Research time! Those words are enough to get any blog instantly erased!
In step one, you listed the things that you know (or could know) better that others, and from which you’d like to build an empire that would help the beneficiaries and would make you singular and rich.
Step two, you subjected those topics to the “If you had…” question. And step three, the paso de pasión: which choice most lights your life fire? Where specifically do you want to put your energy and flame? You picked número uno!
Now, in step four, you have to begin a lifetime of research, contemporary investigation, and future “keeping up.” If that doesn’t sound like much fun, you probably have the wrong empire topic. Because if you don’t care more than anybody else what is going in your field, how it started and got to where it is now, and how it will change in your lifetime, then you’re either going to get bored or burned out before you can do much good or get many rewards.
That’s not fatal. I guess 90% of the people don’t have the needed burning passion and a vigorous curiosity about any one topic or field that will lift them into its very top echelon—and they don’t expire from its absence!
But they’re not building an empire from excellence. They don’t claim expertise. (And, of course, except by chance, they don’t get the money and rewards you can.)
Your cure? Go back to the first three steps until you find that something that shouts lovingly in your mind even at the odd hour. That one thing that you will pick up and read anything about, or will type repeatedly into Google, or drive an hour or two to do or hear or see more about, or that sends you to the back issues of its association journal.
Let’s presume that you have in fact chosen a topic that begs for your expert touch. Since it’s easier to explain by using examples, let’s say that burning subject is our already-mentioned ultramarathoning. You want to know everything possible about it, and you want to be everybody’s guide.
Ultimately, you’d also like to sell ultramarathoners their training programs, shoes, clothes, special supplies, and registrations, as well as provide their monthly magazine, run clinics, help organize and support events, and be the activity’s top voice.
So your research is simply learning absolutely everything about ultramarathoning in the past, present, and the future (as it happens and for years to come).
Comb the web. Find any associations that include your folk. Go back as many years as you can, and learn anything you can about its history, its champions, where ultramarathons were and are held, coming events, and who were its leaders before and who are the top 20 in the field today.
Study all of the overlap groups that include ultramarathoners, like running, endurance, and medicine. Create lists, fact sheets, biographies, calendars. Develop a contact management system (like ACT) that includes everybody of significance, with contact information and notes about their involvement.
Remember the library? It’s chuck full of information, most of it dated but some of it just arrived. Go to the reference librarian and explain precisely what you want: to know how to find anything and everything about your topic. Then check beyond the town library and continue building your base with the help of the reference librarians at the regional, county, college, and specialty libraries within driving distance.
Check the serial and magazine search tools at the libraries to see what appears regularly in print (to read when it arrives) or what has been in print in, say, the last 15 years. Read (better, copy) those articles; store them in your archives.
Since ultramarathoning is an on-going activity, attend all of them that you can, as a participant or helper. Meet all of the chiefs at the runs; add them to your lists. Ask questions, make contacts, keep notes of the events. Write articles about the activity: start getting your name and your writing skills in print and in circulation. Do they need a local speaker to share the good word about a meeting or coming events?
You get the idea—and you know your subject far better than I do. The trick is to know it far better than anybody else!
Let me give you a vision that will keep you on track. Think of you writing the definitive book about ultramarathoning in about three years: its definition and history, the research it has provoked, the heroes, the funny events and odd happenings, how it is structured—absolutely everything of importance, as if it were your historical contribution to be read then and through the ages. So what you are doing now is an act of love: chronicling and gathering the heart of that book, whether or not it sees print under your authorship.
None of this research is instant, and it makes huge sense to present a respectful and understated presence while you gather your information and quietly moving into and up the structure (mostly by doing things that others usually abhor, like writing articles, doing p.r., and keeping records and minutes).
Don’t tell those you meet that you will be the expert that all ultramarathoners will want to know in a couple of years or that you will be the person who preserves them all in print forever. In fact, keep your vision and your dreams to yourself. Yet, if you don’t feel that way and those aren’t at least close to your intentions, then you must look once again at why you are researching and actively engaged at all.
Nothing more today. You will find a dozen more ways to gather what you need to know.
Will it pay off? It can, a dozen ways. But now you are paying it, in time, your costs, concentration, and stockpiling knowledge and personal links.
That is step four. A giant step!
Incidentally, my February free newsletter just came out. It’s free and for new subscribers it includes three complete reports related to empire building that are instantly downloadable. (You can even unsubscribe at any time!) Link it here!