High Five by Dongyup Shim
The average blog is abandoned in a matter of months.
The average business is shuttered in a matter of years.
The average attention span is… oh look a squirrel.
But this blog not only survives, it keeps gathering steam.
Five years old. Today.
Why this blog? Why Valeria?
Is it just that the early players in social got a giant foothold, making it harder for latecomers to gain traction? Hardly, Chris Guillebeau, in last year’s fourth anniversary post here handily dispelled that myth. Every year a new batch of digital stars come seemingly out of the ether to carve out their space in a land so many proclaim no longer carve-outable.
Is it that Valeria has mastered the strategy, tactics, and nuances of the online world? Decidedly so. But so have many others who’ve ended up blazing white-hot, then rapidly crashing and burning.
Is it that the content here is exceptional? Um… duhhh! But the same could be said for thousands of others who’ve passed into the great digital pasture in the sky.
So, what is it? Two things, I think.
One, she gives a damn and she’s not afraid to let you know.
This blog isn’t just about information, it’s not just about creating an evergreen resource. Nor is it about building a brand or reputation. Those things have all happened. And, I’ve no doubt, with a fair degree of intention. But, people don’t just come here to learn, they come to engage. They come because they know Valeria is here to play, to debate, to teach and learn, to poke and prod, to laugh and to explore.
In an odd way, Conversation Agent reminds me of the little café I was just in down on Mission Street in San Francisco. Bustling with all forms of political manifesto and conversation, filled not just with ideas, insights and theories, but the intense desire to connect, to school and be schooled… to matter.
That’s Valeria. Driven to matter. And, you can feel it the moment you drop in.
But there’s something else.
Conversation Agent is what it is today, in part, because Valeria wouldn’t let it not be.
You cannot build anything worth building without butting up against adversity. Against challenge, fear, denial, frustration. Mass uncertainty. These things, they’re not fun. They kill most people and disembowel their creations. They lead to a lot of suffering.
But, they don’t have to.
The circumstances that give rise to them must be there. You must act when you don’t know how it’ll all end. You must lean in when you most want to split. And you must step into fog and trust the next step will be there.
Nothing great was ever created by taking action only in response to perfect information.
But, the way you experience those circumstances largely defines your success. What you’re capable of creating.
I know Valeria. She’s a friend. Bright beyond words and kind (V, I dare you not to edit this out, lol). But she’s also tough as nails. Nobody stops her from doing what’s to be done. It’s often not easy. But one of the things that’s led to her success in an industry awash in noise, failure and evolution, is her ability to consistently take action. Even when she doesn’t know quite how or where that action will end. And her genuine desire to serve.
She gives a damn. She loves what she does and who she does it with. And nobody is going to take that from her.
That very trait, a bit born and a bit learned, is one of the things that makes this blog, this community, so alive. It’s a big part of why Conversation Agent has become what it’s become. And will become something that, five years from now, will make its current incarnation look nascent.
So, happy birthday Conversation Agent. Five years. What an amazing accomplishment.
Jonathan Fields is the author of Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt Into Fuel for Brilliance. He blogs at JonathanFields.com. He does stuff, even when he’s scared.