10,000 Hours. Or My Commitment to Doing Good Work.
on Jan 28, 2013
“That’s what separates the wheat from the chaff. That’s what makes a CEO a CEO.” - Gillian Muessig, SEOmoz
You would think Gillian Muessig, SEOmom – who was on a cycling and business tour to India and spent time in our office for the better part of a fortnight – would be talking about some esoteric and vague values such as vision, leadership. NO.
She was talking about: blogging. She was referring to her son Rand Fishkin (@randfish), CEO and co-founder of SEOmoz who has been blogging every single day since the inception of the blog. No matter what happened during the day, a blog would be up at night. He blogs about what he knows best: "inbound marketing, SEO, startups & entrepreneurship". He shares all that he knows about his business and discusses all. He’s social in a true sense.
Sceptics questioned his policy of talking about business secrets out in the open which could lead to people siphoning off work. But he wasn’t worried. The response invariably was: “If they are going to do it themselves, they were never our customers; if they are our customers, they will come to us when they are going to see our expertise.”
Yes, this approach backfired sometimes. But this paid off more than it backfired. SEOmoz is one of the first, biggest and most successful online marketing communities in the world. The blog is visited by millions of viewers. If you can get published in their blog, you can coolly double the price of your services and people will be willing to pay.
And after a very public battle, they received a funding of $18 million last year.
This reminds me of my favourite blogger and a fellow libertarian Amit Varma (@amitvarma) who, unfortunately, doesn’t blog enough now and is on to bigger and better things such as writing novels and winning Poker championships. He wrote a column on 10,000 hours in 2010. He writes:
Natural talent alone isn’t enough to make you good. You have to work damn hard, and practice damn hard. Some researchers have even put a number to how many hours of practice you need to achieve excellence: 10,000 hours.
The part of the study that I find astonishing is that not only did all the top performers have over 10,000 hours of practice to their credit, but everyone who put in 10,000 hours was a top performer. The key to excellence was not natural talent, but hard work. (Caveat: this is not to say that talent doesn’t matter at all. Firstly, as the researchers pointed out, there was a minimum level of talent required to get into the Academy. Secondly, a completely untalented musician would probably not get the positive feedback for his work that would motivate him to put in 10,000 hours in the first place.)
This all leads me to conclude that, since I am in the business of communication, practice I must; specifically because, as Gillian put it: “you owe it not just to yourself but to your company to work hard and give it everything you can. Sometimes, just showing up is important.”
I promise to myself and to my company to start blogging at least once a week and increase the frequency gradually.
And since this is a meta-blog (a blog about blogging), it seems befitting to end with another blogger quote, Girish Shahane:
Film used to be a precious resource in India, to be used with care. This bred discipline among cinematographers. Once video became widely available, discipline often went out of the window. [...] I have this example before me as I inaugurate a blog -- which is free to publish and in which I can stuff endless random thoughts. I aim to bring some of [the] discipline into the inevitably looser, less formal structure of the blog.
Wish me luck. :)
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