Do Epic Shit

[Pamela sent this picture to me. I love it when I can help people do their art.]

This one will be a short one – as many of you know, I’m currently at SXSW. It’s awesome and intimidating and overwhelming all at once.

One of the panels I went to the other day was “Try Making Yourself More Interesting,” moderated by Brian Oberkirch. In his discussion about how to make yourself more interesting, he presented the following, easy guidance:

Do Epic Shit

Many of us aren’t doing epic shit because we think we’re not big enough to do it. Or that it’s better to start with something small and that smallness defines our ambition indefinitely. Or that epic shit is stuff that epic people do.

Wrong. Everyday people do epic shit and then become epic. They weren’t born that way.

Okay, so you may not like “Do Epic Shit” as a mantra. You might prefer to think along the lines of “Create Something Remarkable” a la Seth. They’re saying the same thing, though.

What are you doing that’s epic? Why is it worth talking about? Why should other people care?

Rather than do something small and work like hell to build a story around it, do epic shit and let it speak for itself. (Click to share – thanks!)

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    • says

      How does one develop the courage to act? I tried to start my own business earlier this year and it didn’t succeed. I’m hesitant to do something “epic” again.

      • says


        Just in case you never got an answer…

        The answer is: Surround yourself with people who believing in doing EPIC things. EPIC failures are simply EPIC stepping stones to your real deal.

        I just saw “The Social Network” movie last week.

        Sean Parker, the creator of Napster, changed the music industry (EPIC), but got his pants sued off of him, and didn’t make money from the company (FAILURE).

        He went on to have two more EPIC crash-and-burns at subsequent companies.

        All that “epic failure” prepared him for when the Facebook opportunity came along.

        He’s now allegedly a billionaire, thanks to his well-timed mentoring of Mark Zuckerberg.

        A flawed example, but an example nonetheless.

        If you don’t have the courage to act again, surround yourself with people who are accustomed to leaping, falling, dusting themselves off, and trying again.

        It may not be natural to your personality… but it does rub off. Your peer group’s approach and attitude is contagious.

        So find people who are okay with 10 EPIC FAILS on their way to 1 EPIC SUCCESS. They’ll get you back on the horse, and back on the path to EPIC-CITY.

  1. says

    Well this was just about a fantastic slap in the face from the universe. Excellent and very much what I needed to read. And I write epics, damn it!

    I have held myself back in a bid to be “small”, as though “small” is better. Small doesn’t tread on toes, doesn’t offend, doesn’t hurt.

    Epic, though, that’s a big thing. But it’s the epic stuff that’s all the more interesting, of course!

    Joely Blacks last blog post..The long run that really hurt

  2. says

    Inspiring words. I get advice about not dreaming too far ahead, and taking things one step at a time . . . but maybe I just need to combine these pieces of advice and do something remarkable one step at a time!

    Kels last blog post..Cisco’s Comic Strip

  3. says

    In my e-book I put it as “reclaim your audacious goals” because, as you say, it isn’t that we haven’t thought of doing epic shit. It is that we thought of it and then went, “Whoa that’s too audacious. I’ll do this small thing. It’s more likely to work.” And then we stay with the small stuff and convince ourselves that is all we are capable of.

    JoVEs last blog post..If I knew then… #2: Publishing in the wrong places

  4. says

    Thanks for a lovely inspiring post. I’m fairly new to software development. My very first project is definitely “epic”. It’s a time tracker that guesses what project you’re working on automatically as you work. This is something I’ve not seen done before anywhere. It’s interesting that you talk about being held back – this is an idea I’ve had in my head for 5 years, but I’ve never done anything about it because I always thought I wasn’t good enough. It’s taken me a while to figure out that it’s setting out what you want to do and working towards it that’s important. As I go I’ll figure out how to do this and learn stuff along the way. If I could do this easily right now, the chances are it wouldn’t be worth doing.

    John Gallaghers last blog post..Would You Buy This Product?

  5. says

    I actually like the first one better —

    Do epic shit.

    I sounds more like something I would say, and epic is the shit that gets done, gets people thinking, gets people moving. It reminds me of the economic meltdown in the US today. If it hasn’t done anything else, it has really gotten peoples attention, similar to another iconic question –
    “Can you hear me now?”

    Mike Kirkebergs last blog post..greatbattle.jpg

  6. says

    Absolutely agree! What’s more, epic shit feels great which kind of auto-qualifies it in my eyes.

    One thing which keeps a lot of people stuck is a case of perfectionism, where we need to know exactly what to do before we do anything at all. Truth is, you learn by doing, and just about everybody who’s done something worthwhile has got shit all over themself learning how to do it.

    Messy but true.

    Ben Rowlands last blog post..Step 1 – I Am God

  7. says

    I totally agree. I aspire to create something so remarkable as to be audaciously, unmistakably EPIC. In capital letters and with the power to transform me into a one-name icon…..a guru….an artist.

    Seriously, conceptualizing an authentically epic work is going to keep me up all night now. :)

    Melissas last blog post..Hope…and Ascension

  8. says

    Can I be the lone voice of contrariness, just for fun? What is “epic” or “audacious?” I’m convinced that many times when we reach for “big” goals, it can actually tip us out of our hearts. I’m enamored with the Mother Theresa quote: “No one can do great things. You can only do small things with great love.”

    My experience in building my business over the last ten years, and the various projects I’ve been on before, is that invariably the large, audacious goals don’t feel real. The small, do-able bits that are about helping others are deeply satisfying and end up leading to the next. Our business is poised for great growth in the next couple of years, and yet where we are going now feels very doable and reachable. Yet five years ago where we are right now felt unreachably huge and I couldn’t really contemplate it.

    When Martin Luther King, Jr was faced with the horrible problem of racism in the US, he dreamed not of becoming a world-renowned peace activist, but of simpler things: “I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.” To attain that simple vision- a meal shared by people who would ordinarily be enemies- required huge change.

    So, this isn’t meant to piddle in anyone’s parade. It’s just to share my experience that keeping things small, and not aiming to be “epic” can actually be incredibly, powerfully effective, one small step at a time.

    Mark Silvers last blog post..Luddite Offline Marketing

  9. Charlie says

    @Megan: Right on! People discover that they’re epic; they aren’t born that way. I wonder what would happen if we were all attuned to the potential to greatness that lies within us?

    @Joely: Smallness in reach can be a virtue, I think. It’s better to be well-known in a small circle than a nobody in a bigger one. There’s a context here that is easy to loose out. But dreaming small can be very dangerous, as well – especially when we run into people who aren’t dreaming small. It’s intimidating.

    @Kel: You’re on it! See the next post.

    @JoVE: Well said, Jo. I remember resonating with that when I read your ebook. What if academics really awakened and remembered their role as change agents, and, moreover, took the risk to dream big? If anyone should be dreaming, it’s academics – at least you’d think.

    @John: Your last sentence captures a lot of the thinking here. Most of us would get bored with the easy life and know that there’s more out there. In the tension between the real and the ideal is where human ingenuity takes life.

    @Mike: Epicness commands attention, no? And I hear you just fine. :p

    @Catherine: No pressure, indeed. It’s easier to do than you think, if you take the long view.

    @Jimmy: Tell ’em to. We need more people to dream and start acting on it. A pacified stagnation is the last thing that we need.

    @Ben: You can never have all of the information before it’s to late to use it. The trick is figuring out when enough is enough. And that’s messy, as you say.

    @Melissa: Actually, if it’s authentic, you’re a long way towards epic. And the transformation will happen because of you, not the thing. But we become by doing, so it works out to the same thing in the end, I think.

    @Mary: I try to keep the fru fru low. Sometimes it gives me an allergic reaction. I’m glad you liked it.

    @Mark: This was a such a great post that it deserved its own post. Check out “Think Big, Act Small.” (p.s. You’re awesome.)

  10. says

    I’m going to have to take your advice here and say some epic shit right now: that was an incredibly vague tip.

    *Holy shit, I just told off a blogger that has more experience than me, I’d never do this before. Damn self fulfilling prophecy, his post worked!*


  11. says

    A colleague of mine and I were talking about great book titles following up some not very serious conversation about ultra short (2 words) social media strategies. “Do Epic Shit” also came up and I love this phrase so much, I might as well try and live by it. What a pep talk!

  12. says

    “Rather than do something small and work like hell to build a story around it, do epic shit and let it speak for itself”.

    I LOVE THAT LINE!!! Speaks volumes…

    Rache :-)

  13. says

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  14. shannonrubio says

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  15. says

    i do epic shit all the time. it changes nothing. in fact i am constantly task switching between epic shit. it’s killing me. how do i be normal?

  16. says

    Absolutely agree with you points! This moto has been my mantra since earlly 2012 and the life I’ve experiencing is improving day by day. I would say great blog with great inspiration for the future of hustlers.

  17. says

    Agreed. We can all be epic… it just takes work and commitment. I like to break big, scary (i.e., epic) things into small, manageable steps, and just focus on each step individually. In the end, with all the small actions added together, then you suddenly have arrived at something epic :) Thanks for the reminder.

    • Charlie Gilkey says

      Right on, Michelle! I wrote a follow-up piece to this one called Think Big, Act Small that says much of the same thing, though I probably wouldn’t say “act small” because it makes it seem as if the person should act small rather than take small actions.

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