Rob Fitzpatrick — Tinkerers, Thinkers, and Teachers

Reading Time: 44 minutes

Rob Fitzpatrick is a serial entrepreneur, a writer, a community leader, and a very curious human being. I talk to Rob about building an incredibly complicated business, the world of self-publishing, what AI tools can and will do for humanity, and how to build communities that can run by themselves.

Here’s Brandon Sanderson’s class on Indie Publishing.

Today, I’m talking to Rob Fitzpatrick, author of The Mom Test and Write Useful Books. Rob is truly a serial embedded entrepreneur. He’s building resources and tools for writers and product managers, by involving himself in their communities. So we’ll talk about accountability, building trust, and how to build something that both creates wealth and lets you express your passion. Here’s Rob.

How’s it going? How’s life?

Oh, I’m, well. We’ve got our first baby due in a couple of months. So that’s fun. And yeah, apart from that, the businesses like default growing, you know, slowly, but it’s nice if something’s default growing instead of default dying.

Definitely, yeah, much better.

And apart from that, just too many books to write, too many things I’m interested in, you know, just strapped for time. But in a good way, it’s mostly going. There’s too much stuff I’m interested in right now. And not enough time to pull on everything properly.

Has that ever been different for you? Have you ever not been interested in many, many things at the same time?

No. But normally, like, if there’s no other stakeholders, I find it easier to be like, okay, I’m doing this thing, you know. Or there’s a clear top priority and then everything else is a hobby that fills in the gaps. And now there’s like, the book has a clear priority, like family has a clear priority, like the business is a clear priority. It’s like, oh, no, like, I can’t drop any of those, you know. Or I can, but I don’t want to.

Probably not a good idea to even consider dropping your family for, you know, like, simplifying your life, probably not the best way to approach that.

No, that’s a short term optimization, as they say.

Yeah. I think that’s like a timeout. That’s what they call it, right? Like sleeping on the couch, that’s your short term optimization. But yeah, this kind of prioritization is always a problem. I see that too. I see that in my own work, too. Like, I wanna write and I wanna spend time thinking about what I wanna write. But I also wanna do the podcast, obviously, and I wanna have a family life. And I wanna be able to be there for the dog because she’s a puppy and she needs me too. Like, there’s all these little things that are super hard to juggle, particularly if you’d go at it alone. But you’re not alone right now, right? For most of your things, you do have people who help you. Is that right?

It’s true. Yeah. So with the main business, well, there’s five of us, like three partners and two, I guess, employees but it doesn’t, we’re a team of five. Everyone kind of feels like a partner. And then so that’s the main business, which in theory we do. That’s the useful book stuff, which in theory is a 20-hour week thing is the way we always intend to that. And then like Tracey and I like my, you know, my partner, whatever, future co parent, whatever you wanna call it. Like, we work together on kind of the personal business, which is like, you know, books, the new stuff I’m doing right community. All of that. I don’t know, it’s fine. Yeah, there’s always people and there’s bits and pieces that can kick talk to freelancers, but I’m just so bad at delegation. I find that I work really well with people who are just so much better than me at the thing. That they’re just like, Rob, stop worrying. And you know, I’m gonna take care of it. And I go, yeah, that’s perfect. And but when someone expects me to like to coach or train or provide kind of this ongoing managerial support, I don’t know, it doesn’t put me in my happy place. And I don’t think they enjoy it either. So I’m trying to find like, partners or find ways to do it by myself.

Yeah, what is your happy place? What could you do forever?

I mean, I ran the thought experiment years ago and it’s one of the reasons I ended up doing what I’m doing. I’m like, what would I do if I was retired? And I wasn’t like, rich enough to like, go nuts. But you know, I didn’t have to worry about paying the bills. And I was like, well, I probably spend the morning reading, writing, and thinking, then go have a nice lunch and then hang out with friends, have some beers, play some board games, like chat, you know, relax, take it easy, go for a stroll. And I was like, oh, like I don’t need to wait till I’m retired. I can pretty much do that now. It got a little overcomplicated because I fell for the ambition bug again and decided to try to make a slightly different or a slightly bigger business, which is the useful books thing. But, you know, that’s okay. So right now it’s more, there’s a bit more work than I intended and a bit more stressed than I would have ideally chosen. But it’s also all for good reasons, you know. And then I went into it eyes wide open and I’m happy with the choices for now.

Okay, what are the challenges with Useful Books because I find that product in particular, that is such a result of all the things you’ve been doing up till now. It kind of you know, like it has this kind of you wrote your own books, you figured out what you need in terms of like BETA readers and stuff and you’re building a community around that particular thing. And to software as a service tool, obviously, you have a lot of things on your mind. But what are the challenging parts in building this software tool? Which is probably one of the first like standalone software tools you’ve ever built, right? Is that right?

Well, I’ve done a few different. Like my first company, the one that went through YCombinator was all pure software. And we started being marketing lead consumer driven. And then we pivoted into enterprise sales driven. And still similar products, but totally different business model. And then I’ve done a few others kind of for myself, these little like indie hacker throwaway things, some made money, most didn’t. But you know, they were fun. I tended to choose them for learning. But yeah, this is the first time in a while I’ve done it with a team and tried to, you know, commit a decade to it and make it a bit bigger. It is. So the business model just for context is we’ve got a book, which is like the education like this is the process. This is the manifesto, the think piece, planting a flag, which is write useful books, that leads into a community, like an accountability community, a community of practice and outcome oriented community, whatever you wanna call it, where it’s like, hey, we’re here to help you implement the ideas from the book. And then along that journey, there’s a particular sticking point, which is the beta reading, where we’re like, okay, there’s not a good tool here. So we’ll build the software. So it’s basically the book leads into the community, which leads into the software. And you can draw the arrow either way, like you can say, like, okay, we had this idea for the software, but it’s got a real problem with retention and audience awareness. So you can extend because beta reading only lasts like three months or six months, and you go, okay, that’s a hard, it’s hard. And people only do like one book. I mean, you’re a bit different. You’re going from book to book, but like most, a lot of nonfiction authors do one book, and they’re like, this is my book. So we’re like, okay, we’ve got zero retention and it only lasts like three to six months. And that’s a feature. So you go, okay, well, the community expands that window because now we can catch people earlier in the writing process and we can keep them through seed marketing. And then you go, okay, but how do they know this matters? And then you go, okay, so the book, so you can draw the arrow from the software backwards or from the book forwards. And eventually, we’d like to tack a publishing business onto the end of it, where we’re publishing our best community members based on the performance of their manuscripts during beta reading, which is kind of I guess, what YC did with Hacker News, where they’re like, okay, we’ve got this cool community of people. We’ve got this deal flow looks like. And again, like, which way does the arrow point? So the challenge, I guess, is that it is a good bootstrapped business. But the reason it’s a good bootstrap business is because it’s a terrible business, at least the software for the reason that the market is small. The customer dynamics, as I just explained, are really difficult to market to. Like we had to write a book. It’s like marketing and like, I can’t think of another way we could have accomplished that goal, right? Because it requires huge education. Like Steve Blank, the dude who invented customer development, he used to say, you know, some businesses need to educate your customers. If you need to do that, add five years to your plans because it takes a while to educate the market. And we’re like, okay. And then the community has like, a lot of overhead to run that. But once it’s running, it’s incredible like, because for marketing lead businesses, having a customer community is such an incredible superpower because you’re basically watching people struggle all day. Like all day, they’re like, I’m stuck on this. I don’t know how to do this. This is blocking me. I’m scared of this. You’re like, yes, if the customer development dream and there’s zero bias because it’s not in the context of an interview. Like, tell me what you think? It’s like, you’re just watching them work. So but that all leads to the problem, which is there’s a lot of things. It’s been slow to get to this point. We’re currently at about 10,000 a month. We’re like just barely profitable, you know, we pay people salaries first. We dividend out a little bit each month. We always wanted this to be a business where we dividend at every month. So we’re not trying to like, you know, we want it to be product lead growth. So we’re not trying to spend our profits on growth. We’re trying to like, take the profits, right? We’re at that stage in our career and like build a good product at our own pace that can grow itself. But it’s been slow. Like, if you include the writing of the book, we’ve been at this three years. And three years is a long time to only be at 10,000 a month. But the bright side of that is that because the table stakes are so high and because the market is relatively small, we feel very insulated against competition because only a lunatic would do what we have done to get into such a small market. So we feel like pretty protected. And so now, we’re gonna have a time pretty soon where 80% of the team is on either maternity or paternity leave. And so we’re gonna drop from five people to one person. And the whole company is basically gonna go on to maintenance mode, like we’re gonna continue to maintain everything. It’s gonna be fine for community members, like everything’s gonna work. Customer Support will still run, but it’s like a skeleton crew. And I don’t feel scared about that at all because it’s like, no one can like swoop in and eat our lunch, or at least if they do, I will be very surprised. Because they’d have to really have something out for us, you know, because it doesn’t make rational sense for them to do it. So I’m like, oh, that’s actually great for what we wanted the business to do. So like its strengths were also its challenges, if that makes sense.

Yeah, it sounds like you have a moat and just being super complex and not in terms of, you know, internal complexity but in terms of like structural complexity. The business you’re running is a business that I don’t think I’ve ever seen anywhere else, particularly not at this size, right? You have an info product based business or at least one part of it is an info product. And then you have a community that is both run by the people who have created the info product and other people. And then out of that community comes the need to use certain tooling which you also provide by the same people. It feels like this, it’s not a one trick pony. Like, that’s the thing you give as advice to most founders, right? Focus on one thing and build it really well. Well, you’ve been doing a lot of things at the same time, all of them really well from the looks of it. I mean, 10k a month is really not too shabby for any business, you know, most stone gets

It’s a start.

And it’s a start because I feel you have this kind of sustainability loop in there, right? The community attracts more people who then either buy the book or get into the software, the software itself, by virtue of being used by beta users might attract more people into the community or into the, you know, it has this nice little flywheel internally built. Was that a consideration from the beginning? Like, did you start with the flywheel in mind or particular component?

Yeah. Well, I mean, you probably know that there’s always some arbitrary spark, right? Where like a product pops into your head. And I found that sometimes it’s a piece of a product where I’m like, oh, that’s an interesting business model dynamic. Or like, oh, that’s an interesting like product screen or whatever. There’s some piece, right? And then sometimes I tend to write those down, even when they’re half baked. I was like and I just jot them down somewhere. But sometimes they pop into my head, like fully formed. And sometimes you come back and like two pieces fit together or you can like workshop a piece and figure out what goes around it. I’ve had stuff for attacking the publishing industry in my notebooks for it’s got to be 10 years, maybe more than 10 years. And I haven’t because I understand and I respect moats and the moats of the publishing industry are pretty substantial. So I was like, okay, fine, I can make a good living as an author. Like, I can play outside of their system as an independent, but it’s like, I can’t attack their moats head on, you know, it’s just impossible. And I especially looked at textbooks where the moats are even bigger. They’ve got these, like sales teams. They go to the universities and there’s kind of something going on, which is similar to how it used to be with buying IBM, where like no one gets fired for buying like a textbook from the proven textbook producers that the university is always used. Whereas if you’re like, I’m gonna buy textbooks from this guy, Rob. It’s like, suddenly you’re like, whoa, like you’re getting a performance review, you know, as a professor. And anyway, so it’s been like, in my head forever, right? And I didn’t I’m kind of a believer that like a product, that you start with a problem. And then like the, you know, the product emerges, but like I take that to even more of an extreme because I don’t I’m agnostic about the medium. So I had an idea where it’s like, okay, most books fail. That sucks. They shouldn’t like books should. I’m like, okay, is that assault with a blog post? Is that assault with a mobile phone app? Is that assault with productized service? Is that assault with a publishing business? Is the assault of the SaaS business? And sometimes people go like, I had this idea. I’m not sure it’s big enough to be a book. It’s like, well make it a blog post. I’m not sure it’s big enough to be a blog post. Make it a tweet, like making a good tweet is like good, you know? And it’s like, oh, but it doesn’t fit in the tweet. Alright, make it a blog post. No, it’s bigger than that. All right, making a book. It’s like you have a need to follow people make it a community. Like, you have it, it needs to integrate with their email, make it an app. And I see a lot of founders, they’re like, I wanna do SaaS and then they find an idea and they like, wedge it into the shape of SaaS, but not every idea should be SaaS, right? Some a lot of SaaS, I think this is a classic new founder mistake I’ve seen is you read a business book that has a process then you go, I should make SaaS that codifies this process from the book. But like, the wonderful thing about writing up a process as a book is that people can customize it to their circumstances using the tools that they already use. When you codify it into SaaS, you remove that flexibility. And so then they go oh, everyone says they want it, but they don’t use it. And it’s like, yeah, because you’ve baked in a rigid workflow, like, that sort of process should be a book. It’s like book native, right? Anyway, that’s a long way to say that we didn’t have a full grand plan, but we had a spark. And as I kind of pulled on that spark and I pulled on the threads. It’s like, oh, this idea needs to be a book. It’s like, oh, this book to work needs the community, this community to work needs tools. And I was just like, you know, I like I pulled on that thread. And we did realize early on that to do it properly, would take five years, at least and that if we weren’t willing to carve out five years, we may as well not start. So we didn’t know if it would succeed or fail, we still don’t. But we knew that to give it a shot would require at least half a decade. So we kind of carved that out and committed it ahead of time. And the reason we were comfortable to do that is like, we like the niche. Like I like talking to authors. I like serving authors and hanging out with them. So I figured, like worst case, I spent five years hanging out with people I like and respect and trying to help them out. So that kind of, I’m calling it in my head, the passion discount, which I think is an important like bootstrapping concept where if you’re venture funded, you wouldn’t want to spend like five years on a bad market. But if you can apply like a passion discount where you’re like, actually, I would like to spend my time this way anyway. Then the math starts to make a little bit more sense. I don’t know if that was a long ramble. And I’m not sure I answered your question at all. It is complex. And one thing I’ll say about the complexity is that I’m a big believer in playing to your strengths. And this business would have been suicide for me to attempt when I was starting out because there are a lot of moving pieces. And it’s like, we do a little bit of everything we do like consumer marketing, we do like product design, we do like b2b. Like I just set up Holloway. I really respect as a publisher. And it’s like, we were just talking to them the other day. And it’s like about setting up some sort of agent model. Before we’re able to set up our own publishing business, can we pass promising author leads to them and get a commission as like an agent or coach or like, you know, author, coach or whatever. And it’s like, so there’s like a b2b element also in the partnership side. There’s all these different pieces. But part of my like, advantage now is that because I have no attention span and I bounced around between so many different business models and businesses and products over the past 15 years, I kind of know how everything works a little bit, right? So now I can piece it together and this weird homunculus. But yeah, it would have been tough if I was doing it as my first business because it would have been a lot of different things to learn. But you know, play to your strengths. And yeah, if I can make that more of my moat, then great.

Yeah, I love the idea of like being just curious about everything can eventually integrating into some kind of knowledge that you can use and distributed amongst all these different topics. But for most founders, the problem is mostly financials in the beginning, right? They just don’t have the capital to spend five years chasing the niche.


They have to kind of get to revenue immediately. How was it for you? Like you said, you wanted to set five years, in a way for you. You wanted to use the five years for this. Like, how did you finance this?

This is one of the reasons that we made it a 20 hour a week business from the beginning. And that applies to everyone on the team, including the employees. So when we hire people, they get a like full time salary, but it’s 20 hours a week. So it’s a full time salary for halftime hours. And we sell that to ourselves as well. And the conversation there is like every strong value, it has to cut both ways, right? It has an advantage and a cost. And the cost of this is that we work fewer hours per week, but it means we need to work more months. We need to stay in the game longer to get to a result. So we go on, it’s taken us three years. Well, yeah, but part of the reason it’s taken three years is because we’re only putting in halftime. And the benefit of halftime is that we can use our other halftime to support ourselves. And so for example, I use my other half time primarily to work on my books and I draw an income from my books. One of the partners, Devin works halftime as a venture capitalist, which is hilarious because, you know, his like day job is being a VC. And then he works on this like goofy bootstrap business with some buddies and in his other time. You know, Mark, when he started, he was taking a sabbatical. And so his other half time was going to intensive woodworking training. He was doing 20 hours a week in the woodworking workshop, like training under a master craftsman. And then now he’s just finishing. He’s actually taken a month off and he’s in France doing like a full time woodworking thing for a bit. And then when he comes off, comes back from that his other half time, he’s gonna do some freelance days to kind of fill in the gaps. And so because we were willing to put in more months but fewer hours, like we weren’t in as much of a rush to get to these profitability milestones. Now, that being said, we do pay, I think 5000 a month in salaries for you know, freelancers, part timers, employees, whatever. So we needed to get to the point where we weren’t losing money there. But again, playing to your strengths, like I understand books pretty well. And so it does not feel risky to me to draw profit from a book. So what I did is we treated the books royalty, the books royalties as the seed financing for the business. So all of the books royalties go back into the business and that gave us our early cashflow and early profitability, which allowed us to hire these early employees to not have to worry and we started getting just because of our team. We got a handful of pretty credible early investment offers from really good angels. And it was tempting, right? Because it’s always tempting you go, yeah, I don’t have to draw into savings. But we knew we didn’t wanna do this as a funded business because we wanted the ability to stay in a small market that we felt passionate about. And to do it slowly and properly. And so it was just important, like all this stuff combined, right? And this is why I say like, people are gonna hear this some and go like, oh, well, this is useless, right? Because it only applies to Rob. But the bigger lesson is that I had it in my notebook for 10 years, right? Along with 100 other ideas. And if I’d been in a rush to do it 10 years ago, I would have failed for sure. But because it was like, simmering in my brain, right? And I had 100 other ideas in there. And each year, I would return to my list and I would rework them and throw some out there were no longer interesting or viable, add more in, look at new at my assets, my strengths, my weaknesses, like, you know, it meant that I was like, always, I was able to find this thing that played to my unique strengths. And everyone can do that. You always have some sort of connection, skills, competences, insights that other people don’t have, I would assume.

I would certainly hope that because you know, what makes us unique also gives us these unique opportunities. I think you’re right and the fact that you had it in your notebooks for 10 years. And always check back on it, right? Always took a look at it. And is it time for it now and I do have the capacity? Do I have the you know, the financial situation? Is the opportunity ripe? I think that that is why when I look at the community, I am fortunate I’m hard I think. I’m there from time to time. I don’t go check. But I definitely get your emails with the cool events. I wanna talk about that with you too. But you know, when I look at the community, I see it growing and I see it being very active. And I think this is such a clear sign that there is something happening in this field, right? In the field of self publishing, mostly like where people now have the capacity to actually make a meaningful amount of income or just create a meaningful quality of book that people actually read, maybe even get a printed copy off that is rather new. And I think you’re with KDP and Amazon and all these other print on demand things that are coming up or have been coming up for a couple years. This is the right time to encourage people to get started because it’s just as easy as it’s never been before, right? And I kind of yeah, what do you think about like the timing aspect of this? Like, do you think that is one of the most important choices here? Or like what do you think of timing?

I mean, when I did so my first book came out in 2013. This was the Mom Test. So that’s what 8, 9 years ago, I don’t know, eight years ago, eight years ago, yeah quick maths. So like back then, I used KDP. I used the self publishing stuff, but there was still a big cloud over it. Like when I would talk to people. You know, it’s like a dinner party or whatever, I’d meet a friend’s mom, what do you do? Oh, I make books. Oh, who’s your publisher? No, no, I self published and they would get embarrassed for me. They would go like, oh, well, don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll make it. Just keep trying. And I’m like in the top percentile of most profitable authors in the world. That’s like, it’s gotten a lot better since then. And they’re like, yeah, but you don’t have a publisher, like don’t you do all that. And I’m like, I don’t. They’re like, okay and then they would like leave, they like didn’t believe me, they would leave the conversation. And so what’s changed? It’s not necessarily that the tooling and tech are better, although they are. And it’s not necessarily that the knowledge is more available, although it is. But like, certainly, like culturally, the feeling about it has changed, right? And that’s nice. And you’re seeing people invest heavily in self up, you’re also seeing the opposite. And this is only gonna get worse with the AI content creators. A lot of people are making a lot of crap at scale. I don’t wanna like throw names under the bus here. But there’s like there’s a movement that’s quite popular, which is I’ll tell you the origin story of the movement, but I’m gonna try to avoid like implying exactly who it is. So there was an author who was like, huh, I make $7 a day from my bad book, you know. And he’s like, I don’t know how to make a bad book better. And I don’t know how to market a book. But I do know how to make lots of bad books. So how many would I need to make at $7 a day for this to be a full time living. They basically like scaled that. And a lot of people like that because they don’t wanna take responsibility for making a good product, but they’re happy to make lots of stuff. And it’s essentially like a spin on SEO arbitrage or AdWord arbitrage but instead of arbitraging Google Search you’re arbitraging Amazon search and you get a trickle of traffic and it’s kind of enough and so they’re making books. Like they’re locking out keywords to try to get this trickle of traffic. And that really doesn’t resonate with me. That’s not how I would want to spend my time. And I like to spend a couple of years on a book, right? And two years is a rush. Like, because you also need to learn things. You need to have enough life experiences to have an insight, to have a perspective. You need to spend enough time as you’re writing it to talk to readers to understand if it’s gonna work for people other than yourself. I mean, like, you’ve done this with all the writing and public stuff, right? You’re like constantly hearing back from whether it works for readers and they’re calling BS on it. I mean, you change your whole book title. Like you can’t do that stuff if you’re trying to turn out five books a year. And so like, we’re trying to press back against that trend as well, where we’re saying like, it’s not about making a book as easily as possible or as quickly as possible or as painlessly as possible. It’s about making your book as good as possible, you know, as long lasting as possible as recommendable as possible. So, yeah, there is like a groundswell here. In some ways, it’s been helpful that there’s so many like people making garbage because we’ve been able to pick a fight with them. And it’s like, by like positioning ourselves against that, I actually think it’s a more useful fight to pick them positioning ourselves against traditional publishing. Because we do get traditionally published authors. We have about 30%, who are traditionally published 70%, who are self published. And we’ve got a couple in the community have sold millions of books, like some of the most successful authors in the world are like a part of it because they’re like, oh, yeah, this makes sense. They’re not big participants in the community. But they like, you know, they use the software, they follow the process because they’re like, oh, yeah, this makes sense. I don’t know, again, kind of a rant. I guess I’m in a ranty mood today.

That’s all right. I think honestly, the publishing industry, there’s probably no better industry to rant about honestly, on many, many levels, right?

We’re looking at your pet peeve of it, Arvid.

We’re looking at nonfiction here because that’s kind of where we’re most of the community that you’re centering all of this around is, but the fiction has the same problem, right? Like, looking at Kindle Unlimited and the kinds of books that just got created to get thrown in there that are as long as possible because it’s per page read that people get paid, right? So you have these weird incentives in the industry. I think the most recent episode of Seth Godin’s podcast is about launches, like book launches. That’s the industry he’s from and talks about, like how there used to be this whole thing where you would launch the thing and you would try to print as many books as possible to get them into bookstores so that shelves were full. But then with the weird return policies that the bookstores had, like they could just destroy the book and not have to pay for it. I guess, so much weird legacy stuff going on in this industry that I’m glad that not only the tooling works because you’re right, obviously KDP what was it called before? Like, it had a different name, but before it was called KDP on Amazon, right? Yeah, it existed before Amazon, like made it KDP. But the perception of a self published book being actually okay, I think what Twilights the book was self published until it was picked up by a publisher too, right? And there are many people like Stephenie Meyer in the publishing world that are creating really good books that don’t have to be published. I was watching this 11 hour lecture by Brandon Sanderson a guy like me who likes, yeah, he’s great. And the fact that he put his whole, a BYU lectures at Brigham Young University on writing fiction or yeah, writing sci fi and fantasy. I love that. And he had an hour or two devoted to the publishing industry, one hour to the regular publishing industry and one hour to the self publishing industry. And he actually had a couple of people who were self published and making lots of money in that lecture. Currently, we’re gonna put it in the show notes here because it was so interesting. Talk about like, how people are using, use the right word or gaming the system of, you know, constantly publishing, writing whole like not just trilogies, but quintologies, octologies of books all at once and then trickling them in every week so that they have this kind of graph of adoption. And it just feels like people are always chasing these weird incentives in selling books or presenting books, instead of just writing good books. It just makes me go crazy. Like the apparatus the industry around it, it’s just such an incentivized field where the incentive that I would like to see the most is suppressed, which is build a good creative work that encourages people to do stuff better. Yeah, that’s my rant. So there we go.

I was watching, I guess yesterday or today, I don’t know. Like Notion has kind of, you know, Notion, the project management thing. They’ve added like GPT Text generation into their interface like this AI text expansion and text generation stuff. And the examples they gave were so soul churning, you know, it’s like, what should my launch strategy be in the AI is like write 10 blog posts. And it’s like, okay, what should my first blog post be? And yeah, it’s like, this is why one blog item, whatever. Oh, man. And when I think about that, like one of my firm beliefs about books is that a book is not a pile of words, a book is at least nonfiction. A book is like a self contained solution to a problem for a particular type of person, right? Which requires insight and requires empathy into the reader so that you understand their context, like what’s hard for one reader might be easy for another. People have different objections, which is why it’s helpful to niche down. Anyway, and I was reading this stuff and I’m like, man is so generic. And there’s got to be so many interesting implications here because you gotta take it to the infinite conclusion, right? Which is that there will be an infinite number of books about every topic, which are garbage and written by AI. Like, why wouldn’t there be? There will also be an infinite number of websites about every topic, which are, you know, as good as you could expect to get from like an intern or like content creation hire who’s just like doing the research and writing stuff up, right? And then you think about like Google, like, does it make sense for Google to like, surely they got to change what they are highlighting, right? It does the whole industry of like SEO and content, you look at like the Twitter threads and people like summarizing best practice and stuff. Why would you ever do that when an AI can do it so much better and infinite scale? I was trying to think like, what survives, you know? And it’s not being able to put down words. I think having a high word count in books and blog posts and articles used to be seen as a badge of honor because it’s signified that you did the work. It signified that you spent so many hours on the task thinking it through. And so that was like a proxy for insight or for something. Whereas now I think it’s thinkers like people who do stuff, thinkers, like people who observe the world and have original ideas. And teachers, like people who have enough empathy for a particular type of learner that they’re able to give the same content in a way that resonates with that particular person. And to me, those feel more like AI proof and more of a, like, that’s what people should be doing, right? And that when I think about myself, it’s like, I try dumb stuff. I learn things from it. I build empathy for a particular type of person that lets me write to them. But it also lets me build software for them or build a community for them or whatever else. And like, occasionally, I have a new idea. Not very often idea, but like every five years, I have an idea that seems worthwhile. And that’s a good pace.

But yeah, because honestly, even if it’s just every five years, it’s still better than an AI, which cannot have a new idea, right? It could recombine things into things that look novel, but I don’t think there is emergence in AI, right? Thing that summarizes everything will only ever have the knowledge of the things that summarizes. It won’t be able to come up with a classification beyond the things that it already knows how to classify. I remember when I was studying at the university in philosophy, which is a great fields to have, like mental models and abstractions. And our professor talked about the knowledge of the world and our job as academics in that context. And he described it as the world of knowledge is a sphere of everything combined within it. And you as an academic you as a thinker, you go to the edge of the sphere and you put a tiny little additional sphere on top of it, like, just imagine the world itself, the planet is the sphere of knowledge and you have a little ball that you put on top of that sphere. And if every academic, every thinker does that, with their own little knowledge, the sphere grows in size over time, in miniscule amounts, but it does grow. And that growth is the new original thought that every new person brings to it. And I don’t think AI could ever leave the original sphere that it’s been trained in, at least at this current stage, like GPT-3 or GPT-4 whatever it might be. There is no leaving the original sphere, they don’t have the capacity to create this new little ball of knowledge and set it on top. Everything that AI does is contained in the AI itself. Is that something that makes sense to you? Or would you think that’s actually a misconception here?

So I think it can push outside, but like what’s different is that like, I wouldn’t expect that it could push outside in like a reliably credible way for quite some time because so the art for example, is really good at like abstract, like impressionist stuff, like amazingly good. And that was I felt one of the first genres that it really nailed and like the visual arts was this because you could look at this stuff and it’s so dream-like and the mistakes looked intentional, right? And it’s like, it really does the modernists and like the postmodern and stuff super well. And I read someone’s write up about AI writing and their conclusion was that you got to expose your humanity like you got to, they did they referenced that James quote about like bleeding on the first page or bleeding in the first line, like showing your weakness, showing your humanity. But that’s like, super formulaic and that like the AI will absolutely be able to do like, you can easily make up a sad opening story to any article you want to grab people’s attention. But that’s just like emotional clickbait. So that answer didn’t really resonate for me. I much prefer like the observing new things as they’re happening, empathizing with a particular group of people and speaking just to them and like doing stuff yourself experientially. For the new knowledge, I think it will come up with lots of things that look like new knowledge or could be new knowledge or could be like extensions, right? But like, in the same way that it can come up with abstract art where it’s like, whoa, it’s like crazy experimental. And you still need someone thoughtful to kind of look through all that junk and be like, oh, actually, this one is, you know, this one resonates. And I guess people have done it with Wikipedia, right? Like, maybe this is the way that we like crowdsource new ideas where everyone just like combs through all this, like weird stuff that the AI is proposing. They tried to use AI to come up with a new sports game, like a new team field game, you know, and they constrained it to be like, it’s five players on each side, it happens on a whatever, somebody that size of a football pitch, etc. And they fed in all of the rules of like, every game and they were like, look, AI made this game. And it’s really fun. And they played it. And but if you look through their methodology, what the AI actually did is it made like every possible plausible combination. And then they spent like 2000 man hours, essentially like combing through them by hand to try to find the ones that were plausible and then playing them. Now then you go, okay, well, like could the AI simulator get a model of fun and then simulate playing the games itself, like it does with AlphaGo, and blah, blah, blah. It’s like, maybe. Like, who knows? Who knows where it’s gonna get to. But I don’t know, that feels a way out. I feel like we got to play the game that’s in front of us. And right now I feel the game that’s in front of us is that if you’re making Twitter threads, summarizing best practices, you are out of a job, you know. Like, if you’re writing these like summaries of business, anecdotes from Steve Jobs as time doing whatever, it’s like you’re out of a job. If you’re like scaling your business by writing lots of articles and you’re hoping to kind of search results you are out of a job, like that stuff is gonna quickly stop working. And I think there’s gonna be a brief window where people it’s like humans, leveraging the AI to do AI powered, like mass content spam, whether it’s in the form of books or audio or blog posts or what tweets or whatever. And I think that some people will build a really big audience by doing that and potentially make a bunch of money and that they’ll sell a bunch of courses because a lot of people wanna emulate them because it seems like an easy path. But to me, that seems the same as the AdWord arbitrage that happened a couple of decades ago, where some people got really rich, arbitrage and AdWords. But it was essentially a zero value way for them to spend their time they weren’t creating value in the world. They were just taking it, right? It’s just you know, they’re just taking a tax off this like inefficiency and find someone’s gonna do it. It may as well be them. It doesn’t really matter. But it doesn’t feel like an aspirational way to spend when it’s time to me like I can’t imagine a crafts person being like, yeah, this is what I wanna do. So just like skip past that and go back to the I’m actually I paused my newsletter this week. I’ve been sending a newsletter to one of my like, personal community, it’s a community about communities. But I paused it for the reason that this whole thing is throwing me for a loop, where I kind of feel like frequency is gonna get commoditized and word count is commoditized. And I kind of feel like I need to go in the opposite direction where I go slower and deeper. And you know, because I feel like everyone in their dog is just gonna be sending more stuff as it gets easier and easier. And I don’t wanna do that. I wanna play the opposite game. But we’ll see. I’m sure that’s self optimal.

Yeah, we will see, right? That’s the thing. And I think that long term thinking that’s the point. I feel all these things you just described that are gonna put people out of their jobs are short term wins or things that are not gonna be around for long because they are being abused by the people who are using them, right? And then this abuse will kind of cause regulation to happen for things to kind of quiet down or just the people’s active ignorance of that thing will cause it to be less effective, just like spam emails and stuff, you know, spam folders and spam detection, right?

Exactly. Like we recognize clickbait now. We recognize spam emails. And so that stuff doesn’t work. Like it works briefly at scale, but then it stops and I guess it still works on a certain like subset of the population, which I guess is enough to feel the business model. So sure, you could probably use like AI written text to build a really big audience of stupid people who like wanna read AI generated text. But like, are those the customers you really wanna serve? Are they a desirable and profitable customers? Like but I don’t know.

I could see it in fiction. That’s the thing. And nonfiction it doesn’t make sense because there really is no instructive quality or can a genuine connection combined with instructive quality to AI written stuff, it doesn’t have this personal touch. When I write something, I want it to sound like me because that’s how I sound. That’s how I wanna communicate. When I let an AI do this, it’s hard for the AI to kind of pick up my style and the way I would explain a certain thing, right?

Have you seen what’s happening in the art world where you can feed in 10 or 20 photos or drawings by someone in their style, and then go like, alright, give it to me in this style. I don’t see any reason you couldn’t do that for text as well. Just the interface isn’t there quite yet, but it will be soon. And you can be like, I was thinking it’d be really funny when it’s possible. I’d love to see some of my blog posts like rewritten in the style of Hunter S Thompson, like aggressive, angry, Gonzo, drug fueled, like style on like my knowledge. And I think it can be really fun, right? And you can imagine people reading like, just like, you can look at websites and you can kind of control the font size. You can be like alright, I wanna read this guy’s blog post, but like, you know, an angry lunatic or like, you know, like in three sentences. I was running some of my writing through a little like AI condenser called summary, to try to see what how the AI would compress it because I was trying to see is like, I was trying to find wasted, like, you know, wasted whatever verbiage or phrases or wasted bits in my message. And I was actually really happy because I compressed it at a bunch of different levels to the AI and I felt like even at the lightest compression levels of reducing the text, I felt like something important that I tried to say was missing from the compression. So I was like, okay, that’s a good sign that, like I’m packing like value into the words like you sentence is doing a job. Anyway, it’s fascinating times though. I’m like really keen, but man, I’m not looking forward to the spam. I feel like I’m gonna have to unfollow literally everyone on Twitter if this stuff goes mainstream because I just can’t put up with reading more crap written by like garbage machine summarizing said like stuff like, tell me what you learned. Tell me your thing. Don’t tell me what you read in someone else’s book. Like, tell me your experiential insights, right?

It’s probably gonna come to a point where we have like Content Aware like ad blockers or spam blockers that see a summary of block it. Yeah, we’ve seen this before. Or yeah, it’s weird that we have to invent tooling to fight the capacity of technology that is being enabled by other tools. It’s just really sad. But one thing I wanna say about this whole different voices for the same content, actually, I quite enjoyed that. Because that just kind of blows my mind in a certain way to be able to read something in a tone of voice or in a style that works well for you. That’s just what education should be, right? I was having a conversation recently about like education and this kind of frontal school education teacher stands in front of 30 kids and teaches them the exact same way where every single child has a different way of learning, obviously, that’s how people are, right? So having a way to consume knowledge in a way that makes it more compatible with you guys, amazing. That’s a wonderful idea. And if AI tooling could help with that, great, but that’s I think the big difference here. The underlying information that this AI changes, that has to come from somewhere, right? And that cannot be auto generated out of something randomly. This has to be intentionally put there. However colored it comes out in unique personal perception, the knowledge itself that has to be stable and well structured, which I really love the idea with summarizing your own stuff and seeing what’s missing. Because if you can summarize it and nothing’s missing, then obviously you are way too verbose, right? And you can condense it even better for people to pick it up more quickly. That’s actually great. And that kind of brings me to a point like I do like AI enabling or AI powered tools for writing. I like Grammarly to check for like basic grammar stuff. I like Summarize and I like, what does it call bot for like certain rephrasing things when I don’t have a better idea. I mean, I could go to a synonym page or somewhere to find different words, use it myself, but if the thing can do it by itself for me to give me alternatives, wonderful, these tools are great. But the tools are just tools. The structure of the thought has to be within me, right?

My second book was called the Workshop Survival Guide, which is about education design. And the big, like, concept of that book, like the core idea is don’t start with the slides, start with a skeleton of learning outcomes. You know, well, really you start with the audience profile. You’re like, where are they at when they arrive and what do they need to be when they leave. So like, what’s different about what they can do and understand between the time they have arrived and leave. Then you go, okay, what like learning outcomes they need and what’s like supporting learning outcomes, blah, blah, blah. And then you start thinking energy levels, timings, breaks, etc. And then the last thing you do is you make the slides. And what everyone does when they first approach it is they do the opposite. Because the slides are the most visuals, they start with the slides and the words and then they get really stuck, right? Because they aren’t clear on their own message or the structure of that message. They’re like, and it’s way slower to move the slides around than it is to move like a list of learning outcomes around. And the same is true with writing books. It’s like I’m a big believer in like, start with the table of contents, teach it before you’ve written it because it’s way easier to iterate on a table of contents than it is to iterate on a 50,000 word manuscript or whatever. And it would be really cool if there was like, this is just playing off what you said. But if there was a standardized format of like, this is the knowledge structure under and then this is the pros. So this is the skeleton and this is the skin. So like the knowledge structure, the learning outcomes and you know, and then that could be re skinned in different voices, it can be embellished, it could, you can imagine an AI being like, oh, I’m looking for an example of when focus can backfire. And you can imagine the AI being like, oh, this person really likes Napoleon. Let me go get a Napoleon anecdote to illustrate this point. And then boom, you’ve got Ryan Holiday in a box, right? Or Robert Greene or any of these authors, like that’s what they do. And you could imagine that those stories being swapped out. Now their voice is in their selection of stories, right? They like find a consistent set. And you can argue that’s like, the interesting value of a good DJ on a radio station is like they’ve chosen an interesting set of selections to kind of build toward a whole, whatever. But you would want like a craftsperson. I was trying to play I was like, okay, I’m actually halfway through writing a post is called like, the writer is dead, like their writing is dead, you know? And it’s like, what are the jobs that replace writing? Because if putting down words have been commoditized, it’s not about writing, it’s about like, is it knowledge creation? Is it curriculum development? Is it like empathy and teaching is that? Yeah, there’s probably some really interesting business models there, where you’re like, we create the core curriculum to teach kids of this age with like this socio economic background. And it’s like, we’re like, we create, like the underlying knowledge skeleton for this topic. And then you can skin it up however you want by hand with AI, whatever. I don’t know. And then when people are refining it, you could separate the structure from the

Yeah, it could be a whole other job. Like, you could be like a knowledge transformer, that could be an extra profession for a particular industry. And also that would kind of give people who have this particular niche expertise in that particular field and opportunity to translate knowledge from another field right into their field, which is kind of lifting the tide lifting all the boats at the same time, if you spread it out.

It’d be cool too. You can imagine keeping like the core knowledge tree and like source control and then essentially branching it. So like, let’s say there was a really well developed like tree of startup fundraising knowledge, without all the superficial blah, blah, blah, that people put on with the word craft, but just like the core knowledge. And then you can imagine branching that and that was like, okay, this is nonprofit grant writing or like grant raising. And this is like academic proposal writing. And you can imagine, like, I don’t know, they can be cool stuff. I’m like, way too pie in the sky right now.

Well, why not? I mean, you can be wherever you wanna be, right? That’s the wonderful thing about having all this agency. But both in your own business and your own life, if you can just like dream about this for a couple hours, why not? I love the idea. I love the idea of abstracting knowledge away from its prose form. I think, as much as humanity has thrived and grown on the written word, we are at this kind of point where there is definitely a move forward towards a different structure. Funny enough, probably a structure that we ourselves as humans will have a hard time to comprehend. Because we experienced the world through words through sentence based thinking, at least that’s the way we communicate, right? If in this kind of stream of words. I’ve always been a big sci fi fan and thinking about like how even the concept of telepathy of thought transfer would change the way we think not just the way we communicate, which is a whole thing, right? Like, if you’ve watched Star Trek and something, you still have these audio representation of telepathy, where people kind of talk in each other’s minds. If you look at thoughts in your mind, while you think them yourself, they’re not audible, not necessarily, right? They are constructs that you have. And then you kind of take parts of it and you communicate them in this kind of word by word structure. That will change if we have a brain computer interface that can take a snapshot of the thoughts not just an expression in words, but the actual structure, kind of mind blowing stuff because it’s unimaginable at this point, I feel, but definitely an interesting field of research. So when is that product coming out? When is your business building that particular product?

Well, gosh. So I think the testbed for that is because I’ve been trying to figure out my own blog posts like my own newsletters and my own content and stuff, right? And right now I’m in the process of doing an update to write useful books. I’m doing the 1.1 update. And it started and I was like, I’m just gonna fix a couple of like factual errors and typos that slipped in. But as I go, I’m now like a month into the update. And it’s turning into a much bigger project, which I’m actually excited about because it’s fun. But while doing that, I’m like, okay, I’ve added a bunch of like, I’ve expanded the page size. This gets back to your question, I promise. There’s just a meandering route there. So I’ve expanded the page size. So there’s way bigger margins and then I’m filling those margins with like a ton of stuff, right? Like the quotes and tidbits and behind the scenes and like tactical tips and all that or at least this is the plan. We’ll see if I get there and print. But then I’m like, wait, that only works in print. How does that translate to the audiobook? How does that translate to the Kindle version? It doesn’t like you can’t inline all these things, you break your reader experience, you can’t like narrate them. I heard of an audio book where for the footnotes, they just narrated them and like the dude did a different voice for footnotes. And apparently, I was just like, absurd. Because he kept like switching to this like fake voice but and then I’m thinking like, wow, like the format’s are already diverging, right? And I’m in the process of, I’ve decided to give all of my books away for free forever on the web as like web versions. And then I’m like, well, if it’s a web version of The Mom Test or the Workshop Survival Guide, you can bet there’s gonna be audio of me delivering these like conversation techniques or facilitation techniques, right? Because why wouldn’t you if it’s a web version? And then I’m like, well, that’s already different than the other versions then. And like, so it’s like, I feel like the idea of a book is already fragmented because we had a decade or two, where the paperback, the Kindle, the audio book and the web version were identical, right? And I feel like that’s starting to fragment and you’ve got a publishers like Holloway, who their whole thesis is to double down on the web version with a bunch of digital value adds that you can’t do in other formats, and then charge a premium for it. It’s like, okay, well, that’s interesting. And so then when I think about something like this, it’s very, like media medium in the like hand wavy, you know, heading the cloud sort of stuff. So you gotta try it. I remember reading a really cool, call it a web book from someone and it started as a I wish I could remember the source, I don’t, but it started as a single sentence, right? It’s like I’m making this up. But let’s say it’s like, selling is about asking good questions, right? So you go fine. And then each of those words was clickable and would expand into like, a clause and the clauses weren’t, like the sentences within that. And essentially, he realized that he had an entire book that like was structured as a tree, which collapsed down to a single sentence. And like, each word could be expanded out and expanded out and expanded out. And you know, on the one hand, that’s just like a fancy visualization over linking and hypertext. But on the other hand, there’s something different about it, right? Because like it is the knowledge hierarchy. So I can imagine playing with something like that or different formats of that with my own writing, with my blog post with this and that. And, you know, eventually it’s like, you do it for yourself bespoke for a while. And if people like it, they ask you what the tool is and you go, oh, it isn’t really a tool. You know, you eventually make the tool for yourself, you expose it to a few other people. It feels like that sort of product where it’s not solving an explicit problem, like problem that you can kind of validate and a clear cut way. And it’s much more like does it feel good to use? Do people like to use it? And this is how stuff like Rome and the digital Kanban boards like Trello and stuff like that, that is how they got started. So I’d imagine this is in that like product category or problem category, where you kind of just need to tinker and see how it feels and play with it. Because it’s also possible, I’ve sometimes learns that these things sound amazing in theory, and then you try them. And then you’re like, that is fun once or that works really well for one type of content. But it does not scale to other types of contents. And it’s never gonna get widespread or it’s just way too much work to create. So it’s not worth it, even if it is technically better. There’s all these things that you don’t figure out ahead of time.

Yeah, kind of reminds me of what you said earlier, people like building businesses that then confined the actual capacity that people have, right? If you build a SaaS that doesn’t fit in somebody’s workflow because it designs a completely new workflow for them. They’re not gonna use it just the same as if you take a book and a shape that people can use because they wanted to actually have physical version of it. And you don’t offer that because it’s all hyperlinked and stuff, which is great, but you know, it doesn’t really translate, then you don’t have readers for that book. And that’s kind of what an author one site is, is their knowledge disseminated, distributed and consumed.

I mean, any product creator, right? It’s like you’re opinionated. But you also gotta be open to the realities of the world. And, I don’t know.

It’s in transition, it’s hard. It’s like, it’s likely a transitionary thing. Like, there will be experiments like this. I think I’ve seen people build these hyperlinked books and particular with special media parts and then they compile down to an ePub without the media parts, but build links to the platform that exists, it’s just complicated to use. And that usually in the market of mass distribution, right? Or at least like high distribution of the same product to different people, UX is a factor and you kind of wanna make sure that the thing you offer is usable. But I still love this little excursion into what knowledge structure could be and how we could turn it into into books because I love books. I love reading. Maybe these are two very distinct things, or will be even more distinct in the future, like the consumption of knowledge will not be reading books alone, it will be ebooks with other things attached. And I love the idea that all of this is kind of culminating in the community that you currently have what you see people struggling with making these things happen. And maybe that’s one of the things that I wanna talk to you about while we close off this conversation here. The community that you have, you’re an integral part of it, right? You’re part of the person leading the community, you’re doing events in the community. And I heard you say earlier that you like to go from thing to thing. You have a wandering attention. How does that work together? Because the community is something you need to constantly maintain and constantly like, move forward. How do you keep yourself accountable in this accountability community?

So I’ve got two communities, which is possibly a bad decision. But there are different stages. So one is the useful author’s community off of And another is a community about outcome oriented communities, which is this like category of community I’m trying to figure out or define or whatever, which is off of And they’re very different stages. So the, you can think about like, is the community kind of at a stable point. So okay, I’ve got these dumb stages. So my first stage for community design, I call it the content and concierge stage. So you’re doing a lot of concierge service, there’s not enough other people to be helping each other. The cultural values aren’t instilled in the members. So the founder, the creator, is very important, right? Because you’re like making the connections, you’re inviting people into the conversation, you’re creating content, as if it was a campfire for your other members to gather around and have something to talk about and like to bring them together in these pockets of critical mass. That’s where the outcome oriented community is. So if I stopped doing stuff that community dies and I’m like very much on the hook for like stimulating activity each week. Then the authors community where it’s a couple 100 members is at what I call the second stage, which is simple, stable system, where we don’t have all the fancy automated nations, we don’t have all the fancy personalizations. But it runs like, people know what they’re doing there. They know what the roadmap is. They know where they’re trying to get to. They know what the proximate goals are. They can measure where they’re at against that and understands like, okay, they can kind of self debug. There’s enough members who have been there for long enough that the culture is kind of, you know, instilled. We know and like Seth Godin is where it is like, community is knowing people like us do things like this. Like that’s like instilled. It’s like authors like us beta read. Authors like us put it out there before we’re ready. Like authors like us iterate. Like authors like us aren’t trying to get it done fast. We’re trying to get it done right. That’s, like pretty instilled in the culture. And so they feel totally different to run. Like when I go on paternity leave in a couple months, the author’s community will run without me just fine. Like, already, we’ve got four weekly writing accountability groups and I only run one of them. So we’ve already moved 75% of them to other people.


The newsletter, we’ve got like a really clear style guide and structure, which is like intentionally a neutral journalistic style. Sometimes I write it, but sometimes other team members write it. And it doesn’t matter because it’s like all figured out in the style guide. It’s like we refer to people in this way we like use this tense of verbs. Like we celebrate these category of things. We don’t celebrate these, like we have a bunch of examples of like, this does not belong in the newsletter, even though it looks like it should for these reasons. So there’s like that style guide is really well defined. And it runs like, we know what that community is right? Like now if there’s a big name author coming in for a guest interview. Yeah, I probably need to do that myself. But probably not forever, though. Like already, we’re going to start like I’m gonna bring in a co host. And then eventually that’s like steps toward them being the host. So that was like working. And then the final like stage, the third stage of the community is like the flywheels, the growth of fancy systems, the you know, whatever, like integrating it into a more fancy business model, which we have parts of. Anyway, so that’s why it’s different. I am pretty concerned about the outcome oriented community community when I go on paternity leave because it does not run without me. And the kind of like, there’s a couple really motivated members who really care and are really involved. It’s a paid community, I don’t know. Like I thought like, if things go really well in the next couple of months, then maybe I kind of like promote them to be like community volunteers or managers or something and they run out and fine. I thought that maybe I tell everyone that I’m leaving in two months or however long, I guess a little longer than that. And that I’m pausing their payments and I’ll be back in three months or six months after that. And if they wanna stick around, they’re welcome. And if I show back up and no one’s there, that’s fine, too. Like, I thought about saying like, this was great. Like, I can’t run it anymore. I’m sorry. I thought I could get it stable before I left, but I couldn’t. And I don’t want it to backslide and to waste your time and become spammy. So I’m just gonna close it down instead. And then refund a couple months. Because ultimately, like, I don’t know how to build the outcome oriented communities, right? Like the point of this community was for us to explore this idea together. So it was meant to be collective knowledge discovery. And as for the other part of your question is like, how do I stay excited even though I tend to drift? The reason I stay excited is it’s because I’m not building these communities cynically. I’m building the communities that I want to be a part of. It’s like, I’m trying to figure out community. So it’s not that much of a chore for me to join the outcome oriented community and read what people are saying and get your thoughts, right? Yeah, like I write books every morning, you know, and sometimes it’s really hard. Sometimes it’s discouraging. Sometimes it feels like you’re going backwards. Like, I know what that’s like. And it’s nice to be able to ask people for another perspective. So it’s like, okay, that makes the author’s community kind of fine. Like, so that’s how they fit into my life, that’s how I stay interested in them. There was no way I would be able to stay motivated to run an arbitrary community just because I thought it would make money. Like, that would be impossible for me, I don’t have that sort of consistency and follow through, I have to be intrinsically interested. And already, honestly, two is a lot plus a business. Plus, like not wanting to work that hard. It’s like, plus trying to write my own book, it’s like a little bit too much, you know, but I really don’t wanna give up any of them.

Well, I can feel your passion and the purpose that you seem to feel from running and being part of these communities. And I really appreciate that because I think you’re doing great stuff there. Like both for the author community, obviously creating this platform for people to be a platform for knowledge, just wonderful. And a community that is concerned with building better community and couldn’t be any better, right? That’s just a wonderful thing. So thank you so much for doing this. I think that that is just I benefited a lot from reading about these things. I frequent your website a lot. And I read your posts that you put in there. And it’s always quite insightful, always very different angles and very different things that all kind of come together and create something that is bigger than the sum of its parts, which is, I guess, the point of a community. So thanks for doing this. Thanks for doing this in public too. And sharing all your knowledge both there and on your YouTube and wherever. So where do you want people to find you?

If you care about writing books, it’s If you are just curious about me or the community stuff, it’s So either or And you know, it’d be fun to see you there if you’re interested.

Absolutely. Well, thanks so much for being on. That was a wonderful conversation. We went far out and right back to Earth. So thank you so much. That was amazing.

My great pleasure, always great to talk to you, Arvid.

And that’s it for today. Thank you for listening to The Bootstrapped Founder. You can find me on Twitter @arvidkahl. You’ll find my books and my Twitter course there as well. If you wanna support me and the show, please subscribe to my YouTube channel, get the podcast in your podcast player of choice and leave a rating and review by going to ( Any of this will help the show. So thank you very much for listening and have a wonderful day. Bye bye

What We Talk About

00:00:00 Rob Fitzpatrick

00:03:38 The challenges of building the Useful Books business

00:10:01 A rare breed

00:14:47 The passion discount

00:21:12 What’s changed in self-publishing?

00:26:43 What’s your pet peeve of the publishing industry?

00:32:48 Knowledge production

00:39:06 Short-term wins are not going to be around for long

00:42:21 Different voices for the same content

00:47:39 Prose be gone

00:54:26 Staying accountable in an accountability community

00:57:45 Late-stage communities

01:02:26 Rob’s passion and the purpose of communities

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