Seth Godin posted a list of 10 lies to protect the status quo. The one I think is especially spot on is lie #10: Who you know is more important than what you do.
This is how Seth expounds #10:
When your idea is gaining traction, the easy and obvious and natural thing to do is to fear that you won't succeed because you don't know the right people. After all, we see Donald Trump getting in NBC's door, and we see some famous author getting on a talk show or some rock star getting a video on MTV twenty years after he hit his prime... it just doesn't seem fair or right that all too often access is determined based on relationships, not some other measure of quality.
I'm all for the momentum that goes to a creator once she establishes a brand or a hit. But the facts belie this excuse. Microsoft, for example, almost always fails when they introduce something new. Most successes (in books, music, movies, politics, non-profits, etc.) don't come from where the established wisdom tells us they're going to come from. No one bet on Phish or Boing Boing or Google or Dan Brown.
Yes, it looks like the big guys (McKinsey, Steven King, General Foods) always manage to win, but what's really happening is that the big guys slowly fade away and the real growth comes from where no one expected it.
In a world where things are viral, you're more likely to succeed with passive networking (strangers recommending you) than the old school active kind. In other words, make great stuff, do your homework, build your audience and when you've got something worth talking about, people will talk about it.
Think about it.
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