I work in the high-tech business and being a programmer I am often surrounded with more programmers. Now we as programmers, as it turns out, are incredibly amazing and weird people who believe all problems on this planet can be solved by writing code and building a system for solving the problem.
This is probably why, I also get into frequent discussions with young and budding web 2.0 (whatever that is) enthusiasts asking me if I have seen this cool and happening site which will help me promote my blog and help thousands of more people find it.
I on the other hand, seem to consider this blog to be my true-third-place. A quite dimly lighted corner of the web where I can meet the kind of people I wanted to meet and start real online and offline discussions with them. Through my very own personal thoughts on software development, what I am really trying to do is not to change the world, but make a very tiny little dent in my very own personal universe.
I am not trying to sell to an audience of millions. Just trying to find one individual I can connect to and have meaningful conversations with over a mail thread or a cup of coffee. As I have often said, I am happy with this blog as long as it has three readers, me, my mom and you, dear reader.
I am not trying to start a movement here. All I am trying to start through this blog, is small threads of conversations with the kind of people I would like to connect to. Having said that, even if it was a movement that I was trying to start, I am not so sure if trying to sell your ideas to a million users and trying really hard to get a million individuals attached to your cause is the best way to start a movement.
Derek Sivers in his TED talk describes the importance of finding just one true follower or even being that first true follower rather than 'leading' the whole wide world into following a movement. He puts his point across through a video of a shirtless guy dancing like a manic to start a movement. He explains:
The first follower is an underestimated form of leadership in itself. It takes guts to stand out like that. The first follower is what transforms a lone nut into a leader.
If you are the type, like the shirtless dancing guy, standing alone, remember the importance of nurturing your first few followers as equals, so it is clearly about the movement, not you.
But we might have missed the real lesson here. The biggest lesson, if you noticed, did you catch it? Is that leadership is over glorified. That yes, it was the shirtless guy who was first and he will get all the credit but it was really the first follower who transformed the lone nut into a leader.
So as we are told that we should all be leaders, that would be really ineffective. If you really care about starting a movement, have the courage to follow and show others how to follow and when you find a lone nut doing something great have the guts to be the first one to stand up and join in.
If you haven't clicked on the link to the video yet, I strongly suggest you do.
So the next time you think of starting an organization, starting a product or even something simple as starting a blog, stop worrying about search engine optimization, getting your site up on that popular website or using the quote-unquote 'social media' to publicize what you are doing.
Be the lone shirtless dancer, prepare to get ridiculed and continue to do your remarkable dance consistently.
Chances are that you will stumble upon at-least one genuinely lone nut who will decide to join you as a partner in crime or better still you just might find a few other lonely nuts that you can join and that is the start of a small conversation. Maybe even a tiny little movement.
When that happens you are on your way and you know it from within.
You don't need a system.
You don't need to go shopping for Google Ad-words to increase you site traffic anymore.
I wish you good luck.