Khe Hy’s been called the “Oprah for Millennials” by CNN, and his writing is all about transforming your relationship with time, work, money, and, ultimately, yourself. Today we talk about how he runs RadReads, his newsletter for over 25,000 people. It’s an incredible newsletter where Khe gets super tactical about Notion, but also goes deep on living a better life, organization, productivity, etc.
The biggest highlight from this interview? Khe tells us about going from $100/hr work to $10,000/hr work. He’s not joking! Khe’s building a whole course—Supercharge your Productivity—on this very topic.
Khe also shares useful insights for every newsletter author and online businessperson, including:
• Finding the best marketing platform for your business.
• How to get your content in front of someone else’s audience.
• How to launch a premium product.
And so much more!
Links & Resources
- Notion – The all-in-one workspace for your notes, tasks, wikis, and databases.
- Loom: Video Messaging for Work
- Friday Forward Inspiration & Motivational E-mail – Robert Glazer
- Patrick O’Shaughnessy Invest Like the Best podcast
Khe Hy’s Links
I often push people to ask, what’s this for? Right. So like, you want to switch from MailChimp to ConvertKit, like, what’s this for? Like, do you want to open it? Sorry, YouTube account. What’s this for? So don’t be satisfied with the first answer. Go one level deeper. Go to the second answer, go to the third answer.
And actually ironically like copywriting, you’ll probably land on some deeper human need that you have.
In this episode, I talked to Khe Hy about how he runs RadReads, his newsletter for over 25,000 people. It’s an incredible newsletter. I love everything that he features, where he’s talking about Notion, living a better life, organization, productivity, all this other stuff. And he takes it into some pretty deep conversations, which I love.
Alright, few highlights that we dive into: One: $10,000 an hour work. Yep. He’s not joking. He actually means that; we dive into what exactly that looks like, what it means. We get into product launches. He shares the numbers from the launch that he’s in the middle of right as we record the episode. there’s a lot of great stuff.
So I’m going to get out of the way and just let you dive in and listen to the episode with Khe.
Khe, welcome to the show.
Nathan. Great to be here. Thank you for having me.
So we were just joking before we, we talked, you and I have exchanged tons of emails, Twitter DMs, you know, Twitter mentions all of that. We have not actually ever talked until this moment.
You have just converted from a Twitter avatar to a real Zoom human and in the past five minutes. So it’s great to meet you. And that’s why we love the internet.
Yes. Well, it’s fun to, I feel like I know, you know, your work really well and, and, um, now it’s nice to put a full, a full face to it. so I would love to dive in. Maybe if you could tell listeners really quickly about rad reads, give the high level, like why someone might subscribe and then from there, we’ll start to dive in your backstory.
Awesome. So read, read, I guess I would start by saying I’m the accidental entrepreneur and accidental creator. And I would just show my cards immediately that like I’ve rarely had a plan in this whole internet game thing, and it’s all kind of happened. And so. What is RadReads and what can you expect?
If you sign up, when you sign up RadReads is, it’s a newsletter and the blog about that helps people live intentional and Epic lives. And so what does that mean? the informal tagline is come for the productivity. Stay for the existential. And so we will lure you in with a text expanders, financial independence, retire, early notion, and then it would be like, what’s the deep underlying need that that’s really trying to satisfy. And so that is kind of the, the ethos, the vibe it’s playful, it’s inspired by surf culture or hip hop culture. and I write, so I read a ton. And through the writing, quite, quite new, actually almost approaching two years. I’ve, started an, course business related to that, but I’ve dabbled in so many other monetization, harebrained schemes along the way, but mostly now newsletter blog leads to, online courses.
Yeah, that makes sense. Well, we’ll dive into newsletter, monetization, and so much other stuff, but you did not set out to be a writer. You didn’t set out to, you know, run your own business or any of that. Let’s take us back. What was, what was your career before you drove it to this crazy internet world that we’re all in.
It was, as Charles Dickens said it was the best of times that it was the worst of times. So, I here’s a little detail important fact, in the stories, you know, I grew up as a child of first-generation immigrants and it was all about. School work, put your head down. Don’t take risk. And so I got on the first generation, escalator, I went to Yale, I majored in computer science.
I worked on Wall Street. I was a really good kid. I like buying sat books and all that stuff. and so I just put my head down and did the work, and never really thought about anything else. Just get on the escalator and stay there. I did that, that brought me to wall street, 14 years on Wall Street.
And, I had a really good career and I had, hopefully what’s a third of a life crisis. you know, it’s 30, 35 years old. I was probably a little bit, not exactly a third, but, I was just kind of, I was doing great. I was doing great. I was, yeah, in that, that world, uh, made a made man in the sense that if I just didn’t screw up, I would never have a financial worry for the rest of my life. But I was bored as heck.
I was going to say, but then you hadn’t go and screw it up.
I know, and I did screw it up and boy, did I screw it up? I was bored as heck and I love the internet. You know, I had been making HTML pages on 28.8 modems. I had an anonymous blogs and cause you can’t do that stuff on walls. And so I was like, there’s this whole world out there.
And I’m just going to be an expert in this thin, thin sliver. I, I basically studied robot trading. So like actually all this Robinhood stuff is like, Like the end of what’s happening right now is what I studied, like the rails of, of wall street. And so I was a little agitated. I was just like, what’s the point?
What’s the point? I had some savings about 18 months of savings, where I could just burn through them and try something new. It took a couple years, but I just quit. I quit without a plan. the only little anchor in this crazy C of uncertainty was a tiny little g-mail based newsletter that I had started.
Yeah. So that was RadReads.
How was RadReads? Yeah.
Did you call it when you start calling it RadReads?
I, I think it was like the third issue, the first issue. And we’ll, we’ll share it on Twitter for posterity when this all comes out. But the first issue was just. A few reads from my recent vacation. So it was classic link blogging through Gmail, BCC 36 recipients. I remember some of the articles that were in it, there was like a Mark Manson, Louis CK interview, that tells you what time period we were in.
uh, some Elon Musk’s stuff, but, it was a few interesting reads and I think four or five issues later, I just picked up rad reads. I was a sucker for an alliteration, but mostly I love surf culture, but it was all wall street, people that were reading it. And I just loved watching them cringe when they had to say the word ride, to me.
And that was like, really why I wanted the word rad. I do try to live that Ethan, but I was like, I want it to stick it to them. Just a little. that’d be like, you gotta say rad, you know, you can’t say it is what it is. You just got to say rad when you talk to me.
Those 36 people. Did they sign up for you for it? Did you sign them up? How did that work
So I probably did something that would have violated GDPR rules. but they were my friends, they were my friends. and so it was just a Hardy BC, and it was, it wasn’t meant to be a newsletter. It was just a one-off thing link. It was linked blogging. This was almost six years ago where it was still quite rare.
It wasn’t not tons of people were doing it. Yeah. That was the phase where everyone had a podcast. Right? Like it wasn’t a phase where everybody had a newsletter. Yeah. You know, play before sub stock. so, so it was linked blogging and those 36 people were my friends and they were like, this is so cool.
When’s the next one coming up? And I was like, I don’t know. This is a one-off thing.
Yeah. And so, I mean, that’s, that’s interesting. It’s something that Jago and I talked about on when he was on the show, is this like hustle too? It’s not even a hustle. It’s just an ask of like, Hey, I do this thing you want in on it. And in this case, you’re like, You’re preempting that somewhat where you’re going, Oh, here are people that I know are going to enjoy this.
And so you already have that relationship, you’re pulling them into it and otherwise when you’re starting posting to a group of like, if you’re posting to Facebook or something, or it’s hard to get the first 30, 50 100 people, but if you’re just texting people then it’s so much easier say, Hey, I do this thing.
I think you might like it. You know.
And I think there were two very, very strong tailwinds that I encourage any creator listening to this, to, to latch onto one is I genuinely wanted to read those articles. So. It was effortless in that regard and two it was, there was a commitment to adding value, adding value through, through curation and through the, you know, micro-commentary And so I was doing the heavy, the heavy lifting for the reader, and it was very hard for them to, to be angry about it. Let alone, if anything, if anything, they wanted more because I was, I was creating value, small amounts. Yeah.
Yeah, that makes sense. So where did it grow from there? Right. You’re at 36 people on that lift. Did it stay as a BCC list for anything?
So it, it stayed at BCC list. I was probably, I was working for about. Eight months. There were, like three more months before I quit. and so again, it was a BCC list. It probably stayed at BCC list until maybe four, four or five months later.
and then I moved it to, we won’t say the word, but it arrives with snail simp and,
And I bought, I bought the domain and I, you know, created a little, a little Loco and had a hosted blog on medium, but I think it was kind of growing at maybe, I dunno, maybe 30, 30 subscribers a week. Completely organically.
You just the people who you had tended out to forwarding it on to.
Yep. Forwarding. And maybe I would like share the, the MailChimp thing on my Facebook feed, like things like that.
But I mean, I, I think the thing that also people should remember is that I had zero followers in any, on any platform. When this started, I had zero Twitter followers I had, and I had LinkedIn connections. Yes.
Was, did, did LinkedIn turn into a thing at all for promoting it or not really?
Probably on the edges, but I don’t think so.
Yeah. I have a friend, Bob Glazer who writes a newsletter called Friday forward. And what’s wild is that it’s grown like crazy on LinkedIn and it’s going really well. I think he’s, over 80, 90,000 subscribers and probably a third to half of it is from LinkedIn, which,
Much in that business niche.
She’s writing about leadership and all that, but I think it’s just. Interesting. We come across newsletter creators who have grown an audience in so many different ways. And some would be like, no, this is the way you have to do it. And you get someone else who’s like, I didn’t even know that was a thing.
You know, I, I did it on LinkedIn. I did it on this totally different thing. And so it shows there’s so many options.
Well, we can talk, I there’s so many angles to talk about growth strategy because, I don’t really have one, but it’s what I have. I have some insights there. So plant that flag for whenever you think is the right time to talk about it.
Okay. So at this point, it’s, it’s on MailChimp. it’s growing a couple of hundred subscribers, new subscribers a month getting into that territory when you’re still like on sabbatical,
So I’ve so I quit and I’ve been going through those 18 months of cash. I’m actually doing the family version of eat, pray love. So we’re in Bali, we’re in Chiodo or traveling, traveling the world. And really the only thing I have to do is to write this newsletter and it kind of, I think it was also when I think about it, when you leave a high profile job, at least in that world, there’s a huge loss of identity.
Cause people immediately want to know like, well, what are you doing? And that, that was the whole point was, I didn’t know what I was doing, but at least this little newsletter kind of gave me this toe hold, like something little that I could point to. And people thought it was nuts. I mean, crazy. that, that was the thing, that I was doing.
But at least in my mind, it’s like, well, I got this little thing. And then the point was not. To make the newsletter into the business. It was kind of, a waystation in the process of figuring out what I was going to do. It just was something that I found I was so moved. I just loved it so much that it was it just kind of.
Would come out of me that, that, that in hindsight, there was no keeping it bottled in, but at the time it’s important for people to know that I wasn’t trying to set a business off of a newsletter. If anything, it was more like, Hey guys, don’t forget about me as I leave this fancy job. Like I’m still here, I’m still smart.
I have unique ideas and, you know, here’s how to, here’s how to hear them.
Oh, that’s interesting. And. You know, I, I think a lot of people would, would think about leaving the fancy corporate job or whatever, and just quitting without a plan or something like that. And like, sure, you can do that when you’re young and single. but you did it with a family.
Yeah. Yeah. Well, so, and so I always like to point out here is that I did very well financially, out of BlackRock. So yes, my wife is an artist. So I think the biggest question for us people is like, we didn’t have access to insurance. Once Cobra ran out. Separate conversation. But, I had 18 months of savings that I was willing to, I call it an angel investment in myself, like, so I was like an angel investment, 99% chance of it going to zero 1% chance of spectacular return, I guess.
In my, my eyes were in that 1% now, not financial return yet, but definitely life return. and so, so I did have a cushion and I had larger obligation, but I had larger obligations as well. I think it’s really important for me to point out this cushion because. I delayed trying to make money because of this cushion.
So I said no to certain opportunities because I was like, yeah, I don’t really want to do that. Even though I could have gotten cash that, that moment. And so, I couldn’t so, so an example was consulting. And so I think, you know, people wanted me to come in and do like org design. Cause I write a lot about, you know, future of work and like org design or kind of like motivational team coaching or just like my old job, like.
Solving hedge fund problems. and so I didn’t want to do that. I did do, and this was the kind of the first moment that where I was like, Oh, this could be a thing because of my newsletter, someone from wall street reached out and said, could you coach my executive team? And that was something I would have, I was interested in.
And that was something that I did. I probably, at that point had a thousand subscribers on MailChimp. and, and I did that, and that was that first. I mean, you know, it as an entrepreneur, when you have that boost of confidence, that’s like, Oh, we just jumped into level two. Right. And, and I didn’t want to be a coach, but considering I had no plan, I was like, this is a pretty cool job.
It pays, you know, well enough to extend the 18 months to 24 months or 36 months. And it’s, it’s aligned with the kind of work that I’m doing. And so that was a real small, but very important tipping point that gave me the business confidence and the financial confidence that, Hey, you might be on to something Khe.
Yeah, that’s good. Well, let’s talk more growth strategies. Let’s dive in on those. I’m curious, what’s worked for you to grow the newsletter from those thousand subscribers. You can share where it’s at now, and then some of the things that worked and then maybe some things that you thought would work and totally did not.
Yes, absolutely. So, so where are the newsletter is at now? it’s it’s 25,000. it’s probably got 7,000 of calling in it. Like I think if you removed all the calling, it would be like 45,000, but I don’t. I don’t care about that stuff, anymore, but I am tremendously proud of, of my 55% open rate, which includes a lot that’s includes launch emails, and we can talk about launch emails, but I write my launch emails, like their blog posts with like a slightly different flavor to them and people.
Get very scared when they unsubscribed to a launch email, not the regular email, because again, that ethos of delivering value is, is there in my marketing strategy. W w we’ll come back to that. so, so I think, so there were a few key moments and they were all, my growth was all driven, by press and partnerships and they were okay.
None of it was targeted. The biggest, the, the, the big. Two were CNN wrote an article about me called calling me Oprah for millennials on new year’s Eve of 2016. And they kept it on the front page of CNN money for three days. So it was like a feel-good story I was wearing. I looked better. they like, God does a great angle of me with like my favorite sweatshirt that just, it made me look like a hundred times cooler than I am in real life.
and it stayed on the front page. So that took me probably from like, Four to 2000 to 10,000. It’s like 8,003 days.
How did that story come about?
So I’ve had three good press hits that Bloomberg and barons. and those all came from the reporters being subscribed to the newsletter and they were just like, they’re like, this is a cause they were all, let me backtrack.
The guy who leaves wall street, the fancy job on wall street with no plan and is willing to talk that’s most people, wall should be, are not willing to talk because they want the option to go back. It’s a very kind of closed lipped industry. I was the one to talk. I’m like, yeah. And I didn’t bad mouth, but I was just like, yeah, not for me.
Yeah. It’s a crazy thing. I’m doing this newsletter. So they kind of observed that through my newsletter, that I had this kind of weird story. They probably were quite smart in the sense that like, that’s, that’s a story that people read, like the guy that quits, you know, fancy job when they’ll plan. And then they just cold emailed me and they’re like, Hey, we want to write a profile on you.
It was like, okay, cool. Cool. and so, so those three were, were big drivers and I’ve been on two podcasts that really kind of were like thousand plus boosts. The first was Patrick O’Shaughnessys invest like the best. I was one of the, I would never make the cut now, like say like I went to yeah.
I feel like I have that with a bunch of people where. I was friends with them, you know, we’re still friends and, and all that. And now they’re like a level of fame. I mean, now you have like, you know, supermodels and athletes and CEOs of many billion dollar companies, but
Totally. It totally, totally. I would never, I mean, he, he like it every term off this week. Right. but he did that and then he tweeted out my, my subscriber. I think he had like 30,000, I think it’s 150,000. Now. That was a big one. There was a gentleman by the name of Ozon Varel who actually is very private.
He’s actually a ConvertKit guy, but he’s very private on ‘em. So he’s not really on social. He just has this. Newsletter. I think at the time it was 18,000, but they love him. And so when he shared my newsletter through his, I was a podcast guest of his, I think it was like 900 subscriptions in one day. I think he had the highest conversion rate, like, cause I could see these the worst by the way, Arianna Huffington, once retweeted, one of my articles.
And I think, I got five subscribers from her 5 million Twitter followers who are probably all bots. So, so press in those early days was quite incredible. and it really, it just kind of put me on the map, but outside that there really? Yeah,
Impressed for a second, for someone listening, maybe they have 5,000 subscribers right now, or 10,000 subscribers. And they’re like, you know, press is not something that I’ve ever considered. It feels like a, you just have to get lucky, you know, any of those sort of things. And, I believe in luck. I also believe in manufacturing so I like, what would you say to them?
I, I would say, yeah, that, and intuition of who’s writing about your space, and, and literally be friending them. is so powerful. and so, so it’s super powerful. And so what I did was, what would, I would tell people I didn’t do this myself, but find all the people. Who are quality writers in your domain all the way from like the wall street journal and the Ft down to, you know, local fire blog or, or low, you know, productivity blog.
And it’s, it’s like being at a cocktail party. You wouldn’t go up to them and say, Hey, would you want to feature me? Do you want to interview me? But you follow them on Twitter. You like their posts, do you drop into their mentions at always, always starting with Adam value, adding value you get on their radar.
When the moment’s right, maybe you slide into the DMS. That’s a little aggressive, but maybe, maybe you do that always leading with adding value. You look for the people that are quoting offer up new sources. really just like, think about who are the journalists or bloggers, how do I make their lives easier?
How do I make their product better?
I think a lot of people who, whether they’re doing sales or they’re trying to be, be featured in publications, or have a, like an idea of what they want their network to look like down the road. So people have this vague idea I want to be written about in publications and have these people’s friends and like, great.
Let me see your top 100 list. And they’re like my, what. Well, your, your spreadsheet that has the list of all the places you want to be written about. And the people you want to, you know, 12, 24, 36 months from now, you want to be able to say, or your friends, and when you drop into their city, like shoot them a text and meet up for coffee.
And they’re like, I don’t have that lesson. I’m like, well, how do you expect it to come? True. If you don’t have a…
Absolutely. And, and I, and I, I didn’t realize this, right. I, I, I was very naive in my early days where I thought just the best content rises to the top. Not that I’m anywhere close to the best content, and it’s like the best content doesn’t rise to the top. It has a better chance than to rising to the top than the worst content, but the best content paired with incredible distribution is.
Was gangbusters. And I think it took me too long to figure that out. I got lucky that it kind of fell into my lap a few ways, but now it’s like a conscious strategy to, to understand who the journalists are tweet at them. And again, I don’t say like, write about me, write about me, write about me. I say, Hey, I saw you quoted, Tiago.
You know, you should quote these seven other people. They’re really good too. And they have different perspectives. And I’m not even one of them, but that’s like quietly say, you know, like maybe I could be one of them too, but you can, like, you gotta be really delicate or these are really important relationship.
Yeah, that makes sense. And I think a lot of people would, would have a takeaway of like, okay, let me recommend these three sources. One of which is me. And it’s like, no, you don’t even need to do that. Like be really useful. And then they’ll go, okay, who is it? Who is Nathan? Who is this? You know, like, let me click in and actually.
Do a little bit of research. If I’m going to quote someone, they recommend, I should figure out who they are and there’s the dig. And they’re like, he should have recommended this himself. His stuff is just as good as the person that ran the store. Maybe the next one will be about him the growth side?
So I’ll tell you a few things that didn’t work and then I’ll go back to what has worked a lot. recently, cause now I’ve kind of hit a little bit of strife, but those are the things that didn’t work were Instagram, YouTube, just new channels. someone gave me this advice a long time ago. They’re like be good at one channel.
Before you even consider a second channel. I messed with podcasting. I messed with Snapchat I messed with Instagram. and I forgot to say newsletters blogging. You can kind of two sides of the same coin. but I wasted a lot of time on things that have a visual component. YouTube, I think YouTube is a phenomenal platform.
It is just a skill set that I don’t have right now. I have, you know, 30% of it and maybe some of the storytelling side, but the lighting and the fricking thumbnails, YouTube thumbnails, Jesus Christ. I just don’t.
Get a shocked face looking at your, title…
Yeah. Ah so, Find the one thing that you’re really good at, and for me that was email and, you know, I’ve bounced between four newsletters a week to two.
And Now I’m at two, which is kind of steady state, but for me, just firing up a new newsletter. People like it, people open it it’s quite easy for me at this point. and so the, so the mistakes were flirting. Too heavily with other mediums, particularly ones that were very visual. And that’s just a skill set that I, that I don’t have.
Now ‘what’s work, I would say is two things. With three things. The unsexy answer is just publishing all the time. Just you just get this natural snowball of people sharing, right. That this kind of quiet compounding effect. And so it’s not a secret. It’s just, I’ve written 200 blog posts in the past three years and sent 200, 450 newsletters.
Like if you maintain just above average quality, like stuff’s going to find you. So that’s. That’s the unsexy real answer. the sexier answer would be, you know, I did see an opportunity in SEO through, some of my involvement with notion. And so if you search notion, I’m basically one of the, I think I, I, I, the top Ricky.
A search result on many, many different notion searches. And that was me seeing an opportunity and like, okay, no, it’s like knowing enough about the concepts of SEO and knowing a lot about notion to be like, Oh, okay. Making a bet. People are going to search for this. I have enough page rank that I’m not I’ll pass the mom and pop blog, but like, I don’t, I can’t hang with like the big bloggers, yet.
But it was kind of like this moment and I like writing about it. Like, again, it’s like, I like writing about it and it adds value. And so I kind of jumped in there. And it’s the traffic on notion on my website. I’ll give you an example. My blog, before I started writing about notion was like 10,000 uniques a month.
And it was mostly people linking from my newsletter to my posts and like a little Twitter stuff. Yeah. It was not very organic traffic. it was inorganic traffic. and then now with notion it’s like 70,000. So it’s like 60,000 uniques a month are just, through notion. So, so, and that leads to it’s and notion converts.
It’s really easy to convert notion searchers, because you can just offer up a template as a lead magnet. And it’s like, the conversion rates are really, really good. I mean, notion people love free templates, so it’s, it’s
You say really good, is that like 3%? 5%.
Oh, some of them like 10%.
10? Yeah. That is, I mean, for, for organic traffic coming in, they’ve never heard of you before.
So it’s, uh, so that I lucked into that, but that, that there’s this whole challenge. I don’t want to be a notion blog Right. And so I need to be very mindful of people coming in and being like, Oh, this guy’s going to like, tell me about feature X, Y, Z of notion. And then I’m like, Have you ever thought about the fact that you’re going to die soon?
They’re Like, like they’re like, what the heck did I sign up for it? So I need to really kind of balance balance that. And, and, and, and and also just accept that, you know, there’s a wave that I’m riding that is aligned with what I’m doing, but not totally aligned with what I’m doing. That at some phase that alignment will change and, you know, I could quickly.
Drop back or, I’ll have to adapt, I’ll have to reassess. but that has worked really, really well for me. And then the last thing I’ll add is that I love doing free events. so I’m really good at email, but I’m also good at just standing up a for 15-minute presentations with a good Q&A with a good followup email.
And so those events, I recently switched to podia, just cause I just. It’s got just this clean feel. I just loved the design of it. It’s just so. Clean, and it’s just on brand for me, and it’s easy to fire up a quick thing. so so I try to do one or two free events a month that are very low prep for me.
I spend an hour creating a slide deck, 15 minutes, doing the backend of, you know, getting people in and out and, and that, and that’s been a really, really good way. of Again, creating value in a way that is, you know, very natural to me. and that doesn’t take a lot of, a lot of work.
I mean those events, obviously they’re going out to your email subscribers.
But is that through a partnership? Is
It’s it’s through, I suspect I don’t have enough of the analytics, but I suspect that it gets forwarded around a lot through email. it’s I I’m getting better at partnerships. I don’t like. I’m not naturally inclined to do partnerships. Cause it does it it’s like that, that newsletter the reporter example where it’s like, but it’s like, here’s me.
but, but I’m getting better at it because I really do think that they are, you know, Alia doll and I have had four. Like great sessions together where it’s very little prep and we can get a lot of our audiences together. So I do, I do need to like, get better at positioning it as a win-win for both of us.
Because I just feel like a taker when I’m like, Hey, here’s my free event show, you know, show it to your audience. but I’ve been getting, I’ve been trying to push myself more, to do those partnerships and by the way everyone says, yes, I I think I’ve established enough of a quality-threshold reputation that they’re like, if we’re going to bring Khe on he’s not messing around, like it’s going to be tight, it’s going to be a useful, it’s gonna be useful.
And so I think I need to get more confident to lead into that. And there was some imposter syndrome there and, and just be like, yeah, like my free events are good. so I should not feel ashamed or timid to go to someone and say, Hey, do you want to show this out? Because there I’m actually helping them.
Yeah, that makes sense. And there’s, there’s a version of events that people used to do, like partnership webinars. And now it’s sort of the thing of like, maybe this is most common five years ago. something like that. And it still happens a lot, but it’s basically like, Hey, I’ll come teach a webinar to your audience at the back end of the webinar, I’ll pitch a course.
And, then you’ll get 50% of the revenue and, there’s that version of it, which a lot of people do well, but I think what you’re talking about is, Hey, you and I have a topic that we both care about. And we, it’s the sort of thing that we riff on quietly behind the scenes with our friends, but I don’t have it fully formed and you have a lot better ideas on it.
So why don’t we do it? A joint thing We’ll come together. We’re not promoting anything. All we’re saying is subscribe to each other’s newsletters. And that’s the sort of thing where, I mean, it’s almost easier content to make. When you think about the amount of prep that you and I did for this podcast, like.
We’re just jumping on and talking about a topic that we love rather than putting
You know, hours of writing blog posts.
Exactly, exactly. But, and, and I think that, you know, I always offer the affiliate link and all that, but I don’t, I don’t. You know, I sell expensive online courses, like 900,000 $1000 to 1500. No, one’s going to like see me for five minutes and run to smash that buy button. Right. It’s just, that’s not how my, you know, it’s, it’s not B2B sales.
but you’re not, you’re not smashing the buy button for 1500 until you get to know me. so, you know, those partnerships, unlike those ones from five years ago where the conversion takes place at the end of the webinar, it’s like you’re nurturing that lead for six months. Right. And so you almost, can’t like, yeah, you could get partnerships to drum up a launch just to build buzz around it.
And there will be some quicker conversions, but my whole art, my whole ecosystem personally, is not set up to quickly convert anyone. Like You’ve got to get to know me. I want to earn your trust. And then a tiny percent of you are going to pay for a premium product.
Yeah, that makes sense. Well, let’s, that’s a good transition into monetization. so I’d love to hear maybe going back, what were some of the first ways, beyond coaching that you made money from the newsletter, and then we can dive into, you know, the courses and all that now.
So it was always a bit of a, of a mish-mosh. So, coaching was always an anchor. Tenant. And I kind of dialed that up and down in different flavors of it throughout the six year period until January we’re actually shut down my coaching practice, where I was like, I actually, you are blog posts, like the ladders of wealth.
I was like, I am not going to accept money for time anymore because I have, I found, I finally found product market fit. And it was time for me to invest in my business, not in, selling my time. and so coaching was like the main anchor tenant throughout it. you know, I did, I was surprisingly Patrion was like 15 to 20 K a year.
So you know, it was, it was a real amount of money, not enough to live on, but that was one, after the. After the CNN article came out a bunch of like book people. Approached me. I actually didn’t get a book deal. I was, I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t talented enough. I still may not be telling enough, but back then, I definitely wasn’t.
And, but I got like, again, through like the wall street, they, I kind of became the guy that can talk about and like happiness and money, the money happiness guy. And so a little, a bit of speaking. And, that was really, the portfolio L and I had up. part-time, I was an entrepreneur in residence and then became a contributing editor at a media company.
So I drew a salary, a small salary there. So I kind of cobbled it together between those things. One thing that never worked for me. Was sponsorships now, despite having, you know, a decent size audience and, you know, high conversion, high open rates, high click rates. Here’s what I re what it took me a long time to realize about selling ads.
You have to solve, selling ads is a very, very time-consuming process. You know, there were a few opportunities from friends and readers that could kind of come in. So assuming you could sell the ad, there was another part of the ad that was difficult, designing the app, right. Like helping them with a copy.
And again, remember at that point I was one person. So I’m like in. Sketch, you know, trying to turn their PNG file and make the transparency come in before Canva comes out. I don’t know how the heck to do that. trying to be a graphic designer and a copywriter and it conversion writer all at the same time for not that much money.
And then the ops behind it, how many people click with me at all? Like how many people clicked my ad and all the UTM stuff? it was just, it seemed like so obvious of a thing to do, but it was so brutally painful. Every time I did it, that I was like, I’m not doing this. And my goal for the, like my newsletter, my style is not going to be one with like, I think of my newsletter style is like a craft beer versus bud light.
Where it’s like a very specific group of people are gonna be interested in it. Like a lot of people are gonna be like, this is not for me. It, it assumes a certain level of financial stability. It serves assumed level of intelligence, obsession with productivity, blah, blah, blah. So, ads never worked for me.
I’m so glad that, I mean, now I’ll again, I’m like, Nope, Nope, Nope, no interest. so that. Yeah, no, no ads. and then a little bit of, you know, here and there affiliate fees. So like, there was always like some way to cobble it together, but, but to tell you the truth, like, I didn’t really start making. I made enough money to like it keep extending that 18 month runway and not like incinerate my savings.
So I kept extending the runway, but I didn’t really make, you know, significant money where we’re like, I don’t have to like move money out of my savings account until the course business thought started about 18 months ago.
Yeah, that makes sense. So what are the courses that you’re selling now?
So it’s really just one course. and the course is called supercharger productivity and it is in its sixth installment. And as I was telling you earlier, it is probably this one installment going across, a six-figure launch. Potentially while we’re talking. and so it’s very close and it launches, it closes cart closes tomorrow.
So it’s a six week and it’s heavily, heavily inspired. I mean, Tiago is a friend and a mentor and it’s very heavily inspired by the way. Tiago has approached cohort based courses. It has a second brain feel to it. And I’ll tell you the interesting little story. Do you want me to tell you like how I didn’t set out to.
Okay. So about, yeah, 18 months ago, I really start using notion a lot. And I just think it’s so cool. And as is the case with convert kit, if there is a product that really lights me up, I’m just going to talk about it all the time. No affiliate, I mean, I might collect affiliate here and there, but it’s like, that’s not the point.
The point is to show how passionate I am, because. Things like can break it. Nathan, didn’t tell me to say this. Like they’ve changed. They’ve changed my life. I couldn’t, I couldn’t do this, in the company with a monkey on it. Yeah. and so, so I, so 18 months ago, so I started using notion and it was just like, I was a long time air table user before that I w I used Microsoft access, like our rest in peace macro, but I was just like, I liked firing up a small database cause like that’s how my brain works and that’s.
How it’s way more powerful than the spreadsheet. And so I’d been using air table for a long time and heritage was an incredible product. I mean, it is incredible product. and then notion came out and it was, you know, I was just consumer enough that like air table had just too much stuff that wasn’t right for me and notion was just beat up, you know?
Business solution enough to like, tip me and I love good design. Like I’m a sucker for products that like really light you up and like Apple, they give you that Apple feel to it. And, and it did that. So I started using it. And at that point, you know, I probably had 15,000 people on my email list and, you know, I would just write posts about notion and include them in my, my, email us.
And people are like, what is this notion thing that K’s writing about? let’s look at it. And, and, and basically what happened, two things happen actually, I’ll come back to how they happened, but there’s a, there’s a really little important piece of internet history that, that, that. That makes me really lucky because right around that time loom came out.
And what happened with loom was loom was the godsend that I didn’t know I needed because the whole thing about notion is like showing people how to do something That’s tricky. And, and that’s hard to do on YouTube. Like it’s just too slow. And so loom came out and all of a sudden I could just fire up these like one-minute videos, share them on Twitter, you know, anchor them in a blog post or something.
And I just became one of the more, more active power users of notion on Twitter using loom. And again, better to be lucky than to be smart, like loom really opened that it opened a whole new distribution channel, a little-known secret Loom has a call-to-action button on their videos. and that button was converting really well for me, because think about it.
I just wrote you a tutorial and I’m like, grab the template by hitting this button. In this prominently featured in this video, and then it was just like this fly. Yeah, exactly. And so it just kind of like, it was just firing. So also loom happened there and then, on my newsletter, people were like, Oh cool.
Okay. Like we, we saw, we saw notion, cool, let’s try it. And then they would open notion and they would try to do what I did. And they were like, how the heck do you do that? Like I just see a white screen. And I saw that enough. And at that point, my stack of like my website, my email list, my, my call to act my CTAs It was legit enough that I just fired up a quick page on Gumroad and I like, Hey, I’ll teach you how to use notion in four weeks. And it’s 500 bucks and 500 bucks. 500 bucks, four weeks. And the reality was, I, I know this in hindsight was it was just people that want to, I’d say 80% of people just wanted to support me.
Cause for four and a half years, I had been writing them great emails and had never really asked for anything. Other than Patrion page here and there. And they were just like, we just want to support you. And this thing looks cool, but I think it was like 80% support, 20% thing looks cool. So I fired that.
I kind of drafted a syllabus really quick again, notion lends itself really well to like online teaching. Cause you just kinda like move the blocks around and it’s like giant Legos. and I kinda did that. Of course. And, I think what was that one? It was like 15,000 in revenue, maybe. something like that, 15 to 20.
And so I did that course and people really liked it and I liked it. and so I realized I’m like, okay, I’m going to do, I’ll do this again. In three months. And so I did it again. I made it a little better, but basically the same thing. So here’s an important thing. Those first two, like I wasn’t selling them.
I was just kind of like, here’s a link in my newsletter. And, you know, I was getting this like really low hanging fruit, not, not low-hanging fruit, but like I wasn’t persuading people to buy it. It was more like acts of kindness that they were supporting me versus like truly wanting the product. Third cohort somewhere on the third or fourth chord comes around.
My timing’s a little bit iffy, but I started to work, with actually Tiago, marketing coach, Billy bras. And, and I was very skeptical of business coaches. and I, and it was outside of what I normally pay in it. And, but I trust Jago a lot and he’s like, okay, you’re good at email, this guy gets email marketing and he’s like, I promise you, it will pay for itself.
And I was just like, he I’d like Tiago, you have never strayed me wrong, in this whole journey. So I went for it and that was, I mean, I have chills now. Like it totally changed the trajectory of my business, learning how to write emails. That can be
Yeah. So you didn’t set out to be a writer you set out to. Computer science into finance. And then you’re like, okay, somehow I’m willing to like someone become a writer and write this newsletter. You know, it’s getting 50% to be 5% open rates and crazy engagement, but that is a different skill, right?
Writing for engagement writing for it to be shared is not the same.
No. And most people don’t most blockers don’t know this PSA to all you blogger is listening. Other start learning copywriting yesterday, right? Was that sort of, when’s the best. When’s the best time to plant a tree 20 years ago. When’s the second best time to find a tree today. You heard it here with the men, Nathan Berry understand copywriting, which by the way, copywriting in its own.
Way is, is kind of a nebulous thing, right? It’s like the psychology of decision-making it’s it’s the psychology of persuasion. It’s specific words, choice it’s storytelling. So I basically, so I, I went, I worked Billy and it just blew my mind because here’s another thing I don’t like selling. I don’t like asking people for things.
I have imposter syndrome around that. And, and, and mostly like, I just, it’s much easier to be like, here’s my gift of value. Go enjoy it in nature and smile. And I’m glad you’re happy. Cause I’m happy. You’re happy. It’s a different thing to be like, there’s this thing that’s really expensive. And I would like for you to buy it.
it takes, it just takes a mindset shift, you know, especially now is moving out of like the, the little group of doing a favor people to like strangers. Right. And they were nurtured like strangers through, you know, different onboarding sequences and things like that, but they were strangers. So, Oh man. I mean, we could talk for hours about.
This, but I’ll say here’s like the really important thing that I learned. And this is where people really struggle is I’m a left brain person. Most of my audience’s left brain. And so we think, but we’re wrong, but we think that facts and logic make us make decisions. We are wrong. we are wrong as buyers and we are wrong as sellers emotions make us buy things.
and so I think that was the first thing to just recognize that like, you know, I was the guy that was listing off all of the features, right? So the first shift is going from features oriented marketing to benefit oriented marketing,
Instead of saying, if you buy this course, you’re going to get four hours of video in 12 templates and 11 calls and you know, that kind of thing. So what are the benefits that you’re talking about instead?
So, one, so what are the benefits that the, the, the people in my course want, they want, to decrease their anxiety, they want to live life on their own terms. They want more free time. they want the confidence to take risk. they want more power. They want more money. They want more sex.
they don’t know it in those words. and so, so I think the first shift was just knowing that that’s what they’re buying. Not like you will learn how self-referential database templates work and why that’s so cool. and it sounds crazy. And you think about like, you they’re like, Hey, you teach a course on notion.
Like how are they going to get more power? Through your course. Right? And so the answer is this, well, what’s your system. We were talking about this. What’s your system for, keeping track of the in influential and powerful people in your industry that could benefit your business. You don’t have one. I will show you how you can.
Boost your sales. This is mountain being like internet corny. I would show you how you can boost your sales in half the effort, with this system for relationship building, I call it, you know, th the powerful persuasion, you know, CRM, and it happens to be a notion. And so that was the shift. And I want, I want people to hear and to know that there’s nothing nebulous here.
If you look at any advertisement, right? Classic one, you never own a Philly protect watch. You only handed down from generation to generation. It’s a fricking watch and you are telling me that that is the key to being a good father and an enduring legacy. It’s every, you see it everywhere. Banks, watches, cars, cigarettes, meditation apps, right?
Sleep better worry less. That could be calm. That could be a sex toy, or that could be a nutrition powder. Right. Everyone wants that. And so that was the first shift. Is is just accepting that a knowing that it exists, you know, there are a lot of smart left-brained people left brain people. They have a blind spot because they don’t think that that works because they’re like, it wouldn’t work for me and they’re wrong because it does work on them.
and then even, so they just have this massive blind spot. so that, that was like the first shift. It’s just knowing that exists. Now I see it everywhere. Right? Like you can’t, it’s like the rule of thirds, you can’t see outcome driven marketing. Right. and so that was the first shift and it sounds so simple, but if you, if you’ve never seen it, it’s kind of revolutionary and then you need to, you need to practice, right?
Like it’s just a different, it’s a different style of writing. And then you need to, you know, You need to have a real, the same way. It’s a lot of the skills that writers use, right. Writers observe, but we tend to observe stories to prove points and to evoke a series of emotions or know, not decisions.
Right. so it’s the same thing. now that I see outcome-oriented marketing, I can’t look at the billboard the same way. I can’t look at an HSBC ad, be free. I’m like, you’re a fricking bank. Like, so, so it involves seeing that. And then. Identifying it with your audience, right? Like my audience does want more power, but if you said this course will get you more power, they’re going to be like, yo, stay away Robert Green.
but if you do say, you know, you can walk into a room and everyone will know you. They want that. that’s its own art form. In like identifying the language. So, you know, so I like, I write in, in my course part of the things is like you nudge them, you know, like I know you fall for shiny new toy syndrome.
I know you bought the Oura ring thinking you’d get more sleep. But the real problem is that you drink too much. Like, yeah, like you can, you can kind of like, you know, there’s not many spaces where you can use the, Oura ring. In your marketing material, but if you’re my audience, like 80% of them, 95% of them have heard of it.
So you gotta start tweaking and that’s the real art form. and I’ll pause there. There’s a third part. but I said a lot, so I want you to, I want to see if you want to double down
Example that came to mind for me. And this is, you know, my own uses of notion is like, you could pitch it in one way of, Use notion to organize your stories and writing research. Okay, great. You know, I’m sure lots of people do that. Lots of people want to do that. That’s fine. The thing that would speak to me is when you’re writing and you have the point that you want to make, and you’re about to use a story from your own life for the 17th time, don’t you wish you had, you know, like 11.
Stories of great creators that you’d be like, Oh, this one, let me pull. And I have that because, you know, ISA on our team who, you know, well, cause we’ve, we’ve written one of these stories on you. She is like this incredible database. Like I go to her and I’m like, he said, give me a creator who has struggled for years.
And it took them a long time of showing up consistently, and then they were successful. You’re like, Oh, let me give you here’s four stories, you know? As a writer, I want stability to pull in stories and quotes and get myself unstuck and bring interesting and novel things to my readers. And so really like sure, the solution that we use is inefficient database, but like, that’s the thing.
And so if you were selling notion to writers, you would be all about that. And you’d be like, Oh yeah, we’ll implement it with these little things over here. But let me talk about the pain that you’re feeling and. And then the benefit, right? If we go all the way down, it would be, I’m standing in a room of people, right.
And someone goes, Nathan, I love your writing. Cause every time I come across something, I discover someone new that I wasn’t following before. And all these bloggers use the same tired examples, but you have all these obscure. references, you know, and like, this is one example, but that’s the kind of thing that we’re talking about
Home to the feeling that we’re trying to create rather than just the features.
Totally. And actually, it’s funny that you say that one of the bullets in my sales, it didn’t make it into this latest version. Is your watch in amazement as the presentation slides right. Themselves.
That’s a thing like that, that blockers don’t know how to do that. That’s a different skill set. And, and so that, that was a total ed. Again, it lends itself really well to email because emails intimate, you can go longer form on it. You don’t need visuals. So that combination of like really being dialed in with like, My segmenting and, and my different onboarding, you know, automations plus layering that skill on top of it was like totally, totally gangbusters.
Yes, you did. You did a little copywriting thing where you left an open loop, that we could circle back to. a third thing. So let’s,
Yes. And it’s the rule of thirds too, so that the rule of thirds. So, so the third thing was actually something that makes it all come full circle. because there is, you know, people who are hearing this are probably. There’s probably some group of them. That’s like, this is very psychologically manipulative.
What you’re talking about. this is why I hate capitalism, like et cetera, et cetera. And, and they’re, they’re, they’re not wrong. They’re not right, but they’re also not wrong. And so I think that, so two, two things happen. One was that, a lot. Of copywriting is around identifying pains, right? There’s a common, there’s a common copywriting, aphorism.
That’s, it’s much easier to say sell painkillers than to sell vitamins, right? People want to pay money to make a pain, go away more than they want to pay money, to buy a better version of themselves. and that’s kind of a well, well known or at least well known to me, thing. So that, that that’s one thing.
And that was, that’s kind of fundamentally at odds with the Rotterdam ethos. Because the robbery ethos is not to be like, you suck, you suck, you suck by this, do this, do this. It’s like, you’re awesome. Just this change can make you more awesome or this approach could make you better. And. In fact, one of the common copywriting formulas.
This is for the left brainers who are skeptical of copywriting. There’s so many formulas and they actually are quite effective. one of the formulas is problem agitate solve. So you identify a problem. And then the agitate part is you like, take your knife and stick it into their hearts and like make the problem feel 10 times worse.
And then you’re like, Oh, by the way, I can sell you something to make that go away. and. I, I just fundamentally don’t like doing that. And, and so I made a promise to myself that I’m not going to sell painkillers anymore. And I tried that and it worked, selling vitamins is much harder than selling painkillers.
But what makes me more proud of this recent launch is that it was all through the message of vitamins. With better versions of yourself. Don’t get me wrong. We still called out to pains and frustrations, but the anchor wasn’t that like, you’re not good enough. The anchor is your good enough. You can be better.
And I’m really proud of that. It was extremely difficult. It is extremely difficult. I’m not convinced, I’m not convinced that it’s a new skill that I have. It could be just a one-off fluke. and so that was like my, my, my second shift in copywriting. And then the last point for the skeptics out there, like, no, that, like if you have a product that you believe in.
Then there’s nothing wrong with this, right? It’s the same way of like the way you write a headline. Like if you don’t write a good headline, no, one’s going to open your email. You could be the best writer in the world. No, one’s going to see your art, right? So if you, you, you could stand on the back of you, you would buy your own product at that price.
Then you pair it with the version of selling that works for you, by the way, that’s how commerce works. Right? You have to convince people to buy things, but you know, it doesn’t work with mediocre products or it works until it stops working quite violently.
Yeah, that makes sense. I want to talk a little bit about the structure of your team and where kind of where you’re taking the business. Cause that’s something, you know, if we think about a lifestyle business or we think about, you know, not building a big empire and like trying to build the next lynda.com or, or something else, I think people have a hard time imagining.
What lives between cages operating completely by himself and running a newsletter and all the way at the other end of like trying to build the next billion dollar startup. So I’d love to hear how you think about that and what you’re building.
Well, I have a little PTSD from working out of wall street, where at any point in any minute of my life, someone could ruin the next 48 hours of my life. So, with a phone call or an email or, you know, meeting or something. So, so I’m a little scarred by that and it’s made me very, very, closed off to anyone being able to tell me what to do. Right. So I’ve really been very closed off in that regards. And again, I think I’m dealing with a lot of just the, the pain of like for 15 years being like, is this weekend mine or not? so, but there’s a few things that, that I’ve realized along the way is that that’s what I just said is based on the premise that if you add partners, Your life immediately becomes more complicated, right?
Sometimes you can add partners in your life can become less complicated. Right? That’s got to be a possibility at least. and so I’ve been very closed off to, to that idea, but, there’s a few ways that I think about it. One is that there are very important priorities for me, which is, how I want to show up as a dad.
Like being around the kids, picking them up, seeing their events, helping with the homeschooling. Like that is my number one priority. I have to make money, but like, that is a non-negotiable like, if, if someone’s like, you can make 20 times as much money, but you have to be gone one time, one week a month.
No. Thanks. so being around my kids and my wife, is super important. the second is, you see that surfboard behind me, or maybe it’s being cropped, but, you know, surfing, like I surf every day and that’s my definition of wealth. I’m not wealthy. I mean, Depending on the definition I am. I’m not, but I’m not independently wealthy to the point that I can’t work.
So I need to balance my hobbies and my loves and my passion with the thing that brings me income. And so a non-negotiable is, so I live walking distance to Manhattan beach, and I don’t have meetings between my first meetings at 1230 Pacific. So that I can watch the tides and the winds and just run out and surf for a couple hours, every day.
so that is a non-negotiable for me. And the third is a test is like any anyone that I deal with. And again, I I’ve, I’ve earned the right in the, in some regards to, to get here because my business’s at a certain point, but anyone I deal with like, I want like a test and this is, this is less for like individual course clients.
Cause I, I can’t there’s. They’re not faceless, but there’s a separation with them. But counterparties contractors, VA is, consultants. Like the test that I have employed with them is if it’s like the day after new year’s and it’s a Saturday and they want to talk, am I excited to talk to them? And if I am, then they should be in my orbit.
They should be the kind of people, even clients like, coaching clients. I don’t have them anymore. So. So the thing that I’m protecting is my family life, my hobbies, my mental, like my spiritual health, my physical health, my emotional health, and who I spend my time with. And so if those three and what I work on, obviously if those four things are protected, then I’m willing to explore growing.
Right. And so easy. If I were to grow an easy test would be, I’ll only hire people that I would not feel bad talking to on the Saturday after new year’s Eve. Right. and that might slow your recruiting process down. Like you probably can’t scale to, you know, Facebook levels with that threshold. but again, I don’t want to be Facebook levels.
So, so I’ve been thinking about that more now that we have achieved product market fit and there is a path like. I don’t need to create all the slides for every course, right. It like that. That’s not a good use of my time. you know, I could have, I have a head of education. I could have a head of social, right.
Because the thing works. And so now it’s about just like amping it up in the right places. But again, subject to those four constraints that I have as the business owner. The second thing that I’m more excited about is that, I believe that like, I’m good financially. Like my life’s fine. I, I love working.
That’s an easy one. So like, like you’d have to carry me out. You know, I always say if I would, I have the day I had today, if I won the lottery yesterday, If I want a lot of yesterday, like I have been excited to talk to you for years, right. Like if I, if my bank account was different, I’d still want to have this conversation.
Right. So, so that’s, that’s my, my test is like, if I, if I, if I, and I feel fortunate to be able to do that for the most, for the most part, so I’m good financially, but. We are sitting on a business that has product market fit, where the, the engines for growth are quite obvious to me at this point. and so what if I could give, give, transfer some of that growth or excess profits to people who aren’t me.
I take whatever the thing I need to live, but that’s actually not that much. and so, so if you take people you’d want to spend January 2nd with, people who are uniquely talented and creative and they would want to, you know, get involved with an engine that could have life-changing ramifications to their personal lives.
And that would make me so happy. I’m very open to that. And I’m lucky to sit in a community where those people are all around me, right. With the contractors, interns, like all of that, most of our team. And I, and I think, I don’t think, I think you wanted to hear about the team more than the like 10,000 foot psychology philosophy when you asked the question, but, you know, like if you look at our team now I have a, virtual assistant part-time.
I have an intern part-time they all have full-time jobs or are in school. I have two, teaching assistants who are cohort based. and then we have eight, alumni mentors who are kind of like pop up, you know, event staff, so to speak. and, and that’s. And then I have a bunch of consultants for writing for, I, for copywriting, for SEO.
Probably need to dial up some of my email automation. So looking at one there as well, and a bunch of consultants, so we could. Bring that some version of that in house? not in the, not too distant future, but again, it’s going to be looking at it’s. I told you about the spikes in my newsletter subscribers.
It was, you know, for over six years, right. That’s one per year. So you know, where, where are the other spikes? It’s just from like, Just showing up and just chipping away at it. And so that’s, that’s always going to be the philosophy is like I always to use a baseball analogy. It’s like, I’m like trying to get the walk.
If I can’t get the walk, I’ll go for the hit by the pitch. and if I’m really, really lucky, I’ll hit a signal. Like that’s, that’s, that’s what we play for.
That makes sense. And I love what you’re saying about bringing in other people. And I, I used to have this idea of wanting to run a totally solo business and then. obviously I’m not doing that now. I’ve got 60 people on the team. but there’s just, it’s so much fun to bring people along for the journey and to have those people where, when they like drop you a Slack message and say, Hey, can you chat for a bit?
You’re not like, Oh man. You’re like, you’re thinking like, yeah, absolutely. We haven’t caught up for a couple of weeks. Like that would be so much fun. Let’s do it. so anyway, I love people building teams on their own terms. Cause like for me not having a team at times, especially in the early days of ConvertKit was really stressful, but now, and a small team was really stressful, but now let’s say that we have a denial of service attack or spammers, or are doing nefarious things.
Someone asked me the other day, Oh, do you get many fraudulent accounts signing up? And I was like, yeah, like two to 400 a day, you know, it’s a lot, But now there’s so many people that are able to take care of that. And they’re so much better at it than I am that like, to your point earlier, my life has gotten much less stressful because I’ve brought these people on.
The last thing that I want to talk about is you have this idea that you talked about with the rad reads community of $10,000 an hour, where you’re at. And they’re like, that is absurd. $10,000 an hour work doesn’t exist. Like. Or they probably get into some, you know, political or philosophical argument about it.
But I feel like this is the point that I’m trying to make with so many people about leverage and everything else, and you make it better than I do. So I would love for you to break it down of what you mean by $10,000 an hour work.
I love it. Yeah. I mean, it’s, I stand on the back of giants and like your, your ladders, well, post is, you know, one in one of those. and so it’s a very simple, simple matrix because you know, people are visual and, and, and on one axis, there’s a skill. So high-skill low skill and on one axis, there’s leverage.
Low leverage and high leverage. And as you go through every quadrant, you go from $10 work to a hundred dollar work to a thousand dollars an hour work to $10,000 hour work. And so we can, we could go through there. They’re actually quite easy to go through. So $10 work is the easy threshold is like, can you do it hungover?
Inbox zero Slack messages, formatting documents, you know, all that stuff. 10 hour work, high dopamine, low impact, low leverage, low skill, but we do a lot of it. A hundred dollar work is a little bit of a more, is a little trickier category, right? It’s a. It’s when you leverage the wrong thing or you’re leveraging like a low level, a lower level skill.
And so a hundred dollar work could be things like learning GTD or, having good SOP, texts, expanders. It’s like things that definitely are efficient. but they might not be so effective. And, and in that quadrant, I always joke. I’m like, do you think Jeff Bezos uses a GTD. Right. Like Jeff Bezos has like eight things he needs to do.
It’s like call a Janet Yellen, call Joe Biden, call, you know, president. She like, like he doesn’t need GTD for that. and so I think that, you know, we can get seduced into it, myself included in Zapier’s and convert kit automations, and all of that. It’s like, okay, they’re useful parts of your business, but by themselves, they don’t.
They’re w they’re worthless. Right. So that gets you to the thousand dollar category, which is high skill, low leverage. And, the joke about the thousand dollars category is like, it’s the, it’s the high powered bankruptcy lawyer that charges a thousand dollars an hour. It’s the 10 X engineer that works for, you know, some flashy startup. That’s making a ridiculous salary.
I just paid $600 an hour lawyers today for an and you’re like, there’s a lot of not quite thousand dollars an hour work going on, but you know
Totally totally. And here’s where the thing here’s, here’s the brass tax it’s like thousand dollar an hour work, whether it’s $600. The point is you have a year unique skill that you can extract a market rent from. and it’s probably pretty defensible, like that, that bankruptcy lawyer is not that 600.
He’s not worried about being unemployed. so let’s be clear. It’s an incredible life. Right. You are capturing, you’re capturing the profits of your hard earned work and expertise. Right. And especially if you’re salaried, right. You, you know, you get vacation, you get benefits. Like that is a very good life.
It’s, it’s not that risky. It takes a while to get there. It’s quite low risk. and, and most people that’s all they want. Right. they want that comfort. Then there’s $10,000 work. Right? The thing is like, you can’t take a year off if you’re that lawyer, unless you’re independently wealthy at that point.
And so then there’s this next part where the thing keeps working when you’re not working. Right. And so, you know, I had this great moment when I was out surfing and, and I came back and I noticed at my course that like an office hours had happened, the video was uploaded. The Slack channel was updated and all the customer service requests were responded to.
And I’ve been surfing the entire time. I used to do all of those things. You used to do all of those things. And so $10,000 work is leveraging a unique skill. Right. So I, I, people often think that that’s like recruiting. I mean, recruiting is a big one. Recruiting into team building is a big way to build leverage, but let’s go back to the thing we were talking about, press, I would make the argument.
And for those of you who, who, who don’t know how this podcast came about, I cold emailed, Nathan’s team. That’s a $10,000 email. Right because of your platform who this who’s going to see this, you know, it’s not, it might actually physically generate me $10,000, but it’s going to have a very amplifying effect on my business.
So a one-minute a 15, second email is a $10,000 task. Those, all that stuff we were saying about journalists, right. For that type of person. It’s a $10,000 task. and so $10,000 work has this built in leverage it’s you it’s usually one to many, right? So, you know, you can write on Katie’s blog or you can write for the Washington, Washington post, write an op-ed for the Washington post.
So it’s always got that, that element of one to many. There’s a big element of recruiting. There’s an element of brand, there’s an element of customer obsession. And then there’s this kind of like squishy, the squishy kind of hard to measure magic to it where it’s just like, you know, someone looks at you, Dave, and then they’re like, it’s like, he just teaches doing what he should be doing.
Right. And you just like, you just get that feeling and, and when you see people like that, you just, they is there a gravitational pull towards some people want to be around them. People want to support their products. People want to talk about them. People want to link to their blog posts. So, so there is this kind of like, I think there’s a very formulaic way.
It’s like, okay, I’m going to like email 10 journalists and do this and do this and do this. But it’s like, Can you also, you know, I always say you never want to, you never want to compete with someone who’s having fun and who genuinely cares. Right. That’s 10, if that’s my competitor, I’m, I’m screwed because that’s a competitor that’s on January 2nd with a hanger.
So like, I can’t stop thinking about this essay because it’s just coming out of me. I might just have to sit down and write it right now. Yeah.
Yeah. Oh, there’s so much in that, that I love, like, I mean that intersection between skill and leverage, where you can get someone who is, Taking this unique skill, whether it’s writing or design or email automation, you know, any of these things and making it reach a lot of people. I mean, so much of our $10,000 an hour work is going to be around audiences, you know, just because of the, the world that you and I both live in.
But it takes the same amount of effort that laundry, you know, that you wrote, you know, one of, one of seven emails over the course of a launch or something, they’re the same amount of effort if they go out to a thousand people or 25 people, you know, and, and that’s, so any $10,000 an hour work is the kind of thing that takes the regular work.
Copywriting normally is a, we’ll say it’s a thousand dollars an hour type of task. Yeah. You know, it is a, a very important skill if you’re doing it for other people, it’s worth being paid a lot for, but then what moves it to that last quadrant is when you’re like, I actually control the audience and have this leverage.
And it goes up from there. I think one challenge. This is what I run into is,
Well, no, not a challenge with that. I think it’s the challenge of living it out is that the tendency. Is when you find $10,000 an hour work, there’s not an unlimited amount available to you. You can’t just keep putting in more time and have it all be $10,000 an hour work. You have to build more leverage.
The more leverage you’ve built. The more opportunity there is for this high value work. So the tendency is you have these big wins and this $10,000 an hour, and then you fill it in with a hundred dollars an hour work. Or often like $10 an hour work, if we’re honest, you know? And so it’s like a good point that you’ve made of, a lot of those times that you’ve said like, great, I did my $10,000 an hour work.
I’m going to go surfing now. Whereas the chap that I fall into is great. Let me grind it out with a whole more work that later I’ll realize like, okay, that was $10 an hour
Totally. Then your constraint is to just move closer to the beach, right? I think too, that, that one of the, like the. Everyone has a portfolio of these things, right? If you only do $10,000 work, you’re kind of a dreamer that doesn’t know how to execute. And if you only do $10 at work, you’re the world’s best execution, a machine with no ideas.
And so I think everyone, right? I mean, people always say they’re like, I’m 24, five years old. Like what can I do? That’s $10,000 work. I don’t have the, I don’t even have the thousand dollar work mean. It’s like, yeah, you’re in a phase of life where you are more focused on 10 and a hundred, but it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t think about or do, right.
Maybe try to commit to one meaningful relationship a month. Right. professional relationship a month, like that’s your $10,000 work, right? Just like Jeff Bezos is, is never going to be, you know, edit line, editing an email unless it’s to Joe Biden. Right. You know, cause that’s just, there’s no point in that.
So everyone has their, their kind of portfolio, of the activities. Cause you kinda need all of them like in life, right? You need, you do need boring execution, right? Like you need to pay your bills, right. Or if you, you know, if someone else pays your bills, you need to make sure that that other person paid the bills or that, you know, you got to hire that person to pay your bill.
So, so I think that th that portfolio approach is much more. um, sanguine than just being like, I need to be in the upper
Right. Well, there’s something that I like to do. One of my favorite questions at work is what would have to be true in order to, and then fill in the blank. Right? Cause it’s not, can you do this? And you’re like, well, let me tell you all the ways that I, all the reasons that I can’t do it can, you know, can we achieve this as a company?
Oh, maybe, I don’t know. In the, you go, what would have to be true for us to hit this growth goal for us to land this level of candidate or whatever else. And it gets you into that mindset of like, Okay. I have all these reasons that showed up that we can’t do it, but you asked what would have to be true.
So let me set those aside and then I’d say like, okay, well, our conversion rates would have to be this. Our brand would have to be at this level that when we send the cold email, someone actually reads it and says, Oh, can you make it interesting rather than be like, ah, no, the recruiting email, you know, whatever.
Right. So it gets you into that mindset. So if someone is in the position, they’re thinking like, okay, there’s no $10,000 an hour work in. My world, you know, maybe there’s just $10 an hour work. I don’t have the skills. Then you can ask what would have to be true for this to move from $10 an hour, work to a thousand dollars an hour.
And you’re like, okay, well, I would have to be an expert in this field. You rather than an expert designer, rather than a minor. and you can start to map that out and you, okay. What would have to be true for this activity that I’m doing to be $10,000 an hour work? Well, maybe my newsletter would need to be go out to 10,000 people instead of a hundred people.
Maybe, you know, any of these other things. Maybe when I designed my launch, it has to be in a system that I can use again and again, instead of a one-time
asking that question of what would have to be true. we’ll start to get you thinking longterm.
Yeah. I made a note of that. You might,
That sounds good. Well, we’ve, we’ve talked for a long time. We could keep talking forever. I think we’ll just have to do another round.
Oh, his dad to do at other…
That’d be good. Well, where should people go to sign up for RadReads and follow your stuff? And then we’ll get into closing thoughts and all that.
Awesome. Yeah. Well, thank you again, like I said, you’ve been a big, a big, big inspiration, and you know how to build how to, how to show up, how to manage and how to lead. So I’m just grateful to be here and for building a kick-ass product that has really been transformational for my business. So, they, people can go to rad reads.co, no calm, just co sign up for the newsletter.
You’ll see, you know, copywriting and a Notion, but also just a very, very passionate, personal, commitment to, to you. kind of learning more about yourself, learning how to live an intentional and epic life. And, the rest will take care of itself from there. I’m most active on Twitter. No YouTube, no Instagram.
As you’re just thinking about bringing some of this RadReads ethos to the team, you know, to everyone listening, I’d love to hear. If you have something that you want to leave listeners with.
I would leave. Yeah, let’s so many good ones. I would, I would lead leave with, a quote actually from Tony Robbins is the, the quality of your life is measured by the quality of your questions. And so as your reframing, what would have to be true? I think, another one that I often push people to ask is like, what’s this for.
Right. So like you want to switch from MailChimp to ConvertKit, like, what’s this for? Or like, do you want to open it, start a YouTube account. What’s this for? And then really pull on, like, don’t be satisfied with the first answer. Go buy a one level deeper, go to the second answer, go to a third answer.
And actually ironically, like copywriting, you’ll probably land on some deeper human need that you have. And once you get into that need, then you can really kind of go back up and be like, Oh, this is, you know, the war or I’m going to actually solve this deeper need. It might be a tool to help you get there.
But to really understand that, like what’s the what’s driving, it is a real gift that, that you can give to yourself.
I love it. All right. Well, everyone goes sign for RadReads. Okay. Thanks for hanging out. And we’ll chat again soon,
My pleasure, Nathan. Thank you.