How to succeed in the ego-ravaged drama queen world of social media

social media ego

By Mark Schaefer

So let’s get this out on the table. Trying to make a name for yourself in this social media world can hurt.

The angst of wanting to be heard feels familiar every time some sort of social media “list” comes out. Most of these lists are meaningless, self-promotional stunts. Deep down, most people realize this. Still …

Lots of worthy people feel hurt they have been left off these lists (which are usually Twitter-based — how much sense does that make?). I still remember that feeling of being left out of the social media scene. In fact, I was left out at every turn for years.

This is what I did about it.

Remembering the hurt

I started blogging in 2009 and there was a different “A List” back then, but there was still an A-List and I wasn’t on it. I hated that.

I thought I was publishing content as good as anybody out there but I was not in that inner circle. In fact I felt the inner circle pushed back on newcomers, and I even wrote a post back then about the clubbiness of the social media elite. Boy did that piss people off. Which was strangely enjoyable at the time.

And of course there were the lists. Same people over and over. I felt I could be up there too but couldn’t get anybody’s attention.

My blog was a lonely and depressing place. Four or five of us would try to comment on each other’s blogs just to cheer each other up.

Another big setback was trying to get on the speaker circuit. I was building a good reputation I thought, a solid canon of content … but nobody would invite me to speak. One organizer told me “no thanks, we have our guys.” And literally he meant “guys,” by the way.

I talked to publishers about an idea I had for a new kind of book about Twitter. Nobody wanted the thing. “Too many social media books.” “You don’t have a big enough brand name to sell books.”

Everywhere I turned I was banging my head on the social media glass ceiling and I was getting sick of it. So this is what I did about it.

I stopped waiting to be picked.

First, I unsubscribed to the “A-List” blogs and stopped trying to be like other people. I stepped out of the echo chamber and was determined to be my own A-List. I doubled down on the {grow} blog content with “excellence” as the only acceptable criteria for any post on this site.

I started my own social media conference. You don’t want me Mr. Conference Organizer? Screw that. I am appointing myself as the keynote speaker of Social Slam, which became one of the most popular conferences in America. And I featured many new speakers who also deserved a chance to be heard.

I took all the “badges” and references to lists off as “decorations” on my blog. Most of these lists are just get-out-the-vote popularity contests and they were driving the wrong behaviors for me. I was managing my business to get myself on some stupid, made-up list to make me look like a big shot. No. Block that crap out.

You don’t want my book Mr. Publisher? Well, I self-published that little old Tao of Twitter book idea and it became the best-selling book on Twitter in the world — with zero advertising, marketing, or support from any publisher. In 2012 McGraw-Hill came back to me wanting to buy the rights to the book.

So this is how I broke through. When nobody would pick me, I picked myself.

What about you?

There are probably hundreds … maybe thousands … of people out there who are going through the same frustrations right now. Here is the best advice I can give you.

Stay centered.

Stay focused on WHY you do what you do. Block out distractions, pompous pretenders, ego-divas, and haters. Don’t waste time sucking up to the A-Listers. Get out there and create your own tribe. BE the A-Lister for the people in your life who matter.

Stay centered.

Discover the things that keep you from feeling joy in this business and get rid of it. Purge anybody who is toxic. Unsubscribe. Unfollow the bastards. Don’t worry about missing out. Surround yourself with people who will lift you up and inspire you.

Stay centered.

Pick yourself. We are in the most liberating, agenda-bending, blank-slate-of-opportunity era in the history of the world. Be heard. Be known. Get on a stage. Be a builder. And do it with kindness, generosity, and joy.

I am not a rah-rah kind of guy. I’m not trying to pump up unrealistic expectations or promise something that is out of reach for most people. I realize that the emotion of rejection is grinding, hard stuff to work through.

It is so easy to get knocked off center by lists, news about somebody you know getting a big speaking gig, or a competitor who gets a book deal. It is so easy to get pulled back into the ego muck.

The only way to rise above is to dig deep and figure out your source of strength and inspiration and then stay there. Don’t get swayed by the gurus and lists. Stay focused, stay positive, stay centered.


SXSW 2016 3Mark Schaefer is the chief blogger for this site, executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world.  Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

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  • Great article Mark, full of real passion!

    There is too much emphasis on being seen as the elite rather than just doing what you do because you love what you do and want to share that, whatever it may be.
    I gave up bothering with people that place importance on a name rather than what the individual is offering, I love spreading the word about people that may not have a big following, but deserve on, and it’s a great feeling when you get a personal note thanking you from that person 🙂

  • I share your sentiment Barry. Look forward to meeting you next week!

  • Yep, see you there! 🙂

  • MaureenMonte

    Picking yourself in the baseball draft of life! I love it. Great inspiration, Mark. Perfect timing (for me), too. And for those that didn’t get picked THIS TIME for your social media all star team, they should follow Maria Sharapova. Never, ever quit. Eyes forward, not back. Be even better, and win next time. (I’m blogging about it this week). 😉 Thank you!

  • MaureenMonte

    PS – since I can’t find a way to thank you via comments on your newsletter, please accept my deep gratitude for featuring me in your Community Spotlight. Someday soon, I will be on your social media all star team. Aspiration + Perspiration.

  • Kitty Kilian

    Whoa! I am with you 100%. Which is why I do not care if I am on anyone’s list, not even yours 😉 And that is a terribly liberating thing.

    Conferences etc. are mostly the same anywhere – in Holland as much as in the US: the same old, same old circle of speakers. I do get invited but when I see that same circle appear on the program I get so tired I say no 😉

    Doing my own thing is the only way for me. And doing it with compassion and with my very best effort. I consider my blog the best thing I can give to anyone – that is how much work I put in. The blog (and my course) is the best of me. So I will not compromise.

    It probably helps that I was a journalist. Journalists try to be independent.

  • Mark, thank you for this post. This is something I have struggled with as of late – feeling like I deserve to be listed and I am not. This put it all in perspective for me. You have no idea how much I needed to read something like this.

    I have noticed it’s the same 5 or 6 people who are always being listed and always invited as keynote speakers and I think it’s time for a change!! There are many great people who deserve their turn. In the meantime everyone needs to just keep trucking on and it will happen one day!

    Speaking of social media conferences…when are you going to do another one??

  • Wonderful, uplifting comment Kitty. I love your spirit! Look forward to seeing you in Amsterdam next week!

  • Amen to that! Thanks Maureen.

  • You’re welcome!

  • I don’t know when I will have a conference again. Social Slam was a passion project and I’m not sure how it fits in the scheme of things right now. I am itching to bring it back but it is a complex thing to do!

    I’m glad my post was supportive. Thanks for the great comment!

  • Thanks Mark for a great refreshing article and for echoing so many thoughts that I have as a new blogger.

    One question though: you say that you took all the lists off and that people shouldn’t pay that much attention to it. Ironically it’s via your list of new social media stars (and via MrsOAroundtheWorld) that I came across you.

    So are you saying that it’s not so much getting on the list that counts but creating one yourself ?

  • Hey Mark!

    This is an awesome post.

    I have seen myself so well described here.

    I will follow your advice.

    In fact, as you would know (remember that video?), a month ago I organised a local conference named #SocialMediaBalmis.

    This weekend I attended an “A list” conference, and as you pointed out, I am a bit tired of all the clichés and ego bloggers of those conferences.

    Thanks for being an example to me.

  • Nuff said! You are so on target and living proof of the statements you’ve made. Not everybody can be a “Rock Star” for all kinds of reasons. But, unless people deeply consider (and have a nerve to execute) your thinking here, they never will.

  • Love this, Mark! As I like to say, you’ve got to run your own race and quit worrying about the folks around you. It’s easier said than done, but it makes such a big difference. We all run at a different pace and that’s okay. Focus on your goals and celebrate your own successes. We are all winners in our own right!

  • Kitty Kilian

    So true.

  • The icky thing is that lists are an important statement of social proof in an information dense world where people don’t dig to determine true authority. But usually, they are not important to me because I was paying too much attention to them instead of being productive. So I blocked them out. The reason I made the list is because I they are important and I wanted to shine a light on some new people and give them a lift.

  • You’re welcome. Keep climbing!

  • Thanks Steve. Always an honor to have you comment here.

  • Well said Laura. Thanks so much for taking time out of your busy day to comment today.

  • The only thing that hurt my feelings about not being on that list is that it meant I was too old for it.. 😉 My friend Tracy Myers (who has brilliantly branded himself and his company here locally) gave me, what is now, my favorite quote – “Most people dwell on what everyone else is doing instead of being laser focused on how great they can be.” I think that’s appropriate everywhere – especially this topic.

  • Amen to that Kristen!

  • Excellent post. It takes more effort to go and carve out your own style and find a niche but it’s worth it.

  • Catherine Maguire

    Thanks Mark, a great post for a Monday. Though I’m not in social media in the same way it rings very true. It could be applied to almost any career and most definitely to mine. I’m not a rah rah person either, but I’ll rah rah to this.

  • This is my most favourite post of all time! I’m printing it out and framing it…seriously! Finer words about the state of this crazy online world, and the gnawing pain and exhilarating pleasure it can bring are two sides of the same coin. My favourite line? “When nobody picked me, I picked myself.”

    Isn’t it interesting that, just when you need to hear something, you hear it? Just when you need to see something, you see it?…that is, if your ears and eyes are open. This is coming to me at a perfect time and, believing that there are no coincidences in life, I’ll take this as the final nudge for me to fully commit to the direction I’ve been waffling on for way too long.

    You write for millions, but it’s like you’re having a conversation, not a monologue. Now I must go find a frame for this:) Cheers! Kaarina

  • One of your best, Mark. These are my favorite articles of yours to read — the ones that focus on the human side of the Internet. Choosing yourself and being vulnerable is both brave and terrifying and it’s always encouraging to hear from someone who’s been in the trenches.

    I’ve learned too that patience is naturally a hard thing on the Internet where everything is (or at least seems) instant. But staying centered, putting in the hard work, and genuinely connecting with people works…over time. Those last two words are the hard part to learn. 🙂

  • This is a great post Mark and something that a lot of us go through when we first start. The inner circle is a tight knit club that a lot of the “big guys” don’t want us breaking into. However, I have found that people like Jay Baer and Rand Fishkin have been very supportive of my brand. Perhaps some of the guys that are in the inner circle of today aren’t like they used to be?

    I still believe in breaking out and becoming your own person. You’re simply not going to succeed when you’re repeating other people. This was a great evergreen post because I don’t think any of this stuff you’re talking about will change in the future. It’s still the same problem of what I wrote about today about people needing to change their mindset about success and replace it with new ideas that can make them succeed instead of the one’s that made the people above you succeed.

  • It is a two-edged sword. Personal social media success through engagement is not scalable.

  • Ha! Thanks Cath.

  • Awwww. Thank you SO MIUCH for those kind words. If I don;t get another comment or any feedback all day on this post, this is the only comment I need.

  • Yup. So very , very hard with all those dstiractions. Like the Sirens of old luring you to the rocks. Thanks for commenting Sarah!

  • Honestly, I think the top people in the field are awesome today. With few exceptions (not to be named!) the leaders in this space are accessible, kind and helpful to the extent they can be — regardless of your Klout score! I have made many great friends in this space.

  • Robert Burns

    Well said Mark, you nailed it! March to the beat of your own drum. There are many “authentic” speakers, authors and thought leaders in this sector that inspire us and are very approachable (in public and on-line). Many are more than willing to share their insight and expertise with social media advocates and newcomers (BTW, your one of them). I don’t need to keep track on a list of who inspires me, to me those authentic and genuine people are my “A “listers”!

  • Krithika Rangarajan

    There is a reason you are my favorite social media marketer, Mark!! #HUGSSS

    In an era of authority-based search, I often wonder how a novice blogger – like me – will make a mark ! Thank you for having the courage to tackle a controversial issue.

    I will continue being MYSELF and hope for the best

    Thanks again

  • Maya Sandifor

    I can’t even begin to tell you how right on time this message was for me. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Do you think it’s possible to be a success in social media if it’s not your full time job?

  • WOW! What a great post! Perfect for today. Get centered. Stay centered. Thank you!!! Looking forward to the new Tao!

  • Bobbie Rasmussen

    Great post! I always appreciate the fact that you are willing to be so exposed and self reflective in your blog. It not only helps us connect with you, but it’s a lot more effective in helping to learn to break in to social.

  • Nicely written Mark.

    Not to “rip” on your list, but people place way too much value in validating themselves, and the concept of validation.

    You do not need to be validated, your ideas do not need validation.

    Repeat the above several times. You do not need to show up on “top 70 lists” to validate the fact your ideas are needed and valuable.

    We humans need stories, and yours are part of that. Keep telling them even if you never get that validation.

    Someone is reading them. Even if that someone is you.

    When I started blogging back in 2006 (shit it’s been 8 years!), I was under the illusion that my words would connect with the world … they didn’t connect with a single person.

    Until two years later, I received an email from a small massage therapist that said one of my early blog posts connected the dots for her, and she was inspired to start collecting names for her business database.

    The result was a nice increase in gross sales … which doesn’t sound spectacular until you know she only grossed 100k in sales (from a freakin’ MALL massage parlor). The extra money helped send one of her kids to college that year.when combined with other resources.

    The important part though … In her email to me, she said she cried. So did I.

    I kept writing that blog. I still have yet to make ANY top whatever lists.

  • It always cracks me up when people get up in arms about lists — have you ever noticed *no one* ever complains about a list they are on? Hmmm… J

  • Gerry Michaels

    This us execellent advice. Well done Sir. BTW…I am thrilled being number 71…
    Shhh..don’t burst my bubble. 😉

  • Always wondered if all the lists covert to cash?
    I understand the importance developing relationships with REAL prospects and customers, over the past 50 years marketing; but being known liked and trusted comes from RESULTS

  • Really love that centered and healthy perspective Robert. Thanks so much!

  • Thank very much for your kind words And thanks for commenting. It is so great to see you in the comment section!

  • It’s not my full-time job (although it might seem like it!) I think almost everybody can benefit from building a personal brand on the web today Maya.

  • Thanks very much Pauline.

  • I appreciate that. It is very difficult to put myself out there. I am by nature a private person. BUt whenever I write from the heart I get rewarded through comments like yours so I carry on : )

  • Great comment (as always) Joseph but I think there is a difference between telling people they don;t need validation and people KNOWING they don;t need validation. It is such a deeply ingrained state that I don’t see this social media dance ending any time soon, unfortunately.

  • I actually did. That Forbes list of Top 50 power influencers was TERRIBLE. If you looked at their methodology it made no sense at all — it ranked the power of your Twitter followers! So I did rip a list I was on, for the record : )

  • Ha. Thanks for that Gerry.

  • Yes, lists do convert to cash. Almost anybody regulalrly on these lists will tell you they have attracted business from the social proof of being on a list. Just being honest. “Social proof” of success means a lot in this world.

  • Oh yes, that Forbes thing was a disaster! As you know, my point is similar to yours: obsessing over whether you appear on a subjective list is a waste of energy. Folks who’ve “got the goods” don’t need external validation. Keep doing great work and the accolades will follow.

  • Yup.

  • I totally agree Mark, but we can’t stop at “It is such a deeply ingrained state that I don’t see this social media dance ending any time soon” and leave the discussion there.

    We must keep having this conversation … even in the face of “Yeah, yeah, we’ve heard that all before…”

    Of course you know that.

    Because the ones that “get it” will prosper in the coming decades.

  • I fight and overcome the “too old” and “not a digital native” thing daily. (Maybe I can make the “best social media marketers over 50” someday?)

  • Excellent post (and I needed to remind myself of some of that). I may or may not ever make a list, but if I can provide great customer service and mentorship in my own little tribe, it works for me and I can work on expanding it.

  • Woohooo!! I’ve got 5 years left til I qualify for THAT list! I’m in limbo!

  • Love this post and I think it sums up pretty accurately how a lot of people including myself feel or have felt. I used to feel a lot like this with the “Why not me” mentality but I learned fairly quickly that I have an audience and a community that enjoys my content and what I do. Instead of worrying about being like all the others, I only worry about being me now.
    I do think that following A-listers is valuable thought because they got to be A-listers for a reason. What they share and what they talk about is usually rock solid and I personally have learned a lot from what they are doing.

  • Well said sir.

  • Happy dancing:)

  • Very good point. Today, I subscribe to a handful of blogs that I admire. Have to keep learning!

  • RandyBowden

    This an awesome mentoring piece with proven sage advise. Your Marketing Companion topic last week sparked something in me that has had me questioning some motives. This article seals it up. Thank you my friend and GoodJob as always!

  • thank you for sharing a piece of your story, Mark. it’s inspiring how you effortlessly pass along your knowledge.

    Your insights coalesce nicely with your conversation with Tom Webster last week. It has sparked many ideas, and like @RandyBowden:disqus mentioned, has also questioned some motives. It’s an important reminder to keep a “beginner’s mind,” one freed from ego. It’s not about lists, or metrics. It’s about the value we bring, and the results that we get for our clients. It’s about our deeper “Why”‘s coming together to help elevate humanity.

    I so appreciate you writing this, Mark. It hits home in many ways.

  • Amber Osborne

    This…. I needed this so much…. Thank you Mark. I wrote a whole post on exactly this on my blog about “experts” a few months back. So many people out there need to hear this. Just keep doing what makes YOU happy. I’ve been a bit out of the social loop building a product for the last few years, I don’t blog as much or go to as many conferences anymore. I actually had someone say.. “You know if you wrote a book instead of building a product, you’d probably be able to get more speaking gigs.” Again, never let anyone else define what makes you important or valuable. It’s awesome to be recognized but what’s even better is being happy with what you do.

  • Mark,

    This is honestly one of the best posts you’ve written (well, one of my favorites at least ;)). BAM! I think you knocked it out of the park. Love the fire and truth behind it.

    It’s taken me two plus years to really figure this thing out, and now that I look back at my tail-wagging puppy phase I have to chuckle. Oh, what a rube I was 😉

    Cheers to doing it Your Way 🙂

  • Yep, I’ve seen Mark work his magic. He’s all authentic! I’m from Knoxville and met Mark around 2009. I remember the first time we went to lunch. I was like, “holy moly, this guy has like 300 Twitter followers.” I remember that number well because I had around 40. Oy!

    Now look at things, that’s the way to bust through your own wall, Mark!


  • As someone who is my own harshest critic, it’s so great to see reminders like this from people I respect and aspire to. I’m always quick to congratulate those who make such lists, but there’s always that tinge of “I’ll probably never make a list like that.” Everyone starts small and builds their way up, and being moderately new to the scene, I (and probably people like me) forget that those we look up to have been doing this stuff for years and built their reputations from scratch. Great post, @markwilliamschaefer:disqus, and thanks for the reminder that hard word eventually pays off if you stick with it and stay centered.

  • Kelly

    The Tao of Twitter is one of my favorite books and I have given away so many copies to friends and clients. Thank you for this post by the way. It means a lot to those of us who do work hard and have been at this social media thing for a very long time.

  • Jenny Brennan

    Mark, I love this post. First off I have to say the list you shared last week kicked butt. Many of my friends were on there and I was delighted they were because I know how hard they all work. Being happy for people is so much easier for your soul. To me being a rising star means happy clients and attracting the wonderful people I have the privilege to work alongside every day. Keep doing what you do Mark, it inspires young entrepreneurs just like me. Thank you for being awesome 🙂

  • LucidGal

    I needed to hear this ~ badly ~ right now.

  • I can really see the gusto in this post. This was really inspiring. Even if you get on a list, it’s easy to feel there’s a ceiling somewhere else, unless we remember what you just wrote here and keep on truckin’ happily! Thanks for the post – I know many people are going to remember and hold it close to them – including me!

  • Leah Mackey Schultz

    Great post, Mark! I love your perspective on perseverance. I remember this one time, about 4 or so years ago, that I suggested to our president to have you speak at our annual conference. I was just sure that you’d turn US down because you were such a “big deal.” And then you came, spoke, we gave The Tao of Twitter to all attendees and you kicked ass. Little did I know that at that time you were having other doors closed on you. Thanks for pressing on and continuing to do what you do. You are a great role model for digital media marketers like myself.

  • Leah Mackey Schultz

    Interesting thought! I’ve never thought about those folks on the “other” end of the spectrum from me. I will be turing 30 this year… and I’m 10-20+ years younger than the rest of our management team. We work so differently, yet we often compliment one another. However, I do often struggle with some false stereotypes: “Ohh millennials are lazy” or “millennials are too entitled” or “millennials need to get realistic expectations and pay their dues.” As far as I’m concerned, a job well done is a job well done. If you work hard, treat others well and never stop learning…who gives a rip how young or old you are? 🙂

  • Wow that is so great Randy. Can’t wait to see how it plays out for you!

  • So happy this connected with you Jessica. Many thanks for taking the time to add your perspective today!

  • Can i say it is just an honor to have you comment here. You are so awesome and I’m happy you enjoyed this post Amber. Means a lot.

  • But I LIKED your tail-wagging puppy phase. And I do remember it well : ) Thanks for the great comment buddy.

  • That lunch seems like forever. I so appreeciate you taking the time to read my blog regularly and keep up with me Frank! You are an amazing guy and I appreciate you!

  • I blew it. You should have been on the list. Can I get away with “it’s the thought that counts?” : ) Appreciate you Rob. Thanks for your healthy perspective on this.

  • That is so kind of you to say. Thanks so much for buying my book (brand new edition coming in July!)

  • Thou rocketh, That is all.

  • Awww. Hope everything is OK. Hang in there. We are all in this together.

  • Thank you for using the word gusto. I love that word and believe it is the firt time it has been used in a comment ever. I would expect nothing less of you Anne!!

  • I remember that well. And yes, I did kick ass. : ) Thanks for believing in me Leah!

    I am coming back to speak in Nashville in November and I need to spend some time with you to get up to speed on all the amazing things you are doing. See you soon!

  • Word. During the past nearly three years, I’ve been most motivated when I felt I was slighted. In my opinion, it’s harder when you’re given things.

  • @businessesgrow:disqus, you’ve already been more awesome than I can thank you for. Your thought counts more than many. Keep doing what you do!

  • Andrea Rodriguez

    Mark, I just had to write and tell you how glad I am to have stumbled across your post. I’m from Belize and my challenges can sometimes feel overwhelming. I’ve allowed the fear of rejection and the ignoring to hold me back from allowing my “awesomeness” to shine 🙂
    Thanks so much for this post!

  • : )

  • Word back, Great to hear from you Jon!

  • I am so happy to hear that Andrea. Who is the social media queen of Belize? Of Central America? I can’t name one. Perhaps it should be you!! Grab the crown.

    And be patient with yourself. Experiment with content that shows courage and I bet you will be rewarded. It takes courage to stand out I know that is not easy. Good luck and stay in touch on your progress.

  • Andrea Rodriguez

    Thanks so much for the encouragement! Much appreciated! Will be in touch. 🙂

  • Leah Mackey Schultz

    Absolutely. Lunch or happy hour is a must.

  • Hi Leah, there’s room for all of us, we just have to play to our own strengths or respect each other’s unique perspectives.

  • Thank you!

  • Thank you for sharing and the introvert controls me. I want the knowledge I can be an equal

  • Mark, I so love this. I started blogging about the time you did. Before then, I didn’t even know what blogging was. I love the medium. Maybe it’s an age thing (me being old and all) 😉 but I really do not care about my exclusion from the A list.

    That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t mine more success. I love that your “A list” answer is to pick yourself. My middle child of seven syndrome compels me to believe we are each unique. Sharing that is the real connection.

    Continued success, Mark!

  • I’ve been away for a few days, Mark and I opened this in my email first thing this morning when I got back.
    What you’ve expressed so passionately here is what I took some “unplugged” time to contemplate. Is my ego getting in the way of doing good work?

    We all want to be noticed. We’re advised to stalk and engage with influencers for the purpose of building our brands and rankings.

    (Surprised someone hasn’t come up with Guru Safari tours – oh, wait, they have; conferences.)

    But like a rejected groupie, our adulation can quickly to to resentment unless, as you point out, we’re centred and not so needy as to let our worth be defined by others.

    I’m taking your advice and focussing on what I love to do, and that is to be there for people when they need help.
    Thank you for sharing this, Mark.

  • rhonda hurwitz

    This post is so refreshing … which is why I love your blog. You always have a POV to express that I’m never going to read anyplace else.

    Lists, schmists … the clubby echo-chamber be damned. Just play your own game.

  • awesome comment Cathy. Thanks!

  • Wonderful sentiments Ray. I’m glad you’re back!

  • Thanks so much for your kind words Rhonda!

  • Jeff Domansky PR

    Mark, thank you for a refreshing and honest post as always. It’s not always easy to remember that being true to yourself is the most important path to self-respect and success. Your blueprint is one to take to heart and thanks again for the reminder.

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  • I never have figured out what the A list is or who is supposed to be on it.

  • Kenny Bountiful Swann

    Thanks for sharing Mark.

  • You’re welcome Jeff and thanks for taking the time to comment!

  • sula

    great post. very impressed. will you be my guru? ( just joking )….am sharing your great sense on.

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  • I thought your post last week was positive and fair, as they generally are.

    One thing you didn’t mention that I think is notable is that staying centered also means caring about and having an understanding of scale. There are a lot of ways to be successful, and the difference between a $1k, $1mil, and $10mil idea or goal is significant in terms of pressure and expectations. I’m personally more on the $1k end myself but I know enough people doing what you do to know that it can be a tough road.

  • Way to break the mold and create your own success. Well done, Mark. Thanks for sharing your game plan with us in this refreshing post.

  • Scale, and the inability to scale : ) The irony of social media is that the more successful you are, the less social you can be.

  • Thanks for the generous comment Carolyn. An honor to have to have you stop by!

  • Ha! So true. Heard that said before but rarely so clearly and succinctly.

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  • Not all influencers were part of the coveted “A-list” at some point, and everyone had to break into it. Well done on doing so Mark. Now for the important parts – are you as an A-list member now, giving others a chance to also be seen and heard enough? 😉

  • One word, Mark: Amen! 🙂

  • I think my record on that speaks for itself. I devote a lot of my time to helping people in my blog community both personally and professionally. I don’t spend time touting that fact, I just do it.

  • Thanks Cendrine!

  • Absolutely Mark. You’re also one of the few people I’ve seen responding to every single comment (or close to it at least) on his/her blog. 🙂 Good stuff, it’s one of the few reasons I still follow this “A list” blog. 😉

  • Well said Leah. There are undoubtedly generational differences — always have been — but in general I am inspired by the MIllennials.

  • Bill Dorman

    Oh yeah, the holy grail; the almighty lists. Looking back, it seems kind of funny the way everybody was chasing a few years ago, willing to sell their soul to the devil.

    You had the right approach; if you want to make it happen then do it yourself.

    You have definitely been persistent and are doing a great job.

  • I think List chasing is still an issue (judging by the comments here!). Thanks for commenting Bill.

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  • You are welcome. I actually quoted you in my latest article (just a very small quote).

  • BrentCarnduff

    Thanks for writing Mark. I think we all get caught up in comparisons and looking for recognition sometimes. I remember reading Marcus Sheridan’s blogs a couple of years ago as he dealt with similar issues. I appreciate your sharing your experiences and advice so honestly.

  • Kristine Allcroft

    Wow! Powerful post . . . and very motivating. I think for a lot of us, we see your success and don’t know the back story. We know rejection aplenty. But, sometimes when we see someone succeeding our vision can be a little myopic. So, without being trite *thanks for sharing.*

    In a future post would you be able to tell us all what’s your definition of “excellence”? I know it’s a bit different for everyone, but knowing *your* criteria might help us to establish and raise our own level of excellence as we write.


  • Awesome Brent. Glad you enjoyed the post.

  • It’s really a data point of one — me — becuase I have to live with what is on the blog. So whether I write it or somebody else it has to be RITE — relevant, interesting, timely and entertaining, or at least it hits a couple of those. It also has to be original and I push myself and other writers to create something only they could create. If you can fo that, it will be excellent : )

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  • Sure thing, I agree. I don’t know if there’s an “inner circle” with some of these influencers, but there is a wall there. I think its more about trusting a person and keeping them out because of that, rather than just keeping them out because they don’t feel like they deserve to be there with them.

    We’re partial to the group that came up with us, and you were really brave to step out and say “Hey, I pick myself”. It must have been a little tougher back then, but I would still say that even you built relationships that helped your career in that time…and probably some of those people are still in touch with you today 🙂

    You said “Be heard, be known…” what are some tips you could give us to actually be heard by people making it hard for us to cross the friendship barrier? I realize that we may not want to be heard by someone that actually doesn’t want to hear us…pick the people that are interested, however, what are some tips that we could use to be heard by the people that may think our message isn’t as important as the people they’re listening to?

    Have a great week my friend 🙂

  • Rebekah Radice

    Two incredibly powerful words Mark – stop waiting. Stop waiting to be picked, stop waiting for the next popularity contest, stop waiting for an invite to the “A” crowd, and most of all – stop waiting to become all that you know you can be if you would just stop comparing yourself to others. The road not taken offers an awful lot of opportunity.

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  • Excellent example of creating your own opportunities!

  • Aseem Jibran

    How did I miss this? Excellent advices sir @businessesgrow:disqus . I just wrote a post on linkedin yesterday and now it seems I echoed your voice but in my own tone. Although I still term myself as a beginner yet I can totally
    relate to the frustration and distractions part and believe I am on the
    right path.

    For me the bottomline is “Forget the lists, just focus on what you do best and keep making efforts is the lesson. The world will recognize you soon!”

  • This can be applied to any business, any industry, and anything else we do in life.

  • Thomas Dyches

    Boo yaw! This was a good post for me. The funniest part: “My blog was a lonely and depressing place. Four or five of us would try
    to comment on each other’s blogs just to cheer each other up.” Word.

    I think the fact you wrote a book was a way that you chose to serve the world FIRST then the world gave back. I think most of us are guilty of the, “Hey, look at me! Hey!! Hey!!!,” form of social marketing approach. Then we realize that we have to give to others first and help others. The success comes with time.

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  • Amen to that Rebekah!

  • Thanks for commenting Danielle!

  • Hang in there Aseem. Be persistent and consistent.

  • Very well said sir. I have had some success … but have also worked very hard!

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  • Uplifting, inspiring post. Especially for the start of a work week. Thank you.

  • Pamela Shadrick


  • You go, Mark – thanks for writing this for newbies like myself. Here’s to picking ourselves!

  • Wow, I love the message here. I’m a strong believer in mindset and knowing what you can and can’t control. This is an amazing example of not letting yourself get stuck in “I can’t” mentality, and instead finding your own way. I admire that, thank you.

  • Happy to know it was helpful! Thanks for letting me know.

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