Imagine trying to learn to walk today.
Like if 33 year old Matt only knew how to crawl and I said, “Alright time to learn to walk!”
I’d grab the side of the couch, swing my left leg around, pull myself up as a drag my right leg to standing, attempt my first step… wobble… and fall over.
Next step: SHAME!
I’m such a fucking idiot, why did I ever think I could walk. Natalie is literally laughing at me? With me? Either way I’m so pathetic.
I’d probably stop there and never try again.
Crawling is good enough.
I’m happy… enough.
Thankfully we learned how to walk when were babies.
No ego or shame to tell us to stop. We were determined to figure out how to do this cool ass thing called “walking” we see our parents doing.
We want in!!!
So we grab the couch.
Our parents laugh and clap.
We smile, giggle and smack our hands together trying to replicate their clap so we can join the fun.
And we try again.
We watch them walk.
Try to replicate their steps.
We clap (whoa is my clap getting better too?)
We try again.
Until look at you now you crazy mother fucker!
Running around and shit.
Running AND catching a football!
Running AND filming content (some of us at least 😜)!
You’re a goddamn pro!
Thank god we didn’t shame ourselves for not knowing how to do something we’ve never done before. Wouldn’t that be silly. We’d still be crawling around on floor never knowing what life could really be like.
Yet here you go… thinking you should know how to create content even though you’ve never done it before.
As if you have any idea how to act like yourself (assuming you even know yourself) with a camera in your face and to say exactly what you want to say even though you’ve never said it in under a minute before all while knowing there’s the potential for millions of people to see this video even though humans have spent most of their existence only ever managing relationships with 100-200 other humans.
Yeah… that’s totally something that should be easy.
Just be authentic… whats your deal? (I say with bleeding sarcasm)
I have a better, more fun solution
In this post I will:
- Releasing the shame of stealing ideas
- How I have stolen like an artist to create my best content.
- How you can steal like an artist to create unique perspectives that begin to build your raving fans.
1. Stealing like an artist
After my bike ride across America I made the declaration to pursue things that pique my curiosity and brought me joy. So I picked up the DSLR camera that was hidden on the top shelve of my closet for a decade and thought, “I’m gonna learn what all these buttons do!”
This began my photography journey.
And what better muse than New York City. Inspiration for art everywhere if you knew to look for it.
Which, I of course, did not.
So I began simply taking photos of whatever caught my eye.
Photography is great because nobody ever has to see the shitty photos (and every photographer knows there are A LOT OF SHITTY ONES… we just don’t show you those).
Buuuuuut you don’t improve if you don’t put your work out there.
It means something completely different when you share your art with the world. You put your heart out there to say, “I made this and I love it. I hope you do too.”
And this creates a deep desire to do better work next time.
(but we’re actually not here to talk about that today)
Let me share two things with you before we continue.
- If you didn’t know, my last name is MIchalek (MI-HAL-ICK)
See, it’s hard to know how to say it. Nobody who has just met me has ever said it correctly. (even my girlfriend still sounds it like she’s spelling B-E-A-UTIFUL) For branding purposes, I went with my middle name, Allyn. It’s easy to say and it’s cool because it’s spelt uniquely with a “Y”
Now that there’s no confusion…
- My other Instagram.
Yup, I had two IGs for quite a while until I realized that there is no difference between me and my business. I am the brand.
You can check it out here. This is where all most old photos sit. Since we’re at the beginning of the story, here’s my first ever photography post:
Along my photography journey I began following other NYC photographers. They all had their very own unique styles.
Some shot the landmarks like the Empire State Building
Some exclusively shot the people on NYC.
Some shot mostly at night.
Some even flew in helicopters over Manhattan (that was always on the bucket list).
I did what any great artist would do.
If I saw a shot of the Chrysler Building that inspired me, I’d go try and get that same shot.
I would try to figure out which street they stood on, where did they stand, did they crouch behind something, what focal length did they use, I love how they got all the cabs in the shot. It feels sooooo New York City. So I would hunt down taht location and… if I had to get some Taxi’s in the shot… I’d wait and wait until…
Click, click, click.
I’d get my shot.
I followed a few photographers who would get such cool shots of people inside a coffee shop. It’d be like some old guy, with an Irish hat on reading a newspaper. You felt like you were in the 50s when you saw it, but you knew it was taken today and it created this feeling of simpler times.
So, I’d walk around Madison Square Park, stand about 20 feet from a coffee shop window like an absolute creep until…
Click. Click. Click.
I’d get my shot
(I sucked at these, but there’s one I loved on Valentines day which turned into a whole series)
A girl at a restaurant on Valentine’s day with red balloon filling the restaurant and a giant heart-shaped ornament that hangs above her head…. but there’s an empty seat across from her… and she’s on her phone… and she does not look happy.
Maybe she saw me and hates me for taking a photo 🙃
or maybe she getting stood up?
This may have been my first glimpse of storytelling.
If you care to check out that entire post, it’s a series of photos. And it most definitely tells the story of Valentine’s day.
I remember seeing this really cool shot of Grand Central Terminal where the people were all blurry. It was a perfect depiction of the hectic energy of everyone trying to catch their train.
I wanted that shot.
So I stood exactly where that person did, played with my shutter speed.
Click…………. click………. click (that’s a shutter speed joke for the photographers out there)
I’d get my shot.
I fucking love this shot.
The old man. Moving slowly as the world rushes by around him.
It tells a story.
I didn’t really know it at the time, but this process of “stealing like an artist” is what helped me develop my own style.
Like I said, I hated shooting people in coffee shops, but I loved shooting people.
And what I really loved was finding people in light or shadows to enhance a story.
This woman who matches the building around her attempting to escape the web of shadows.
The silhouette of the biker riding past the Brooklyn Bridge (we photographers also get lucky)
This guy in one of the busiest transportation hubs (the Oculus) in the city, somehow alone reading a book. The light shines down on him as if to remind us, it’s the slowing down that gives life.
One of my all time favorites, The Saxophone Man in Central Park. The way the light pours onto him like he’s got the spotlight at Carnegie Hall. It doesn’t matter he’s actually alone under a bridge with nobody else listening. He’s got his music. And that’s all that matters.
I’d love to share a hundred more, but I’ll stop there.
🧃 The Juice
Be a little baby again!!
- Hindsight is 20:20.
If I realized I was developing my own style, I would have leaned into it and gone full send on it and become known for it. But I didn’t know it. I just ran around the city shooting all sorts of stuff hoping my next photo would go viral (classic) and people would eventually buy a ton of prints (and then I could quit engineering).
What I know now is that I LOOOOVE these shots (and the others like this) compared to the ones that I thought other people would love.
I can feel them in my bones.
And isn’t that why we do the work?
Because we love it.
It’s only when we shame ourselves that we lose ourselves (you didn’t do this when you learned to walk)
- I never would have uncovered shots that I love if I didn’t go out and try to copy things that inspired me and loving the thrill of nabbing that moment before it was gone forever.
Just like you tried to copy your mom and dads footsteps and the way they clapped, and failed and didn’t judge yourself for it. You got better. And you learned how to do it your way.
This EXACTLY how you should be creating content 👇 How do you make content you love? You copy others. Plural. You copy so much until, naturally, you start developing your own style without even knowing it.
2. Copying Content: In Practice
Here’s how I’ve done it.
Mentor #1: Flynn Skidmore
January 2023 I made a vow to stop taking business courses and focus on my personal growth, so I joined Flynn’s membership.
Flynn is a therapist and this is my first doing actually “doing” therapy, albeit in a group setting.
Here I learned about Parts Work and it’s changed my life.
I shared about it and gave Flynn full credit on April 13th, 2023:
Then a few months later with more implementation and growth I had my own interpretation of this work and created this on June 9th, 2023:
I believe Flynn, with 130,000 followers at the time, reshared the first one on his story, which did okay.
Yet, you may note how much more engagement the second Reel got.
Give credit where credit’s due, like I did in the first one.
However, at the end of the day, Flynn didn’t invent Parts Work. So the second one was my interpretation of the work I’ve been doing on the baseball field. This is not a perspective Flynn can have because he doesn’t play baseball. It’s my own unique perspective.
Also, Flynn’s content is just speaking to the camera. No b-roll footage or voice overs like mine. Because of my filmmaking background, my stuff takes on a different creative form. (just because Flynn speaks directly to the camera does not mean he is not incredibly creative)
I loooove Andrew’s stuff on TikTok.
I hadn’t seen his stuff in a while then one day he posted this inner dialogue:
I looooved it. He was so himself.
Then I went to his profile and watched a few more.
I thought these were so fun.
So… if they don’t already look familiar to you, I tried one out.
Yes, it did better than most of my posts… but in truth I just looooved creating it.
I loved my experience in the moment at this brewery. (I mean I hated my social anxiety but it was also something to work through… and if something is hard, sign me up)
I loved filming it.
I loved editing (my editor did not make this one).
So I made more.
Sadly I got distracted by trends and making old content that was less fun because I felt like I HAD to post 5-7 days a week if I’m the marketing guy.
By getting back to falling in love with the process and making content I LOVE, not making “read the caption” reels or following other trends just because it’s working for others, or listening to a guru say to post X times a week, I make my best content.
Nothing else matters.
What matters is to fall in love with the process. You fall in love with the process by picking things that inspire you and excite you. Then you check in and see if you loved the process. If not, keep going.
Note: You may not be GOOD at creating content yet which means you probably don’t know if you truly don’t like something.
Decipher whether you truly don’t like something or if you’re just new at it and need to gain som skill first. If it’s the latter, keep going.
When you love the process of your work, you release the attachment of NEEDING your content to make you money.
This is the art of letting go.
When you learn to let go, you will find, you get what you want.
Here’s my most recent post:
You will notice how it’s evolved since the first one.
It has become more me since the first one.
But I never would have gotten here if I didn’t let myself play.
This Reel is a combo of Andrew’s “inner dialogue” videos and Flynn’s teachings (creating a loving relationship with all parts of myself).
3. How You Can Post Unique Perspectives that followers LOVE & SHARE
Step 1 is to uncover your mentors.
It doesn’t mean you have to work with them (I have never worked with Andrew). So call them hero’s or muses if you’d like.
Watch their stuff.
Notice how they create and what they say that inspires you.
Step 2 is to understand it what you love.
Most people aren’t spending any time going deeper.
They spew out what they already know or regurgitate something they have learned.
Instead, schedule in time in your week to go back and look at the content you loved from your mentors and understand why YOU love it. What does it mean to you based on who you are and the experiences you’ve had in life.
I do this by asking myself, “How do I see understand this concept as a person who is a ultra marathon trail runner, with high energy, who only ever wants to go to the park and play sports for his birthday, and has a Vizsla puppy and girlfriend who also loves to run…….?”
This is how I get a video like the baseball one above.
Step 3 is to then go create it with joy and love for the process.
I haven’t found anything more fun than creating something unique.
Nothing is truly new.
Your mentor probably didn’t invite what they teach just as Flynn didn’t invent parts work.
It’s more likely a melting pot of everything they learned that they turned into their own unique perspective, methodology or framework.
So now it’s your turn.
- What style of content would be fun to make (like how I stole Andrew’s inner dialogue)
- What would I love to talk about (parts work which I learned from Flynn)
Step 4 is to reflect and improve.
The results of your post aren’t relevant right now.
Did you love the process?
That’s what we are really after.
If yes, THEN your job is to make it better (better hook, more clear language, etc.)
Don’t go try a whole new process. Just get better at what you love.
If you did not like the process:
Option 1: You may just not be good at it yet. Just like you sucked at walking, but you kept pulling yourself up by the coach and trying again. Keep trying.
Option 2: Try a new style of content.
Thanks for being here. I hope you loved this story today.
Until next time,