Scaling deep.

I’ve been reading about building audiences recently. Get lots of subscribers to an email list. Develop a product, like an ebook or a course or a training program. Then offer the product to the list.

It’s a process called scaling up, maximizing your reach. And it’s very appealing as a way to generate income.

But I started thinking about scaling deep, about spending more and more time with a few people. And then I got an email from Paul Swansen containing a post I’d written several years ago.

I realized that I had thought about this before:


So Billy Graham said years ago that if he were a pastor, he would spend his time with a small group of people, teaching them:

“I think one of the first things I would do would be to a get a small group of eight or ten or twelve people around me that would meet a few hours a week and pay the price! It would cost them something in time and effort. I would share with them everything I have, over a period of years.”

Christopher S Penn talks about the apprentice system in old Japan:

“The apprentice could, within the bounds of etiquette, also ask the master how he handled very different situations, very different customers, and learn firsthand all of the different aspects of being a master blacksmith.”

deepI’m thinking that sometimes we think too big about our audiences. A small attentive audience, a team, an apprentice, a disciple. That may be the right size of group to make a difference.


The compelling thing about scaling deep is that we can mentor the people we are already spending time with. We can add a layer of intentionality to our conversations, moving toward explanations rather than chatter.

So I’ll still think about courses or ebooks. But I’m working on scaling deep, too.

3 thoughts on “Scaling deep.

  1. Gary Mintchell

    I think you are on the right track here, Jon. I used to follow Michael Hyatt, Leo Babauta (Zen Habits), and a few others. Then they began to blatantly monetize their following. Quality dropped. We were swamped with pitches to buy this or that program. They became, if not offensive, at least irrelevant.


    1. Jon Swanson

      Thanks Gary. I’ve watched that process, too. I’m not uncomfortable with making things available. But there is a limit. And there is value in moving deep into helping people grow deep.

      On Thu, Jun 9, 2016 at 10:07 AM, 300 words a day wrote:



  2. Andy Ford

    Jesus did command large audiences at times (especially when serving lunch), but most of the time, He spent working with only twelve.


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