Here's another quick update from me.

🔥 Highlights

  • I've decided to remove the paywall at Bootstrap.mba and refund everyone who signed up.

    As I explained last time, my primary goal with the experiment was to test if a mindset shifts happens with a paywall. The short answer is yes, but it's not a good one. Creating content suddenly felt like a homework assignment and instead of being a useful accountability took, the fact that people paid money actually demotivated me.

    So I concluded that instead of improving the quality of my content, the paywall would make it worse. I also noticed that the paywall didn't have any effect on what I'm willing to share or write about. It doesn't felt any safer. In addition, I'm happy to share my learnings and stats openly so there's no need for me to "hide" behind a paywall. This wasn't an easy decision as the money I refunded was, at least by my modest standards, a significant amount of money. But I'm convinced that it was the right one.

    In summary, I'd still say that the experiment was a success because I challenged my assumptions and learned a lot. I'll continue to publish monthly "investor updates", recordings of behind-the-scenes calls and all kinds of longform articles on the site. The only thing that has changed is that there's no longer a paywall.
  • After talking to people like Keevin O’Rourke and Rob Sullivan I now understand much better what kind of product I want to create in the opportunities-as-a-service space. You can watch me talk about the idea here.
  • I’m slowly getting better at delegating tasks to my assistant. For example, last week he wrote most of the Indie Drops email for me, and it worked well.
  • I feel like the quality of my podcast episodes has improved a lot now that I’m doing it for a few months. And what made me really happy is that for the first time people started to reach out to me to say that they enjoyed listening to the latest episodes. It’s probably not a coincidence that the last two episodes were with people I’d talked to before.

    Hence, this is what I want to focus on in the future. If you’re talking to someone you’ve just met, it’s hard to stay focused on the topic and a lot of time is “wasted” on discussing their background. Moreover, with changing guests the quality of the episodes will probably always be hit or miss. One great example is the My First Million podcast. While there are occasionally guests on the podcast, most listeners prefer the episodes where it’s just Shaan and Sam. The quality of these episodes is always great and there is zero fluff since they don’t need to start from zero.

    This is why I think it would be ideal if I can find a permanent co-host.

💔 Lowlights

  • I’m currently working on six projects in parallel and feel like I’m spreading myself too thin and not making enough progress. However, the reason why I’m doing this is that I want to reposition my product portfolio around specific use cases, and I’m currently not sure what exactly will work or makes sense at all. (You can read a lot more about product strategy here.)

    Hence, I’m experimenting with different approaches to figure out what’s working. My hope is that I’ll get unstuck next week since I’m now at a point where I feel like I can get some early validation for at least one or two of the projects.
  • I tried to develop an algorithm that helps to predict Substack subscriber numbers using publicly available metrics as input since they shut down the end point I was using to scrape them. At first my code seemed to work okay, but the errors were for some newsletter too large.

    Thus, I hired two machine learning freelancers on Upwork to improve my code. While both made some improvements, the predictions are still not good enough. I’ve put the experiment on hold even though I’m still convinced that it must be possible to make predictions within reasonable error margins.

    Nevertheless, the project wasn’t a complete waste of time and money as I learned a lot, especially from the code improvements made by the freelancers.

☑️ Completed

  • Recorded a podcast episode with Keevin O’Rourke.

📚 Resources

  • This essay on The Creative World’s Bullshit Industrial Complex does a fantastic job at articulating a phenomon I wanted to write about myself for a while now. The most annoying type of content is people giving advice that’s obviously not coming from their own experiences. They are just rehashing what they heard or read elsewhere. There are far too many people that try to sound smart just for the sake of it and publish content even though they have nothing original to add to the conversation. To quote from the essay:

    “Group 1: People actually shipping ideas, launching businesses, doing creative work, taking risks and sharing first-hand learnings.

    Group 2: People writing about group 1 in clear, concise, accessible language. [And here rests the line of bullshit demarcation…]

    Group 3: People aggregating the learnings of group 2, passing it off as first-hand wisdom.

    Group 4: People aggregating the learnings of group 3, believing they are as worthy of praise as the people in group 1.

    Groups 5+: And downward….

    The Complex eventually becomes a full fledged self-sufficient ecosystem when people in group 4 are reviewing books by people in group 3 who are only tweeting people in group 2 who are appearing on the podcasts started by people in group 3.”
  • A relevant observation from Daniel Gross: “What I find interesting about [people I admire] is their career success. It’s not that they wrote a really nice tweet or that they sent to me a joke or a cute thing on WhatsApp. It’s that they’ve made a successful thing. They’re captains of a successful ship.”
  • I’m currently reading a fascinating book called Fun While It Lasted. It’s an autobiography by Bruce McNall who used a simple formula thorough his career: always go where the money is. He started by trading ancient coins, then leveraged the network and knowledge he built this way to become friends with billionaires, make money with racehorses, become the owner of a movie studio and the Los Angeles Kings hockey team.

    It checks all the boxes for me: there are lots of crazy stories, lessons I hadn’t heard elsewhere and interesting glimpses into a world I know nothing about.

Until next time,


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