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Creators' Corner #17 - figuring out my brand, using Medium to boost exposure and writing music

John Nicholas
John Nicholas
6 min read
Creators' Corner #17 - figuring out my brand, using Medium to boost exposure and writing music
Photo of the week: my friends and I attended the UEFA Nations League match between Germany and England at the Allianz Arena last week. It was my first time at the stadium (home to FC Bayern Munich), which was filled to capacity with 66,289 people attending. Incredible atmosphere. The match finished in a 1-1 draw.

Hey everyone 👋. 6 new people join us this week bringing us up to 158 subscribers. Thanks so much for being an early subscriber. If you enjoy the newsletter, please forward it on. If you have 10 seconds to share a comment or an idea, please hit reply.


Slightly late this week (thank goodness this newsletter isn't called Creative Sundays). And a slightly different format to boot.

My newsletter is a fluid thing. The weekly 'postcard' has already become more than I ever imagined it to be when I started this experiment in February. I also don't expect it to look the same four months from now.

This edition is a brain dump, an experiment, an 'opening up'. It feels like I have been playing the game on safe mode. Now it is time to level up, get more wonky and see what happens. This is me. I can't hide anymore.

Line-up this week:

  1. An exercise in branding
  2. The accidental actuary
  3. Job hunting
  4. 1 tip for other creators: export your posts to Medium
  5. Quote of the week: write music

1. An exercise in branding

I've spent some time thinking about my 'brand' and why people should follow me and/or subscribe to my newsletter. Consider it a Twitter bio exercise.

  • Current option (kudos to Louie Bacaj): Actuary turned creator. Follow me as I navigate my way through the creator economy and feature the work of creators that inspire me.
  • Spicier option (thanks to Michael Sklar): For the risk averse, follow me to go from being bored to being excited, from feeling stagnant to living fully, from being stuck in corporate to creating under your own name.

(Lord, give me the confidence to embrace the spicier version one day.)

I want to use the newsletter as a platform to:

  • Teach those a few steps behind me. I am writing for the person I was 6 months ago. I want to share the lessons I've learned and inspire other people to become creators as well. E.g. the section on Medium below.
  • Learn from those a few steps ahead of me. I want to feature the creators that inspire me, highlight the conversations that give me energy and share the thoughts and quotes that resonate with me. Like the quote by Gary Provost quote below.
"It's almost always better to learn from peers who are 2 years ahead of you than mentors who are 20 years ahead of you. Life evolves and most insights get outdated." - James Clear

2. The accidental actuary

I set out to write my second essay about my field of work - actuarial science and insurance. I ended up binning it. Or at least, it's gathering dust in my Google drive until I'm more comfortable with it.

I wrote about actuarial science in this essay (my first piece ever) back in September:

An Actuary’s FAQ
As an actuary, I often dread the question that comes up when you meet newpeople, “What do you do?” The profession is not that widely known. Most peoplehave a loose idea that it has something to do with math, statistics andinsurance. Others know that it is tough

At the moment the subject matter feels like the shadow lands Mufasa warns Simba about. My career is some dark place I don't like talking about, maybe to my own detriment. I don't think the industry is super sexy (insurance is a hard sell). I am way more interested in writing about creators and detailing my own creator journey.

Current mood.

One day I hope to bring these two parts together – being an actuary and a creator. The "creative actuary" or the "rogue actuary".

My friend and mentor Michael Sklar calls me the "accidental actuary" - someone who accidentally ended up studying the degree, but doesn't exactly fit the mould. Actuaries are typically regarded as bookish, nerdy, human calculator types who would never consider writing online. We are a class of people who are told we're not creative because we're good at maths and science.

Fortunately there are many actuaries who are dispelling this notion. I can use this platform to create more awareness of the actuarial skill set, explain how the skills apply to wider fields and feature some 'rogue' actuaries.

Maybe, like Simba, I should venture out into the shadow lands. Perhaps I'll meet some friends like Timone and Pumba along the way.


3. Job hunting

My contract at my current firm comes to an end later this year. I've been thinking a lot about my ideal next job.

Decisions, decisions. Doors B and C remain open.

You can't always have your cake and eat it, but I have time to visit a few bakeries. Here are 5 things I'm looking for:

i. Impact. I’ve become allergic to bureaucracy and big corporate structures. I want to work somewhere where I can have an impact and move the needle. This leaves me with two options: move to a smaller firm or go solo (the Pathless Path – scary shit!).

ii. Location independence. The flexibility to work from anywhere. My family lives in Cape Town and my girlfriend and I live in Munich. Remote work gives me options.

iii. Schedule independence. The ability to perform deep, uninterrupted work. The option to work in sprints and coordinate with team members in between. No meetings-upon-meetings or clock watching.

iv. Ability to work on a side hustle. Online writing is incredible. I’ve had a taste of freedom and I am not willing to give it up. I would love to work at a place that recognizes that people are more than their jobs. That people might want to pursue other interests in their free time.

v. Skin in the game. Shares or bonus related to performance. This is the opposite of what I’ve seen in large companies. People hide away in a big ship. There is nowhere to hide in a small rowing boat.

I wrote about these principles before in my essay on the future of work:

The Future of Work
The way we work is changing. The daily commute is out the window, my suits are gathering dust in the cupboard and Zoom meetings are the order of the day. The Covid pandemic and subsequent work-from-home spells set off a chain of dominoes. Employees have grown used to the freedoms

Maybe I'm crazy. I am prepared to find out.


4. What I've learned: export your blog posts to Medium

You can increase your exposure (luck surface area) by exporting your blog posts to Medium. In this way your writing can reach a wider audience.

The best part? Medium automatically applies a canonical URL referencing the original source material so Google doesn't think your blog post is a duplicate.

Read my thread to learn more:


5. Quote of the week

Don't just write words. Write music.

Via Tim Ferriss

Have a great week and happy creating.

-- John

Thanks for reading. Shoot me your questions, thoughts, comments, high fives, low fives. I'd love to chat.

Notes:

About this newsletter: You are receiving this email because you subscribed to johnnicholas.org.

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John Nicholas Twitter

Actuary and creator.

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