February 19th, 2021
I deactivated my Instagram account a few days ago, and nobody has even noticed or asked me about it.

I think this is a sign that Instagram is done, and will go the way of Facebook. There's nothing really there anymore.

Twitter is probably the future.
February 19th, 2021
There is a web of "influencers" in your social media bubble that make you believe they are successful and you need to be like them.

I always cringe when I hear people reference them as "experts".

Many of them are invested in each other, either with actual money or just mutual support. 

Beware of trusting their retweets, endorsements, reviews & testimonials because they're often not real. Just friends helping out friends.

These people aren't very good at the thing itself (e.g. business, music, whatever your bubble is), but rather they're great at marketing themselves and are obsessed with looking good.

Those that are the best at their craft do not "tweet". Go look at Bezos account. Kendrick. Kanye. Elon. 

If they do tweet, they're not "optimized euphemisms" or clickbait. Just rather being honest and engaging with their organic audiences.

These "influencers" remind me of Instagram models. The talent they have is not modeling itself. Their talent is in optimizing the Instagram algorithm and getting quasi-status for a short amount of time, but then being quickly forgotten about.
February 19th, 2021
A long time ago, I used Notion, Trello, etc etc etc.

All of that is bullshit. For the last year, I've used a .md file saved on my desktop.

A shortlist of today's todos + my favorite quote about productivity.

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February 18th, 2021
Today, I started listening to the book Invent & Wander by Jeff Bezos.

The book is actually just a collection of his shareholder letters from the inception of Amazon.

His letters remind me of the monthly updates I do for Starter Story.

Sometimes, I think I’ll stop doing these updates. They are a bit boring and I don’t get all that much feedback. 

But I won’t stop. This book has reminded me to keep doing them.

In Bezos’ letters, he often says things like:

  • We are still “day 1” in e-commerce
  • We are barely scratching the surface with X

I love his energy, his optimism, his conviction, and his bold ambition.

This is the energy I try to channel in my updates, too. Here’s my latest one.

I’m on a smaller stage than Amazon, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have the same energy.

What I love about Starter Story, is that similar to Amazon, the sky’s the limit. Starter Story is a brand. We can expand to new markets, mediums, etc. 

Just like Amazon. They expanded to new markets and products.


I have a new respect for Bezos. It really makes sense why Amazon is the way it is. I’ll keep studying and report back.
February 17th, 2021
I did it in 2019, and it was amazing. I said I would do it in 2020, but didn’t follow through. Now, I’ll do it again.

No social media until April 1, 2021. Then, I’ll reassess.

Rules:

  • No Twitter. Remove cookies, block on phone. Block in hosts file
  • No YouTube. Block cookies. Only for research/learning if needed.
  • No Instagram. Account deactivated. Block on phone/computer.
  • No Reddit. Other than for research.
  • No other weird stuff like LinkedIn, Clubhouse.

I will still write on this blog, hopefully more than usual :)

Inspired by this video:

February 17th, 2021
Woke up this morning to a TechCrunch article about my old hometown friend's company getting acquired.

I’m not really friends with them anymore, and this spurred some massive feeling of jealousy and envy, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it as I started my day.

What’s the best thing to do in this situation?

Instead of ruminating on it, just do the opposite. Reach out to them and talk to them. So that’s what I did. I sent them a DM congratulating them.

Everyone has their moment. And there's always someone doing better than you at a given time.

After sending that DM, I no longer have those feelings of jealousy.

Back to work now.
February 16th, 2021
I'm admitting it: I'm a market speculator and borderline day trader.

I spend too much time thinking about my investments in the stock market.

I worked for a company that went IPO a few years ago. This led to me owning a significant amount of stock in that company (through stock options) and seeing massive returns.

When you see massive returns like that, it’s almost euphoric. How could you sell?

Having a huge position in one company (that did very well) convinced me that maybe I had the “intuition” to be a great stock picker. Since that, I’ve invested in more individual stocks.

But WTF am I doing?? I am not a day trader. I’m doing the very thing I criticized others for, years ago.

A few years back, I was at lunch with a friend, and I asked:

“How much time do you spend looking at your Robinhood app?”

My guess? They spent a couple of hours per day. Add that up over a lifetime, and that’s YEARS of your life doing something very unproductive.

I’d also ask: 

  • “How often do you check your gains and losses?” 
  • “Does it affect your mood when it goes up / down?"
  • “Can you show me your actual gains over 3 years?”
  • “Did that beat index funds?”
  • “Do you really think you can time the market / are smarter than everyone else?”

And then I’d say things like:

  • “I’d rather work on my own business. It’s the only thing I can control”
  • “I don’t think I can (nor I want to) outsmart the markets” 
  • “The IPO? That was just luck. I’m lucky to have worked there and got that stock”

But here I am, in 2021, doing the same exact thing. I check market prices every day. I’ve become obsessed.

The problem: it has become unbelievably enticing to get into the markets. “How could you miss this opportunity?”

I think that is probably the sign of the bubble we are in. But I’m not here to speculate.

I realize that I could become "good" at investing in individual companies. But I don't want to be good at that! That's not where I want to spend my time. Because I know that I won't have the drive and motivation to be great at it.

I want to be great at being an entrepreneur. And I must sacrifice being a good "investor" for that. When I started my business a few years ago, I pledged I would do whatever I could to keep the focus on my business. Building a business that generates cash and that I one day can sell.

A couple years ago, I told myself I wouldn’t become "that guy". But here I am. The funny things is, I got here in a different way than I expected. I got lucky with that IPO, but then it crept up on me.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to do a lot of research on ETFs and slowly move my money over to them over the next 2 months.

I realize that I’ll likely lose out on some gains, but what I’ll gain back is my attention and my focus. I won’t check the price every hour. I’ll work more on my business. My time is worth so much more than some unrealized gains in the market.

I’ll allow for 10% of my portfolio to be in individual stocks, so I can still have a bit of fun, but won’t care much about the price. I will still own BTC.
February 15th, 2021
Life is quite boring for me every day. Sometimes I wish I had more exciting things to do.

I follow some people that seem to “do a lot”. And sometimes I FOMO about that.

Am I doing less than them? Or is that just my perspective?

I think my life is intentionally boring. I try to be a bit hard to reach. I stopped responding to every message that comes my way. I avoid doing many calls and having many meetings.

But that lifestyle leads to a lot of extra time during the day. And sometimes, that time feels wasted. 

It's a "guilt" thing for me. I feel pressure to capitalize on that time and do more things. Sometimes, I'm so pressured that I make myself busier, and then I hate how busy I am.

Being busy is scary. Busy is a trap. I see it in a lot of other people.

I need to embrace the boringness of my life more. And that's why I'm writing this.

A boring life == a consistent life.

I just need to focus on the small number of things I want to do, every day, which are: 

  • making progress on my business
  • writing
  • working out
  • spending time with family and friends, and
  • living frugally

Sometimes, I want to start a podcast, write a book, learn how to make music, start a whole new business, become a Clubhouse influencer, etc etc etc.

But those are shiny new objects. Everyone else is out there chasing the next thing. 

My whole goal is to focus on the "old things". The fundamentals. And the first principles.
February 15th, 2021
I understand the value of Clubhouse, why it's going viral, and I think it’s a very cool idea.

But I also know that hanging out there won't make me smarter or grow my business. It also won't make me happier.

For me, fulfillment, happiness, and results come from focusing and working on hard things. Not just in business, but in other aspects of life.

95% of the time, consumption, specifically social media consumption, is a distraction.

Things get tricky when we blur the line between consumption and work. We tell ourselves things like “Twitter is essential to my business” or "I must read that business book".
February 14th, 2021
https://twitter.com/levelsio/status/1361064842472398848

People are starting to see through all of the people that are "adding value" through tweetstorms but really just sitting on the sidelines yackity-yackin.

The people doing real work and building businesses will be rewarded greatly over the next few years.

I'll keep doing that.
February 11th, 2021
I haven't been writing much lately. That's because I've been focused so much on Starter Story.

Really enjoying working on it these days, and trying to limit my other commitments as much as I can to focus on it!

I go through phases. Sometimes, I'm putting hours and hours each day into my writing here, sometimes minutes, like today.

As I said in my first blog post, I should keep this updated (at least) with what I did for the day.

Here's some things I did today:

- Finished up best ideas for countries content type
- Worked on gross margin algorithm for Starter Story
- Reviewed some project plans for Starter Story
- Tweeted a few things
- Bought some shares of Twitter (how is it only $50B company?)

I'm back in Florida now and I wake up really early here: 5AM EST which is awesome because I can get so much done before most people even wake up (especially on West coast).

I worked for about 5 hours at my new favorite spot (Panera Bread).

Headed out for a pace run marathon training session soon.
February 9th, 2021
Pick one business to work on.

Never stop working on it.

Everything about the business can (and will) change, including: 

  • the idea, 
  • the business model, 
  • the market, 
  • the people,
  • the name itself.

No matter what changes, the business will never cease to exist.

Why? Because a business is not a brand, company, or website. A business is an idea in your head.

Even if you lost everything, and it all went to ZERO. You'd still be thinking about business and therefore you'd still be in business

When the idea leaves your head, that's when the business is over. That's when it has failed.

"Business isn't about money to me, David. If tomorrow my company goes under I will just start another paper company. And then another and another and another. I have no shortage of company names."

- Michael Scott
February 8th, 2021
1. Start a business
2. Save and invest
3. Work out daily
4. Stack sats
5. Own as little material crap as possible
6. Live way below your means
February 8th, 2021
Common question I get: "What's a good business idea?"

The answer: it depends.

A good business idea depends on you as a person.

What are your strengths/weaknesses. If you can build a business that aligns with your strengths, you'll significantly increase your chances of success.

What's unique about *you*? Why are you the right person to build this business? If you have a good answer for that, you might be onto something.

Sometimes, it's hard to identify this. That's why it's good to experiment with different businesses. Eventually, you'll find it.
February 5th, 2021
Here's an awesome thing I found: sleep podcasts.

I've been listening to podcasts to fall asleep for the last 15 years.

Yet, I'm just finding that there are actual sleep podcasts.

I listen to this one now, and I've never not fallen asleep to an episode.

Judging by the amount of ratings that podcast has, they probably have tens of thousands of downloads per episode! Great business idea, too!
February 5th, 2021
This week, The Hustle was acquired by Hubspot for $27M. And a couple of months ago, Morning Brew was acquired by Business Insider for $75M. 

It is exciting to see media companies having big exits. I believe we are just a couple of years behind those guys, maybe even less.

I’m not thinking about an exit, but this news does give us more validation. It also fuels us to work harder and push the limits of what’s possible with our small team.

Last month, we saw 880k visitors to the website (+37.5% over December), and our email list just hit 51k. Our revenues were $24,784 on an accrual basis.


Shut Down Pigeon

I shut down Pigeon, for good. I tried to sell it, but no dice. All of our focus is now on Starter Story. We are building something BIG and I’ve never had more energy and excitement.

Goals

Last month, I said we’ll do more courses and try new channels like YouTube, but I take that back... We’re going to stay focused on our main goal: website growth.

We will keep pushing on our SEO efforts to grow the reach of the website. It’s what we are best at. I said this a few times before, but I believe we are still scratching the surface here.

My 2021 goals: 5M monthly visitors and $100K monthly revenue by December 2021.

Over the next few months, we’ll focus mainly on website and visitor growth, and depending on how that goes, we may switch to “monetization” mode later in the year. But right now, we have a lot of cash to hold us through so we can focus on GROWTH!

Business Idea Profiles

In January, we launched the Business Ideas Profiles, a more data/dashboard approach and I’m confident that this will be a big feature for us as we continue to develop it out.


Internally, we are thinking a lot about how we can scale this to 10,000 business ideas. We plan to have the most comprehensive database of business ideas on the internet. Starter Story is a technology-first media company: Crunchbase meets Forbes, or the Wikipedia for entrepreneurs.

Email

We are also putting more work into the email newsletter. In January I experimented a lot with different “styles” of newsletters.

Overall, I think it’s worth it to spend more time there. Each of our newsletters generated an average of ~$1k in sales of our membership.

Removed Chat From Site

Lastly, we removed the Intercom chat from our site. We added a FAQ and switched to email support for the rest. This was the right move and is allowing us to focus.

I’m excited for February and beyond!

- The Starter Story team.