I'm feeling very proud to say that this is the three hundredth article that I've written for INC. That's a lot of words, a lot of ideas, a lot of last-minute angst before pressing "publish" and a lot of lessons learned. To celebrate my three hundredth article, I've decided to share my seven biggest realizations that come from opening many hours at my keyboard, submitting two articles every week for Inc.
1. The power of routine
Three hundred articles is a lot. I'm by no means the most prolific contributor, I'm sure there are people with thousands of articles to their name writing for Inc. We live in a world where content creation is the basis of much of our marketing, but for most people, it's a struggle. Finding the time, the ideas and the discipline are all a challenge. I write and post two articles every week - I live in Australia, so I have to post one on a Tuesday evening at 11.00pm (9.00am NYC time) and one on Thursday evening at 11.30pm (9.30am NYC time). This weekly routine is the exact reason I don't miss deadlines and it's why I've written three hundred articles. I take my commitment to Inc very seriously and the thought of missing a deadline fills me with dread. Routine is a strong ally for content creators.
2. Credibility by association is more powerful than we might think
The Inc brand is a very well known one. It is respected around the world, and rightly so. I leverage the fact that I'm a columnist for one of the largest entrepreneurial platforms every day, and this gives me credibility and authority on a global level. I'm constantly humbled by the value that others see in the relationship, with my status as an Inc columnist constantly being mentioned and referred to in media interviews. So my advice is that where you can, aspire to build partnerships with world-class brands. I know that might sound obvious but it won't happen by itself, it's something you have to make happen.
3. The responsibility of being a brand ambassador
I take my role as an Inc columnist very seriously. I would never do anything to jeopardize this relationship and I certainly hope to write another three hundred articles in the coming years. Being a brand ambassador doesn't mean I'm only considered when it comes to creating the content I write for Inc, it means I'm considered in everything that I do. Inc trusts me to use their logo, that's a big deal for them. Realizing this and appreciating it, makes me value the brand ambassador role that comes with being a columnist. The organizations that we partner with have the right to hold us to a high standard, and it's a two-way street. If you're a brand ambassador, or you are hoping to become one, treat it with the seriousness it deserves.
4. Surround yourself with people who are really good
When I look at the other Inc columnists I tend to feel a little in awe. They are an impressive bunch, many famous at a global level. I'm the fella from Australia, playing in a space with some of the leading entrepreneurial commentators on the planet. But working with these amazing people makes me constantly lift my game and aspire to be the best version of myself, not only in my writing but in every aspect of what I do. This is a serious peer group and that's what we all need.
5. Never compromise your values
As a columnist for Inc, I'm given very strict guidelines to follow in terms of ethical behavior. There are always people trying to influence columnists to mention a product or service in return for payment and it's very clear from Inc that this is not acceptable. I love this black and white approach and the high ethical standard of Inc. I've applied this to all of my content creation. Inc sets the standards and not all media share their ethical standard.
6. Have a strong desire to help others.
One of the challenges of writing a lot of content on a weekly basis is coming up with ideas. Generally, for me, I write about what I'm seeing and experiencing right here, right now. But one thing that has always helped me is that when I'm sitting down to write an article, I start by asking myself one question "How can I help my readers today?". I have a very strong desire to help others, in any way I can. Every week I consciously have to look for ways to help my readers and because I've been doing this for so long, it's just become a part of my thought process and my value set. So my best advice for the content creators out there is to come from a place of wanting to help others and your content will be all the better for it.
7. Dream Big
Many years ago, when I was starting out in business, I remember picking up a copy of Inc magazine. I was so impressed with the magazine, it became a constant companion and advisor. I dreamed of one day writing for INC, and this dream only grew once I started to write books and speak about entrepreneurship around the world. Imagine my surprise about four years ago when the head of Inc, Eric Schurenberg, reached out and invited me to write for Inc. Life has a mysterious way of working, the moral of the story is to put it out there, no matter what it is and maybe, just maybe, it will happen.
So these are my realizations after writing a lot of content. I'm sure there are many more. Perhaps I'll write about those when I get my next three hundred articles written. And a big thank you to Inc for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts with you, the readers. I hope you've found my articles interesting and valuable.