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what is life?
Zayn's Digest - September Edition
Life is an aggregation of several experiments. Some of these experiments are conducted individually. Some collaboratively. Each experiment includes a hypothesis where we can ask interesting questions, the experimentation process where we prove/disprove, and the analyzation phase where we gather insight, gather new ideas, and see if we need to validate another assumptions.
Right now, I’m in the phase of rapid experimentation. I want to test more of my hypothesis at a higher velocity.
This includes creating minimum viable products across several domains to answer my most important questions. In the case of this newsletter, I’ve been asking myself: what’s the best way to scale thoughts across 400 people? how do I create a newsletter focused on non-obvious insight? what does having a newsletter actually mean and how does it evolve as I evolve?
Based on these questions I opted to double-click on my first question. What’s the best way to scale thoughts across 400 people?
The past three months included blogs across the dominant questions I had in a month. For June, it was about friends and its relationship to talent acquisition. July consisted of Day 0 mentality and what it meant to restart everyday. August focused on changing our vision of time from hours → change (60 hours vs. 60 compartments of change).
And, you all seemed to love it. We had 1513 total opens which meant ~ 504 opens/newsletter.
Back to my original question, I then asked, is the best way to scale thoughts with a blog about my month’s dominant question or an insight repository of the 5-7 most interesting insights I pulled from my monthly struggles, progress, and reflection time.
As I direct more time to projects and less time to writing articles on medium, tweeting, the latter makes more sense. Also, I think there are few ways to write that have high ROI’s. Newsletters are #1 as there is a massive audience prepared to read with the click of a publish button. Other channels have good reach with publish, organic options to discover, and still gain serendipity but the barrier to entry is higher and you don’t have instant access to all your followers with one message.
So, with September’s edition, we’re testing this hypothesis. My thoughts on:
The two sides of ourself
Life as an iterative game
The #in-public model
Two types of people
we have two sides of ourself - a thinking and a doing.
Biggest blocker holding us back from doing more is over-thinking the starting line.
ex: writing content. don't always need an elaborate storyboard, pictures ready, title, etc. just hopping into a notion document/medium draft and writing is the trick. minimizing the gap between thinking + doing is the biggest contributor to increasing execution rates for big + small projects in our life.
life's so iterative, environments can't always be optimized for perfection.
ex: every football team in the NFL has a massive playbook filled with different plays for different scenarios. quarterback calls and can make changes at the line based on what the defense is doing.
when the play starts, more things will change - routes, coverage, blitz from defense but every piece of it has to be flexible so it can run.part of personal planning is recognizing that you want to be flexible on the path but fixed on the goal.
in the example, the quarterback is going to deliver the ball where it needs to go but it can be different than the original plan. similar to our lives, elaborate week planning doesn't always work. new calls, projects, schoolwork are brought in + understanding how we're going to make changes based on external factors makes a difference.
the #in-public model
Asymmetric output is undervalued. we're taught that all success is symmetric. your output is equal to your input. what if your output was greater than your input? post quality content + it gets shared through word of mouth, retweet, etc. think of content like an asset.
May was the start of my thinking around asymmetric output. I started thinking about the concept of time more as a 24 hour system vs. a 16 hour system. Why did I only have to focus on things that resulted in success while I was awake? Why not create ideas, push them onto different platforms and have people over the world read, repost, share, comment when I’m working on other things/not awake?
The concept of #doing-in-public is around sharing your struggles, progress, insight from your life and open sourcing it to others. But, I also think part of #doing-in-public is enjoying the benefits of compounding, serendipity, and key results. Most of what you’re thinking about, working on, doing in life is in private. You could have the most interesting thought in the world about climate change in developing countries. But, you didn’t share it with others, so no one knows. What if that thought unlocks a new perspective for an entrepreneur working on an idea in that space?
Or, the other side of #doing-in-public, digital real estate. As more people in the world begin building interesting things, the more value you’re giving, the more passive social and belief capital you’re buying. People become invested in how you’re thinking about a specific domain and they just want to be apart of your journey. Everything you’re writing about, building, shipping is digitally immortal. It will be on the internet forever. Anyone can discover it.
Here are the #in-public models I’m thinking about:
#journal-in-public = sharing life updates at any frequency (daily, monthly, quarterly). main intention is to externalize things you’re discovering about yourself, the world.
#build-in-public = struggles, progress, insight on projects. project can be a company, it can be an article. focus on bringing people into your experience as a builder. how are you thinking about problems you’re encountering? how are you acquiring users for your product? what have you learned about working with x technology? there’s a ton of value in this model but most of the information is private.
#think-in-public = just got out of an interesting podcast, youtube video? what are you thinking about? completed a hike with some friends, what new insights can you share? our experiences manifest insight. sometimes it’s delayed but for the insights that are instant, why not create a larger conversation with more people?
#hustle-in-public = twitter has turned into a hotspot for reachouts to others. I was able to turn some twitter connections into massively insightful zoom calls.
#grow-in-public = growing in public is an evolution. it’s about seeing how your public thoughts have grown over a specific time period. what was your past self sharing and how does that differ to what your current self is sharing/biased towards?
every person has their own dictionary
words mean different things to different people.
ex: the word success for some might be training a dolphin, others it's starting a unicorn company. part of self-awareness is asking yourself different questions (what does smart mean to me? how do I define happiness? what's a friend?) that lead you to these answers.
asking yourself how you define terms isn't conventional. most people don't question everything and ask why. your process of defining terms and asking new questions will evolve as you mature, learn more, and engage in interesting experiences. some of the questions you’re asking to yourself now, you probably weren’t asking last year. and, recognize that your future self will also have more interesting questions, if you continue to have a bias towards growth.
what questions will we ask next in the growth process?
two types of people in the world
I think the majority of the population can be grouped into two. independent thinkers and the masses.
independent thinkers seek to discover what matters the most to them. they don’t need other people to validate their decisions. they think deliberately about their intentions in life, day-day, etc. focus on understanding the world as it’s important for making important decisions.
masses focus on what everyone else is doing and replicate it. ex: if everyone else is following @thezaynpatel on twitter, it makes sense. the masses don’t usually think deeply about their intentions for a decision since it’s based on the signals of others.
I think it’s important to self-audit as these aren’t mutually exclusive. independent thinkers might make decisions that the masses make because that’s what makes the most sense.
tl;dr on month
- Thought about the best way to create teacherless classrooms + use socially-aware artificial intelligence to create a virtual partner for students.
- Storyboarded Chapter 4 & 5 of book and got the green light for publish in May 2022.
- Designed Augmented Reality fan experiences for the Seattle Kraken
growth in public - favorite moment
background: I’ve been using twitter as a method to make my ideas more tangible and scalable - allowing me to reach more people with my thoughts.
Earlier this month, I thought about the lessons I learned at 17 + what I’m excited for at 18.
what’s up, thanks for reading the newsletter! Would love to hear your thoughts on September. Send me an email with some updates on what you worked on!