John Andrews is a Competitive Webmaster and Search Engine Optimization Consultant in Seattle, Washington. This is John Andrews blog on issues of interest to the SEO community and competitive webmasters. Want to know more?

johnon.com  Competitive Web & SEO
September 2nd, 2009 by john andrews

To Be or to Not Be: that Seems to Be the Question

In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “to be or not to be” was the question. The first line is so familiar:

To be, or not to be: that is the question:

and the first section adored, and often memorized by adherent high schoolers:

To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them? To die: to sleep; No more; and by a sleep to say we end the heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep; To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub; For in that sleep of death what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give us pause: here’s the respect that makes calamity of so long life;

Scholars and academics continue to study and interpret Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Many a Ph.D. dissertation has focused on it, and sometimes the interpretations stretch pretty far, making for entertaining reading. For the rest of us non-academics, and especially those of us living the definition of web entrepreneur, I think Hamlet should be re-considered. If I could be so bold as to suggest a modification to Shakespeare’s work (and I’ll only change the first line), I think it fits our modern age perfectly. Because I see this behavior over and over in potential entrepreneurs, I’ll take license and change “to be or not to be: that is the question” into “to be or to not be: that seems to be the question“. The rest remains appropriate.

Over and over I meet potential and moderately successful entrepreneurs struggling with the question Hamlet raised. Their actions are well described by that entire section above. But I suppose that is my interpretation of Hamlet. It differs from most I have read (I haven’t read many, mind you). It fits an inordinate number of entrepreneurs I meet. What drives your passion? Is it to Be, or is it to not be?

There areĀ  few ways to think of this. The obvious : “Do you really want to succeed, or do you simply fear failure?” does indeed apply sometimes. But so does the less obvious (but more prevalent) “do you have a target for what you want to be, or are you working hard trying to not be something else?” I see a lot of people holding back in order to not be something.

There are plenty of psychologists ready to discuss your personal self image, your mental imprint of the meaning of life, the baggage you bring from your past relationships (including family) and your “inherited” fears and quirks. All good stuff that needs to be tidied up. But what I see is more specific: I see people who say they want to “succeed”, but are quick to point out negatives with a follow-on “but I don’t want to _____________“. The blank filled in with characterizations of ugliness. They want to sell a lot of product, but don’t want to cheat anyone. They want to market their services, but don’t want to be too pushy. They want to sell, but don’t want to lie. They want to innovate, but not be unethical (or immoral). They want to succeed, but…

To be or to not be. Where is the passionate energy going?

The biggest successes wanted to Be. They were after achievement. They wanted, whether that was a benevolent want (Mother Theresa wanted to help others?) or a selfish want (Malcolm Forbes wanted to be rich and famous?). For many, the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” were unfortunate side effects to be suffered, or corrected after the fact through philanthropy.

Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles” perfectly describes what some blossoming entrepreneurs go through. Considering “outrageous fortune” to be wealth, is it more noble to get rich (despite the scorn some may cast upon you for being “filthy rich”) or is it more noble to deal with life’s burdens like everyman must? Maybe Hamlet’s “sea of troubles” is the common man’s suffering. The bills that need to be paid.

Entrepreneur Hamlet continues to suggest that quitting, or accepting common suffering, leaves one ultimately defeated (since without wealth one simply cannot defeat an economic system designed to enslave him). But he astutely notes that the desired peace and calm associated with having given up a struggle, will never arrive. And that’s the rub! Once you give up, you don’t find peace (as if to die) but instead you start to dream again. Free of the struggle, you are once again not only able to dream but you can’t help but dream. Because you are an entrepreneur. And what do you dream of? Potential success! Ahhh.. life is a cruel mistress!

“to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;”

Hamlet understood the curse of the entrepreneur. He referred to the calamity of a long life. The desires don’t go away. An entrepreneur will always see a different path, and want to follow it. An entrepreneur wants to know how deep the rabbit hole goes.

Enough about Hamlet; what about you?

  • You say you want to sell Widgets. But you rarely speak to your potential customers, rarely influence them to buy, and spend most of your time in XHTML or re-design meetings. You don’t like to be pushy, apparently. To be, or to not be?
  • You say you want to rank at the top of search engines, but when shown that better or more links are needed, you choose instead to re-design your home page (again). You don’t want to violate Google guidelines with questionable links, you say, as you double up your design efforts. To Be or to Not Be?
  • You recognize that you need to build relationships in the marketplace, in order to succeed as a leader, so you join Social Media. And then you follow everyone. You don’t want to be an attention whore, apparently. To be, or to not be?

and my favorite…

  • You say you want to be #1 in search engines for (generic word) but you don’t want to change your site so it represents a comprehensive and definitive answer for searches for (generic word).

Later this month a group of entrepreneurs will gather at Think Tank in Del Mar, California. I think Hamlet should come to Think Tank, and stand on the rocks of Del Mar beach reciting his soliloquy out loud (with my modification).

If you want to achieve, you can be who you are, or you can work to become who you want to be, but you must be someone. To be no one, unhappy as yourself, dreaming of being different, while holding back for fear of becoming something, is to waste your life.

Hamlet suffered for us already, and explained it clearly. Take his advice. If you have the passion to Be, do what it takes to become. If you feel in your heart that you were meant to be someone, then it is your destiny to give up convention and try to become who you are meant to be. Forget what others think. Forget the rules. Suffer the slings and arrows if necessary. Note the unfortunate side effects, to be managed later. But be true to yourself. For those given the gift, there is nothing nobler. The rest need you to try, and will reward your success.

★★ Click to Share!    Digg this     Create a del.icio.us Bookmark     Add to Newsvine

Competitive Webmaster

Wonder how to be more competitive at some aspect of the web? Submit your thoughts.

SEO Secret

Not Post Secret

Click HERE



about


John Andrews is a mobile web professional and competitive search engine optimzer (SEO). He's been quietly earning top rank for websites since 1997. About John

navigation

blogroll

categories

comments policy

archives

credits

Recent Posts: ★ SEO Industry Growth, Widespread Failure, and SEO Industry Challenge ★ Do you want to WIN, or just “Be the Winner”? ★ 503: GONE ★ Cloud Storage ★ Identity Poetry for Marketers ★ PR is where the Money Is ★ Google is an Addict ★ When there are no Jobs ★ Google Stifles Innovation, starts Strangling Itself ★ Flying the SEO Helicopter ★ Penguin 2.0 Forewarning Propaganda? ★ Dedicated Class “C” IP addresses for SEO ★ New Domain Extensions (gTLDs) Could Change Everything ★ Kapost Review ★ Aaron Von Frankenstein ★ 2013 is The Year of the Proxy ★ Preparing for the Google Apocalypse ★ Rank #1 in Google for Your Name (for a fee) ★ Pseudo-Random Thoughts on Search ★ Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, or a Blog ★ The BlueGlass Conference Opportunity ★ Google Execs Take a Break from Marissa Mayer, Lend Her to Yahoo! ★ Google SEO Guidelines ★ Reasons your Post-Penguin Link Building Sucks ★ Painful Example of Google’s Capricious Do Not Care Attitude 

Subscribe

☆ about

John Andrews is a mobile web professional and competitive search engine optimzer (SEO). He's been quietly earning top rank for websites since 1997. About John

☆ navigation

  • John Andrews and Competitive Webmastering
  • E-mail Contact Form
  • What does Creativity have to do with SEO?
  • How to Kill Someone Else’s AdSense Account: 10 Steps
  • Invitation to Twitter Followers
  • …unrelated: another good movie “Clean” with Maggie Cheung
  • …unrelated: My Hundred Dollar Mouse
  • Competitive Thinking
  • Free SEO for NYPHP PHP Talk Members
  • Smart People
  • Disclosure Statement
  • Google Sponsored SPAM
  • Blog Post ideas
  • X-Cart SEO: How to SEO the X Cart Shopping Cart
  • IncrediBill.blogspot.com
  • the nastiest bloke in seo
  • Seattle Domainers Conference
  • Import large file into MySQL : use SOURCE command
  • Vanetine’s Day Gift Ideas: Chocolate Fragrance!
  • SEM Rush Keyword Research
  • ☆ blogroll

  • Bellingham SEO
  • Domain Name Consultant
  • Hans Cave Diving in Mexico
  • Healthcare Search Marketing
  • John Andrews
  • John Andrews SEO
  • SEMPDX Interview
  • SEO Quiz
  • SEO Trophy Phrases
  • SMX Search Marketing Expo
  • T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East 2007
  • TOR
  • ☆ categories

    Competition (39)
    Competitive Intelligence (15)
    Competitive Webmastering (547)
    Webmasters to Watch (4)
    domainers (63)
    Oprah (1)
    photography (3)
    Privacy (16)
    Public Relations (187)
    SEO (398)
    Client vs. SEO (2)
    Link Building (3)
    Search Engines vs. SEO (1)
    SEO SECRETS (11)
    SEO vs. SEO (1)
    ThreadWatch Watching (5)
    Silliness (24)
    Social Media (7)
    society (31)
    Uncategorized (23)

    ☆ archives

  • November 2014
  • September 2014
  • December 2013
  • October 2013
  • September 2013
  • August 2013
  • May 2013
  • April 2013
  • March 2013
  • February 2013
  • January 2013
  • November 2012
  • September 2012
  • August 2012
  • July 2012
  • June 2012
  • April 2012
  • March 2012
  • February 2012
  • January 2012
  • November 2011
  • October 2011
  • September 2011
  • July 2011
  • May 2011
  • April 2011
  • March 2011
  • January 2011
  • December 2010
  • November 2010
  • October 2010
  • September 2010
  • August 2010
  • July 2010
  • June 2010
  • May 2010
  • April 2010
  • March 2010
  • February 2010
  • January 2010
  • December 2009
  • November 2009
  • October 2009
  • September 2009
  • August 2009
  • July 2009
  • June 2009
  • May 2009
  • April 2009
  • March 2009
  • February 2009
  • January 2009
  • December 2008
  • November 2008
  • October 2008
  • September 2008
  • August 2008
  • July 2008
  • June 2008
  • May 2008
  • April 2008
  • March 2008
  • February 2008
  • January 2008
  • December 2007
  • November 2007
  • October 2007
  • September 2007
  • August 2007
  • July 2007
  • June 2007
  • May 2007
  • April 2007
  • March 2007
  • February 2007
  • January 2007
  • December 2006
  • November 2006
  • October 2006
  • September 2006
  • August 2006
  • July 2006