Entrepreneur Office Hours: Issue #208
Is email humanity's most insidious invention?
These days, lots of people seem worried about AI becoming sentient, taking over the world, enslaving humanity, etcetera, and it’s going to turn us into servants for our machine overlords.
To all those people, let me just ask this: How is that any different than my life right now?
Seriously, my email inbox is officially my master. It’s overflowing with so many messages that I’ve had to replace a dream of “inbox zero” with “inbox less-than-five-digits.” And even that’s an unachievable fantasy.
Email is like the mythical hydra — cut off one head and two grow back. The same is true for email. Every email I send turns into more emails I have to respond to as the messages keep compounding on themselves.
So why am I telling you all this?
First, I just want to complain, and you all seem like equally busy people who can sympathize with my plight. (Do me a favor and let’s ignore the irony that most of you are reading this message as an email.)
Second, I want to apologize to anyone out there waiting for an email response from me. I’m truly sorry. I try to respond to every (non-SPAM) email, but I’m so far behind at this point that I’m not sure I’ll ever catch up. It’s probably time to cut my losses, delete everything that’s not been read, and start over again.
Third, if anyone has any brilliant email productivity tips, tricks, or magic beans, please share them. (But preferably in the comment section and not via email 😜.)
P.S. Speaking of emails, I didn’t send one last week since it was American Thanksgiving and I was busy gorging myself on everything that wasn’t turkey (because turkey is disgusting). However, I did publish a new article, so, in this issue, you get three instead of two.
It’s like an early Christmas present! You’re welcome… =)
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Entrepreneurs do lots of different jobs in their companies, but there’s only one skill that actually matters.
After two decades of building startups, Aaron takes a few minutes to share some of the things about entrepreneurship he wishes he’d known.
Office Hours Q&A
Dear Dr. Dinin –
I just recently discovered your newsletters thanks to your posts on Instagram and TikTok. I first just want to tell you how refreshing it is to see an older professor like you embracing the platforms of my generation. As a current college student, I wish more of my professors would stop judging younger generations for using tools like Instagram and TikTok and instead learn to utilize them to engage with us in the same way you are. So thank you for that.
With this in mind, as I prepare to graduate from school, I am thinking about how to start branding myself better on social media. To this point I, like most people my age, have basically just been using social media as a way to waste time, but I also see the professional potential for it to help my career.
What advice could you share with someone like me who is just getting started expanding her professional brand on social media?
First things first, “older professor”? Really? I’m not that old. Heck, I’m a millennial, which means Instagram was my generation’s platform!!!
Other than that, I appreciate your point, and I thank you for your (somewhat backhanded) compliment. Like you, I’d similarly like to see more people in my field embracing social media, and I’m even doing lots of work trying to help other professors and teachers do just that.
As for what you can do to start building your personal brand, like I tell all of my peers, Step #1 is to start posting regularly ASAP. As in right now. Don’t wait until tomorrow or next week or until you’re done with finals or whatever other excuse you might come up with to delay the work. As soon as you’re done reading this answer, open up your social media platform of choice and make a post. Then do the same thing tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after.
Simply put, building an audience on social media requires, first and foremost, consistently posting. If you’re not consistently posting, you won’t grow, so you need to build the habit.
Consistency is so critical to achieving success on social media that it’s the only requirement for allowing students to enter my “Building Global Audiences” class at Duke (that’s my famous “TikTok class”). I don’t care if you have five followers or five million followers, if you want to be in the class, you have to be consistently posting because if you aren’t you won’t be successful, and no other advice will help.
Once you start posting regularly, you’ll start to learn what works and what doesn’t. Be thoughtful in analyzing how people respond to your posts and what kinds of audiences your content reaches. When a post gets tons of traction, great! How do you keep doing the same thing? When a post doesn’t get any traction, that’s great, too! Now you’ve learned what not to do. Try something else.
There’s lots more nuance we could get into. Heck, I have an entire online class about it – 90 Day Creator – for people who are truly serious about building their professional brands on social media. But even being successful in my online class requires consistently posting. So start there. Begin posting immediately, and keep posting every day for the next six months. It’s going to be hard, but I promise, by the end of those six months, you’ll have learned a ton about what it takes to successfully establish and grow your professional brand on social media.
Got startup questions of your own? Reply to this email with whatever you want to know, and I’ll do my best to answer!