The Clarity of Shoshin

In Zen Buddhism there is a concept called, “Shoshin” and it translates to the idea of the “beginner’s mind”.  I thought having just passed the 100-day mark of Casual Marketer that I’d take the time to share a bit of how I’ve been structuring my thoughts about this project and why I think this may help you.

Ok, before we get too far down this path, don’t worry, I’m not going to get all Richard Gere on you, I’m not a Buddhist, I just like the idea of Shoshin.

As I’ve mentioned before, when I started to think about the idea of Casual Marketer nearly a year ago, it was under the guise of, “I want to harness what I write on a daily basis and publish it in a way that benefits me long term.”

That’s actually a pretty simple idea, but when you scratch the surface it’s a bit more complex.

Essentially, I was doing a ton of writing online and other than the occasional piece of feedback from someone telling me how much they liked something I said or suggesting that I should write more, I wasn’t really getting anything out of it.  The idea that I should “write more” was something that I test – I took the time to count how many words on average I was writing online on other people’s platforms.

The number staggered me when I averaged it out on a daily basis from collecting it for about a week.  The best number I could come up with was 15,000 words that week or 2500 words per day.  To put it in perspective, that’s five full-length books a year I was writing in other people’s Facebook Groups and Forums.

It was obscene in retrospect.

Interestingly, I’d read a long article the week before about Shoshin and rather than being disgusted by the fact I was giving so much of my knowledge away for other people to profit from, I was pretty calm about it.  I realised that this was an opportunity for me, if I could harness that content and deliver it onto my own platform, I’d start getting the benefit.

Let’s talk about Shoshin for a minute.

As I’ve said, Shoshin is the idea of the “beginner’s mind”.  What that means is that you look at things without preconceived notions and think about the boundless possibilities available without restricting your thoughts to conventional limitations that we often place on ourselves.  I was open to the fact that I could actually use this content in a more meaningful way for myself.

This really dovetailed nicely with my feelings towards abundance.  Probably about two and a half years ago, I came to the realisation that we live in a world of incredible abundance.  I just started noticing that people who created things of value weren’t bound or restricted necessarily by competition and that they were able to generate wealth without “taking it” from someone else.

When you put these two notions together it’s really powerful.  The world is an abundant place where you can create things of value and be compensated accordingly for it and your possibilities with regards to creating those things of value are endless.

It’s all a bit woo-woo, but it really worked for me.

When I started thinking about how I wanted to harness this content, the idea of creating the physical newsletter came to my mind.  When I spoke to a few people they sort of gave me the thumbs down citing a whole plethora of reasons but largely saying that the world had moved on from “dead tree” versions of content being sent to you in the mail.  They didn’t think anyone would buy it.

I disagreed.  I thought it was an interesting idea and I felt I’d built up enough credibility and knowledge to attract an audience willing to subscribe.  I just felt there would simply be enough people to make this work and I’d just have to figure out how to reach them.

Then I had people tell me that creating a physical newsletter would be hard work logistically and I’d struggle to deal with printing and shipping.  Some people said I wouldn’t get enough subscribers to make it worth my effort and others worried that it wouldn’t scale.  I figured getting some stuff printed and stuck into envelopes couldn’t be that hard.

Shoshin and abundance.

I was sure I could make it work and that I’d find enough people to subscribe.

Now as I head into the next 100 days of this project, I have been thinking more about the future for Casual Marketer.

There are a number of things I want to try and some that I really don’t.  For example, I’ve had numerous people ask me if I was going to create a “community” or a “forum” for Casual Marketer.  They tell me that people would come for the content and stay for the community and that it would reduce my churn rates.

Well, that’s conventional thinking and it’s cliched.  First up, I don’t have a problem with churn rates, I’ve literally had just three people subscribe and cancel their subscription after a month or two.  That’s a pretty low churn rate, so why create work for myself and offer something to prevent a problem I don’t have.  And secondly, I’m not sure I believe in that whole notion that people will stay for the community – I agree with it in some situations, but not all, I’ve seen plenty of forums fail.

I’d rather spend my time doing other things with Casual Marketer.  Some of these things are a bit out of fashion but I know there are people that this will resonate with.  More importantly, I’m comfortable that I’ll be able to find enough people who’ll want this stuff that it will be very worthwhile.

And this is really the takeaway for you.  Have an open mind about the possibilities that lay in front of you in your business.  I’m not suggesting that you should create a video course teaching underwater knitting for left-handed people, but don’t necessarily rule things out because conventional wisdom says it’s a bad idea.  I think you should be prepared to back yourself if you’re passionate and convinced about the idea.

The worst thing that can happen is that you fail.  You won’t die not having tried which would probably be way worse.  In the last six months, I’ve written a book and created a physical newsletter product – neither of those things I would have considered likely twelve months ago.  I simply gave myself the freedom and the opportunity to try.

I want you to sit down and think about some ideas that you have or have had in the past few months where you shelved them because you didn’t have the “beginner’s mind” or because you thought the market was too competitive.  Take a sheet of paper and write out your idea, play with it, give it time to breathe.

Most importantly, be willing to take a chance on yourself.

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