7 Things I Learned While Going Viral

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A few months ago I started a project of 100 days allocated in one of my classes at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York City. We had to choose a theme and develop an idea around to do it repeatedly for 100 days.

I saw this task in two ways, or I invented something super easy I could do without major complications for 100 days straight, or sought to do the thing that repeatedly have the potential to change my life for the better. When you recognize that my fears were hindering the life of my dreams, I decided to go for the second option. That’s right, front 100 fears in 100 days.

By starting this project my goals were:

  1. Change my way of seeing and living life, becoming a more courageous person.
  2. Demonstrate my ability to develop something creative, consistent with good design and a clear identity. In other words, I wanted to try this project as my next piece portfolio.

That way then I started 100 Days Without Fear . At that moment I was terrified of committing to a project of this magnitude, to fail, to disappoint myself and the people who supported me, of running out of resources or ideas to make 100 different activities. But something had insurance, fear of ignoring the fact that I needed to overcome my fears start was bigger than any other.

My first challenge, and one of the most difficult, was to accept and commit myself to the fact that 100 was going to face fears every day. And so I continued, from the smallest to face challenges such as fried empanadas, do me a piercing, or Brazilian waxing up a large and pose nude for a painting class, throw parachute or hold a tarantula. Recording each experience using a camera GoPro , and then completed the ” emoji-meter ” (indicator of the level of fear that I invented) for before, during and after facing the challenge. Finally she answers the same three questions:

  1. What was the challenge?
  2. What are you afraid?
  3. How was the experience? I did all this while working full time as an art director for the advertising agency Young & Rubicam , while studying at night postgraduate in Branding at SVA. I did not have a free minute in my life.

emoji meter

Around day 40, I received an email from the publication The Daily Mail asking permission to share my story and use my videos on their website. Of course I said yes !, and minutes later my project was hogging the entire wall of my Facebook. Blogs as DesignTaxi, Bored Panda and A Plus among many others shared my story, carrying my page have 70 hits per day to 30,000. The next day, celebrities such as Ashton Kutcher, Zooey Deschanel and Sofia Vergara also shared my project in their social networks, and in the blink of an eye and I was doing interviews for CNN, HuffPost Live, Fox News and CBS Sunday Morning, among many others worldwide ( more information ).

Michelle CNN

Looking back and analyzing what it was that made my project was viral, I discovered seven determinants, which are as follows:


Make your project on whatever you want, except about going viral. If being viral is your primary purpose, probably it will not happen. Simon Sinek (My favorite TED speaker) says: ” It starts with why”. His talk changed my view projects and businesses. Try to put aside the “how” and “what” and seeks to understand why you do what you do. I started this adventure because I wanted to deal with and live all those things I never dared to do. I wanted to experience and become a more courageous person to complete the project. I had no idea how or what I would do, and anyway did not bother me that much either. If the concept is universal, endures over time and applies to all ages , more people will relate to it. In my case, fear is something we all feel regardless of age, gender, nationality, etc.

Remember that people often get motivated for 3 reasons: ideals, achievements and self-expression.

View TED Simon Sinek

2) Commit

Consistency is the key to success.

Before you begin, you must commit to certain alignments that will make your project consistent over time. The viewer seeks consistency and that their expectations are met. Of course also it looks surprised, but in a somewhat predictable fashion. Thus, the person comes close to what you’re doing and decided to make it part of your routine.

These are some of the factors which must be consistent:

  • Tone of voice
  • The look and feel
  • The story behind the project
  • Clear views on relevant cultural issues
  • Maintaining the level of effort and dedication
  • Focus on quality instead of quantity
  • Strategize for variety
  • Committing to a number of publications (posts) per day / week / month
  • Determine which channel works best for different types of material to be published

3) TEACH who you really

People are slowly getting tired of following perfect. The world is questioning what really is sincere and what not. Listening to the story of Essena O’Neill, the Australian model that brought to light the truth behind every “honest” picture that used to publish on Instagram, makes us more skeptical toward those who seem to have everything under control. People want to see real people, and the only way to prove that one is real is showing our faults, imperfections and honest thoughts.

Dare to be brave and appreciate the real you, and others will too.

4) have a conversation

Do not make it about you. Even if it is a personal project.

Invite others to participate from the start of the idea, listen to those who write time were taken, grateful (o), and share the success you go having with them, giving credit whenever possible. That way, they want to continually help and share your story with your contacts, because they feel they have been part of it.

When I decided to start my 100 days project, I realized that writing a list of 100 things was much harder than I thought. So immediately I started the conversation by asking my 1,000 Facebook friends to suggest ideas. A few minutes later I received hundreds of comments that helped me carry my list of 25 to 65. Then, each time facing one of the challenges suggested, he was sent by email the video along with a note of thanks to those who suggested the fear. When they started out articles about my project, these people were the first promoters of the news which helped it grow bigger and faster virality.

5) adds value

Before publishing anything, ask yourself this question: As this piece of content adds value to others?

By providing value I mean to teach, inform, entertain, cause reflection, inspire, collaborate, etc. There are endless ways to add value to your followers, sometimes even a selfie you can, but be strategic (or) about it . In my case, I added value to publish every day a different video that showed me completely vulnerable doing something that I really scared .

Seeing these videos, people are inspired to overcome their own fears. Besides the videos, relevant articles posteaba also overcome fears and motivational sayings that helped me conquer my challenges.

Michelle adventure


Wuhuu! You are viral! Now what?

As I told several people who have been viral at some point: do not get stuck in attention, because in the same way that wine will also go. People thought I was famous because I appeared in many media around the world, from Taiwan to Spain and Brazil to Australia. But the reality is that I knew this was a blip that does not necessarily last forever. Jia Jiang, who made the project 100 days of denial, gave me a very valuable recommendation: “Focus on what captured the attention of people instead of care itself.” I said there is a powerful reason why people were setting me, so I had to continue doing things the same parameters. .

TEDx Jia Jiang


At the time of going viral’ll get more attention than you can control. Good and bad attention. Whenever there are people supporting and motivating also have those who only seek to discredit resented what one does. The truth is that people love to criticize, and depend on one taking it. So, we can:

  1. ignore them
  2. Allow them to end our dreams
  3. Listen and see if somehow we can make them hateful lovers.

In my case, even though most people told me to ignore them , the rebel in me decided to face rejection reading the negative comments on camera. Not only he was reading, but also responded. Some of the comments were that my fears were stupid and that these were things people did in their daily lives, such as frying food or biking in the city, so then I decided to start to face bigger challenges and shocking, such as: parachuting, hold a tarantula, a snake, jump off a cliff, dive with sharks, and many others that tend to scare most humans. For this reason, I am pleased to have decided to listen to criticism and use them as fuel to carry the project beyond my limits to levels never imagined, thus reaching TEDx fear for my 100th .

TEDx Michelle

What do you think of my experience? You leave us your comments below?