It’s our second birthday! Here’s your present

Dear Brain

Take Back Your Brain! is two years old and 100 articles deep!! I wanted to celebrate by giving something to you, the readers, so today I’m launching a free new coaching feature we’ll call “Dear Brain”. I envision it as kind of an advice column where you can tell us about a goal you have for yourself and receive suggestions about how you could use personal marketing to support it. Think of it as Dear Abby meets marketing geek.

In addition to getting feedback from me, you’ll have the benefit of input from the rest of the TBYB! readers when your question is published.

To submit a question about how to use personal marketing to support your goal, please visit the new Dear Brain page.

Birthday retrospective – why TBYB!?

I’ve always been interested in the intersection of technology with personal growth. I think that interest grew out of my background as a (admittedly lightweight) gamer. I was absorbed by the compelling nature of technical interactivity, but curious about how we could use it to do more interesting things than blow up virtual objects (as fun as that can be!). I observed that our world is being increasingly shaped by other peoples’ marketing objectives, and wondered what would happen if I added commercial marketing techniques to my own technology/personal growth mix.

Advertising to myself seemed like a good idea, so I started using it for goals I was working on. I experimented with any method I could think of to create and deliver “ads” to myself — often aided by personal technology. Take Back Your Brain! has basically been a chronicle of those experiments at the intersection of technology, marketing and personal growth.

At first I was basically just making this stuff up. Over time I’ve read lots of advertising books and finally took a couple of college courses to get more grounded in the fundamentals of marketing. But from the very beginning, even before I knew much about marketing, I’ve been blown away by how well this stuff works! When I advertise about something, it usually happens. I think that’s because the ad keeps bringing the goal to my attention, which nudges me to follow through on little things that make a powerful difference.

For example, about a week ago I created a picture of myself standing in a swimming pool with a water polo team I want to try out for. You can see a copy of it on the Examples page. To produce that image, I had a friend take a picture of me in a pool with her cell phone, and then used Photoshop to insert that picture into a group photo I downloaded from the team website. This probably took me an hour. To deliver the ad to myself, I set one copy of the doctored photo as my computer desktop background, and printed out another to tape on my bathroom mirror next to the walking photo I took last month.

Since I’ve never played water polo before, the idea of playing on that team has been kind of a vague notion with lots of unknowns. I’ve visited their website several times, but so far have lurked in the safety of anonymity — telling myself I need to get in better shape anyway before relating to the team matters. But now that I literally see myself in the pool with these people every day, the idea of playing on the team seems much less imaginary. Even though I haven’t met them yet, the other players are starting to feel familiar — almost like my new friends. A few days ago I took the small action of signing up for the team mailing list — something I’d almost done several times before. Now that I’m on the list, I’m able to find out when their games are, so I attended one on Saturday. That was great. Actually seeing the team play has made the whole concept seem much, much more real. Now it just feels like a matter of time before I’m in the pool playing with them. That’s a lot of progress toward my goal in one week!

I’ve noticed a similar pattern over and over with personal marketing: when I make an ad for a goal, I immediately start following through on small, easy actions that create disproportionately large results.

You can do this too

As the public manifestation of this project enters its third year I’m more excited than ever about the potential and power of marketing to ourselves. I hope you decide to take advantage of Dear Brain and the many other free resources on this site to learn how to use marketing strategies to help your life too.

Let me also encourage those of you who are already marketing to yourselves to post photos of your ads to your Flickr account and tag them tbyb so other readers can see them on the Examples page. One of the main ways I’d like to see this project grow in the next year is for TBYB! readers to get personal marketing ideas from each other instead of just me.

Thanks for reading. Without you, doing this project would be a lot less fun!


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