New additions to the Personal Bible: Paul Graham, Jason Lemkin, and the Dilbert guy

A Personal Bible is a collection of your favorite writings. The kind of content you want to remember and make a part of your daily life. You know that feeling when you’ve recently read some great essay, but when you explain it to a friend, you’re only able to give her a vague, handwavy description? That’s why I created this document – so I could know deeply and even memorize the text content that’s most affected me.

Below is the stuff I’m reading lately – a lot of re-reading, actually – which I’ve now added into the document. Here’s a PDF of mine. Hope you can be inspired to save more of your own favorites and create one yourself!

Jason Lemkin’s advice on content marketing [link]

From Scott Adams’s How To Fail At Almost Everything And Still Win Big book

You might not think you’re an early-morning person. I didn’t think I was either. But once you get used to it, you might never want to go back. You can accomplish more by the time other people wake up than most people accomplish all day.

Bill Gates famously found ways to hone his technical skills by stealing time on a mainframe. Jobs and Wozniak’s first product involved technology that allowed people to steal long-distance phone calls. Where there is a tolerance for risk, there is often talent.

One of the best ways to detect the x factor is to watch what customers do about your idea or product, not what they say. People tend to say what they think you want to hear or what they think will cause the least pain. What people do is far more honest. For example, with comics, a good test of potential is whether people stick the comic to the refrigerator, tweet it, e-mail it to friends, put it on a blog page, or do anything else active.

Positivity is far more than a mental preference. It changes your brain, literally, and it changes the people around you. It’s the nearest thing we have to magic.

From Paul Graham’s essays

Be Good

“Don’t be evil” may be the most valuable thing Paul Buchheit made for Google, because it may turn out to be an elixir of corporate youth.

The idea of starting a company with benevolent aims is currently undervalued, because the kind of people who currently make that their explicit goal don’t usually do a very good job.

Relentlessly Resourceful

If I were running a startup, this would be the phrase I’d tape to the mirror. “Make something people want” is the destination, but “Be relentlessly resourceful” is how you get there.

How To Make Wealth

There is a conservation law at work here: if you want to make a million dollars, you have to endure a million dollars’ worth of pain.

In industrialized countries, people belong to one institution or another at least until their twenties. After all those years you get used to the idea of belonging to a group of people who all get up in the morning, go to some set of buildings, and do things that they do not, ordinarily, enjoy doing.

I think everyone who gets rich by their own efforts will be found to be in a situation with measurement and leverage. Everyone I can think of does: CEOs, movie stars, hedge fund managers, professional athletes

What made the Florentines rich in 1200 was the discovery of new techniques for making the high-tech product of the time, fine woven cloth. What made the Dutch rich in 1600 was the discovery of shipbuilding and navigation techniques that enabled them to dominate the seas of the Far East.

Number of users may not be the perfect test, but it will be very close. It’s what acquirers care about. It’s what revenues depend on. It’s what makes competitors unhappy. It’s what impresses reporters, and potential new users.

Hiring is Obsolete

It’s hard to judge the young because (a) they change rapidly, (b) there is great variation between them, and (c) they’re individually inconsistent.

How Not To Die

When startups die, the official cause of death is always either running out of money or a critical founder bailing. Often the two occur simultaneously. But I think the underlying cause is usually that they’ve become demoralized.

As long as you’ve made something that a few users are ecstatic about, you’re on the right track. It will be good for your morale to have even a handful of users who really love you, and startups run on morale.

Notes from Pew study on how demographics are changing world religion

Expect to see more writing on religion and spirituality here. While crypto investment is still my current obsession, I’ve shifted that content over to Breaking Bitcoin and an email newsletter.

There is tremendous wisdom and value stored in the world’s major faiths. Huston Smiths calls them the great wisdom traditions and he’s not wrong. For me this interest snowballed with Alain de Botton’s Religion for Atheists book [Amazon]. Fwiw I don’t consider myself an atheist. Here are some of my blog posts about his book.

I hope in the future to join or launch a lifelong project to identify, collect, and share all of the world’s religious wisdom with all of the world’s people. And the best sort of wisdom is when you are not just reading but doing. Not only reading but practicing. I call this loosely the soul habit and have written briefly about it before. Let me know if this interests you.

The Pew Research Center regularly publishes valuable survey data and analyses on how religion is practiced and how it’s changing around the world. Here are my notes from a recent study on demographics. Here is the Pew analysis and full report.

NOTES

Islam will become the most populous religion in the world because, simply put, Muslims have more babies

In the period between 2010 and 2015, births to Muslims made up an estimated 31% of all babies born around the world – far exceeding the Muslim share of people of all ages in 2015 (24%).

As a group, nonbelievers and the unaffiliated will continue to decline as a percentage of the world population. This is driven primarily by people leaving Christianity. Other groups unable to keep pace with global population growth: Buddhism, Judaism, and folk religions

…the religiously unaffiliated population is heavily concentrated in places with aging populations and low fertility, such as China, Japan, Europe and North America.

Between 2015 and 2020, religious “nones” are projected to experience a net gain of 7.6 million people due to religious switching; people who grew up as Christians are expected to make up the overwhelming majority of those who switch into the unaffiliated group

The relative influence of Muslims is expected to increase in sub-Saharan African and decrease in Asia

By 2060, 27% of the global Muslim population is projected to be living in the region, up from 16% in 2015. By contrast, the share of Muslims living in the Asia-Pacific region is expected to decline over the period from 61% to 50%.

The youngest major religions are, in order, Islam, Hinduism, and Christianity

The median ages of Muslims (24 years) and Hindus (27) are younger than the median age of the world’s overall population (30), while the median age of Christians (30) matches the global median. All the other groups are older…

China is home to 61% of the world’s unaffiliated population as of 2015 (!)

Content marketing wisdom from Jason Lemkin at SaaStr

This Jason Lemkin post is loaded with advice on how to create a successful content brand. I’ll probably add these notes to my personal bible.

NOTES

Quora is great but takes a lot of content (more than 2K answers for 1M monthly views)
The key to Quora is I did what was easy. I used Quora questions as a vehicle to stimulate a memory of some mistake I’d made, some learning I’d had. And I made a rule if I couldn’t get the answer done immediately, I’d move on.

Blog traffic is consistent and reliable but has stopped growing (3% MoM)

What didn’t work: engagement on LinkedIn and Facebook Page, YouTube audience growth despite posting high quality videos, traffic levels on Medium

Podcasting is a lot of work:
Post-production takes a lot of time, and it’s very hard to build an audience. There are so many podcasts now, and little organic way to discover new ones. So unless you can crush it with a podcast, you may find the ROI very low

In-person events conferences have dis-economies of scale, especially in an expensive and event-heavy region like the Bay
So my suggestion is don’t try to put on an industry event in the Bay Area unless you are sure you somehow can be #1 or #2. Do a customer event instead. Higher ROI, much easier to put on.

Twitter is good once you have critical mass (~40K quality followers)

Mediocre content does not perform. Contributed articles and boring sponsor posts…are read by very, very few folks.

Always experiment with new channels
I think if you want your content marketing to keep growing, you have to add new layers that perform. Our goal is one new material initiative / channel a year.

Find a publishing cadence and stick to it

Like a startup, give your strategy time (his magic number is 24 months) to develop a sustainable and growing audience

Daily Habits Checklist (March 20 – April 16): The value of a Personal Bible

Haven’t blogged much recently. Part of the reason is an increased focus on crypto research and investment and sending out weekly Bitcoin newsletters. Part of the reason is just a focus on longer forms of writing that I don’t feel are ready to publish…maybe that will change soon.

As habits go, a solid 4 weeks. The highest ROI per minute of time is still meditation. 10-15 minutes of silent zen meditation is enough to change how I feel for an entire day. My favorite habit and the one I’d hate to lose if it stopped remains the long daily outdoor runs. I’m flirting with the idea of training up to a half and then full Ironman if I can stop traveling so much.

Although my weekly habits goal is 80%, during the weeks when I reach or surpass it, I get this creeping sense that the habits are running me and not vice-versa. So that is something I’m paying attention to. Because habits should support goals and desires and work in partnership, and not always as a boss.

Finally I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the concept of a Personal Bible. I’m sure others have come up with very similar ideas. It’s just a collection of your favorite texts and quotes and poems and book excerpts whose wisdom you want to sink in deeply. I try to read from my own every night and it’s a tremendous source of insight and a solid mental anchor. You can even use my copy which I try to update monthly.

Abraham Lincoln’s principle for greatness can be adopted by nearly all. This was his rule: Whatsoever he had to do at all, he put his whole mind in to it and held it and held it all there until that was all done. – Russell Conwell in Acres of Diamonds

Why do I track and share this stuff? Click here.

Cheers! Happy habit-ing.

Daily Habits Checklist (February 27 – March 19): Controllable time and The Sovereign Individual

The last three weeks were very good, after almost two months of crappy scores. If you saw my earlier checklists you’ll understand the reasons for this swing: in January and February my time was spent on business projects and business travel, and in March I shifted back to working for myself.

Working for yourself is one way to maximize the amount of time in a typical day that’s under your control. Let’s call it “controllable time”. I’ve come to realize that having many hours of controllable time is almost essential if I’m to maintain the habits that I consider necessary for a good and fulfilled life. Like the habits listed above: Writing and publishing. Exercising and meditating. Socializing and exploring.

Above money, above fame, sometimes above even love and intimacy, I value having large amounts of this controllable time. A big piece of what attracts me to a writer’s lifestyle is this almost pure expression of life freedom. You can choose to spend each day, every day, exactly as you wish. Much of the time it’s wasted, but it’s wasted wilfully. It’s not perfect by any means, as each day is a kind of mental torture. As a friend elegantly put it, “you have to constantly outwit yourself to get anything done.” This might seem strange or selfish to some. For others it may feel like an indulgence or a luxury best enjoyed in small doses. For me it has slowly become a necessity. I crave it and I look forward to it, each and every day.

Current book: The Sovereign Individual. A rare book which is living up to its buzz within tech circles. Forecasts and describes a future where individuals gain increasing sovereignty at the expense of nation-states. Because technology empowers the individuals who know how to create and exploit it, and because organized violence – the state’s most effective and reliable tool – is increasingly outdated and ineffective. There was no Kindle version, but I managed to find a PDF and then convert it to mobi. If you’d like a copy, email me.

Current quote:

The best lovers do not have the best bodies. They are not the best-looking, and they do not have the largest respective body parts. What they do have is the best attitude: they are completely enthusiastic. – Lou Paget

Why do I track and share this stuff? Click here. Thanks for reading!