I have a theory about what sets makers apart from everyone else.

[not sure what a maker is? Click here.]

It’s our propensity to make complete and utter fools of ourselves, regularly; or what my co-host Hillary and I like to call, “Creative Embarrassment.

Creative embarrassment is a result of living in “The Arena.” The Arena is the place where your work meets the world.

Where your software meets a user
Where your painting meets a customer
Where your book meets a reader
Where your product meets the market
Where your performance meets an audience
Where your idea meets resistance

If ridicule is a possible outcome, you’re in the Arena.

Photo Credit: Pexels

You know who has the worst emails ever?

The Consortium for Media Literacy

I’m not even kidding. I wish I was kidding because then I’d be really good at jokes (my husband assures me this is not the case).

But I digress.

Can you see the ridiculousness here? The organization dedicated to (and I quote), “demonstrating that media literacy is an effective intervention strategy for encouraging citizen engagement, improved literacy and better health” LITERALLY CANNOT DO IT THEMSELVES.

(Nor can they make proper use of commas, but we can talk about that later.)

The point is this stuff is HARD…

It was 11AM but the fluorescent lights made it feel like we’d been there forever. Or maybe it was because I hated it there, so time slowed down. Whatever it was, I was staring at this man and he was staring at me and I felt nothing.

I was 23-years-old, with the face of a 14-year-old which is a really great quality for modeling but not great for getting adults over 40 to take you seriously.

The man staring at me was one of the patients in our study. …

Photo by Atlas Green on Unsplash

Yes, I know…

…the formatting on that page is off …the fonts don’t match …the favicon is missing …the CTA on that piece sucks …the color scheme is inconsistent …you can’t read the banner text on the mobile site …that button doesn’t work …we should do proper keyword research …there’s an infinite loop when you try and reset your password …WooCommerce charged people twice this month …the automation delayed, so customers paid and got nothing for 24 hours …that picture doesn’t work there …we really “should” have a logo for that …the ad goes to our homepage and not a…

Throwin’ in the towel. Photo Credit: Pexels.

I can only describe it as rage. Pure, unadulterated rage.

I’d never felt rage before. But this was the last straw.

Over the past few years I’ve seen a lot of professional success. I’ve been featured in Entrepreneur and Business Insider. I have a biweekly column for Inc. HubSpot let me write for them. Thought Catalog, Copyhackers, and The Observer did too. Sivers said nice things about me, so did Godin and Noah. It’s been a very validating ride for my ego.

In marketing we call these “credibility indicators.”

You acquire a nice little logo bar to prove to the…

It’s supposed to evoke feelings of “no results.” Hmph. Well, I tried.

There’s a lotta talk about copy being the “be all end all” to behavior change. And while it matters, it’s not actually the thing that moves the needle.

Exhibit A. This email from a property manager to her residents.

Like an idiot, I decided Valentines Day would be a good day to open applications to my virtual coworking space. The same week I had a conference to go to and had been in and out of town.

Understandably, I was nervous. Not because I was nervous about the success of the launch (though I was). But because I had this nagging feeling I wasn’t doing “enough."

The feeling follows me around all the time. 24/7. It’s my best friend, in the 7th-grade sense that I hate her. And she ruins everything.

The little f*cker clouds my judgment. And distracts…

Higher quality photos.

Better headlines.

Stronger CTAs.

Refine your message!

Powerful brand voice!

Facebook Ads!! No wait, now it’s Instagram ads. No wait, now it’s Video. No wait PODCASTS!!

You must have a podcast!!!!

Each month there’s a new tactic that’s supposed to be the panacea. The Thing that will “cut through the clutter and get you noticed!” And sometimes they work, most times they don’t. But that’s not the problem.

The problem is you don’t want to stand out amongst the noise.

…or you shouldn’t want to.

This article was originally published on Inc.com.

With the rise of startups and the insane unicorn returns that have come with them, “lifestyle business” has become a dirty word. A polite way of saying “doesn’t make money” or “not a real business.”

It’s not altogether wrong. Since Tim Ferriss’s breakout hit, 4 Hour Work Week, thousands of idealists have flocked to Southeast Asia to “escape the corporate grind” and chase the promise of “passive income.” Many return to a desk within a few years, but not after making lifestyle businesses look like the redheaded stepchild of “real business.”

As a…




This is how I feel every time I decide to be in the Arena.

Same cycle commences, like clockwork.

It begins with feeling inspired, brave, revolutionary!

Margo Aaron

Author of no New York Times Bestselling books. Writer of words at www.thatseemsimportant.com. Co-Host, “Hillary and Margo Yell at Websites.”

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