Shut Up and Ship It!

My friend, Keith, is pulling his hair out.

Keith works at a university, in a particular department, that wants to try social media. So they’ve created a committee to look at what they should do on social media. They’ve been working for about six months, and they haven’t decided a single thing.

They’re still wrestling with all the ‘what if’ questions. What if someone says something bad about us? What if we say something wrong? What if, what if, what if?

Real artists ship.

Six months.

I loved Seth Godin’s statement in Linchpin (affiliate link), “Real Artists Ship.”

That means you don’t worry about perfect, you worry about done. You don’t worry about 100%, you ship at 80%, and then fix it.

I know people who are waiting on projects, and won’t launch them until everything is done just right. One friend waited nearly 9 months before he launched a blog, because everything had to be just right, and now he’s not doing very much with it.

Shipping doesn’t mean you can do something half-assed or incomplete, but it means you can be a little less than finished and get your product or service out in front of your customers. It means you can create your Twitter account and start tweeting before you fully understand how to use it.

Real artists ship because they understand that all the work they put into their latest offering is going to change as soon as they ship, because their customers are going to have something to say back. Changes are going to happen, things are going to be fixed or dropped, and the last 10% you spent 3 months working on was completely ignored by everyone.

For Keith and his committee, they just need ship. Do something, and see what happens. Start a Twitter account, and then decide what to do if someone says something bad about you. Start the account, and then fix the thing that goes wrong. Start it, measure it, and then fix it.

But for the love of God, ship it. Remember, real artists ship. The timid, the perfectionists, and the procrastinators are still fixing, tweaking, and perfecting. But shippers win, the timid, well, don’t.

My book, Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), is available on, as well as at Barnes & Noble and Borders bookstores. I wrote it with my good friend, Kyle Lacy.

Photo credit: jekemp (Flickr)

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    About Erik Deckers

    Erik Deckers is the President of Pro Blog Service, a content marketing and social media marketing agency He co-authored four social media books, including No Bullshit Social Media with Jason Falls (2011, Que Biz-Tech), and Branding Yourself with Kyle Lacy (3rd ed., 2017, Que Biz-Tech), and The Owned Media Doctrine (2013, Archway Publishing). Erik has written a weekly newspaper humor column for 10 papers around Indiana since 1995. He was also the Spring 2016 writer-in-residence at the Jack Kerouac House in Orlando, FL.


    1. Nothing beats watching a competitor fail because they never get out of the garage to the starting line. You may want the perfect setup for your car, but the race starts at 11:00AM.

    2. Hi Anne,

      I worked at a university for a couple of years myself, and was in state government for about 18 months, so I know all about paralysis through analysis. What’s particularly sad is that all the contingencies that this particular university department is worried about are contingencies that will never happen.

      Someone saying something bad about the department? Frankly, I doubt that most people even THINK of the department at all, let alone expend enough energy to complain about it. And if they do, it will be that once-a-blue-moon complaint that can easily be handled with a lot of committee hand-wringing.

    3. Erik- I love this post. I went to a conference a year back and heard a presentation from a company that spent 3 months forming a social media committee, then six months developing social media guidelines, then had a long ramp-up to actually doing anything. They were very proud of their process. What’s the phrase, paralysis through analysis? Large corporations and universities are particularly prone to it.