What Andrew Carnegie Can Teach You About Blogging

I’ve always had a business crush on Andrew Carnegie.

During the 1800s, he amassed a fortune that would be worth around $250 billion in today’s dollars.

A tremendous amount of money, yes, but to put this in perspective, that would make him wealthier than the top three richest people in 2011 COMBINED.

What does this have to do with blogging?

Keep reading.

Just Burn The Train…

Carnegie brutally cut through conventions, competitors, and people when he wanted to achieve his goals.

It’s not the “nicest” approach to business, but when dealing with conventions, or better said as “imaginary rules that people are scared to break,” it’s a whole other story.

During his twenties, Carnegie worked for the Pennsylvania railroad. One day, a train stalled and created a bunch of delays. Instead of waiting for someone to fix it so he could move it, he decided to burn the train to the ground.

Yes, you read that right, he set fire to an expensive piece of machinery to prevent train delays.

Imagine what the train executives thought about that. Some young whipper snapper just destroyed one of their trains.

They couldn’t change what he did, so they crunched some numbers.

Guess what happened…

Destroying the train car was more efficient than fixing it.

Unreal, right?

The Pennsylvania railroad was… one of the largest corporations in America… and they did not realize that destroying train cars was more efficient than fixing them until some punk in his 20s showed them that it was.

Now what does this have to do with blogging?

What’s Your True Objective?

After a train crashed or stalled, the main objective was to minimize further delays. That’s what was best for business.

Instead of going the roundabout way of fixing the train and moving it, Carnegie realized that the true objective was to get the stalled or broken train off of the tracks as fast as possible.

And that’s why burning the train worked out so well.

As a blogger, you’ll find that there are often “stalled train” scenarios that, in some cases, just need to be burned to the ground. For example:

  • Do you struggle with tweaking your free WordPress theme? You know ongoing customer support from a theme framework like Thesis would make your life easier… So maybe it’s time to burn the train.
  • Do you struggle with the usability of your email marketing platform? You’ve been using it for a while, but is it worth just ditching them and finding someone who’s easier to work with? Maybe it’s time to burn the train.
  • Do you want more traffic? You interact on social media, but it doesn’t deliver the results you want. Is there somewhere else you can spend your time? Maybe it’s time to burn the train.

All in all, ask yourself this question: “What’s your true objective?”

No matter the answer, figure out what’s standing between you and that objective, and figure out how you can skip all of those steps so you can focus on what you really want as a blogger.

Focus On Action… Not Explanation

Imagine if Carnegie reached out to the executives and said, “Check this, the train stalled, so I’m going to burn it.”

The executives would have thought he was INSANE.

However, when Carnegie skipped that step, he didn’t give the executives a chance to debate whether the idea was logical. They instead tried to assess the damage… and found that there was no damage to assess.

Now I’m not telling you to go around making whacked out decisions that kill your business or get you fired…

…But if you have an idea that you believe will work, maybe it’s worth giving it a shot?

Instead of deliberating over whether or not you should take action, sometimes you just need to take that action, and see what happens.

For example, if you have a great idea for a blog, don’t talk about it. Create it and see if people agree with you. The same goes for a product. If you think it will work, create it, and see what happens.

Best Practices Are Best… Until A New Best Practices Comes To Town

Look:

Best practices 30 years ago are no longer best practices today.

In internet years, best practices 6 months ago are likely no longer best practices today.

Carnegie knew that… He knew the world was changing, and he was always willing to reinvent the wheel where necessary.

So ask yourself: Are you currently following outdated best practices?

It may be time to burn the train…

About the author: Derek Halpern ran marketing at DIYthemes, and is the founder of Social Triggers. To get more tips on how to be confident, sign up to his list here.