Noah Brier: Making Stuff on the Internet

Noah Brier – blogger, strategist, and all-around web guru — is the kind of person who inspires the question (said with a mixture of awe and envy): how does he possibly find the time?  In addition to writing his own blog, NoahBrier.com, he has spearheaded a number of innovative and successful personal projects.

These include brandtags.net, a collective experiment in brand perception that has garnered tremendous buzz; likemind.us, a global network of gatherings; and highly creative smaller projects like howmuchdoesitbuy.com and holycrapfacts.com.

Recently, The Barbarian Group made the wise decision to bring on Brier as Head of Planning and Strategy, so it’s fair to say his influence is only just beginning.  We caught up with Brier to learn how “making stuff on the internet” has turned him into a web phenomenon.

One might assume that someone with this much going on would have limited involvement in each project -  i.e. little bits of work spread over lots of different things.  But actually, Brier credits his success to a very hands-on, personal approach.  He explains, “My two most successful personal projects to date have been likemind and brand tags. As for getting them off the ground, they’ve been quite different, but have shared one important thing. For both of them I was quite involved and spent a lot of time emailing every single person who asked a question back. I think that personal contact/feedback is quite important (I still thank every person who signs up for the likemind mailing list).

Being involved on that level allows me to get to know the people who are coming to likemind/using brand tags and helps me come up with new ideas for ways to expand.”So then how does Brier make all of his ideas happen?   Simple: he relies on the powerful motivating force of his own passion, combined with small practical decisions that spur him into action. He explains, “Those ideas I’m most excited about are the ones that get done. Those that I’m less excited about tend to fall by the wayside. Making stuff for me is just about seeing it happen and learning new things. I like that a lot, it makes me happy…But one thing I always do is buy the domain. I find that a little investment can go a long way in terms of motivating me to get something done.”

In reality I think that’s the most important thing to seeing your vision through: Being able to make it happen without having to rely on anyone.

Brier also is not afraid to enter new territories and pick up new skills that facilitate his creative process, which may be why he is able to successfully fill so many roles.  As he tells us, “I just learned to write code (PHP to be exact … some people won’t consider it code, but it’s good enough for me) and I couldn’t recommend it more highly. I was able to pick it up quite quickly and now I don’t need to rely on anyone else to make my ideas come to life. In reality I think that’s the most important thing to seeing your vision through: Being able to make it happen without having to rely on anyone. Sure it’s great to collaborate and I do it whenever I get the chance, but being able to make it happen on your own is where it’s at.”

That being said, Brier does see tremendous value in bouncing his ideas off others. “Talking to people helps me straighten out my thoughts (as does writing on my blog, which I think of in the same way). I recently read a quote by someone (Einstein I think) that said if you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough. I think this is true. I can tell you countless times that I’ve thought I had a great idea and then it was time to tell someone else and I realized that it actually kind of sucked.”  And Brier’s personal philosophy ensures he’ll always have plenty of people around with whom he can share.  “If I had a mission, it’d probably be related to likemind: Connecting people. I love to introduce people to one another, I think it’s one of the best things you can do in the world. What other act makes all three parties happy (the two you’ve introduced get to meet each other and you score great karma points). I’m constantly introducing people I think would enjoy each other’s company and think more people should do the same. I think connecting people makes the world a better place and that’s good enough for me.”

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