🧑🏼‍🚀 Blueprint 023

2023 wins and losses, 2024 goals and strategy, biggest learnings & advice for my younger self

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

It’s been 23 weeks since I went on my own full-time.

Today’s topics:

  • 📕 | 2023 Recap

  • 🏆 | 2023 Wins and losses

  • 🔮 | 2024 Goals and strategy

  • 🫡 | Biggest learnings/advice for younger me

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 ✌🏼👩🏻‍🚀

2023 RECAP
2023 Recap

I took this week off to fully reflect and recharge for 2024 (hence the super weak metrics).

What an insane year.

  • 192 short-form videos published (50+ went viral on either IG, Tiktok, or both)

  • 23 editions of Blueprint sent

  • 7 podcast episodes recorded

  • Hundreds of millions of views across all platforms

  • 469,000 followers (that’s 7 full Cleveland Browns stadiums)

  • Recognized twice by strangers on the street

2023 will always be the year that changed everything for me.

The metrics (income especially) don’t yet reflect my new reality, but that’s okay at this stage…quantifiable success is a lagging indicator of mindset shifts.

2023 was the year where I fully bet on myself and changed the way I viewed the world.

I was a wantrapreneur watching from the couch, launching half-assed side projects without giving them the intensity and creative oxygen they needed to succeed.

Next week, it’ll be 6 months since I quit my corporate job. I’ve never worked harder in my life. I’ve never cared more about what I was doing.

I didn’t know what it was like to go all-in on something with pure incentive alignment and unbridled creative freedom.

I know now that there’s nothing like it.

If you’re reading this, I can’t thank you enough.

The support, the messages, the shares…it really does all add up.

As I’ve said countless times, the only goal for a maker (creator, entrepreneur, builder) is to stay in the game long enough for their skills to catch up to their vision.

This gap will eventually close for anyone and everyone, as long as they keep playing long enough to let it happen.

The collective support from friends, family, and early supporters means everything in the beginning, because usually, it’s the only signal that a maker should keep going.

For me, that skill → vision gap is starting close. Things are starting to click. I’m seeing the board differently now.

I’m officially past the point where winning is a question.

From here on out, the only things left to figure out are how big, how soon, and with whom.

You guys helped keep me in the game long enough to make it through the one-way door and permanently jailbreak any remaining limiting beliefs.

And for that, I’ll be forever grateful.

2023 WINS AND LOSSES
2023 wins and losses

Before setting a strategy for 2024, I think it’ll be helpful to take an unemotional view at what worked/failed in 2023.

What worked:
  1. 🎁 | Storytelling packaging (topic + story + packaging approach) - The way I approached storytelling really resonated. This is a bit art and a bit science, but it combines my topic selection, storytelling framework and delivery/visual style. I know this because I consistently notched super high engagement, high shares, and support from peers

  2. ⚡️ | Business strategy breakdowns - The topic category that consistently outperformed was “business strategy breakdowns.” This is when I simplify the news/moves around a person/company/event in a consumable and creative way, usually highlighting the business strategy or behind the scenes implications. This category feels most “one of one” for me in short-form video

  3. ✍🏼 | Blueprint - My favorite thing to create each week is Blueprint. I’ve never shipped anything with more positive endorsement. This feels like backbone of everything I do and a cult favorite for true fans

  4. 🤝 | Meeting other creators - Towards the end of the year, I made a conscious effort to start meeting with other creators. These conversations have been immensely helpful at opening up my mind to different approaches and strategies. Everyone is playing the game a little differently, and realizes that winning isn’t zero sum. I’m optimistic these will be relationships I build for a long time

  5. 🎯 | Focusing on one content medium to start - For the first 6 months, all I did was make short-form videos. By maximally narrowing my focus to a single creative package, I was able to iterate and compound my skills the fastest. I’m now realizing the need to diversify away from short-form only, but in the beginning, while I was still trying to build skills, focusing on one type of content was extremely helpful

What didn’t work:
  1. 📊 | Growing my following - 460K followers may seem like a lot, but for my consistent engagement and virality, that number should have been a lot higher. And while I believe follower count matters less in reality, brands still consider it heavily when deciding who to work with. My slow growing following either suggests that something about my “internet resume” is underoptimized (bio, prof pic, niche) or my first-glance likability isn’t maxed out. Either way, this is something that I’d like to improve over time

  2. 👀 | Copying other people’s formats - There were several times where I saw other people make videos that went hella viral (in a format/topic that was significantly outside my sweet spot). I figured, “If I’m a better storyteller than them, why not just make the same video, but better?” This wasn’t smart. What I failed to realize (out of arrogance) is that there’s a reason their videos were doing well…they had an authentic slant to make videos in that style, or had perfect algo timing. Almost without fail, any time I tried this, my version of the video flopped and I wasted a rep.

  3. 💰 | Monetization - I’m going to sound like a broken record on this until I figure it out, but I haven’t yet cracked monetization. More to come here

  4. 😣 | Burn out - I have a higher tolerance for doing grunt work than most people (if I think it’s the right strategic play). But in the last few weeks, I noticed I started to burn out from the content treadmill. My typical day usually consists of 3-5 hours of editing for one short-form video. Editing is something that I don’t think I’m great at and really don’t enjoy. In order to have longevity making content, I need to start automating the things that I don’t like doing or the burn out will get worse

  5. | Shiny object syndrome - At the beginning, I was pretty good at staying super focused. This was mostly because I had no traction, limited opportunities were coming in, and realized the need to close the skill gap above all else. Towards the end of the year, lots of interesting opportunities came up and I felt my focus start to fracture. I started chasing things I shouldn’t have, which took away from efficiency and content growth. There’s no surprise that my audience growth slowed as this shiny object syndrome grew. My realization is that I have to earn the right to chase shiny objects only after I automate/delegate the core workload. Can’t do it until then

2024 GOALS AND STRATEGY
2024 goals and strategy

Tbh, I’m not a huge goals guy.

I think people that set attainable goals fall victim to either moving the goalposts when they’re behind or throttling down their intensity when they’re ahead of pace.

I typically just pick a direction, sprint relentlessly towards it and see what happens.

But I do believe it’s super helpful to define those overarching north stars so you know which direction to sprint in.

Here’s what I want to focus on in 2024:

  1. Directional “soft” KPIs: Get closer to being “one of one”, maintain 10/10 content quality, maintain 10/10 audience trust, increase output frequency and breadth. If I trend this way on all 4 of these things, I’ll win on a long-enough time horizon

  2. Teaming up: My homie Jordan has this sick concept called Dowithin. It stands for “do dope things with dope people in cool places.” One of my focuses for 2024 is to find more A players with taste and world build with them. Roberto and I found something special in 2023 that I think will be an amazing platform and business for us moving forward. I’d like to team build with more awesome people in this way

  3. Specific “hard” KPIs:

    1. 250K+ subscribers on YouTube (with 99th percentile engagement metrics)

    2. 100K+ subscribers on wknds Pod YouTube (with 99th percentile engagement metrics)

    3. 1M+ followers on Instagram (with 99th percentile engagement metrics)

    4. 50K+ subscribers on Blueprint newsletter (with 99th percentile engagement metrics)

    5. $500K+ in revenue (with zero audience trust loss)

I realize these specific KPIs are more output metrics (it’s better to set input metrics like, “post 5 times per week on YouTube” and not worry about the results).

For me, I know I’m going to go as hard as I possibly can on the inputs and we live in a results driven world, so these are an easier way to measure if the inputs are effective.

What needs to go right for me to win?
  1. 📈 | Leverage - I have to figure out how to scale myself and automate my time out of the things I’m not best at (like video editing)

  2. 💵 | Monetization - I have to figure out the right monetization mix that allows me to use max leverage without risking quality. Also so I can afford food

  3. 👌🏼 | Quality and Trust - I must maintain content quality and max audience trust

ADVICE TO MYSELF
Biggest lessons/learnings from a younger version of me

Most advice is bullshit.

Not because the lessons aren’t valuable, but because the person sharing them will never have the exact same life context & scenario as you.

So take these with a grain of salt.

But when I was 21, I was super lost. I was a really late bloomer in establishing independent views about how the world worked.

If I could teleport back to my 21 year old self, and give him advice, here are some of the things I would share.

  1. 🌎 | The world is malleable -  Society is designed to make you think the world is rigid. People will tell you, “that’s just the way things are.” This is a lie. The world is closer to Play-Doh than rock. The only true laws are physics. Almost anything else about the way the world works can be bent to your will with enough effort and intention. Most of the “rules” we live by were invented by people just like you and enforced by others that are too lazy to question them. If you need to make something happen outside the normal societal construct, your default assumption should be that it can be done

  2. 👅 | Seek and surround yourself with taste - Taste is the invisible force that makes things popular. The difference between people liking something and not is if the maker has taste. Finding people with taste that don’t want to start their own thing is rare. If you find them, do everything you can to hire them. You can teach people skills. You can’t teach them taste. If they don’t want to work for you, find a way to partner with them on something. Natural taste is a gift

  3. 💨 | The most important trait - When you hire or partner with people, there’s one trait that matters more than anything else…a bias for action. People that bring intensity to what they do and have a super high bias for action will move mountains. Talkers talk. Doers do. As soon as you get a sense that someone doesn’t have a high bias for action, move on

  4. 🐺 | Building alone sucks - I used to have a lone wolf mentality. I wanted full control, I wanted to direct the creative. I wanted all the upside. Here’s the thing…99% of the time, you don’t have the competency in every area to be able to build something of value yourself. And in the 1% of cases that you do, it’s lonely and not fun. Your goal is to find high agency people and build with them. Don’t build alone

  5. 📈 | Leverage is the 8th wonder of the world - Leverage is the difference between hobby businesses and generational wealth. Content takes advantage of internet distribution leverage. Capital and headcount are other forms of leverage. Here’s an example of why leverage is so important. Consulting is zero leverage. 1 hour in gets me 1 hour of pay. I can’t increase hours in a day. I can only sell each hour one time. Courses use digital leverage. 1 hour in to make a course could mean infinite pay. I could sell the course 1 million times with no additional work. That’s leverage. Your goal is to get leverage working for you as soon as possible

  6. 🤔 | How to think about failure - Here’s the thing about failure…the people that say failure doesn’t affect them are full of shit. Failure sucks. But here’s why failure is important. You only have two goals if you want to be an entrepreneur…build valuable skills that you can use to do something or learn how to recognize patterns. That’s it. The only way to actually learn skills is to do something yourself. When you try to do something without the skills to do it, you will fail. And that sucks. But the sawdust of failing is skill acquisition. You can only truly learn those skills by doing it at least once, and that usually means failing. Failing a lot means the sting starts to hurt less, because you realize the only way to build skills is to get stung

  7. 🧩 | Pattern recognition - As mentioned in #6, the other thing you want to learn is how to recognize patterns. Pattern recognition is being able to pick out the winning moves amongst all the possible moves in the game. Every game is made of winning and losing moves. By definition, to see the pattern, you need to know what both winning and losing moves look like. If you only win, you won’t be able to see the patterns when you play a new game. When you can’t see the pattern, winning is unpredictable and inconsistent. Failure is getting a front-row seat to what losing moves look like. You need to see the losing moves to be able to identify the winning moves in a new space

  8. 🤝 | Incentive Alignment - The entire world operates on a single principle…incentive alignment. Is the person you’re working with incentivized properly to do the thing you want them to do? If yes, they will do the thing up to their skill level. If no, they will fall short of max effort. Charlie Munger famously said, “show me the incentives and I’ll show you the outcome.” If you’re not getting what you want, the other party doesn’t have the right incentives. To change this, ask yourself, “If I were them, what would make this a no brainer deal.”

  9. 🙏🏻 | Where to start when you have ambition and no skills - Here’s a tactical one. Walk around with a notebook for 7 days and write down the things that you naturally find yourself talking/thinking about. After 7 days, you’ll have a list of topics where your authentic interest lies. When you have zero skills and zero direction, the best thing to do is start working on something within your authentic interests. This is because it’ll give you the best chance to keep working on it long enough to build some skill of value. The easiest way to “action” on that interest (in 2024) is to make content. That may not always be the right play, but for now it is. Make content about that topic in the format that you’re least likely to quit (video, audio, writing). And just keep doing that as long as you can. The more effort and intensity you bring to it, the sooner interesting things and other opportunities will start happening

  10. 🛑 | Not quitting - This is an easy one, but literally all you have to do is not quit. The bar is so low in society for winners that if you stick with almost anything for a decade, you’ll be one of the best in the world. This means it’s probably more important to pick the right hill to climb than to know if you have the willpower to climb it. It’ll work if you just keep climbing.

  11. 💂🏻 | Corporate Jobs - Corporate jobs are the right move for 99% of people. There are several benefits to working one. First, they pay you to learn a skill of value. Second, they teach you the basics of how the majority of the world works (e.g., how to write and email and buy lunch). Third, if you hate it, it’ll give you something to run from. But it’s important to know the truth about corporate jobs. Unless you get equity in the company, you will never be max incentive aligned at a corporate job. Again, this is okay for 99% of the world because they don’t really care about being max incentive aligned. But if you’re in that other 1%, and you have the entrepreneurial itch to control your own destiny, it’s important to know that there will eventually be a time where the corporate job takes more from you (time, opportunity, momentum) than it gives (money, skills, perks). When that time comes, leave immediately.

  12. 🧮 | Outliers - Power laws exist everywhere on earth. 80% is made and won by the 20%. On the internet, it’s more like 99% is made and kept by the 1%. To be the 1%, you have to be original. You have to be an outlier. It’s easiest to do this if you are a one of one. The best way to be a one of one (really the only way) is to lean 100% into your unique combination of skills, interests, and abilities. Your natural drift. Nobody on earth will have the exact same combination of skills, interests and abilities. This is the moat that never evaporates. Find it, and pursue hard

  13. | Time horizons - It’s cliche, but thinking in decades is the only way to win big. A year just isn’t enough time to let compounding work aggressively. Warren Buffet made most of his wealth after the age of 65. This is because it takes compounding a while to get going. It can be hard to implement this thinking in practice, especially if you don’t have the money saved or consistent income to pay your bills this week. A helpful and practical frame is to do whatever you can to reduce burn and then make short-term money moves to cover burn. Maybe this means you reduce your monthly family spend from $10K to $6K and then take one brand deal per month worth $6K to cover that burn. After the burn is covered, everything else should be long-term focused with decades of reputation on the line

  14. 🥷🏻 | Don’t rob from tomorrow to pay for today - Lately I’ve been staying up super late to finish something that I want out ”today”. That basically means I sleep terribly and then have a negative effect on the next couple days. Short-term thinking would say this is okay. Don’t fall for this trap. If you think in decades, the difference between one day and the next is immaterial. Set guidelines for workload so that you can be at max productivity each day. Don’t sacrifice tomorrow for today.

  15. ❤️ | Health - Health is the most important thing. Here are the things you can do that actually add up. Sleep above everything. Make sure to sleep as much as you can. Drink electrolytes in the morning. Cold showers/cold plunge before working out actually works super well. Limit alcohol, drugs, and sugar. High protein, carnivore style diet. Creatine. Don’t use phone right when you wake up or before bed. This will get you 95% of the way there

  16. 🎯 | Self belief vs belief in strategy - There’s a difference between questioning your self-belief and your belief in a strategy. There will be times when you’re lost. This means you might have picked the wrong path to go down. Never question your self-belief, but always be willing to question if the strategy was wrong. Don’t confuse these things

  17. 💪🏼 | Work - “The magic you’re looking for is on the other side of the work you’re avoiding.” This is a Hormozi quote. Here’s the thing about trying to find the lazy, shortcut way of doing things…you might be able to find a short-term win, but you won’t have built the skills to allow you to do that thing at a high level for a long time. This means after the short-term luck runs out, you’ll only be older at the same skill level. Lucky wins don’t compound because they’re inconsistent. Do the work

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