The Speck

The speck is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.

When I found myself stuck in a dead-end office job many years ago, I quickly realized that trying to come up with the next Google or Facebook, in my spare time, was probably not going to happen. It looked as if I would continue working in the dead-end office job.

That’s when the idea of the speck came to me.

The idea was simple.

With close to a billion people using the Internet, I only needed to find 300 people, who shared my interests, were interested in what I had to offer, that would be willing to pay me $30 bucks a month, and I could find myself an office with a window.

My own office.

Only 300 people out of a billion. A teeny-tiny, yet extremely powerful, particle of dust. This is what I call the speck.

With a simple concept, like the speck, and a concrete goal on paper (300 x $30), I was off to the races.

I hit that target within a couple of weeks and left my job less than six months later. I haven’t been back to the windowless office in over five years. That original 300 grew to 400…Then to 500…Then over 700!

Seth Godin talks about Tribes and the importance of finding your tribe. When I heard Seth speaking live last week in Chicago, he spoke about musicians and their ability to harness the power of the Internet to find their tribe and build a successful career at the same time.

The old model worked something like this: Write the music, take a loan out and record your demo, hope to be discovered by a record label, and keep hoping.

We could dive deeper into this old broken model, but your chances of being discovered and actually making money were next to none.

The new model: As Seth suggested, find 3000 fans who dig your music from that ever-growing pool of over a billion people. But find the 3000 who’d be willing to buy your new music for $30 bucks a year, and you’ve made it.

You’re done! Keep producing your art. Keep doing what you love, and earn a solid living at the same time.

$90,000 bucks a year is nothing to scoff at.

Some might argue that as the overall size of the group grows, it becomes harder and more complicated to find your speck.

3000 out of a billion.

300 out of a billion.

100 out of a billion.

In Tribes, Seth stressed that in many cases, the tribes have already been formed and they’re simply looking for a leader. “We need you to lead us”, the book’s tagline read.

I see it like this. You can find your speck faster than ever before. Your speck might even find you. There’s a good chance people on line are looking for you, or someone just like you. They’re ready to cling to you like dust mites on your Grandmother’s dining room table.

Finding 3000 people who like your music out of a billion may be easier then you think.

Finding 300 people to pay you $30 bucks a month for a service or product that you’ve poured your heart and soul into, and created just for them, is easier than you think.

Who knows, maybe your speck is even smaller. Maybe you only need a hundred people, or you may need more.

It doesn’t really matter. The whole point is this – in the big scheme of things, all you probably need to achieve success, beyond your wildest dreams, is nothing more than a tiny speck of people.

Back in 2005, I found a speck, organized them, and signed them up within two weeks. Done.

Five years later, the two weeks it took me to connect a speck of people can potentially happen a heck of a lot faster today. Maybe even overnight. All it takes is one good sneeze.

The speck is a small but insanely powerful concept for mapping your plan for success. As the size of the number of connected Internet users grows, your chances of actually finding your speck increases tremendously.

It worked for me, it can work for you.