I was reminded recently of a quote from this incredible Kanye West interview that journalist Zane. That's his name? Stupid name. Journalist Zane did. If you haven't seen this interview it is right before Kanye fell off the cliff. I watched the whole thing many times, I thought it was fascinating and maybe Tim can put a link up to it. It's pretty long but there's this one part where Kanye is talking about celebrities that have their products and selling products and all these things. He's talking about how years ago Lady Gaga was made creative director of Polaroid and he's like, “Look I like Lady Gaga, I like some of her music, what the fuck does Lady Gaga know about photography?” The point was she had no authenticity to be the creative director of Polaroid.
She has authenticity in being one of the coolest fucking people on the planet and being a creative genius but that authenticity just naturally follow her through to Polaroid. While that title she had got some press for Polaroid it didn't do anything for the brand because she doesn't know anything about photography. That's not the thing that she's-- even if she's interested in it we as the public didn't know that, we don't grant her the authenticity, we don't believe that she knows something about it. It's an interesting point and something for you all to think about and we've talked about this before but how important craft is.
I came into this job never doing it before, it's hard to prepare to be CEO of a company because how do you do that other than just doing it. I understood that I knew nothing and I tried to build my life around the pursuit of getting better at this job. In continuing to say I know nothing, I have no idea what I'm doing and I am trying to get better at it every day. That means when I leave the office the books I'm listening to, the people I'm talking to, the connections that I'm trying to make are in pursuit of getting better at this job. It is never-ending because of its complexities and because the job always changes.
I'm constantly unprepared for it every single day because most of this stuff I've never done. I don't have anyone around me that's done it and so you have to try and invest in yourself to get better. I think that for influencers one of the traps that some people could fall into is that you're making so much money and you're so busy that you're not actually doing anything to improve your craft. You're not doing anything to get better at what you do and you know I encourage all of you to step back and say, “What have I done this week to be better at this job?”
Not just-- Excuse me, not just the business side of, “I've learned more about working with brands, I'm watching this show which may or may not help.” What are you doing to be more interesting, effective, entertaining, educational to your audience? Have you stepped back and said, “You know what I think would be really helpful not taking this next sponsored post, my 15th sponsored post of the month. Actually, what I think would be helpful is that I'm going to test these five moisturizers for two weeks and actually tell people what I think and which one I think is best with no money involved.”
This question is veering off the tracks a little bit but one of the existential threats to this space is that nobody ever says anything negative and we've talked about that before. How the fuck can I believe you if you never say anything negative, you never put yourself on the line, everything's amazing, everything's your favorite, everything is great and that is boring. It doesn't have to be mean and I understand you're trying to make sure that you don't ruin any potential brand partnerships but you can also be honest about things. I can say. “Look, I own a lot of suits, supply suits and they're not really very well made.”
After a couple of years, they start falling apart, recently the canvassing in a couple of my suits has become unglued. They don't last very long, they're 500 dollar suits, of course, they don't last long. How the fuck can you make a suit 500 dollars? I don't know but they're not that nice. That's okay, I still I'm a customer but I'm being honest about it and there is just not a lot of honesty which hurts authenticity because you never say anything negative about any brand. Which again I think can really,4 really help you, in the long run, saying something negative because people look to your opinion.
I just think that in following influencers recently it's a constant barrage of only talking about good things and never anything that is not perfect. After a while I again I think it's hard to retain your authenticity and the other side of that is not pushing yourself to get better for your audience and for your brand partners. Not pushing yourself to learn more about photography, to learn more about video. A guy named Patrick just launched a YouTube channel, he's putting himself out there, right? He's trying something new, I appreciate that and he's doing it different.
He was making burgers with Bobby Flay, he has entry into that world which is nice because of his following but he is going outside of his comfort zone and trying to do something different. Marcel did the same with YouTube a couple of years ago in launching his channel and fucking doing hip hop dancing for some unknown reason. Its worked really well for Marcel and he's put himself out there. That’s what he always does. What are you doing to get better at your job? Because if you worry yourself with the minutiae of answering emails, answering DMs and emails from your followers.
Going on ungodly amounts of trips, it can feel like you're really busy, it can feel like you're really progressing in the world but are you? Are you going to walk away from this the next three years with a tangible life's skills that you didn't have before? Another quick example I mentioned because it worked and because it's ballsy and again not everyone can do it but it's been so fascinating to watch Jamie Beck over the last couple of years. Who is making-- I'm sorry Jamie I know you watch this or listen to it, I can't stress enough how well she was doing.
She was making the kind of money and I don't know this I just know-- I just assume she was making the kind of life-changing money here in New York and stepped away from that life, essentially does no brand work anymore and spent the last two years focusing on art and craft. She is so much better as a photographer today than she was two years ago and that when you think about her lifetime earnings is so much more valuable than anything she could have made staying busy in the two years before that. Again Jamie is an artist not everybody can do that but you guys you have to be getting better at your jobs constantly.
You have to make sure that if your life is getting really busy, that you start divesting yourself from those the minutiae of the work, you start delegating works so that you can continue to focus on personal growth and getting better because you could come out of this industry in five years or this industry could walk away from you in five years and you could have a little pile of cash and literally nothing else. You may have done a collaboration with a brand and called yourself a designer but you're not a designer you're someone with an audience that the brand wanted access to.
Now, that audience isn't there, the brand doesn't want access to that audience, you're not a designer you were a marketing tool, but take the power that you have and the power that influencers have today and use it to get better at something. Again Kanye West, flawed as he was, took his fame and turned it into an internship at Louis Vuitton. He interned there. He said, “I have the ability to throw myself into something and learn from the smartest people in the world.
To get better to reach my larger eventual goals.” He could have just put out a line without doing any of that but he spent years trying to learn because for him he didn't want it to be like a lady Gaga thing of like, “What the fuck does Kanye west know about clothing?” Being able to wear clothes does not mean you can design them. It doesn't mean you can't design them but think about how you're using your influence and think about how you're cashing in on it, and think about the long term there are things that you can get out of this other than money and things that are probably more valuable in the long run.
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