April 28, 2014 was the day I went viral on LinkedIn.

Before I started blogging on LinkedIn, the only people that had ever read my writing were my mother, my college professors and the people on the receiving end of our semi-annual Christmas letter.

There was not one person in my inner circle of friends, family and mentors in business that had encouraged me to start writing. In fact, most of them advised against it.

Maybe they didn’t like my Christmas letters?

I went out on a ledge

I remember the details of the morning well. I was still in the corporate world in a job I hated. I sat in my cubicle staring at my laptop. I had a piece ready to go that was by far the most controversial thing I’d ever written.

I wrote a piece about a former micro-managing boss who was so bad our entire team quit. The company was forced to close the regional office as the cost to replace the entire team was far greater than the forecasted revenue for the market. It was a total loss.

Although I didn’t name any names in the piece and removed the company from my LinkedIn profile history, I was worried that my former boss might read it and seek some sort of retribution against me. This boss had demonstrated violent tendencies in the office, too.

I thought long and hard about deleting it.

Just do it

Instead, I nervously hit publish, got up from my desk and took a walk to refill my coffee and say good morning to a few folks in the office.

When I returned, I refreshed the page to see if anybody had read my article yet. When I saw then numbers that flashed up on the screen, I couldn’t believe it and almost fell out of my chair. In 10 short minutes, the post had already hit 15,000 views and hundreds of likes and comments.

It went on to receive over 300,000 views in the first 24 hours and was the top article on LinkedIn Pulse for the entire week. It now has more than 619,000 views, 5,000 likes, and 1900 comments.

An unexpected breakthrough

The next day, my inbox was flooded with messages. I was blown away by the response I was getting from readers. Many of them thanking me for having the courage to write about aggressive micro-managing behavior in the corporate world and how they had been on the other end of much of what I wrote about.

Then it happened. I received an email inquiring about my professional blogging services from a well-known company. They wanted to know what my rates were.

I didn’t even have a rate at the time!

Blogging started as a side gig that introduced me to the entrepreneurial world. One gig led to another and before long, I was making enough to leave the job I hated in the corporate world and started my company.

Was it luck or skill?

Going viral produces its share of haters. Not all the comments were positive.

Several people went out of their way to tell me that I had only gotten lucky. In fact, one guy said that I would be a “one hit wonder” in the blogging world that would never produce anything worth reading ever again.

He not-so-kindly told me to enjoy my 30 seconds of fame.

There is certainly some luck involved in going viral. However, for me, blogging was an attempt at doing something different to improve my career.

For at least the previous five years, I had been taking the same approach to my career over and over again. The result was getting stuck in the same positions doing the same things and eventually becoming very unhappy.

Since going viral, I’ve published over 200 other blogs on sites like Inc. and The Huffington Post–and my day job has me helping launch a new social media and blogging platform. Of course, the company’s founder discovered me from my blogs!

Risk versus reward

The point in your career at which you stop trying new things and acquiring knowledge is the exact moment that you have accepted that you will longer progress.

Be willing to take the risks that you believe in your heart will help you get to where you would like to be, even if most people are telling you not to do it.

What the heck do they know?

Originally published on my column on Inc. Magazine. Republished with permission.

4 thoughts on “How a Viral Blog on LinkedIn Launched My Startup

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