All creativity begins with the moment of conception.
That little piece of kindling that gets the fire going. That initial source of inspiration that takes on a life of its own. That single note from which the entire symphony grows. That single spark of life that signals an idea’s movement value, almost screaming to us, something wants to be built here.
And so, in this blog series, I’m going to be deconstructing my favorite moments of conception from popular movies. Each post will contain a video clip from a different film, along with a series of lessons we can learn from the characters.
Today’s clip comes from the final scene in The Social Network:
What can we learn?
Romanticize first, monetize second. Money is the great legitimizer. When your enterprise starts turning a profit, the world starts taking your work seriously. But be careful not to be tempted to monetize too early. Seeking money from the wrong part of the value chain can thwart you early on. If you clutter your blog with advertising in its first year of publication, for example, you risk turning your website an eyesore that alienates users. What’s more, having an immediate focus on monetization can distract you from more important goals like growth and attention and trust and connection. Those are the currencies that matter most. Because this is a long arc game. Winners get rich slowly. Building an online legacy that increases in value daily is more important than earning fifty dollars a month from the first advertiser that says yes to you. Becoming the best in the world at something that people value is a far better use of your time than knocking on doors trying to find sponsors. And creating a durable community and defining a new set of meaningful behaviors in the world is more important than turning a profit in the first six months. I reminded of an interview with the president of a large software company, who said the easiest way to get a million people to pay for non scarcity product may be to make a hundred million people fall in love with it. That’s not monetizing, that’s romanticizing. What if you deferred monetization until you were truly ready?
Possessed by a prosperous heart. Allowing the grip of scarcity to squeeze your heart is not good for business. If you want to open up a parachute of prosperity, you have to be ready for the money that is waiting for you. Years ago, I made a crucial shift in my financial mindset. I began to look at what I wanted rather than what I didn’t have or why I thought I couldn’t have it. I even practiced an assortment of affirmations, incantations, mantras and cognitive reframing tools to shift my mental perspective about money. And what I noticed was, the common denominator among these strategies was trust. Trusting that there’s tons of money if you’re good and want to take it. Trusting that money finds a home only in places where it’s appreciated. Trusting that if your creative project has real substance, ultimately the money will follow you. And trusting that you can find a niche where money flows as a regular consequence of the success of your idea. Because you become what you expect. When your trust yourself, you prove yourself right. When you believe in the availability of your own earning potential, it shows up. It’s not magic, it’s expectation. It’s a psychological primer for future performance. You announce to yourself that you are well equipped with sufficient internal assets to earn money from your work. How much longer can you wait for overwhelming evidence to trust yourself?
Money forgets but god remembers. Eduardo said it was time to start making money. Zuckerberg said he was against selling advertising. Parker, however, knew best. He said that selling advertising too early was like throwing the greatest party on campus, but telling people it had to be over by eleven. And that’s the lesson. Facebook’s creators didn’t know what the product was, what it could be, or what it would be, but they did know one thing. It was cool. And that was a priceless asset they weren’t giving up. I’m reminded of another great interview with the president of a renowned venture capital firm. The question he encourages entrepreneurs to ask is, is there a new behavior here that you can see one hundred million people doing? If so, and if people are growing more and more engaged and committed over time, can you monetize their behaviors in a meaningful way later. Because the best growth of a product, he says, happens when someone is using a product so actively, they tell all their friends about it and try to drag them into it. And so, money is more incidental as it is intentional. Money isn’t the target, money is the reward you get for hitting it. What can you build to deserve money from other people?
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