I'm Not the Next Anybody

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Anyone who has pitched a book, business or movie to a publisher, VC or producer has been through the same dance.

It’s Wuthering heights meets Spongebob, but edgier and with a Quentin Tarantino fast cut Miller Time energy. It’s The Four Hour Workweek meets Fried Green Tomatoes, but set in Little Havana and with a bit more of a Catcher in The Rye slash The Secret thing happening. And let’s not forget, “it’s the next Hemingway, Brando, Jobs or Ablom.”

People want to frame and pitch you in the light of other massive successes to give context in the hope that you’ll ride reputation of the legends you’re being compared to.

Sounds cool, shorthands the pitch…only it’s garbage.

Strike that. It’s worse.

Because implying you’re the NEXT something or someone simultaneously diminishes the value and power of you being the FIRST you!

It tells people from the get go that you’re derivative.

It strips away the extraordinary opportunity to rise to the challenge of defining who you are, demonstrating the value of your own unique contribution and proving to the world that you’re not the next anyone. You’re the first you. And that’s enough to get you where you’re going and then some.

So next time you or your rep are tempted to shorthand how you’re magically delicious and utterly different, do it by framing yourself as the first big you…not the next big someone else or the coolest elements of other peoples’ work,


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6 responses

6 responses to “I'm Not the Next Anybody”

  1. Hi Jonathan,

    I agree 1000%

    You are a true inspiration for me, thus I am an inspiration for others…

    ” Be yourself, anyone else is already taken. ” ( Oscar Wilde )

    Btw, I just launch my new website / blog and I add you in my links / blogroll.

    Have a look at http://www.leleux.com


  2. Kapish’ that. Think I read something similar on HarvardBusiness’s feed titled “You May Be Hiding the Secret to Your Success” in relation to name-dropping to hide each others’ insecurities. Perhaps some guys are really playing on the existing wave created by the current big thing, cashing in on others’ success. But it’ll still be awesome to build up something unique, a stand-alone, an epic that great on it’s own.

  3. Travis Hill says:

    I see this a lot when doing mental performance coaching for teens. Parents call their child the next Pele, Venus Williams, Tiger Woods… especially in front of recruiters. They kill their shots at greatness before they’ve started.

  4. I agree with Travis it does start in childhood and as adults, when we think about our ‘heroes’ and the successes we want to emulate, we need to take care not to try to be like them but to suss out the essence of what we admire and consider how that would uniquely live in our business, life, etc…

  5. Paul Peixoto says:

    Wow. Nail on the head here, Jonathan. So many (my self included) can get caught up in the do-better-sameness (origin: Seth Godin?) hype. I have found that I make more progress in doing the work I feel called to do when being authentically me and no one else.

    Loved the way you put, “the extraordinary opportunity to rise to the challenge of defining who you are.” Many miss that opportunity and we all suffer for that loss. What will drive this next wave of economic expansion is individuals willing to work through the defining process.

  6. Yes, yes, yes. Extremely smart post here. It bothers me so much when things, people and ideas are advertised as “the next ____.”