I’m not dead. Thoughts about “Inside The Mind” and Looking To The Future.

Not Me.

“Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” – Mark Twain

Contrary to popular belief, I’m not dead.

I’ve been away for awhile, and after the past few months I have a lot to say.

I’ve been training and preparing for what I consider the most ambitious strategy of my personal career yet.

But before we get into that, if you’ll indulge me, I’d love to share with you my personal feelings on “Inside The Mind” and what this show has meant for me both creatively and personally.

“95 Hours Per Week, 4-7 Minute Videos”

One question I was asked repeatedly during Season 1 was, “How many hours do you spend on each episode?”

My answer always got the same reaction: wide eyes, maybe a doubtful laugh. “I’m tired for you.”

Since the project was not set up for monetization, the next question I usually heard was, “Why the hell would you do that to yourself?”

Blame Julien Smith.

Since I started this blog, I always toyed with the idea of doing a video series, but was always afraid of how I would approach it.

For the first two years, I’d emulate sites like Copyblogger, Problogger, and ChrisBrogan.com. I played it safe by aiming for being a clone of someone successful.

I shied away from video because it was easier to hide behind text.

Getting in front of the camera meant I could be called out on not knowing enough, or not being professional, or not “doing it right,” so I avoided it altogether.

I certainly wasn’t camera shy. I spent ten years, thousands of dollars, and every minute of free time training to be a professional actor.

But getting in front of a camera as… me? Never even once.

Once I realized how passionately I felt about my work, I knew if I got on camera again I would have to do things my way. I was scared stupid that “my way” wouldn’t be understood by anyone.

Being a performer is in my DNA. Denying that fact was sabotaging my one outlet for fully expressing myself, for connecting with you, and being of real use to anyone.

I only considered video when Chris Brogan said he was going to take video more seriously, at which point I experimented with “Talking to the Webcam” videos.

I hated every single one of them. They were too cut and dry. Talk to the camera, finish. There was no art, no challenge and no “making it mine.”

In July 2011, I began the 21 Days series.

At face value the series was about Facebook marketing, but in reality it was more about communication, and less about the platform itself.

21 Days was an endurance test. I pushed myself to the limit doing 16 hour days writing, shooting, and editing each lesson with absolutely no buffer time.

There was quite a bit of positive feedback, but still I wasn’t satisfied.

For me, Facebook was safe. I hid behind knowledge that wasn’t terribly challenging, which made it difficult to get excited about the lessons.

I was also afraid to infuse my real personality into the series, fearing you would confuse my passion with “unprofessionalism”.

So instead, I created over two hours of straight information that was technically good, but personally unsatisfying.

Facing “The Flinch.”

21 Days wrapped, I had no idea what to do next.

I was lost.

How can you possibly follow a massive project by doing more work you’re not totally satisfied with?

Being another pre-fab “online marketer” was wearing thin and my creative spirit was aching to get out.

In November, I wrote “Self Deception and Manufactured Fame Kills ‘Entrepreneurs” to express my feelings on a tragedy, and as a cautionary tale to myself.

In December, Chris Brogan interviewed Julien Smith about his new book “The Flinch” (Free on Amazon)

If you’re unfamiliar with “The Flinch,” it’s about the moment you tense up before doing something uncomfortable, like getting punched in the face, or taking a cold shower.

“Facing the Flinch” is about realizing that not everything is worth getting tense over. It’s about recognizing that moment of discomfort, accepting it, and doing it anyways.

I couldn’t hide from this series any longer.

I accepted that I might fail.

I didn’t care. It was time to strip away the facade.

Like a parent prying a screaming toddler away from the toy store, I made myself sit in the chair and write.

The real failure would be producing another series that didn’t express my passion for this line of work. I dug as deep as I could to ensure that first episode was everything I envisioned without compromise. Deep down, I knew success means you have a high place to fall from, but I also knew the time had come to stop flinching.

I invited my two best friends to “help,” and secretly hoped they would give me reason to procrastinate.

My friends refused to be the patsy. They pushed take after take, directing and demanding a good performance. That first night of filming, we didn’t leave until 3am.

But when we were done, I knew even if you didn’t like it (because it was so different from the things I had done before) I could take pride in what we had created.

It was the most raw piece of work I had done in a long time.

For 22 solid Weeks…

For 22 solid weeks we spent an average of 95 hours to research, write, shoot, and animate 4-7 minute videos about online marketing.

Josh (my friend turned assistant editor) didn’t understand my sadistic relationship with this when he offered to help.

I refused to compromise – there were plenty of instances where 5 second clips took 32 hours to produce because our equipment was substandard – and still I would not budge.

Along with my wife Megan, Josh begged me to consider a different angle, and still I could not. If I thought it would make the episode better, it made the final cut, even if we all had to sacrifice a piece of ourselves to produce it.

This unflinching dedication to the vision is ultimately what made “Inside The Mind” what it was.

I was immensely proud of this accomplishment, but it came at a cost.

For 22 solid weeks, I did not listen. I pushed the burden of running the family
on my wife.

At home, I was physically and emotionally unavailable. So much energy was put into making the show, there was nothing left for the people who mattered most.

Keep in mind, this was started only a few months after we had gotten married. We both knew it was time for it to happen, but spending all of our “newlywed” time in the office was hard on our relationship.

For 22 weeks, I’d see my infant son first thing in the morning, then laying in his bed at night, and that was it.

I demanded excellence without boundaries. I pushed everyone to their limit without permission, then I pushed for more.

By the time we approached Episode 22, we had all sacrificed so much for the show, we couldn’t wait for it to be over.

On the final night that it was all supposed to be over, while we should have been celebrating, there was setback after setback with our equipment and internet connection. It took 27 consecutive hours of trying to officially wrap the season.

When I reflect on those weeks, I’m genuinely proud of what we accomplished.

I’ve also experienced just how damaging it can be to operate at such a high standard without limitation, and quite frankly, without proper planning.

The Future of “Inside The Mind”

We learned a lot from Season 1 and we are currently planning for a Season 2.

This time, there will be solid guidelines on production, to ensure we achieve high quality work without suckerpunching our personal lives again. We had been aiming for a two-week pre-publish buffer time as we created episodes. This time, we plan on having the whole series produced before launch.

There was a lot of ground that we didn’t cover in the first season that we plan to bring to light, such as;

  • Email Marketing.
  • Conversion Optimization/Split Testing.
  • Launching a Product.
  • Web Design Philosophy.
  • Community Building/Finding Your Tribe
  • And more platform specific things like Optimizing Twitter

We also have guests lined up to offer their expert knowledge in different areas to give you as much useful information as possible.

Something else we’ve been working on in our off-time is networking with different indie bands to bring a higher production value to our background sound.

We firmly believe collaboration is the lifeforce of the Internet and feel it would be a shame to not share our platform with other talented creators.

Another thing we felt was missing from Season 1 were action items for you to implement with your own presence. So for every episode, we will issue a new “challenge,” and ask you to report back if it’s something you choose to take on.

We want to add a members-only area to this site to keep you accountable to your Challenge assignments. There will be a ranking and reward system in place for those who take action.

In the members-only area you’ll find exclusive “members only” downloads, including: monthly live Q&A sessions with myself & other experts, discounts on reputable programs and the ability to network with other “Inside The Mind” viewers.

And here’s what I’m excited about: access will be free.
Now, with that said, this is going to take some doing on our end, and it’s not going to be cheap.

We will need your help. That is why we’re going to be starting a KickStarter project in order to raise the required funds.

We plan on sending the production values of the show into orbit in order to make it more fun, more engaging, and more appealing to a wide audience.

We also want to flip the “online marketing” world on its head and prove there are more ways to make money online than selling .pdfs, memberships and software.

If you’ve ever wished for completely free, without-strings, education, that is exactly what I aim to provide for you.

If we reach our goal on KickStarter, I’ll show you exactly how we did it.

To give the KickStarter project a fighting chance I am in the process of preparing 50 guest posts that will go live in 30 days. (This is srs bzns.)

We want to mainstream these concepts so they’re accessible to everyone who needs them, and by doing so, crush the competition from scam artists and hucksters who take your money and give you nothing of value.

Your turn.

The KickStarter project isn’t live yet, but tell me, is Season 2 something you want to see?

Would you like a members area with action items, expert Q&A’s and exclusive downloads?

Do you want to change the game, destroy scammers, and do something disruptive?

Raise your voice! Sound off in the comments below.

Update one of my readers recommended that I put a “donate” link on this post, just in case you didn’t want to wait for the KickStarter project. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the paypal “donate” button to not be big and gaudy looking, but if you are so inclined, my paypal email address is Tommyisastrategist@gmail.com 

You are by no means obligated to donate, but every little bit helps :-)

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Ahmed Safwan@ To Start Blogging July 27, 2012 at 2:41 pm

I am eager to see session 2.

Please, start it asap.

I am waiting for it.

Regards,
Ahmed Safwan
ToStartBlogging.Com

Reply

Tommy July 27, 2012 at 3:11 pm

I’m going as fast as I can!

It means so much to me that you’re looking forward to it :-)

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David July 27, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Shut up and take my money.

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Tommy July 27, 2012 at 3:16 pm

:-D Now that’s what I call support!

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Brian July 27, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Can’t wait for season two, Tommy. If it’s even half as entertaining and creative as season one, it’ll be worth the wait!

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Tommy July 27, 2012 at 3:58 pm

Thank you so much Brian! The plans for Season 2 are to make it twice as entertaining because we’re really taking out time with it this time around :-) Thank you so much for your support! Can’t wait to see you around :-D

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Ashley July 27, 2012 at 3:56 pm

Excited for Season 2! A member’s area is a great idea – always nice to feel exclusive.

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Tommy July 27, 2012 at 4:14 pm

Glad to hear it Ashley! I’m really looking forward to getting everything together for you!

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Stacy July 27, 2012 at 5:49 pm

Long time no see/talk, Tommy!! Glad to see you’re moving to the next evolution of inside the mind. Can’t wait to support it. :)

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Tommy July 27, 2012 at 6:47 pm

No Kidding! How’ve you been?!

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Luis O Maymi July 27, 2012 at 8:01 pm

WOW…simply WOW!! This was such an inspirational read. I enjoy your videos because you did not conform with the talking face, you went a big step above. I’m really excited for season 2. Money is tight on my end, but I would really be honored if can help you some other way. You project is so noble that I feel I should give you a hand. I produce videos on my own (mostly for other people) using Adobe CS5.5 Creative Suite Production Premium. How can I contact you to help you with this awesome project?

Regards and good luck

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Tommy July 27, 2012 at 8:11 pm

Hey Luis!

Thank you so much for your comment :-) You can reach me at the email address above, I’d love to discuss how we might be able to collaborate together!

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Geoff Hetherington July 27, 2012 at 11:34 pm

Tommy – Loved the 2 -Day FB series.
Haved loved Series one of Inside the mind, looking forward to series 2 BUT do not let your inner ‘cross every T and dot every i’ cause to miss out on all of the other important stuff like your kid growing (man – they change DAILY – and you’ll kick yourself if you miss ANY of it because you wanted to get that last 3 sec animation 110%)
So when kickstarter hits I’ll be there BUT you have to be there for the other important folk in your life, not just us ‘fans’…Deal?

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Jason "J-Ryze" Fonceca July 28, 2012 at 8:32 pm

Dude, Tommy, as a fellow content creator and video producer…

I get it.

I totally get it.

Not to mention my business heavily encourages others to Step Up to their real selves.

I love what you’re doing, and see you as a fantastic pioneer in the field.

Keep shinin’.

As for what I want included in the program — I am so confident that whatever you create will be epic, I’m not even inspired to guide it :D Follow your heart, or follow everyone else who gives you feedback… or both :D

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linda lopeke July 29, 2012 at 12:13 am

Thought the love letter was great, Tommy. By all means go for Season Two — looking forward to it. Season One was fab!! The quality of the individual episodes speaks to the effort, creativity and caring behind the product, not to mention your level of commitment to your work.

I’m sure you’ll find folks who’d love to sponsor and episode or two [or more] in the coming season. Wishing you the best on kickstarter too.

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Tommy July 29, 2012 at 12:18 pm

Thank you so much Linda! I can’t wait for you to see everything ramp up to the next level. There’s so much we want to do with Season 2, it’s a little overwhelming, but it’s truly going to be something that this space hasn’t seen yet!

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Eden Rudin July 31, 2012 at 4:16 am

Really looking forward to Season 2 and the Kickstarter project!
Your an inspiration, no doubt about it. I’m just about to make a ‘change’ in my biz too and it’s always inspiring to see others rise to the challenge! I applaud you ;-)

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Fiona Prince August 1, 2012 at 11:08 pm

Danny Iny recommended your videos and your website to me. I followed his advice and I’m glad I did. I have a busy communications consulting practice and it takes a lot to get my attention. I’ve watched all your Series 1 and shared them with my networks.

I do want to see Series 2 and would like to see a members area with Q&A & challenges for me to take; but agree with Geoff about looking after your personal life. I know it’s hard…because I’ve been doing it for years…but this quote from Brian Dyson, CEO of Coca-Cola (1986 to 1991) has helped me when my work starts to take-over:

“Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling five balls in the air. You name them – work, family, health, friends, and spirit – and you’re keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back.

But the other four balls – family, health, friends, and spirit are made of glass.

If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged, or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life.”

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Tommy August 1, 2012 at 11:38 pm

Wow! Thank you for such an incredibly insightful comment :-)

That is by far the most important lesson I learned from season 1. I’d be lying if I said family ball didn’t get a little scuffed, but we’ve been keeping an open and honest line of communication about what to expect from Season 2.

The result is, it will take a little longer to get it out, but ultimately we’ll be able to turn out a better product, and still keep our sanity (and I’ll see my son on the regular!)

Thank you so much for taking the time to watch the show and even more for taking the time to comment :-)

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Lewis LaLanne August 16, 2012 at 2:43 pm

I believe that the process of taking on a big challenge/project is a core driver for an entrepreneur. Maintenance/coasting/status quo mode is hardly compelling – for you or for your audience.

But most people won’t pursue the BHAG (Big Hairy Ambitious Goal) as Jim Collins of “Good To Great fame puts it. They’re like the hobbit who said, “Adventures make you late for dinner.” And it’s this lack of walking into the punch that relegates people to mediocrity or worse.

As I’m reading the biography of Steve Jobs right now, I’m seeing the continual pattern where he was at his finest/happiest when in pursuit of the completion of a big bastard of a project.

Another thing you see in this book is while Steve Jobs was gone from Apple, no “make a dent in the universe” projects were pursued and Apple was on the brink of dying.

So, I applaud you Tommy for inspiring yourself and inspiring your followers through your example to embark on the road less traveled that leads to us being a great somebody.

Reply

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  • Tommy Walker

    Hi I'm Tommy

    I'm the host of "Inside The Mind" a show about online marketing for the internet generation. Say Hi On Google+

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