Popular vs. Best

This from the great Seth Godin last month:
Seth’s Blog: My most popular blog posts this year.

My most popular blog posts this year

…weren’t my best ones.

As usual, the most popular music wasn’t the best recorded this year either. Same for the highest-grossing movies, restaurants and politicians doing fundraising.

“Best” is rarely the same as “popular.”

Which means that if you want to keep track of doing your best work, you’re going to have to avoid the distraction of letting the market decide if you’ve done a good job or not.

That’s true. I would hope that none of my posts are terrible, but occasionally something hits big — or has legs — and I’m left scratching my head. Sometimes, it’s when something hasn’t gotten a lot of play; sometimes it’s when another person directs people to it; sometimes it’s just the luck of the draw.

Whatever it is, I’m always grateful that people read what I put out there. I’m particularly gratified when someone takes the time to comment — even if it’s just a simple “thanks.”

As I think about this, I have always found that this idea of popular and best rather curious. I am immediately reminded of a time a few years back when I received a “significant award” for news writing. I couldn’t believe the story that was picked won. I had written much, much better stories that year, I thought.

What I learned about best, popular and the fickle nature of audiences I learned by developing audiences for the theatre. These things translate:

1. Treat all assignments equally.
2. Always do your best work.
3. Be proud of your efforts.
4. Say “thank you” and mean it.
5. Be grateful and and a little bit humble.
6. Never, ever believe your own P.R.

If you think that those things have nothing to do with popularity, you’d be wrong.

One thought on “Popular vs. Best

  1. I remember all those years ago getting that advice from Bill Griffin. Even though I didn’t think my stuff on Lucrezia Borgia was perfect he thought it was good and let me know. I still appreciate what I learned from him.

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