The Community Responds

Just yesterday we hosted our first virtual wine-party, which functioned as the first ever Community Census.

I had conversations with you all in survey form, and I’m here to report back on what I’ve learned.

To start, about 500 of you attempted to join us at this party.

And at the time of checking the results, 365 of you had actually arrived. So, there may be some respondents who are still on the way…


Before heading out to a party, most of you think to yourself…

Most of you were looking to have meaningful conversations… good! A few of you weren’t so sure about attending…(hey, I get it).

This question is meant as a sort of personality-test, in a way. Although I believe it to be skewed because of how I set it up in the introduction.

The question is from the “Enneagram Test“, which is my favorite, and I believe, most-useful personality test. It doesn’t get as much love as the Myers-Briggs, but this book was full of insight for understanding yourself and others in your life.

For the record, I’m at “3” and a “7” and part “9.”

The point is, our personalities dictate how we approach situations, how we interpret them, and how we’re likely to react to things. The Enneagram is about our natural “bent” toward life.

Hence some before the party, hoping their gift is well received, and others (like in the last question) tend to feel FOMO in reverse: they wish they could go back to the party because they didn’t get the most out of it….


Do you prefer people to be simple or complex?

This question is taken from OKCupid’s book, DataclysmLove, Sex, Race, and Identity–What Our Online Lives Tell Us.

Basically, the founders of OkCupid did all of these fascinating experiments on their users that lead to really interesting insights.

So what does this question, say about members?

Well, according to OkCupid’s data team, asking this question also relates to how liberal or conservative you are.

“If you want to know…Do my date and I have the same politics?

Ask your date (and yourself!)… Do you prefer the people in your life to be simple or complex?”

Long story short, readers are likely liberal.

Read more questions that reveal like this here, or other fun and surprising data they found here.

The Community Census

What do you do when you’re cornered at a wine party, having small talk with a stranger?

Apparently, most of you politely nod your head.

And, others of you happen to be bonified small-talkers!

Over the past week, I’ve been collecting reviews of Creative Caffeine.

Just for fun, I also asked everyone the question stated above.

It made me think it would also be fun to do full “COMMUNITY CENSUS,” which would let us all get to know each other a bit better.

So I created the first ever Creative Caffeine Community Census. Or the “C.C.C.C.”

If you’d like to participate, you can Click here to fill out the CC “Community Census” questionnaire.

This isn’t scientific. It’s a list of 8 questions that I thought would be interesting for you all, and one selfish question to help me make these emails better for you.

I’ll be sharing the data after a few days, and I’ll be filling it out myself.

Answer all or none.




An Interview with Ed Latimore

For my second interview, I spoke with Ed Latimore. He’s shares his unique life experiences from being a professional boxer to currently studying Physics.

Ed’s style of communication is direct, and always from a place of “Skin-in-the-game,” meaning he speaks about what he personally has involvement in, and not that which he doesn’t.


DS: What life experiences shaped you?

EL: Growing up poor in the public housing system is the most defining experience in my life. It’s shaped my thought processes, for better and worse. There are so many lessons about dealing with people that I took, I really can’t even say I wish I’d grown up with access to more. Yes, my life would have been objectively easier and maybe I would have avoided some of the setbacks and issues I had, but I would be without the parts of me who make me unique and add value to the world.

Admitting that I had a drinking problem was also very difficult, but it changed my life. You can’t fight a problem until you properly identify it. Until then, you’ll do everything to fix the issue except the one thing that may ACTUALLY work. I’ve been sober now for 4 years, and I will never look back. I’m able to draw on those experiences and my thoughts/feelings about them, and relate to many people and see the world is a less judgemental manner.

In short, growing up in the ghetto and getting sober have made me a better human because it’s made me better able to relate to many more people.

When was there at the time you lost your confidence, and how did you gain it back?

I used to think I was terrible writer. I was also really bad at math. Like, I have a bunch of C’s and D’s on my transcript from high school in all of the math classes I took. So that lead me to believe that I didn’t really have any mathematical OR writing ability. As you can imagine, this made me feel like a bit of an idiot. I’ve always spoken and communicated well, but I never really felt intelligent.

Well, one day I decided that I wasn’t bad at either of these subjects.  I simply had been taught poorly. I was constructively placing blame. The key was then for me to take responsibility for teaching myself. I started blogging to become better at writing, and going through every tutorial and problem set I could find to fix my math inadequacies.

The trick here is not only did I take responsibility, but I did things to prove to myself that I could do it. I took baby steps. I didn’t start out as a physics major. I started relearning the basics of algebra. I didn’t start out with a book.  I made a few posts on forums a few years ago. Just start working on something that provides SOME  type of feedback. This is the best way to increase your confidence. If you do this long enough, you’ll eventually find that you are confident.

You’re a boxer and that you’re currently learning physics.. So I am just curious… why boxing?  What’s the appeal?

So I originally started fighting because I hadn’t really done anything with my life up to that point (I started boxing when I was 23). I just was tired of being a loser with no real hobbies or talking points besides drinking. I didn’t even care about making money at that point–I just wanted to say that there’s something to me. Boxing is the thing that hit all of boxes on my checklist.

It would get me into shape, demand discipline, had the possibility of making money if I stuck with it, and most importantly, it would make me interesting. I’ve always worried about being perceived as boring or ordinary. Most people don’t box (just like most people don’t major in physics), so it was an easy choice. Also, it was free and required very little equipment to start.

This was the initial appeal. As I spent more time training, I started to love the person I was turning into (in this specific arena, anyhow). This is because I was challenging myself, and meeting those challenges. There is simply nothing on this earth that people can engage in with civility like boxing. Nothing will push you on all levels (mental, physical, emotional and spiritual) than being the only man in a ring when another trained guy is trying to hurt you. You are never more alive or more terrified than when get hurt in a fight. But it’s really the only way to learn to push through pain–by doing so.

This is the appeal now. I continue to learn more about what I’m capable of.  Even now, at 32, I’m learning how to be a better athlete. Some may think that isn’t possible, but my training is proving this and it motivates me each day.

Pretend Someone just signed me up for my first boxing match ever against another amateur… Write a tweet (140-280 characters) that sums up your advice for going into the ring.

Once you get hit the first time, you realize that you aren’t fragile. You realize you won’t die. You realize you can take more than society has lead you to believe. Now you’re free to break more shackles of modern laziness.

What change is a change you’re seeing happen on the internet right now?  

I haven’t been heavily involved in the internet and social media the way I am now for more than 3 years, so I don’t know if I have a sufficient time horizon to properly evaluate changes. However, one thing I’m aware of is how easily people are manipulated on the internet. It’s so incredibly easy to get people to waste time focusing on things that don’t matter.

Maybe it’s always been this way, but very few people are interested in connecting and learning. Most people are interested in sharing memes, expressing unsolicited opinions, and arguing over politics. The internet is probably the greatest gift to humanity, and at this point we’d be better off returning it.

What was something that unexpected you learned about your audience?

How varied they are. I’ve been meaning to conduct a proper demographics survey, but I am surprised at their age and how many women read me. I think this is because I started writing primarily about things that young men think about. However, as I’ve evolved and found my voice, my writing has as well.

I’m also surprised by how many people get so much out of my discussions about sobriety. That really gives me hope that people are considering control their level of consumption. This can only lead to good things for themselves and society…

What have you done to make your environment better suited to you?


Read more

Head vs. Heart

And start listening to your heart.

I’ve gone off the deep-end haven’t I?
You’re thinking, “OK David, sure, Live Laugh Love, and all that shit.”

But entertain the idea for me for a second.
Think about a difficult choice you have to decide on right now in your life.

My bet is that you actually know what decision to make.

Sure, you rationalize and debate the choices.
You make a list of the pros and cons.  You switch back and forth and back and forth.

“I should do this, I shouldn’t.”

“I should move, I should stay.”

“I should quit! I should stay.”  

The bigger the decision, the more you rationalize why it’s a complex decision. The more complex you make the decision, the harder it becomes to decide.

“This is complex, be careful to make the right call!!”

This is what your brain tells you.

But all along, in the background, you’ve got a voice telling you what you want to do. Your gut, your heart, your subconscious, whatever you want to call it. If you were to flip a coin about the decision, while it’s spinning in the air, you would have a gut feel for which you are hoping it lands on.

The decision part, as it turns out is actually simple.

Here’s the real problem: You know the answer, but you have fear about what that decision means. You’re scared to fully face the decision.

Or what it implies.
Or what you have to do to follow through with it.
Or who you have to be, after making it.

See, decisions are hard to act on, typically not so hard to decide on.

So, what we really need to do when we’re having a tough time deciding something is to hone in on our skill of listening to our gut. And that means quieting the thinking, analytical part of your brain. Trust me, this isn’t easy. I’ve been trapped under the weight of the logical-mind for some time. Its complexities can trick you into feeling productive, when the reality is, it’s weighing you down. Once you see this, you can free yourself to move quickly on decisions that are weighing you down.

So to make a tough decision, you’ll want to find a way to listen to yourself more, and less to that logical brain of yours.

To help you get there, I find that exercise or relaxing hobbies are best.

Here’s a sample list: 

  • Meditate
  • Swim
  • Long walks
  • Head to the woods.
  • Yoga
  • Hot Shower
  • Golf (who am I kidding I hate golf)

Free yourself to make the decision by thinking about it less.

The real error is not that we’re making bad decisions. The real error is the lengthy process of going back and forth for days, months, or years when you already know the answer.

I’m working to shorten that timeline.

xx David

P.S. *Quick Quiz for you*

Does this argument make sense logically or does it make sense in your gut?


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Re: The Light Phone/Letting Go

Re: The Light Phone

Hello David,

First off, thanks for bringing this device to my attention. It was just the thing a was looking for!

Second, I guess the great issue with technology is that we never think or study enough the consequences that it will bring and, in the case of devices such as the smartphone, we seem pre-wired as human beings to abuse them.

You mention that smartphones are a tool for self-expression and I agree to some extend that it could be used that way. But considering that the main channels that people use to “release” that self-expression pieces are hyper reactive to anything out of what they consider “safe for public consumption”, I guess that expressiveness diminishes greatly.

Also, it’s nice when you set out to create something to express yourself consciously and with a purpose, but for the most part, people take photos, videos, audios and the like in an almost automaton-like behaviour. It’s virtually impossible to attend any social event without having to deal with a row of people lining up front to catch every single millisecond of video, or every single glimpse of this or that like if their lives depended on it.

We all got friends who have thousands of images of their sons, daughters, dogs, cats, or whatever that, once captured, will never be glanced upon again.

And then there’s our “need” to communicate in spite of whatever activities or circumstances surround us. How many times have you almost collided with someone that was driving under the influence of a cell phone (even in this day and age of BT-enabled cars, Apple Watch contraptions and the like). Or the guy that while exploring the latest beats from his music library, is unaware of the car that is about to ride upon him/ her, or that is simply too absorbed in that tiny little screen to notice that the world around them is brimming with life, color, beauty and other human beings, and yet, is profusely shouting out to the world that he/ she is alone in that cacophony of loneliness that is known as Facebook.

Do I think we all should live without a Smartphone? No, I don’t. Just as every other thing on the face of this earth, everything is somewhere inside a gray scale. Nothing is utterly black or spotlessly white. The issue is not the device, but the abuse we are incurring with it.

Saludos desde MX



Re: The Light Phone

Good morning David,

Your emails are intriguing.  Takes guts.  Major kudos.

I’ve been pondering this opt-out problem for a long time.  I have similar experiences to yours with FB and Twitter.  Those experiences left me with slightly more pause than the proposal in the late 90s to put a camera in my phone.  I could not understand combining my phone and my Instamatic.  And while now I vouch for the endless utility of my iPhone 6 camera, and accompanying music, I still heft my Canon with me, even though photography is not my profession.  Why am I not getting this?

I’m not sure I have an answer.  But I have clues and I’m curious.

Clue No. 1:  Connection is the wrong word somehow.  I think I know what’s being said, but the term as it’s used in branding the last ten years has stuck in my craw like random eggshell in my eggs.

Connection as a single word doesn’t go far enough to describe what we’re seeking.  It’s always seemed like I was being sold the idea that having the call go through was enough.  It wasn’t.  Something else had to happen besides my cousin picking up the phone.  Yea! Bell Labs for connecting our handsets.  But then what?  Ditto “just show up.” I’ve got dozens “showing up” at the dance, but only three people on the dance floor.

Why?  What are we doing?  See “shared experiences.”

Clue No. 2:  I can travel anywhere.  I could be in San Francisco, or Bankok, or Madrid by tomorrow morning. But if I’m alone, why would I?  And why would I, if when I post my pictures and my stories, I get crickets?

It’s not that I shouldn’t.  It’s not that I should wait for applause at each stroll across my office. I’m looking for more emphasis on something broader and more durable than “likes.”

Clue No. 3: What you wrote elaborates on what we’re looking for. Possibility.  That’s incredibly powerful.   Seems more accurate than “optimism” which feels more like a characteristic than an objective.  Possibility also widens our horizon.

The term engagement springs to mind too.  But what’s necessary for either of those?

Clue No. 4:  Mr Godin wrote quite the post this morning:  The alchemy between your post and his is important.

The words trust, faith, risk all seem at play here too.

I look forward to what you write next.  Feel free to write me anytime.

Frank Ebbert

ps, Light Phone would have been perfect for my mom.  She was a master at engaging and welcoming others.  FB would have made no sense to her because she didn’t need it.  And she didn’t understand why everyone else thought they did too.  Her response to the founding story of FB – college kids needing a crib sheet on who is who – would have been “that’s way too c complicated. Just go say hi.  Magic always happens.”


Re: The Light Phone

I haven’t had a mobile for years, not because I’m making a statement, but because the cost/benefit ratio is better this way.


Read more

Sunday Briefing – Horoscopes

Hey All,

1. I’ve been holding back. I haven’t yet told you about my favorite app I’ve been using daily for the past year. It’s called Arena. It’s like a non-image focused Pinterest for saving interesting ideas. It reminds me of when I first joined Twitter and said; “Ah, now this is interesting/valuable.

I encourage you to check it out. Here are some links I’ve been saving on there and I add to each week. One example link I added: “A list of every TEDx Event in the US and Canada and who to contact to pitch for your talk.” I found it from a speaker coach named Taylor Conroy then saved it in my folder. This is deeper than you first think, and every day I’m finding new uses for it.

I have many other private channels, including one of “Copywriting inspiration” that is my personal treasure chest. And, if we really fall in love, maybe I’ll share that one publicly.

2. I’ve interviewed Ed Latimore for another text-interview with people I find fascinating who are carving their own path. Ed is a professional boxer, popular blogger, AND is currently studying physics.

These interviews are independent of me simply loving their content, rather I select them based on who’s catching my eye for creating a unique space for themselves online. They’re models to gain insights from, adapting what works for us, and throwing out what doesn’t.

This will be posted Tuesday.

3. I realized that what most of you know me from is Death to the Stock Photo. I then realized that I have YET to give you behind the scenes of what that work looks like. Maybe you’d like to see how we put together projects and even see some of that work-in-progress?  I wish I could spend more time with you here all of the time but there are other things that I need to pour my heart into.

Drink good coffee, listen to house music and get good sleep when possible.

xx David

P.S. Anything else I can do to help out? You know where to find me…

The Super Moon has me feeling astrological.

This week’s Creative Horoscopes

Aquarius: A package will show up for you this week, and it won’t be from Amazon Prime. Keep an eye out for incoming inspiration…

Aries: Don’t simply look for the reward. Focus instead on pouring your heart into your delivery. Where you focus, you receive.

Leo: Quit hiding your face. While you like to be a mystery to others, perhaps your better served putting who you really are out in front this week…

Sagittarius:When you leave that game behind you, you’ll find yourself in the place that you truly want to be. There is no winning or losing, only progress.

Taurus:  Try making a list of what you really are after, then subtract the items that you recognize are really for others and not for yourself. You’ve got less to do than you think.

Virgo:  Instead of all this motion, maybe sit quietly for a little while before taking a step. The path forward is to not struggle.

Capricorn: Confusion is the door to understanding. Remember, this is part of the process…

Gemini:  Actors aren’t great because they’re trying, actors, are great because they become the role. Step into the role you’ve been assigned, and watch the others follow the script..

Libra: Call an old friend this week and catch up about life, big and small. Be confident that the last time you spoke, you weren’t as far along the path as you are now.

Cancer: Commitments are weighing you down, but you’ll find that after you take the first step, the second becomes easier, and the third…

Scorpio: The most important thing for you to do this week is also the simplest. Don’t complicate it.

Pisces: When was the last time you went down a youtube/wikipedia spiral? (Use moderation, but welcome serendipity).


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(Glad to be home after a trip up North).

Subscriber Art: Don + Kristen

Hey All,

Sometimes members send me their art, their new project, their story, where they are stuck…  It’s a gift to receive and an honor to respond.

I wanted to share two recent items with you.

I’m amazed by the members of this community. You’re independent, and unafraid to question how things have always been done.  But you’re also generous, deep, and, contrary to much of what’s out there, not trying too hard to be something you’re not.

That’s rare, thank you.

xx David

Before I Let You Go – Kirsten Wreggitt

This book is about connecting.

It’s about saying everything you wanted to say but you couldn’t bring yourself to do face to face.

This week I received a book in the mail from a CC member.  It’s a collection of stories from a mother to her 22-year-old son.

Each story is written as lessons for him at a different age, titled “Before I Let You Go.”

It’s beautiful, and about the most honest book I’ve ever read.

“I want to tell my son who I really am, beyond being his mother. I want to save him some mistakes and sorrows. I want to help him relate to himself and to women in a different way. I want him to find more peace and love in his life, sooner than I did. And I know that other moms (and dads) want these things for their kids too.”

We divide generations. What makes one generation different than the previous? Do we really have a different demeanor, a different outlook on life? We’re living in the same world, but we aren’t perceiving it the same.

And how a son sees his mother, how a mother sees her son.
Are they living in the same story?

They can’t be. They each have their own lives. So how do you communicate?
How do you build the bridge so that one may understand one another?

We all wish to connect more with our children or parents than we have. But after years of patterns, it’s hard to know where to start.

Sometimes communicating is easier through our art, or in a different context.

Which is why you may immortalize your wisdom in writing, instead of through speech, which washes away and can always be misheard.

With writing, you can return to it, read it again and glean new meaning and new understanding.

Put me on a podcast and I’m in the flow and I can open up and be vulnerable. Ditto for writing.But, try and have a difficult conversation about fears of mine face to face… and I can’t seem to find the eloquence.

And we all want to share our stories.

There’s an Author Coach I’m working with right now named Azul. He’s taught me that writing a book is a once in a lifetime experience. That there are gem’s inside of everyone’s stories, and if you can find them it can give your life new meaning.

And like giving advice, most times you’re really just telling yourself, out loud, what you need to hear at the face of your friend who’s asking.

So some novels are advice to yourself.

Others help you say what you couldn’t.

Some become your friend. They show you new textures, and you can read them again and again. You see yourself in them.

Can we open ourselves up to the ones we love?
Can we open ourselves up to strangers?

It still feels so hard to give others the magnifying glass. To see who we really are.

So this book is a mother giving her son the glass and saying this is what you’ve got, this is who I am, and this is what I’ve learned.

This is what it means to be brave.

Sharing ourselves with the world, with the one shot we have at this life.

“Before I Let You Go: Stories for my Grown Son”  (Amazon)


Lighting Essentials, What I’ve Learned So Far.  – Don Giannatti

Don’s writing is direct and impactful, and his wisdom is reflective and personal. You’ll get insight into the nuance of being a professional photographer…

To: David
Re: Best, (Your Name)

Hi David.

I have been a photographer for over forty years now, and appreciate so much your approach to creating stock images that don’t suck.

I have written a number of books, but this one is my newest one, and I am giving it away to select people who I think may enjoy it. Being a photographer is something that involves my whole life.

The book is all stuff I have learned along the way as being a photographer – and a solo creative – and an individual.

Please feel free to pass it along to anyone you wish.

– Don

What I’ve Learned So Far, Four Decades in Photography (Free PDF)


“Now to be sure there are many other ways to self-sabotage your career;”

1. Buy too much gear and make too few images.
2. Focus on technique instead of connection.
3. Make images “just like that other photographer….”
4. Intently work on making images “they” want to see.
5. Party.
6. Chemistry… you know what I’m talking about.
7. Forget to bill – yeah, it happens.
8. Forget that April 15 is coming up faster than you think. 9. Cheat clients, assistants, vendors.
10. Have rates far below the local standard.


P.S. Consider leaving a review for this email list, which helps us find and reach creatives who could use caffeine. This isn’t about scale. If this is a wine party, we’re looking for the right people to toast with.

The Light Phone

We’re slowly wising up to the negative effect social media has on our lives.

Like all major cultural issues, it’s likely that these negative consequences don’t affect everyone the same.

The Light Phone is banking on you giving up the cell phone once in awhile for a break from it all. This is a hardwired device that is simply a phone. No apps. Just a few numbers saved and it can only accept incoming or create outgoing calls.

Kudos to the marketing team. The problem is I’m not sure how likely this will be.

It’s like hearing about how the CEO who has no smartphone. Well, of course, he doesn’t have to be on demand! But the employee not checking their email…

I’ve been off Facebook since 2012, and I’ve chosen not to own a car. But I did so trading for better technology, Uber, not for more limited choices.

Most everyone opts out of technology, we just don’t think about it that way. We do it all of the time. In fact, our identities are being formed more by what we choose to opt out of than what we choose to opt into. We might not identify as “Netflix viewers” opting out of cable.  “Vinyl addicts”  opting out of streaming.

And Vegans are a sub-group because they all choose to opt out of the same thing.  And some people that bike to work opt out of the car. Others who think their deodorant might cause them cancer skip it.


So the Light Phone believes that people will use this as an indicator that they’ve opted out.

The iPhone is the status signal of the 2000’s.
The Light phone is the status symbol for those who opt out and want to show it.

So it’s hardware is an option for the consumer to intentionally limit themselves and their consumption and time.

But as far as enough of a push to identify around…

That’s tricky.

The thing is, there’s no “statement” behind a short-term opt out.

I’m not saying that our current levels of technology solve our insatiable need for connection. Or that we don’t benefit from a disconnect. It’s just that the sheer force of the cultural interest being MORE connected, as connected as possible, makes this tough to swallow.

And, with the rise of Siri, Alexa and the Apple Watch, we may be on the way to removing our faces from the screen.

But it’s never been about the screen, it’s been about the possibilities that we have in front of us. Phones are tools of self-expression and communication. And all of the tech layered on top has been created to further this ability by giving us more tools at our disposal to create, and to connect.

Which reminds me, now that we’re giving up the phone, we’re giving up the camera, and the music service… which makes it even tougher.

Removing distraction, sure.

Removing possibilities, much harder to opt-into.

What we want is the Apple Watch that we’re really waiting for.
To not be fully tethered to the screen, but to not be disconnected either.

We want to connect.

And most of all, we want more possibilities.

Feast On Your Life

You’ll wake up tomorrow and it will be Monday. Your weekend in the rear-view, the dinner with friends, and the corner seat at the coffee shop by the window, the service, and the store. You’ll read this on the train or after you get into the office.

And you’ll step into a new day, a new week.

Except it’s not, really. We divide up our lives in this way to add order, but the truth is the life is one long cycle. One beginning and one end, with many acts in between. Where those start and stop happen in spurts, and in micro-moments, too fluid for structure.

At our best, we walk out the door and we’re on our own path and no one else’s.

You leave looking for experience: It’s the only thing you can take with you all the way until the end. Awareness and experience. And all you need to do to get it is to pay attention. Which, is difficult, given today’s availability to simply tune out or focus only on superfluous details.

At our best, we give our life more space. Stepping back and observing the full painting. To keep our perspective. And we listen to others. There’s no shame in asking some for help in seeing things more clearly. If you’re genuine, they’ll invite you along. We’re afraid to ask for help today because everyone places so much importance on their time and they fear wasting it. But spending time for others often makes us feel alive.

It’s true, it’s a solo game we’re playing. And no matter how much we speak with others, the ultimate intimacy is with yourself. Still, we break down as many walls and window panes that we can between ourselves and others.

We open ourselves up and spill what we can out for others in this world, not as an offer but as a gift.

I attended a poetry book launch party event tonight of the mother of a friend, where most of the crowd was 40’s+. There were more people at this party than any I could host, and with more passion for life, too. They had perspective. They spoke about contributions to society, the event wasn’t self-centered, it was celebratory for everyone there, they even had boxes out front where you could drop off cans for a food bank. Everyone brought food and wine, and the host wore a t-shirt.

Funny, with all of the books about productivity hacking, morning routines et. all we miss the point about a life well lived, which rarely remembers the moments your bullet journal and your supplement strategy.

You’re stressed or overwhelmed because the world feels complex and you’re worried about tomorrow. But today is ripe with experience that’s ready for you to taste.

Go. Feast on your life.

xx David


Love After Love – Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Today’s Tea Leaves

We’re going to see an exodus back to personal blogs and email lists. The creative industry is remembering that ownership matters in a world where the margins of getting noticed and standing out are getting thinner. To set yourself apart sometimes takes controlling the entire experience. So use the platform to gain strength and then bring your audience with you. If you’re dependent on traffic and the algorithms on the platform change…

Traffic is one thing, brand recognition and loyalty are another.

So if your business is built on the former, your window of opportunity is shortened. A loyal following means more leeway through rough patches and transitions; as long as those loyal to you will follow you to the next platform. Just remember:  the platform changes the context of your product. So what works for one channel must be adapted to the new, where you hope you can keep some of the magic.

Peer to Peer died out and is now being reborn. Now I might be a bit early on this but the fantasy of going back to an internet without being ruled by a few titan companies is being stoked. Napster and Bit-torrent lead the charge, but the new models for P2P will emerge to advance on the territory of the media giants like Facebook. Facebook the media company, even though they deny it. They own your content, sell you as the product and now they will even compete by investing in content of their own. So the micro-influencers have competition with each other, with brands, and with the very platform’s themselves.

Ultimately this is more like P2P, which will be more akin to the original version of personal connection. What we’re really waiting for here is social platforms who’s model isn’t ad-driven.

Specificity is key, as is letting your freak flag fly. We’re seeing the extreme of this in the media. When people are desperate for attention they go to the extreme and thing can go over the top. Those who are in it for the long haul know to avoid this game and play with more serious actors, building a quality product and loyal connections. But those looking for a quick buck will continue to clamor for attention, only to be replaced by the next news cycle.

So if you’re going for mass appeal, it’s about building a bandwagon product. Why? Because we simply don’t have enough time. We’re nervous to invest time or money into anything that’s not proven. The supply of great product is too large. Look at Hamilton as the guide. It didn’t pander, but it’s also heading towards $1Billion revenue. Since it’s scarce, it’s sold out every week and people know it will deliver.

Testimonials are key. High profile testimonials are better. But the thing is, most times when people get blurbs for their book, those writing it didn’t read it and aren’t the target demo.  So be somewhat skeptical about the high praise and the band-wagon mindset.

Seek the contrarians. The rise of the algorithm gave us the rise of filter bubbles. We only see ideas from our own network which we agree with. Finding voices with an outsider opinion and domain knowledge is key. Loudness is irrelevant, just find those who flip things on their head and back it up with credibility and insight. Keep an open mind.

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