André Chaperon

I write about how Sovereign Creators can build an engaging Digital World for their audience to inhabit using Open-World Marketing, a strategy that emphasizes creating immersive spaces to foster deep connections and cultivate lasting relationships. This paradigm shift moves us from chasing audiences to inviting them into our world. Welcome to the art of building a Tiny Digital World.

Values & Ethos

Values are the guiding principles that shape an individual’s actions and choices in life, serving as the framework for our personal and professional operating systems.

So values come first, and I want to share mine.

For years I didn’t know what my values were because I hadn’t taken the time to externalize them. I was subject to them in ways that sometimes felt mysterious to me.

While I believe that core values are best demonstrated through behavior and expressed in how we show up in the world, it’s helpful to externalize them for the benefit of the people we seek to serve. (“This is who I am and what I believe in.”)

Life is too short to wait and see if everyone we engage with, or consider doing business with, will act according to our value structure.

So externalizing values is a handy shortcut, pointing to what you can expect from me.

When I visit a new website, there are two places I look for before anything else — an About page and a Values page.

There’s no excuse for an About page not to exist.

It should be an unwritten prerequisite for doing business online. Yet I still regularly encounter websites with no About page. Why? Beats me. I’ve long stopped being surprised. But it’s a red flag!

The next page I look out for, but which is sadly less common, is some expression of a Values page, like the one from Basecamp. It’s clear — This Is What We Stand For.

This says a lot about a company. Or an individual.

Below are some of the core values I hold dear. They embody how I show up in the world.

Be Useful

“To be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

Leo Rosten (In arguing was the purpose of life.)

In a world of content schedules, publication deadlines, and growth hacking, our inboxes and attention have never been under heavy assault, a constant stream of “more information” packaged in ever-shinier promises that rarely deliver.

In his book Turning Learning Right Side Up, the late Dr. Russell Ackoff (considered the grandfather of systems thinking) described a hierarchy of information in how we process new ideas, accumulate knowledge, and, eventually, understanding.

Ackoff referred to this hierarchy as Content of the Mind, a framework that classifies the content within the human mind into five distinct categories: data, information, knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. These categories are organized hierarchically, with each level building upon the previous one.

  1. Data: Data represents raw facts, figures, and unprocessed observations. It is the basic building block of the hierarchy and lacks context or meaning.
  2. Information: Information is obtained when data is organized, structured, and given context. It answers questions like who, what, when, and where, but does not provide insights or understanding.
  3. Knowledge: Knowledge emerges when information is analyzed, processed, and synthesized. It involves learning patterns, relationships, and connections between different pieces of information, answering the question “how.”
  4. Understanding: Understanding is the ability to grasp the meaning and significance of knowledge. It involves comprehending underlying principles, reasons, and consequences, answering the question “why.” Understanding allows for better decision-making and problem-solving.
  5. Wisdom: Wisdom is the highest level of the hierarchy and represents the ability to use knowledge and understanding to make sound judgments, evaluate consequences, and adapt to new situations. Wisdom involves applying insights in a morally and ethically responsible manner.

An interesting observation is that most of the content our attention is (constantly) assaulted with falls into the “information” category, void of the higher-order levels of “knowledge” and “understanding,” as described by Ackoff.

From my perspective, this is a long way of saying that implicit in “useful” is something more than just more information.

For me, “be useful” means something — an implicit commitment to something worth sharing and worth reading.

Do The Right Thing

The Golden Rule is the principle of treating others as one wants to be treated. Behind every decision (made implicitly or explicitly) is someone just like me — you — seeking help, an answer, looking for a human connection.

I never want to lose touch with that.

There’s no limit to what doing the right thing looks like, only that when faced with an opportunity to do the right thing, I make the right decision.

I like how Basecamp framed this, which maps to how I think about the Golden Rule.

We all have to use our best judgment, and everyone’s judgment varies, but a good rule of thumb is “what would you do for a friend or a neighbor if they asked for help?”

Delight

As I said in my Manifesto, delighting the weirdos and outliers is the business model of the long tail.

Delighting is a superpower.

It simply means becoming invaluable to a small group of true fans and delighting them (over and over).

It’s a simple idea. But hard to pull off.

Serve First

As sovereign creators, we’re 100% audience and customer-funded. Our audience isn’t there to serve us — we serve first.

When we serve first, we create True Fans as a byproduct. True Fans are the engine we optimize for, and a byproduct of that engine is we get paid (well) and earn financial freedom.

It’s a simple win-win dynamic.

Everyone wins when we’re completely aligned with the needs of our customers because the people we serve are also the people who are paying us for the value we create.

That’s the formula for financial freedom right there.

If you’re a sovereign creator who wants to build and engage with an audience, you’re in the right place. We’re kindred spirits.

Preeminence

In about 2004, I read Jay Abraham’s Advanced Strategy of Preeminence, and it changed how I saw doing business online.

I couldn’t unsee what I had read and internalized, and for almost two decades, Jay’s principles have informed everything I do in one way or another.

The Strategy of Preeminence demands that from this moment forward, you see yourself in the relationship you have with your clients as their most trusted advisor, counsel, confidant, in the field of endeavor, in the area of expertise, and the outcome area that your product or service produces in their life or in their business.

You want to be seen from now on by everyone you deal with as the definitive expert source, and the most trusted advisor, and as a fiduciary — as someone who has taken on the responsibility of their governance, their decisions, their best interests, as their most trusted counsel.

(Sources: here, the original I read, and here and there.)

Embrace Being Weird

In the words of the philosopher Dr. Seuss:

“We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.”

In 2011 Seth Godin published We Are All Weird: The Rise of Tribes and the End of Normal. It was a manifesto for the following decade, as mass collapsed and the long tail became a viable business model for sovereign creators like us.

I unpack this idea in my Manifesto (see Part II), so I won’t repeat the nuances here.

Slow, Not Fast

I’m slow: a slow thinker, slow writer, slow reader — I need time to process and articulate thoughts and ideas. And I’ve been getting rich slowly since I started this journey in 2003.

In a wonderful 2018 interview between Tim Ferriss and legend drummer Dave Elitch, Dave shared a saying, a mantra, a personal axiom he follows and teaches his clients.

SLOW DOWN.

It may seem counterintuitive, but by slowing down, we get to go faster (the progress we make in the work we create for the people we serve).

Slow is smooth and smooth is fast, the mantra of the Navy SEALs.

In a world of fast content incentivized by advertising-based attention-hacking business models, being slow and considered is a superpower.

Play The Long Game

The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek (2019) posits that enduring success in business comes from understanding and embracing the nature of business as an infinite game, where the goal is not to ‘win’ but to persist and thrive through continuous adaptation and commitment to a purpose-driven vision.

The aim of business is not to win but to keep playing (forever).

Infinite games emphasize cooperation over competition. Players in these games concentrate on improving themselves rather than “defeating” others around them.

Many aspects of life, such as marriage, friendships, and business, can be considered infinite games, where participants come and go, rules evolve, and the objective is to keep playing.

In discussing his book, Simon Sinek highlighted how a finite win/lose mentality can undermine various areas of life. For instance, relationships like marriage cannot be “won,” and “there’s definitely no such thing as winning business,” he said.

Finite games are based on a win/lose model. Infinite games create the possibility for everyone involved to win.

Stay Curious

Steve Jobs ended his famous Stanford commencement address in 2005 with these words: “Stay hungry. Stay Foolish.”

I don’t remember how long after I heard it. But it’s a sentiment I’ve embodied. And it’s served me well.

Pair this with being a weirdo, and you have yourself one heck of a cocktail.

Full transparency: There are parts of the concept of Tiny Worlds (an expression of “world-building” I’ve been practicing for years) that I’ve not discovered — perhaps no one has yet — and part of the “curiosity” pulling me forward on this project is in discovering what I don’t yet know, then sharing it.

Lifelong Learner

Which leads nicely to this value.

Curiosity and learning go together like bed & breakfast, fish & chips, two peas in a pod, unicorns & glitter … or Superman & Lois Lane.

Learning is a lifelong love affair for me, and that’s an exciting prospect.

Thanks for stopping by and reading this page. Reach out anytime. I read every email.