134: Mark Manson – How To Prioritize Which F*cks To Give

Creativity, Full Time Hustler, Hobbyist, Mindset, Personal Growth, Podcast, Seasoned Professional

“If I’m not excited about something the readers aren’t going to be excited either.”
– Mark Manson

Hey guys, welcome back to ONKEN RADIO (formerly NION Radio), the podcast where we explore the body, mind, and soul of the creative entrepreneur. It’s my goal to help you take your creativity, business, and life to the next level. I’m so glad you’re joining me on this journey!

Do you ever feel like you care too much about what others think of you? Now more than ever, it’s easy to be preoccupied with how you come across to people. We obsess over how we look on social media, and we lose sight of what really matters to us because we’re so focused on others’ opinions. Today, I have an awesome guest who will help you get over the opinions holding you back so that you can improve yourself and your Creative Alchemy. 

I’m thrilled to have Mark Manson on today’s show. Mark is a master blogger and author, and his most famous work, The Subtle Art of Not Giving F*ck, has sold over six million copies and has been translated in over 25 languages. On today’s show, we’re talking all about Mark’s journey in becoming an author, how you can become a successful Creative Alchemist through branding and marketing, and how you begin to let go of the opinions of others. 

Who Is Mark Manson?

Mark Manson is a blogger, thinker, and two-time #1 New York Times bestselling author. He grew up in Austin, Texas and graduated from Boston University with a degree in International Relations and Business in 2007. 

Mark is an absolutely incredible writer. He authored the immensely successful books The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Everything Is F*cked: A Book About Hope, and Models: Attract Women Through Honesty. He’s also written many great articles about life, relationships, creativity, and numerous other topics, which are available on his website Markmanson.net. Mark and his work have been featured on various media outlets and programs, including CNN, Time Magazine, New York Times, and The Larry King Show

Since our interview, Mark and I have become great friends. I’m really excited to share his advice because he’s incredibly knowledgeable about creativity and marketing your Creative Alchemy, so let’s get started!

Becoming a Self-Help Author

Long before writing The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, Mark was highly interested in personal development and self-help. 

“I became intensely interested in just all kinds of psychological [and] philosophical topics from a very early age. And then it was when I was in my 20s that I started getting into the self-help thing. It’s like, ‘Oh, cool. I can learn how to make more friends and make money while I sleep.'”
– Mark Manson

Shortly after graduating from college, Mark found that the job market offered very few opportunities because of the economic recession. He started blogging in 2009 and freelanced in web design in order to sell products online. 

“In the beginning, I was just like, ‘I want to make enough money to like pay rent and drink beer with my friends.’ … Most of the sites that I set up or tried to set up [were] mostly affiliate-type stuff. So I’d find some niche and build like a really spammy website … then push like some crappy supplement or something.”
– Mark Manson

Over time, Mark discovered that he was terrible at pushing products online, but people enjoyed his writing. 

“I discovered that I was bad at selling stuff. … Like I wasn’t making any money, but people really liked my writing. And so that’s when I decided like, ‘Hey, like maybe this is the thing I should be doing.'”
– Mark Manson

One of the few profitable websites that Mark created was a dating advice site. He sold affiliate products on the site and offered relationship consulting work. After the blog was a success for a few years, Mark self-published a book for men about relationships. 

“It’s called Models: Attract Women Through Honesty. And basically, the idea of the book was [because] I felt like 95% of the [relationship] advice for men out there at the time was just like garbage. [Other books were] basically like, ‘Here, let’s try to manipulate women into sleeping with us.’ I felt very strongly at the time that there needed to be some sort of emotionally healthy version of advice for men on just how to behave and how to treat women.”
– Mark Manson

Mark’s relationship book was hugely successful. He then began expanding from discussing relationships to discussing all kinds of subjects relating to personal development. Between 2013 and 2015, his blog became increasingly more successful. He regularly attracted over two and a half million visitors to his website in a single month! 

“Once you start hitting those numbers and people find out about them, you start getting a lot of interest. And so it was around that time, too, that I had started having the ideas that would form Subtle Art. And so I grabbed an agent and went out there and saw what the market thought of me [and] what the publishers thought of me.”
– Mark Manson

Mark began drafting a book with a ton of advice on various topics, but he was unsure what the book’s central throughline would be. During this time, he was also still writing for his blog, and he came up with the idea of an article simply titled “Fuck” that would be laced with profanity but also give great advice. He eventually titled the article “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.” The article blew up and was shared millions of times over social media, and the article’s success inspired the central idea that would flow through his book. 

“I was having conversations with my agent at the time. We were like, ‘Well, I have all these great ideas and concepts, but I don’t know … what’s the title going to be? Like, what’s the big idea that’s going to kind of like carry people through the book?’ And so when the Subtle Art article went crazy, my agent was like, ‘You should definitely call it The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck.”
– Mark Manson

Mark wrote a new opening chapter centered around the idea of not giving a fuck. The book became a huge success, and Mark secured his place as an iconic and bestselling author.

Mark’s story of his Creative Alchemy becoming a huge success is a great reminder that we all have to start somewhere. Mark began writing as a quick way to earn money selling products online, but he developed his craft and is now an immensely talented and successful Creative Alchemist. You might start out working on something small within your creative medium, but you need to continue developing your work to become a successful creative entrepreneur!

The Importance of Branding and Marketing in Your Creative Alchemy 

An absolutely crucial part of thriving in your Creative Alchemy is learning about the process of packaging and marketing your work. Mark continually stressed the role of marketing in developing your creative career. 

“You need to study marketing and branding. Like it’s just non-negotiable, and people hate hearing this because as creatives, we all think our ideas are brilliant.”
– Mark Manson

Even if you’re creating something groundbreaking, you still need to market it and brand it in a way that’s going to get it out to the public and make it a success. Mark observed that the ability to brand and market your Creative Alchemy is just as important as creating your work. 

“The fact of the matter is that writing [or] creating something great is just half the battle. The other half is finding a way [to] basically meet people where they are in their lives and in the world, and understanding how are you going to get them to stop and look and give you [those] first like three seconds for you to win them over.”
– Mark Manson

Studying copywriting and marketing is a great way to learn how to brand your Creative Alchemy. Mark read numerous books on copywriting and marketing, and he used the skills he learned to write and brand The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck in a way that would appeal to a mass audience rather than a niche market. 

“90% of [The Subtle Art] is remix[ed] or rehashed … or even just retelling stories or research that other people have done. … The reason Subtle Art has sold over a million copies … is because I’ve packaged that both in terms of … my own creative voice, but also understanding … what makes somebody stop and pay attention to something. What makes an idea exciting to learn about versus like some boring academic paper that nobody reads.”
– Mark Manson

Even though The Subtle Art was full of unoriginal material, Mark wrote and packaged the book in a way that would excite and intrigue readers. 

Mark suggested that creators research their creative mediums and discover what will appeal to more people. 

“You have to understand how you can brand your work. Create … a concept or a story around your work that people can easily understand and latch onto. And it’s a very unsexy topic, … but it’s so practical.” – Mark Manson

Mark does an excellent job branding his blog in a way that will attract readers. He titles his articles in creative and intriguing ways that make people want to click on them. For example, he has titles like “The World Is F*cked and I’m Pretty Sure It’s the Internet’s Fault” and “Smartphones Are the New Cigarettes.” Like who wouldn’t want to read those articles just based on those awesome titles? 

How can you start branding and marketing your creative work to reach more people? Maybe you’re a fiction writer, and you can research how to package your stories in a way that will engross more readers. Maybe you’re a musician, and you can research how to appeal to more listeners. Being a successful creative entrepreneur requires both creating your art and learning how to get your art out to more people. Follow Mark’s advice and research what you need to do to brand and market your Creative Alchemy! 

How to Not Give a F*ck

Mark and I talked all about one of the key subjects in his bestselling book: “not giving a fuck.” He made it clear that “not giving a fuck” doesn’t mean that you don’t care what anybody thinks. Mark noted that the problem with caring about others’ opinions occurs when we overvalue what others think. 

“Caring that what people think is not the problem. It’s the prioritization of what people think. So the problem comes when we make what other people think value number one. Like it is the most important thing in our life.” 
– Mark Manson

“Not giving a fuck” doesn’t mean that you entirely disregard others’ opinions. It means that you don’t overvalue others’ opinions. Mark observed that two common problems cause people to struggle with overvaluing what others think: 

“It can be you just don’t have anything else. You just have nothing else to do or nothing else important going on in your life. Another reason is that you had a bunch of really painful experiences early in your life. And so you’re extremely sensitive to what other people think.”
– Mark Manson

Whether you don’t have enough to do in your day or have deep-rooted insecurities, you can overcome others’ opinions by valuing and focusing on other things. 

“The solution is not getting rid of it. The solution is simply making other things more important [and] developing other values. … [Find] other things that are more important. And then also [put] your opinion of yourself at the same level, if not higher, than what other people care about.”
– Mark Manson

You can’t overcome the opinions of others if you’re merely pretending not to care. You need to focus and value other things and appreciate your own opinion. If you can redirect your focus onto something else — like your Creative Alchemy — you can alleviate the stress of caring too much about what others think of you. 

Mark observed that learning how to deal with others’ opinions and handling criticism is crucial for your creative career. 

“I think it’s just the fact of the career you’re going [into]. You’re going to be criticized. … And it’s going to suck. The first time it happens, it’s gonna ruin your day. You’re gonna question your confidence. … But as it happens more, you get used to it. … The more successful you get, the more haters you get. … So you just get used to it after a while. You can’t please everybody.”
– Mark Manson

Your critics and haters are never going away, so you need to learn how to handle negative opinions. It will be difficult to handle at first, but you’ll get used to it. Even the most brilliant Creative Alchemists out there have people hating on their work because it’s impossible to impress everyone. Rather than obsessing over unhelpful feedback and negative opinions, focus on how you can improve yourself and your Creative Alchemy. You can continue growing in your confidence and creative abilities so that you don’t overvalue what others think of you. 

Become a Creative Alchemist with Mark Manson

Guys, I had such an amazing conversation with Mark Manson. His journey and advice for becoming a successful creative entrepreneur were incredibly inspiring and helpful. If you want to learn more about Mark’s journey, the importance of experiencing pain, and how to find your priorities in life, check out the full episode here. Also, Make sure to check out Mark’s website to read his articles and pick up his book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. The book is jam-packed full of advice to improve your life and your Creative Alchemy. 

Alchemy is defined as the process of taking something ordinary and turning it into something extraordinary, sometimes in a way that cannot be explained. With that being said, I define Creative Alchemy as using the process of creativity to create a lens through which to perform alchemy. These principles not only apply to artists and creatives in their own creative processes, but to anyone who wants to create an extraordinary life in color for themselves. 

I’ve found that 80% of creating is alchemizing the thoughts, emotions, and other inner blocks that keep you from putting the pen to the paper. Navigating to the act of creation takes alchemical processes. Use Mark’s advice for branding and marketing your work to engage in alchemical processes and create something artistically and commercially exceptional!

Thank you so much for checking out today’s episode! If you found Mark’s journey and advice as fascinating as I did, make sure to share it on Instagram. Tag Mark, @markmanson, and me, @nickonken, and share what you learned from the episode. Also, make sure to leave me a five-star review on Apple Podcasts so that I can share this with more Creative Alchemists like you!

Remember, it’s okay to care about others’ opinions as long as you don’t overvalue them. Focus on the things you truly value in your life and appreciate your own opinion more than what others think of you. 

See you next time —

Nick Onken

“The game changes once you start getting to those higher levels of success.”
– Mark Manson

Some things we learn in this podcast:

  • The inspiration behind The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck [4:15]
  • What Mark discovered actually mattered to him [7:30]
  • Why we create narratives about ourselves now [9:30]
  • How to choose your priorities in life [10:55]
  • What got Mark into the world of personal development [14:55]
  • The transition to making money with his writing [18:45]
  • How he got into the publishing world [23:00]
  • How to get your name out there [25:40]
  • Mark’s take on social media and smartphones [28:55]
  • How social media can take away from creative states [33:30]
  • What books Mark used to learn branding [37:30]
  • Mark’s creative process [40:30]
  • Where Mark draws inspiration from [43:50]
  • How the book came about [44:45]
  • Mark’s tips to stop giving a f*ck [48:20]
  • Applying Mark’s advice to a career in creativity [50:40]
  • How to handle feedback and criticism [52:20]
  • Finding new trajectories after success [54:10]
  • What Mark’s new book is about [1:00:00]

Links mentioned:

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Different strokes for different folks.

Whether you’re a weekend warrior or full time creative hustler, everyone needs something a little bit different on their journey.

Take the Creative Identity Quiz

to figure out what type of creative you are, and get a customized guide to help you figure out where to go next – totally free.

Take the Quiz Now!