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54. It’s Better to Be Prolific than Perfect

54. It’s Better to Be Prolific than Perfect
When I started Monetization Nation less than 2 months ago, I accepted a challenge from Russell Brunson to publish every single day for a year. This is the 54th episode, and the best part about this journey is the amazing guests that I’ve been able to interview and learn from. In addition to the published episodes, I have already recorded about that many episodes which have not yet been published. I’m in awe of some of the amazing people who have agreed to be on my show.

Cringe-Worthy Moments in My Show

As I’ve recorded and published the episodes so far, I’ve had some truly cringe-worthy moments. Here are a few examples: 1. When I recorded the episode of John Lee Dumas, the host of Entrepreneurs on Fire, who is one of my heroes, my Internet connection died as I was introducing him. Thankfully, he was gracious enough to let me reschedule the interview. 2. I received my first real backdrop on the day I was interviewing a high-level video producer at Apple. I had woefully underestimated how many clips I needed to keep the backdrop tight. So the backdrop was embarrassingly loose behind me, and I didn’t realize how bad it looked until I was reviewing the footage after the interview.  3. When I interviewed one of my past business partners, there was a significant audio/video sync lag so his mouth and the sound were saying different things. 4. When I interviewed a top user experience designer, the audio quality was painfully distracting.  5. When I interviewed one successful entrepreneur, he had a bright window behind him and I didn’t ask him to close the blinds. As a result, the lighting on his face was horrible.  As I’ve reviewed some of the episodes I’ve published so far, I’ve cringed and been tempted to not publish them. However, I published these episodes and learned from them. When I realized how bad the backdrop was in my video with the Apple video producer, I emailed him and apologized. I loved his response. He told me not to worry about it, and that “It is better to be prolific than perfect.” I believe that original quote was from Joe Polish. 

Picasso Was Prolific

Picasso is a great example of this principle of prolific over perfection. He could have spent months or years trying to create one perfect masterpiece. But, instead, he created his masterpieces by being prolific.  “Picasso was exceptionally prolific throughout his long lifetime. The total number of artworks he produced has been estimated at 50,000, comprising 1,885 paintings, 1,228 sculptures, 2,889 ceramics, roughly 12,000 drawings, many thousands of prints, and numerous tapestries and rugs.” (source: Patrick O’Brian in Picasso: A Biography) Most of those paintings, sculptures, and other forms of artwork were not masterpieces, but because he created so many different pieces of artwork, he had many more chances to create his masterpieces. 

Strive for Continuous Improvement

“Strive for continuous improvement, instead of perfection.” (Kim Collins) Through the last two months, producing Monetization Nation has forced me to be in a state of continuous learning and improvement. When my audio quality was unacceptable, I had to learn about microphones and how to get the sound I want. I had to learn to keep my mouth close enough to the microphone whenever I was speaking. I had to learn how to check to be sure Zoom was actually recording with the microphone I wanted it to use. When my backdrop sagged, I had to learn how to secure a backdrop correctly. When my episodes had too much echo, I had to learn how to stop the echo by putting sound-absorbing squares on the walls of my office.  I’ve made a lot of progress in producing my show, and I feel much better about the episodes I’m recording now than those first episodes. However, my show and I are still very far from perfect. There are still issues I’m working to fix. For example, I’m out in the country and only have access to wireless internet connectivity, and I know I need a much better Internet connection. I’m still working to find a solution for that. When I started this show, I could have focused on creating perfect episodes, but if I had done that I probably would have only been able to publish about ⅓ as many episodes. Because I was willing to publish imperfect content, I was able to publish a lot more content, and learn many more things I could never have learned. Plus, content producers never know which blog post, podcast, or YouTube video is going to really take off. By producing a lot more content, I have a lot more opportunities to find that “masterpiece” that goes viral. 

Perfection is the Enemy of Progress

“Perfection is the enemy of progress.” (Winston Churchill) Hopefully, as entrepreneurs see me learn cringe-worthy mistakes, they will connect with me since they also make mistakes. None of us are perfect, so it’s really hard for us to connect with and relate to someone who appears to be perfect.  Imagine a software company that keeps putting off its release while they work to perfect their software. First, their software will never be perfect. Second, the only way to learn how to make great software is to put it out there and get real feedback from real users. Putting out imperfect software and then improving based on the feedback of real users will get us much closer to perfection than trying to create the perfect software in a vacuum. 

Perfection is the Antithesis of Authenticity

But, you might say, that’s scary. Other people are going to see my cringe-worthy video or software.  My response to that is that there is a power in imperfection and that visible imperfection we are willing to show to the world creates authenticity.  “Perfection is the antithesis of authenticity.” (Willie Garson) I have a good friend named Deidre Henderson who was recently elected as the Lieutenant Governor of Utah. Deidre told NPR, “I got married after my freshman year at BYU. I was 18 years old. I had five babies in eight years. I spent 13 years after that, you know, working to get my husband through physical therapy school, wiping noses and bottoms, doing all of those things.” After putting her college degree on the backburner, she ”kind of fell into politics.”  Deidre felt shame about not having her degree, and that kept her from pursuing it. In 2014, she “decided to be open and to be transparent about it and to hopefully encourage other women or men who are in a similar situation, where they’re wanting to go back, but maybe feeling awkward about it, too, to help inspire them to just do it.” Because Deidre is so open about going back to school, among other things, this makes her very authentic and relatable to so many people. It’s no wonder why she was selected as the running mate by the leading candidate for governor.  Hopefully, as entrepreneurs see me someday have a successful business powered by this show, they will have seen that I went on the journey they want to go through. They will see all these mistakes that I learned along the way in learning how to do it right. And, they will trust me to guide them through their journey to do something similar for their businesses. 

Key Takeaways

Here are some of my key takeaways from today’s episode: 1. The expectation of perfection is the entrepreneur’s enemy.  2. This expectation of perfection can paralyze an entrepreneur from being prolific and can reduce the opportunities for the entrepreneur to find their masterpiece, like Picasso. 3. Let’s be prolific so we have more opportunities to create our masterpieces. 4. This expectation of perfection can prevent an entrepreneur from being authentic and connecting with their customers.  5. Imperfection can give us authenticity. Perfection is the antithesis of authenticity. 6. The goal is not perfection. The goal is continuous improvement. Gragos Roua said, “Perfection is boring, getting better is where all the fun is.” 7. Let’s leverage the power of imperfection to be far more successful than is possible from pretending to be perfect. 

Want to be a Better Digital Monetizer?

Did you like today’s episode? Then please follow these channels to receive free digital monetization content: 1. Get a free Monetization Assessment of your business 2. Subscribe to the free Monetization eMagazine. 3. Subscribe to the Monetization Nation podcast on Apple Podcast, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or Stitcher 4. Subscribe to the Monetization Nation YouTube channel. 5. Follow Monetization Nation on Instagram and Twitter.

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    About the author

    Nathan Gwilliam

    Nathan Gwilliam

    I help organizations navigate tectonic shifts that are transforming the business landscape, so they can optimize marketing, accelerate profits, and make a greater difference for good.

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