Rock Stars, Goonies, and your Content Marketing Empire

I don't need ninjas or rock stars. Give me a couple of passionate goonies and I will take over the universe. ~Sonia Simone

As Beth mentioned yesterday, the Copyblogger team is back from a get-together in Austin during SXSWi.

As you might imagine with this crew, we had a lot of fascinating conversations. One thing that struck me again and again was that even though we have a lot of employees you might call “rock stars,” none of them would in 10,000 years describe themselves that way.

They don’t focus on their impressive lists of accomplishments. They don’t make a point of letting you know how many Twitter followers they have or how many Google+ circles they’re in.

They’re more interested in the ways they haven’t always fit in. They know that a large part of their talent and their gold comes from a passionate dorkiness that defies the “rock star” or “ninja” label.

My artist friend Jamie calls the ninja types (in any endeavor) “lead singers.” They may be talented. They’re certainly confident. They excel at getting the attention and the credit. But they’re not always the real stars.

Our folks are more like The Goonies. As Demian said at one point, we’re “misfits looking for meaningful work.”

Goonies have as much talent as lead singers do, but they tend to have more passion for the work than passion for recognition. They’d rather do something epic than get epic amounts of attention. And they tend to credit and respect others, because they know what it feels like to be ignored and disrespected.

So while there are plenty of rock stars and ninjas out there, some of whom I love, give me my passionate Goonies any day. And for those of you out there who are more Goonie than ninja … more power to you. The way I see it, you’re unstoppable.

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Reader Comments (45)

  1. says

    Andy: Do you think there’s really any treasure here?
    Mikey: Andy this whole ship is a treasure.

    Love this post Sonia. :-) This is our time…

  2. says

    hey, I don’t know who you are talking about I need attention. Lots and lots of … screw it we’re making … nah let’s just have fun. We gotta save the Goon docks. HEY YOU GUYS.

    ok I’m done here.

  3. Paulie says

    Great post. Just started reading Copyblogger recently and can’t get enough of it!
    P.S.The Star Wars-themed graphic is now my new background on my Mac. The “T-Rex Hates Pushups” background has been replaced :)

  4. says

    I believe Mouth said it best when he suggested, “La marihuana entra el cajón primero, la velocidad en el segundo cajón, y en la cocaína en el tercero. Siempre separe las drogas…”

  5. says

    You know, though, that’s one of the things I love most about our company hangouts! I mean, *I* am in awe of the rest of our team, so many very accomplished people – and when we get together, it’s very obvious that each one of us is a Goonie 😉

  6. says

    Brilliant! The people behind the scenes that don’t get the credit or the glory are usually the ones that make things happen. 99% of what we do will go unrecognized but it’s all critical if you want a great finished product.

  7. says

    Somehow we have to balance ourselves, feeling like budding rock stars one moment, yet slipping into the slimy pits of despair on occasion, there’s a happy place somewhere in the middle. Knowing our own happy place and living there, working from there, is what other people see and feel in our words when they are effective. Finding and inhabiting my happy place in the midst of chaos IS my full-time job, and my productivity is the result. You are a great inspiration, Sonia. Thanks for that.

  8. says


    I really wanted to be at this year’s SXSW, but life happens. Great image!

    What do you think about perception? Even though you don’t consider yourself to be a rock star or ninja, what if your readers perceive you that way? What if others who are in the same field as you perceive you to be a rock star or ninja? Thoughts.

    • says

      It’s *fantastic* if others call you rock star, etc. Let them say it, not you. :) Modesty is extremely attractive. (Not to the point where you downplay your actual skills, but as much as possible let others talk you up on your behalf, so much more convincing.)

  9. says

    Honestly, I think one can be both. Meaning, one can make fantastic, soulful, heartfelt, brilliant content, gain a large following and be a rock star. The distinction is to me, more about how you move through the world and where you shine your light. You can be proud of your accomplishments and toot your own horn, you can grab the mike with gleeful abandon and strike a pose center stage, but there is a fine line between confidence and self absorption. Confidence is sexy, inviting, fun and when shared and shined, intoxicating, but self absorption becomes boring and off putting. I think sometimes people who fancy themselves goonies or outsiders or geeks use that as a form of exceptionalism. If they might become, gasp, popular with the masses, they freak out. NO! We’re cool because we’re different! We’re part of the secret society of freaks and geeks! (I have been as guilty as this as anyone else, so I’m surely not tossing stones.)

    Maybe, just maybe, you’re just cool. And that’s okay too. Rock on.


  10. says

    Love it Sonia. Besides Goonies have a sense of humor. Rockstars and Ninja usually don’t. They can be real serious. For myself i would rather have the humor than the large audience.

    You know i have been reading your blog for 5 years. Maybe one of these days if you’re not to busy up there in Boulder I am going to have to take a little drive from Littleton just to say Hi.

    Thanks again for all the info you Goonies feed us. It is like mammath falling from heaven.

  11. says

    One of the best blog posts I’ve ever seen. Who doesn’t want to be a Goonie? I had to resist the urge to post Chunk’s entire “Tell me everything” speech.

  12. says

    Amen to that. I’d rather know that I’m making a difference in someone’s life rather than get epic amounts of attention. It’s possible to get both, but for those who mainly thrive on attention, their steam will run out very quickly and stop producing anything at all.

    • says

      Nina, I’d say that the takeaway for marketers is that in the age of authorship, as you’re looking to build your content creation team, don’t just look for lead singers. Look for team players who are, yes, super talented, but who also have a sense of humor and who can share the spotlight.

  13. says

    I learned a new term from Sonia’s dictionary:
    Goonies (noun): tend to have more passion for the work than passion for recognition.

    Salute to all the Goonies out there!

  14. says

    I love the idea of “misfits looking meaningful work”. The best work is done by the people who do something different and new. ‘Weird is Wonderful’ is my belief!

  15. says

    Lovely post here Sonia. Rockstars, ninjas, and goonies are all great. However, the best side of being a goonie is: creating crazy ideas which is loved by many but the identity of author is kept anonymous or in discreet. :))

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