I’ve resisted the thought of blogging personally for many years.
While I am an active consumer of many blogs, both personal and professional, I never thought of myself as someone who would have a blog.
The visceral reaction I had (and still have, to some degree) to most bloggers is that they are overly self-promoting, trying to monetize an audience, or overemphasizing their importance in the world.
It was with this cynical perspective that I viewed almost everything related to sharing your thoughts online. I felt that most people sharing to the world did not add any value to the overall conversation, they were just merely contributing to the noise.
I felt writing online should be reserved for the people sharing their reflections after having done impressive things, trained academics sharing their research, or entertainers (and those aspiring to entertain).
But when I started to examine that narrow belief, I looked at the blogs and people that I resonated with most, and I noticed similarities in their “come-up.” They were once a “nobody,” no impressive company exits or Nobel prizes, just someone trying to make sense of the world and what they were experiencing.
Blog posts I enjoyed reading were written by people that were learning and codifying their lessons for others. Within this new ecosystem, I saw a viable path for me to contribute to the conversation.
And so here we are - my first blog post. But how did I get from my cynicism to here?
Before diving into my reasons for writing publicly, I’ll be sharing all of the reasons why I don’t think I should be writing in the first place.
When I make important decisions, I like to list out all of the reasons it won’t work or what’s going to happen when it fails before making a final decision. I call it my 'Worst Case Post.'
It’s not just that I'm pessimistic and risk-averse by nature. I was inspired by Tyler Cowen, the Lean Startup, and the idea of pitching potential investors on why they shouldn’t invest in your product or idea. Essentially, I pitch myself on why I shouldn’t make this decision.
I do it because I like to think through the worst-case scenario of making the decision and if I can accept that worst-case scenario then I can relinquish my fears and jump in whole-heartedly.
As an example, in 2018, I made the decision to quit a stable, well-paying, management consulting job in NYC to start my own independent consulting practice, all while living in changing locations around the world (or ‘digital nomading’).
This seemed to be a pretty big life decision for me at the time. Essentially, I was rejecting the well-defined career trajectory that I had worked so hard to get on over the first ~26 years of my life. Rejecting the well-worn path of getting into a good university, acquiring the right skills, finding a stable well-paying job, moving up the company/career ladder, and living happily ever after with 2.5 kids.
Facing that type of societal rejection was a challenge.
I decided that the only way I could feel comfortable moving forward was to write a ‘Worst Case Post’ about all the things that would go wrong when I ultimately failed. So I wrote that post on a Bolt Bus ride from NYC to Washington D.C. in December 2017.
I listed out all the bad things that would happen to me after I quit my job and left NYC. While I may write a full post about that decision one day, I’ve listed some of my favorite negative premonitions from that post below:
There’s plenty more in the post, but I think you get the gist.
I pulled into Union Station in D.C. on that same bus trip, reviewed all the reasons I shouldn’t do it - and stepped off the bus more resolved than ever to make it work.
I sold 95% of my worldly possessions, quit my job, and booked a one-way ticket to Indonesia less than six months later.
I’m returning to a slight variation of the ‘Worst Case Post’ once again when confronting the decision on whether to blog.
Now, I don’t want to equate the decision to blog or not with the decision to quit a job and move halfway across the world. But I do think it’s worthwhile to walk through the reasons I’ve resisted doing it over the years and why I’m giving it a shot now.
I shouldn’t be blogging for a number of reasons, but I’ve rolled the ones that I keep coming back to into the following three categories:
There are plenty of sub-reasons that fall into those categories but these are the major themes.
I’m fairly confident that this is the case generally. I don’t think that I’ll be putting together Paul Graham-esque essays anytime soon.
It’s fair to say that 99.999% of the world will have no interest in the things that I write about. There will be people that read this and feel the way I felt (feel?) about most people who write online - that I am overly self-promoting, trying to sell you something, or self-aggrandizing.
These people are not wrong, though I have nothing to sell you. These people are entitled to their beliefs and perceptions.
The reality is that (close to) no one will care that my writing exists on the internet.
I will be the first one to admit that I am not an eloquent writer.
I never took above the bare minimum English classes throughout my university studies. Studying prose and casually flicking through The Elements of Style never interested me (and still doesn’t).
When I thought about writing online, I was horrified to think of how my writing would be perceived by the real writers out there.
While I write every day, whether it be journaling or emails, I’m not very intentional about it outside of asking “Did I get my point across?” Ok - send.
Why would anyone want to read anything from a cut-rate writer when the entirety of the written word exists online?
One of my biggest fears is that I will “Start a blog!” and then get bored with writing a few weeks in and would let it fade into the internet abyss.
Like when I came across someone’s attempt at a blog 10 years ago and the janky blogger.com design and the last stale, sad blog post just sitting there as a reminder of their failed dreams.
As someone who has a bit of a perfectionist complex, publishing something to the world that I didn’t know would become “respectable and consistent” is a tough sell.
I’ll likely let down blogger-guru types who say to publish weekly or else. Jerry Seinfield’s famed productivity chain would be broken and I would see my fate mirror those who I held in contempt.
The short answer is that I’ve shifted my mindset from pleasing others (you reading this) to internal fulfillment. Creating for the sake of creating.
If you read the “Why I Shouldn’t Blog” section and thought “Wow this guy really cares about what people think” you would be spot on.
I realized all of my reasons for not writing had to do with the external perception of what I create. Once I was able to say, “this blog isn’t for other people, it’s for me” I realized I was free to write about anything I want, whenever I wanted on no one’s schedule but my own.
I have nothing to sell you. I have nothing to promote. I don’t think that I have anything, in particular, to say that people need to hear.
I’ve decided not to write for anyone, outside of a younger me. I have no audience in mind. I am writing because I want to - for me. Cue the self-indulgent rainbow streaking across the page to celebrate this revelation...
Outside of shifting my perspective from external to internally focused, there were three main realizations that got me over the hump to write this first post:
Although I feel like after 2+ years of working on creating something from nothing and I’ve learned a bit that could be helpful to others - that’s not the main reason for me being able to write.
Essentially, I’ve removed the pressure I was putting on myself for external validation and realized that writing would have intrinsic value. I hope that the intrinsic value, doing something with no outcome in mind, I realize through writing will allow me to enjoy the act alone.
The short answer is: I’m a nobody and you shouldn’t care. But again, this blog isn’t for you.
Don’t get me wrong, I do hope someone reading this may glean value from what I write, but at the end of the day, I’m just a guy that is trying to learn about the world around him and make sense of his place in it.
I have no important maxims about how anyone else should live. I have no “10 Tips to Succeed in Business!” All I have is my lived experience and some reflections about what I’m learning along the way.
I struggle with how to introduce myself these days. As someone who grew up in the United States, I find myself constantly being pulled into the trap of equating who I am with what I do for an income.
As anyone who’s been to a social gathering in the states can attest to, when you first meet someone there seems to be a ticking clock until one of you asks: “So, what do you do?”
This seemingly benign question, while innocently asked by many, carries strong societal connotations that the person answering should give you a job title or the name of their employer. This seems to be the only acceptable answer.
I’ve tried to reframe this question as of late. I’m trying to ask people that I meet for the first time some variation of the following: “What do you spend the majority of your time doing?”
I’ve found this question allows for more space in the conversation and allows the person answering it to be less constrained in their answer.
So that’s how I’ll answer the question “Who am I?” here, not by equating who I am with my income source but what I spend most of my time doing.
Simply, I am someone who enjoys being curious about the world around me. Most days you’ll find me helping entrepreneurs and startups solve problems, reading, and exploring (new ideas and places). I also try to make time each day to improving my health - physically by working out or learning to cook and mentally by meditating and journaling.
My aim is for this blog to convey who I am and I anticipate the articles to reflect how I am spending my time at the snapshot of time in which I write them.
As a Type A planner and outcome-driven person, this blog is a bit of an experiment.
I’m not approaching this blog with any outcome in mind. I don’t think that this will go viral or be read by more than 100 people - and that’s ok.
I don’t have a plan for this blog. I don’t know what topics I’ll write about. My best guess is that the topics will be about what I’m interested in at the moment. Currently, that is building businesses, entrepreneurship, solving problems, and intentional life design. But that could all change.
I’m writing for the joy of creating something new. I’m going to write when I feel like writing. I’m going to write when something piques my curiosity and I want to capture what I’m learning about it.
And if the experiment fails? I guess you’ll find my 'Worst Case Post’ floating around the internet archives somewhere as a half-way decent prediction.