Today is day 1️⃣9️⃣ of my 30 day writing challenge.
Yesterday, I did a fun post on the importance of being optimistic in a time full of ulterior and discouraging narratives. "There's no point of crypto", "AI is going to take all of our jobs", etc. are just pithy statements driving people away from building and living in a really cool world. Of course, I'm not saying to ignore the negatives or possible downfalls, but rather to be positive that the needle like solutions will be found in the haystack. Here are 3 key takeaways:
Don't stress about small problems and let them hinder your growth
Build hard things and be resilient
Most importantly...be optimistic
Check out the full post here: "Picture yourself at the World of Tomorrow"
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Today, I was looking for some inspiration on what I wanted to write about. I wasn't feeling my backlog of topics and wanted something fresh. After about 30 minutes of doom scrolling on Twitter and Farcaster, I started to get irritated because I felt that everything had been covered and there was nothing left to write about. Yes...I know it's dramatic. But hey, I did a long hike in the snow this morning and was tired post-shower. Anyways, that train of thought reminded me of an article I read by Kevin Kelly (KK) a few weeks ago called You are not late.
So, I pulled the article up and read it again. And then I went through a couple of his other popular posts. And you know what? They're so freaking good. I felt like I was learning timeless lessons with each article I read. Today, I'm going to share some of the gems I found. If you are an early stage founder or creator, hopefully these lessons will be useful for you too.
Here are the 4 takeaways:
You are not late.
Stop trying to attract everyone.
Don't think, just do.
For those of you who don't know who Kevin Kelly is, here's ChatGPT's quick summary
Kevin Kelly is a renowned writer and futurist, best known for co-founding Wired magazine, one of the leading publications on technology and its impact on society. He is also a prolific author, with notable books such as "The Inevitable" and "What Technology Wants," where he explores the long-term trajectories of technology and its deep intersections with human life. Kelly's visionary thinking has made him a respected figure in the tech world and beyond, and his ideas continue to stimulate discussions on the future of innovation and society.
You are not late
It often feels as though everything that is going to be built in the tech space is already built. I mean, we have Uber, TikTok, FaceTime, Netflix, and now even ChatGPT. What more could we need? Are there even going to be any new companies? How is it even possible to come up with a new "billion dollar idea" in such a saturated space?
However, the reality is that we're still in the first innings of technology. Or as KK puts it, "the internet is still at the beginning of its's beginning".
And honestly, when you stop and think about it for a second, it makes sense. Let's just take a look at the last ~30 years since the internet started:
After the browser happened, it felt like there was a peak
After the search wars happened and Google claimed the lead, it felt like there was a peak
After the social media wars happened, and FB went mainstream, it felt like there was a peak
After Uber and Airbnb started making sense, it felt like there was a peak
After payments and exchanges went online, it felt like there was a peak
The point is, each time a set of founders manages to identify and seize the next wave of innovation, it can feel as though there is nothing left to build. However, this mindset has been repeatedly proven wrong. It's only a matter of time before the next groundbreaking idea surfaces, leading to another shift in our perception of what's possible. This cycle of innovation and discovery perpetually continues, reaffirming that we are in fact still at the beginning of the internet's potential.
I'll use myself as an example here. I want to be a tech blogger. The idea of running a media brand similar to Ben Thompson's Stratechery or Packy's Not Boring sounds really freaking cool to me. However, at times it feels like there's not much surface area left to cover in the tech ecosystem. But the reality is that there's still a ton of unexplored space to dive deeper on and write about. It's just a matter of getting started, experimenting, and finding the next gold nugget.
The same goes for founders trying to build the next cool product....you are not late. There's still a ton of things left to code and design, just get started somewhere!
I'll end this section with a quote from his post:
Find your 1000 true fans
The accessibility of the internet is a double edged sword. On one hand, it's amazing that we can now connect with and share our work to billions of people by simply hitting the "publish" button. But on the other hand, it can lead to an overwhelming feeling that your work is simply not good enough to meet everyone's expectations.
But here's the thing. Who the heck cares if a billion or million or a hundred thousand people don't like your work? What about the thousand fans that do? Regardless if it's digital or IRL, there's rarely anything that catches the attention span and interest of a billion people. It's simply unrealistic and not a goal everyone should have. If you spend your time trying to sell your work to millions who don't care, that will only lead to a string of indifferent responses and a ton of frustration.
Rather, the real fun of the internet is being able to zoom in to the point where you find the 999 other people that are just like you and find [x topic] super interesting as well. They're the fans that will be engaging with your work in a way that's truly authentic and stems from genuine curiosity. They're the ones that will go out of their way to share and promote your work because it brings them joy. They're the ones that will be willing to fly across the country (or maybe the world) to join a conference you're hosting. They're your true fans.
What are some ways to find & engage with your true fans:
Who is giving you feedback without asking?
Who is sharing your work and giving shoutouts?
Who is using your product or content for their own purpose?
Who is making an effort to connect you with others?
Who is investing their time and/or capital to engage with your work?
These are just some of the ways. The point here is that as a creator/founder, it's your responsibility to find these folks and double down on what they have to say.
Of course, you choose your path at the end of the day, but just remember that any brand/product is built by a community, not an individual.
Don't think, Just do
This section is based off of his post titled The Thinkism Fallacy. Basically, KK claims that smart people like to believe they're making progress by "thinking". However, it's these kind of self-labeled intellectuals that don't actually end up producing any results. At the end of the day, no matter how much anyone thinks about an idea, it's not going to be enough to make real progress. You need to run experiments, collect data, and gain experience in order to solve problems.
It takes time besides IQ
Another personal example here. In the last 6 months, I've "wasted" so much time trying to strategize what my brand is going to be and what my mission is going to sound like and what the vibe of my content will be and how I'll market my work. But here's the thing. That was all just strategizing in my head. I wasn't doing the one thing I needed to be doing...creating content!
That's why I decided to do this 30 day writing challenge this month. I got frustrated with just planning. It felt like I wasn't learning and just trying to hack the system in my head. But you can't do that...if I want to make something of The Bigger Picture, then I simply need to sit down and start typing.
The internet is a copy machine. At its most foundational level, it copies every action, every character, every thought we make while we ride upon it.
KK's point in his post Better than Free is that one of the fundamental properties of the internet is the data & media on it can be easily replicated. Just think about a meme. You could post a funny meme Friday night, and by Saturday morning there's a chance that 100 million people have seen some version of that parent meme.
So, how is it possible to build wealth in a internet that encourages the flow of free media?
KK gives a list of 8 things he believes simply can't be copied on the internet. However, I want to highlight two: trust & authenticity. To me, these are by far the most important features a creator can focus on. The reality is that there's no such thing as an expert on a topic that is irreplaceable. And I seriously believe that. There's always someone else just like you that can probably write about [x topic] just as well as you. In other words, your content is copyable. However, what no one else can copy is your voice, your authenticity, and your customized dedication to your community. And that's exactly where I think founders and creators can stand out from the crowd in their niche.
For example, many of the top people in the tech industry subscribe to Ben Thompson not just because of his writing, but also because of the high standard of integrity and impartiality he maintains.
The eight "generatives" KK describes are:
That's all for today's post - hope you enjoyed it and learned one or two valuable lessons for your creator journey!
Here are the links to the posts I mentioned today:
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