Last week, an article on Lifehacker caught my attention about how to promote yourself without being sleazy. It’s an interesting piece that I thought I’d compare myself against in in terms of where my project and personal growth has been since I started in August. How to promote yourself without being sleazy sounds like the obvious we should know. However, it’s not about what I see, it’s about what others see. When I look at the YouTube videos I posted last year, I can see myself not being proud of them because I don’t feel as much passion as I do now. And thankfully, with the dislikes and small number of views, it’s a good barometer to gauge that people see that it’s not quality either. That’s one of the reasons the project has evolved to its current state after redefining myself and my goals after reality hit hard.
Numbering off, let’s start with the first bit of advice pulled from the article:
Building an online portfolio. Got it here. Actually, I got it from writing on my personal blog. I included a few stories about my experience as a Third Culture Kid and Asian American, and from attending events. People I met at those events ended up wanting to see writing examples, so I just forwarded them those links. Bam. They get an insight into my life and see my writing style, and that’s how I got invited to write for 8asians.com, Taiwan543.net, and Denizenmag.com. The writing portfolio grows, the experience, the network, and the opportunities follow. That’s just the blog. I ended up meeting more people on YouTube, Flickr, Google+, and Facebook. People started messaging me and commenting, and I ended up becoming friends and meeting up with a few in real life, which leads right into the second part,
Building meaningful relationships.
Whether it’s meeting the founder of thinktaiwan.com in San Francisco because he subscribed to my blog and commented after clicking on a link from an 8asians article, getting in touch with a fellow Third Culture Kid and Global Nomad who also read the same article and read through my other posts on the same topic. I call Mike and Margerie on a first-name basis and am happy to call them if I’m in northern California to meet up and have lunch. For every random critic using anonymity to offend on the Internet are some equally friendly people who want to connect instead. There’s no need to hide from the Internet if I can’t handle critics because most of them are just that: anonymous posters who if they really had any self-worth in life, would be busier engaged in working on meaningful projects instead of insulting other people putting themselves out there in cyberspace pursuing their dreams and passions (like me!).
Those critics, however, can have their uses. Though I can’t cater to everyone, it’s a good sign when a video or blog post is heavily promoted, and it’s also a good sign when I have people indicating my vlogs are boring (which I agree are compared to quality posts out there). But that’s just that: I’m learning. Nobody is born good, talent translates to hard work and persistence to become good at what you haven’t developed before, or improving what you have. For me, all I was good at was writing when I was younger, so I ended up writing a lot, and apparently, a lot of people seem to enjoy what I put out there. Those people aren’t just colleagues and friends, but a very significant group who lead into the third point,
Building a network of people who support my ideas.
One of the new maxims I follow is that I live to express, not impress, as mentioned in an earlier post this year. For that reason, it’s about drawing people who help me grow doing what I love instead of forcing myself to do something to be with the right people to get me where I think I want.
A metaphor that we can all relate to comes from a common mistake in life: compromising myself to impress a girl who ultimately has already made up her mind about me, and wondering what it will take to be with her until I realize, that is a disservice for everyone. I’m not who I want to be, she isn’t whom I think she is because I have a fantasy in my mind instead of taking her as she is, and the results are poor. Expanding on that, it’s trying to impress people to get a high paying job you hate and putting out poor-quality work instead of doing what you love and wondering why you’re getting paid for it. So walking away from that girl, those people who don’t support you who will never accept you no matter how much you change, you find far more compatible people, jobs, and a network of friends and supporters who make you feel good because you make them feel great.
We all feel great because I’ve inspired people by taking these risks that they experience through my writing, some friends have started their own projects, and ask me for advice–even when I don’t consider myself an authority of anything at all, I’m just a guy learning who is tracking his progress for all to see and give people my honest opinion. With that, I lead into the last point,
Don’t underestimate talent and passion.
On my wall is a quote I look at every morning (amongst several others): fall in love with you, others already have. Underestimating talent and passion is relevant right now with New York Knicks basketball player Jeremy Lin, who has been a big trend in sports news and Asian American circles. Sometimes, it’s us underestimating the people around us and being surprised when they come out and show us just what they’re made of, but most of the time, it’s underestimating ourselves. From my voice acting talent to my writing and physical strength, I never knew I had it in me, and again, it’s all an expression of me that ends up being put to good use.
I don’t consider myself “good” at dancing, acting, writing, photography, or most of my hobbies, but again, often times, it’s what others see that we
can’t don’t won’t see until we choose to. This is why it’s important to have those relationships with people: they can see your lack of passion, and they can see your talent, whether they’re criticizing you or supporting you, but with the right attitude, you can take both negative and positive and transform that into motivation and information to help you improve whatever you want to work on.
So where have I gone? Overall, I’m still here, and a few people enjoy what I do. That alone tells me I can do something here. And I will!