When Ryan Holiday sent out an email announcing the release of his latest book, Conspiracy, I couldn’t hit the “buy” button on Amazon fast enough.
You see, I’m a big fan of Ryan Holiday’s work.
He’s smart. He’s authentic. He’s prolific. Basically, all things that I admire and aspire to be in my own life.
Of course, I don’t know him personally, but my guess is that I would probably enjoy his company based on his work alone.
I was first exposed to Ryan Holiday through his book Trust Me, I’m Lying. This book was ahead of its time in many ways, as it revealed that sometimes bad press can be more effective than good press.
Even more shocking was this notion that a brand could intentionally create bad press to grow its sales (American Apparel is the foundational example in this book).
Holiday then proceeded to write 3 books that had pretty much nothing to do with Trust Me, I’m Lying.
He exposed me to the benefits of stoicism in The Obstacle is the Way, which to this day is still one of my favorite books.
Then he touched on the danger of our egos in another classic, Ego is the Enemy.
Finally, he wrote another excellent book in the marketing genre that really struck a chord with me: Perennial Seller. In this book, he actually talks about a Twitter debate I was partially involved in between he and Derek Halpern, over a quote that said something along the lines of “You should be spending 20% of your time creating and 80% of your time promoting.”
Perennial Seller’s main argument was that not only is this a fallacy, but in order for anything to withstand the tests of time and sell year-after-year, it must have timeless elements of quality.
This isn’t to say that promotion should be ignored, but promoting poor content will always be a losing strategy, especially in the long run.
Anyways, I was expecting yet another classic from Ryan with Conspiracy after writing so many consecutively classic books, but I was thoroughly disappointed.
And that’s what brings me to today’s musings.
I had a really hard time giving up on this book because it was written by one of my favorite authors. But it’s ok to quit on things that just aren’t doing it for you.
Sure, some things are slow-burners that you’d benefit from with just a little bit of patience. But not everything is a winner, and I finally came to accept that this is ok.
I’m sure that there are plenty of people who would still enjoy this book, but I wasn’t one of them.
It was a long, dragged-out story about two celebrities I could really care less about.
Yes, I think the story is important in a lot of ways, but I thought the book could have been condensed significantly. It felt like a chore to read.
So I finally gave up on the book about 2/3 of the way through. Now, I’ll be able to shift my attention to a new book that will provide me more utility.
This seems like a rational approach, no?
Moral of the story: it’s ok to not like everything your heroes say or do. This will not only help you focus on what’s best for you, but hopefully it will also help your heroes adapt to feedback from some of their biggest fans (if they’re even listening).