🧑🏼‍🚀 Blueprint 034

The Wall, suffering, luxury everything, creators are underpriced, Devin, whiplash, expectations

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.

My goal with Blueprint is to provide an unusual level of transparency into my highest leverage learnings, frameworks, and ideas. Mostly because, in my view, the only thing more legendary than winning is open sourcing the whole thing for my friends

It’s been 34 weeks since I went on my own full-time.

Today’s topics:

  • 📈 | Week 34 recap and metrics

  • 🤖 | Devin says…creators are underpriced

  • 🎯 | Jensen Huang on suffering, expectations, and greatness

  • 🧱 | The Wall

  • | Luxury everything

A reminder that the 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 worlds. If that’s you…let’s ride 👩🏻‍🚀

WEEKLY RECAP
Recap

I love writing Blueprint because it forces me to regularly reflect on my progress.

I don’t use therapy, journaling, or meditation, so it has become a critical form of deep thinking for me.

But I’ve realized it also comes with a significant downside…whiplash.

Most operators make micro-tweaks on a daily basis, but there’s a reason they only gut-check their macro strategy a few times per year.

Strategic moves take time to play out. The loop of “decide, execute, analyze, iterate” requires significant time & reps to judge fairly.

Because of my Blueprint cadence, I’ve been running that gut-check review cycle on a weekly basis, sometimes with as few as 2-3 reps to inform my reaction.

This is suboptimal. It feels like the ADHD of strategic discipline.

If you’ve been reading for a while, you’ll know that I constantly experiment and like to adjust my strategy accordingly.

Upon reflection, this real-time iteration speed has done more harm than good.

Because if you zoom all the way out, it’s a looping video of me taking two steps forward, spinning around 180 degrees, and taking two more steps in the opposite direction.

I’ve been running in place for the past 2 months.

So moving forward, I’m not going to use Blueprint to analyze my personal progress as frequently.

I’m still going to write weekly, but will broaden the topics I cover and only dive into my detailed strategy/execution analysis 1x/month (next one in ep 36).

This will hopefully give my strategic decisions more time to breathe and give me space to drive more tactical value for you.

CREATORS ARE UNDERPRICED

Scott Wu (Founder of Cognition) based at 12 years old

Devin blew my mind and sent me down a wild rabbit hole

If you live in the tech world, you’ve probably seen the Devin demo.

Devin is the first capable AI Software Agent, built by Cognition Labs (you can see their founder at 12 years old bodying a math competition here).

When I say capable, I mean that (per the demo) Devin can build, deploy, and repair software bugs on its own.

Many are referencing the Devin launch as the ChatGPT moment for agents…the first example of a fully functional, end-to-end AI.

Another popular metaphor being used is Roger Bannister and the 4-minute mile.

Before Roger, no one had ever broken 4 minutes for the mile. In that era, people assumed it was a physical impossibility.

Then, Roger said hold my beer and ran a 3:59:40.

Just 2 months later, an Australian bloke named John Landy did it as well.

The general theory is that as soon as one person/company proves something is possible, the rest of the world remaps how they think about the problem.

I believe Devin will inspire the next wave of capable AI agents in all categories, ushering in a new class of productivity.

And this is where my thought spiral started…

Let’s fast forward 3-5 years (or maybe sooner).

We’re going to have agents for everything. Coding, design, copywriting, sales, video editing, legal, tax, bookkeeping, etc.

Anything that can be done on the internet, will be done by a specialized AI agent.

Each of these agents will be available via a subscription fee and turned on in just a few clicks.

A good proxy for this is how Stripe instantly enables anyone to accept payments online or how Shopify created a 10-minute workflow for building an e-commerce storefront.

They took a closed door (payments, ecomm) and gave everyone the garage code.

Now take that framework and apply it to everything.

Agents will enable entrepreneurs to launch companies with zero employees and limited capital. Entrepreneurs will become head of the command center, controlling dozens to hundreds of agents simultaneously.

So what happens next…

For one…I don’t think everyone will lose their jobs. This tends to be the gut defensive reaction from most people I talk to about this*

But it does mean that the moat shifts from “technical skills” to “brand, taste, trust, and distribution.”

If there are 500 companies that build a new version of Slack, which one will win?

  • When technical ability is commoditized; taste, brand, and distribution become the differentiators

  • When technical ability and brand are commoditized; taste and distribution become the differentiators

  • When technical ability, brand, and taste are commoditized; distribution becomes the differentiator

In a world of millions of capable products, whoever can get in front of the buyer wins. This is where trust meets distribution.

And creators are trust at scale.

Owned distribution, with max trust, becomes the most valuable thing in a world of infinite brands.

And I’m not saying this to talk my own book because I’m a “creator”…I believe content as we currently think of it will also cease to exist.

If there are 1M creators today, there will be 1B in 3 years, 999M based around synthetic personalities with completely AI driven workflows.

Maybe these will be so good, and so indistinguishable from human accounts, that the sheer volume will overwhelm buyers and people will just buy from whatever they see.

But my gut tells me this isn’t how things will play out.

I think there will be some forced differentiation between AI generated and human generated.

The same way people buy organic food today will be how they look at content (human vs robot).

If it plays out this way, then human creators, with trust at scale, will be the most valuable piece of the company stack.

*Oh and btw, when this happens, I think the bottom 30% of performers will lose their jobs (forced to reskill), but the top 70% will get 5-100x more productive and the world will just progress faster. It’s not that companies will lay everyone off, it’s that they’ll just do 5x as much and grow 5x faster. The value will accrue to companies max leveraging this (tech companies). NFA.

JENSEN “BDE” HUANG
Jensen Huang on suffering, greatness, and expectations

There was an amazing clip that circulated this week from Jensen Huang (CEO of Nvidia) during a talk at Stanford.

He says, “You at Stanford should have high expectations because you’re graduating from one of the top universities in the world. But people with high expectations have low resilience…and resilience matters in success. I don’t know how to teach you resilience other than to hope suffering happens to you. I look at suffering within Nvidia with great glee, because it helps build the right company culture.”

It’s an absolute all-timer of a clip.

And I share this because I believe much of life, happiness, and success boils down to expectations vs reality.

I’ve been tweeting about my “Happiness Formula” for many years.

Happiness = Reality - Expectations

When expectations are set, and remain low, you’ll always be happy with the outcome. The key is having the discipline to keep expectations low.

I’ve struggled with this more than ever as a creator.

Here’s the path that ends up happening to most…

  1. Start creating with low expectations

  2. Experience traction faster than expected

  3. Imagine a new reality based on maintaining this traction

  4. Raise expectations to match newly imagined reality

  5. Traction slows down, reverts to normal

  6. True reality misses new expectations

  7. You’re unhappy because your new expectations exceeded your new reality

And so on.

This is a vicious cycle and one that has put me in the blender for the past few months.

As mentioned above, the only solve for this is to keep your expectations consistently low.

It’s easier said than done.

Moving forward, I’m resetting my baseline back to zero (will report back in episode 36 on this).

THE WALL
The Wall

As you can tell from this post, I’ve been doing a lot of high level reflection lately.

I started to get in a bad headspace with my content.

Everything felt off...my approach, style, delivery, everything.

I watched my videos back and hated them. New ideas weren’t jumping off the page like they used to.

And I’ve noticed that this general malaise towards long-term projects happens consistently, every 6 months or so.

So of course, like with everything, I gave it a name.

I call it The Wall.

The Wall is what happens when progress gets boring and your mind seeks something else.

Here’s how it typically manifests…

When you’re starting a new project, you have nothing but tailwinds and eagerness.

You’re willing to burn the candle at both ends, find inventive solutions, soak up knowledge like a sponge.

As you learn and grow in the first few months, you start to win. Winning feels good. You like winning.

So you double down.

More effort, better ideas, tighter execution.

You keep winning and growing, until one day, you stop.

Something changed. You’re bored of doing the same thing over and over again.

Your new ideas dry up. Your execution gets sloppy. You start losing relative to your peers.

You, my friend, just hit The Wall.

Most people think The Wall is a signal to stop…maybe this thing you poured 6 months into wasn’t really your passion.

No.

The Wall is the last object in the way before another run higher.

True greatness comes from buckling down and getting over The Wall…every time it shows up in your life.

Over the last few months, I hit The Wall as a creator.

I wasn’t considering giving up (I’ll die before I quit), but I had no clue how to get over it.

Fortunately, I just cracked it, and I’d bet anything if you watch my metrics over the next month, it will appear like something massive changed.

So what changed?

To get over the wall, you need to take a few steps back, drop all the extra weight you’re carrying, and sprint at it.

The extra weight are the new initiatives, the added complexity, the overthinking, the side projects. It’s holding you back and weighing you down.

To climb The Wall, shed the weight….then sprint.

Go back to what got you excited in the first place and chase that spark again.

For me, this was making content about what I found interesting, regardless of the audience it built.

I’m no psychologist, but I bet most people hit The Wall every 6-12 months out of pure boredom.

Life is a video game and most people don’t like playing the same level over and over.

The truth is that mastery is on the other side of The Wall.

LUXURY EVERYTHING
Luxury Everything

Last week, I had an awesome conversation with one of my favorite creators, Oren John (podcast will be out this week).

One of the best ideas that fell from the tree is what I call, luxury everything.

Society is primed to accept a luxury version in every category. 10x the price. 3x the quality.

We’ve seen this in typical luxury categories like handbags (Hermes), suitcases (Rimowa), planes (NetJets), watches (Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe).

But we’re now also seeing it in commodity categories like shower heads (Jolie), cookware (Le Crueset), espresso machines (Breville), candles (Diptyque).

Consumers are willing to pay in excess because our current culture runs on status games.

One day, I’ll launch my own physical products company (for the sport of it).

And when I do, it’ll be designed around a single marketing principle (the most powerful flywheel in the today’s market)

The best products are ones where the viral loop comes from the status of owning the product.

There’s only one force more powerful than product quality…status.

Take Erewhon for example, a luxury, high-end grocery store chain in Los Angeles.

Erewhon is known for their smoothies, which they design in collaboration with celebrities/influencers like Hailey Bieber.

They sell them for $20…which for all intents and purposes, is a “luxury item” in the smoothie category.

Because the smoothie has embedded status in it, people order it so that they can post it on their IG…to unlock and capture that “status value.”

They get the smoothie (great product) plus the status.

This, of course, is driving a viral loop for Erewhon.

Their friends in the area see the smoothie, go to Erewhon, buy their own, and the cycle continues.

Commodity brands with great products only drive organic shares because of product quality or cult brand loyalty.

Luxury brands with great products drive organic shares because of product quality, cult brand loyalty, and embedded status.

Another example of this was the Apple Vision Pro.

The headset cost $4K, absurd for a first gen piece of hardware…but everybody who bought it, posted about it for weeks on social.

Why?

Because there was embedded social status in showing you could afford one.

There’s only two ways to create a product with embedded status:

  • A luxury brand (with a high price/quality bar)

  • A commodity brand (with scarce supply)

If you’re creating a brand, figure out how to tap into the status value, and you’ll have a infinite growth flywheel.

CONTENT FROM THIS WEEK

My best content from this week:

  1. 🙅🏻 | Will Tiktok get banned in the US?: Watch

  2. 🤷🏻‍♂️ | The #1 reason why creators fail: Watch

  3. 🧑🏼‍🚀 | Blueprint 033 - The best YouTube playbook I've ever seen, cracking short-form, creator vs corporates, Kallaway's number, the IG depth hack: Read

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