to move and figure it out.

That's what social media is like. It's you renting a place. I've rented plenty of apartments, not judging apartment renting, but then you can't paint the walls necessarily. You can't put nails in the walls. You can't get too comfortable. You can't pull up the rug and then put down linoleum. There's limitations to that.

Most importantly, if your landlord is not available and there's something going on with your toilet, then you're kind of SOL. If the landlord decides to sell the property, I think they have to give you maybe 30 days notice, might be 90 now. Then you have to find a new place.

You're not taking all this stuff with you. You're not taking the building with you.

The biggest thing that creators can do, bite-sized entrepreneur or not, is what we were just talking about with a minimal viable audience. When you're rocking with a social media platform, it's still not your audience. Because if any respective, I'm not going to pick on anybody, but any respective platform decides to turn off the faucet, or as we've seen over the past year, an engineer has a bad day and they end up pulling out the plug just like a cartoon, and suddenly everything goes down. You can't access your customers.

I know folks who had major launches they were planning on doing and saying that such and such platform is going to be the main place where I'm going to be selling it. Then that week there happened to be an outage, or that week the founders ended up shifting, and suddenly the platform lost a third of its customers, or its attendees or members, however you want to call it.

So if you're going to create this minimal viable audience and you're going to be this scrappy, bite-sized entrepreneur, you really need to create your own pipeline.

I have a newsletter that I do every Wednesday at 05:55 AM. Pacific Standard Time, Las Vegas time, which is where I'm based. It's at JoinDamon.me. It's free. I've been doing it consistently for doing it for about 15 years, consistently every week for probably about five to ten years. It's been a while.

When I have a new book coming out, when I have a new episode of my show, when I'm doing keynotes, I do keynotes, whatever that audience is plugged into me and vice versa. People will reply to me directly from the email and be like, “yes, I'm going to come to that keynote.”

“Where do I preorder that book?”

“You mentioned this in your episode last Wednesday, and I had questions about it. Can you help me out?”

And most of that's to service. In fact, all of that's to service. But a benefit of that is that then the people that are joining my newsletter for free become my future coaching clients. Or they'll refer me to somebody else and be like, “Oh, you should connect with Damon. I get his newsletter. You should connect with him. You should have him speak at your conference. You know what? He just had a book come out. You should do this. You know, his YouTube channel? You should subscribe to that.”

So it's a way to build that audience. So I think social media has a place if you're just starting out, that's fine. If you want to get onto social media, have a presence on there, that's fine.

But you don't want to build your house there. And if you can convert those folks who are on your social media to your newsletter, or in my case, to the TV show, then that's way more powerful and you're able to have a more intimate connection.

The last thought I'd have on that is that the more layers you have between you and the people that you're serving, the harder it is for you to make products and services for them.

If you end up having people that you want to serve, and then you're like, yeah, go to my Facebook page and we'll engage on there. Then if you want to work with me, then you drop me an email, you slide me a DM (direct message), and then we'll talk from there. And then you see where it adds up.

That's why if you go to DamonBrown.net, my prices are on there, my email is on there. You can buy my books directly from me. I got them right in the office here. I will sign them and send them to you. That is all on purpose.

Yes, it takes extra energy in the beginning to build that foundation, but I don't worry about that foundation going away.

So the social media platforms can do whatever and have whatever worst week they have. I know that my business is going to continue, and that, I think, is the biggest, biggest gem. That's why I'm going off on it. It's like it's such an important idea, particularly in the social media period of time, where with social media marketing, and even with folks so much of myself, they'll tell you that you have to be on social media. I don't agree with that. And I think that's a dangerous philosophy.

Bob: Yeah, it certainly can be. And you won't get any arguments from us over here at Leadpages, because this is the Lead Generation podcast. Not just for the metaphorical sense of leading your followers and cultures and so forth, but also the actual act of building up an email list is really important.

Pitfalls of Social Media Comparisons

I'm also interested in your take psychologically with the harm or positivity of social media for the sense of comparison. Like the entrepreneur who's scrolling through Instagram, looking at some reels and seeing all these successful people. In one side, maybe they're inspired by it. In other sides, maybe they compare themselves and give themselves a little bit too hard of a time about where their current status is. Any takes or observations you have around.

Damon: That, I think you hit the nail on the head. I think that's excellent observation, and that kind of goes back to what we were talking about a little bit earlier.

My biggest suggestion for bite-sized entrepreneurs is to stretch the timeline and see what resources that you have. Yeah, I mean, the theme is that or the saying is that “comparison is the thief of joy.”

I think about that every single day, where it's like, all right, this person had five bestsellers, I only have two. How twisted, you know what I mean? But we're human. It's just part of being human. Us shielding ourselves from that makes it a lot easier.

I can only imagine, again, going on ten years now. My eldest son is about to turn ten. So it's about ten years ago when I was working on So Quotable and working on Cuddlr. And if I was on social media every day and seeing awesome entrepreneurs who had different resources than me launching new products every day. Instead, I actually stayed off of social media, frankly, because I didn't have the time. Number two, my kid needed me, and number three, my business needed me. And so it's a matter of being head down in the actual work.

Now, I think a caveat to what we're talking about is if you're getting feedback from the audience you're trying to serve, and you happen to see some of that feedback on social media, then that in itself is like, well, maybe the next product, the next service, the next thing that I do needs to help serve them in this way.

But comparing yourself to other people that are in your field, yeah, it's no pun intended, but it's about bringing your worth, like knowing what your worth actually is. If you know what that is, then it's fine.

I would say there's another side to this, too, which I think is really important, Bob, is to knowing that no one else can take your shine or your place. The more I've dug into the value that I specifically bring as a middle-aged, African American, stay-at-home father of two who lived in Silicon Valley, left Silicon Valley, then found success as bootstrapping two startups while after the first child was born. Like, it took me a while to actually embrace that and be like, this is, we call it pattern matching in Silicon Valley, right? I don't pattern match like anybody, but then that becomes the strength.

I'm like, I didn't match the other entrepreneurs either, but I'm able to make it work. Maybe you can make it work, too. My friend Nilofer Merchant. She's a fellow ted speaker. Awesome. I actually look up to her quite a bit. She has a great book called The Power of Onlyness. It's over here on my shelf up at the top. And she talks about signaling.

Signaling is you showing up a certain way and then other people recognize themselves in you and they join your tribe. Again, the quote, Seth Godin, they join your tribe.

But here's the thing, though, here's the twist. If you're not showing up as yourself, then you can't make a tribe because they're not going to recognize you. Right?

It's really about saying, I'm going to create things in a certain way that has so much of a fingerprint, so much of an imprint, so much of my DNA, as much as my hair, and again, my hands, my palms, it'll be so ingrained in there that no one can replace what I'm doing. And I don't have to worry about what other people are doing either, because that noise, that signature, that will resonate so strongly with my minimum viable audience that I'm trying to support that that will just cut through the white noise.

So you're talking about social media, you're talking about comparison, all those things, all that. It just cuts through that white noise if you're yourself.

Now, the key thing is that you're not going to be for everybody. And I think as creators and entrepreneurs, there's so many people that I've talked to, and I'm sure you can relate to this, where you've talked to somebody and it's like, well, who's your product for? And Bob, what do they say?

Bob: Anybody who could fog a mirror. That's the worst one I ever hear.

Damon: I love it. Anybody who can fog a mirror. Cats too. Right? So cats, dogs, small rodents. Exactly. And it's like, great.

So this product, the service isn't made for me. It's made for anybody. But I'm not anybody. I want something made for me as a consumer. If I'm going to join a community. It's like that community is made for Damon.

If you're not showing up in that way, then people aren't going to rock with you in that way. You can't really get upset when people aren't seeing you for who you are. If you're not showing up as who you are.

If you're doing the comparison, it's easy to kind of round out the smooth edges and not allow yourself to be who you are. And so, again, that's another layer of like, be careful as you play with the social media, or even when you go to networking events and you're worried about what other people are doing. Show up as yourself.

Bob: Yeah, that's really good advice.

What James Baldwin Can Teach You About Impact

One of the last questions I have for you really taps into this authenticity piece. I've noticed, as we have been talking on camera, that over your left shoulder you have this amazing painting of James Baldwin, certainly a paragon of authenticity himself in the 20th century.

Any particular lesson of James Baldwin’s that you take on as an entrepreneur?

Obviously, he wasn't really a business coach, but I'm sure that you've learned some lessons from his writings that helps you in your coaching.

Damon: Wow. Excellent question. And I love this art piece. I've been in love with it for the last two years, since I got it.

The biggest lesson that I've learned is many. So I'm kind of going through my brain here. But I think the biggest lesson I learned from him, aside from being yourself, is to allow people to catch up when they're ready.

So I'm guessing James Baldwin was born just over a century ago, and yet I have an almost an art deco piece of his on my wall, a portrait of his. Sometimes you're going to be creating stuff, and the best mentality to have is that I'm creating this because the world is going to need it.

It might not need it next year, it might not need it in a decade from now. It might not even need it in my lifetime. But the world needs this piece.

I'm contributing a piece to the puzzle to help us go forward as a society, as a culture.

A lot of the work that he did at that period of time, including some of the other folks at that period of time, like Maya Angelou, was an exception of that group, and they were friends. She was an exception of that group where she actually got, as we say today, she got her flowers while she was alive. She was revered in the last two decades of her life.

James was not. No, he wasn't. I'm thinking of all these great people that hung out with him at the time. None of them were really revered during their lifetime. If they were, it was right before they died.

My point is that if you're going to really make an impact in the world and you really want to move the cultural needle and serve people, it has to be from the mentality, I believe, that I'm going to add a piece of this puzzle and create this piece of the vision that I have and trust that the impact that I'm making will allow the culture to move forward in a way that's better.

But I'm not committed to having to see the result in a particular period of time.

If you have that energy, you can do anything, because it's not about the fame. It's not about, oh, I want to have this building named after me. It's not, I want to be on this TV show. I want to do this. No. Then the ego has to move to the side, and you're 100% committed to this minimal viable audience.

If you're lucky, you get some shine while you're still alive or even quicker than you expect. But intention, I believe, as I talk about my book, people recognize our intentions before they recognize anything else about us. It's back to our animal instincts.

If people recognize you have the intention of serving their community without being focused just on the glory of it, not only are you more likely to make an impact and change the culture, but people are more likely to actually support your work.

And so, in some ironic way, a little bit of the fame and the money that I've gotten was from me actually supporting the communities that needed support and not being focused on a little bit of fame and money that I've gotten. You almost have to put it into the back and say, I'm going to focus on serving. In turn, the communities that you support will actually support you.

I think that's an oxymoron that I think a lot of us struggle with. And as a coach and with all the other work that I do, I try to try to express that as much as possible.

Learn More from Damon

Bob: That's amazing. Damon, thank you so much for all the wisdom and the thoughts and observations that you shared today.

What's a good first step that people can take. You mentioned your quiz. Anything else that you'd recommend for people to take as they continue their journey of becoming a more successful, bite-sized or larger entrepreneur?

Damon: Yeah, for sure. Right? And the stuff I talk about does apply to other entrepreneurs as well, but bite-sized would be my minimal valuable audience for sure. And so, again, like you mentioned, the buildfromnowquiz.com, it's completely free. About 1000 people have taken it. So you'd be joining that community and learning more about what resources that you have so you can tailor your life around that and then make an impact again without burning yourself out.

Also have a new book coming out later on this year called The Complete Bring Your Worth. And it's actually the complete Bring Your Worth series. Wow.

There's seven books in the Bring Your Worth series that I've done over the past seven or eight years. And so they're all being put together and they'll be out probably by the fall. Yeah, so that'll be coming out soon. And then, of course I totally forgot my Bring Your Worth show. I totally forgot I would bring your worst show youtube.com/browndamon it's every Wednesday and now Sunday at 01:11 PM. And I talk about a lot of the stuff that we talked about today. Bob.

Bob: What's the 01:11 PM.? Why that particular time?

Damon: I like that time. Yeah, that's a really good question. The nice thing about having your own business is that you could do it however you want to. And I'm like, 1:11 feels like a really good time to just chat with everybody and I do a live show on Wednesday and then a recorded show on Sunday, and it's like, 1:11 feels like a good time in my life right now. Let's see if the audience will rock with that.

If you can run your own business, run it your way.

Bob: That's right. And isn't it great to live in a time when we can be content creators without a 22-minute and 35-second parameter to fit the commercials in for network television, right?

Damon: Yeah, exactly. We'll be back in two and two, as I used to say. Right, exactly. But the commercials yeah, but yeah, those would be the best three ways.

I'm just happy to connect with your community and yeah, let me know however I can serve.

Bob: Awesome. Thanks so much.

Damon: Yeah. Thank you, Bob.

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Bob Sparkins
By Bob Sparkins

A former high school history teacher turned entrepreneur and marketer, Bob has educated business owners worldwide on how to leverage lead generation to grow their brands for over 18 years. Bob is a conversion expert, specifically when it comes to landing pages. Hosting over 1,000 webinars, he has walked thousands of business owners through advanced strategies to help them optimize their pages and maximize their leads and sales. Bob works with Leadpages affiliates and users to ensure they have all the tools, knowledge, and resources they need to build high-converting landing pages that grow their businesses.

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