I’ve been thinking about maybe trying to do an advice column some where for fun, or maybe starting an advice podcast. At any rate, I’m in the mood to help people, and here are some people that want my help.

STLTruisms (I’m from STL!) asks, “if I have to choose between money and integrity, which should it be? (I chose integrity last time.)”

My gut says to ask yourself how the last time worked out. If you look back on it without any regrets, maybe integrity is the way to go, but if you consider that it didn’t go so well, maybe give money a try.

Personally, I used to be of the thought that you should always keep your integrity, and of course I still think it’s important. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take any money at all. Lately, I’m a bit more pragmatic, in that I believe there are opportunities out there to both make money and be respected and dignified. A guy can’t live on respect alone, you know? Also, I’ve found that as long as you’re doing the right thing (which I admit can be problematic to really determine), there will probably be some people who attack you for it, and in general, that’s OK.

Plus, it’s possible to sell out a little bit for cash during the workday, and then work on things that are more personal and passionate in the evenings. I don’t think you should sell out your integrity (you shouldn’t do anything immoral or dishonest, obviously, or anything you really hate). But I do think it’s OK to work for profit and play for fun. Adam Carolla, who you might or might not like, says you should do things either because you love to do them or because you get paid to do them, and if you don’t love what you’re doing and aren’t getting paid what you’re worth for it, you probably shouldn’t be doing it at all.

Ian Parks asks, “I just turned 27, and I’m attempting to get into digital media. Is it worth it? I feel like I’m getting too old to be trying to break in to youtube or a podcast or streaming or something. It’s my passion, and has been for decades (lol), but juggling that passion with adulthood is weird.”

First of all, 27 is not old, and I’d argue that it should only barely be considered adulthood. If 27 is too old to be making digital media, most of the really great digital media out there would probably not exist. So don’t worry about your age on that one.

Second, asking if it’s worth it goes right back to that first question. I don’t think you should do anything solely because you’re trying to “make it,” or because you’re trying to get people to notice what you’re doing, or just to break in to a crazy place like YouTube or the App Store. I think one of the great ironies of life is that people who want power for the sake of power almost never really deserve it. Anyone trying to just go viral will almost never actually go viral.

So what’s the secret? The secret is that you have to want to succeed for some other reason that just being famous on YouTube or a top downloaded podcast on iTunes. The secret is that if you’re creating digital media, you have to just create it for yourself first. Create something you’re interested in, something you want to watch or listen to or read. Create something you enjoy, that you’re proud of, and that you can return to in the future and say to yourself, “Oh yeah, I made this.”

If you can’t do that or don’t want to do that, then sure, move on and do something else — there’s plenty of other hobbies to pick up, and lots that are more enjoyable (and/or more expensive, if that’s what you want). But that’s the key. If you sit there and try your absolute hardest to make people care about what you’re doing, odds are you’re going to fail, unless you’re just really, really lucky. And when you do fail, you’ll be disappointed and you’ll feel like a failure.

But if you just set out to entertain and satisfy yourself, and then you make something (or, even better, make a series of things regularly) that you enjoy and think is worthwhile, you’ll find that other people also enjoy it and think it’s worthwhile. And then, after a long period of time, people just might care about it. I wrote and podcasted online for years and years before anybody cared what I was doing at all, much less paid me for it.

So yes. Do what you want to do, and do it for yourself. If making digital media ain’t it, then do something else. Eventually, you’ll find something that you want to do for your own satisfaction, and then when you do that long enough to get really good at it, someone will undoubtedly come along offering to pay you for it.

Sarah asks, “Would you be willing to reduce your life expectancy by ten years to become extremely attractive or famous?”

Famous? No. Extremely attractive? Probably.

I guess it depends on how attractive we’re talking. The truth is that I am probably more attractive than I think, and I could probably be more attractive with just a little more positivity and a little more discipline (and by that I mean not so much pizza, and a little more exercise). So if the tradeoff is within that range of possible attractiveness, it’s probably not worth it. In that case, I’ll take my extra ten years of life and just keep working on turning down that last slice of pizza.

But attractiveness beyond that limit, where people are just innately drawn to you without even knowing why? I don’t know if I’ll ever have that on my own, and those ten years might be worth it.

Do the ten years come off of the end part, with all of the adult diapers and failing brains? I’d be fine with giving up a few years at the beginning, and maybe a couple more years at the end. But if we’re talking about all of those good years in the middle, maybe I’ll just keep my life as my own.



Posted on Thursday, August 8th, 2013 at 2:00 am. Filed under general.
You are reading mikeschramm.com, a collection of work by Mike Schramm.

This post appears in the category. To see more posts like this one, you can browse the category archives, or browse the full archives.