Platform Personality Discussion
Let's go to some questions.
So this is something that I got stuck on for a little while because in a previous life I was very professorial. So and then I realized given my emerging worldview that that personality kind of, I started to distance myself from it so where I am now and I'd love your take on it is given how I pronounce my worldview, it feels like I'm a prophet. At the same time, all the writing that I've done in the last year I've done like 60 to 70 pieces. I've shared it not widely, just with folks I know and the initial feedback I keep getting is oh that's such a beautiful piece of art that you've written, and so that kind of threw me for a loop. So, I wonder because part of the writing I do is also about, like in 2016 a lot of global icons passed and like Prince for example, I've written three pieces on Prince and he stood for peace in so many ways. So the way I write about it seems to be artistic, but I am making that larger point about building a more peaceful world an...
d being more peaceful inside yourself. So, how would you characterize my personality? Is it a major minor kind of thing or am I leading more with one than the other?
Yeah. So an artist can have a message, an artist does have a message. You know, Ann Voskamp is not just sharing art for art's sake. What she's doing, very intentionally, is she is writing about mundane experiences. Washing the dishes, you know tending to the farm that she lives on in rural Ontario, and what she's really trying to do is she's trying to write for an audience of women, primarily, that are like her that are going you know does my life matter? Because I mostly do mundane tasks throughout the day, and she's telling stories to connect to that message which is yeah, your life matters and the things that feel insignificant actually can have significance if we practice gratitude which is you know a big part of her message. So an artist does have, I mean they obviously have a worldview. They have some sort of deeper message and I think what makes a writer an artist is the way that you connect that message to your audience is through the vehicle of beauty. So prose poetry, like Ann's writing is lyrical and so the platform personality is not the message, it is the thing that when somebody asks, when you ask somebody like why do you read my stuff? They go it's because of this. Because you kick my butt, okay, you're a prophet right? Because you're so smart and you share everything you're learning, okay you're a professor. And so it is not the point, it is like the front door. It is the thing that people see that lets them into your world. Once they're in your world, you can lead them wherever you want to go. You can inspire them, challenge them, educate them so it is really kind of a means to an end. Long story short, I don't know. But does that help? I mean it is interesting that they said this is a great piece of art.
Yeah 'cause I have a lyrical style to the way I write. Even when I'm talking about politics, I do look, now that I'm thinking out loud and talking out loud, I do try to look for the beauty and the truth in what I'm writing and I guess that feels more artist than prophet maybe?
Yeah I mean so like Maya Angelou, like what is she?
She's one of my favorite writers.
She's an artist.
Does she write about things that are sometimes political? Does she talk about things you know like that are very personal like themes of abuse? You know, themes of racism. And so like again, if you are an artist, I mean many artists do this. You talked about Prince, they can have very important messages that are intended to help people, inspire them, educate them, but like the door that you let people into that world with has to be really pretty, you know? It has to, there's got to be something that people are doing it initially almost for entertainment basis and the art is sort of like you are, you're letting them in because the front door is really beautiful and then you're kind of sneaking this message in through the back door. You know it's very subversive.
Yeah, so I mean I think that sounds right to me.
Thank you, thank you for mentioning Maya's name because we have the same name and she's one of the people I really look up to, so that's helpful.
Yeah, so I struggled with this as well. Find difficulty in committing, but I finally landed on the star and I think I like how you described it one other time when I heard you speak which was a star is also a guide. That brought a lot of peace to that because as I had explained to you previously, I have spent the last 25 years trying to tone down my personality some, because I'm very sensitive to people that overwhelm me and so I do not want to be overwhelming to people. I want to have confidence and I want to you know, invite people, I love people but I don't want to overwhelm and I think that was a real key thing that got me was you have a heart for people and people have always told me that over the years in the work that I've done. So now that I'm transitioning more to a lot more writing and developing something I feel really comfortable in that and it took me a while though.
Yeah I mean, I think the bottom line and you can call it whatever you want if you don't like to call it a star, is if somebody comes to you and they need help and the way that you respond to them is here's what I did then you're probably a star and if somebody comes to you and they're struggling and you say man, read this novel, even if it's not yours. You know and the way that you help people, 'cause I think all writing helps people one way or the other. It helps them make sense of their lives, it helps them escape the pain of reality. I mean you're helping people, and if you're connecting them to something beautiful or entertaining or something that's probably an artist thing but if you're connecting them to your own experience that is a star thing and you just teach like, and you should do this humbly typically where you go I don't, like Ann does you know? She's gosh probably in her seventies now? And she's going you know I don't know much, but there's a wisdom to the life that she's lived and the experiences that she's had and we trust that right? We trust experience, yeah. Thanks for sharing.
We have lots of great comments and questions coming in from online, so I guess this first one is a good comment I want to share from PS Wells who says "I don't want to be the professor, "I want to be the artist. "However, based on how I always have suggestions "and research information how to do stuff "it seems that I'm more likely the professor" and this is a common theme I've been seeing in the questions. People want to be one thing, and it's like oh actually I think I'm this.
Yeah and it's like we admire things in other people that sometimes we lack in ourselves and so this is not a question of what do you want to be? This is not a question of what sounds cool or sexy or whatever, it's really a question of like what is most me? And then how can I really kind of own that, double down on that, because there will be a familiarity there, right? There will be a safety to that and it will be more natural and the last thing you want is when you're writing to feel like you're doing something that is not you, 'cause the reader will be able to sense that. It will feel disingenuous. I'd love to hear from the online audience and also from the rest of you guys, which of these platform personalities best suits you? And if you have any other questions about the worldview stuff we can talk about that as well. Yep.
So, this second question really helped me go back to the first with clarity, so I'm definitely the artist and in my day job I can go in between all those. I can be numerate and literate but for my true self, you know every poet should connect the unnoticed to the magic, right?
Can you say that again?
Every poet should connect the unnoticed to the magic of the world.
Wow, that's strong. That's poetic. (laughs)
This has been helpful for me to go back 'cause you know I was hesitating. Oh everybody's got these great things, so I'm definitely in the artist camp.
Cool, that's great.
That's my front door.
These kind of work together. You've got your message and you've got your voice basically right? Worldview, platform personality. Again this is just the way that you communicate the message. You bring these things together, now we can start building all the tech stuff on there. What about you guys? Yeah.
Yeah I'd say that I fall into the artist category as well. I do, and I can't say it as poetically before but I do notice interesting things in the mundane having worked in finance I'll see really funny stories that could come out of things and I'd have to stop myself from laughing during important meetings. So then I'd write it down and turn that into stories, so definitely the artist.
Yeah, and I mean all of these have value. There's not one that's better than the other. Yeah, Caroline.
Are they exclusive of each other? In other words can you go all in on one but have a little flavor of something else?
It's a good question. I recommend kind of thinking in terms of primary and secondary, so major minor. I think that works. Initially early on I really want you to focus on one, kind of own it, and then as you mentioned yeah. I mean in reality, you can do one of these and have sort of the flavorings of other ones. Just like again, going back to college, you would have a set of curriculum for your major. You'd have to take a lot of classes in your major, but then you would take electives and you might have a minor and that sort of flavors the whole education, but at the end of the day like 80% of what you're doing needs to be thinking I'm the prophet, I am the artist and then of course like I'm, I think of myself as a prophet where I go hey, whether you like it or not, this is the way it is. Like at the beginning of this talk I said you do the work, you see the results. If you don't, sorry. And like there was no pie chart, you know? And I've got research, you know? I can share research with you, but it's not, it's not the primary way that I communicate. I just go this is the way it is and it works for me. Now over the years that I've done that I've realized you know, but I want other stories other than my own story. I want to bring in you know, I want to do the work of a journalist. I want to bring in other people's stories 'cause that really can persuade people. I want to cite studies so people don't think I'm just pulling this stuff out of my rear end, and over time I use the different personalities to flavor my primary voice which is just do it, right? And oh by the way, here's some facts and figures on why this is a good idea to do, in hopes of capturing you know a larger audience or convincing the audience that I have of my argument.
We got a couple of questions in here about transitioning from one platform to another, so Jessica Goodwin had posted this. Is it possible to start off as one platform personality, like I fit this one right now, but I know that in the future I'll be going into another world. I mean have you experienced this maybe in your own writing where you kind of reassess okay whoa, maybe I'm not that platform personality anymore. Like how often should people reassess that?
I have a friend who works a lot in like real personality assessments. This is just kind of a fun thing, and you know he talks about mistyping you know, taking a test and going oh, I think I'm an ENTJ on the Myers-Briggs or a four on the Enneagram and then over time you just become more self-aware and you realize actually I think I'm this and then even over time your personality can change based on your life experiences. So, yeah I mean I do think that it's possible to start in one place and eventually transition to another one but I mean I think my followup question would be if you know that whatever, in a year or two from now you're going to be doing this, like is that you saying well this is really who I am and this is really what I do, in which case maybe just do that. I'd have to probably better understand what the motivation was there, but yeah big picture this can change, this can evolve. All of these are just like, we're just kind of trying to put pins in a board to start to see a pattern and yeah like you said over time, oh yeah like now that I better understand this I'm going to go back and rework this, that'll keep happening. What we're trying to do is we're trying to create momentum, so take actions, pick one of these, do it for 30 days, see how it fits, try it on like a coat. If it doesn't fit, take it back to the store. But yeah, I mean these things can and probably will change and evolve. I would just recommend focusing on one for right now and see how it works for you.
One more question here from Melissa Joan Walker who says "the star suits me but I have "gotten some pushback from my audience, "like who are you to teach me about this? "How do I write for my true audience "rather than write for my critics?"
Yeah, yeah maybe sometimes that platform personality doesn't connect with your audience right out of the gate. Like what do you do if that's the case? I mean that's a tough one. I guess I would need to know where the audience is coming from, and I love that you said true audience 'cause I think that's exactly right. Like if you're the star, and you're communicating your message people go why should I listen to you, you know? Then that's not your right audience and we're going to talk more about kind of building an audience and how we typically build our audience not off of strangers, but off of people that we know just initially to get started and then you know you're gonna find a much larger audience from there, but I think what we need to do is we need to find resonance. We need to find five people that resonate with our message, so again if you're a star what that means is at some point, you have been able to help somebody by sharing your personal experience right? You've been doing this for a long time, Caroline. And so you need to find those people that kind of affirm who you are and what you do. If you can't, then it may be that you're not a star, you're something else. Again, this is this idea of who you really are versus what you think you are or want to be. But, I mean if you know this is true about yourself you know okay I've got dozens of people in real life that I've helped this way. I need to find these people on the internet. We're going to talk about that in the upcoming lessons but the bottom line is go to the communities where people are already connecting, so if you want to find people who want to read thrilling fiction you need to go to communities where people are already reading thrilling fiction, and the best way to build an audience is to go to existing audiences and communities, share our message where messages like that are already being shared, and we're going to know with a good degree of confidence that that is going to bring more people back to our platforms and so it just may be that you're sharing the message in the wrong channel. Yeah, Caroline.
What if just based upon some research I've done, a good body of your audience is actually more academic, for example and you are not necessarily striving to come from a professorial view, but more of an in my case more of an experiential view. I think it's easy to feel intimidated by the academics who are saying well we have these charts and this and that and again, who are you to talk about this? I come more from an experiential background, having done the work for you know 20, 25 years actually so that's what I want to put into my writing and into blogging and other things that I create.
And you're talking, you're talking specifically about the existing audience that you have. You're getting pushback from them.
Not really getting pushback from them, but when you're talking about going out to the other communities that you see that are in the field that you're most interested in or that you are writing for, I find that it seems like a good number in the community that I'm looking at are academics. It's intercultural communication, I think you know that so yeah.
And you've been doing this one to one, one to you know small groups for years and people talking about this as an academic subject.
Yeah so that's a good question. To be clear, if you're going to somebody else's audience, and that audience has a certain tone, a certain style, part of your job as a writer is to adopt that tone to win over that audience. So just 'cause we pick a platform personality doesn't mean that we still don't try to serve existing audiences. So I'm here at Creative Live, you know, and what brought me here is having this teaching but I've also adapted this teaching to fit the mold and the model of what works here 'cause I have to honor the expectations of the audience. Now, when you do that you sprinkle in your personality. You sprinkle in who you are, your voice because as you do this, not everybody in that audience is necessarily going to like what you have to say or be able to relate to it. Your first job is to serve that audience. Your second job is to connect with them, and kind of lead them back to your place as it were and so there needs to be you in there but there also needs to be the tone that is expected, so if you want and I would argue Caroline, you don't necessarily have to do this but if you want to be taken more seriously in this space and one of the places you could do that would be in kind of academic conversations. First of all I think you just have to be honest and go look, this is based on experience. You know and just kind of be forthright with that. Second, you do have to speak the language a little bit, so you could bring some charts, you could bring some studies. You could reference some common material. I do that when I know I'm speaking to a variety of audiences I think okay this is how I'm going to communicate, but I'm also going to flavor it with some you know, whatever would be relevant to that audience.