I recently stumbled across what I think is one of the big secrets that separates winners from losers, the successful from the unsuccessful in today’s world. I came to this conclusion on my own, then read others talking about this same idea in multiple places, all within about a week of each other. This post is a collection of my thoughts on the idea of being a “producer” vs. a “consumer”.
Producers vs. Consumers
Think about the most successful people you know. These can be people you know of personally or successful people in the public eye. When I say “successful”, I mean someone that’s actually “doing” something, not some guy who cut a one-hit-wonder and is now living the good life (although there’s a lesson there too).
When I do this exercise, one thing that these people all have in common is that they’re all producers.
By producer, I mean someone that’s a net contributor, net creator of things. This is in contrast to a consumer who, on balance, isn’t creating anything, but operates mostly in receive mode.
Activities Done by Producers vs. Consumers
Okay, so producers “create”. But what kinds of things are we talking about “creating” here? What types of activities differentiate producers from consumers? Here’s a very short list off the top of my head:
- Creating ideas for television
- Creating podcasts
- Creating screencasts
- Business Development
- Product Creation
- Watching television
- Listening to podcasts
- Watching screencasts
- Reading books
- Reading magazines
- Playing video games
Controlling How Much You Consume vs. How Much You Produce
I’m not trying to suggest that you’d be better off by being 100% producer and not consuming at all. You should definitely enjoy TV, reading or whatever your interests are.
I just think you should be aware of where you fall on the spectrum between producer vs. consumer and should consider if changing where you fall on that spectrum would help you achieve some of the goals you have for yourself or for your family.
How to Produce More
One way to produce more is to follow the advice found here:
The basic idea is to make sure that the first thing you do each morning isn’t checking the news, checking email, reading the paper or something similar.
What you produce will vary depending on your situation.
- If you’re in business for yourself, that may mean working on part of a marketing plan to bring in more business.
- Or it may mean writing a new blog post if you’re a blogger.
- Or writing an email to send to your list of email newsletter subscribers.
- It could be working on that next invention…that idea you’ve always had but never acted on.
- It could be writing a few pages for that screenplay or novel that’s bound to be a hit.
- Or working out the details of a recipe that will be the stepping stone for you starting your catering business.
The details are up to you, but any of those sounds way better than “checking the news to see what’s going on in the world”, at least in terms of what’s going to have the most impact on your life.
For Learning, Make Sure What You’re Consuming is Actionable
Like I said, don’t get crazy and go into 100% production mode all the time. You’ll just end up burning yourself out. The brain and the body both need time to rest and recover. So consuming some mindless stuff here and there is just fine.
And there will be times where you’ll have to consume some new information in order to learn something new, gain a new skill or build upon an existing skill. Just be mindful of whether or not the things you’re learning are actionable.
For example, I’m a web developer and there’s an endless supply of screencasts, ebooks, regular books, blogs, conferences, etc for me to take advantage of as a way to become better at my craft. But often times, I have to ask myself if what I’m learning from a certain screencast is actually something I’m going to use…right now.
Most of the time it’s not.
I may as well be watching TV unless what I’m learning can be applied to whatever project(s) I’m working on at the time. Besides, if I’m not using what I’m learning, I’ll probably forget it anyway.
So be sure that as you’re learning new things or improving your skills, that you’re doing so by learning things you can apply immediately.
The Problem With Being a Producer
Here’s the big problem with being a producer and why there are so many more consumers than producers:
Being a Producer is Hard Work
Think about it…producing is an “active” process while consuming is “passive” (for the most part), or at least requires very little actual work.
A good case in point is this article. It took me about an hour to write. It would have been much easier to just troll the web and find a few articles to read instead. I know they’re out there.
But I feel better having started my day producing, and I think you will too if you give it a shot.
What do you think about this? Am I on the mark with this whole producer vs. consumer thing or did I miss something.
Leave a comment below and let’s discuss.