A few years ago, I quit watching mainstream news. In fact, I go way out of my way to avoid it.
I used to enjoy it. It makes you feel like you're getting informed, and know what's going on in the world.
Today, I wound up seeing the news over a late dinner. The lead-in was a murder. Then there was someone on drugs who was trying to escape a police checkpoint and hit two people with his car. Then a story about gas prices rising, and a look at the consumer shopping season.
And that was enough for me.
You do need to stay current, but you'd do well to stay current primarily in your chief vocation or field of interest. I follow technology-related news and I'll subscribe to some newsletter or check out a forum related my core focus is at the time -- which is sales at the moment.
Being current is good, but not at the expense of being bathed in negativity. If you spend some time studying how the mind and memories work, you'll realize your mind doesn't encode frequency very well; rather, your mind is very likely to remember the dramatic, the sweeping, the highly emotional, the highly dangerous, and so on.
A rare, highly negative event will stick in your mind like glue, adding a little more fear to your step and taking your focus off staying on top of your game.
Skip the mainstream news. Spend the time with the trade journals, magazines, and websites related to your profession and chief interest or two. You'll be much better off for it.
"I believe a key to success is focusing your inputs. In a world of facebook, reddit, and the like it is easy to consume tons of information from many aspects. And many try to sidetrack you with emotionally driven headlines and discussion. But, if you want to succeed at something, focus to have inputs in the areas that contribute to your goals. It can be health, your business, industry, mentors, anything and many. Consume the information and eventually gain an edge on competitors - in whatever form they exist - solely based on continued progress and applicable knowledge."
I couldn't agree more. I can't stand the 'news' that's on mainstream media. That's why Twitter and custom news feeds, RSS are so great - they collectively become your personal news channel for everything that interests you. Mainstream media news is for amateurs.
I don't watch/read the news, either, although I'll admit I got a little bit sucked into the election, watching a couple debates. The problem with the news is that it's not a representative slice of what's actually going on, and it's largely things you have no influence over. I consider it to be the least entertaining reality TV show around.
This follows on from "On Getting More Done – Top-down, or bottom up?" - the basic idea behind that post is you can get a lot more done by either taking on a lot more responsibilities, which forces you to adjust and use your time better - this is the "top down" strategy. Alternatively, you can slowly build and reclaim time from your life, moving your time from less meaningful areas into more meaningful areas.
But let's get more specific. I read a lot of books. Most smart people want to read a lot of books, but don't find the time to do it. So, how to read more?
This is where the bottom-up approach shines. You slowly move time from less meaningful areas to more meaningful areas.
"Sebastian, I just want to read more. I don't care about this tracking stuff."
A few years ago, I directed, acted in and produced an original work here in Brooklyn based on Seneca’s Medea. The first thing I did was post a casting call, then I hosted auditions, then rehearsed and performed the piece. Along the way, I also designed a simple, clean website, wrote copy to put into emails inviting others to come, setup a Facebook event page, formed local partnerships to help get the word out, designed the programs, coordinated a photo shoot (and then designed images to email people), created a logo and postcard.
Allow me then to rephrase my original comment then: I directed, acted in, produced and marketed my piece. I had no spare money to hire someone to do this for me, and - as I will discuss later - thank goodness I didn’t as “hiring” and “marketing” are no longer an ideal strategy. I had suddenly become lead designer, writer and communicator for the piece I had made. The internet now dominates our collective landscape of communication, and understanding the nuances of web marketing is essential for the contemporary creator of performance. The aim is to get the word out, exciting people about you and your work so much that they want to come see it in person.
The changing marketing landscape has dramatically altered institutional outreach programs as well. In fact, I propose that it is much harder to market from an institutional standpoint online than as an individual artist. Why? Well, it’s really very simple: what is valuable online is relationship, vulnerability and engaging content all conveyed through a voice that sounds familiar (ie - consistent and human). These factors allow for a connection to form. Finding this is vastly more difficult to do as an institution which likely explains why most are so, so, so very bad at it.
In this article, I would like to discuss what is working online and what isn’t. In particular, I would like to highlight the crucial areas where artists need to focus in order to attract more attention to their work. Oh, and while I am at it, allow me to dispel the “if you build it they will come” notion. It is no longer enough just to create great art. You must also know how to represent it online, and how to build media which is clear and - hopefully - sharable. The former approach worked in the 1960’s, but nowadays, people learn and explore newness via the web rather than venturing out into the unknown. In other words, I will look at your website and video content before I make the decision to buy a ticket.
The exciting thing for new, emerging artists and institutions is that the playing field has been leveled. You no longer need a massive marketing budget to reach people, you simply need a great idea. A young choreographer can create a 90 second video, share it with friends and suddenly have a great interest in his/her work. A producer can capture a particularly suggestive moment of a new piece using Vine, share it via Twitter, and have that seen by hundreds or even thousands of potential fans. Audience members can also now photograph or video portions of your work, share it online, becoming marketers themselves. One of the exciting ways that public performance and mobile technology merge is in how strangers can suddenly now become marketers.