Audience Building Mindsets

You’re not sure if you should build an audience.

Should you invest the time, the energy and the attention? Everything about it is a long-shot, and you’re not sure it’ll pay off.

  • Maybe you’ve got a product you built and you’re wondering if you’re too late.
  • Maybe you’re starting a solo service business.
  • Maybe you’re launching a course or an informational product soon.

Here are two lenses that can help anchor your decision either way.

The Dependence, Independence, Interdependence Mindset

Stephen Covey called it the maturity continuum. Those three stages – dependence, independence, interdependence – can be used to qualify your relationship to someone, something.

In the dependence stage, there is a mindset of blame. “Them” is the word describing the relationship. You are depending on others when in this dynamic. It’s the least mature stage.

Independence is about “me”, “I”. No longer dependent, you focus your energy on being your own, doing your own, owning your own. It’s more mature than dependence, but the most mature stage is the next one.

“Us”. That’s the key lens you get to when you’re in the interdependence stage. You’ve covered your own ability to absorb the blame, and your influence goes beyond your ability to self-govern. You give. You’re generous. You create an environment.

This mindset applied to audience building: If you’re thinking of building an audience, make sure your project won’t depend on an audience, lest you want to blame others for your failure. Independence from your audience, that would mean your project will flourish without it fine. Interdependence would mean that your project, while succesful on its own, together in combination with your audience, they will both benefit from being in contact.

The Optionality, Antifragility, Convexity Mindset

Let’s illustrate the same point another way.

In his book Antifragile, Nassim Nicholas Taleb tells about his experience being an options (financial) trader. He was trained to spot three types of entities:

  • Entities that break under increases in volatility (fragile),
  • Entities that aren’t affected by increases in volatility (robust), and
  • Entities that benefit from increases in volatility (antifragile).

As we’ve seen in another article, Taleb suggests that there’s an easy way to benefit from randomness, to create antifragility, even when not knowing the future:

  • Prevent catastrophes by identifying and removing your exposure to what can ruin you (e.g. ruining your reputation), and;
  • Invest small amounts in areas with known costs (limited downside risk) and unlimited potential for gain.

Rendered visually, fragility looks like an above-ground plateau that falls below ground with bad news, and robust stays the same.



But the antifragile situation looks like this: you start below zero for a while, and then things pick up.


That shape is called convexity.

This mindset applied to audience building: You spend a half-day a week publishing mini struggle-solvers for your audience. You don’t get any benefits from what you publish for a while. Every time you publish, it’s a cost. And then things start to pay-off through some random event.

So should you build an audience?

When you depend on your audience for your overall success, it’s a fragile situation. A bump in the road, your audience might not bail you out. You’re toast.

When you invest in your audience-building, knowing that you’re investing a known amount without need for returns, you’re in an antifragile situation. Something new comes up in the market, and your audience might be thrilled that you’re around, giving you extra attention, helping more people through what you have to sell.

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