Coolest Things I Learned Over the Past Year (2021 Edition)

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  1. Communities are for collaborators; platforms are for creators.
  2. People angel invest for social status more so than returns.
  3. Email lists are still the best form of followers. Owned > rented audiences
  4. Most email marketing teams are terrible at creating engaging content.
  5. Content is a lead magnet for communities (i.e. Lenny’s Newsletter, Fintech Today, us).
  6. Avoiding stupidity is easier than being brilliant.
  7. The longer a technology lives, the longer it can be expected to live.
  8. People subconsciously ignore advertisements unless they are formatted to look like valuable content.
  9. If you want to improve your onboarding flow, build a commitment curveand measure each action step.
  10. The internet rewards the unique and ignores the indistinguishable.
  11. Creating things on the internet is one of the most asymmetric bets of all time.
  12. The more you create, the luckier you seem to become.
  13. The internet allows everybody to divorce their time and income. Your goal should be to maximize income with the least hours worked.
  14. It’s impossible to win if you think the same as everybody else.
  15. Distribution > product
  16. Distribution is king in a world of abundance. Look for more deals to be done between retailers / service providers and media companies (Example 1 + Example 2).
  17. One of the greatest limitations of humans is the inability to think non-linearly in a non-linear world.
  18. Your personal brand is your reputation, and your reputation in perpetuity is the foundation of your career.
  19. 95% of software today is built using open-source libraries and APIs. Technology alone is no longer a defensible moat.
  20. We are taught to pursue optionality in all fields, but that is bad advice more often than we think.
  21. Done is better than perfect.
  22. Your perspective on life changes when you realize you can automate away 95% of your work.
  23. Few things have the ability to positively impact your life as much as lifting weights.
  24. Motivation fades; discipline lasts.
  25. Communicating can be trained, and communicating ideas clearly gives you a huge advantage over everybody that can’t.
  26. It’s on you to filter who you take advice from. Surround yourself with good sources of information, and you can expect good pieces of advice.
  27. How you spend your day is how you spend your life.
  28. Writing is one of the highest-leverage activities in human history. It used to take violence in order for people to get their point across; now you can reach millions by typing on a computer.
  29. The longer you talk, the less confident you sound.
  30. Time is the ultimate asset; not money. Would you trade places with Warren Buffett?
  31. Most people go through the motions; few people create the motions. Which one would you rather be?
  32. The day your parents die you become an orphan. Call them more often.
  33. The pros of building in public (creating a narrative, building trust, creating status, allowing for more feedback loops, expanding hiring pool, etc.) considerably outweighs the cons (nobody cares).
  34. Attention is the greatest asset today. Curators are the new creators.
  35. Creators today have more and more ways to monetize their audience than ever before. This used to be a limitation, but now it is a reason for more people to create.
  36. Investing in improving categories that people currently hate (traditional finance, legacy systems, paper-based processes) is a good thesis.
  37. All you need to look for in founders are two things: the ability to hire people and the ability to raise money. Being charismatic makes both of these much easier.
  38. People don’t have short attention spans but they do have short consideration spans. If you’ve made it this far in the list, I salute you.
  39. Emojis improve open and click-through rates. Our open rates improved 12.5% when we added a constant emoji at the beginning of our newsletter title.
  40. If you construct your identity on what you’re a fan of (sports, media, brands), you’re a vessel. If you construct your identity on the things you create, you’re a craftsperson.
  41. The more complicated you speak, the less people will listen to you. True geniuses can explain complex things to a child.
  42. “The dead outnumber the living 14-to-1, and we ignore the accumulated experience of such a huge majority of mankind at our peril.” — Niall Ferguson
  43. Creative work cannot be scheduled (I’ve tried). The only way to be creative is to not be busy.
  44. The average attention span is eight seconds. This is shrinking by the day.
  45. Brand can’t be bought.
  46. There are thousands of startups waiting to create a product that serves the unmet needs of an individual subreddit.
  47. Some advice is timeful; less advice is timeless.
  48. People follow people, not companies, but companies have had an advantage because of the coordination required to build scaled products. That is changing fast.
  49. Equity culture has become labor emulating capital.
  50. 90% of online creators do not make sustainable income; being a part-time creator is the right approach for most.
  51. Create first, edit second. Never do this at the same time.
  52. Relying on ads and merch is the old way for creators to monetize. The next wave of creators will use multiple approaches to maximize fans’ willingness-to-pay.
  53. When building community, density drives destiny. Reduce the number of places for people to interact, and they will start to interact more.
  54. “Your take rate is my opportunity.” (Supporting evidence of market take rates by industry)
  55. People used to get rich through inheritance, extracting natural resources, or doing real estate deals. People today get rich by building tech companies.
  56. Calendars and priorities rarely ever match.
  57. If you want to worry less, you should start amassing a portfolio of small bets.
  58. VCs, founders, and LPs are now optimizing for speed of capital deployment. If you want to invest in the best deals, you will have to be comfortable doing little (if any) diligence.
  59. Doing cool shit is a magnet for future opportunity.
  60. It is much harder to bang out menial tasks in nice weather. Plan your life accordingly.
  61. You are the only person responsible for your thoughts.
  62. “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals. At your funeral people will not recall what you did; they will only remember how you made them feel.”
  63. Lions hunt; cows graze. One rules the animal kingdom; the other is prey.
  64. Most people don’t actually want advice when they ask for it.
  65. The best content involves red pills. If you want to capture attention, create something that goes against what society is telling.
  66. If you optimize for the mean, you optimize for nobody.
  67. We’re all playing an infinite online game. The winners over the next decade will be those capable of repeatedly capturing attention.
  68. 1,000 true fans became 100 true fans. NFTs and auction-based pricing continues to lower the number of people you need to impress in order build a sustainable business.
  69. DICE model: collect dots, connect dots, productize.
  70. Playbook to earning trust: help people with no expectation of return
  71. Information sources to the knowledge worker is what diet is to an athlete. Inputs dictate outputs.
  72. People buy from people. Generate social proof (videos > images > quotes), and let your customers sell on your behalf.
  73. If you want more useful answers, learn how to ask better questions.
  74. There are seven ways that people discover new products. Study this to figure out which channel is right for your product.
  75. People can smell templated emails from a mile away. Master cold emailing, and you’ll start creating your own luck.
  76. Reality is largely negotiable. If you find yourself doing the same thing as everybody else, it is time to re-evaluate the decisions that got you here.
  77. Permission marketing = the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them.
  78. The future of venture capital will compete on distribution, and those with distribution will become the most sought after investors.
  79. Nobody cares what you can do. Everybody cares what you can do for them.
  80. The internet treats bad business models as defects and routes around them.
  81. The more efficient the market, the harder it is to find an edge.
  82. People don’t like learning, but they do like being entertained. If you can entertain, you can teach.
  83. Invoking emotions (positive or negative) is the easiest way to sell.
  84. Not wanting something is as good as having it.
  85. Being busy is a lack of freedom, not a medal of honor.
  86. Mediocrity is the path of least resistance. It is also the most competitive.
  87. Resume credentials are dying; online credentials are replacing them.
  88. Content is a magnet. Community is a moat.
  89. 95% of problems are made up in your mind.
  90. Making money is more important than having a career.
  91. Attention has become the most valuable and most expensive currency. The most successful marketing campaigns of the next decade will not look or feel like marketing.
  92. Incentives rule the world. Show me how people are rewarded, and I’ll show you how they behave.
  93. The playbook for wealth creation: optimize your equity stack, loan against your equity, put borrowed capital into cash-flow generating assets to pay down debt, repeat.
  94. Web2 companies can create a moat by creating networks, economies of scale, counter positioning, high switching costs, branding, cornering a resource, or having better processing power. Web3 companies can create moats through liquidity, community, or composability.
  95. Paradox of tribes: to be loved, you must be hated. The binding force of tribes is typically what they stand against (DeFi vs. Wall Street, Conservatives vs. Liberals, etc.).
  96. People overestimate the accuracy of their memory.
  97. You can build a brand by either being exclusive or being popular. You’ll kill a brand if you try to do both.
  98. Commitment becomes more scarce as the world becomes more abundant.
  99. Law of reciprocity: people generally like to pay back what they have received from others. In other words, if you would to expand your circle of influence later in life, you should start doing more favors for people today.
  100. Sharing things on the internet can change your life.