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Being old is not an age thing. It’s a mindset thing.
You know what I’m talking about. You know people who, despite their age, seem just as youthful as ever. It’s as if they missed the memo on how you’re supposed to act once you reach a certain age.
I think you can be 50 and be young. I think you can be 70 and be young. I think you can be 105 and be young. Old is when you lose your plasticity and willingness to adapt or change.
There is only one thing that is constant: change. It’s all you can count on. You can be sure that change will continue to happen and you can be sure that change will continue to be uncomfortable.
New technologies come that seem strange. Suddenly everyone is talking about a new device or new app. What’s with all the emojis everywhere? Why are the photos disappearing? How are these people spending hours by themselves with virtual reality gear on their head?
Our initial reaction will be to reject these things. These things are foreign. They’re unfamiliar. We resist because it’s different or we don’t understand the appeal.
But if you want to win in business, you have to learn to adapt. You have to learn to go where the attention is. The traditional media industry quickly learned this with the onset of the internet (some not quick enough to survive).
The only way to avoid getting left behind is to embrace change and discomfort. That’s what we talk about today.
Highlights, Takeaways, Quick Wins
- You will never get old if you embrace change and discomfort.
- Be proactive about following what is happening right now and trying out new things.
- Social media platforms are just tools for reach and engagement.
- You have to adapt if you want to continue to be effective.
- Use social media to provide value that primes people.
- If you only ever target the people who have their credit card out and are ready to buy something, you’ll only make a few sales.
- Things are going to change and evolve—get on board or you’ll be left behind.
- Your future self is determined by the habits of your present self.
Add Sean and Ben on Snapchat:
- Sean’s Snapchat: seanwestv
- Ben’s Snapchat: bentoalson
- 06:48 Sean: We are, inevitably, going to talk about Snapchat, but I want Ben to help me make this more generally applicable so we can distill this down to the principles and, in the future, it’s still valuable. This is not about one application or one thing. It’s about avoiding getting old. I was asking Ben before we started recording about what his thoughts are on avoiding getting old and it being a mindset.
- 07:29 Ben: It’s really a complex thing. I was thinking about it a lot beforehand, thinking through my own personal experiences and times when I felt old when I was relatively young. I thought about different industries where age is a metric and about pop culture. There are a lot of different things that play into the psychology of what we think about as our age and how our age influences how we’re able to interact with the world and the kind of access we have to different things. I’m excited for this topic.
- 08:10 Today, I’m trying to hold this tension between not considering age a meaningful metric whatsoever, saying that it doesn’t matter, but also being realistic about how the perception of my age will influence the kind of access I have in certain relationships. That’s only to a small degree, because there are other things that are so much more important when it comes to how you relate to other people.
It’s All About Mindset
- 08:49 Sean: I think getting old is all in your head. It’s the way you think, a mindset. We have a lot of old people today in mindset, because they grew up in an era where there wasn’t the frequency of change that there is today. That doesn’t make us immune to getting old, but they’re more susceptible to getting old because the pace of change isn’t quite like it is today. Things are accelerating with technology, and things stayed the same way for a lot longer in the past hundred years. It has really accelerated, but in the past ten years, it has accelerated by many factors more. That’s just technology and what happens. People grew up in a slow world that wasn’t changing, and when it did, they were resistant because it was new, uncomfortable, or it didn’t meet their definition of fun.
- 10:08 Ben: I want to talk about that word, “old,” because I want to make sure that people who are older in years don’t take offense to this idea. We aren’t talking about how many years you’ve been alive, but it’s the way you think about age.
- 10:36 Sean: Is “plasticity” the right word?
- 10:38 Ben: Plasticity is definitely a part of it. Some people are very change-averse. It’s okay to be cautious, but what sometimes comes along with that is the thinking, “I don’t like this change, and if I stay resistant to it, I’m going to get left behind.” There’s this fear associated with it, so they do things begrudgingly because of that. They take on new technologies, techniques, and approaches with a mindset of, “I hate that we have to do it this way now.” That puts the focus on them instead of the people they’re trying to reach with their message, service, or product.
- 11:35 Sean: I want to make good on the promise I had in the title for this episode, the one mindset shift. I think this is the one mindset shift.
You can guarantee that you will never get old if you embrace change and discomfort.
- 11:54 It’s a mindset thing. If we think of being old as a mindset, if you’re willing to embrace change and things that are not comfortable and familiar to you, you can avoid getting old in your mind. There are a lot of things that people will hail as the next big thing, and you’re not getting it. It feels weird, and it doesn’t feel comfortable. You don’t like the change. At this point, you have a choice. You can embrace it anyway or start your journey of old.
- 12:33 Ben: “Embracing” is a good way to describe it, but I want to take it a step further. You’re actively looking for opportunities to get outside of what is comfortable because you want to be as effective as possible at what you’re trying to do. With the new tools that are constantly coming up out there, instead of saying, “That’s a blip on my radar now. I’m going to engage that and try it out,” I’d rather have the attitude of, “Okay, let’s explore this and see if this is a useful tool. Let’s dive in. I’m going to do the research, ask my friends, and do whatever it takes to figure this thing out. Whether it’s popular or not, let’s see if it can be a useful tool for me, the way I communicate, and the message that I have.”
- 13:38 Sean: That’s a good approach, being proactive. I wasn’t even thinking about that. Don’t just accept change when it happens to you, but be proactive about following what is happening right now and trying out new things. Don’t let the floodwaters of old come in. There are people who know the flood is coming, because they’re paying attention to the news and they’re evacuating. Then there are the people who sit there until it happens, and then the water is coming in, and they say, “I guess I better go.” That is accepting that change is happening and leaving. Then there are people who say, “This is where I live. I’m not going anywhere.”
- 14:25 Ben: It’s tough, because by default we are more passive when it comes to that way of thinking. It’s attached to this other mindset of, “I have something to offer to the world. I have an important message to share.” The people who have trouble believing that or who stop believing that are most susceptible to being passive or even resistant when it comes to trying out new things. Them not feeling the urgency of what they want to share is more important to them than the people they’re meant to serve.
- 15:17 Sean: That’s a good observation. Maybe the people they want to serve, should serve, or have the ability to serve no longer have their attention in the places where they are familiar or comfortable. The reason I said to “embrace change and embrace discomfort” is because new things are going to be uncomfortable.
Different things are going to be uncomfortable and we don’t like being uncomfortable.
We like being comfortable, which can be a form of laziness.
- 15:58 Laziness is an unwillingness to adapt. If the people you’re trying to reach no longer have your attention through the channels you’re used to and comfortable with, you have to adapt if you want to continue to be effective.
- 16:18 This is the first app that made me feel old. I’m not old. I don’t consider myself old. I think old is a mindset. I can’t wait until I’m 40 and 50. That excites me. In a mindset sense, Snapchat was the first app that made me feel old. I ran a computer repair business, and my job was to fix problems and figure things out. Everyone else came to me and said, “I don’t understand how this works. I don’t understand what’s going wrong.” I didn’t either all of the time, but I said, “I’ll fix that for you,” and I figured it out. That was my job, my specialty. Anything I didn’t know, I learned how to do.
- 17:04 I pride myself on being willing to learn new things, figure out problems, and be adaptable. That’s what I think of myself. I think a lot of other people can relate. That’s how they think of themselves, too. Maybe they’re the IT person of their family. It was really uncomfortable for me to start hearing a lot about Snapchat. I downloaded it once and I started poking around around and I thought, “This is just weird.” There’s no explanation when you open up—swipe this way, tap up here to do that… The app is not intuitive.
- 17:59 Ben: Especially when you don’t have people you’re following or people following you yet.
- 18:06 Sean: You don’t even understand all that. How many followers do I have? You don’t know. What is this? This doesn’t fit my mold of every other social media platform that I use, so I rejected it. I said, “This is dumb,” and I hid under the guise that, “That’s for teens. It’s a silly app for unpolished stuff. I have a polished brand, and I’m not going to mess with that.” Really, it was because that was the first app that made me feel old. Like a lot of our listeners, I downloaded it once and I thought, “This doesn’t make sense,” and I rejected it.
- 18:44 I see people on Twitter all the time, people that I follow, saying, “It was horrible. I rejected it. I couldn’t figure it out. It didn’t make sense. It’s not intuitive.” I went away from it for a long time, for many months. I started seeing more and more people using Snapchat and more and more engagement happening there. I’ve said this before—I like being successful more than I like being right. I had said that I didn’t want to use Snapchat and that it was a bad fit for my brand. I think it’s unpolished. We do a nice video production here.
- 19:28 Ben: I wasn’t able to watch the live webinar for Supercharge Your Writing, but I went back and watched the replay. At the very beginning of the replay, Sean said, “I have a surprise for you. I’m here in the room.”
- 19:42 Sean: I had a slide. Ben’s talking about SuperchargeYourWriting.com, and by the time you hear this, enrollment is probably closed. I had a slide that had a photo of myself and my name, and I said, “A lot of people have a slide like this with a photo of themselves so you can see what they look like. But I have a surprise for you. We have live video right now, and I’m right here! It’s me!”
- 20:05 Ben: It looks so good. It’s usually a webcam with a guy with headphones on, but it wasn’t like that at all. It looked really nice.
- 20:18 Sean: We take it seriously. I said, “No. I’m not doing Snapchat. You just hold the camera of your cellphone aiming at yourself. This doesn’t align with my brand.” I said no.
Rejecting Snapchat was really about me feeling old, but I told myself a different story.
- 20:37 Long story short, I decided to push past this discomfort, embrace change, and try this out. I didn’t say, “I’m going to go all in on this and focus heavily on it,” but I decided to try it out. I started using Snapchat for about a week. I was sharing updates pretty much daily. I was just trying it out. After a week, now I totally get the interface. You swipe in any direction, and you find more things, and you figure it out. It does take about a week of using it, and most people don’t get that far if they don’t like change. I did it to survey my audience. I wanted to see what they thought of me being on Snapchat. Was it weird?
- 21:29 Do you not like the unpolished nature of things contrasted with the high quality production of everything else? Does it detract from my brand? That’s what I’m thinking. It’s detracting from it. Unanimously, everyone said, “It doesn’t detract from your brand. It adds to the authenticity. We get it. We know you’re holding a phone. Just because you’re on professional cameras, lighting, and high quality setups doesn’t mean that you can’t hold a phone and aim it at yourself. If anything, it makes you seem more relatable and more human, because you’re holding a phone just like anyone else.”
- 22:20 Other people were saying, “I thought what you were going to share on there was going to be more of the same seanwes tv type content, but somehow you’re providing more unique valuable content.” I thought, “What else would I do? I’m not just going to show you my breakfast.” It’s a tool. People think, “If I get that, I have to do this. I don’t want to show people that.” You don’t have to. It’s a tool, just like any other platform. In 2008, people thought Twitter was where you talked about the breakfast you shared a photo of on Instagram. They make fun of platforms and they have these stigmas.
At the end of the day, social media platforms are just tools for reach and engagement.
- 23:16 Speaking of engagement, I’m getting hundreds of people on Snapchat watching my stories. Compare that with Twitter, where I’m getting 2% engagement. You don’t even get a couple hundred people clicking your stuff on Twitter. On Twitter, what’s the goal? You want someone to click your link. You put an image, make it look nice, hopefully put a good description and a nice little quote so someone is intrigued enough to click the link. That’s what you want. That’s why everyone says, “Snapchat’s no good. You can’t get people go to do things. You can’t link to your site.”
The Purpose of Social Media
- 23:57 Two things. One, I have got people to go over and make a purchase from Snapchat, but that’s another story. Two, I ask myself, why do I want someone to click this link? What’s in it for them? I deliver that message directly on Snapchat. I just give it to them. I want them to click my link so they listen to my podcast. What’s your podcast about? It’s about helping people with cashflow. Okay, what’s the main problem? It’s this. What’s the solution? It’s that. Tell them! Give them the value right there! It’s not about going to your website and clicking something. Eventually, they will. When you provide enough value where people already are, then they’ll go over to your website.
- 24:49 Then, they’ll finally, after I don’t know how many dozens of episodes, type in SuperchargeYourWriting.com in their browser on their phone. They’ll finally stop in a parking lot when they’ve listened to the podcast driving, and they’ll finally type in seanwes.com/community. They will eventually get there, but you have to provide a ton of value.
- 25:12 Ben: For me, it wasn’t until I saw some other people that I’m already friends with getting on the platform. I had the app for a really long time. It was a similar kind of thing. I didn’t understand it, it was confusing, and I thought no one was really on there anyway. When I started seeing other people try it out, I thought, “Okay, there are a few people I can follow.” There was wave after wave of Gary Vee talking about it, saying, “You’ve got to be on this.”
- 25:57 Sean: That’s the reason I did it. Everybody who follows me and Gary knows that Gary has been hammering on it, and I was resistant to it for a long time. Now, the engagement has been incredible. I have a friend who’s older than me who is resistant to using Snapchat. He says, “It doesn’t do it for me.” I said, “It doesn’t matter if it does it for you. Do you want to be effective? Do you want to reach people? This is not about you having fun. It’s about being effective and reaching people.”
- 26:36 He said, “It needs to have the attention,” and he had several criteria. One was that it needed to be fun for him. I do get that. He said that it needs to be profitable, something that pays and has a payoff. I said, “You can generate money indirectly. It doesn’t have to have a checkout system where people deposit money into your bank.” You can use social media to provide value that is priming people. That’s how I see podcasts and a lot of the content I’m putting out. It’s priming people and providing value.
- 27:22 It’s accelerating the Magic of 7 and bringing them closer to getting a ticket for seanwes conference. What is the value of moving someone one step closer to attending an event? That’s hard to quantify.
If you’re only looking for things that are quantifiable, you’re going to miss out.
- 27:42 I responded with a one word reply to someone on Snapchat, and I ended up getting an interview on a 200,000 subscriber YouTube channel.
- 28:00 Ben: This is the thing that Gary has said often. We might have mentioned it once or twice, but there is this rhythm to social media platforms that has been fairly consistent. It’s increasing. There are so many different new social media platforms. In the beginning, they try to take away as many barriers for entry as possible. There are no ads. It’s free to join. You can see everything you want to see. After they get a strong enough user base, they start to change things a little bit and they start to monetize it. The ones who are smart are really careful about how they curate information to their users.
- 28:59 Sean: So they don’t incite a mass exodus.
- 29:06 Ben: They start to bring in ads and stuff like that. By this time, they’re well established and they can afford to do that. This is what happens. In the beginning, on Facebook, you could post something and it would be seen by everyone who follows you. Now, it’s become so saturated, and Facebook has become so careful about how it curates information that unless you’re putting out a sponsored post, you’re barely getting any engagement on that platform. With Snapchat, the engagement is so high.
On social media, you make a profit from people who are paying attention and who take action, and they can’t take action unless they’re paying attention.
- 30:06 The platform that has the largest attention graph right now is Snapchat. That’s where a lot of attention is. You can’t get that kind of attention on Facebook. You almost can’t buy that kind of attention on Facebook.
- 30:20 Sean: That’s exactly it. It’s not like Snapchat is brand new. It’s been around for a while, but it’s early enough to where they’re not ruining it for people who want to reach people and sell things yet. When you are a brand on Facebook, they’re going to make you pay to reach people now. They’re going to make sure that only the posts that are boosted are seen by people. Right now, on Snapchat and any other new platform, it’s a level playing field. There’s a lot of fresh attention there. Like Ben said, not everything is immediately profitable.
- 31:05 It’s about having the attention first. This is something I talk about in Supercharge Your Writing. In the course, I go into the six stages of the buyer’s journey, and you’ve got everything from people who don’t know who you are, people who are primed to buy, and people who eventually buy—and everything in between. The everything in between is everything. If you only ever target the people who have their credit card out and are ready to buy something, you’ll only make a few sales.
- 31:40 There are only a few people who are primed to buy right now and are ready to make a purchase. For everyone else, you have to get to that point. You only get them to that point by building trust with them, establishing a relationship, providing value, and all of that only works if you have their attention.
Connecting With Your Audience
- 32:39 Ben: Attention is a very important metric. When you have something to share, to give to the world, and you believe that about yourself, the question of age shouldn’t come into the equation. You shouldn’t say, “I’m too old to mess around with this particular medium.” What could be relevant is the age of your audience. Look at Snapchat and think about what the target demographic is for that social platform. Who is using it? If my target audience is a certain age group that only has a little bit of attention there vs. their attention somewhere else, that’s how you want to measure things. Measure the attention.
- 33:25 It’s really about whether you have a message to share. Do you have something of value to offer the world? Do you have something to give? Do you have work to do? If the answer is yes, look at the tools that are available, and decide what to use based on how effective those tools are going to be at helping you accomplish that. Don’t let age make you say, “This would be a great tool for me to use, but I’m not really their target market. I’m a little bit old now.”
- 33:58 Sean: The range of people I follow on Snapchat is from 24 to 57. A lot of people think it’s a 13 to 20 kind of app, but I think it’s growing. People who are smaller right now, not massive companies, are overthinking this. The point is, there’s enough people there for you. You’re not trying to run a massive campaign. You don’t really need to be worrying about demographic stats. There are enough people on Snapchat for you, and the attention they have is really good. Instead of scrolling through feeds and missing your posts, they have to tap on you.
- 34:45 “I want to hear from Ben. I want to hear from Sean.” They have to commit. They’re choosing to watch you like they’re choosing to watch a TV channel, and it goes full screen on their phone. Nothing else, no other distractions, not even the time and the battery at the time, it’s just your story that has all of their attention. It’s really powerful.
- 35:11 Ben: It’s a medium that I really enjoy. It fits my personality well. For that specific medium, the raw authentic video stuff really suits my communication style in a way that helps me connect with my audience that other mediums don’t give me the ability to do. I can’t connect with my audience the same way in a video where I’m supposed to be polished, delivering something line by line. It’s kind of like a podcast, where I get to think out loud and people also get to see my face.
There Has Always Been Change
- 35:53 Sean: I know we have a lot of listeners of all ages who are hearing more about this, but they’re resistant to this. That was me just some months ago. I would encourage you to try it out. If you’re listening in the future and Snapchat is already a big thing or it’s already past, there is a moral here that applies to whatever the next thing is. I think VR is going to be really big. iPhones aren’t even a decade old. Not that long ago, people said, “Look at all these kids looking down at their phones. They’ve got their heads down in their own little world. This is the real world where it’s happening.” That’s what all of the older people said because they were disappointed that things were changing.
- 36:47 They think it’s worse. That’s what always happens. We always think the next generation is going to hell in a handbasket, or whatever that expression is. Old people are saying this. I saw this photo of people on a train, and it had to be in the 1940s or 1950s. There were people on a train, and they all had newspapers out. All of their heads were in their newspapers. Nothing has changed. It was books. It was newspapers. It was magazines. It was TV. Nothing has changed. People were just doing other things. It’s just a replacement. We’re resistant because it’s something different.
- 38:06 Everyone now is going to be resistant to VR in 20 and 30 years. We’re going to say, “Look at them. They’ve got something over their head. They’re in their rooms, off doing their own thing, not engaging with people and not in the real world.” Meanwhile, we grew up on our phones every single second. If we stop the podcast, and one of you goes to the bathroom and the other one goes to get water, what am I going to do? I’m going to look at a screen. That’s what we all do.
If we’re not driving, we’re looking at a screen, and to resist that is to resist the future.
- 38:45 You can say how bad it is, you can say how much you don’t want it, but if you’re not embracing change and discomfort, you will get old and you will get left behind. You can avoid getting old by choosing to embrace change and embrace discomfort. Things are going to change and evolve, and you will either get on board or start your journey of old.
- 39:16 Ben: For me, it comes down to how important and vital it is to you to share what you have to share with the world. How important is it to you to do the work you have in front of you?
- 39:31 Sean: I want to get in that virtual reality world, wherever anyone is, and I want to figure out how I can get in front of people. Whether that’s me actually meeting them in the virtual reality world, setting up a virtual shop or some kind of system or experience, I want to figure that out. As much as I think that sounds super weird, and it will be pretty strange, that will become the next level of reality. Just like we have our eyes glued to our phones, that is our reality. That’s already how it is right now. This next step isn’t that much different. I want to reach my audience more than I want to say that my medium, what I’m comfortable with, is the best.
Avoid Getting “Old”
- 40:31 Ben: If that’s where your focus is, then you’ll be able to deal with discomfort and you’ll be able to embrace that change. Your message is more important to you. Other people are more important to you than your own comfort. That’s what it comes down to.
- 40:48 Sean: The degree to which you have changed your routines, your systems, your tools, your engagement, your social platforms, and the way you’re communicating with people over the past five years is a good indicator of how prepared you are for the future and your likelihood of getting old. We’re talking, again, about getting old as a mindset. Look over the past five or ten years. How stuck are you in your ways over that time? How maleable are you? How flexible are you? How willing are you to adapt to new technologies, new systems, new methods, and new approaches? That’s the degree to which you’ll be ready for the future.
If you don’t like new technologies and systems, then you need to accept change and embrace discomfort if you want to survive and not be left behind.
- 41:55 Ben: Do you still have a MySpace account?
- 41:59 Sean: I don’t know if I ever deactivated it.
- 42:06 Ben: I don’t know if there is a way to deactivate it.
- 42:09 Sean: When we talk about getting old, people think of whatever in their mind is an old person. They say, “I’m not old.” Let’s think about the future version of you and how we prevent that. When you think “old,” stop thinking about old people that were born a long time before you and start thinking about the future version of yourself. Everyone is looking to the next generation and saying, “These guys have it wrong. They’re crazy, they’re weird, they’re doing it the wrong way. I resist that.” The same people are looking to the last generation and saying that they’re the old ones.
- 42:57 That’s how you get old. You never think of yourself as old, but you only look at the people before you as old. The people who don’t get old are very aware of their degree of oldness and they’re vigilant about it. They say, “The people before me aren’t the old ones. I’m the one who’s about to get old if I don’t get vigilant and stay ahead of this thing, if I don’t embrace change.” Whenever someone says the word “old,” stop picturing an old person in your mind and picture the future version of yourself that you don’t want to be.
- 43:35 Ben: Grumpy Ben.
Your Future Self
- 43:38 Sean: You were talking about the future version of yourself in the chat the other week, Ben. It was a different context, but you were talking about this avatar that you have in your mind, a clear picture of future Ben.
- 43:57 Ben: The basic idea was that I can very easily put off making certain changes because I say, “Future Ben is going to be able to handle that. Future Ben is going to be more patient, more disciplined, he’s going to be in a better financial position,” and all of those things. I’m almost saying that present Ben doesn’t deserve the things that future Ben deserves. It’s a good thought exercise to say, “What is the difference between future Ben and present Ben? What is the cost of not doing the things I’m saying that future Ben should do?” The cost is that future Ben is never going to exist, because present Ben is the one who needs to implement all these things.
- 45:06 Present Ben is the one who needs to take care of his health. I wasn’t sure if we would go there or not, but as your body ages, you really need to focus on taking care of yourself. I think about the times when I wasn’t working out, eating right, or taking care of myself, and how I felt. I felt old. The way your body feels has a lot of sway over the way you think about yourself and your age. It can influence the kinds of decisions you make about things like new technologies. Taking care of your physical self is a big part of it. Taking care of my physical self is something for present Ben to do, not something for future Ben. This is who I want to be today, not someday.
Your future self is determined by the habits of your present self.
- 46:13 Sean: I’m very guilty of thinking this, and a lot of other people think this way as well. We think that the version of ourselves we want to be in the future is someone we will be because of a choice we make in the future, and it’s not true. You have a very clear picture of who you will be in the future. It’s called, “Look in the mirror.” What are your habits right now? The future version of you depends on what version of time travel you subscribe to. The future is either cemented or it’s changeable. Right now, based on your current habits, you have cemented your future self.
- 47:01 I have cemented my future self. As I hustle through the last several weeks, work through the sabbaticals, work 120 hour work weeks, I’m not someone who takes care of their health. I have to accept that. I can’t defer this decision. I can’t say, “In the future, I’ll be a more healthy version of myself.” Looking at my habits right now, looking in the mirror right now, in the future, I will be an unhealthy person because of what I’m doing right now, because of my choices right now. If I want to change the future version of myself, I have to change my present habits.
- 47:38 Ben: It doesn’t get easier to make those decisions. In fact, it gets harder. We experience the discomfort of making those decisions now and the false idea that, at some point in the future, it won’t feel as uncomfortable to make that change. That never happens. It gets harder and harder. It only starts to get easier to make that decision when you start making it, when you make it a new habit. It’s a small rudder on a large ship. It’s not something that happens overnight, but something that happens gradually, over time, as every day you make your choices.