Are You a Consumer or a Producer?

America has always been known as a consumer society, and evidence is everywhere.  The subway car, airport waiting area, household, and corporate workplace are bastions of consumerism.  People on the subway listening to music on Spotify or iTunes are consuming.  People ordering takeout and watching movies are consuming.

As I booted up the web this morning and browsed my favorite sites, I realized I was being inundated with producers.  Programmers build websites and writers provide content.  Seth Godin has an incredibly popular blog, and he produces a post almost every day.  Professional athletes and coaches wow fans with their on-field production and are written up on ESPN (by producer journalists).  Startups building products to change the world raise funding, sign deals, get traction, and are praised on TechCrunch.  Corporate titans compete fiercely in the marketplace, and their decisions affect stock prices.  Recording artists spend months in the recording studio to produce songs millions of fans revere.  These people are doing things.  I’m just reading about them, watching them, and listening to them.

Successful people are always producing…and they embrace it.  When Jim Cramer discovered his love for the stock market, he put stock buy/sell recommendations on his voicemail recording.  After a few months, he developed a steady following of strangers calling him just to get through to his voicemail.  Those voicemails turned into a $500,000 check and a chance to break into the money management industry.

Bill Belichick, coach of the New England Patriots, started with the Colts as a $25-per-week assistant, a jobs hundreds have around the NFL and college programs.  He produced great work at every stage in his career, earning himself better positions and preparing him for success on football’s biggest stage. 

New advancements in technology make it easier than ever to consume.  It’s way too easy to lay in bed for an extra couple hours watching drivel on TV or zoning out of work for a while on Facebook…but it feels kinda dirty afterwards.  Most of the time, I can’t even remember what I just watched or heard.

Don’t get me wrong, I certainly derive a ton of happiness from a nice dinner with the family, sharing a moment with my fiancée while laying on a park bench in Boston Common, or cheering on the PC Friars at the Dunkin Donuts Center. While these events are technically filed under “consuming,” they produce certain intangibles that provide a foundation for a fulfilling life.  They make me happy.

Stop for a second the next time you boot up Chrome and prepare to type “fa” into the browser then hit enter.  Spend less of your life consuming low value content.  The future belongs to the producers.  Get after it.

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Are You a Consumer or a Producer?

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