As I’ve noted before, I spent a very long time letting my ideas about being a Big Fish in a Small Pond fester before I actually launched this site.
And from time to time I write here about some of the thinkers, writers and others that influenced me during that formative period.
And one of the key influences during that time was Chris Brogan’s book, “The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth.“
Chris’ book is a look at a new style of entrepreneurship … one that requires a level of focus on specific, small communities and which emphasizes service to the members of that community. On page 169, Chris sort of sums up his entire approach like this:
“Throughout this book, we’ve talked about serving a community being the key to business. …We exist to serve our community. That’s the most important mind-set to maintain. In this one detail, you can do the work you want to do and build the business you want to build, provided you’ve done the work we talked about before to identify the right community to serve.”
If you’ve been reading ABigFishinaSmallPond for awhile now, you’ll quickly note the similarities between Chris’ approach and my call to find a ‘community (a Small Pond) that you wish to serve because because you’re part of the community?
Chris has a long history of looking with favor upon specialization, serving a small community, and generally saying “Hooray for Small Ponds.“
And I’ve been reading him for quite some time, filing things away as I developed the Big Fish approach.
Amtrak’s Acela train. Photo by Flickr user Cliff1066
And then, earlier this year, I found myself on an Amtrak train to Boston reading Chris’ “Freaks.” And by the time I had arrived in Beantown, I knew the time was right for me to launch ABigFishinaSmallPond.
Here’s why. Chris’ book is full of advice worth listening to and tactics worth trying. Every page is filed with useful takeaways. But on page 100, there was section that seemed to scream at me as Chris debated the pros and cons of working for big companies versus working for yourself.
…Being a cog in a machine is far less interesting than being the head of something smaller. I have friends who love working for the big guy. It’s just not going to happen for me. I can’t do it…Left to my own devices, I’d rather captain the pirate ship than be part of the fleet. The fleet has its advantages, but I always find that having the ability to maneuver quickly is most important to me. I’ll take that over firepower.
When I got on that train I was several weeks into a job working for someone else. And I was hating it. I had next-to-no respect for the folks in charge, and everything I wanted to do required endless conversations with them. Nothing was ever decided. Nothing, really, ever happened. It was the perfect job for someone who wanted to coast, to take thing easily, and to collect a check while preserving the status quo.
And when I got off the train, I knew I would leave the job.
I knew, too, that it was time to launch this site and learn if there were other folks out there like me who preferred maneuverability to firepower, preferred serving communities to working for companies, and preferred small ponds to big.
— by Paul Conley