Are You the Second Rate Version of Someone Else? We need the best version of you

Friendly advice for my fellow 20-somethings: stop it with the obsessive comparisons. Seriously. This should be a time for you to learn, explore, wonder, create, play and grow. Not get tangled up in insecurities. So unless you develop blinders, become critical of the media (especially social media) and celebrate your victories, you will rapidly deplete your energy and creativity in the pursuit of second place.

“The key to success is comparing yourself to everyone, everyday. Then let that anxiety and fear propel you to work harder, faster, and with more motivation.” – Guy who had a nervous breakdown at 27 (via Paul Angone)

Consider this:

  • No matter how nice you were on the court, Nike would’ve never signed you to a 7-year, $90 million contract back in high school.
  • Jennifer Lawrence is gorgeous, hilarious and awesome. She also won an Oscar at 21.
  • At 27, Kevin Systrom made $400 million off his 40% stake in Instagram. At 27, you’ll still be paying off your student loans.
  • Jay Z accomplished more in his retirement than you’ll accomplish in your entire career.
  • It’s highly unlikely that you’ll win more championship rings than Bill Russel (11), or more gold medals than Michael Phelps (22).
  • You’re watching The Oprah Winfrey Show..on the Oprah Winfrey Network.
  • Your app/product idea sounds great, but it in all likelihood it won’t have a fraction of the cultural impact that the iPhone had. Sorry.
  • Will Smith will outwork you.
  • Eminem will out-rap you.
  • You can’t keep up. Charlie Sheen does more blow in 36 hours than you’ll do in your entire life.
  • Oh, the club paid you $700 to DJ last night? Cute. Tiesto shuffled through his iTunes and got paid $250,000.
  • Put that protein shake down; Arnold had the best proportions ever. He’s also a 7-time Mr. Olympia winner, blockbuster movie star and former Governor of California.
  • You could be the first Latino, trans-gendered, disabled and atheist war veteran on the GOP ticket, but let’s face it – you still won’t have as much hype as Obama in ’08.
  • Your company doesn’t have what it takes to offer SnapChat $3 billion in cash.

So you could spend the rest of your life trying to be the next version of LeBron James, Mark Zuckerberg, or Oprah. But you’ll never be the next version of them, because they already ARE the next version of themselves. And you? You’ll always be, in the words of Don Draper, “in the rearview.” Therefore, stop it with the obsessive comparisons. The world doesn’t need the second LeBron James, Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah, etc.

The world needs the first you.

“Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else.” – Judy Garland


The End Credits of Your Life How do you want this episode to end?

While browsing through some of Songza’s quirky new playlists the other night, I wondered to myself,

If this day was a television episode in the story of your life, what song do you think should accompany its end credits?

I often joke with my co-founder following any triumphant business move that the end credits of that particular day should close out like they do in these two clips:

We all have a playlist of songs queued up to close out the episodes of our lives. Perhaps you’ve reached a new milestone in the gym; perhaps you got that job you thought you surely lost; perhaps you’re on the verge of a breakup; perhaps you’re still trying to figure your life out. Whatever season the “you show” is on, there’s no shortage of songs suited to reinforce its themes and underscore its story arcs.

Last season, my show took a minor melancholic twist: I broke up with a girlfriend and found myself simultaneously falling out with one of my boys. My end credits were being backed by self-loathing, synth-laden tracks like this and this.

No bueno.

I had to reevaluate the type of show I was trying to produce. I decided I was done producing boring melodramas and wanted to go back to producing an upbeat comedy/underdog story. A few tweaks later, my end credits are now thankfully being backed by songs like this and this.

It’s amazing how a dash of musical motivation can enhance the power of suggestion. If you’re not happy with the direction that your show is going in, shake it up; talk to your audience; re-write your script; fire troublesome cast members; hire a badass crew; change the filming location; do what gotta do. You are, ultimately, the producer.

Start production of each episode (the duration is up to you – is an episode of your life 1 day? 1 week? 1 month? 1 year?) by asking yourself:

How do I want the next episode of my life to end, and what song do I want accompanying its end credits?

Then do whatever it takes to get the song to play against an imaginary black title screen with the words “PRODUCED BY ME.”