Underdogs inspire me more than superstars

We love their success stories.

They are the creators who made it. The major tech sites, blogs, and podcasts feature these creators as case studies and invite them as guests. Their products make millions of Dollars; their books sell tens of thousands of copies; their newsletters have tens of thousands subscribers; they have huge and engaged social followings.

We sincerely admire these creators, buy their products, share their stories, and genuinely cheer up the success they deserve. But are they inspiring? Is there anything we can learn from them and apply to our creative journeys?

Not for me.

These successful creators feel distant and hopelessly unreachable. They seem closer to the fictional heroes of the movies and novels I love than to actual people.

My impression is these creators have something I don’t and can’t have. They are outliers, unicorns. Experienced professionals with unique skills and high-demand products that nail a niche, as well as massive, existing audiences with “buy first, think later” raving fans.

These creators discuss how they designed their landing pages and dissect the growth hacks they implemented. But my impression is they are so talented, charismatic, and well known they could have launched their products any other way with the same outcome.

They could throw anything at the wall and it’d still stick. Yes, they started from zero. But their talent blasted them to where they are.

Instead, the stories that inspire me most are those of the underdogs.

The lesser known, ordinary folks at the other end of the spectrum. The creators who sell a few hundred copies of a book; make a few hundred bucks or so per month off their creative work; publish newsletters with a couple hundred subscribers; and have fewer than a few thousand Twitter followers. Those who earn enough to pay a bill or two or buy a new laptop.

These underdogs show the way to realistic, rewarding goals within reach with reasonable effort in the short to medium term. Not in a lifetime of sweat, creative drive, and luck.


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