Aspirational decision-making
3 min read

Last week, I interviewed Dan Runcie for an upcoming episode of Creative Elements. Dan is the creator of where he writes and hosts a podcast about the business of hip hop.

He writes essays about how the biggest stars on the planet like Will Smith, Jay-Z, The Weeknd, and others have built the businesses behind their art.

And it’s really good.

So good that media executives at record labels, tech companies like Sony, and even the CEO of Soundcloud are paying close attention to what Dan has to say about the hip hop world.

What do you think Dan was doing before starting Trapital?

You might assume that he was deep in the music or entertainment industry. Maybe working at a record label or with a recording artist…

But actually, he just started writing a blog while he was getting his MBA. He was spending some time in venture capital, but mostly doing business development for tech companies.

Dan told me it was a 2014 Harvard Business Review Case Study about Beyonce’s surprise album that caught his interest about the business of hip hop…and at the same time, he was reading Ben Thompson’s premium newsletter, .

Dan made the decision that he wanted to become one of the leading voices in the space talking about the business of hip hop.

…and this is what I think is really important and inspirational about Dan’s story.

We get in our own way a lot thinking that we have to create the things we know best right now. The things we currently have more knowledge about than others.

But that can be really limiting – and dictated by circumstance!

It is absolutely true that honing a unique, informed, and thoughtful perspective requires a LOT of time and knowledge. You really need to be immersed in that subject.

And if you’re already immersed in a topic, then sure, you have an advantage!

But that immersion can be learned. And respect for YOUR perspective can be earned, just like it was for Dan.

The first step is making the decision to immerse yourself.

When you take aim at a subject and commit to becoming a student of that space, you’re immediately setting yourself apart from the VAST majority of people on the planet. Very few people will have made that same decision to go DEEP in any particular area.

Even if you’re starting at zero…if you focus, you can immerse yourself and in a relatively short period of time become one of the most informed people on the planet in that area.

Of course, “relatively short period of time” may (probably) still be years.

But you can make decisions about where you focus your time based on aspiration as opposed to what may feel like the “rational” or “obvious” choice.

When people ask me where they should focus their time and energy…I just ask, “Well, what do you really WANT your work to look like?”

Because standing out as a creator takes a LONG time. And the only way you’re going to stick with it long enough to give yourself a chance is if you’re REALLY bought in to what you’re making.

And making aspirational decisions gives you a better chance than making the “rational” choices that don’t light you up.

If you decided today to immerse yourself to becoming one of the most knowledgeable or insightful creators in a space, what would it be?

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.