Personal Development: Who to Choose as Role Models?
1. Follow people you look up to, but who are accessible.
Take for example James Clear or Leo Babauta. They both have huge audience and very little time/ opportunities to interact with their followers. I encountered Leo’s stuff online 3 years ago and he already had half a million subscribers back then. I remember his notice that he is not able to reply to his emails. I’ve tried to get his attention on Twitter a few times to no avail.
Both of those guys produce solid content, but you can consume this content only in a passive way. It’s like reading a book.
Gary Vaynerchuck is on a similar level as them, but he prides himself in getting his hands dirty. He doesn’t reply to all emails and messages, but he spends 1–2 hours a day interacting with people in his audience. When you actually get a message from Gary, it’s from him, not some VA or automat.
My opinion is that when people get too big they are not worth following anymore. Buy their books :P
For example I start following Pat Flynn about 2.5 years ago and I was able to exchange a few messages with him at the beginning. Nowadays he hardly ever reply to comments on his blog, not even mentioning other communication channels.
That covers “accessible” part, but whom you should look up to? You should look for two things: first and foremost their character and values. Some schools of thought encourage to disassociate personal and professional qualities, but there is no place for that in my book.
If a guy is a jerk, he may be the best expert in his field, I still will not follow him. I’m a religious person. If someone is a warmonger atheist I will not follow him, no matter how great content he/ she shares with their audience.
One example, so you can follow my train of thoughts:
About a year ago I started to follow a guy. He had a heart in the right place. His transparency and authenticity attracted me to him. A few months ago he disappeared from the radar. He returned about two months ago and informed me that he split with his wife. It was a hard period for him.
His marriage went through a lot and he openly shared his past struggles, so it was even more of a shock for me. Since his return his messages started to be more business-oriented. It seemed that he tried to fill the family void and self-worth with business activities. His message was: “Life must go on”.
Well, I’m building my own online business and I can see how it negatively affects my family. I don’t want to end up in his place: being very successful in business, but without family. I unsubscribed. There is so many right role models out there that I, and you, can choose among. Choose wisely.
You should look up also to people who achieved something you want to achieve as well. I’m an author and I keep in touch with many successful authors and follow closely one or two more.
Being a successful self-published author means being an online marketer as well, so I observe also that industry.
2. Find and join a thriving online community .
Pat Flynn is not very accessible nowadays, but he attracts high quality folks.
As a self-publisher I’m active in a FB group created by him and I tell you, it’s the best community of authors I’ve found in three years. It’s definitely worth checking every single day.
Pat started also a community for online marketers and it’s also vibrant and supportive.
I’m involved in the View From the Top Community organized by a millionaire Aaron Walker. It’s dedicated for men whose values involve God, family and business.
Whoever you are…
The beautiful thing about Internet is that you can find any kind of community. Whether you are a single mom, a rape victim, a bright student interested in cutting edge bioscience or a retired teacher interested in knitting, you can find a group of people with similar interests and/ or in similar situation, and draw wisdom and support from them.
Two recommendation for youngsters
Specifically for young people I recommend two bright young guys and their blogs. Both of them are busy with their lives and don’t blog daily (rather once a month), but their archives are vast:
Simon Somlai from Basic Growth — Create Yourself, Master Life
Ludvig Sunström from StartGainingMomentum — Practical Self Development