Show Me Something I Have Never Seen Before

In 2002, a young boy wrote a handwritten letter to the editor of National Geographic. In it, he expressed how much he enjoyed the photos he saw in the magazine and asked how he could get his own photos included.

The editor replied with a seemingly simple answer, “Show me something I have never seen before.”

I have been deep diving into the art of storytelling lately. It started after an insight I mistakenly bumped into. I was trying to isolate what exactly I like doing. I knew I liked marketing, writing, photography, creating videos and pursuing my life list.

But why?

Out of nowhere, it hit me. The aspect that links all of those pursuits is storytelling. Cool, I like that connection.

So what can I do with this?

I fell back on marketing, the area I have the most expertise in. What can I use from marketing that would apply to all of these areas?

It was then that the story about the young boy and the National Geographical editor popped into my head.

“Show me something I have never seen before.”

In marketing, we run into something that I like to call the Law of Diminishing Returns. Regardless of how successful a marketing channel is at spreading a message, it will eventually fall victim to the general public becoming increasingly blind to it.

  1. Billboards
  2. Direct Mail
  3. Radio Ads
  4. TV Ads
  5. and more recently, Google Adwords and SEO.

They all are affected by the Law of Diminishing Returns.

But I already knew that. Why was this helpful?

Well this prior knowledge along with my new insight into the link between all of my other passions allowed me to transfer some of my expertise from marketing to my new endeavors, writing, photography, video creation and pursuing my life list.

Sure enough, when I looked at my most successful pieces (as measured by other people’s engagement), they were the ones that showed people something they had never seen before.

Awww, a useful insight. Brain Yum.

Since then, I have been repeating the editor’s advice over and over again.

“Show me something I have never seen before.”

The next time you are unsure of your next action with a creative endeavor, try following the old editor’s advice. Take what you are doing and figure out a way to deliver your message in a way that is new to your audience.

If your experience is anything like mine, your courage to embrace the new will result in more appreciative and engaged audience.

Photo is of a spinning “demon” that I took during the biggest of all of the Carnival parades in Rio De Janeiro.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Great advice Danny. I especially like the connection you made between marketing, writing, photography, video creation and pursuing your life list: storytelling. I never thought about it this way but I guess I’m similar in this respect. I enjoy learning languages, photography, writing, and a bunch of similar things.

    I never thought about the relationship between what I like, but reading yours made me reflect on it. I’ll definitely keep in mind too the National Geographic’s editor’s advice.


    • Glad that that insight applies elsewhere!

      Keep up the good fight! Looking forward to continuing to learn from you.

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