Self-Publishing & Reads: Tim Ferriss, Counter Elite, Laziness & Solopreneur Reflections | #229
June 30th, 2023: Greetings from Connecticut. We’re heading up to Maine for a week with my cousin and are excited to be enjoying the milder new england weather for a bit. Hope everyone’s summer is off to a good start!
Costa Rica Men’s Retreat
My friend Michelle here in Austin has been hosting these men's retreats which I have not been able to attend yet but I’ve heard great things and plan to attend in the future. I’m usually pretty hesitant to recommend stuff like this but really trust what Michelle is up to. She asked if she could share with my audience and is offering some spots up for her event in Costa Rica.
Our retreat is designed to provide you with the space and tools to uncover your personal "elixir," the inner power that propels you forward in your journey. Through immersive workshops and connections with like-minded individuals, you'll discover new insights, gain fresh perspectives, and find a renewed sense of purpose and direction in all areas of your life.
It will be located in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica, and go from Thursday, August 10th to Sunday 13th. She limits it to ten people and is offering 20% off to anyone with the code PATHLESS (no affiliate, just want to support). Click here to learn more
#1 Self-Publishing Reflections (71-page Slide Deck!)
I had a few events sharing my reflections on self-publishing last week and decided to do what I used to do best: make a massive PowerPoint deck. This is part of my attempt to keep alive the knowledge that PowerPoints don’t have to suck and just feed my inner consultant (who will likely still be making decks in my 80s).
This issue is sponsored by Castro, which has been my go-to podcast app for years after switching from Overcast. I LOVE the queue feature which is amazing if you follow a lot of podcasts. Their algorithm will suggest the best episodes to add to your play next or you can auto-add the ones you always listen to like The Pathless Path. If you want to download the app you can do so here or go to the app store directly.
#2 Twelve Things Worth Checking Out
#1 The Counterelite
Nadia Asparouhova on the tech “counterelite” and the new narrative of work they come with
Unlike previous generations, the counterelite isn’t rushing to start charitable (tax-advantaged) foundations in their name or make large donations to universities. Because the counterelite views individuals, not institutions, as the primary agent of change, they are more concerned with circumventing institutions than building them. Yet this individualist mindset will only take the counterelite so far if in fact they want to be public stewards rather than ambassadors of yet another industry town, like entertainment in Los Angeles, politics in Washington, D.C., or academia in Boston.
#2 Leisure & Thriving
Alex Tabbarok had a reflection in a blog post about economic progress and leisure:
Time management is a cognitively strenuous task, leaving us feeling harried. As the opportunity cost of time increases, our concern about “wasting” our precious hours grows more acute. On balance, we are better off, but the blessing of high-value time can overwhelm some individuals, just as can the ready availability of high-calorie food.
His point is that as our world becomes more prosperous and people’s earning power increases, it will lead to more anxiety about how we spend our time. This feels true and explains why I felt so much more hurried on my previous path (and surrounded by people that felt the same). But it also assumes a purely economic lens on time. I think at least in the US this is hard to escape. Money is the true north and this is why people feel so bad about not working like everyone else (among other reasons).
I’d be curious to see what he thinks about people making income disconnected from time. As I now see a clear link between my state of mind/being and my ability to be creative, the value of my leisure time has actually increased. I don’t want to burn out and I know my ability to make long-term bets in my own work requires me to be suboptimal with time (at least compared to people that get paid for time or a paycheck).
#3 Empty Offices
Dror Poleg, who predicted much of what happening with office buildings before the pandemic, writes about the coming financial crisis with commercial real estate. He points out how cities like NYC, where subway traffic is only 65% of pre-pandemic are highly susceptible to big swings in city budgets because 16% of tax revenue comes from commercial property tax.
Office buildings pose a threat to a variety of financial institutions. As more leases and loans come due, the bulk of the pain is still ahead of us. Over the next two years, many downtowns will find that dozens of buildings are no longer fit for purpose. Municipal services will likely deteriorate, and more people might leave. The worst-case scenario is a return to the 1970s, with bankrupt municipal governments, rising crime, and the flight of (primarily white) upper-middle-class residents. Landlords like to point out that “New York always comes back.” But some cities—like Detroit or Pittsburgh—never recovered from the previous waves of technological change. And even in New York, a comeback may take decades
This will be interesting to watch. I sense this, combined with an increased gigification of the workforce will lead to some unexpected changes in cities in the next ten years (of which, I’ll look to Dror to tell us what to watch for).
#4 Google Reader, RIP
Enjoyed this history of google reader, one of my favorite web apps that no longer exists. The article is filled with interesting reflections like:
Reader appealed primarily to information junkies, who wanted a quick way to keep up with all their favorite publications and blogs. (It turned out there were two types of Reader users: the completionists, who go through every unread item they have, and the folks who just scroll around until they find something. Both sides think the other is bonkers.)
Reader is interesting because it had an obsessive user base, with “north of 30 million users, many of them using it every day.” I know many people that now use Twitter every day are former Reader users, and also the last version of it, Google Buzz. I wonder if Google had just stuck with it - what kind of text-sharing alternative would exist? It seems, however, that Marissa Mayer just didn’t like it:
The bigger problem seemed to be that Mayer didn’t like it: Shellen says she told him at one point that he was wasting his engineers’ careers working on Reader. The team had trouble getting face time in product reviews, and asking for additional resources or funding was a waste of time.
#5 Laziness, Redefined
I enjoyed these reflections fromon laziness:
As I was thinking about the why behind laziness and what bothered me about the current discourse on it, two things emerged that I need to challenge:
1) The idea that inaction inherently means laziness
2) Laziness as an immutable character trait
But what if we have a warped idea of what productivity looks like? Today’s world is hyperactive. That’s why rest has become ritualized, otherwise it gets drowned in the sea of all we have to do. But what if that’s not natural nor useful? What if instead of laziness, we thought about rest, moments of pause, or slow-burn efforts, as part of the process for making truly great things?
#6 Are We Limited By Resources Or Knowledge?
So we are not running out of resources. It’s the opposite: they are proliferating. But only because we are creating knowledge at a rate unprecedented. But knowledge production needs to be fuelled. It takes energy. These days we want to power our computers and lots of them. And we need to protect those computers in buildings that are temperature controlled and out of the harsh environment of the natural world. All of this takes more and more resources. And the faster we wish to create knowledge and use computers to help us calculate the best ways to improve our world the more energy we will need and the more people we want to have access to these same means of producing knowledge as we do, the cheaper that energy will need to be.
#7 College Athletes, Fame & Money
On how the change in college sports to let student-athletes get paid endorsements is changing incentives. It’s led to some interesting dynamics where people can make far more from their social presence than they’d ever earn in a sport, like women’s basketball.
#8 Political Correctness
Peter Thiel on how culture war debates are a distraction for both political parties:
By the 1980s, political correctness was something conservatives used as an epithet to describe deranged dittoheads on the left. If you go back to the 1970s, it was actually used by very progressive people as a term of self-congratulation. But if you go back to the 1950s, and strip away all the connotations that accrued over time—if you were a “politically correct” person in 1950, it meant that you followed directions from Moscow as a card-carrying member of the Communist Party. The totalitarian impulse, with its extraordinary demands on the individual conscience, is baked into the very notion of political correctness. We should think about that. Striving for diversity, especially diversity of thought, can be good. But anyone who prizes liberty—conservatives, libertarians, classical liberals, and the rest—must never lose sight of the cosmic battle against atheist communism.
#9 Tim Ferriss & Long Games
Tim Ferriss did a couple of podcasts that were great as he’s someone many years ahead of me on a weird internet creator path. I loved this convo with Collin & Samir. A couple of things that jumped out:
I don't hop on the newest thingimmediately. I wait quite a while. I do think it's so important for creators to tailor their format to their lifestyle if they have a good understanding of the lifestyle they want and if they have a good understanding of what they actually like about the process of what they're doing.
So many people get into the world of online creation with legible goals, aiming at audience size, revenue figures, etc… I think this can work but it’s high risk because if you’re doing stuff you don’t actually enjoy or that lead to the lifestyle you like, your odds of burnout are far higher than if you would be in a comparable job.
Tim also hasn’t leaned into the video podcast craze (though he admits if he were early in his journey he might have a different approach). He’s comfortable with a smaller audience:
I'm okay with a smaller audience I want a very particular type of audience right? So I don't necessarily want to shift my attention to optimizing for short form however uh what I would say is that starting podcasting some of the appeal was found in being able to travel with my recording equipment.
I find these reflections validating and useful, mostly because I want to keep doing what I am doing for many many years. I have no exit or arrival plans and it’s sort of hard to find people that have steadily reinvented themselves and kept creating like Tim. As he says:
choosing a game you can play for the long term it's so simple but if you’re doing something that is even slightly depleting over time that is going to compound in a way that’s very problematic
People think about compounding growth but rarely compounding indifference!
#10 Ambitious Afternoons
I wrote a couple of weeks ago about trying to make some bolder asks. It turns out it wasn’t that scary. While some people rejected me quickly, others were more receptive. I’m in talks with some big shows, stay tuned!
I also was emboldened by this quote from James Clear:
“By the time the book came out, I had already recorded 75 podcast interviews and had asked all of them to release within the first two weeks of the book coming out. Then I had another 25 that I recorded the month the book launched. We had 100 podcast interviews come out within the first month of the book being out - but you need to reach out to 300 to get on 100”
Based on this I think my hit rate is probably too high! I sense that I only reach out when I have a 98% chance I think it will be a yes. There are certain upsides to this strategy - it nudges me to build actual relationships first (which I enjoy anyway) before making an ask (or never making one as I tend to do).
I sense I also haven’t reached out to people beyond my own curiosity bubble too. I am only aware of people talking about similar things on similar channels. I am going to explore a bit more and keep you updated.
#11 Indie Reflectionsshared his 3-year solopreneur reflections. I always find inspiration from others carving their own paths. This was no different
#12 From Therapist To Top Therapist Podcaster (🎧All The Podcast Links)
I had a delightful conversation with Melvin Varghese who has been doing the creator-therapist thing for eight years and helping many people in the industry make the transition to working online too. He’s very intentional with how he builds his life around his family which was inspiring.
Thanks For Reading!
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