29 Dec 2018 Reflections
As 2018 winds to a close, I can’t help but reflect on the journey we’ve been on together. Four years ago when I sent out the inaugural email, RadReads wouldn’t have even qualified as a side project. And today, it’s the through-line that brings together entrepreneurship, community, and the quest to live an examined life. And it’s centered around you – the reader, peer, and friend. Here are some of my learnings from the past year and aspirations for 2019.
A creative tipping point
An internal switch flipped over the course of 2018 – I shed my impostor syndrome as a writer. Why did I even feel this? Might it be because I started writing in earnest in 2016? Or that I have no formal training? Or the fact that I still make tons of grammatical mistakes?
Identifying as “a writer” used to make me cringe. But thanks to your encouragement and some fantastic editors at Quartz, I feel ready to own that identity – and the responsibility that comes with it.
RadReads started as a brain dump of sorts. It evolved by incorporating more structure and storytelling. And now it continues to move away from being exclusively about my story, towards being our collective story.
Y’all have pushed me in this direction. Your questions, stories, challenges, and perspectives have all deeply influenced how I see the world and thus how I write.
Nothing brings me more joy than answering your questions over email, updating our shared Google Doc, and crowdsourcing story angles via Twitter. Our collective conversation is more interesting than anything I could ever share about myself, so here’s a warning shot: I’m going to be asking for much more audience participation in 2019!
Time to make this sustainable
RadReads is still being funded out of my own savings. Each year, I inch closer to break-even (and our generous Patrons are key constituents) but contrary to popular belief, building an online business is no small feat. Four years of tinkering have shed light on possible business models and how best align them with what I enjoy most: the creative process.
Bracing for the bear
And to be perfectly honest, there’s been one factor that has helped me approach the past four years with a sense of levity and lightness: a bull market.
As you know, I’ve always been aggressive in my allocation to equities. But to call the past four years (if you ignore this December) a “tailwind” would be a gross understatement. It’s much easier to eat into your savings when your investments are going gangbusters. The reverse (i.e. eating into your savings and watching your investments go down!), will be a true test of mental fortitude and entrepreneurial adaptation.
I don’t believe in making market calls, but cycles are real, and the next one will test my resolve and continued desire to run RadReads at a loss. I apprehensively look forward to the challenge of moving towards a True North without getting whipsawed by the emotions of the day-to-day. (I’m also excited to cook more and take less Ubers.)
A friend asked me how I wanted readers to feel after reading a blog post. My response was, “I think I’ve done my job when I leave them slightly off-center. But not out of fear and judgement. Instead from a place of curiosity.” I love provoking and questioning long-held assumptions about ourselves, our careers, our money, our creativity and our deepest thoughts. This type of questioning is predicated on trust, and I’m humbled to have earned it from you thus far; and will be judicious in preserving that trust each and every day.
Fun and delight
I was recently listening to Adam Robinson discuss some of his favorite questions. One of these was “How do I bring fun and delight into other people’s lives?” I’d append the following to Adam’s question “while keeping them slightly off-center.”
Bringing fun and delight while keeping you slightly off-center. This is no small task, but I’m grateful for the opportunity to give it my best shot!
Happy New Year!