Frank Warren had an interesting, off-the-wall idea in 2004…he handed out a few pre-addressed postcards asking people to mail him a secret that was true and had never been spoken before. Called the PostSecret Project*, the site he built to share those secrets has turned into the largest advertisement-free Blog in the world: PostSecret.com, and a book series, 7 Webby Awards and an upcoming play. The site is simple, no “about” page, nothing to buy, nothing but a few sentences on the home page to tell people what the site is about, a visitor count – as of May 2012 – 529,040,867; and a half a million secrets shared, with more on the way.
The site description: “PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard. PostSecret, 13345 Copper Ridge Road, Germantown, MD 20874, USA.” Each Sunday, Warren posts a selection of secrets he’s received. Although many of the secrets are sweet and touching, others are more edgy. They are after all “secrets,” so the site is definitely not PG*, but it is thought-provoking. It made me smile, frown, shake my head and laugh.
Check out Warren’s recent TedTalk for a brief walk through on how the site came about and how people have connected with these messages from strangers http://www.ted.com/talks/frank_warren_half_a_million_secrets.html.
since being put up on the Ted Talk site this April, it already has 738,494 Views. His off-the-wall idea has netted him a lot of secrets…and they are touching lives. P.S. watch through to the very end of the video – after the audiences claps. Here is his bio from the Ted Talks page if you want to know more:
Huggable Quotes from Frank Warren: “Secrets can be walls or bridges,” and “Secrets can take many forms. They can be shocking or silly or soulful. They can connect us with our deepest humanity, or with people we’ll never meet.”
Q 1) Cathy Larkin: What drives you to reach out to others? What makes you “different” as we are defining it…different in the way you treat others, take on projects or take actions that are larger than yourself, or that make a difference in the larger world etc?
A 1) Frank Warren: I feel uncomfortable working within large groups of people. This handicap has pushed me throughout my life to more solitary entrepreneur type projects. I think what made the difference was the faith I had in the idea initially when everyone else thought it was a crazy idea. My handicap that pushes me to be independent in this case allowed me the freedom to pursue an idea no large group of people would support.
Q 2) Cathy Larkin: Was there a moment of change in your life, when you were touched by compassion, connection or sadness – that led you to where you are today, or that has made you want to continue this project? The volume of postcards you receive must be overwhelming at times.
A 2) Frank Warren: It’s tough to single out any one moment like that. I think the accumulation of my suffering and struggles, more than my past successes, has brought me here. The project which started like a prank now feels like a purpose, a calling, it will be very difficult to leave it someday.
Q 3) Cathy Larkin: What would you tell someone who has an idea that seems “off the wall” or “crazy?”
A 3) Frank Warren: In my view, crazy ideas that give voice to the unheard are the most valuable. And try to find an idea that has a deep enough resonance with you that if no one else appreciates it you will still see your efforts as successful.
Q 4) Cathy Larkin: Can you share with our readers a favorite secret or two from the site?
A 4) Frank Warren: “I serve decaf to customers who are rude to me” [mailed to me on a Starbucks cup] & “We are all part of something bigger and we are all part of it together” [mailed to me on a dollar bill]
Q 5) Cathy Larkin: Will you tell us something fun or surprising people might not know about you?
A 5) Frank Warren: In a secret location I have a pile of postcards taller than me.
Q 6) Cathy Larkin: What’s one blog that you read for fun, enjoyment, or just because you like it?
A 6) Frank Warren: Boing Boing.