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