Derek Sivers

Entrepreneur, programmer, avid student of life. I make useful things, and share what I learn.

Learning the theme, not the example.

Learning how to read metaphorically was a major turning point in my life.

At Berklee College of Music our teacher Rob Rose made us read the book “Positioning”, about defining a marketing niche for your business.

It was the first assignment of anything non-musical in years. I resisted. (“But that's not about music! There's no mention of music at all! What the hell is this? I just want to be a successful musician, not learn how to be some corporate suit!”)

But then he showed us how to apply this to our music: Even though they make no mention of music, just translate the examples to whatever you're doing.

Aha! So obvious, but I'd never looked at it that way before.

OK. I was getting the lesson. This isn't even about Positioning. It's realizing I can learn how to advance my music career by reading books that make no mention of music. (In fact I'll have a competitive advantage by doing so, since most musicians won't!)

I try to write articles on this blog that apply to entrepreneurs and musicians of all different pursuits. But sometimes when I read the comments, which only talk about the specific example I used, I think I should have been more clear that it was metaphorical. For example:

But that's one thing I love about comments: they let me know when I've been unclear. In future revisions, I'll probably add something to make it clear that the example I'm giving is just one example, and that the theme can be applied in different ways.

Magritte - This is not a pipe