Smart people don’t look for new information. They look for are new perspectives.
New perspectives come from strongly opinionated people. Being opinionated does not mean you are angry, negative, and shout at people all the time. Being opinionated means you can shift how people think—about themselves, about the society, and about the world.
Your opinion may not be the best, but you’ve done the work required to have one, and you can state the arguments for the other side better than your opponents. That’s what counts.
People don’t back you because you are right. They back you because you’ve got a backbone. It doesn’t matter if you are right or wrong. What matter is that you have skin in the game. You stand up for what you believe in. You are not number one. What matters is you are a “Category of One”.
You polarise people. Not everybody agrees with you. But those who do have strong affinity towards you. They share your opinion. They believe what you believe. If you have strong opinions, you have strong fans.
If you are a writer, you don’t publish commonly accepted that is available in 1,000 other places which everyone agrees with. If you are a filmmaker or an author, you don’t copy-paste tried and tested formulas. You are experimental. You are radical. You are avant-garde.
If you are a founder, you don’t make money by seeking rent from existing ideas. You have a mission and an enemy—both of which you want to execute.
You are not very big. You are niche. You don’t have 1,000 true fans who’ll back you with $10 a month. You’ve got 100 true fans who are ready to back you with $100 a month.
You inject what’s unique about the way you think into what you do. You pour yourself into your craft and everything around it: how you market it, how you sell it, how you support it, how you explain it, and how you deliver it. Others cannot copy your narrative, because you are part of it. You are too unique to emulate.
Not many people are like that because faced with the opportunity to become the Category of One, they hesitate. They compromise. They dumb things down. They play safe.
They take the easy way. Instead of thinking for themselves, they depend on the insight of others. It’s easier to copy than to innovate. It’s easier to borrow insight than generate one.
Nothing wrong with it. But when we assume the insight of others is our own, we create an illusion of knowledge. Borrowed wisdom is not original. No matter how much we act on it, we cannot own it.
It’s possible that you are a Category of One without many fans. But you will never become a Category of One if you follow the crowd. It takes guts to be outrageous. It takes hard work to have an opinion. It takes courage to have skin in the game.