The 1 Ingredient Creatives Are Missing

Floating in a magenta amnion, his body spasms, fighting against the thick gelatin.

Metal tubes, surreal versions of hospital tubes, obscure his face. Other lines like IVs are connected to limbs and cover his genitals.

He is struggling desperately now. Air bubbles into the Jell-O but does not break the surface. Pressing up, the surface distends, stretching like a red rubber cocoon.

Unable to breathe, he fights wildly to stand, clawing at the thinning elastic shroud, until it ruptures, a hole widening around his mouth as he sucks for air. Tearing himself free, he emerges from the cell.

It is Neo.

He is bald and naked, his body slick with gelatin. Dizzy, nauseous, he waits for his vision to focus. He is standing in an oval capsule of clear alloy filled with magenta gelatin, the surface of which has solidified like curdled milk. The IVs in his arms are plugged into outlets that appear to be grafted to his flesh.

He feels the weight of another cable and reaches to the back of his head where he finds an enormous coaxial plugged and locked into the base of his skull. He tries to pull it out but it would be easier to pull off a finger.

To either side he sees other tube-shaped pods filled with magenta gelatin; beneath the wax-like surface, pale and motionless, he sees other human beings.

Fanning out in a circle, there are more. All connected to a center core, each capsule like a red, dimly-glowing petal attached to a black metal stem.

This is the scene in Matrix when Neo "wakes up" to see the real world for the first time.

Nope. Today's newsletter is not about a hypothetical future where AI would dominate humans.

It's about the 1 missing ingredient that's preventing most creatives from creating unique and meaningful work.

But before we get into that, we need to cover a critical concept that's behind most creatives' work: "Capabilities versus Opportunities."

I first learned this from Joe Polish, that learned it from Dan Sullivan (both genius marketers.)

The idea is simple but profound:

We all seek opportunities: More money, more freedom, better connections, better health, etc.

The problem is that our capabilities don't currently match the opportunities we seek.

For instance, if you have a $3K a month business and you want to build a $10K business...

You'll have to develop $10K capabilities to get there (which will be different depending on your market.)

If you think about "scams", they tend to sell you on the opportunities but never talk about the capabilities needed to achieve them.

People get excited and buy it… to only then discover they don't have what it takes to transform the opportunity they were offered into a reality.

Rings a bell?

Thankfully, most creatives are not scammers. They present you with an opportunity and teach you the capabilities to take advantage of it. But still... because they miss this 1 key ingredient, they end up looking like everybody else.

All you see is a bunch of creatives promoting the same opportunity and teaching the exact same stuff (open Twitter and you’ll see what I mean after scrolling for 10 seconds.)

Now, if you think about the Matrix movie…

Morpheus presents Neo with an opportunity: To live outside the Matrix.

He then teaches Neo how to fight the agents...

How to dodge bullets...

And how to free his mind from fear and doubt…

But none of that happens before Morpheus makes Neo aware of the Matrix.

None of that happens before Morpheus gives Neo a purpose to fight the Matrix.

None of that happens before Morpheus converts Neo into his cause.

You see where I'm going with this?

Without a strong message... without a red pill... you're just helping people to chase opportunities without a real purpose behind them.

Let me share with you my own example to help you internalize this idea...

Over the last 6 years, I've been helping a 9-figure entrepreneur build his personal brand.

Last year I decided to share everything I learned on Twitter (teaching capabilities) to help other people build their personal brand (opportunity.)

In 3 months, I built a 20,000+ following and had already made $30K with my first cohort.

Then I decided to quit.


Honestly, I didn't quite know at the time. I simply felt like something was off. Everywhere I looked, I'd see other creatives playing a game that I wasn't fond of. And I didn't want to be just "another creator."

But today I can see what was missing:

A strong message.

A cause I can stand behind. Something that makes the opportunity worth chasing. A meaning.

For me, it's showing creatives how to escape the Matrix and find their unique path.

And it all starts with making you aware of the matrix and why you need a strong message to differentiate your work...

That’s the fuel that’ll make the other two parts worth it: Help you learn the capabilities (how to find and communicate your message) to reach the opportunities you seek (create unique and meaningful work.)