The Entrepreneur Body Image

Twitter is a great resource for entrepreneurs, and I think anyone who wants or needs a public online profile should be a part of it. If ¬†you’re looking for a job, it allows potential companies to see who you are as a person, what you find interesting enough to share with others and how you contribute value to the world. It’s also a great way to learn about what’s happening in your part of the world and your interests, and for me it has completely replaced RSS or blog software for keeping up with tech news and information.

There are some problems, though. Once in a while I will find links to blog posts with titles like these:why-you-suck

Or like this:


I won’t link to the particular blog posts: feel free to Google them. And I shouldn’t pick on these, they aren’t necessarily bad articles or bad advice.

It’s not the content of the posts that usually irk me, but the titles themselves. Usually they have “should” phrases in them like “5 Things You Aren’t Doing Now But Should” or “The #1 Most Important Thing To Do in 2013”. The titles usually are in the form of a numbered list.

It occurred to me where else I see so many numbered list titles. It’s when I’m waiting in line at the grocery store:

50 Tips To Do Everything

Just buy this magazine and you can be a superstar like Selena Gomez! Just click this link and you can be a CEO just like Mark Zuckerburg, or be the next Wil Wheaton on Twitter!

Titles like this are using two very powerful motivations: fear and aspiration. Specifically, fear of missing out is a powerful motivator: what happens if you don’t click on that link? This could be the blog post that changes everything about your job in 2013! Aspirational messages prey on insecurity. It’s the six easy steps to losing weight or five quick ways to raise money on Kickstarter. They promise you the world but don’t deliver on it. They can only deliver short-term, quick and cheap options when you could delay gratification and focus on long term results.

What would I prefer to see? I don’t mind titles that start with “how to.” I even write them myself¬†sometimes. Starting with “how to” is instructive: it’s leading you to learn, not to be afraid or insecure. Numbered lists aren’t bad in themselves, but I don’t want to “should on myself” with every other tweet or blog post. Be significant, be inspiring. Tell me what I am going to get out of your post without having to resort to advertising trickery.

I don’t buy the magazines in the grocery store lines. I’d best most people in our industry would agree they help to foster the negative body images that many women have. Don’t foster negative body images of entrepreneurs. Don’t prey on people’s fears or aspirations. Help inspire us to action.



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