Lumpy Mail, Systems Thinking, and Jocko's Disciplined Duck Lips
If you’re reading for the first time, each week I send out 4 content recommendations, a think piece, and a personal piece. The content here is designed to help vets think deeper, earn more money, and make better decisions.
I’ve listened to a fair amount of Rogan before and it was until this episode I realized how unique he is. He is willing to break mold and narrative of certain groups/stereotypes and I think this is what it takes to truly think freely.
Explore this further down below.
Last week I recommended a piece on the Silicon Valley Bank incident. Impacts to regulation and financial space are going to be ringing in the ears of investors and depositors for some time. This is written by an intelligent investor I’ve followed for sometime on Charles Schwab and their role in this mess.
How a guy started a direct mail business using packages
These blocks below are clickable for the full story.
A few weeks ago I met a guy on Twitter named Christian Ruf. Former helicopter pilot turned home services operator, Christian was using ‘lumpy mail’ or small packages to solicit new customers for services. Turns out people ALWAYS open packages even though they may throw away those little flyers you get. He spun up a business to do that specifically and some early tests show over 90% open rate. I recorded an episode with him that will be out in a few weeks. If your business does direct mail and wants to try a new approach to get in front of customers, I’d love to introduce you to him. Cool guy, great story.
Miss this week’s episode? This week I talked with Levi West, a writer, photographer, and a great creative. We talk about why identity outside the military is essential and how to get started being creative. He also gives his firsthand account of the withdrawal from Afghanistan and the problems it give rise to at a micro level.
I recorded a conversation last week with a gentleman named Wes Gray. Wes is the CEO of a company called Alpha Architect, a company aimed at better investing processes. Wes mentioned something called System 1 and System 2 thinking and after some research on what that was, I’ve confirmed I don’t have multiple personality disorder AND put a name to how to systematize better decision making.
System 1 and System 2 represent two different personas. System 1 represents are quick, automatic responses to events and 2 is a more slow, thoughtful approach that utilizes judgement and is the frame of mind when you think of yourself in the third person.
This framing of these two personas is actually a long studied psychology problem that has sought to square our ability to think and act rationally part of the time, but in others act against our better judgement. My system 1 makes decisions like eating after 8pm, speaking before I think and putting off work with encroaching due dates. System 2 is hydrating the night before a big workout, investing in my 401k, and figuring out what I did wrong before an argument with someone. If only we could stay in system right?
If we’re in system 2 all the time, you lose the inability to respond to things quickly when you need to. If you’re standing in the middle of the road with an oncoming bus, you don’t need to stand there to analyze whether you should move, you just move. Personally I’ve felt stuck in system 2, believing I can outthink my way out of everything. Doesn’t work well because I spend too much time planning and not enough time acting.
What’s the solution? Something I’ve found effective is making a list of the habits I don’t like during system 2 time and brainstorming ways to automatically remove that. The easy stuff is setting up automation for things like money, but there are some simple physical things you can do to cue other behaviors.
(If you haven’t listened to the Tony Nash episode, it’s a good one. Towards the beginning he talks about how to use physical triggers to cue memories or thoughts. You can listen to that here)
If you have any other physical “hacks” that trick yourself into doing certain things, send them to me. Any time you can make doing the hard thing easier, that’s a win.
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I’ve been in a bit of a pit this last week, struggling with my work on the podcast in a few areas:
Audience development - If you’re going to run a business. You need to know who your customer is or who your ideal customer is. This is a hard exercise and isn’t always obvious because you can’t be for everyone even if your product could be for everyone. At the start, you need a niche.
Starting out I thought my niche was current + former service members discussing transition from service. If you’ve been listening since the beginning, you’ve likely seen the discussion shift away from that, primarily because the advice and stories get redundant.
My ultimate goal all along has been to inspire other service members, either in or out, to take control of their lives, start a business, or get aggressive about their pursuits in one way or another. This has felt like a pull exercise - I’m trying to get or convince them of something. Someone in the comments of my Twitter thread below pointed out something I’ve known all along, but never considered as a content approach.
Big podcasts hosted by former service members like Jocko talk about things widely applicable to people, like he does with discipline, but he presents it in a military or service context. He’s not trying to say you need discipline because we have this in the military. He’s saying this is how discipline works because I learned it here. This juxtaposition of content approaches will drive my next foray into attracting listenership.
Relationships - Being primarily an interview show, the guests are the stars and if you don’t have good ones, you don’t have a good show. My approach to interviews has been to win over guests as listeners and create a compelling enough experience for them to recommend me to others. It’s worked in some cases, others mixed reviews.
My typical interview process:
Find an interesting guest > Initial Research > Outreach and request > Schedule > Provide interview notes > Record > Hand written thank you card > Follow up email thanking and sending them content
For some people this has worked fantastic and they rave about the thank you card. Others just ghost. I’d love some feedback on what you think constitutes a good guest experience. How do you make people happy when you’re asking something from them from the start?
Advertising - I’ve started to explore different paid advertising venues and been underwhelmed by responsiveness and execution of different initiatives. It’s odd that when you reach out to people and want to give them money for something that they take their time (weeks - months) responding and you as the customer end up doing the work. Whats the adage, if you want something done right do it yourself?
I’m going full guerilla marketing for an effort taking place in the next 1-2 weeks that doesn’t rely on anyone else. It involves a lot of walking and combines podcasts with a concept that’s been around for hundreds of years. I’ll report back.
I say all this for two reasons. One to help get my thoughts down and bring you into the process. Two, to emphasize the importance of talking through your issues to your mentors. Below I linked a Twitter thread where I vented all of these frustrations in shorter form to my crowd sourced mentor, the Hive mind. The response was great - lots of encouragement, which is needed, but also several experienced people offering legitimate introductions and assistance on specifics.
There are times when I feel like I was born not wanting to ask for help. “I’ll cut the umbilical cord myself, I don’t need your help” kind of pride. People often talk about this as not wanting to be seen as weak, but I don’t think thats it. For me, it’s more of not wanting to be a burden. Its clear that growth requires intervention from your peers and mentors and if you can get through without help, maybe you’re not trying something difficult enough.
Talk about your struggles, even just to get them on paper. The results are surprising.
Talk next week.
I’ve been compiling THE master list of links/resources for vets and currently have it all in a Notion doc. You can find that here free with links and descriptions.