Marketing and the Death of Surprises

Why do movie trailers reveal everything?

Why did Fringe reveal that Leonard Nimoy was in the episode, so that you are expecting him at the pivotal moment at the end?

Why do TV showrunners let people know what’s going to happen to characters in advance?

Do we need to be told what is going to happen so that we watch?

Why can’t there be more mystery and surprise with modern media?

Some examples of shows and movies doing it right: The Leftovers on HBO. I have no idea where that show is going. It weekly surprises me and keeps me coming back, hoping for answers. Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens announced an enormous cast and has left many out of the trailers including Luke Skywalker (supposedly, there are a lot of wild fan theories).

Think about your own marketing. Are you creating room for surprise and mystery or are you just telling people what to expect?

The Model of Making It

If I were to draw a picture of what it takes to make it today in a creative or technical field, it would look a lot like this:

The Model of Making It


People who are making it in today’s world are constantly learning, but they don’t keep the results to themselves. They share their successes and failures. They can relate to others and others can relate to them. They aren’t creating in isolation, they are building a community and are a part of a community. They produce new work as a result of all the effort they put into their work. They inspire others to follow this model, which then causes the process to start all over again.

The Value of Compounding Time

It is easy for me to measure the value of spending several hours at a time working on a project. These marathon sessions usually result in finished products. They are heroic in my eyes; epic and often necessary because I neglected the value of compounding time.

Let’s assume that a project takes 10 hours. There are two ways to approach this project: 1) Sit down and tackle the project all in a day; or 2) Work on the project for 2 hours a day for 5 days.

The procrastinator in me is used to tackling a project in a day. The end result is good. But it could be great if I valued the concept of compounding time.

Allowing myself the freedom of spending time to think about the project means that it will not be a by-product of a single gut reaction. Each day, something more will be revealed as I use my daily mental power to think through and solve problems.

Multiply this effect across multiple projects and the result is sustainability. Imagine finishing 5 projects in a week as opposed to burning out after two because the marathon sessions took a lot out of you?

This concept applies to not only time, but money and exercise. Is it better to save $10 a week without any problems? Or dramatically save $100/month, maybe, when the circumstances are right? Is it better to exercise every day for 10 minutes as opposed to waiting for the day when you can devote 30 minutes or even an hour?

Do the little things consistently and you’ll outperform the dramatically inconsistent over time. The tortoise and the hare.

Shortcuts and the Fear of Laziness

I enjoy hearing the excuses people tell themselves for not attempting to learn or do something.

For myself, I fear the lack of perfection. This causes procrastination and the occasional bout with depression and frustration. I battle through these feelings because I want the outcome, even if it isn’t perfect.

I recently heard a new excuse: “I didn’t learn that because I didn’t want to become lazy.”

This person chose to not learn something because it was a perceived shortcut and could have led to laziness.

All I heard was an excuse.

Laziness is usually the result of inaction of any classification, not shortcuts. I say try the shortcut, learn it, be it, do it, because you will get to know two things even faster: 1) How much you don’t know; and 2) What you need to do next.

Don’t fear becoming lazy.

Fear the lack of action.

The Ethics of Teleportation in a Capitalist Society

Facebook wants to build a teleporter by 2025. Granted it’s a virtual reality teleporter, but that got me thinking: what are the ethics of teleportation in a Capitalist society?

Star Trek epitomized teleportation in a Utopian society—beaming crew members and whales to planets and to the ship—aiding in the United Federation of Planets’ mission to go where no one had gone before. There was no money in Star Trek. But there is money in our world.

What is to prevent teleportation from occurring until we watch a short ad?

What is to prevent the teleportation overlords from injecting subliminal advertising messages upon reassembly of our bodies (assuming that teleportation means to deconstruct our bodies at the molecular level, transmit them to another place instantaneously, and then reassemble)?

What if to boldly go where no one has gone before means to have more likes and higher click-rates than ever before?

Your Path Through Education

As an instructor at a community college teaching a variety of courses ranging from video production and multimedia to web design and development, I am often asked by students if the program they are studying will land them a job upon graduation. This is one of the most difficult questions for me to answer because on the surface the answer negates the work that I do as an instructor: your college degree does not guarantee a job and in some professions, such as those in the arts including web design and development, a college degree is given less weight than talent and ability.

Does this mean there is no value to college? There is still value in college and I’m not just saying that because I get paid to teach. The value is found in expanding your interests, fueling your passion, and being challenged by other students and instructors.

Expand Your Interests

The Internet has made it easier than ever to discover everything about anything. But with infinite options come the Sisyphean task of choosing the right interests and the associated fear those interests will not lead to a job or monetary gain. The result? People don’t choose and instead consume what is fed to them through the entertainment distribution channels of the Internet.

The benefit of college is to introduce students to topics they might not have discovered on their own. The best instructors connect information from multiple sources to the central theme of the course they teach. They provide an opportunity for students to discover the new in the old and to see the value in areas of study that are not directly related to their chosen profession.

The role of the instructor is to provide an environment where students can identify and connect to their passion and drive buried deep within.

Fuel Your Passion

There is a lot to be said about passion in both positive and negative terms. But the short- and long-term success of students is connected to their ability to identify and connect with their source of passion.

Passion helps you to look at college not with the lens of entitlement, but with the lens of opportunity. Homework becomes an opportunity to try something new instead of being yet another irrelevant set of tasks that prevent you from doing what you really want to do (which is the equivalent of my dog ate my homework).

By identifying your passion, you can go beyond the surface level of learning often provided by a curriculum and go deeper into the areas you really want to learn about.

An Opportunity to Be Challenged By Others

In the “real world” we often don’t get challenged to improve or take risks because of the fear of negative consequences. College should be a place to get challenged by others through direct feedback and observation. Being open and vulnerable to ask your fellow classmate or your instructor is key: How am I doing? How can I improve? Without this challenge, accountability vanishes and entitlement sneaks in. The A is demanded for effort, not results, and the reputation of collegiate study is diminished.

What if the true value of education is found in the statement, “I think you can do better”?

Can’t you do all this without college?

Yes. You can. If you are disciplined enough and have the humility to figure it out for yourself by asking a lot of questions of others. But most people, myself included, lack discipline and commitment.

I needed college to illuminate what I didn’t know and expose me to what could be. I needed to be held accountable and be told my work didn’t measure up. I needed college to teach me discipline.

College helped me to learn how to connect to others with differing beliefs. It exposed me to new ideas. It made me hungry to continually learn. It helped me to see the humanity in other people.

Yes, I have debt.

Yes, I have regrets.

But I would have those whether I went to college or not.

If Want To Be…Do!

It is often said by most published authors, if you want to be a writer, read. Not just the genre you are writing in, but everything you possibly can. This logic can be applied to anything. If you want to be a designer, collect and observe design. If you want to be a filmmaker, watch movies. If you want to be a musician, listen to music.

However, this reasoning falls apart when your consumption outweighs your production.

If you want to be something, you need to do it. Yes, you need to understand the language of the medium you are working in, but too much consumption can lead to doubt.

It’s okay to be shaped by what you consume, but consider the act of creation akin to exercise. Without it, you will grow fat and lazy on the ideas of others.

Reflecting on The 100 Day Project

For the past 49 days, I have been participating in The 100 Day Project. I chose to draw doodle quotes because I love to draw, even though I confess it is not a strength. The result has been the development of confidence through the daily ritual of taking something I have read or thought about and committed it to paper.

Today’s doodle quote was a question pulled from John C. Maxwell’s Good Leaders Ask Great Questions:

Day 49 of The 100 Day Project. #100daysofdoodlequotes #the100dayproject

A photo posted by Chris Martin (@cmstudios) on

Follow the remainder of my progress or see day 1 through 49 here:

Meeting People

I love to drink coffee with friends and talk about what’s going on in our lives. I love to sit around campfires and dream about the possibilities of the future. I love to meet new people and hear their stories.

Even though I would classify myself as an introvert, there is a major part of my life that needs to hear the stories of other people. When I take the time to ask questions of others face to face, they become more human. They are no longer a collection of words on a screen in front of my face. They are real. You can hear their cadence and their breath. You can feel their intensity and their pause. You can sense when the conversation is over.

How often do you try to meet new people?