In the last email I wrote that I believe the “New American Dream” is getting paid for being yourself — and that the way to do this as a creator working online is to build a Personal Monopoly.
“A Personal Monopoly is the unique intersection of your knowledge, personality, and skills that nobody else can compete with.”David Perell
This is something that I’m actively in the process of discovering for myself.
Work in Public
My natural inclination is to do that work in private and then re-emerge to show the world once I’m done.
That’s my “default” setting, to operate like a theater troupe. Rehearse behind closed doors until you’ve got it down pat. Then put on the performance.
Even now, as I write this, I’m grappling with an inner voice that urges me, “Stop. No need to write this… Don’t be vulnerable… You can tell everyone about it once you’ve got it all figured out… Besides, who would want to read this?”
But that’s not a good idea, for two reasons:
- I might never be “done”
- The internet, and modern culture more generally, rewards working in public and being vulnerable. Everybody wants a peek behind the scenes. A table with a view of the kitchen.
This passage from Chase Jarvis’s book Creative Calling resonates:
“It would serve my ego nicely to rush through my own struggles on the creative path to get to the part where some magical epiphany told me exactly what I was about and what I wanted to do with my life. It was never that simple. It still isn’t. I’m on the path with all its twists and turns, and I always will be. Sometimes it’s hard and confusing.”
Work in Progress
So, with all of that said, what’s my Personal Monopoly?
I made the diagram below to organize my thoughts (yes, I make diagrams for myself).
This is something I’ve been chipping away at for a few years. And even though I’ve probably sketched about 57 of these on paper before making this digital version, it still feels like a rough draft.
It feels rough, not because of the formatting, but because the ideas and how they intersect are all still coming together in my mind.
Part of the challenge is that I’m trying to draw a circle around a bunch of different ideas and things that I’ve done in my own life. A circle that covers both my previous professional experience and my current personal interests.
Some days I think I’ve already got it all figured out. Some days I think, I’ve got to get it all boiled down to a single sentence like:
“Strategies for people who want to live life on their own terms”
“Self-improvement for people who don’t want to be normal”
And other days I think, “what a meaningless word salad”. Whether I come up with a compressed phrase or put a bunch of keywords on a diagram, it doesn’t really help anyone else.
The real question is…
Who do I want to serve? And how can I help them?
My aim is to inspire and help people who want to escape from the boring “default life plan” as I call it, find freedom, and create a life they love.
That includes people who have followed all the rules so far in life: they went to school, studied hard, and got a “good job”, but they’re not happy — something’s missing.
It also includes students and other young people who’ve figured out in advance that that they don’t want to follow the path that society prescribes. They want something different.
And it includes people who are already on this journey, forging their own path, and who want to “find the others” as Seth Godin likes to say.
What we have in common is that we all want to feel like we’re doing the thing that we were put on this earth to do, instead of wasting our lives with meaningless busywork just to pay the bills.
We want freedom and adventure. Interesting life experiences.
And we crave community — to connect with other people who think the same way. A counter-balance to the “regression to the mean” influence from family, friends, and society.
All of that is the ideal. The direction I’m heading. But it’s very much a work in progress. I’m not actually in the business of taking people’s money and coaching them to become digital nomads or online entrepreneurs.
So what am I actually working on these days?
The ideas above are the inspiration for this newsletter and my Never Normal Podcast. I started both in the past year and I’m still finding my groove and getting into the habit of creating content consistently.
My actual business — the way I earn a living — is through my consulting work at Nampora (I create digital strategies and build websites for clients).The other thing I’m working on is Quality Questions. It’s a weekly email and online community for self improvement, based on the idea that, “The quality of your life is determined by the quality of the questions you ask yourself.”
You might remember I started Quality Questions as a side project with my friend Justin at the beginning of the year. So far, it’s all been one big experiment (and totally free).
This week we’re inviting people to join as founding members of the community (you can read more here if you’re curious).
Not a subscriber?
I write occasional emails to share what I’m thinking, learning, and doing. It’s all related to the idea of breaking free from the “default plan” in life.
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