Consume to learn and create to enrich others

For a moment, imagine you are a first generation Apple iPad. All sleek, ahead of your time in ways no other consumer products manufacturer can fathom. But then the raw end of the stick goes thus: you have all that awesomeness without the functionality to create and manipulate content — this only makes you a consumer. A device with which to only download applications, read news and other media.

Now, the information age today presents an exciting opportunity to both be consumers and also enrich other people with what we think up and create.

Before I started my blog, I read other people’s work religiously — Harvard Business Review became part of my daily routine. It still is, but the difference now is me allowing myself to be influenced and also give to the world my unique contribution.

Of course, not everyone loves writing, creating videos and whatever else that can identified as content. But, there is a rich opportunity right in front of you to enrich other people through what you see.

A perfect example of this phenomenon is an entrepreneur who founded a software company, 37 Signals — they produced and offer the popular project management and collaboration software, Basecamp. And he is co-author of the practical and mind-twisting business book — Rework.

Jason Fried is amazing because he lets his customers into what happens at Basecamp and he also details his entrepreneurial journey as he goes through it. As he learns, he shares with his audience. Jason can be found writing about tips around HR, simplifying deal-making, running a business, growing or not growing the business, among other things. The beauty? All that he writes about is based on his real life experiences.

You can read up on Jason’s enriching articles through Basecamp’s blog, SignalvsNoise.com (Do let me know what you think, I think the learnings will make for great conversations.)

So, my plea is a simple one. Start considering sharing the things you go through in your daily life, job, business, travels or give us an insider’s view into your intricate knowledge of the Hip Hop music and business. Or, just tell us stories about your passion for Animation and the process by which you create cartoons. Let us inside your headspace. Share.

Ultimately, turn yourself into an iPad 2, as it were. The folks at Apple realised that the device being one-dimensional — only consuming content — was a huge mistake. So they made it to be one that can also create and manipulate media

Writing of Apple, the reason I love Walter Isaacson’s autobiography of Steve Jobs is because it makes me know Steve and his team better. This is partly because it was written while Jobs was alive — he got Walter to write the book after he found out that his cancer was getting worse.

For one, I now know about the intimate details of the iPhone’s creation; the fascinating back story of how iTunes came into existence and just what it took to get music companies and artists to agree with unbundling their albums for the store. The building of all Apple products and the company itself is well documented and offers me a rich experience whenever I read it.

Please take a moment and imagine if we had the privilege of having Tom Ford, Michael Kors, Girgio Armani or Marc Jacobs create content about their work when they started in clothing industry. Have them give us their perspective and a sense of what makes them great.

Don’t wait until you’re “successful” to tell the story of your life. Start today.