The best somebodies are nobodies

Life & Work

The more you grow your business and scale your team, the more you quickly learn how much of your success comes from the heroes you place around you rather than being a hero yourself.

In fact, you may end up finding that you become heroic to the people on your team more so than even your customers or clients directly.

A funny flip side to that coin is, you will probably be well-known and seen as someone who is epically efficient, productive, and successful. All the while you may actually be doing less “work” than almost anyone else in your organization.

The best somebodies are nobodies. I mean this in two ways.

First, if you’re well-known to an audience of people in your target market, you are somebody. But the reality is, you’re a nobody because the real skill you will have (likely) developed is the ability to set a vision while an incredible team handles the lion’s share of the execution.

Second, if you’re not well-known to the target market, but are the driving force behind the person who is, you’re a somebody! But since nobody knows who you are, you are a nobody, because it’s not your name in the lights.

Here’s what’s cool: Everybody is both a somebody and a nobody. The ground is level.

And if you work in the right kind of organization, you should be able to move and flex into different places on that spectrum.

Take, for example, 37signals. Jason Fried and DHH are the somebodies of their organization. They are legendary. But they have the BEST team. They hire amazing people. In the “public facing” side of things, though, they are largely nobodies. They write code, handle customer support requests, and create designs.

BUT — 37signals is a unique kind of company where nobodies become somebodies. For example, they write a public development blog (and for a long time had a very popular blog they all contributed to, called Signal v. Noise) and often speak at conferences as subject matter experts. In their own industries, 37signals’ team members are also legendary somebodies! What a cool opportunity.

Here’s the takeaway:

You matter. You might feel like a nobody. And maybe you are. But, there’s probably an organization out there that would allow you to take your talents and become somebody with them.

But remember: Even if you get the spotlight and become a “somebody” someday, you’re still a nobody who needs people like you to be somebodies.

The best somebodies are nobodies.

Feb 2, 2024

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Hey, I'm Steve — a Christian, entrepreneur, thinker, and creator. Thanks for stopping by!

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