TMBA597: Five Things We Can’t Stop Thinking About in May 2021

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This week’s podcast is a little bit out of the ordinary.

While we have been busier than ever this month over at Dynamite Jobs, we still can’t help but find things on the internet that capture our attention.

We thought it would be fun to take a look at five specific news items and ideas that have recently come across our desk that we just can’t stop thinking about.

These topics range from how to deal with FOMO, why it’s important to get power brokers involved in your business, the “muddy middle” of freelancing, and so much more.

We hope that these five topics can help inspire you to make the next great move in your location-independent business.

See the full transcript below

Listen to this week’s show and learn:

  • The dangers of FOMO and how it can manifest in our lives. (1:01)
  • How important your network really is to your net worth. (15:46)
  • Why now might be the right time to invest in assets. (21:10)
  • How freelancers can get “stuck in the middle”. (23:36)
  • Our thoughts on the recent controversy surrounding Basecamp. (34:04)

Mentioned in the episode:

Before the Exit – Our New Book
Partner With Us
The Dynamite Circle
Dynamite Jobs
Dynamite Deals
Tropical MBA on YouTube
Post a Remote Job
Dynamite Jobs – Remote Recruiting Sales Page
Let’s Talk High-Level Podcast Strategy for 1 Hour
Allen Walton
Naval Ravikant
Nomad List
Noah Kagan
Upwork
Toptal
Basecamp
Behind the Controversy at Basecamp – The Verge

Enjoyed this podcast? Check out these:

TMBA447: The Suburban Entrepreneur
TMBA590: Mailbag: How Long Does it Really Take to Achieve Freedom?
TMBA591: The Surprising Habits of Wealthy People with Noah Kagan

This week’s sponsor:

Today’s podcast is sponsored by Prisync.com.

Prisync is a competitor price tracking and dynamic pricing software that helps all sizes of e-commerce companies make great pricing decisions.

 In today’s ultra-competitive e-commerce environment Prisync enables businesses to monitor competitors’ prices on a single dashboard, detecting each price change and seizing every opportunity to improve profitability. You can also set up dynamic pricing rules, allowing you to automatically match or beat any competitors’ price without spending a minute thinking about it.

 Prisync is offering TMBA listeners a huge 50% discount for the first 3 months. Check them out at Prisync.com.

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Have comments about the show?

Do you have ideas for things you’d like Dan and Ian to discuss on future episodes?

Our producer Jane would love to hear from you at [email protected] or leave us a voice message using the record button below.

 

 

Thanks for listening to our show! We’ll be back next Thursday morning 8AM EST.

Cheers,

Dan & Ian


 

 

 

Full Transcript

Dan: On today’s episode, we are talking about five things we like, just five general things (laughs). We’re going to talk business, talk business mindset, business ideas, and more. Hopefully, these five things will help inspire you to make the next great move in your location independent business. And we start with something we liked from Twitter.

Ian: I came across a tweet from Allen Walton today and it was one of those things that kind of confirmed what we were already thinking. We were talking about this point. And then I pulled up Twitter and I was like, ‘Wow, other people are thinking this as well. So what Allen says, @AllenThird is his Twitter handle, ‘If my Twitter feed is to be believed, everyone is making easy money on crypto, DTC e-commerce, online courses, buying storage units and multi family homes. This kind of crap isn’t good for my mentality. And I’m the guy who made this feed’, meaning I curated all these people that I’m reading about. He goes on to say, ‘It makes me question my methods and results. Why is making money so much harder for me than it was before? What am I doing wrong? What am I not noticing?’ He goes on to say, ‘Everyone’s situation is different. And you can’t directly compare – different drives, and advantages and disadvantages’.

Dan: What a wonderful tweet and something we just wanted to discuss, we kind of came up with the header here of ‘Managing FOMO’, or fear of missing out, this kind of sometimes like irrational and it can become like a runaway train where you’re starting to think, ‘What I’m doing is difficult. It looks so easy out there for everybody else, you know, I should just switch gears and do something that’s easier’. I think managing FOMO is absolutely fundamental. And it’s not unique to Twitter feeds. In fact, managing FOMO was something that has long been a theme on this podcast, finding a way to have that singular focus so that you can do the very hard thing. Yes, it’s still hard, that we’re all trying to do here, which is grow a business.

Ian: The first tweet that I saw, Dan, this week, that I started to get FOMO from, it was from Naval. He tweeted, and he listed how all these different, in some cases, commodities, but all these different stores of value had gone up. So it was like crypto went up 150%. Housing went up this much. And it was like, ‘If your portfolio hasn’t gone up …’

Dan: Everything’s up by the way, I picked up ..I won’t tell you the full backstory. But I dropped into Rite Aid the other day to buy some mouthwash and some toothpaste. And I got a $16 bill. I just couldn’t believe it. I was like, ‘Yeah, maybe my stocks are up. But this is not sustainable’.

Ian: The fact that you got to preface this with ‘not the full story’, but you’re just buying toothpaste and mouthwash makes me very nervous. But

Dan: More on that on a future episode.

Ian: So Naval goes on to say, basically, if your net worth hasn’t gone up 30-50%, you’re falling behind.

Dan: This year.

Ian: And I was like, oh man, first of all, ‘Do I believe that?’ And then I started to kind of look at my asset classes. And I was like, according to his tweet, I was falling behind because I wasn’t even invested in some of these asset classes. And it’s kind of what Allen is saying, too. It’s like, ‘Oh man, am I getting left behind here?’ But then I started to look at the asset classes that I was invested in, like your business that you own. Has that gone up? Yes, check, woo. But, you start to do the math. And at first glance for me, I was starting to sweat bullets. And then I started to dig into it. And I was like, ‘Well, wait a second, I am in control of some of these things. I do know what I’m talking about when it comes to some of these things. I am moving the needle forward’. And so for me, then what FOMO for me too, and what FOMO has a lot to do with is like what you can control and what you can’t control in the things that you’re focused on.

Dan: So I have a bunch of thoughts about how to think about FOMO. The first is, the most common response that Allen received on Twitter was essentially this idea of, a lot of survivorship bias out there. And people aren’t sharing their Ls, they’re only sharing their W’s. And I think this is true. It’s easy to get a skewed perception of reality when you’re literally going to a marketing platform where people are trying to market to you that they’re winners, and that they are smart. There was a comment made by Pieter Levels, who started the ‘Nomads List’ website, let me just pull it up here. He highlighted a story that was posted over at ‘Indie Hackers’ and he said, ‘Three to five years and 25 to 50 projects with one successful stable revenue generating project’, let me say that again, ‘25 to 50 projects with one successful, stable revenue generating project seems to be the range for people who get successful’. So he’s essentially saying, you know, ‘the 1000 day principle’ plus a couple years, and a bunch of F-ups. And I think we could probably pull tape, we’ve been on here, how many domains have we launched? How many projects? We’re at 100 plus, and we have two businesses. This is a very astute observation. And the reality is, yeah, you do hear about those one or two projects constantly on all these platforms.

Ian: Yeah, man, I was getting sad about FOMO and losing out, because it was following somebody and they were just talking about all the success they had, and it’s like, ‘Well, wait a second here’, like you said, ‘Where are the Ls?’ How can we all learn from this, and part of me started to feel like a boomer. That’s getting thrown around the internet, left, and right now, it’s like, if you’re over the age of like, 15, you’re a boomer. But Twitter, to me, is an amazing platform. But it does feel a lot like I’m a boomer, because these people with these accounts of authority, are essentially using it as a marketing platform. And I’m not always recognising is that, a lot of it is like the new SEO, a lot of it is a new PPC, but I’m like reading it as if they’re writing it, which a lot of times they’re not,

Dan: We’re like, a bit too old and a bit too early in Twitter to be cynical about it yet, just like it’s just a pure marketing platform.

Ian: It’s true. It’s true.

Dan: So there’s that. But let me offer an antidote. What is the cure? What is the cure for FOMO? Here’s an idea. I’ll call it the three fives. The first is: choose what you’re doing with your career in five year increments. We call this like the onstage test, the corner office test. FOMO is an emotion that comes up in like 24 hour periods. If it comes up in five year periods it is a little bit sadder. Right? And that’s the point is like, how about you focus on what you would regret not doing for five years, what you think is worthwhile for your life in five years, it makes things easier. I have positions in investments I wanted to make and then like two months later, I didn’t get around to doing it because I judged that other things in my life are more important than making those investments. And yeah, I lost a lot of money on those. But the bottom line is I still made the investments because they were five year plans. So that’s the first part of it – think about your strategy in terms of five year increments, and implement based on that. The second one, Ian, is five hours a day. And you know, the worst thing that FOMO can do is interrupt your ability to focus on that one thing that you can control, and that can make a difference to you getting to that next level. Our previous guest, Noah Kagan, said something that really stuck with me and I know a lot of the audience he said, ‘Look, whatever you focus on will grow, it will be good’. So just got to choose something you can stay focused on and that’s what these five hours are all about. If you can’t do it for five hours a day, and that includes for folks that are otherwise employed or have other interests in their lives that are distracting, if you can’t be on it for five hours a day, actually forget about it. It’s not enough energy to do you know, to get it to that next level. What Levels was pointing to, which is, you know, 40 failures is certainly what it feels like to run a business. You’re constantly running into things that just aren’t really working out like you expected. And so it’s like you’re uniquely vulnerable to this FOMO emotion, because you are missing out. That’s the thing, you’re focused, which is really unique.

Ian: Yeah, that’s totally right, man, you are missing out, and you’ve made a choice to miss out.You can’t be mad about missing out if you don’t try though, right? If you don’t go for it, and you see somebody else succeeding and having great success, it doesn’t make sense to me that you can be upset. I mean, sure, emotionally, you can be upset. But if that’s something that you really want, and you go for it, and you don’t get it, then you can be upset. If you didn’t go for it, and you just said you wanted it and then just watch other people get it. I don’t think you can be upset about that.

Dan: And the final one is the heuristic, the rule of thumb, that you are the average of your five closest friends. I really love this one, it’s in a lot of productivity books, and it seems like something you can write off easily. But I think there’s like something so powerful in who you actually care to build relationships with, maintain relationships with, how you share ideas with those people. There’s a lot of intelligence in that. It informs how you behave on a day to day basis. So it’s really hard, in other words to be that one isolated person who’s trying to be completely different from others around you, and puts you in a situation where you’re uniquely susceptible to the untruths or the half truths that are shown on media platforms. Whereas, when you know the people and you talk with them on a day to day basis, you can understand the narrative backstory, what led to where they’re at. And then you can figure out how you can integrate it more fully into what you’re doing on that five year strategy. And that five hours a day.

Ian: Totally, I’m sure that you’ve gone out and met some of the people on Twitter, Dan, that are spitting truth or not truth. And then you kind of figure out where they’re from, and like, how they got there. And you’re like, ‘Oh, well, this makes sense’. Or, like, ‘Oh, I see this is just the marketing engine’, or, ‘Oh, this guy’s legit’.

Dan: There’s a lot of intelligence there. And it’s also – no one’s incentivized to go around poking holes. If someone’s talking shit, they’re exaggerating, they’re being irresponsible or whatever, with their ideas, like no one’s incentivized to, you know, take them down.

Ian: There’s a lot of liability in it, too. God knows I’ve written a bunch of tweets and hit delete, I’m sure you have as well.

Dan: The other thing is, and I want to share, like some of our personal experience right now, is we talked about earlier in Q1, our business broke through a big plateau, and all of a sudden, our revenue quadrupled. And we’ve been running at that rate since January, February, kept happening March, April, May. Well, now, it’s May, and we’ve sort of been at that plateau since January, and this is how running businesses typically works. It works, by the way, with learning new skills too is that you sort of hang around at these plateaus. Why am I still here? I feel like we’re doing the right things. You know, and then all of a sudden BAM you pop through. And the idea with FOMO, and like reading too much media and starting to focus on a bunch of different things in your mind, the problem is – breaking through those plateaus requires an incredible amount of focus, and force, even in the face of nothing really happening for a long time. Once you pump through that plateau, and get to the next level, you could potentially parlay that into your next opportunity. I’ll give a concrete example. Right now, it is true, to Allen’s point, that I’m seeing a lot of founders that have successful businesses that they don’t necessarily need to manage on a day to day basis. They’re taking that asset plus, say, half a million to a million dollars of liquid money that they can invest freely. And instead of running their company, they’re going full time to investing in this incredible bull market in cryptocurrency right now, You can do that. But that, again, is a focus, right? It’s not just easy money. You have to then say, I’m going to put this thing I worked very hard on ice, and I’m going to refocus my energy over here. And that’s something that is available to people who’ve broken through a plateau. It’s not something you just sort of show up and do out of nowhere.

Ian: Also you know, we’re in a pretty unique situation where capital is like, very readily available at very cheap rates. And people are desperate to find good returns. And there’s a lot of different ways to do that. We are experiencing this incredible bull market, especially this year, it’s been going on for 10 plus years now. And a lot of people getting cocky, don’t think there’s ever going to be any ramifications us included.

Dan: I think that although like these, these things are getting a little bit more sophisticated, Ian,Twitter, you’re getting more sophisticated knowledge of how people are making money, it’s closer to the bone than it was in the mid 2000s, where you were INC magazine and blogs, for example. I still think the same basic principles apply, which is that despite all the information, you can have this voracious input into your head, like, ‘Oh, I’m reading all these ideas from everywhere’, you still have to have chosen that focused output every day, whatever that is, in your case. That’s value that you own through your three five philosophy – your five closest associates, your five hours every day and your five year strategy, and that is the fundamental path of wealth, once you get wealth through that strategy, through launching 40 failed projects and one revenue that actually makes out, that’s the revenue that then you’re gonna be able to turn into personal wealth and put into things like etherium, Bitcoin, a shopping mall, the next business, whatever it is. By the way, that focus, Ian, is precisely what makes you interesting to those five people that are interesting and living the life that you want. If you want to connect with others, the best strategy is really to do something interesting yourself.

Ian: It’s true.

Dan: Alright, so the first thing we like – shout out to Allen Walton a great follow on Twitter – yeah, this critical idea of managing FOMO. The second thing we like – your network, is your net worth. Is it true? Is this statement true? I’ve been thinking about this just a little bit because in, especially this year, where it’s like, stocks are up, cryptos up, you know, all these like yield farming schemes. There’s all these ways, you can just have money literally dump out on your desk, from the internet. As I continue to speak with successful entrepreneurs this year, I’m blown away by how much a phone call or a text is at the core of so many success stories out there. So even as the paths to build an internet business become more technologized. And there’s more software and systems involved than maybe people were five years ago. At the top strategic level, and at these key breakthroughs of plateaus and businesses, it is so often a powerful nod from someone that can help you out.

Ian: Well until smart contracts take over people still signed contracts, not a not computers, which might not be the case for very long. But human interaction is at the core of all this, like we have to agree with each other. We have to share information with each other. I still think most persuasion comes from in person, or from like talking to another person. So it’s no surprise to me. Yeah, I make a lot of my financial decisions based on those people around me and purchasing decisions still, you know, it’s not generally from a Facebook ad.

Dan: If you don’t have power brokers that you can call and text in your business? That is a relatively simple thing to go out and solve right now. And it’s something me and you’ve been talking about. Who do we need to talk to about what we’re doing in order to help us break through this next plateau in our business? So I think that’s really powerful, something we’ve been thinking about.

Dan: Just to recap, our first thing we like, the first topic, we’re talking about managing FOMO. Our next thing is getting power brokers involved in your business, people who can open doors for you. Even in internet businesses, it’s the people that are opening doors that may often make the biggest difference. The third thing we’ve been talking about is inflation. Ian, you brought this up at the top of the call. It’s something everybody’s talking about nowadays.

Ian: Everybody but the government, by the way, the people that are talking about inflation, Dan, are the people that are buying things from the store like me.

Dan: We had this thing with COVID, where we’re all like, ‘Oh my god, the stock market is gonna crash’. And then, like through the whole of 2020, everybody’s portfolio kept going up and up and up. And I think it was like, ‘Woo, I’m super smart, I love this stuff’. And then you go to Rite Aid to get some Listerine, and you’re like, ‘Whoa’. And you’re seeing it across so many asset categories at all time highs right now.

Ian: So this is confusing, dude. Because basically, in 2008, we didn’t have a penny to our names hardly, and like, everything was crashing. And then the advice of our elders back then was like, ‘Well, you got to have cash sitting around. So you can really scoop up and seize these opportunities’. And we’re like, ‘Okay, let’s get some cash’.

Dan: And the way we responded, specifically, almost like those boomers who were born during World War Two, or the Great Depression, or whatever, is we devised and designed and deployed very intelligent cash flow businesses that were super lightweight, super efficient. And I remember, we would look at our books and be so proud of ourselves about how clean and efficient how much money was dropping to the bottom line relative to the p&l of our friends, the people we were hanging around with. And I really feel like now it’s time to question that calculus, Ian, you mentioned how we’re in an inflationary environment, the cost of capital is cheaper. I think the move right now, if you’re running one of these efficient cash flow businesses, is to consider if you shouldn’t get more aggressive with putting the cash back into the business in order to grow the total asset value, while the capital’s cheap.

Ian: And so maybe the strategy is really the same. We’re talking about the same thing here, which is yeah, now you have the cash, now put it into assets, try and get into an asset. Because the cash is worth less, or it’s becoming less valuable, but the assets are increasing in value. And so I think one of the things that didn’t happen, that happened in 2008, that I guess maybe I was expecting was the price to go down. And then you will be able to buy low, but you could say, well, it is low now, trust me on that five years from now, wait until you see what the price of mouthwash is. I don’t 100% know how this stuff works. But I do know that we worked for a long time to get cash, and now you’re seeing it not worth as much. You’re seeing all these assets go up in value. And so, man, it’s a complicated time to be an adult. One other takeaway that I have from this is like, buy things that you want to hold for like five to 10 years, so don’t go out and buy a bunch of crap that you’re not going to use or that you don’t want and be stuck holding the bag. So don’t buy anything that you kind of don’t want to own for five to 10 years. It’s kind of been my strategy over the last couple years, just because I don’t have a lot of confidence that this stuff is going to go on forever. And I don’t mind holding the asset if it doesn’t.

I’ll say one other thing, and this is a call to a podcast guests. I’m hearing more than ever, like people buying leveraging small business loans, SBA loans and stuff like that and getting into these businesses with very little cash and then having very cash efficient businesses, what you’re talking about. Essentially getting in for nothing and then having this great cash flow. I’m curious to talk to other people that have done this: have you bought a business with an SBA loan? Have you leveraged? Have you gotten into one of these situations where you’ve got yourself a very profitable business for very little upfront, interested to hear from you.

Dan: Moving on to the fourth topic, the ‘muddy middle of freelancing’, is this a real thing or not? We were talking about this this week, because there’s a big push over at Dynamite Jobs for us – we’ve been focused on full time sweepstakes hiring for a long time, which is a system that kind of, a little bit frustrates everybody, but works really well and so we keep doing it. Which is – if you guys want to hire, you say, ‘Hey, Dan and Ian, and help me out hiring, you write a job ad’, you basically create a sweepstakes, and then a bunch of people compete for that big prize of the job. And now we even do a full service version of that, which is really, really working well, our recruiting services. However, you know, there’s a lot of folks that are sort of pushing us to do gig work and freelance work. And so obviously, we’ve used Upwork in the past and similar services, spent a lot of time thinking about this. And the problem we’re facing is – although there are some services that do freelance well, toptow is one that’s out there that’s really like a market leader. We’ve noticed with a lot of freelancers, that they’re just sort of stuck in the middle, and companies that hire freelancers are kind of stuck in the middle a lot of times too. They’re not really committed to the cash flow, so they’re gonna go for a freelancer. And a freelancer is not really a freelancer because they’re trying to maximise efficiency or productivity or income, even. They’re often optimising simply to not have a boss. So I wonder if that’s a real distinction? Or am I just like making this up because I’m jacked about productized services? My personal perspective is, a serious Freelancer would see the opportunity in building a productized service rather than just kind of screwing around with a smattering of projects everywhere, I’m just so constantly disappointed with all the freelancers we work with, Ian.

Ian: Yeah, it’s not dissimilar to a lot of trades and things like that – you find a mason that’s really good at stacking stones. And eventually, when you go on to Angie’s List, or any of these places, they’re like a fireplace maker, or they’re like a fire pit maker, or they make patios, you know? They’re not just like, ‘Hey, yeah, any stone, I’ll just throw it together and do what you want with it’. They figure out what their niche is, they figure out what they’re good at, they figure out what’s efficient, And so this is kind of like the progression usually, I think, of a freelancer that wants to basically stay self employed is you have to essentially find yourself into some kind of productized service or a business owner that does a couple of things good or one thing good. So this place where we’re talking about now is like these freelancers, that are essentially for hire with a basic general skill set. And the company is, ‘Well, we kind of need this done, you’re kind of offering something similar. Let’s get together and see if we can make this work’. And I think you’re right to say like, those relationships generally don’t last that long, number one, because the company gets definition, most of the time, through that process. Or the freelancer figures out that they don’t want to do it or whatever. So I guess, this is a long story on what we’re trying to solve over at Dynamite jobs, which is the services marketplace. So our initial idea was basically like, let’s take all these people that want full time jobs, and try and get them to be freelancers, because a lot of them do have hard skills, they can offer these companies something. So we kind of went to them in a couple test groups, and we’re like, ‘Hey, what about taking your hard skill here, let’s say you’re a bookkeeper, an accounting professional and like offering your services?’, and it was a big void of silence, no one was interested in doing that.

Dan: Yeah like, 101 of failed projects. Okay, what’s the one?

Ian: ‘I want a full time job’, ‘Okay, fine, apply to a job and if you get it, you get it’. So then we’re like, well this problem still exists. There’s these companies, they don’t need a full time bookkeeper, they just need a fractional CFO, fractional bookkeeper, whatever it is. So where do you find these people?

Dan: Yeah. So traditionally, you’d say, ‘Well, I can’t afford a full time person. But we’re still a legitimate company. We do a couple million dollars in sales, even big companies use freelancers, right’. But it’s this idea of, we’re not going to do a full time thing. Everybody knows how expensive the process is. People pay us $5,000 just to manage the process, let alone all the associated costs – salary, insurance, taxes, everything. So we’re not going to go to all that trouble just to get like this one little piece done. So now you should have freelancers. Well, I guess, our strong perspective, and what we’re trying to push to a failure here in Q3 over Dynamite Jobs, is like to have that strong perspective that says, ‘Okay, you could go screw around with a freelancer. But why don’t you choose a dedicated service instead, that’s focused on businesses like yours, that’s a better solution’. And then you go to the freelancers. And you say, ‘Okay, here’s a better solution for you, you don’t want to boss, we’re going to de-risk the prospect of you choosing a niche, because we’re going to tell you what niche is working. And so long as you can partner with our customers giving them great level of services, you’ll have a successful productized service on this platform’. So that’s really, you know, something I wanted to bring up this ‘muddy middle of freelancing’, my current perspective, which is, we’ll call it a business hypothesis is – ‘Hey, just stop messing around with that freelancer stuff, just instead, go straight to productize services’. And it could be wrong but I want to find out in Q3, and so I wanted to mention it here on the show.

Ian: There’s some attempts at this. I think we’re one of the attempts to kind of solve this problem. I’ll say this, I was talking to someone this week about recruiting, they were hiring for, I think it was a software engineer or something. And then totally separate. They asked me, ‘Do you hire marketing professionals?’ And I was like, ‘Sure, yeah, we’ve hired a couple CMOS for people lately’. And I was like, ‘Well, why do you ask?’ he’s like, ‘Well, I’m paying an agency right now, like, six grand a month to do this type of work’. And I was like, ‘Well, how’s it working out’, he’s like, ‘Oh, we’re still in the ramp up, period. I’m a little bit impatient’. So the cool thing for me on that call is – I think companies and what we’ve come to realise, and why we’re building both of these products is: companies are looking at both of these options as basically the same thing – ‘I can hire someone full time to be my CMO, or I can hire an agency to do this work for me’, the company is just specifically trying to get the work done. And now there’s like a bunch of different ways to do that. And you’re right, I don’t know how freelancers are going to fit into that equation going forward, especially at a high level.

Dan: Yeah, and the problem scope we’re talking about here is enormous, like the future of freelancing, remember Mechanical Turk? The future of freelancing is going to look like that, where you just qualify yourself by actually just doing the work in real time. Someone’s just got to figure out how it’s all going to kind of come together. And coming back to the top of the episode, that is truly the value of opening your mind to places like private communities like the DC, like the open communities, like Twitter and stuff, because yeah, those ideas will cross pollinate. That’s that voracious input. And now you’re focusing in on how you deploy ideas to the world. The kind of same ideas that lead to that emotional feeling of FOMO can actually fertilise the soil of those five hours every day and say, ‘Oh, well, this is an interesting concept. Why don’t we test it out with the asset that we can actually control?’ All right, the fifth point, final point. What happened to MMO? What happened to ‘make money online’? Where did everybody or everybody go?

Ian: I have a theory about this. I think it comes back to Twitter. The ‘make money online’ crowd was like selling courses. Selling lifestyle. This stuff is still going on, obviously. But the backdrop looks a little bit different when it’s in Bali, versus your parents’ basement. So that’s part of it, it’s not that cool to show that off.

Dan: Shade.

Ian: But no, I think that a couple things have happened in this space recently. One is these opportunities are more legible. Meaning they’ve been around longer. So sell on Amazon, like, everybody knows somebody, if you’re doing business online, or you’re even halfway have your foot in the door, like everybody knows 10 people that sell on Amazon now. So if you want information about how to be successful on Amazon, just ask your neighbour, you don’t have to buy a course. The other thing that’s happened is, a lot of this has been parlayed into crypto, the make money online opportunities now are around crypto because it’s the hot thing. So I think it’s just been a little bit masked. I also think that people are getting a little bit more sophisticated about it, kind of like what we’re talking about on Twitter is like people will have professional Twitter accounts that are run by themselves and other people, and they have like planned content and things like this. I just think it looks more real than it used to.

Dan: I think a lot of the people that were generalised into ‘make money online’ have matured, the markets matured. And they filtered into specific niches, things like weight loss, and whatever it is. You name your niche, you take the same skill sets, and it’s ultimately more profitable to get focused on sub markets where your value prop is much more specific and make it more profitable. So I think there’s an element of that, too.

Ian: Also, it’s really hard to rent a Lamborghini during COVID, you know, because there’s cleaning procedures and stuff like that. So I heard they’re not renting them as much anymore.

Dan: Do you want to talk about this Basecamp thing that everybody’s been talking about? Or are we gonna take a hard pass? So we went over, you know, five things we’re liking this week. We’re absolutely loving Allen Waltons tweet about managing FOMO, media diets, focus, digging deeper into the narrative of what’s actually happening and staying the course for your five year strategy. All things that we care a lot about around here. The next point we talked about is that your network is your net worth, taking a look at sort of phone calls, where the red phone so to speak in your business is, really important phone calls that you could make, that could help you take the next step. The third point we talked about was our confusion around the inflationary environment in general, and what is the appropriate strategy. The fourth is the ‘muddy middle of freelancing’ and our perspective over at Dynamite Jobs that maybe freelancing isn’t the way to solve the freelancer short term project problem. Maybe it’s with services. And then finally, we lamented the loss of ‘make money online’ marketers all over our feeds everywhere.

Speaking of feeds, the internet just absolutely blew up speaking about the debacle at Basecamp, for those of you not familiar with the story will link up to a what seems like a relatively impartial article outlining an ‘all hands’ meeting at the company. Basically, the concept revolves around political discussions at work. But, if you dig a little deeper, it’s very specific types of political ones that are very difficult conversations to be had, especially in American society today. You know, Ian part of me thinks, at least for now, we’ve sort of avoided these conversations in our internal company because we are so nationally diverse. There’s only a couple of Americans at our company. And we got put on blast earlier, during the pandemic, that this podcast didn’t get more involved in American politics. And when I brought that to our team, they were a bit baffled by it, because they weren’t switched on, or like that interested in American politics in that way. These things are incredibly complicated. So I’m hesitant again to weigh in again, I am hesitant yet again, to weigh into a political issue. It does seem like the solution is to keep your company focused on what it is you do, back to the FOMO part. Because, yeah, people want to drag you in a bunch of different directions and think you should, but it’s probably the case that the initial challenge that you got everybody together to go solve is freaking hard enough.

Ian: It is. And this is a tough topic to talk about. But, like you said, the reason that everybody got together was to work on this challenge. And then essentially there becomes opportunities to talk about other things, you don’t just have to talk about the product.

Dan: Sure.

Ian: So people start to share their opinions about the way that they think things should be. And I think a lot of these things are valid. And Basecamp basically made the decision that they’re not valid at their organisation, these are the things that we talked about. And it’s just interesting to watch because I think a lot of much larger companies have ways of controlling this stuff. And even smaller companies have ways of controlling this stuff, but you find yourself in a position like Basecamp did ..

Dan: Where you invite it in the first place.

Ian: Yeah.

Dan: It’s complicated to talk about, because we don’t know exactly what happened. But if you’re an American, you know, there’s political issues that are extremely tense. And it’s hard to get even, you know, the most open minded intelligent people to agree on things.

Ian: Well, yeah. And just the polarisation of everything these days. There’s just two sports teams now, there’s no way to talk about what’s in between. There’s no way to empathise without being a supporter. One of the things that I saw on Twitter, again, related to this – the comment was, I’m generalising but it was like, ‘Well, this is the reason why I don’t want a bunch of bunch of employees at my company’. This is definitely one of the reasons why, if you’re opposed to having these types of conversations or conflicts, why you might not want 50 people in your organisation, because these types of things are going to come up. And they’re not going to be focused on revenue and your project and all the things that you started the company to do, because people are going to have their own ideas about things that they want to do once they get in there. And they start using the platform to develop the ideas of what they want to do.

Dan: It’s the good with the bad, That’s the magic of it, you want people to have their own ideas.

Ian: Maybe we’re saying a lot about a little but a lot of people have kind of combed over this issue. I don’t think it’s going away Dan, I think that more of these conversations are going to happen. More of these things are going to be brought out by the media, which is just so hungry for this stuff. Again, as you said, it’s really hard to find truth because we’re not in this company. We don’t know the situation. We’re having to read it on second and third accounts. So

Dan: And it’s interesting to bring it up, because everybody’s taking a look at it. There’s so many interesting things about it from a narrative perspective. These two guys, 37signals, as always, kind of presented themselves as a model company, through their books and all the related materials. And certainly, we’ve looked to them for a lot of inspiration here on the show. So it is fascinating to see them taking a big public L here. And we’ll keep track and we know how things sort of wash out and if there’s any lessons to be drawn from it. But in the short term, I think it applies to the central focus here, which is – you can spend a lot of energy in your day trying to sort through what happened at 37signals. Just make sure it’s not taking away from that key five hours executing your five year strategy.

Ian: My final thought on this, there’s a bit of permanence to the way that these things happen too, on these platforms. It can be one thing to like, have a conversation at my house or your house and like, we can agree or disagree. And then the next morning, we wake up, and we’re like, ‘I really don’t agree with that’, or, ‘I changed my mind’, or whatever. But once this stuff is in the public domain, it’s written down, it’s read about, it’s very permanent. Which is kind of a tragedy, because it’s not always the way that people feel about these things. You’re allowed to change your ideas on things. You’re allowed to have different perspectives as time goes on. But there’s a permanence about the way that these things are getting written about. And it’s kind of immovable in a lot of ways and people pick sides. And now we have this big divide.

Dan: Yeah, a lot of this technology that we work with is so counterintuitive, we’re not built for our ideas to be products, not the intuition that we have when we’re thinking through things to others, like we’ve done on this episode here today. Alright, that’s it. As always, we love to hear your thoughts Dan and Ian TropicalMBA respectively. And we’ll be back next Thursday morning. As always,

Ian: See you.