The Illusion of Success


So I went to this PR and Media Relations conference this week (today, actually) to speak on a panel about influencer marketing. I was originally suppose to attend one at Disney World itself, but it turned out Disney wasn't totally cool with one of the influencers being a Disney influencer. That was fine with me, because I already had my April trip booked and this one was simple to get to since it was just in Manhattan. 

In any case, I accepted because I was trying to follow this policy of just saying yes to as many collaborations and opportunities as possible. I figured you'd never know who was watching and where it might lead.

However at the same time, I was tempted to turn it down because I didn't know how qualified I was to be there. After all, I've done marketing for Proppe Shoppe a few times, and that was about it. The channel has always otherwise been supported by normal YouTube ads and you fine folk, the patrons. So how could I speak authoritatively on the subject?

But I figured what the hell, they came to me, not the other way around. They had full access to my channel and social media so they knew what kind of content I've made, so they must know better than I. I figured since I couldn't speak too much from experience, I could at least speak from the perspective of how influencer marketing should be. 

I didn't add that "FTW" BTW. It was just on the Tweet I pulled this from.

I didn't add that "FTW" BTW. It was just on the Tweet I pulled this from.

The panel went well and I managed to not make a total fool of myself. In fact I was a little surprised at how easily I was able to speak to a room full of people like that. You might think broadcasting yourself to tens of thousands of people each week might make that easier, but you've got to realize that when I make my videos, I'm literally alone in a room. It's the exact opposite of public speaking.

I actually struggled to put to words what I wanted to take away from the event as I write this post tonight. Probably in part due to the fact that it's 3am (again.) It certainly has nothing to do with influencer marketing, that's for sure. I think, instead, it has more to do with these little illusions of success.

Back when the channel was younger and I was first getting into it, I used to always end up being hard on myself for not reaching these seemingly meaningful measures of success. I wasn't collaborating with X creators. I wasn't getting Y followers. I wasn't getting Z pieces of fan mail. I wasn't being asked to be on any panels about whatever it is I did.

I had seen people highlight these milestones as special, and so I naturally believed that if I wasn't hitting those milestones too then it meant that I wasn't special or that I was failing. Yet I reached one of them today, being on an industry panel at some conference, seen by the room as an authority of some subject and... it really wasn't that special.

I found myself more concerned with how the Twilight Zone video was doing today than whether or not I looked like an expert enough in a room full of strangers. That was the measure of success. Did I make a good video? Did people like it? Are they discussing the ideas in it?

I don't know if everyone does this or if it's just a fault of mine, but I realized I need to step back every so often and remind myself that all of the minor flashy BS that makes someone look like they're succeeding on this path doesn't matter.

Making good videos matters. Making videos that people learn from matters.

It's obviously easier said than done. Even as I write all of this out, I'm still dying to, one day, hang that silver play button on my wall. As if somehow having a silver plaque means I've "made it", or as if it makes my videos better than they were the day before I got it. It's just another meaningless illusion of success.

The success lies in what I'm making and if it's the best I can make it, not whatever surrounds it.

Anyway I need to stop there because if I try to better articulate what I've been thinking today one more time, my brain might just shut down completely.