Going viral is the magical alchemy that turns a little idea into an overnight success and a small company into a considerable business. It is also like water: The more desperately you grab at it, the less likely you will actually get it in your hands. Bestselling books and popular apps are virality in motion - I've created both. The formula, though, is anything but direct.

I recently talked with content creator DevanOnDeck ne Devan Anderson. Last year he went big with the viral video on bigger (read: average) men taking care of themselves, particularly African Americans. It has just over a million views, which, for those counting, is fairly rare. It shifted his career, many years after he was one of Snapchat's first employees.

Here's how you go viral.

Make more than you consume

It didn't immediately take off, so I moved on to the next video. It was the run and done plan.

DevanOnDeck's hit video was just one of many he had done on Instagram and, then, on YouTube, after leaving SnapChat. He put it, quite simply, that the startup wasn't for him. So he began creating content based on his interests, including fashion.

In other words, the million-view video was just another creation. He had another video up shortly after. And another one after that. In fact, the video didn't even go viral until three to four months after it launched.

Let go of perfect

The biggest thing that almost stopped me is I wasn't perfect enough, not this camera, not the equipment not yet. It doesn't matter. Make 100 crappy videos, 100 crappy photos, and I promise someone will resonate with it.

As entrepreneur Chase Jarvis and coach Marie Forleo have shared, you will accomplish more if you keep creating versus worrying about perfection. Brene Brown defines perfectionism as not having a high standard, but worrying about what other people think.

Serve first

As a black male in the fashion space, I didn't see myself. We're not top tier as far as the industry goes. What annoys you? What grinds your gears? What do you wish was different? I'm trying to be the change I want to see in the world.

I just wrapped up an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Toledo Library, doing a series of keynotes every Wednesday. The common thread was that we most often find success not with ruthless metrics or ambitious goals, but with service. Rewards are the result of service.

When my co-founders and I launched our startup, Cuddlr, we didn't aim to have a quarter million users or even to get acquired within the first year. We wanted to move the cultural needle, filling the cultural need for touch increasingly neglected in our tech-heavy world. The world responded by helping us go viral.

When I wrote the original The Bite-Sized Entrepreneur book, I didn't intend to make a best-seller or to even make a bunch of money. I led two startups while being the primary caretaker of my first baby, and I wrote the book - about how you can change the world while still maintaining your priorities - that I wished I had during my experiences. Readers showed me how much it was necessary.

DevanOnDeck has an honest, hilarious take on it: Give until you can no more.

"I'm about legacy: 'What do I want to be known for?'", he says, adding with a laugh. "I want to guilt you into supporting me because I'm giving so much."

It starts with giving, then receiving. Not the other way around.

Published on: Oct 31, 2019
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