January 21st, 2019
Stop calling yourself a “maker”. Stop calling yourself an “entrepreneur”. Stop calling yourself a “Democrat”. Stop calling yourself anything.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot more about why we feel the need to use words like these to identify ourselves.

Have you ever seen someone’s social media bio that says something along the lines of “Entrepreneur, Writer, Speaker, Founder, Husband, Brother, Burrito Connoisseur...”?

Imagine meeting someone in real life and they introduce themselves like that… That person is a douchebag!!

Calling myself a maker

In my Twitter bio, I used to say I was a “maker”. At the time, it seemed like a nice word that generalized the things I was working on.

But for some reason, the word “maker” started picking up steam. Products and communities were getting created that supported makers. All of a sudden there were debates about being a maker, what it means to be a maker, the definition of a startup, etc.

This created a dichotomy - there was “pro-makers” and “anti-makers” battling it out on social media.

It was so cringey. It felt like a political debate.

Stopping calling myself a maker

So then I took the word “maker” out of my Twitter profile and I stopped using it altogether.

But taking the word out of my profile doesn’t matter. The fact that I had it there in the first place (and spent time to craft up a “cool bio”) makes me cringe a lot.

Maybe it’s human nature, but I think many people feel the need to identify with an idea, a group, or a movement.

There’s nothing wrong with being part of a group, but I think it’s important to understand why we identify.

Do you call yourself an entrepreneur so you can put “Forbes 30 Under 30” in your Instagram bio, or is building businesses something you truly love it and could see yourself doing it for 30 years with little success and never talking about it with anyone?

I am 100% guilty of this myself. I’ve made questionable decisions or identified myself with things for the wrong reasons, or just did things because everyone else was doing it - like going to college or exploring careers that I really had no true interest in.

I think it’s important to make a conscious effort to try and avoid these motivations.

Stay out of your comfort zone

Over the past year, I’ve spent a lot of time in Telegram groups, online communities, and Twitter.

While these can be massively beneficial, I think they are also very limiting because they are filled with people who all have very similar opinions!

And I think this feels nice because it’s comfortable. It’s easy to get validation for the things you do.

But it’s important to keep exploring - discovering new people, groups, identities, topic etc..

I need to more actively follow people that have nothing to do with startups. I need to read unrelated books, and meet people that have no idea what a “maker” is.

Don’t tell, listen

I shouldn’t need to use words or phrases to support my identity.

I should let the work I do speak for itself. Instead of telling people what I am, I should listen more. I should inquire, dig deeper, and be more curious.

And when I listen to people, I shouldn’t try to connect the dots to my own narrative or ideas of how the world works.

This is why I’ve left a lot of Telegram groups, limited Twitter use, and stopped browsing many online communities. I get frustrated with the groupthink - no one is going to remember what a “maker” means in 10 years.