🧑🏼‍🚀 Blueprint 013

The biggest opportunity I've seen in a while, the Money Governor, the Originality Paradox, the Weirdo Impulse, Taylor Swift

Welcome back to Blueprint, a series where I share an unfiltered, behind-the-scenes look into my journey as a full-time creator & entrepreneur.

It’s been 13 weeks since I went on my own full-time.

Today’s topics:

  • 🧮 | Week 13 metrics & earnings

  • 👩‍🎨 | The Weirdo Impulse

  • 😳 | The biggest opportunity I’ve seen in a while

  • 🏎️ | Breaking the Money Governor

  • 🤔 | The Originality Paradox

A reminder that this internet game is not zero-sum. Everyone reading this can win at an unlimited scale. I’m writing this for the internet astronauts building their own digital worlds. If that’s you…let’s ride ✌🏼👩🏻‍🚀

WEEKLY RECAP
Weekly Recap

Before we dive in, I want to say thanks to everyone who reached out after reading last week’s episode…it meant a lot and I really appreciate all the support.

I was definitely in a weaker headspace than normal last week, but I assure you, there is no quit in me on this journey…someone will have to drag me off the field to get me to stop playing.

That being said, I think it’s really important to share those raw moments of vulnerability, particularly during the shitty times.

So thanks to everyone who is rocking with me 🙌

The good news is, I felt great this week! A few key takeaways:

  • Performance: It was one of my stronger weeks (2nd highest earning). Definitely helps when you have a banger. Even though my other videos (Character AI, Netflix, Generative Fill) didn’t go super viral, they felt like solid swings in my signature style

  • Taylor Swift is carrying me: I can assure you I am not this big of a Taylor Swift fan. When I started out making content, I heard someone notable say that “if you find something that works, keep hammering it and don’t ask questions.” My Taylor Swift video from this week did 4.7M views and was shared 57K times. I have now published 5 Taylor Swift related videos that have accounted for 30M views 😅 I’m going to chill on the T-Swift content for now, but it baffles me how much my Taylor Swift takes (from a non-Swiftie) have resonated with the internet

  • Less attachment to specific video results: I’m noticing a slight decrease in my direct emotional response to how individual videos perform. I still care about the numbers and check (more than I’d like to admit), but am aware of a positive shift towards a different measure…how well am I showing up? If I can sit down with intention, be authentically engaged in the process, and take a legitimate rip at a good idea, I’m starting to be okay with the result no matter what is it. If you’re a creator, strive to unlock this. I’m still nowhere close to having complete detachment from video performance (nor do I think I’ll ever get there), but this shift seems like a positive sign for longevity

  • Rick Rubin and John Mayer: Rick Rubin (legendary music producer) has a podcast called Tetragrammaton (which apparently means God). He has a very calming nature and speaks in a way that never feels rushed (which can be soothing to listen to when you’ve been ramped up to 11 for a few days in a row). I started listening to a pod he did with John Mayer which is really interesting if you like music/art. One of things they discussed is how the creative process works for John. He said that he never quite knows when that magic moment of inspiration will strike, but as soon as it does, he clears everything in his life and doesn’t leave the studio until the song is completed. Because as soon as you leave, sleep, or do whatever else you think you need to you, you’re always a “different person” when you come back the next day. Often times, once the magic is gone, it will never come back for that confluence of ideas at that perfect time. I feel the same way about creating content. When I have an idea, I get so obsessed with it that nothing else matters. I don’t eat, I don’t sleep, I just chase. This is where the gold comes from

I typically don’t like holding back great ideas to pace them out on future episodes. When I get ‘em, you get ‘em, so that’s why some episodes end up longer than others.

If you look forward to reading Blueprint and some of today’s episode resonates with you, please share with a creator/entrepreneur friend you think would also like it.

DOING

The biggest opportunity I’ve seen in a while

My First Million is my favorite podcast. If you don’t listen and you like Blueprint, you’d like it.

On a recent episode, Shaan referenced something I call, “The Weirdo Impulse.”

It goes something like this…

  • You’re scanning the market looking for interesting things that could be “untapped opportunities”

  • You come across some weird niche behavior that seems insane and is coming from a person you either don’t know or already think is a weirdo

  • Your impulse is to immediately think, “this person is crazy…what they’re doing is weird” and you write it off in your head

It turns out that if you have honed your curiosity detector at all, most of these weird impulses are actually massive opportunities that you stumbled across at the right time but were too closed-minded to let yourself see. And you miss the wave.

There have been several of these during the last few years including crypto, investing during Covid, NFTs, inflation, psychedelics, AI, etc. The list goes on.

AirBnb, Uber, and most of the early 2010s batch of consumer startups could have been viewed this way as well.

After missing a lot of these, I have started training my brain to run into the burning building even as my gut tells me it’s just a weirdo with a stupid hobby.

Current signals I’ve gotten in this realm include: VTubing (virtual YouTubing), AI licensure for artists/celebrities, psychedelic therapy, GLP-1 drugs + complementary therapies (e.g., Ozempic), etc.

But I’ve just experienced this yet again with another huge one…Tiktok Shop.

Today, I’m going to introduce the high-level framing and more “strategic thinking” for why I think there is something massive here.

I’ll get into the tactics in future weeks, but won’t cover them now because I haven’t had a chance to effectively leverage it myself yet. I don’t like to write about lessons I haven’t yet learned.

I’m also going to make a video on this in the next few days, but here’s the crux of my thinking…

I think Tiktok has a legitimate shot at challenging Amazon.

And I know that sounds fucking ludicrous. Amazon basically has a protected monopoly on “internet goods.” They used their early mover advantage and long-term thinking to slowly build the greatest distribution network in the world and also happened to develop the most widely adopted cloud computing platform as a side project.

You’d think they be untouchable. Here’s why I’m not so sure…

If you’re not familiar, Tiktok Shop is a product marketplace that lives within Tiktok. They make it super easy for creators to link products directly within a video so a user can buy instantly.

When I first saw Tiktok shop, I thought it was a joke. It was basically a marketplace of low quality Chinese knock-off products that creators could push with super high affiliate commissions.

Tiktok gave certain creators a free $100 credit to order sample products for free and then ideally, make videos about them.

Most of the products were obvious rip-offs and any video endorsing them was obviously a cash grab. To give you a sense, the products were so bad that I didn’t even want to take the time to cash in my free $100 gift card on them.

So of course, even though I saw a couple creators playing with it, I wrote it off. [Narrator: Kallaway was yet again being an idiot]

Fast forward 3ish months…

Tiktok Shop has become a meaningful channel for many ecommerce brands. I’m seeing lots of tweets that look like this…

And if you’re like me, you’re kind of trained to just scroll past these types of tweets because they are most likely from threadbois trying to leverage you into buying their Tiktok Shop growth course.

But if you want to be more successful in business, start thinking about these “Weirdo Impulses” the opposite way.

Instead of wondering, “Why is Tiktok Shop a scam?”

Ask yourself, “Why might this be true?”

Here’s why I think Tiktok could beat Amazon…

Amazon has a 2-step purchase journey:

  1. I see someone doing something that reminds me of a need

  2. I go to Amazon and find the product to solve my need

Two steps. Until now, this was the best of the best.

Tiktok has created a 1-step purchase journey:

  1. I see someone doing something that reminds me of a need and I buy on the same screen

Amazon’s weakness is that it isn’t the source of inspiration for needs. Its homepage has been optimized by thousands of engineers to help provide inspiration for different products you could buy, but those are not demonstrated in pain points.

Tiktok has built the ultimate need → product user experience.

Arguments on behalf of Amazon

If you’re an Amazon stan, you have two arguments here (one laughable and one legitimate):

  1. Laughable: Amazon can create the content vertical to rival Tiktok. Amazon is trying to get into this game with their vertical content feed, Inspire. Let’s be real…nobody is going to use that

  2. Legitimate: Amazon has the best selection of products and the most advanced distribution network in the world. Tiktok would need to catch up on both fronts to challenge Amazon

To the second point, you’re right and I agree, but Tiktok is making big moves.

Tiktok Shop has now evolved into a platform where any brand can sell any product. The shift was rapid. In a just a few months, it grew up from shitty Chinese knockoffs to a full-scale reseller platform.

Tiktok is offering more competitive affiliate commissions than Amazon and has an army of people (creators) that are already experts in making native content for the medium.

Amazon offers affiliate commissions but requires creators to figure out how to incorporate links into blogs, essays, and videos. Not native to Amazon.

Tiktok creators already know how to make videos on Tiktok. The creation to consumption loop is so much tighter.

If you’re having trouble seeing why this is so powerful for Tiktok think of it like this. Imagine if everyone on the Internet went to Amazon to consume their information. And then there were millions of people that created that content on Amazon’s platform that could also easily link to products from Amazon.

The content creation/consumption and the product marketplace under the same roof.

Tiktok has this. Amazon will not.

Tiktok is also offering huge free credits as a gateway drug for consumers. The same way DraftKings offers $200 free dollars in bonus bets when you first sign up for an account, Tiktok is giving users credit to the Tiktok shop (subsidizing initial purchases) as a way to crystallize the purchase behavior.

This would be like if Amazon gave every new Prime user a free $100 Amazon gift card to buy anything on the platform. Not happening.

On the distribution center point, Tiktok is signing up to lose hundreds of millions in the next few years to build their own distribution network in the US.

Once this is established they will have both the content (demand side) and the distribution (supply side).

If only I could think of another company that planned to lose money for twenty years while they heavily invested in building a distribution network only to flip a switch and print billions in free cash flow overnight 🤫

Let’s say I’ve convinced you that Tiktok Shop is a huge opportunity…what’s the play?

  • If you’re an ecommerce brand, there’s a huge opportunity to sell on Tiktok. Get your products on there immediately and start learning how to use it

  • If you’re a creator, there’s a huge opportunity to sell products on Tiktok and earn crazy commissions. But I don’t think the play is to just pump the Chinese knock-offs. I think the play is to partner with legitimate brands and be their wedge into the Tiktok game

I’m going to explore this deeply in the next few weeks. If you already have deep knowledge here, please DM me and we can do a deep dive.

Oh and btw, I think I have an idea for how Amazon can fight back…but I’ll save it for my video this week.

THINKING
Breaking the money governor

I grew up obsessed with golf…my family owns a public course in Ohio.

Being a part of the family business, I got to learn a lot about the ins and outs of greenskeeping, equipment, etc.

If you lift up the seat on most golf carts, you’ll see all the inner workings of the motor and batteries.

In there is a lever called the governor.

The governor is essentially a mechanical device that helps control the max speed of the cart.

Ever floored a golf cart and felt it max out at about ~15mph?

That’s because the governor was set to ensure drunk golfers don’t have uncontrolled speed to rip down hills and destroy the course.

Someone that knows what they’re doing can easily disable the governor to move much faster than everyone else.

I think about this often…most people are playing life with a governor on.

They have limits, often self-imposed, that control their thinking and keep their actions within set boundaries.

But if you can figure out how to remove the governor within your own mind, you’ll quickly realize the game can be played very differently.

There are all sorts of governors that the average person plays with:

  • How they view money (i.e., max amounts someone should reasonably be able to earn)

  • How they view relationships (i.e., what they can and can’t do)

  • How they view schooling (i.e., do they need to complete A degree to do B job)

  • Etc.

Most people don’t have an innate ability to break-free from their own governors. I definitely didn’t.

Unless you grow up in a family that trained you otherwise, it’s fairly typical to live within the rule set of mainstream society. What you see most often is what you assume is “right.”

It often takes an exogenous event to forcibly turn off one or more of your governors.

And once you do, it can either serve as a huge blindspot or a superpower.

The last crypto/NFT wave completely shattered my money governor. It no longer exists for me.

What does this mean tactically? I have a completely different relationship with money than I did before.

It’s like a chef that burned off the nerve endings in his/her fingers from touching hot pans so often.

My money nerve endings…the innate sensitivity that society trains you to have with respect to spending/earning money…are out of commission.

And I share this because I find money psychology to be one of those things that’s super interesting to think through.

Before the crypto/NFT wave, I was fairly conservative with money. I loved thinking about it, but I didn’t like talking about it. I was worried about it a lot and focused on controlling my expenses as much as possible.

My mind was extremely constrained with respect to what was possible from an earnings perspective. For example, earning $50K/month (~$600K/year) seemed impossible to fathom.

Surely people do it, but it didn’t seem within a feasible grasp to comprehend without being a high-paid lawyer or corporate executive.

During the NFT wave, there were days when I was buying and selling $30K digital pictures. One click…$30K gone. It was common to receive 5 figure airdrops. I was willingly paying transaction fees of $200-$400 multiple times per day.

Now if you read that and thought, “holy shit this dude is insane,” that’s a completely appropriate response. That means your money governor is working.

For me, I got to a point where I didn’t even feel it.

I’d imagine this is what most gamblers or Wall Street traders feel like pretty early into their careers.

Now I share this because from a psychology perspective, it has resulted in some amazing pros and pretty scary cons (if left unchecked):

The pros:

  • I now believe that earning $100K+/month is not only achievable, it’s fairly reasonable if you’re working in a capacity that has unlimited upside

  • I don’t spend time sweating small expenses that won’t move the needle negatively in the long run (e.g., the $5 coffee is a rounding error)

  • I don’t chase earning opportunities that won’t move the needle positively in the long run (e.g., I won’t spend 10 hours on something that will earn $200)

The cons:

  • I don’t feel everyday expenses as much, so I have to be very careful with what I spend money on

  • I have anchored my income expectations for what’s possible much higher than “normal” which could set up a dangerous gap in financial happiness unless I hit it

Fortunately, I’m not a compulsive gambler and don’t have any bad money habits that would drive me to put a lot on the line on a daily basis.

One of the reasons I stepped away from web3 was because I started to feel a detachment from reality, especially financially.

It kind of feels like I got just enough of a dose to have opened my mind and broken the money governor, but not enough to destroy me forever.

In the long-run, I think this money mindset trade-off is going to be a positive one.

The number one factor is preventing people from achieving what they want financially is the limiting self-belief that their number isn’t reasonable to achieve.

I shattered my ability to be unreasonable in that department.

But before I go any further, I want to make a quick disclaimer here…

I know money can be a bit of taboo topic that people get squeamish to talk about.

Talking about it so openly can make it seem like a) that’s all I’m focused on and b) I don’t have empathy for others and their situation with money.

Here’s the truth…

Money is a super important resource in today’s world. Most people are thinking about it. Most people are worried about it. It is the leading cause of divorce and the main reason why businesses fail.

Most people online peacock and share fake representations of what they have, what they earn, and how they earned it. This leads others that are reading their stuff to feel worse about themselves (I have been here).

I wish there were more people being super real about money. 

Not just what they make, but how they think about it, the mistakes they made with it, what they would do differently, etc.

I’m happy to share as much as I can, and I’ll always be raw, open, and honest.

Hopefully by now, if you’re reading this, you realize that any reference of money has nothing to do with bragging, and everything to do with helping to give a more realistic blueprint of what is possible.

That being said, I did want to check in with where I’m at so far financially on this creator journey. Here are a couple of notable facts:

  • I’m 3 months in and have earned $34,954. On pace for for an annual income of $139,800.

  • Most of my income thus far has come from brand deals and platform ad revenue shares (e.g., YouTube Adsense, Tiktok Creator fund, etc.)

  • I have zero digital products, zero active affiliate deals, and have not turned on brand deals in a meaningful way to this point. This was intentional, but will not be the case forever. My strategy for the first year was to make the best possible content as frequently as I could and let the money fall where it may. Year 2 would begin a more active focus on monetization

  • Before going full-time, I spent ~9 months making content on the side and monetized lightly through brand deals as a trial, but had zero head start before that

THINKING
The Originality Paradox

Here’s a short one about the paradox of being original.

The more original something is, the less normal it will feel.

The less normal it feels, the less innately confident you will be about making it.

This week I made 3 videos that were the closest I could be to n=1. It wasn’t that no one else in the world could have the takes I had, but the combination of take, story, delivery and packaging felt unique to me.

As a creator trying to establish a style, it can feel optimal to find people you like and emulate everything they do.

But by nature, this can never be original.

You will always be one standard deviation away from them, because at best you’re their best copy.

Originality is the gold standard because it can’t be beaten.

The common advice to find originality is to “just be yourself” long enough for something novel to happen.

Sadly this advice is too broad and most aren’t happy enough internally to want to be themselves.

Another way to approach it is to think about the unique combination of things that make you you.

I like thinking about business. I used to be a rapper. I think it metaphors. I like culture and brands. I gravitate towards design. My mind bends towards strategy and product.

When I combine those things together, I get something unique. I had been resisting this uniqueness because it didn’t look how other things looked from people I liked more than myself.

And this is a completely normal reaction.

But I’m starting to realize that uniqueness, even if not 100% perfect in your own eyes, is more valuable and rare than perfect execution of a clone on somebody else.

Because people only have enough real estate in their brain to remember one version of something.

Only way to be that is to be the one of one.

VIDEOS FROM THIS WEEK

Here are links to this week’s videos if you want to check them out:

  1. 🍿 | Taylor Swift broke the film industry: Watch on TT | IG | YT

  2. 💬 | 200M people are chatting with fake celebrities: Watch on TT | IG | YT

  3. 🗺️ | Netflix has a secret master plan: Watch on TT | IG | YT

  4. 🛌 | Interior design just got way easier*: Watch on TT | IG | YT

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