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Creators' Corner #27 - my first digital product (!)

John Nicholas
John Nicholas
5 min read
Creators' Corner #27 - my first digital product (!)
Photo of the week: big smiles and tired legs after the Berlin Marathon.

Hey everyone 👋. Greetings from Munich!

Welcome to the 6 new people who signed up this week, which brings us to 214 subscribers. Here's the previous edition of the newsletter for those of you who missed it.

Thanks so much for being a subscriber. If you enjoy the newsletter, please forward it on. If you have 10 seconds to share a thought or an idea, please hit reply or comment below.


Small talk:

The Berlin Marathon was incredible. Months of training for my first marathon came together nicely on race day. I completed the first 21km in 1h33 and came home in 1h38 (the famous "wall" between kilometers 33 and 35 is very real). It was a special day with Olympic Champion Eliud Kipchoge setting a new World Record (2:01:09) and underlining his Greatest of All Time status.

The cost of having a good time. Following the highs of the marathon and a few late nights at Oktoberfest, my body crashed this week. I can't wait to get back to full fitness. As the saying goes – a healthy person wants many things, a sick person only wants one thing.

The next marathon. As I make my way out of the woods, I am gearing up for an intense five weeks as a mentor in Write of Passage. Cohort 9 has already kicked off and the student intake is phenomenal once again. I'll share updates about my lesson plans in the editions that follow.

Line-up this week:

  1. My first digital product 🥳
  2. New section: hot take of the week // Contrarian Corner
  3. Things you might like

1. My first digital product - my newsletter system is up on Gumroad!

In July, I shared an essay describing my newsletter system, called Run Your Newsletter Like a Restaurant. Now I've converted the thinking behind that into a Notion dashboard you can download and try out for yourself.

This is my first digital product and it's part of my goal to make my first $ on the internet.

What's included?

  • A Notion dashboard complete with examples and instructions.
  • A Loom video explaining how to capture and track your ideas.

It's completely free. Just fill in '$0' and click "I want this!" at checkout. Of course, if you find this template valuable and you'd like to thank me with a contribution, who am I to stop you? You can just input the amount you think it was worth.

Content Management System
“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” - James ClearGrab my content management system so you can:Capture your best ideas and the best content you consume.Publish week in and week out, despite what life may throw at you.Avoid creator panic (not knowing wh…

2. Contrarian Corner

This is a new section I want to run as an experiment.

Every week I aim to collect a fresh point of view and share it with you here. Rest assured, we won't dive into conspiracy theories. The idea is to shine a light on lateral thinking and people that break from convention.

It's an attempt to answer Peter Thiel's famous interview question:

What important truth do very few people agree with you on?

This question may sound easy because it's straightforward, but in reality, it's very hard to answer. I, for one, am hard pressed to find more than three esoteric ideas not many people agree with. One of them is that I believe everyone has a writer in them.

The reasons for creating this space are threefold:

  1. I want to expand your awareness (credit: Michael Ashcroft) by showcasing esoteric ideas that make you pause and think for a bit.
  2. I want to collect novel ideas, which can lead to interesting essay topics.
  3. I want to practice being more disagreeable (*when the opportunity is right). When I was younger, I used to be a pain in the neck. I liked challenging people and their opinions, regardless of how that made them feel (scoring low on emotional intelligence). As I've grown older, I've embodied the How To Make Friends and Influence People mindset: "You can’t win an argument. If you lose it, you lose it; If you win it, you lose it." – Dale Carnegie. But choosing the path of least resistance leads to other complications... poor communication in relationships and not speaking up when you disagree with how things are run at work. This is an effort to find a balance between the younger version of me (disagree at all costs) and the mature version of me (agree at all costs).

Deal? Let's do it! Here's the first contrarian idea:

🌶️ David Perell on the value of the liberal arts

This week I attended live Q&A with online writer and Write of Passage founder, David Perell.

He mentioned how a degree in the liberal arts is better than studying something in STEM (science, tech, engineering & math). This raised a few eyebrows (mine included). Where I come from, a technical degree gives you a better chance of securing a high-paying job after university.

But David suggests very talented people can be better served by studying something like philosophy or the arts. Why?

  1. The underlying data is not capturing what's happening. In a bid for economic survival, universities have invested more in their business schools and labs. As a result, the arts departments have suffered and smart students enroll in other programs instead. A vicious circle.
  2. There will always be space for the humanities. A civil education including lessons on philosophy, ethics and logic will always be relevant. Do we have nothing to learn from the likes of Tolstoy, Shakespeare and Plato?
  3. People with a civil education can pivot quickly and are often employed for their thinking. Where professional degrees teach students to become specialists in a narrow subject matter, an education in the arts allows for broader thinking and problem solving.

David shares a deep dive in this essay. Enjoy it over your next morning coffee.

My take. Why not do both? You can get a professional degree and challenge yourself to undertake a life-long civil education by studying philosophy and the classics.


3. Things you might like

  1. ✍️ Essay of the week: How to Migrate from Ghost to Substack by Janahan Sivaraman. As you all know, I'm a massive Ghost fan. I love the look & feel of my site. But Substack wins on network effects and deliverability. Bringing the two together (Ghost for hosting and Substack for distribution) can be very powerful. Thanks for the blueprint, Jay!
  2. 🫶 Online presence: I had a great time chatting with Ian Efford about my online presence. Ian has spent 4 years working with entrepreneurs and small businesses to create brand identity systems. Now he's helping creators like me figure out a clear, consistent message for what we represent online. Read my thread here to see what we spoke about.
  3. 🐦 Tweet of the week: My favourite linear correlation. This captures my creator journey very well.

Until next time. Have a great week and happy creating.

-- John


P.S. you can respond directly to this email or drop a comment below. I would love to hear from you.

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John Nicholas Twitter

Actuary and creator.

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