Noshings #5

I’m a big proponent of experimenting with businesses — testing quickly (and cheaply) and possibly failing at some. I also believe in taking care of one’s team.

This is probably why I found Justin Jackson’s post about his journey with Transistor inspiring and insightful. Jackson took the business from 0 to $30k monthly recurring revenue in just under a year. What I really liked was that each month, half the revenue went to paying the co-founders.

No-code tools these days make it really easy to get a minimum viable product up. Some people compare writing code to using a pro DSLR camera, while no-code is like using a smartphone camera. When it comes to taking photos, I know which one I prefer. 

Lego has some really cool ideas for the innovation process. They’ve even created a stage called “pretotypes” which comes before prototypes. They’re super low fidelity, as well as quick to develop and test. 

After finding something that works and is generating some kind of revenue, further planning is required for growth. There are ways to plan effectively. This article has some learnings from Eventbrite and Airbnb

If you want to get something attractive up quickly (and cheaply), Open Doodles is a cool resource for illustrations to snazz up your landing pages. Created by Pablo Stanley, who was also behind Humaaans.

When

These days, I can typically track how busy I’ve been by how many days go by between each of my blog posts. Since I started doing this, I’ve missed days at least twice (if not more). 

This is the longest it’s been between postings. But it wasn’t totally because I was busy. 

The truth is, I’ve been dejected. In September, I wrote two pieces for submission — one fiction, one creative non-fiction. Neither one made the cut. 

Since the start of the year, I’ve been questioning my ability as a writer. And suddenly, hit with these two rejections, one of which I didn’t even really care about getting into, my entire professional identity came into question. 

Who was I, if not a writer? And could I even call myself a writer if I wasn’t getting published enough? 

Even as I hit milestones in the other work I do, I wonder why this hasn’t been happening for my writing. 

What if this was as far as I could go? The thought frightened me. 

So I worked on other things. I read books, played games. The blank screen suddenly seemed like the scariest thing in the world. 

But then I remembered something I’d read years ago: the answer to the question “when can I call myself a writer”. 

When you write. 

So I keep writing.

Noshings #4

“I’m not sure how I fit into the media industry,” I said to a media consultant earlier this year. 

I still haven’t figured out the answer, yet I follow industry news and how-to articles as if I was still working in media. Perhaps in this day and age, we all are. 

I have been fascinated lately, by reports on how young people consume news. I believe that it’s important information for both media companies, as well as companies that do content marketing. 

Back in 2012, when I still officially a journalist, I was often asked if I was working in a dying industry. It’s 2019, journalism isn’t dead yet and I still believe now what I did then: journalism will evolve. Rasmus Nielsen who is the Director of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism wrote a beautiful essay about the fight for the future of journalism

I’ve been experimenting with podcasting for a while now. I get decent sound quality by recording in a quiet room with no moving air (no fans / air-conditioners). This article in journalism.co.uk provides six tips for getting even better audio quality.

My other obsession currently is newsletters. Anne-LaureLe Cunff shared a case study on how she used ProductHunt to launch her newsletter and got 2,000 news subscribers via the platform.

This article on the Global Investigative Journalism Network about how English is “skewing the global news narrative” was thought-provoking. Does having good English equate to being a good journalist? What sort of news goes international? 

Test

One of my hobbies is testing out website builders and content management systems (CMS). I recently got around to building a proper website on Squarespace and this time around, it seemed a lot easier to use. 

Got this basic website up in about half an hour. Blog posts are from the demo.

Previously, I couldn’t get over the fact that the only way to access the CMS was through the page builder and that put me off working on the pages. 

But after today, I realise that the website building experience is actually a lot simpler compared to WordPress (which is usually my first choice). 

It also has email marketing built into the website, which can be convenient. There’s no need to sign up for separate marketing software. 

On the other hand, I don’t love the fact that, compared to WordPress, there’s limited flexibility in terms of design. It’s also slightly more expensive and there’s no free tier. 

The email marketing plans are also on the pricy side, compared to tools like Mailchimp, Mailerlite (current favourite for marketing) or Substack (current favourite for content). 

In terms of analytics, Squarespace again provides a lot of convenience with their built-in analytics, which is comprehensive enough. Using it means one doesn’t have to set up Google Analytics (Google Search Console still required though). 

After trying it out this time, I’d say I would probably use Squarespace to build a portfolio website or a content website with a fixed focus but likely not as a personal blog. 

Fantasyland

Hours turn into days, and days into weeks. Even as she sleeps or tip-tap-types on her laptop, her mind is only halfway present in the world that her body exists in. 

Most of it is alive in Fantasyland

There, she spies on the lives of Men Without Women. She relives the events that led to the Animal Liberation movement. She follows Egwene through her training to become Aes Sedai. 

Sometimes she dives through the curtain of words and lives for days in the world between those book covers, half emerging only to eat or sleep (only when she absolutely has to). 

Walking through the “real world” is like being underwater. Everything feels like too much, and yet, everything feels muted.

She resents the tasks that require her mind to remain solid within her body, never allowed to wander (or wonder). The feel of her skin, pulled tight against her spirit gives her blisters. 

Even as her face puts on a smile and her legs take her from point A to B, she is drifting. She longs to go on The Great Hunt, to try to understand The Soul of an Octopus. 

She wants to escape. She wants to go home.

Forgiveness

Some people are difficult to get along with, and that’s okay. Humans have their curves and rough edges. Their different personalities and idiosyncrasies.

I’m learning to accept people for who they are. I may not always like the things they do, but then again, who always likes the things I do? I have my rough edges as well.

It’s possible to respect someone without liking them. To admire some of their traits, even though they have others that completely goes against your values.

To disagree and still be able to hear each other out. To be on completely opposite sides of the fence but still be able to care about each other anyway.

It’s possible, and perhaps even required, to treat someone with human dignity even if you hate them.

It’s possible to forgive someone who’s tried and is still trying to destroy your life.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean we’re rolling over and giving up. It means that we’re strong enough to get over things and move on. To not let someone else’s negative actions affect us.

To realise that a person has to be in so much pain in order to want to cause that kind of pain to someone else. And instead of feeling anger or the need to retaliate, show graciousness instead.

Noshings #3

I’ve been a reflective phase the last week and thus, have been struck the most by content that’s somewhat related to reflection and self-examination. 

I found this post about how one should “cross the world four times” very beautifully written. I’ve only crossed the world once and I’m not sure if I did all I could have done. Now that I’ve read this, perhaps I’ll do better when I cross the world for the second time.

Carl Sagan’s paper on The Art of Baloney Detection provides some tools for “skeptical thinking”, which I felt was important seeing as I’ve been reading a bit about the treatment and eating of animals in Animal Liberation

Sidenote: I subscribe to the Fermat’s Library newsletter, which sends a “paper of the week” each week. It’s a great way to read academic writing from a range of different topics. 

After reading Josh Spector’s post on how being specific can help one’s success, I realised that I tend to be a little too vague at times. Spector provides five areas where being specific can be especially helpful. 

Sam Andrew left his hedge fund job after nine years working in finance to travel the world. He shares some of the lessons he’s learned after “a year of discovery”. One thing he’s learned is that one should “enjoy the journey”.

He writes, “If the journey is not fulfilling, don’t fool yourself into thinking the destination will miraculously bring you fulfilment.

I also found this Simon Sinek video on how to measure success quite insightful. He says that the metrics that we use to measure success is incomplete. For example, there are metrics to measure performance, but none to measure trustworthiness.