My latest article has been published on Manifest Station! It tells the heartbreak that led to the night I finally claimed my identity as a dancer - and won my first dance contest! Click HERE or the photo above!
I'll never forget in second grade when Bari Bisman (name slightly modified) copied my drawing of the world, right down to the placement of the right-triangle-roofed factories.
Even then I couldn't understand copycats. What's the point?
Are You a Copycat?
It's one thing to be inspired by fellow artists, writers, and entrepreneurs. Yeah yeah, nothing is original.
But there's a difference between true learning and plain old laziness. Before you hit publish on your next sales page or blog post, ask yourself these questions:
1) Are you copying STRUCTURE or STYLE?
There's only one basic story structure in the world.
Hint: everyone from the Bible to Star Wars to Twilight uses it. If you want to find out how to use it, sign up for 3 Step Brand: the world'd easiest and FREE cheat book HERE
Everything, whether it's marketing copy or your 1,000-page memoir, is just a variation of this one structure. Therefore, if you see a structure you like, it's totally fine to learn from it and use it to shape your own story. (Hence the rise of a million Marie Forleo-layout-alike websites last year.)
Your favorite storybrand genius, let's call her Bophia (name totally modified), has a neat cheat book as her opt-in.
Option A: You realize you need an opt-in too and decide that an e-booklet is also a good idea. You like that she kept it short and gave information on how to contact her further. You come up with your own e-book idea, with your own content, your own length, and your own title, which happens to be, "Creating Lead Pages Even Your Mother Will Love." (don't steal that, it's mine)
Option B: You love Bophia's book! You make your own, using the same funky, spare style and maybe some of the bright colors, because hey, magenta and orange are awesome. You even put some flowers on the cover cuz they look so cool on Bophia's book. Then you call it, "3-Word Marketing."
Bophia does not want to be your friend right now. And depending on how much you plagiarized, you could be in big legal trouble. Plus you come across as unoriginal and that's gross.
2) Are those really the words you'd use?
The way someone speaks, the length of their phrasing, their particular syntax, their grammatical style - this is all voice. For those of you who read 3-Step Brand you know that voice can NOT be taught. You develop it as you grow up within your family, your particular region and schooling, the books you like, your own innate brand of cray, ad infinatum.
Marie Forleo, at least in her earlier videos, used a very hip-hoppity white-lady-hangs-with-black-girls style. This was completely Marie, since she WAS a hip-hop instructor, and has that kind of straight-shooting, fun, urban brand. (Are you also as discomfited by "urban" as I am?)
Now if you're a stately WASP running your business from the Hamptons wearing your J. Crew scarf, petting your Pomeranian and polishing your Daughters of the Revolution membership card, you probably don't want to start talking like Marie. Stick with your New England lockjaw diction. It's very you, and your audience will gravitate towards you.
3) Are you writing like this because you want to sell or because it's you?
Check your intention RIGHT NOW.
When you see good copy - and there's some goooood copy out here - are you thinking, "Oh man that sounds so good! I gotta write like that."
If so, you're not coming from a place of learning. You're straight up copying the copy.
I write in big capital letters and use short, emphatic phrases because that's actually how I talk in person. Yes, I temper my energy to match my clients so I don't spook the shy horses in my stable, but if you stalk me on a night out with my friends, you'll see me waving my arms and getting randomly loud. I've been talking - and writing - like this for decades.
There's a way to write like you and a way to write just to sell. Neither of these will actually work.
The third way - the way that I will teach you - is how to write LIKE YOU IN A WAY THAT SELLS.
What are you waiting for? Let's get your voice on! Book your free consult HERE.
Still need your FREE copy of 3-Step Brand? It's HERE
Raise your hand if you had that annoying genius cousin your parents always compared you to. (Oh are you Chinese too?)
Mine is pretty unbeatable:
Name: Genius Chang (not his real name)
Grade Skipped: 1st
Instruments Played: piano, violin, clarinet
# Ivy Leagues Accepted Into: ALL of them
Even I was so impressed that I wanted to marry Genius Chang. Then I grew up and discovered you can't marry your cousin. (At least not in New York.)
Because he was out of my league, I never tried to compete with Genius - except in one thing.
When I was 4, I watched him read an entire book as easy as speaking, then throw the book at me.
"Here, you read." He sauntered off.
But I couldn't.
That night I demanded my parents teach me to read.
Over the Berenstain Bears HE BEAR, SHE BEAR, my parents helped me turn print into gold.
Women especially shy away from competition: writers blog about the pain of jealousy and extol the virtues of going at our own pace; entrepreneurs advise us to follow our own paths and not be distracted by the success of others.
Fine - if you're OVERLY focused on others, life gets painful.
But this mantra of keeping our eyes on our own page also sucks the juice out of what makes us human - that we're social creatures who NEED to see the success of others in order to realize how high we ourselves can go.
Tweet it! We're social creatures who NEED to see the success of others in order to realize how high we can go.
If I hadn't been so envious of Genius's ability to conjure stories from squiggles, who knows how long it would have taken me to unlock this world of words I now consider my purpose in life.
If I hadn't been livid at a gal pal's weight loss a few years ago, I wouldn't have finally found the motivation to lose 15 pounds and regain not only my figure but my self-confidence and ability to dance again.
And if I didn't get jealously obsessed of every woman who's making six-figures working part-time from home, I wouldn't keep hustling and improving myself, my vision, and my work.
Don't fear the voice that says, "Damn them, why not me?" That's exactly what the voice is asking:
"Why not, You?"
And for the record:
Name: Sophia Chang (real name)
Grade Skipped: 12th
Instruments Played: Piano, violin, guitar, mallet percussion, voice
College Genius AND Sophia chose: Harvard
Thank you, Genius Chang, for always giving me something to reach for - and surpass.
Ready to turn jealousy and ego into your minions? SIGN UP for The Experiment 2015 HERE!