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What is substance?

I need to ask you because I’m not certain that enough people can give a correct answer anymore. I want you to prove me wrong.

As a reference point, here’s my definition of substance. There are dozens of ways to measure it and hundreds of ways to talk about it:

Substance is quality. High quality. It is meaningfulness, significance and integrity.

That is what substance is. It never goes out of style, and it’s very valuable.

Take a minute to compare your own definition of substance against the one above. And then I’d like to ask you another question: How much of what you create, share, and spread online has substance behind it?

Of course, not everything we create, share, and spread online has substance behind it. But I think we should be aiming for a ratio of about 80/20—80% substance, 20% other stuff.

One thing substance can never be? Measured by metrics. Metrics are important but they can be deceiving. Because if we’re going by metrics alone, Kim Kardashian is substance, The Fat Jew is substance, and Donald Trump is substance (they’re not).  

Substance is not arrogant, and it’s not glamour, glitz and polish. It can incorporate glamour, glitz and polish, but that’s not what it is. Substance is not selfish. Substance doesn’t cheat or steal.

Those are just some of the things substance is not.

Substance is a long-term investment. It may not bring short-term ROI. But let me ask you another question: Would you rather your business or endeavor reap quick benefits and then die out, or do you want it to make a meaningful, lasting imprint on and contribution to society?

The answer, of course, is yours to decide on.

But think about this the next time you find yourself focused on metrics and short-term success. Maybe a long-term investment in substance would be more appropriate.

Alyssa YeagerComment