Finding the Balance Between Pragmatism and Your Ideals

If you feel like you need to choose between idealism and getting your bills paid, look again.

If you’re getting along financially but compromising your own beliefs, you’re going to make yourself sick and miserable. Or if you’re leading some kind of “pure” life but suffering a lot of financial stress, that’s not the key to a great life either.

Somewhere, there’s going to be a path that brings those two together, and that will get you where you want to go.

In this 13-minute episode, I talk about:

  • The village of tiny blue idealists
  • My fascinating excursion to the land of scary hardcore marketers
  • The (fun) craziness that was the Third Tribe
  • Some of the lessons we learned in our community of idealistic pragmatists

The community I mentioned in this podcast, Authority, will be closing to new members on September 30, 2015, and won’t be available again until early 2016. If you want to learn what we’re about, and perhaps join us, you can find us here: The Authority Community of Content Marketers.

The Show Notes

Finding the Balance between Pragmatism and Your Ideals

Greetings, superfriends! My name is Sonia Simone and these are the Confessions of a Pink-Haired Marketer. For those who don’t know me, I’m a co-founder and the chief content officer for Copyblogger Media.

I’m also a champion of running your business and your life according to your own rules. As long as you don’t lie and you don’t hurt people, this podcast is your official pink permission slip to run your business or your career exactly the way you think you should.

Today is going to be somewhat promotional, because I’m going to talk about my community of content marketers, which is called Authority. We’re moving to limited enrollment periods for it, so it’s closing for this year on September 30 to new members.

But mostly I want to tell you a story about how that community got started, because I think it may be instructive.

The village of tiny blue idealists

Our family is studying Italian, and the teacher gives my son simple texts to translate, and recently he had a short book about I Puffi. In English, I Puffi are the Smurfs.

And social media back in the day kind of reminds me of the Smurf village. It’s very cute and it’s very small, and everyone has this beautifully defined role, and we’re all blue and tiny and we value the same things.

Social media marketing — and you could hardly call it marketing back then, because even that term was sort of heresy — was all about engagement. I talked about that last week — engagement as this holy grail of the social web. For example, when Brian Clark started the Copyblogger blog, he was this demonic crazy person for actually wanting to look at how copywriting — which is commercial writing intended to persuade — might intersect with blogging, which was supposed to end all war because we’d just be showing one another cat pictures instead of fighting.

I’m exaggerating, but not by much.

Enter the scary hardcore salespeople …

So a totally fascinating thing happened to me when I was really just getting started with Copyblogger — in fact, this was before I left my corporate content marketing job to strike out on my own.

I was invited to speak at this hardcore marketing conference. I was added onto a “social media bonus day,” and I’m not sure what they were expecting from me, but as usual I just showed up and told people what I thought. It’s surprising how often that works.

So these are very strategic, very “hardcore” marketers, and I’m talking about engagement and relationships and communication.

And the weird thing is, they’re listening.

Maybe because as kumbaya as I ever was — and I was a total Smurf about the social web — I was also always practical. I had to be, because I had a three year old at home and my husband is a stay at home dad. I was the one who brought all the money into the house. So I figured out early on how to be both idealistic and pragmatic.

There was this crazy thing called the Third Tribe

The thing I really understood at that conference is that “hardcore” marketers can achieve their goals a lot better if they include some of our kumbaya and relationship stuff.

But just as important, my kumbaya tribe of Smurfs can also learn a ton from those hard-nosed realists. They had smart strategies. They understood the architecture of persuasion.

You could use it to be creepy, but a lot of them were not using it to be creepy, they had valuable stuff and they wanted people to benefit from it. They didn’t understand the strategies of relationships, and my tribe could be doing a little better with the strategies of persuasion and conversion.

They weren’t villains and they weren’t creeps — at least most of them weren’t. (And some of the Smurfs are kind of creepy too, I have to say.)

I wrote a cranky, ranty post asking the question — couldn’t we build a Third Tribe, that took the best from both of those worlds?

That community was a door-buster

People started using that term — “third tribe” — to talk about that intersection of pragmatism and ideals. And I could see I was on to something.

We fairly quickly put together a membership community to capture that energy — and it was kind of freaky to see how many people signed up. There was this wave of people who wanted to find that intersection, who felt like that’s where they belonged, and like it was something they wanted to be part of.

Like any fairytale, there’s a lot of living to do after “and they lived happily ever after.” We made some tweaks, some changes, changed platforms, changed all kinds of things.

At a certain point, we rebooted it to become a new community — one that was more polished and more oriented to professionals. That’s the community we have today, which is called Authority.

And as I said, it’s going to close down to new members on September 30, which is a Wednesday this week, and we won’t have another enrollment period before 2016.

What’s in Authority?

So just a very quick run-down of what we do inside Authority —

Education is our primary mission. We have more than 230 hours of education archived in the site, which is slightly insane, but if it touches on content marketing, we’ve talked about it. SEO, productivity, writing technique, metrics, business strategy — you name it.

Lots of those are webinars, and also member Q&As where we do these lightning mini-consultation sessions, to uncover and fix problems in our members’ businesses.

We’re adding more in-depth content around our members, so both some hot-seat-style sessions where we help someone who’s chewing on a significant problem or issue in their business, and then celebratory “How I Did It” sessions where we interview a member and let them show us how they solved the problems we all face — because we do all tend to run across similar-looking problems, and we can learn a lot from one another.

If you’re listening to this after the 30th, you’ll probably be really peeved with me because you won’t be able to get in. But you can always get onto the interest list for when we open up the next time.

The focus of the community is really content marketing, whether you’re a business owner or a freelance writer or you have a day job but you want to keep your skills sharp.

If you want to find out more about what’s involved, you can read my Copyblogger post about Authority, or you can just hop over to and get all of the details.

I know promotions can feel weird sometimes, but I hope whether or not the community would be a good fit for you, this can inspire you to take a second look at ideas that feel like they’re in opposition. If you feel like you need to choose between idealism and getting your bills paid, look again. Somewhere there’s going to be a path between those, that honors both of them, that will lead you to where you want to go.