April 11th, 2020
It really bothers me when I see/hear of people that are not social distancing, or they are making "exceptions" like still meeting up with friends.

I don't know why it bothers me so much - but it actually really personally offends me.

I feel like people that do this are selfish and self-serving and not living with good principles.

It actually caused a really big fight with my family today because I expressed this about one of my family members.

I have to realize that not everyone thinks the same way I do. I am very passionate about social distancing, and for me, it's very black and white what it means to social distance.

But I have to realize that people probably see it differently and I can't project my beliefs on others.

I can only speak my piece and need to just accept things for the way they are as opposed to trying to change people.

The way I acted today was kind of like a Twitter SJW - acting like my opinion was the only one that matters and not seeing the other side of the story.

Or I acted like that person that freaks out about politics every day even though they have no influence or control in the situation.

I don't ever want to be that guy. 

I live my life, you live yours.

April 10th, 2020
I missed another day of writing.

Today, I'm donating to Direct Relief, who is directly helping doctors and nurses get the equipment they need during COVID-19.

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April 9th, 2020
I'm in a weird place right now - I feel like I don't have much to do these days.

  • Most of the day to day of my business is outsourced.
  • Most of the daily tasks are handled by the team.
  • There doesn't seem to be any "big projects" I need to complete.
  • I'm stuck thinking more about "big picture".

I had big goals last month to "get Pigeon to freemium". That's done now.

It's not that I'm fully content with where my business is at, it's just that I just know that to grow and evolve and make money, it's really just doing more of the same thing.

In other words, I don't think I should be switching things up because I'm bored, or complacent, or whatever.

I remember early last year I was in a similar place - where I had this problem of "not having much to do" - I went and started another business... Honestly, that was a bit of a hasty decision looking back.

That's a common theme for me - jumping into things too quickly. I've done it with a lot of careers, and I did it with the nomad thing, I've done it moving to new cities too.

Let's give this a name... "switchup mode" - where I think that switching things up will solve my problems. They never do.

I need to focus on going deeper, and being more focused on some of my accomplishments.

Building a modest lifestyle business? Ok let's figure out how to "turn the knobs" to make it more successful, and more impactful.

I'm a "tinkerer" - I like to discover things and learn how they work. But I also need to be an "optimizer" - instead of just learning how things work - master them - get better than 95% of people at that thing.

So that's what I'm trying to focus on these days.

I need to be more calculated about things. I need to focus on "less is more".

Focus on the bottom of the funnel, instead of the top.

For example, with my business, instead of focusing on "new projects" and "new todos", I am setting goals to focus on improvements. Improvements to product, improvements to sales, improvements to traffic, everything.

I put together this new dashboard with 4 key metrics for Pigeon, and I will start tracking things a lot closer, making tweaks, and really getting into the nitty gritty. I'm excited. More to come on this.



Screenshot from my new KPI dashboard for Pigeon

April 8th, 2020
What I've noticed about the most successful people in my life is that they move things forward, and quickly.

A story

Out of college, I worked at a startup, and I started there with a guy (my good friend) who was also right out of college. 

We started at the same level, but he moved up a lot faster than me. He's now one of the biggest executives at that company, and people are always surprised when they hear how young he is.

Since I worked so closely with him, I had an "inside look" at why he rose up so quickly.

What I always remember is how he moved things forward quickly and took action.

For example, back then:

  • when I got an email from a customer, I would "sit on it" for a little bit. Procrastinate it. Think on it. Dilly dally. Wait until I got to my computer to respond.
  • when he got emails, he would immediately respond, delegate, call the right people, reply from his phone, etc.

All told, he was a very effective leader and manager. When something needed to get done, he would get it done. The company could rely on him, and over time, put a lot of trust in him.

I try to take these learnings from my startup days into my own business now. I genuinely feel like I've gotten better at taking action and making decisions - when you have your own business there's nobody to fall back on - but I think there's still a lot of room for improvement.

And it's not just this guy - when I think about other really successful people that I've worked with - this quality is always there.

If you can move things forward every day and not let fear pile things up, it's crazy how far you can get in a month, year, 5 years, and 10.

April 7th, 2020
I came across this amazing YouTube video today that is currently going viral.

Worth a watch.

I remember the Web 2.0 days - I was way younger at the time - and I didn't know how to code, but it was such an exciting time.

People were building things just to build them - and building a "cool website" was all the rage.

Years later, there is basically no more novelty in building something cool or fun. Most APIs are limited, and the internet is filled with bad actors and profiteers.

"Building something cool" was the M.O. of Silicon Valley 10 years ago.

Now, building something cool is completely uncool.

What's cool now seems to be "business", profits, and attention.

I don't have a problem with that - it makes sense.

It's like when we went to the moon. We went to the moon because it was fucking cool. But we don't go to the moon anymore - probably because it doesn't make much business sense.

Why did I get into programming and building products? It was because I wanted to build something cool. Of course, the money that is attached to tech companies is great too.

I have this "rush" when I'm building a new thing, coding an exciting feature, or the moment my code "works" - I've always had it since I built my first web app.

It's hard to explain but it's almost a "childlike" feeling - it's similar to the feeling of opening presents on Christmas morning or being in a toy store.

It's a feeling that I chase to some degree.

It makes me think though - if deep down - that's my true passion - maybe I'm not cut out to be a "businessman"? Maybe I'm better as an engineer, a builder, or a tinkerer...

That's a scary thought.

But I don't believe that people are born "some way" - we all have strengths and weaknesses and some of the best CEOs are engineers at heart.

Anyways, going back to that video - the idea is that we should build stuff because we can - even though it is a guarantee it will break and die.

Because it's not about what you build, it's about the ideas you're putting in to the world and the story you tell.

My code is not interesting. It's the words I'm writing right now that are interesting. Without the code, there is no story. Without code, there is no daily blog!

April 6th, 2020
tl;dr

I came up with an idea for “side project marketing” on Saturday morning, coded it in a few hours, and quickly launched Sunday night (about 36 hours from idea to launch, 36 hours total, about 6-8 hours to build).

Here is the project. It's a collection of email templates to help you say "no" in many situations.

The project hit #1 on Product Hunt and the front page of Hacker News. It’s also been shared hundreds of times on Twitter

The end result was about 35k visitors to the project in 24 hours, about 200 signups to Pigeon, and 3 paying customers (so far). Although slowing a bit now, traffic keeps coming in.

People have also sent me screenshots of it being shared on Reddit (40k upvotes!)

Here’s a short write up about the process of:

  • coming up with the idea
  • building quickly and getting fast feedback
  • launching it

This post is mainly about the "side project marketing" side of things, which some of you might find interesting.

But why is saying no important? Here's a great video.

GA over the last 4 days

Side project marketing

“Side project marketing” means building fun or interesting apps / websites that also market your project in some way.

If successful, it can generate sales and awareness about your business, as well as build strong backlinks to your domain. Harry Dry wrote a great piece on it.

I’ve also heard of successful companies like Hubspot and Buffer talk about "side projects" like these being integral to their early success. For example, Hubspot's website grader has analyzed over 2M sites - that's 2M potential customers.

Sometimes these projects are a bit "silly" - so founders don't talk about them as much (just a theory of mine). However, if you look closer, you'll hear founders talk about them as a big part of the "early days".

So this got me excited - I wanted to try something!

Coming up with the idea

I wanted to build something for my app Pigeon - a Gmail CRM and productivity tool.

It’s pretty easy to build something interesting around “email” - everyone has and uses email.

So I started looking up email projects that performed well on Product Hunt. I found this one and this one.

I started thinking about how I could do something similar, but still unique. I wanted to build something for more “everyday people” - not something like sales or marketing emails…

And then it hit me - I shot a message to my friend who I was brainstorming with: 

“maybe something like 'everyday emails' where we just show off nice templates you can use in everyday life like “turn down meeting” or “how to say no template” (seen this by Tim Ferriss)”

Then I knew it. “Email templates for how to say no!”

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about how I can get more done - and the biggest thing for me is to be working on the right things. And that means saying no to a lot of things.

Building the app

Once it 'clicked', I got really excited about the idea so I put together a quick checklist in 5 minutes and started building it on the spot.

I started with a few examples, like the Tim Ferriss and Casey Neistat one.

I used no tooling. The “data” is hardcoded into the ruby files, and the filtering and stuff is about 20 lines of jQuery + a bunch of CSS (much of it recycled Starter Story styling).

Instead of building it on a whole new domain, I thought it would make more sense as a "project" on Starter Story - with all the styling wiped out. So it still "feels" like a new site, but I don't have to manage a new domain and pay for more hosting, configure analytics, etc etc.

I also want Starter Story to gain domain authority with things like this.

To build the initial prototype took me about 2 hours.

Getting feedback

I then shot it off to 5 or 6 people to get early feedback.

I will be honest, the first prototype was shit - getting this feedback is what made the project successful.

After getting feedback:



This work took another ~4 hours.

I can’t stress how important this step was. To be honest, I'm really bad at asking for feedback and asking for help in general. I’m trying to get better.

Getting this feedback was the fastest and most effective way to get this project done quickly and get it done right!

Thank you to Harry, Steph, Andrey, Pieter, Fabrizio, Armin & Melanie for their feedback over the weekend.

Launch

Honestly, I didn’t want a side project like this to interfere with “more important” things, so I wanted to get the thing launched right away - I decided to “launch” on Monday.

I had very low expectations for it, which I think is important for anything like this. We should have low expectations so we don’t spend weeks something that will likely flop. I thought this one had a good chance of flopping.

I scheduled it on Product Hunt for Monday morning, woke up early, tweeted about it - and then BOOM it took off!

Once it started “taking off” I made more changes that needed to be made and started sharing around other places like Hacker News.

And that’s pretty much it. 

Lesson learned: If you have a cool idea, just build it and have fun!

Ok, back to work now

April 5th, 2020
For context on this:


So, time to decide my new April skill.

It will be:

Side project marketing / PR stunts

One thing that I see time and time again from successful bootstrapped startups is the power of side project marketing, or "engineering as marketing", or PR / publicity stunts.

These are fun little side projects or ideas that don't always work, but when they do, they can be really big.

I felt this firsthand when I launched a startup in 24 hours. I got 1500 new followers on Twitter overnight.

For this month of April, I want to:

  • Launch a couple side project marketing projects
  • Research PR stunts and other unique ideas
  • Do something crazy

Some things that inspire me:


I've actually been working on something this weekend - I will be launching it tomorrow on Product Hunt! Stay tuned.

Update: here it is.

April 4th, 2020
(this is a backdated journal entry)

I missed a day!

If I miss a day of writing, I have to donate some money or support indie software.

This donation is to Meals on Wheels (provides seniors and handicapped with meals to their homes). I wanted to help something COVID related.

If you're also thinking of donating to help COVID related causes, here's a great article on all the ways you can.

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April 3rd, 2020
It's late Friday night.

Went deep into a coding hole tonight trying to figure out how competitors do "shared inbox" inside Gmail with the Gmail API.

After hours of being dumbfounded, I finally figured it out!! 

My mind couldn't stop thinking about it - I couldn't turn it off until finally at 10pm I got a "hello world" example to work...

They use the "import" function / API call of the Gmail API.

It's pretty rad.

April 2nd, 2020
I'm moving towards a freemium model with Pigeon.

I'm going against a lot of advice from people I know. A lot of people are telling me it's a bad idea.

If I didn't go freemium, then my MRR would probably not have dropped in the last couple of weeks.

It's a bit scary - I haven't had an upgrade in over a week now.

I have a whole new set of problems to figure out, like better onboarding, figuring out how to convert free users, and loads of more problems that I don't even know I have yet.

The reality is that I don't know what I don't know.

So why go freemium? After working on the project for a year and seeing a lot of things (customers, acquisition, competitors, the market), I honestly just have a "gut feeling" it's the right move. That's it. I wish I had a better answer.

There is a very good chance that I'm wrong.

I find it exciting though - I feel that it is a big step for my growth as a founder and how to build a software company.

I listened to a podcast with Ajay Goel - founder of Gmass - and one of the reasons he has done what he's done is because of his aspirations to have an impact on the world, and how that shows through his businesses.

I very much relate to that.

You can build a successful company that has 10 customers. You can also build an unsuccessful company that has 1M customers. Which one is better? I'm not saying one of them is, but I know that I personally would prefer the latter.

Why? One reason is that I get excited about what I would learn while building a business for 1M customers. It sounds like the "unknown" - maybe I won't like it? I don't know, but I have to find out.

It's a bit hard for me to put into words why all of this, and it helps to write it, but maybe it comes down to my ego. I want to have that "impact", I want to be "known".

It's just that I'm not really all that interested in building an indie business, getting successful, and then going on autopilot and sitting by the beach. 

I see what I'm doing now as a vehicle/"experience" for my future - when I'm 35, and when I'm 40, and when I'm 50.

-

(these are developing thoughts, more to come soon hopefully)

April 1st, 2020
(this is an excerpt from my monthly open startup email)

March 2020, tldr:

The elephant in the room is, obviously, coronavirus - with markets crashing and the entire world distracted, it felt like the end for a minute there... In early March, organic traffic plunged down 40% and there were many days with no sales at all.

But as the month went by things started to "normalize" for us and we tried our best to stay focused. Overall, March was a very productive month and we kept our focus on increasing the value of the Starter Story membership and moving Pigeon to a freemium model.

We hit all of our goals for the month.

Thank you to the whole team for an awesome month - it's so impressive how much we are getting done together. Because we run such a lean operation, we we will be able to make it through a darker period and come out even stronger.

the good

- Seeing really nice Starter Story MRR increases (+$300 MRR) from adding value to the premium membership and showing readers that it actually exists (i.e. including it in our newsletter).
- The Starter Story community is launched and rolling - lots to learn here but the future looks good (100+ members as of now).
- We launched the Start page and over 8 how-to guides - with the goal to provide readers with something more similar to a "course".
- We launched Pigeon freemium - I believe this is the next step for growth (through Chrome Web Store, G Suite Marketplace, content marketing channels, etc).
- Although traffic was down, it's looking better in the last couple of days (see below image).

the bad

- Significantly less traffic, email signups, and new memberships
- A few big cancellations / "putting subscriptions on pause" for Pigeon - MRR is lower than last month

Numbers:

- Total Revenue: $8,661 (88% Starter Story / 12% Pigeon) (-$237)
- Starter Story Traffic: 492k pageviews (traffic down 10% MoM)
- Pieces of content published: 110! (highest all-time)
- Email List: 12,511 total subscribers (+500 net subscribers)
- Starter Story Premium MRR: $1.5K (highest all time) (+$300 MRR)
- Pigeon MRR: $1.05K (-$50 MRR)

(I'm no longer tracking traffic in GA, as I've discovered it's not very accurate because so many users have the script blocked!)

What got done / what went well:


- Stripe integrations to automate failed payments and cancel subscriptions
- Created automated outreach system that allows us to input in a type of business (i.e. dog walking business) and get loads of leads that we can reach out to for interview
- Did 6 AMAs with founders in our community - example
- Made site changes to expose the premium membership more throughout the site + in the newsletter
- A smoother signup process for Starter Story premium
- A few new Pigeon features: New suggested actions feature, inline images in sequences/templates, bulk delete sequences, better documentation pages, order sequences/collections

Goals for April:

I'm trying a "less is more" approach to goals this month:

- Fully deploy Pigeon content marketing (hire someone, plan the content, let them go)
- Launch Pigeon as a G Suite Add On
- Launch Pigeon for Teams / Shared Inbox features
- 100+ pieces of content on starter story
- Finish the how-to guides, continue to push out more "roundup-type" content
- Continue experimentation with the community and find what works
- Continue experimenting with the Starter Story paywall and possibly some AB tests

Thanks for reading!

March 31st, 2020
For context on this:


Unlike February's skill, this one was a big success! Here's what I learned and some examples of how I applied this knowledge:

I learned how to be more consistent

I learned about color palettes, well, I learned that it's a whole lot easier to use a scale for each color, this is how I have my CSS files set up now:

In my code, I'm not concerned with hex, I just use the variable "blue3", it makes things so much easier and consistent

Also works great for padding and font sizes.

I redid the entire landing page for Pigeon:

More screenshots from the new Pigeon landing page:


I added more color to the spreadsheet view, which makes things look sooooooo much nicer:

Just some simple colors make a huge difference.


I also redid the sidebar for Pigeon: video.

Overall, here's my takeaways and some things I learned:

  • Don't reinvent the wheel - what other (successful) sites are doing probably works, esp from a conversion perspective
  • Design/UI is fun and it's just like coding - every day you get better and learn new tricks up your sleeve
  • Use Dribbble for inspiration
  • There is not very much good content out there on modern design
  • Refactoring UI is the best money you'll ever spend
  • ASK FOR FEEDBACK from people - it really helps.

Really stoked on this new "skill"! I'm not sure what my hobby will be for April. I will come up with it by tomorrow though!

March 30th, 2020
It's almost April, and I had big plans for April, May, & June.

I was going to live in New York City and have a blast. That's not happening anymore.

I'm predicting that this virus thing won't be over for at least two months.

This brand new month of April coming up? We will all be quarantined. May? Likely same thing.

It's time to get used to this way of life and seize the opportunity. These next two months are going to be huge for me.

Luckily, I'm in a spot where I have some money, some businesses, and some TIME to work on them. These next two months are a time to push everything forward - to take advantage of a moment where I have nothing else to do!!

This is fucking exciting!! I'm pumping my fists in the air right now.

A clear schedule. No social obligations. No commitments. No pressure.

We will look back at this time and be nostalgic. There will be memes about this - "Take me back to 2020 when it was socially acceptable to not leave the house for weeks."

I like to think of the other businesses (like my competitors) where their employees are sitting around with nothing to do, "WFH life", their projects falling apart, productivity going down, nonchalant attitude, and everyone just "waiting" for this to be over.

Well, it ain't gonna be over anytime soon, and they might also lose their job in the meantime.

I need to be the antithesis of that.

If I can have this mentality, it will all go by faster, and I'll be way happier, too.

March 29th, 2020
I got a really nice email from a reader, which I'd love to show, as well as my own response.

For anyone reading this, I invite you to email me your thoughts about anything I write, anytime. My email is [email protected]:

---

(excerpt)

In “Ask and you shall receive”, you expanded on a buffet of feelings so many of us have felt in this software/entrepenuer/whatever you want to call it space. I had a few thoughts on how you are positioning your business to yourself that I hope you’ll consider.

  1. Identifying your desire to not feel guilty when charging your customers money, is awesome. You’re way ahead of most people in knowing you need your customers to buy in to continue to enable you providing value to them! 
  2. Invite yourself to feel guilty when you don’t charge people for value, because when you don’t sustain your business and furthermore yourself you deprive your most loyal fans of you and your business’ service.
  3. Value is subjective. You customers aren’t paying you what your service is worth, they are paying what you your asking price because what you provide is worth more than the money they have. I’m reminded of a Jerry Seinfeld interview where Jerry was asked if he had a favorite joke. He responded to the interviewer that it was a silly question because comedy for him is like breathing and therefore his favorite joke was the joke that would get him to the next joke. The haunting reality of it all, is that this isn’t true just for Jerry Seinfeld and his jokes, but for each and every one of us along with the craft we choose to pursue. Your most valuable product or service is the one that enables you to sell the next one, and so on. What seems like snake oil to you may well be holy water for someone else. And fortunately, we live in a time and place where we get to choose what will be our holy water and what will see as snake oil.

To a community of people, you have a holy water for them. But remember, even Jesus, with a billion followers and churches from Chile to Cechnya, has more haters than followers. It should remind us that there will be more people who either hate us or are indifferent to our efforts but remember we don’t work for them. We work for the few who get value from what we bring to the table.

Starter Story to enough people is life-changing encouragement; value your holy water accordingly.

In “Silver Lining”, you gifted all of us a candid look into your life. In fact, I enjoy that we are seeing more of this from creators on the internet in the times we are in. But your blog post stopped me in my tracks for a moment. I leaned back and thought, you know what, what if all the other stuff was silver lining stripped away, and the things we are actually enjoying now is the real gold of life. You said it succinctly yourself in your fourth bullet:

Things will be fine

In fact, it is possible with less driving alone, our countries average of 40,000 vehicular deaths a year may lower this year, off setting the loss of life we are so attentive to with this virus threat. Not that any loss of life is not cause for contemplation, but it seems in this moment we have all considered what’s most important and realized maybe in our time before all this, we were mining for silver when we were already sitting on gold.

---

My response (excerpt):

On the first points, you're right - value is subjective - it's crazy to think about. What seemed valuable to me years ago is no longer all that valuable to me, but I can't let my own perspective get in the way. For example, content on "how to start a business" is not worth much to me anymore but it may be worth $5,000 to someone just starting out where it does actually change their life. I need to be more cognizant of that. It helps when I hear from people that Starter Story changed their life or just get thank you emails and that kind of thing.

But even selling SaaS software, because I know how to code and automate things, I take things like that for granted. What seems dead simple to me may be a breakthrough for someone else. This goes back to even some of my corporate days when I would teach clients things, but I would assume "they knew what I knew" and then they would get confused because I skipped a step. Then I would see someone else explain XYZ in more simpler terms and then the clients had the "aha" moment and everything clicked.

I think as engineer-types we make this mistake a lot - and I'm trying to find better ways to prevent this before it happens, I guess asking more of the right questions and listening more... Maybe you have some ideas to get better at this?

As far as having haters, you are 100% right on that. I think about this a lot. We don't realize it now, but the ones with haters have the biggest impact.

Trump, Kanye, Elon Musk, Oprah, Mark Zuckerberg, etc (just examples) - personally I don't pay much attention to their policies/opinions or what they did last week - but I'm constantly enamored with their ability to "not back down" from criticism or shame or public embarrassment. They are unbreakable - nothing can affect them. Even "scandals" of the biggest proportions barely affects them in the grand scheme.

As for coronavirus - yes - once the dust settles people will look at their bank statements during this time period and realize that they got by just fine spending nothing, and hopefully will also realize they were happier during this time. I'm excited for this to be over and see what people say about it and how it changes our generation....

March 28th, 2020
I live my life with a strong sense of urgency.

For most hours of the day, I'm focused on something.

Focused on getting work done. Focused on growth. Focused on writing. Focused on running. Focused on some family stuff. Focused on friends. Etc.

Especially in recent months - I've just been working really hard and I'm pretty much "always working" - even on weekends and holidays.

But today was different.

I completed some "big" goals on Friday (yesterday) and it feels like I'm at a new "crossroads" with my products. Because I completed these projects, I'm thinking "what's next"? And I really don't know.

So that feels a bit weird.

Also, with COVID-19 there's not really much to do. So even though "I got all my work done", it felt like there was nothing to do.

It was nice. I haven't felt like this in a really long time.

At first, I "created" work for myself. I'm thinking about new growth channels and how to "take the next big leap". But I don't really know how I'm going to do this.

So I started taking notes from blog posts and listening to some podcasts from founders of companies I'd like to emulate.

But then I realized I was just creating work for myself because I don't know how to not work.

I went on a walk. The streets were empty. Just ambulances, police cars, and Amazon Prime delivery trucks.

My walk had no sense of urgency. I wasn't thinking about the work I needed to do when my walk was over (which I usually do).

I walked into a sunny parking lot and just stood there - with my Bose headphones blasting Big K.R.I.T. - pumping my fists when the songs hit my favorite parts.

In the middle of the parking lot, I was surrounded by huge buildings in the middle of downtown Salt Lake City - but all these buildings are completely empty - I felt like I was in the movie I Am Legend.

It feels like the world has come to a standstill - it's so strange.

March 27th, 2020
I don't have anything insightful to say right now.

Tackled another nasty bug today - it keeps showing me that I need need need to focus more on testing. Both unit testing and QA/integration stuff.

I also have to accept that there will be bugs. There are always bugs in all software.

Billion-dollar companies have bugs. Slack has gone down for hours for all customers at times - which is just crazy to think about.

I'm in this accountability group with a couple friends where we post our monthly and daily goals. One of the things we've been talking about in the group is to "have less goals" or be more focused with our goals.

My goals for March were:

  1. Launch the Starter Story community
  2. Get Pigeon freemium ready for mid-April launch

What's crazy is that it's March 27th and I already accomplished both of those goals - and especially, I got #2 done before March was even over.

I'm really excited for April - because I'm going to set bigger goals, but still, just 2 or 3 of them.

Again, I keep thinking about Peter Thiel's quote:

Take your 10-year life plan and ask, Why can't I do this in six months?

This quote obviously a bit of hyperbole, but it keeps me thinking about what's possible and how I can hack my own limits.

David Goggins' Can't Hurt Me book also had me thinking like this as well.

It's just so inspiring to hear of people that did extraordinary things - some of my questions are... 

  • What makes them like this? 
  • How did they hack their own brain to think like this? 
  • What happened in their life that made them like that?

I want to learn more about this.

March 26th, 2020
Today sucked.

The post-Corona cancellations for Pigeon are finally starting to roll in. 

3 cancellations in 24 hours. 

I think Pigeon will dip below $1K MRR soon.

I also had a nasty bug today that I spent over 3 hours on.

Days like this really bring on the doubts and echo the naysayers:

  • "You can't build a SaaS alone."
  • "You don't know anything about good design or UI."
  • "You're not technically savvy enough for this."
  • "You're never going to win this battle."
  • "Your vision is too big."
  • "You don't have a market."

And the list goes on.

The bigger question: "Can I actually do it?"

I took a break after all this mayhem and searched "Kanye motivation". I found this video.

It pumped me back up again - Kanye talking about how he got into fashion when everyone told him he couldn't - or that he rapped when everyone told him he could only make beats.

I need to visualize more like this - embrace the haters - embrace the doubt - use that as tailwind to do the things that I (or others) believe that I can't.

Fear, fear's a powerful thing. I mean it's got a lot of firepower. If you can figure out a way to wrestle that fear to push you from behind rather than to stand in front of you, that's very powerful. I always felt that I had to work harder than the next guy, just to do as well as the next guy. And to do better than the next guy, I had to just kill. And you know, to a certain extent, that's still with me in how I work, you know, I just... go in.

- Jimmy Iovine

March 25th, 2020
I've been thinking (and acting) on this new idea of "working on the most important thing".

I'm trying to actually live up to that motto.

I used to set aside time every morning to write this daily journal. But I found that the mental energy of writing a journal could take away from more important things.

So I decided that I should not be doing this daily journal in the morning along with other non-important things.

It's going very well for me, but I'm still committed to doing this daily journal.

However, that means that I write this journal at the end of the day when I'm fried. Instead of having ideas flowing and excitement about writing, I'm often just going through the motions and just getting something posted.

But that's OK! I will go through different phases. Sometimes, I'm thinking deeply and writing deeply, and sometimes I'm just grinding and being productive.

Right now is a productive phase for me, but I know that will change - who knows what/when will be the next phase.

When I started this daily journal, I told myself I could write anything - and sometimes that can just be a checklist of what I did that day, or literally one word, or some quoted lyrics - who cares...

March 24th, 2020
What's the silver lining behind the coronavirus?

Some things I've noticed:

  • It has brought my family closer together - we talk a lot more and do a daily FaceTime.
  • It has brought my friends closer - I've been more connected to my buddies over Zoom calls, texts and FaceTimes.
  • It's showing people that you can live with less - you don't need the fancy gym classes to get a workout and you don't need to have Starbucks every day.
  • It's showing people that we can simply shut things down and things will be fine - we literally moved the Olympics to a different year - something that seems impossible became a reality.
  • It's showing people that the world can come together with a common goal - to get rid of the virus.
  • It gives everyone something common to talk about - we can all relate to each other - no matter our race, political affiliation, etc.

I don't want to downplay the virus as it's a horrible thing and I wished it never happened, but those are the silver linings I've been thinking about.

Hopefully, this whole thing ends soon.

March 23rd, 2020
Over the past week, I've been working on a project at Starter Story with my sister to help give her some work and because I really need help with content writing.

I told her to check out a few of my competitors and tell me why they are making more money than me.

So she put together a document of why that might be, and we went over it together and created a plan of action.

What was her conclusion? That the website simply doesn't show users that you can pay for this premium membership.

It was so hidden away. I was afraid to ask people for money.

Part of this is because we have a "sponsor model", but also part of it was my fear of looking greedy.

Our "action plan" took about two days to implement.

It was simple things such as "put the signup button in the header" and "email to your list about your premium content".

After making these changes, I'm seeing noticeable increases in signups and revenue.

We're going to keep working on this now and follow the money - add more premium content and paywall more things.

I need to understand that Starter Story has enabled so many people - and it's always been free. 

I need to be more OK with charging money. I need to be more OK with an angry customer or two.

This is one of my problems - I feel guilty for every Stripe charge that comes in. I feel like shit for every churn. I carry that burden with me always. 

I don't understand how people sell snake oil courses or vaporware - like I just can't imagine how they feel everytime they take money without providing value.

But that's what makes them great at what they do...