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The Courage to be Rubbish

I get requests for advice from people starting youtube channels.

My first piece of advice is “make bad videos”. When you are starting out, don’t aim for good… aim for done. If you make 1 “bad” video a week for 52 weeks… you will make many bad videos, but you will accidentally create a few good ones, and at least 1 excellent one.

Don’t wait for excellence. Have the courage to make rubbish videos.

The Iterative, Experimental Approach to Progress

I was reminded of this idea of The Courage to be Rubbish by a podcast conversation between Greg McKeown and Bob Glazer, the host of the Elevate podcast.

Greg shared a story about the Kremer prize. This is a prize that was established in 1959 where Henry Kremer put up money as a prize for “Human powered flight”. It was 18 years before the prize was claimed.

There were many approaches by people seeking to win the prize – most involved lots of careful building with delicate and expensive parts… and then a test flight… mostly ending with a crash.

Paul MacCready, the eventual winner of the Kramer prize, approached the prize in a different manner. He saw that if he could make the cost of “failure” extremely low (in both damage to his own body and damage to the kit and to his finances) he could incrementally improve his system over many many iterations.

Crappy test… and iterate… and repeat. He had to repeat many times, but slowly started to improve the parts and his own skill. It was more of an “evolutionary” approach to design. It took many iterations, a lot of experimentation, a lot of steady slow improvements… and then he won the prize.

Gossamer Condor - NARA - 17497964 (cropped).jpg
Gossamer Condor in flight, By Laura Bagnel

The Gossamer Condor approach to Youtube & blogs…

Make a bad video, with the kit you have right now. The phone in your pocket has more than enough quality to make a first bad video.

If you keep making videos, you will get better.

Focus on what makes it easy to keep making videos, not on making great videos.

This idea doesn’t work where there is a high cost of failure. Youtube videos, blog posts… they have a very low cost of failure. If they are bad, few people watch.

Further resources on Blogging and Youtubing:

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