I am constantly consuming content. Whether it’s reading blogs on my Google Reader, listening to podcasts on my iPhone, or reading books on my Kindle, it seems no matter where I am or what I’m doing I will find a way to take in new material. However, once in a while I come across something that I can sense will be really valuable information. Content that deserves special attention. For content like this, my regular passive consumption isn’t good enough. This was the case when I came across this invaluable episode of Chase Jarvis’s web show featuring Ramit Sethi. So how can we consume such content while extracting as much value as possible?
This post will be a little different as I will use the video below as a case study for how to consume new content. Chase Jarvis is an advertising photographer who is very active online and has a lot of great behind the scenes videos as well as fascinating guests on his show. Ramit Sethi is the author of I Will Teach You To Be Rich, a book I recommended in our case study on personal finance. The video is an hour and a half long but is a must watch for all freelancers – the amount of high value information they give away completely for free is astonishing. After watching the video I realized that it would make for a great example of my approach to absorbing this type of content.
The Problem with Passive Consumption
The problem is that when taking in new information we feel like we’re learning something when in fact we’re passively consuming. Sure you might come away with a few interesting facts, but the majority of information we take in doesn’t turn into direct action on our part to, in this example, make changes to improve our freelance businesses.
Ideal Content Consumption
The goal when consuming valuable content – a video, lecture, workshop, book, long form blog post, etc., is to take the advice that is given and apply it to our own situation with actionable steps. As we talked about in a previous post, it is unlikely that 100% of the content will apply to you. In fact only 1% might be really valuable so it’s important that you catch it. That 1% might change the way you approach your business and result in $1000s in extra income.
How to Catch that 1%
Have a Single Notebook – To start, I like to have a single notebook where I take notes for content I consume. Have your notebook with you whenever you are watching something or reading a book. Over time it will become a wealth of information, I find myself often returning to my notebook when trying to remember nuggets of information.
Be Specific – As you take in the content write down any insights that pique your interest. It could be point form notes though sometimes full quotes are invaluable. Try to avoid using to many acronyms or shorthand (unless you do this always). What often happens to me is that I come up with clever ways of writing something and then a few weeks later have no clue what the hell I was talking about. Being unable to understand your own notes are terribly annoying and a waste of time. Thus I like to be as concrete and specific as possible when taking note.
Highlight Outside Sources – Often times writers and speakers will mention outside sources, perhaps recommend a book or video to better understand the subject they’re talking about. If someone successful in your field references a specific book, chances are it will be extremely useful to you as well. It is important to highlight these so that they stand out from the rest of your notes. Like acronyms, I often find myself having to pour through pages of notes in detail just to find a book title.
Apply it to Yourself – This is the most important step. As you are writing your notes you should be thinking of how the content you’re taking in is applicable to yourself. For example, if someone mentions a marketing technique you should consider specific situations that you could use it in. I like to zero in on what person or publications (since my focus is editorial work) I can apply things to rather than general hypothetical examples.
Real World Examples
Here are some image of my notes from the video below, followed by a few specific examples from my notes (and video) for the points above.
What do photo editors want & fear?
- Want: To be recognized in their industry as finding the next great creative.
- Fear: Blowing it – bringing someone unqualified that doesn’t have the ability to do the work (Risk Averse)
- Meetings: The creative person needs to present the work. Why? You don’t want to be the technician. You don’t want to be a commodity; you want to be the vision.
- Competence Trigger: Defer talk of salary (or cost) for later. “Lets talk about if this is a good fit for both of us.”
Highlight Outside Sources
- aweber.com – Email list software
- Tell to Win – a book about using story telling in business.
Apply it to Yourself
- Ask for testimonials from past editors.
- Ask what kind of magazines would be interested in my work?
Meet with editors for coffee (not to pitch your work):
- How do they pick photographers?
- Shoots that went wrong?
- Shoots that went great?
- Biggest concerns?
- What is most important?
And here is the video itself, be sure to check it out, you won’t regret it.
Please let us know what you think of this type of post (case study based with specific examples). They take longer to write but if you find it helpful it’s worth it. Also, what do you think of the video and how will you apply it to your situation?