4:00PM Oct 19, 2020
Welcome to this ti talk. Those of you that are here on the live stream heard, maybe caught this at the very beginning. This quote from EA Cummings that somehow seems relevant. I don't know how actually, we'll find out. Here's the quote, damn everything but the circus. Damn everything that is grim doll, motionless, unrisked inward turning, damn everything that won't get into the circle that won't enjoy. That won't throw its heart into the tension, surprise, fear and delight of the circus, the round world, the full existence. This talk is titled, surviving daily publication. And, well, let me start with something that seems unrelated, but I think is very related. That every six months or so I try to get my blood tested, find out what's going on with my cholesterol, because, well, last time I got the blood tested, the cholesterol was a total cholesterol of 400. If you don't know, and if you're lucky enough not to have to know, a total blood cholesterol level of 400 is something that makes most doctors freak out and start trying to prescribe you something to fix it, some sort of Staton drug or something like that. It's incredibly shockingly high. And it wasn't a surprise for it to be high. I have some genetics to thank for that high cholesterol, but it was still shockingly high. And it created this moment where my wife got involved. And said, we're gonna try a diet experiment. I somewhat reluctantly agreed. And it led to this place where I am today. And I remember something else, another thread I want to weave in here. And then we'll get started with this talk. So the other thread is, I remember talking to someone some years ago about weight loss, and they had some success with weight loss. And they told me that the thing that was pivotal for them was being able to tell themselves a story. And that story is I am the kind of person who can know what followed that was particular to them. It was in their case, they were avoiding, I think pretty much all carbohydrates in their diet as a way of losing weight. So the story that this person needed to be able to tell himself was I am the kind of person who can avoid all carbohydrates in my diet. For him that was so critical because that belief about himself that took the form of a narrative to himself made it possible for him to behave differently and get the results he was looking for out of his diet change. So for me, it's become important for me to to say to be able to say to myself, I am the kind of person who can radically change my diet for three to six months in order to learn something important about my body so cutting out as much dietary fat as possible, cutting out as much salt as possible. Those are the two major changes that this diet comprises. And for me, my favorite guilty pleasure probably still would be but I'm not practicing that guilty pleasure right now is to be at the grocery store and grab a bag of Cheetos and then eat the whole fucking thing on the way home. That was absolutely my favorite guilty pleasure that bag of Cheetos encompasses my my favorite food groups fat and salt. Carbohydrates would probably be the third favorite food group.
So I have really benefited from being able to Say, I am the kind of person who can radically change my diet for three to six months in order to learn something important about my body. What we're trying to learn is, Will my body respond to changes in diet or some other intervention needed to deal with this cholesterol? Today, I'm going to advocate for you, if you embrace this expertise incubator framework, I'm going to advocate for you publishing consistently, at almost any cost. And the reason I'm going to advocate for that is I believe, it'll create a similar belief for you, after a while, you will be able to say to yourself, I am the kind of person who can publish every day, even when things get a little crazy. And the benefits of that being true in your life, not just that you can say it to yourself, I'm the kind of person who can publish every day, even when things get a little crazy. But that actually being true of you will be incredibly transformative. And what I want to do today is equip you with some tools and some ideas about how to keep publishing even when things get crazy. And the reason why, again, is because it has this transformative effect. I will elaborate on that a bit more. So what I'm talking about, is this idea that you would publish extremely consistently at whatever your goal is, if it's, hopefully it should be three times a week or more. If you're, again, if you're embracing this expertise incubator framework. The consistency is important. And I've mentioned it several times in this lecture series. But I don't think I've really justified or sad Why I think that consistency is important. And as I was preparing for this lecture, I realized why that I haven't, you know, justified it. And it's because I can't, I can't I can't prove to a skeptic, that the consistency is important. I don't have like data, or extensive evidence that would prove to a skeptic that the consistency matters. What I have instead are some beliefs that I have some substantiation for some evidence, but probably not enough evidence to convince the skeptic. Now what I believe is that obsession leads to breakthroughs. And to define obsession a little bit I I mean, a reasonably healthy obsession. I don't mean a life ruining. Have you borrowing money from relatives, obsession, you know, the way we think about folks who are addicted to gambling, for example, just kind of running their finances and their life into the ground. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about a reasonably healthy obsession. And I believe when you become obsessed with some question, learning more about some topic, uncovering new forms of value for clients. When you become obsessed with those things, then that leads to breakthroughs. And I believe that consistent publication leads to obsession, consistent publication at a mechanical level. In other words, if you can sustain the activity, the mechanics of consistent publication, then I think that that will lead to the obsession that leads to breakthroughs. And there's a really important point here. The context, which is your publishing three times a week or more to an email list is more important than the content of what you publish. I think if we look at other domains, we see this advice. If we are curious how to increase our physical fitness, lose weight, a lot of folks who have expertise about that and who have expertise in helping people apply those ideas. A lot of folks will tell you, the consistency is the most important part. So, you know, if you said Well, I want to improve my physical fitness by going to the gym three times a week.
Then a lot of folks would tell you what matters is physically getting to the gym and trying to do Something. But if you don't have the best workout ever, if you don't achieve some specific some like workout specific goal or some progress specific goal, as long as you are getting to the gym, you're doing the foundational thing that is one of the just, you know, keys to success in this endeavor of increasing your physical fitness. There's something about showing up. And there's a saying about it, you know, showing up is, I don't know some huge outsize percentage of what it takes to be successful. So showing up matters, consistency matters, far more than the content of what happens when you show up. Or what happens when you publish to an email list. I believe that maintaining a healthy average velocity of forward movement in an endeavor where you're trying to create personal transformation, I believe that is far better than periodic sprints. As a general philosophy. Sure, you could probably come up with some cases where a sprint produces better results in some context than maintaining a high average velocity or a healthy average velocity. But generally, the healthy average velocity beats Sprint's I believe when you become obsessed, your mind changes into a different state, a different mode of operation. Human humans have been, you know, seeking this kind of thing for approximately forever. This kind of thing being a change in state, there's plenty of. So let me back up a minute. I don't think I'm proposing a really weird idea. When I say that, if you can consistently publish three times a week or more to an email list, your mind will enter a different state, where part of your mind, part of your mental capacity is dedicated to figuring the thing out whatever it is, the mystery, you're trying to figure out the improvement you're trying to create for your clients. Part of your mind will just be focused on that question, working away at it all the time. That's really the change in state that I'm talking about. But it is a little bit bigger and harder to define than just that. You'll start making associations and connections you might otherwise not, you'll start seeing patterns you might otherwise not. So this change into a different state, I think is important. It comes about from obsession, it is similar in kind, but different in the specifics, to the kinds of changes of state that people are seeking with meditation, or religious experiences, or psychedelic drugs, or even food. We often use those things to change our state. And I'm just saying that you can use daily publication as well, to change your mental state and to start to gain access to insight that I think you would not otherwise. can I prove this to you? No. Can I invite you to try it give you some guidance? Yes, that's what I'm doing here. There are other parts of cultivating and building expertise that require you to make sacrifice that require you to do something uncomfortable or mildly unpleasant or even difficult at the expense of other stuff you would rather be doing. And you'll see this when we start talking about the research challenge of the of the expertise incubator. And what I'm proposing is that the daily publication is also a very good training tool for other things that happen with expertise, cultivation,
good training, it helps you mechanically start doing stuff that you're going to have to do more of when you're cultivating self made expertise. A final point here. Today, we're talking about the early days of entering this daily Publication challenge, talking about the early part of the process. And what I'm saying is that during the early part of the process, there is an outsized benefit to embracing this daily publication challenge and staying consistent with it, even when life gets a little crazy. Later on, yeah, you become like more like an experienced artist or musician, those folks can bend or break the rules of their genre, in ways that new artists or musicians possibly can't get away with, because they understand all these subtleties, and so forth. So I'd like to be clear that I'm really talking about the early part of this process. There is something about building up a streak, an uninterrupted sequence of activity or striving or accomplishment. There's something about building up a streak that creates a self reinforcing positive cycle. In other words, just continuing to do the thing, once you've kind of got a little bit of the beginnings of a streak built up, just continuing to do that thing creates this feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment. And I can do this, and oh, I am the kind of person who can publish even when things get a little crazy. So underneath that, is a different, not a different belief, but a different form of the same belief. Really, what we're trying to do is create this belief in you that you are the kind of person who can consistently create subscriber value, and long term expertise value for your audience, even when life gets a little crazy, because believe me, it will get a little crazy. So building up the streak is a really good thing. There's a diagram here, hopefully, your screen is big enough to see it relatively easily. The first appearance of the precursor of this diagram was in the second talk in this ti lecture series. And this diagram is actually something that started in a really kind of rudimentary, incomplete form and has become, well it's become two things. It's become like the most common business diagram ever, which is like three overlapping colored circles, pretty sure if you open up any slide, presentation, software, PowerPoint, keynote, whatever, they're going to have a template that looks almost exactly like this. So it's become that it's become a cliche, but it's also become this, I think, very useful model for understanding email marketing in general. So I'm going to talk about it a little bit, there's actually an upcoming ti talk. And I don't know, a week or three, not sure where I'm going to go deeper into this model, because I think it's so useful and so relevant. But I'll just touch on a few aspects of it today.
So the last time I showed this model, it had two circles. One was future expertise value, and the other was reader subscriber audience value. And that represented what the expertise incubator is really all about. But I realized when I added a third circle that represents current economic value for your business, I had something that's actually pretty close to simple but useful model for thinking about how people approach email marketing. So, again, I'll get much more into depth into this in an upcoming lecture. But for now, I'll say the typical approach to email marketing is to figure out a way to create current economic value for your business. In other words, to sell stuff, ideally, soon. While also creating enough reader subscriber value to enable or maximize or support, that current economic value, that's, that's what most email marketing is, is doing. And that therefore increases really massive assumption that if you're going to do email marketing, if you're going to send emails to a list, that's what you're going to be doing. And there's another opportunity and that opportunity is to focus on Returning subscriber value, like in the other approach, but instead of focusing primarily on current economic value, you focus on future expertise value, you're trying to find a way to create both of those things. Today, I want to talk about how to keep publishing when things get crazy. And the way I'm going to suggest that you do that, in general, is that you temporarily abandon trying to create reader or subscriber value. And what you do instead, is you keep publishing, in order to keep investing in that future expertise value. There are limits though, to how far you can take that suggestion. If you say, I don't really care at all, now or ever, again, about creating readers subscriber value, then you're sort of unhinged from what the market cares about, and once or the slice of the market that's on your email list. And, and you just can't really continue in that sort of unhinged way indefinitely. Not everyone will unsubscribe, your romantic partner, your mom, you know, there'll be people on your email list who, who continue to be subscribed, but they weren't there in the first place. Because of the reader or subscriber value or creating for them. They're there because they love you. And they want to support what you're doing. But those who don't have that attachment to you will eventually, if they're somewhat rational, and, and paying attention to what shows up in their inbox, and they care about their time, they'll eventually unsubscribe as they should. So you can't completely unplug from creating reader or subscriber value. But what I'm going to propose today is that you can for a little bit few days a week or two, in service of something that's more important, you can unplug from creating reader subscriber value for a few days, few weeks in service of continuing publishing, because if you can create that consistency, it will support the obsession on that will lead to breakthroughs. And that is so worth it in the long term. But again, just to repeat my main point here, there are limits, you can't totally forsake creating readers subscriber value for forever. If you do, you probably won't have an email list after a while, although I'd love to see someone try that just to see how long it takes. I think people are far too worried about unsubscribes on an email list. I'd love to see someone just, you know, torch their email list by not caring about email, a reader subscriber value.
If you create this belief, I can publish regularly at the frequency I desire. Even when things get a little crazy, I think you will be starting to behave like a thought leader. That term gets thrown around a lot. To me, it means something more specific than I think it means to most people and, and for me, the bar is higher. You know, for some people, I think it means anybody with a big Twitter following is a thought leader and I would disagree with that. But if you can start to believe that you can maintain your publishing output, even when things get a little crazy, you'll start to be doing things like what genuine thought leaders do. And I think that gives you a sort of ramp to becoming one of those people yourself. No, that's another reason to emphasize the consistency.
There we go. We're gonna look at the tools that I want to suggest to you soon. But before I want to take a question here, and then talk about tall and short horses. So is it really better to start publishing to list even if the list is very small? I would say yes. You could probably come up with an exception to that. But brace I would say it is better. I just I think of that, that saying about the best time to plant a tree being you know, 1020 years ago because now you can enjoy the shade of that tree and enjoy the other benefits of that tree. second best time to start doing this now so I wouldn't worry about email list size. When you start publishing at the frequency that I advocate three times a week or more More people unsubscribe, because you have to create a significant amount of reader subscriber value for them to want to dedicate that much time to it. And most of us are not great at that when we start out. So your tiny list 10 people might get tinier. If you do this, and that will feel like a loss, I think it's still worth it. When you think about the long term,
there's a saying, if you fall off the horse, get right back on it. That's the same. I don't hear anybody's talk about whether it's possible to manipulate the height of the horse. So that the inevitable falling off the horse is less painful, and it's easier to get back on the horse. Is there a way we can make that big draft horse into a little Icelandic pony? I'm going to try to help you do that today. And again, I think that there is such value and consistency, even if it comes at the cost of other things. One of the ways that we make it easier to publish consistently is we reduce the height of the horse. I have this you know, I have a sort of a paid thing that people can join to be with others who are going through the expertise incubator framework. I should rename it something other than the expertise incubator, let's just call it joining a paid cohort, that's one of the things like people paid me to do is help them navigate this framework and put together a group of support in doing that. And so I've seen a number of people fall off the horse, I've fallen fallen off the horse for two or three days. So I've seen people fall off the horse, and I see what they do to themselves. When they fall off the horse, they're lying on me now I'm really extending the metaphor here, but they're lying on the ground looking at that horse, and it looks immense. And so it's partially out of having had that experience that I'm so interested in trying to give you tools to make the horse smaller, not to give you a ladder to get back up on that tall horse, but just to make it smaller while you're getting back on it. So that then you can move on and move on to that taller horse. So there's this idea of technical debt, like a backlog of stuff that needs to be fixed with the technical product and that backlog piled up while the product team was focused on other stuff, ie shipping new features, whatever. So that's technical debt. There is also in this framework, shame that the backlog of debt that piles up when you are falling short of something, something you intended to do but didn't, something you want to do, but you're not doing. So this shame debt builds up. If you if you really have embraced this idea that you're going to publish three times a week or more to an email list. And then something happens. And usually it's a really good reason that you have for skipping a day or two or a week. It's never it's never a bad reason. It's never like oh, you know, I just didn't feel like it. No one ever that I've seen ever has that reason. It's I mean, you know, the year 2020 has supplied a lot of reasons to not follow through on stuff that you were doing before or, or to change your approach or change your routine. So it's never a bad reason. But something happens. And then you stopped publishing and then you start having feelings about not publishing. And if you are really you know, like committed to this practice because you believe in the transformative possibilities that it holds. Then you start feeling shame, you start feeling bad about yourself. And you know, it kind of builds up this this shame debt. And here's what I want to propose. You need to avoid building up that shame debt if at all possible. Now, how I'm going to propose you do that is that you de emphasize creating reader subscriber value and you consider publishing stuff. Not because it's great, but just To continue publishing, that will create a second kind of shame.
The second kind of shame is like, I don't feel great about what I'm publishing. I mean, I feel less bad that I'm not, you know, that I am publishing, I feel less bad that I didn't let this life event get in my way. That's good. But now I feel bad about what I'm doing to continue publishing. Because I'm sending these sort of thin, lighthearted, casual, insubstantial emails. I don't feel great about that. So now we have these two competing forms of shape, it's really something else. What can happen when you start going there, and I want to tell you, it's very natural to go there. Most people who are interested in this embracing this framework, this expertise incubator framework are driven. They really are pretty driven people. And so the feeling that that kind of person will have, when they sort of fall short, is not a good feeling. It's this feeling of shame. Here's what I propose, I propose actually claim that one of these forms of shame is worse is better than the other, and the other is worse. So the shame debt of sending a thin, light hearted or casual email to your list I propose is less. And the shame dead of missing 125 10 days of not publishing, and here's what I've seen, in working with a number of people on this framework is that that 125 10 days that you miss publishing can easily become that many months, you fall off the horse, the horse looks very, very tall, you're not willing to get back on a shorter horse, and days become months. And I just want to, you know, kind of temper this by saying it's like not the end of the world, you know, you're not going to get arrested, I'm not going to come out and do us a ti citizens arrest on you. But you will feel like you were trying to do something and do that. And you will feel like you did not succeed at that thing. And maybe if you were starting to realize some of the benefits, maybe you'll be motivated to get back on the tall version of the horse. And maybe you will just say, Well, that didn't work out, and you'll miss out on the opportunity that this framework holds. So go with the lesser shame, traction solutions, I I totally get it in terms of like publishing to a smaller audience, meaning, if you're going to screw up when it'd be nice to do it in private, or in front of a very small group instead of big, huge one. And I guess I have two contradictory responses to that. One is, just do it anyway, if you have a big list, just start publishing daily. And again, if you're interested in this framework, start publishing daily to that big list. And then the other contradictory responses, do whatever it takes to get yourself progressively more comfortable with working in public. So I realize those are contradictory answers, but I'll let you resolve the contradiction. I should say none of this matters. If you're, you know, not bought into the idea of daily publication, but I'm not really sure why he would be sticking with this lecture at this point if you're not somewhat bought into that idea. So let's look at the toolkit.
I was born in 1974. So I grew up in the 80s and 1984. There was a movie called The Karate Kid, which was later remade, I don't know if the remake was any good. But first one was quite the box office success or a surprise success that year. And that's Those of you that are familiar with movie will know this, but you've got the kid who wants to learn karate he comes across the old wise, Japanese man, Mr. Miyagi, who is, you know, very skilled, the kid wants him to teach him. And Mr. Miyagi puts him to work. You know, Sam the deck, whitewash the fence, he's doing these menial tasks. And it seems like there's not anywhere to go from there. At this point in the movie plot. You know, he's just, he's using me as free labor is the perspective of whatever the characters name that Ralph Maggio played, and and then eventually, it's revealed that these rote, mundane things are the building blocks of a fighting style that leads to the characters victory. So what I'm going to present is a little bit like that, I suppose these these are, you know, elements of a toolkit that you can use to survive daily publication. Another TV show started in 1985. That I loved, MacGyver. And you know, MacGyver was this sort of, like, pretty low key guy, except, you know, he had this sort of mental and cognitive toolkit that enabled him to get out of situations, using, you know, kind of engineering some solution right there on the spot. And so he had a sort of mental cognitive toolkit that he used. And you could think of what we're going to talk about in that that way as well. Here's the first tool. In the toolkit, this is something that ideally, you do before you start publishing daily, but it's fine to do it at any time. I call it the fear inventory. And it's real simple. So let's imagine that you have not begun publishing daily, you're interested in this framework, maybe you're going to listen to the remainder of the lectures, all 18 of them in total, before you make up your mind about whether you want to do it, that's fine. But as part of your preparation for this thing that you can start doing you, you say, Okay, this fear inventory sounds good, here's what you do. Do you imagine that you are publishing daily, and then you imagine what you're going to be afraid of while doing that daily publication. It would be ideal if you could do this, in a place where your attention is not being siphoned off in a bunch of different directions, if you could carve out some time to get quiet. And enter that kind of imagined a future state. And then go on to imagine what am I going to be afraid of, like, what could possibly happen? let your imagination run wild. That would be that would bring up fear for me. And then you just write it down. There's all sorts of stuff you could fear. And you would be very normal to fear things like, what if I get criticized for what I say? What if it leads to some kind of loss of status, or some sort of more visceral loss? You know, if I say something, I lose a client? What if it creates conflict for me to, you know, to publish? My thinking in public? Well, what if? What if I get all this advice from Philip about how to keep publishing when things get crazy. And then things do get crazy, and I can't implementing any of the advice and I fall off the horse. And then I feel bad about myself. And I don't want to feel bad about myself. So I'm afraid of that. The list goes on and on. But, you know, if you do this fear inventory, I guarantee you that there's going to be this like 80% of what you write down is going to overlap with what almost any other human would write down when considering what is scary about this. So you write it down.
And what that does, is it takes some of the fangs out of this scary beast, whatever it is for you. Because you've seen it coming. If it actually happens, chances are it won't. Mark Twain reminds us when he says I've had a lot of worries in my life. Most of which never happened. There's several other related Mark Twain quotes really clever stuff about the fact that we worry about stuff that is so unlikely to happen. It's just part of human nature, it's fine. Most of the stuff on your fear inventory probably won't happen. But if it does, you will have seen it coming. And that will give you an advantage over it, you won't be surprised. You'll be like, Oh, you I thought about you a few months ago. And maybe you'll do what one ti participant did. He shared his pure inventory with me, I didn't ask him to he just did. He was like, well, maybe you'll find this interesting. And he moved, he, you know, inventoried some stuff like one of which was, you know, what, if I start publishing to my email list, and I get sucked into these time wasting trivial arguments with people about stupid stuff, you see that kind of stuff happening on Twitter all the time? What if that starts happening on my email list. And then he moved beyond that, to say, this is what I will do, or this is what I can do, or these are the things I could do. So we identified some problem solving options, while doing the fear inventory. And I think that's great, because you move beyond just identifying the fear. And you start moving into a more empowered place where instead of saying, well, this is all the stuff I'm afraid of, you're saying these are the fears, and then these are the things I can be proactive about, and I can start to move into a more proactive place. The important thing with fear inventory is doing it and then writing it down, you can't just keep it in your head, because it's not true of everybody, I'm sure but for a lot of us, our our mental storage of stuff is kind of fluid. And we go back and revise things in our memory and getting it out on paper really gets us out of that mode into a more objective mode. So the fear inventory is the first tool I want you to consider.
The second is a sort of philosophy that you could choose to embrace. I've tried to embrace this, I, I fail all the time. But it's maybe a sort of mantra. And the mantra is to say to yourself, everything is an opportunity, everything that could happen is an opportunity. I think most of us would draw a line somewhere. Okay, losing, you know, all my money, all my friends, my house. And being homeless, that doesn't seem like much of an opportunity to me And sure, you get to draw the line somewhere. But when I phrase it, most of the things that happen in normal life or an opportunity, it doesn't have quite the same mean power. But what if everything that threatened to prevent you from publishing at the frequency you want to was actually an opportunity? A client got very demanding, and the time that you had planned to spend writing something for your email list became unavailable? How could that be an opportunity? Where I have done a lot of this, I haven't been, have not been great about sort of generally applying this philosophy. But where I've had some success applying it is to say the things that happen to me in my life, make for stories, and I can use stories as a way to kind of warm up when I'm writing an email, or create a bridge, from the start of the email to saying something more meaningful, towards the middle or end of the email. That's what I've done. To implement this and I would propose that you can do the same is to make use of storytelling, where the source of the stories is this stuff that's happening in your life and even could be the stuff that is threatening to prevent you from publishing regularly. I've been pretty isolated since the viral pandemic began. I think most people would say I was pretty isolated before that, which was more of a choice, but now it's more of a necessity. And I met my wife and I met when we took our car into the shop to have it worked on. met someone who had had an asymptomatic version of the coronavirus and recovered. That was the first person that I'd met who'd been sick. Well, I was gonna say had been sick with the virus but she was asymptomatic. So she said You felt fine. She worked at the car dealer. So maybe you got sick? Hopefully not. But maybe you got sick with this this coronavirus? Could that be used as a story in an email as a way to continue publishing? I realize what I'm saying. And I'm realizing how borderline offensive it is to suggest that you keep publishing, even if you got sick with, you know, the Coronavirus. But that's really just to kind of stretch your thinking a bit, stretch your imagination a bit. There's an objection that comes up when I suggest making use of storytelling. And the objection is, wait a second, I have been publishing to my email list. And what I've been publishing is not storytelling, it's like how to advice about this thing. Or it's my thinking about this other thing. And I don't really talk about myself much at all. And now you're saying, talk about yourself in order to get an email out the door. And the objection is, well, that's going to be such a sort of dissonant experience for my subscribers, it's not going to create value for them, it's not going to create reader or subscriber value. To which I would say, you're probably right. But again, what we're trying to do here is maintain the physical activity of publishing. So that you don't fall off the horse and one 510 days becomes one 510 months. So we're sacrificing something for something else that's more important. It's a valid objection. But again, remember the context of what we're what we're saying here. So maybe this philosophy leads to some thinking about how you could survive a challenging time with your email list.
One of the things that I've seen when folks stop publishing, it's because they feel stuck in some way. There's really two ways to get stuck. And then we'll talk about getting unstuck. There's really two ways. One is, what is something I've talked about earlier, it's called hitting the wall. So when you hit the wall, you feel you've been doing this daily publishing thing, and then you feel like, out of stuff to say, I don't, I'm done. You know, there's nothing more for me to say, that's what I call hitting the wall. And that will create a feeling of I'm stuck, I don't know where to go. I don't feel like I have momentum anymore. I'm stuck, then the other thing that can cause you to get stuck is a sort of general sense of discouragement, which might come from a variety of things it usually comes from, I'm just not getting the results I want, as fast as I want. And I could probably get away into talking about why that happens. I think some of it is the expectations that we have about email marketing being this amazing way to sell stuff, which it can be. But it can also be a way to cultivate future expertise value on that application of email marketing takes a lot longer to yield results. So you might get stuck because you hit the wall might get stuck because you just kind of get discouraged. And you're like, why am I putting all this effort into this publishing and no one's buying this thing that I would like them to buy now? Well, I think you can prepare for the possibility of getting stuck. And I have ideas about how to do that. I've jokingly call them tow trucks to get you unstuck. And I want to walk through these. So this is an overview that you're seeing now. But I want to go through these in a bit more detail. I'll touch on each one. And then have another set of ideas after that. So we've got quite a few tools to get through here. First is what I call the ideas list. Again, you're preparing for the possibility that down the road you get stuck. And the ideas list is simply a list of ideas about stuff you could write about. But rather than letting those ideas occur to you, they generally start to occur to us. spontaneously, once you reach that point of obsession with what it is you're doing on your email list, instead of letting those ideas just kind of float past, you actually write them down. I am 46 started publishing daily when I was 41, or 42. So I've been doing this a while. And I've actually observed my ability to have an idea, and then just retain it in my head diminish over that for years. Not good. My memories never been great. So it's not like some kind of shocking loss of cognitive function or anything like that. It's just my memory kind of sucks. So with the ideas list, it's important that you write be able to write down an idea in the moment. So an idea occurs to you now that would make an interesting thing to talk about in an email, or that would make an interesting story or whatever. Great. Write it down. Most people I know, have some kind of smartphone type device within arm's reach at all times. Make use of that there's plenty of tools, not really going to talk about the specific tools, but make use of that ideas list.
For me, starting out with daily publishing, and I told him, my memory is bad was it 2015 or 2016. In January that year, I want to say January 2016. I started doing it, the publishing. And then I realized, Oh, yeah, I have these ideas, once I kind of got into that obsession, stage, have these ideas for stuff that would make interesting email. So I started writing that down. And then I just, you know, kept that list going. So maybe a year or so ago, I started making considerably less use of stories about my life, in my emails. And that was still kind of trying to figure out why I implemented that shift. It wasn't some conscious plan, it just sort of happened organically. The ideas list in that time, though, had grown to 15,600 in three words. I'm not bragging, I'm just saying once you reach that place of obsession, and then you commit to if you have an idea, you commit it to, you know, a note somewhere. It doesn't take long for it to become a huge list of ideas. And the first book I published, which has made really good money for me, the positioning manual. The first edition of that was about 20,000 words. So we have 15,000 words is like literally like book length. So the ideas list is useful, because it reduces the startup cost of publishing an email when things are kind of crazy in your life, when you're not in the place where you can just kind of leisurely come up with an idea or approach to the whole thing, usually, but things have gotten a little crazy, or you've gotten stuck and you're out of ideas. revisiting the ideas list can help you get unstuck. So it's the kind of thing that you build incrementally a tiny piece at a time by just committing to some sort of note taking system, the ideas that occur to you once you become obsessed. Just a little bit of a well, let me not say that. So here's the next tool. The next tool, is you saying to yourself, you know, let me try again to explain this thing. And that's the I mean, the idea really is that simple. Last, not last week, but two weeks ago, in the last presentation, one of the examples I gave is Jonathan Starks email list and joining and sort of inspecting what he's doing on his email list is really useful here because he's a great example of something like, what I'm advocating here, and what I'm advocating here is you get stuck. You say, Well, I'm out of new stuff to say. Then go back to something you've already said and try again to explain it. better, more simply more usefully. I'm not sure that's up to you, but try to explain something again. You'll see Jonathan start doing something similar. He is sort of circling around in his daily email publication. This one central idea. hourly billing is nuts. It's a cancer on the professional services world. That's his core idea. And he's always kind of circling around it. It's sort of like a plane circling around the airport, but never, never landing in that he's always saying, I think I can explain this in a subtly different way, using a different analogy, at a different depth of abstraction or specificity. And he's just kind of coming at the same thing from this multitude of angles, because he's on this mission to rid the world of hourly billing and AI. And he knows and I believe he's right, that there'll be a light bulb moment for someone almost every day, if he pursues this approach, and there's enough light bulb moments and things change in the world. So Jonathan's a good example. I don't think he's explicitly saying, Well, my previous explanation wasn't any good. And that's not what I'm saying, either. But I think what he's doing is a really good example of, you know, let me try again to explain this, because maybe this time is going to get through to someone new, or someone who's been here for a year or two, but hasn't gotten it yet.
You can think of this, like a musician practicing scales. They're not making music, per se, but they're practicing a fundamental skill of making music, which is to bring this back to our world is explaining things to people.
Here's another one, ask yourself, what have I been wrong about? should probably have a question mark at the end of bad. What was wrong about 612 months ago, or further back. So again, this is the kind of thing that might help you get unstuck. A ways down the road, is to say, well, I've been doing this daily emailing thing for a while. And surely, I was wrong about something at some point. If you're me, you want to avoid looking at your entire life. It's an overwhelming amount of stuff you were wrong about. But you might just kind of take a slice of your emails, maybe look back at the archive of what you published, you know, for six month time period, starting six months ago, going back 12 months, I think that would be really productive. Because somewhere in there, you're gonna say, you know, I was really talking about this a lot. And now I have a, I was wrong, or I have a sort of a, well, I've changed my mind about it, I have a subtly different perspective on it. There we go. The subtle variation on this, what was I wrong about is what have I changed my mind about? Again, both are based on a review of stuff you've already said, and then saying, you know, what's, what's changed since then? What can I update? I think that's a wonderful way to get unstuck. Here's another one. What are some questions I'm working on? Meaning? What are some questions I have, that I'm not satisfied with my own answer to these questions. David Baker has this great story that I've gotten a little more backstory on. When he started out in his work as an advisor. He had, you know, clients would ask him stuff. And he, he was, I mean, he would probably have something to say, but he wasn't really satisfied with his answer to those questions. So he documented all the questions. And then the part that I think is so clever, is I would say, well, you just write your way through those questions, your email list. He did a variation of that, where he set up a publication, a print publication, and recruited subscribers who then paid to get this thing every month. And that was how he worked his way through that list of questions. He used that publication as an accountability mechanism to do it as a working in public mechanism to to encourage themselves to do it better. And I think that's just so clever to be able to monetize your uncertainty in that way. Or your progression from uncertainty to increasing amounts of certainty. So it's a useful technique for getting unstuck. You think you've set it all? You haven't? Trust me? You haven't? these first few times you think you haven't set it all? You haven't? There's greater depths to explore. And so one of the ways to do that is to say, Well, what am I What do I wish I had a better answer about you could ask yourself. If I was starting over today, what would I do? What would I do differently? How would I approach it? I think that's a really fertile question to ask yourself, uh, yields lots of interesting answers. You can setup thought experiments where you apply constraints to the thing you do, or the thing you are trying to build expertise around. One of the thought experience experiments, I think I tried It's been a while was, you know, what if like, one day I woke up and the inner as you know, there's been some kind of change in the internet, and it's technically impossible to send email, like, email just doesn't work anymore. So it essentially doesn't exist. What would I do? As someone who wants to earn visibility and trust from an audience where I haven't reached the whole audience? They don't all know about me. What do I do without email? That's a little bit of a mean, out there kind of thought experiment, the constraint is a little bit wacky. But it forces really interesting thinking, if you take the question seriously. And again, we're talking about the category of how to keep publishing when you're stuck. Which is different than life is crazy. And I just don't have time for this stuff fill up. The category of being stuck is I'm out of ideas. So all this stuff, let me
kind of flip that through. Real quick. The ideas list, try again, to explain something, what was I wrong about? What have I changed my mind about questions I'm working on. If I was starting over today, you know, kind of weird constraints that I'll apply and do thought experiments. All of those are suggestions to get unstuck.
life gets crazy, though, sometimes. That's a different problem. Being stuck as a sort of, like there's not enough motion, I don't have ideas. I don't have momentum. I'm not moving forward, there's a lack of motion. What about when life has too much motion? Things are crazy. When there's a global viral pandemic, when there's, you know, you name it, just look back over what's happened in 2020. It's been a pretty interesting here. So what do we do when things get crazy? And again, I believe you do yourself a huge service, if you can attempt to keep publishing even when things get a little crazy. So some suggestions. The first is to consider a question. And the question is, what is the quantum unit, the absolute smallest possible unit of reader or subscriber value? Not generally, you know, across the entire world, but specifically for you, and whatever, you know, subscribers you have on your email list your audience. And the claim that I'll always make is you're probably wrong about how small that is, you should probably cut it in half at least. Because you'll be answering that. As someone who is, you know, in the early days of doing daily publication, you'll be answering that question about what's the quantum unit of subscriber value? What's the smallest possible unit? Based on assumptions? You'll be answering that question based on assumptions and your assumptions are, you know, well, people instantly unsubscribed the first time they get an email that doesn't produce value for them. Or, you know, people you know, not only do that, but they, you know, they call the local police to complain about my smell list. Now, I'm getting a little silly, but you get the picture, you get that you have these assumptions that I think are not based on experience. And, and, and so you overestimate what is the smallest possible unit of whatever of content that could create subscriber value for your email list. And I would just challenge you to think smaller. My answer has been and you know, during the first few years of daily publishing, my answer was, I can send out a link to something I found interesting. And in essentially, the, you know, the amount of content that would eat fit into a tweet, I can email that to my list. And it's not going to create the same amount of value for everyone, for some people that will have negative value. And they may unsubscribe. But for enough people on the email list, it will have a little bit of value. And what it has done is helped me keep up the mechanics of the daily publishing. an encouraging word, an expression of gratitude. Hey, you deserve a break today. Here's a funny video I came across recently. You deserve a laugh. Here's a joke. Those are all things I've done. And they all are associated with people saying, you know, that was the straw that broke the camel's back. I've been thinking about unsubscribing from this dude, Philips email list for a while. Where's that button? I'm out of here. So what? For enough people? It was, it was fulfilling my promise to them. It was fulfilling my promise to myself. And it was keeping things moving forward during a time when things were crazy. Likewise, you could fall back to curation or commentary. curation is you saying, you know, this is interesting, this is good stuff. This might be worth your while. commentaries you saying, Well, here's what I think about this. And those can be easier than original thinking. That's why I've got them in this group here of what to do. And things get crazy. They're easier than original thinking. I don't think they're actually inferior. I think they can create reader or subscriber value. And I know the objection. As soon as I mentioned this, the objection is well, I've been doing x, which is trying to explain something to my email list. And now you want me to comment on stuff other people's are doing? Doesn't that make me not the expert? Doesn't that
create this dissonant moment for my email list subscribers, and again, I would say you're not wrong. But also we're trying to solve a different problem here. We're not trying to solve how to maximize value for your subscribers, you're trying to solve the problem of how to keep you publishing. When things get a little crazy. The falling back curation or commentary, I think is a good way to do that. I should also point out, I wish I could look you in the eye when I say this, I love asking people who have an email list with a few hundred or more subscribers, I love asking them this question. Delicious. I asked them if they're afraid of their email list. I love asking because, you know, it's it's a fun question just in and of itself. But it's also I think helps people think about it in a different way. It's like, Are you afraid of this thing that you built? That's what's so hilarious about it, is it's not like you're a kid in elementary school, and your teacher made you get up on stage and do something at the school play. You know, whatever. You're not be I mean, you created this situation. But I think when I ask people, if they're afraid of this email list, substantial part of that portion of the time they say, yeah, honestly, I am a little afraid of my email list, I'm afraid of what they might think of me or what they could say or, you know, whatever. That By the way, should go on your, your fear inventory. But a lot of the objections about trying different things with your email list, I think, come from fear of what your email list might think. And at some point, the email list has become something we might think of as a business asset. But you got to remember, in the TDI world, what you're doing is your email list is using it as a way to cultivate your future expertise and serve your future clients a more valuable way. And I think it's okay to trade that against other things in the short term and make sacrifices in the short term. And some of those sacrifices are what, you know, good managers have to say to their employees. Sometimes I know you may not like this decision, but we're trying to do something over the long term here. Sorry, you don't like it, but this supports what we're trying to do in the long terms. Kind of the same thing with your email list. You can recycle old emails. I know that's a horrifying idea. I know so many of you heard that and said, Okay, what is this guy smoking? How Why do you just kind of trail off to like, that's ridiculous, you can't do that it's not allowed. And I would say, who made that rule? Again, if it keeps the consistency going, it's worth considering. And so sending something that was a kind of a greatest hit, or was really interesting to your list. Why not? You can ask a probing or provocative question. Again, these are all this second group of suggestions stuff to do when things get crazy. Your answers are not the only thing that creates reader or subscriber value. I mean, yeah, that may be why a lot of folks are signed up, but their answers to questions that are relevant to them are important and might create more value for them. So you could ask a probing or provocative question. And that could be the end of it. You know, the email could be a few sentences asking that question. What do you think would be the sign off at the end, you could tell a joke. You could express gratitude.
So those are some tools, tools for getting unstuck, tools for surviving daily publication when it gets crazy. Remember that these tools feel like they're going to destroy reader and subscriber value. And actually, some of them go backwards here. telling a joke, how's that going to create future expertise. So some of these tools seem like they're going to destroy both forms of value that we're trying to create here. But remember, a lot of the value comes from that obsession. I believe the obsession is created by the consistency, it creates a sort of a changed mental state. And so the other thing I should add, is that what we're doing here looks a lot more like an artist's sketch than a finished oil painting. That's normal. That's a part of this approach is that you're using your email list as a place to show off sketches, some of which someday, will become like the Mona Lisa. But a lot of them are just going to be sketches. And that's all they're ever going to be. And the thing is, you're not going to wait until you have a Mona Lisa, have a point of view, or an insight to something to show it, you're going to send it three times a week or more to your email list. And in a lot of it's going to look like a rough sketch. Just this past week, I sent a rough sketch on Monday. And I got an awesome amount of responses to it. A lot of my emails, just get no response at all. There. But you know, maybe they're creating some kind of reader or subscriber value, but folks aren't getting replied to tell me about it. And that's fine. The one of the responses to the email I sent out on Monday was from someone I know, and someone I liked very much and respect. And their response was, this is too abstract. This email is too abstract. And I know this person, so I know that probably a lot of my goals are to abstract for them, as I have the benefit of a little bit of context. But imagine getting that. I mean, it was mixed in with some other responses where the other responses were ones that made me feel better. The other responses were is great. It's made me think about things in a different way. It's exactly the kind of stuff you want to get when you put out a sketch of a, you know, something that's kind of like a point of view. And the one response was as too abstract, you could call it negative feedback. It didn't feel that way. To me, what it felt like to me was I had this idea, baby, an embryo of an idea. And then it was you know, it's kind of at the stage of a fetus and now we're in the hospital. I'm you know, giving birth to this idea. We're in the hospital and get a sonogram, and there's a heartbeat. I'm happy to get the kind of feedback that tells me the idea has a heartbeat, even if the feedback is you know, this is a sketch I wanted to finish painting. My feeling is as fine you'll get the finished painting just Today, didn't send it this week I'm getting there. And I am to be clear subjecting you to all these sketches, all these studies that I do along the way to the painting. If that doesn't work for you, that is okay, there's an unsubscribe button. But a lot of what this is, is sort of woodpecker work, I've used that analogy before your little woodpecker pecking away at a big tree, big question, a big problem, a big thing you're not sure about. And you're just chipping away at it pecking away at it three times a week or more. So a lot of that woodpecker work is going to feel like it's not making a difference. And that is normal. And that's okay. Because if you set your ambition to a sufficiently important, large problem, and you're just one person, it's okay, that the progress is not dramatic sort of chainsaw progress. Remember, this third idea, which is really about self forgiveness, you should be willing to work daily at the first two ideals
for two to three years. To make them true. The first ideal is that what you publish your email list should be good enough to spread by word of mouth alone is a tall order people. And the second idea is that it should be good enough for people to pay for it, even if it's free. So we're setting the bar high. And then we're also being very understanding of our failure to live up to it. Because setting the bar high is part of what makes this a challenge and part of what creates the growth. Also, remember, this seems appropriate to talk about when we're talking about things getting crazy. I think you'll find this daily publication practice very productive. I hope that you'll continue. But at some point, you may find that it has done for you what you wanted it to do, and you'll stop publishing in that way, if you're trying to cultivate self made expertise, build authority in the market earned visibility for your work, you probably won't stop publishing altogether. But you might switch into a different mode that is less frequent. There's someone I'm thinking of Tom Miller, who's been through the expertise incubator framework, and he was publishing daily. And then he switched. Part of this was driven by a sort of a changing work context for heat for him where he became a partner in a business. But he switched to something that's more like a campaign based approach where you know, that there won't publish much or at all to their email list for a while. And then they will have a sort of intense to three week long campaign, that where the emails are frequent during that campaign, but they're structured to share something, some expertise that's come out of the client work that the business has done. So you could switch to a more campaign approach, or you might just switch to publishing less frequently, but the emails are longer and deeper. Right now, I'm doing this STI talk series. And I'm just loving it. But you know, it takes a lot of time to prep for these talks. It's a joy, but it takes time away from other stuff that could be doing and so instead of sending, you know, four or five, really thoughtful emails a week, I'm sending two thoughtful emails a week. And the others are kind of transactional. They're announcing upcoming events, so forth. So that's, you know, a way that I am kind of shifting the balance in what I publish, based on how things are evolving in my own business. So I know I've framed daily publication as a sort of prison sentence from which you might hope to get paroled. But there is a possibility that you'll you know, you'll embrace this challenge a daily publication for three months, I'd say if you can give it six, nine or 12, that's better. And then you might move on to something else, because you might have gotten from it what you were looking for. So to recap, I might be wrong. But I really believe that obsession leads to breakthroughs of the sort that conventional academia or the licensed professions cannot replicate. I believe that is one of our core competitive advantages as independent consultants. consistency in publishing creates that upset Think about how you can make the horse smaller. So getting back on it is easier. Think about the shame debt and the ways that it might disempower you and the ways that you can work around it. Do not be afraid of your email list. And I hope at this point, you'd have the beginnings of a sort of cognitive framework toolkit for surviving daily publication for long enough that you can start to get some benefit from it. Thank you for being here.