Should you share your best stuff on the Internet?

Updated to Business on December 30, 2022.

I was in a car the other day with a radiologist and a neurosurgeon talking about hypertension. 

This conversation is actually not as unusual as it might sound. I volunteer for a local society that does trail clearing in a popular hiking and mountain bike park and many of the volunteers happen to be recently retired doctors. 

Back in the car, one of the doctors happened to mention that recently his medical partner, who is in his early 60’s, had a mild stroke. As we wound our way further up the dirt road to our work site my education continued. 

I learned that strokes are the second biggest cause of mortality worldwide and the third most common cause of disability. The scary statistics get worse. As you age your chance of a stroke doubles every 10 years after 55

There’s a checklist of health conditions that make you more susceptible to a stroke, like obesity, high cholesterol, and diabetes. But the biggest culprit – six times out of ten – is hypertension or high blood pressure. In my books, that’s worth paying attention to.

What’s interesting is that stress, in itself, is not the direct cause of high blood pressure. It’s what we do when under stress that leads to nasty results. We eat too much, drink too much, and move too little. Basically, we deal with stress by making unhealthy choices.

For me, stress starts with worry.

Ngoc Son Temple, Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi, Vietnam

I’ve had a lot of worries

There is a world of problems you can worry about – take your pick. You can worry that Ukraine will be pummeled into a tiny province of rubble, or that we’ve passed the tipping point with global warming, or the tiny spot on your chin is cancer. 

Or not.

“I’ve had a lot of worries,” quipped Mark Twain “most of which never happened.” Our mind loves a good worry. Like a dog chewing a bone, we want to turn our worry around, looking from all angles, poking and prodding until it swells up into something bigger than it really is.

I used to worry incessantly before every keynote speech. I’d worry I’d miss my flight or wasn’t prepared enough, or I would be greeted by the “audience from hell.” Trust me, when you have 60 minutes to educate, entertain, inspire, motivate, and get laughs from an audience you’ve never met before, any sane person would invent a long list of worries.

It was at one of those events when a fellow speaker opened an exit door for my worries. He suggested that audiences don’t want you to fail – in fact, they want you to succeed. “They want to see you having fun—enjoying yourself. That way,” he explained, “they can enjoy the ride with you.”

When I accepted the long list of what I could never control – my flights, the audience, the speaker before me going overtime – I was free to focus on what I could control.

Enjoying the moment. 

What your life will have been

In her book, Comfortable with Uncertainty, Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön tells the story of delighting in the preciousness of every single moment.

A woman is running from lions. She runs and she runs, and the lions are getting closer. She comes to the edge of a cliff. She sees a vine there, so she climbs down and holds onto it. Then she looks down and sees that there are lions below her as well. At the same time, she notices a little mouse gnawing away at the vine to which she is clinging. She also sees a beautiful little bunch of strawberries emerging from a nearby clump of grass. She looks up, she looks down, and she looks a the mouse. Then she picks a strawberry, pops it in her mouth, and enjoys it thoroughly.

Learning what to focus on, and what to ignore, seems to be the ultimate secret to living a healthy, stress-free life. “Whatever compelled your attention from moment to moment,” writes Oliver Burkeman in Four Thousand Weeks (a must-read for anyone over 50), “is simply what your life will have been.”

So, what are you focussing on?

What to focus on

You can learn a lot when you’re the dumbest one in a car full of doctors. I learned that strokes are a silent pandemic. And that hypertension is the leading cause of that pandemic. And I learned the leading cause of hypertension is stress. 

I was also reminded that stress is a choice.

We all have lions and tigers in our life. Maybe even a mouse or two gnawing away at something we value. Meanwhile, we have the moment.

Choosing what to focus on (and what not to) might just be the healthiest choice you can make.

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Photo of eggs by Nik on Unsplash
Photo of Ngoc Son Temple by author
Photo of tigers by author

You work hard for what you know. As an author, public speaker, seminar leader, blogger, or coach, ideas are money.

And then there’s social media – the wide-mouth, gaping suck-hole of content. Social media is where ideas gets shared.

Holding back your best ideas until you get hired is anathema to the spirit of social media—it’s hard to imagine “How to close any sale – hire me to learn how!” going viral on Twitter.

And yet, I frequently get asked by speakers and the like if they should share their “best stuff” in their blog, or YouTube, or Facebook.

In short, the answer is (always) “Yes!” Yes, you should share your best stuff.

Let’s use the example of speaking.

As speakers, we need to understand the mindset of event planners to appreciate, why your free content is more important than ever.

How event planners think

Picture this: your firm has 10 events happening this month – you’re directly in charge of four – and they’re all mini-nightmares.

One client wants gluten-free deserts, a speaker just cancelled, you’re trying to chase down a disco ball for the closing dance and hotel catering has yet to quote on snacks in the green room.

Welcome to the life of an event planner.

Event planners, like pilots, are rewarded for landing a very complicated beast exactly as planned, on time. So, they use lists.

You, the wonderful, gifted, brilliant speaker are but one line-item on a very, very, very long list.

Yup, you’re between ordering table centre-pieces and correct spelling on delegate name tags. In monetary terms, we’re a fraction of the overall event budget (according to ASAE, speakers make up about 10% of the overall event budget.)

So, get over it.

When it comes to vetting and hiring you, the faster, more efficient the process the better. That’s where your content comes in.

Deliver your best stuff

Your content should be your best stuff: best ideas, solutions, frameworks, models – not a teaser.

When I interviewed event planner and owner of Spark Events Management, Anh Nguyen, for our BOSS program, her advice was: “Have an online presence (i.e videos that I can watch). In today’s fast paced world, the best thing you can do is have resources available that I can access quickly.”

There’s a video still circulating on YouTube where I tell my Porsche story. It’s only a few minutes, the quality is terrible, but event planners still tell me they love that video – it’s some of my best content.

It’s like food samples at Costco – a taste of the real thing can turn into a sale.

Examples of sharing your best stuff

One of my favourite (especially when I need to impress my ladies at home) sites for gluten-free recipes is Angela Liddon’s massively successful Oh She Glows site. Liddon (like all recipe sites) freely shares amazing, mouth watering recipes (you have to try the gluten-free, no-bake, Chilled Double Chocolate Torte) but is also a best-selling author (with the same content).

Look at most popular speakers and they freely post their best content on YouTube or in their blog. AND they can still command a princely sum to repeat the same content on stage – go figure.

For many years, Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income fame, has been delivering detailed advice on his podcast for on-line start-ups. Despite having hundreds of hours of free content, he was able to take the same content (albeit reworked and augmented) and turn it into a successful best-selling book this year.

If you want to build a following and get hired, give us you best stuff generously and often – don’t hold back. It’s a taste of your best stuff that makes us want to buy your books, hire you as a coach and pay to have you on stage.

So, what’s your best stuff and how can you share it?