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Tim Peter Thinks

Tim Peter

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July 30, 2012

What are "the rules"?

July 30, 2012 | By | No Comments

Do you know who Alex Day is? I suspect not. Don’t worry, I didn’t either, until my teenage daughter showed me one of his videos.

Yes, it is what we used to call “bubblegum pop,” back when I worked in the music industry. Probably has the shelf-life of a five-year old’s ice cream on a summer afternoon.

But, what’s crazy is this. He’s racked up some 89 million views on YouTube and, as TechDirt notes,

“…his first two royalty checks totaled over $200,000.”

Um… wow.

This, mind you, in an age when the recording industry reports it’s lost about 8% of retail value over the last year on physical shipments and has only broken even thanks to digital [PDF link]. Yet, here’s this kid, all of 23 years old, who’s going it alone, breaking all the rules and… succeeding. Wildly.

Why?

Because he believes there are no rules. As he said in a recent Forbes profile,

“I proved you can get songs out there without any corporate involvement.”

So, here’s the question for today: What rules do you follow? The ones “everyone knows”? Or the ones you make for yourself? Do you do what everyone else is doing? Or do you truly do what you love?


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Tim Peter

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October 10, 2011

Is it crazy to do what you love?

October 10, 2011 | By | 3 Comments

In my commentary on Steve Jobs’ passing, I both quoted and reiterated the idea that you must do what you love. Yesterday, I got an email from a reader asking,

“What do you mean by ‘do what you love?’ The economy’s in a shambles, unemployment is ridiculously high… I don’t care whether I do what I love, unless you include putting food on my family’s table in that category.”

Additionally, I spoke with a local business owner the other day—one with 16 years in business here in town, in an industry he’s passionate about—who told me he’s having his worst year ever. He’s downsizing his operation and looking for less-expensive real estate.

Some argue that those who say “do what you love” are bragging or offering bad advice.

So, is it crazy to think you can both do what you love and earn a living?

In a word: No.

At least, not if you don’t abandon reality along with it. There’s no harm in asking how you can make money doing what you love. In fact, most successful people do just that.

Wired Magazine’s obituary of Steve Jobs notes:

“[Job's 'fall back plan'] changed when Steve Jobs saw what a high-school friend, Steve Wozniak, was doing. Wozniak was a member of the Homebrew Computer Club, a collection of Valley engineers and hangers-on who were thrilled at the prospect of personal computers, which had just become possible with the advent of low-cost chips and electronics. “Woz” was among several of the group who designing their own, but he had no desire to commercialize his project, even though it was groundbreaking in simplicity and also was one of the first to include color graphics.

When Jobs saw his friend’s project, he wanted to make a business. While other home-brewers were also starting companies, Jobs was unique in understanding that personal computers could appeal to an audience far beyond geeks.” [Emphasis mine]

Jobs loved computers. And he loved the idea of building a business around them. Tony Hawk loves skateboarding. And he figured out how to get paid for doing it. Nathan Sawaya has built a business out by building things out of Lego.

None of these people got where they were by ignoring their passion or by ignoring their need to make a living. Instead, they looked for the intersection of the two.

The economy sucks. No one’s arguing that. And you’ve got to work to figure out exactly how to make a living doing what you love. No one’s promising overnight success. But, you can do what you love and feed your family at the same time. In fact, I’d argue that you’re more likely to succeed at something you actually enjoy than something that’s soul-crushing drudgery.

But, I will close with this thought about whether you can do what you love and still earn a living, from Henry Ford: “Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you’re right.”


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Tim Peter & Associates helps companies from startups to the Fortune 500 use the web to reach more customers, more effectively every day. Take a look and see how we can help you.

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Tim Peter

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July 22, 2011

What Problem Can't Be Solved? (Small Business E-commerce Link Digest – July 22, 2011)

July 22, 2011 | By | No Comments

OK, so let’s see. The debt ceiling is about to come crashing down on our heads. British newspapers apparently violate the meek and bribe anyone that tries to stop them. The NFL and its players continue to jump over billions to get to… well, millions. Yep. The world basically sucks. Right?

Uh… no.

I don’t think so, anyway. Because people like you don’t see problems. You see solutions. You get out in front of issues and create opportunities (and, thereby, create customers and profits). Good on you.

So what problem can’t be solved? The only one I know is the one where you stop trying. So don’t do that, OK?

Of course, these are trying times. And just in case this crazy world gets you a little down in the dumps, here are some thoughts on creative problem solving from folks who’ve been there:

And, if those aren’t impressive enough, Salman Khan shows how he’s using videos to reinvent education. Inspiring. Creative. Awesome. Check it out:



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Tim Peter & Associates helps companies from startups to the Fortune 500 use the web to reach more customers, more effectively every day. Take a look and see how we can help you.

Tim Peter

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October 28, 2009

Why not make magic?

October 28, 2009 | By | No Comments

Magic image courtesy of hlkljgk on FlickrI get asked all the time, “what’s the most amazing thing you’ve seen lately?” And I’m continually amazed by how often I have I am amazed. What amazes me:

I could go on.

The point is, magic happens. Sometimes, as with The Beatles Sgt. Pepper or Joss Whedon’s Dr. Horrible’s Sing-along Blog, in the name of art. Or Art. And sometimes, as in the examples above, in the name of commerce. But always in the name of taking people – your listeners, your viewers, your customers – somewhere new. Teaching them something. Making their dreams real.

Seth Godin once listed how you can be remarkable, which is very much the same thing. The key to both: put aside your fear. Tell it to come back tomorrow. Today is for magic.

And if you do it today, why not tomorrow, too?



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Image credit: hlkljgk via Flickr using Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic.

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Tim Peter

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June 5, 2009

How creative are you? (Small Business E-commerce Link Digest – June 5, 2009)

June 5, 2009 | By | No Comments

Since reviewing Hugh MacLeod’s “Ignore Everybody”, I’ve been giving lots of thought to the nature of creativity. Why does creativity matter? Because, as Bryan Eisenberg points out, most marketers suffer from impotence. And not because they have bad ideas for how to promote their product, but because they don’t have enough ideas on how to have a different product. It reminds me of the story in Harry Beckwith’s “Selling the Invisible”
– one of thinks’ 12 most important books of the last 10 years – about Beckwith wasting 3 days trying to write copy advertising a new product. A flawed product as it turns out. As Beckwith’s boss noted, “If it’s that hard to write the ad, fix the product.”

Is your product or service equally flawed? What can you do about it? Read on, Big Thinkers. Read on:

Hope this stir your creative juices, Big Thinkers. Use ‘em to hit the ground running next week.



Are you getting enough value out of your small business website? Want to make sure your business makes the most of the local, mobile, social web? thinks helps you understand how to grow your business via the web, every day. Get more than just news. Get understanding. Add thinks to your feed reader today.

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