Entrepreneur Office Hours - Issue #119
Becoming (in)famous for teaching TikTok
Some of you may have stumbled across a Bloomberg article being passed around recently about a class at Duke University that’s basically teaching kids how to become TikTok famous. If you did, and you skimmed it too fast, you might have missed the fact that the article is about one of my classes.
Putting aside the click-baity premise/headline of the article (which is all about how much money students are making) and ignoring any of the manufactured online outrage about whether or not it’s appropriate to teach social media content creation at a university, I’m actually incredibly proud of the work my students have been doing in that class.
First of all, consistent, high quality online content creation is hard work. Even though your favorite YouTubers look like they just rolled out of bed in the mornings before turning on their cameras, I promise, they' didn’t. Successful content creation takes everything you’d want from an entrepreneur: skill; dedication; determination; creativity; intellect; passion; commitment; and so on.
Second, online content creation is an enormous opportunity to have your voice heard in the world and to have impact. This is actually the real reason I created the class (not to help students get rich). I created the class for students who believe they have something important to say. It’s not about making money. It’s about helping students learn to reach people with their intended message... whatever it might be.
Yes, sometimes that message is a message that can make money. It can also be a message about fighting global warming or feeding the hungry or curing sick children or… ya’ know… teaching people how to be better entrepreneurs (i.e. what I do here).
Along those lines, because lots of people have been reaching out asking for an online version of the class, and because more people than just my students have important things to say, I figured I’d take a shot at trying to create a digital version of what’s being described online as my “TikTok class” (even though it’s not actually focused just on TikTok). I haven’t launched anything other than a landing page yet, but, if you want to know when the class does launch (hopefully later this summer), you can join the waitlist for my online “TikTok class” here.
Back when I was the boss of my companies, I used to think I had to make sure everyone liked me all the time. But I learned that being an effective boss isn’t about making friends.
This week on Web Masters, I’m joined by a living legend in the entrepreneurial world. Most founders are lucky to build one successful organization. Mitch Kapor has done it multiple times including helping launch Lotus Software, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Mozilla.
Listen to the new episode on:
…or search “Web Masters” wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.
FROM THE ARCHIVES…
I published this story in March of 2020. Kind of wild to look back at it now. Not surprisingly, nobody read it because… well… the world was focused on other things. Two-plus years later, and I think it’s a good time to take another look.
Office Hours Q&A
I’m just getting back into having to do some marketing work for my startup after a few years working somewhere else and being mostly focused on other things. I’m shocked by the fact that after such a short time it seems like so many things have changed. There are all sorts of new companies I’ve never heard of offering marketing platforms, and I have no idea which ones to use. I feel like I’m starting from scratch.
I’m not so much looking for advice about the best companies to use as I’m looking for suggestions about how to figure out what the best companies to use are and how to stay up to date with the latest technologies and trends.
What’s your trick for keeping up with an industry?
I wish I had a trick! I’m actually terrible at keeping on top of the newest trends and technologies in marketing… or pretty much any market. It’s always a sisyphean task.
Honestly, I don’t think anybody is particularly good at it. For example, while I used to fancy myself a software engineer, I haven’t done any serious coding in the last five years. If I tried to build something right now, I’d be lost in terms of all the newest trends and technologies.
The good news is twofold…
First, even though technologies change rapidly, the things you used to know and use are likely still effective. That’s certainly true in the software engineering world. I suppose it might not be as true in the digital marketing world, but I’m sure some of what you knew would still be valuable. Certainly, the basic principles of successful marketing are still relevant. I can’t imagine you’re starting from square one.
The second bit of good news is that all the new companies and services out there are desperate for your business, so they’re doing everything they can to educate you about best practices and state-of-the-art technologies. Sure, at a micro level, each company is likely promoting its own business and/or service. That’s OK because it also means they want to teach you everything you need to do. All you need to do is study the options, run some tests, and figure out what works best for you.
In other words, there’s no magic bullet to knowing how to do something. Everyone has to learn, and, lucky for us, it’s in the best interests of the people trying to sell us things to also teach us how to use them.
Got startup questions of your own? Reply to this email with whatever you want to know, and I’ll do my best to answer!