I’ve had this idea running around my head that I’ve wondered how to express for a while.
I’ve thought, maybe I won’t at all. Which is pretty typical of me. Because it’s pretty typical of Gen X women. It’s in my nature to put my head down and do my own thing and not raise a ruckus.
But that’s the thing, I guess, that I have something to say about.
I finally decided that it was time for me to figure out how to gather my thoughts on this subject when I came across one more blog post written by a guy in his late 20s or early 30s giving me (and all his readers, of course) advice about how to run my business that made no sense.
And it’s not necessarily that his advice is bad.
It’s that it makes no sense for me. Because he assumes that everyone is just lke him. And it gets exhausting having to manipulate anything these guys write so that it makes sense for me — and they write almost everything about running a business online.
Does this white man who is young enough to be my son realize that chubby middle-aged women can do exactly what he advises and not get the same results?
I think if I told him that, he might think I’m kidding. Or that I’m not really doing what he’s telling me to.
You know. Once I actually got his attention. Because chubby middle-aged women are precariously close to being invisible, which is not something an average-looking white man in his late-20s would understand.
I’m not complaining. It’s just the truth.
Pretty much everything that’s being taught about online entrepreneurism is being taught by people who are the most likely to be successful: young white men. This isn’t a call out of millennial men. It’s just…that’s who is writing these things.
And maybe that makes sense. The successful people are teaching how to do it. Only, you know, they’re teaching what worked for them when it worked for them, which might as well have been in the dark ages.
So, here I am I’m taking advice about how to get attention from a person who assumes that all you have to do to get attention is show up and say something.
Because that’s the advice that’s out there. Show up and say something.
And, you know, whatever. The rest of us can figure it out. But it would be so refreshing if you, if you’re that guy, would at least acknowledge that we have to do that figuring out. And maybe make it easier for us.
You could do that by slowing down.
Taking the time to parse out what’s recreate-able about your advice and what’s not would go a long way.
What will work, no matter who does it, and what’s up to luck or genes or knowing the right people or when you were born or just plain old timing?
Most advice I read from young white men assumes that what works for them will work for everyone. Hubris is annoying at best and dangerous at worst. It’s only annoying when you can roll your eyes and know what worked for some bearded young man isn’t going to work for you.
It’s worse when someone spends thousands of dollars and puts their heart and soul into really trying to do something that was never going to work for anyone who isn’t just like the person offering the advice.
You could do that by recognizing that time has passed.
Man, a year in internet time is like a decade in real life.
If you did something two years ago, you might as well have done it in the olden times. You know that. I’ve been doing this long enough that I know it. But there are plenty of people reading your stuff that don’t know it.
We both know that. And you should know better. Shame on you.
If you’ve written a traditionally-published book about online business, the publishing industry moves so glacially slowly that the information you’re providing is almost criminally outdated by the time it’s finally in our hands.
Acknowledge that you have the benefit of being an early adaptor. Acknowledge that what worked for you in 2009 or 2015 or even 2018 might not work now. Teach people how to experiment and how to figure out for themselves what will work now.
Be honest. That’s all that matters.
You could do that by not being glib.
Because I would be very happy to never have to hear another white millennial man blow off the work that the rest of us have to do to be noticed.
Look, I get it. Not everyone has to work so hard to be heard. Some people were born in the right bodies, at the right time, and came upon the right message and the right platform in the right moment — and bang!
The rest of us? We don’t get that bang, dude. So you telling us about how you don’t Twitter or you hate Facebook or you never use your email list or whatever, it‘s hard to take.
When you write that all you do is tell a good story and people show up to hear it and that’s all we have to do too — it’s not helpful and it makes me want to poke your eyes out.
You could do that by reaching out of your own echo chamber.
Like the guy who told me recently that women prefer to be coached by young men? She was lying to you, man. For real.
And your mastermind doesn’t allow women? And your little huddle of dudes all talking about the same stuff online? All of that? It’s not helping you much.
I mean. Look. I get it. You’ve got your posse. But you’re talking in circles. And you’re all agreeing with each other. And meanwhile the rest of us are the people you want to reach (and teach.)
Let us in. We might surprise you. And better, you might surprise yourself.
You could do that by reaching out to people who aren’t just like you.
When you’re writing, imagine that there’s someone out there who isn’t just like you. Someone who won’t have the same experience you have. Someone who is older or younger. Someone who is different from you.
How would writing for that person change what you have to say?
Try this: do some case studies. Take on some students or clients who aren’t just like you. See how your ideas work for them. See what they can recreate and what’s not really the real world.
Thanks for listening. I feel better now.
Shaunta Grimes is a writer and teacher. She is an out-of-place Nevadan living in Northwestern PA with her husband, three superstar kids, two dementia patients, a good friend, Alfred the cat, and a yellow rescue dog named Maybelline Scout. She’s on Twitter @shauntagrimes and is the author of Viral Nation and Rebel Nation and the upcoming novel The Astonishing Maybe. She is the original Ninja Writer.