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The gatekeepers wear no clothes

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This first image represents the hallmark of the way things used to work in most industries just a few years ago.

Some examples:

  1. If you were a musical artist, you would need to be picked by a label.
  2. If you were an author, you would need to be picked by a publisher.
  3. If you had an idea for a new kind of product, you would need to get picked by the bank or large corporation with enough resources to bring it to market.
  4. If you wanted to be an artist, you would need to be picked by the Gallery.

In each of these cases you had to be picked by the “Gatekeeper.” You had to spend your time woo-ing, wow-ing them, and hoping that they liked what you had.

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Things have changed.

You no longer have to be “picked.” Sure, if you want to go through a gatekeeper, they’re all still there for the moment. But the dynamic has changed. The smart ones will offer you resources and infrastructure and a great experience. They will know how to be multipliers to the efforts you are already making. But in most industries, their stamp of approval is irrelevant.

What matters is deciding to do it and figuring out how to bring something of value to the table – and likely directly to your audience.

So:

  1. If you want to release an album, no one is stopping you.
  2. If you want to publish your own book, go for it.
  3. If you have an idea for a product, go find customers before it’s even built (and the tools to build things are getting easier and cheaper every month). If they like it, they’ll fund it.
  4. If you want to be an artist, you can do it without a gallery.

You (and I) are on the hook, not just to try to do the thing that we’re wanting to do and hope to get picked, but we’re on the hook to dive into it and swim. We are our own gatekeepers in a way. No one is there to say “Stop!”

Me? I’m trying to make the shift. It’s very different from simply following instructions. I’ll acknowledge it’s hard. It’s vulnerable, scary and it means we don’t get to hide as easily. Maybe that’s why I’m writing this post. To force myself a small nudge toward the arena.

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