146: Unusually Spiky


00:00:00   Are you back home now? I am. I'm back home in my office at a comfortable 16 degrees. Yeah.

00:00:07   We could have an entire episode addressing the thermostat follow-up but I don't want to do that

00:00:13   and I want to tell you why. I tell you why I don't want to do that. I can't recall getting so much

00:00:20   follow-up about a specific thing in a long time. Like you know we get lots of follow-up for like the

00:00:25   entire conversation but everyone just sending in follow-up for one specific thing. Now I want to

00:00:31   give you just like a brief overview of the feedback that we've got. It has ranged from using faraday

00:00:37   cages, to how to rewire a thermostat, to if it's legal to rewire a thermostat, to if it's dangerous

00:00:44   to rewire a thermostat, to a variety of things that people have written into which feel incredibly

00:00:50   prone to causing fires like using a heat lamp against a curtain, to how easy this would be for

00:00:56   you to do to replace it, to how hard it would be for you to do to replace it, to how simple it would

00:01:01   be to trick the wi-fi, to how it would be impossible to trick the wi-fi, to whether you were breaking

00:01:06   some kind of international law or whether it should be your right to do it. That is the full

00:01:12   summarization of the follow-up we have received and I will not address any of it because I don't want to.

00:01:18   Yeah, I don't know why. The topic of what temperature is comfortable really brings

00:01:23   absolutely everybody out in full force. My favorite thing is the people that,

00:01:29   and this is happening a lot in the discord, people will be talking about it, and you could tell the

00:01:33   moment in which people hear what temperature you want. It's like people are talking about it and

00:01:38   like, "Oh, you know what? I agree with Grey. He should be able to do this." Like, "Wait,

00:01:42   16 degrees?" This is the thing that I've seen many, many times. People are continually surprised.

00:01:48   Well, I mean, okay, just look, we don't need to rehash this entire thing, but in my defense,

00:01:55   two things. One, I will remind people that this is a working trip for me and when I am working,

00:02:02   I'm moving a lot. The amount of pacing that I do is huge because I'm just thinking about stuff.

00:02:09   People are totally right. That is a very cold temperature to just sit still at,

00:02:14   but that is not what I'm doing. It was funny. My wife was commenting on how often she got the

00:02:20   little workout updates for me where it's like, "Oh, your husband just finished an indoor walk

00:02:25   of seven miles," and she knows I'm just pacing back and forth in this 10-foot space.

00:02:31   Okay. That's a good justification for 16 degrees.

00:02:34   That is part of the reason is I'm very active. The other reason is even if you set the thermostat

00:02:41   at 16 and even if the thermostat says it's working to get the room at that, as we have visited many

00:02:46   times, hotels can never reach that temperature. They're always striving to get there but never

00:02:52   actually get there. It's like xenothermostat. That's what it's like. Yeah, lots of feedback.

00:02:57   That's the end of it.

00:02:58   I mean, Mike, of course, no, that's not the end of it. It's only the end of it

00:03:02   until I go on the next graycation, and you can be sure one way or another.

00:03:08   I'll be planning ahead for that.

00:03:10   So when we spoke last you were on a graycation, how was the result of the graycation? I know

00:03:16   you only just got home again, so it was quite a long one. Was it valuable?

00:03:21   Yeah, I think this might have been the longest one I've ever been on. If it wasn't, it was closed.

00:03:27   Well, from my memory, I mean, you could tell me if I'm wrong. I think it depends on what

00:03:30   you're classing out here, because I remember when you were lost in the wilderness for a really long

00:03:35   time. You just kept adding time onto a counter of going to visit various places in the West.

00:03:41   Yeah, that's different. That's different.

00:03:44   I don't think that would necessarily count as a graycation as such. You were just around.

00:03:49   Yeah, I'm trying to remember. I think the longest trip I ever took where I was just away from being

00:03:54   home on my own was a couple months, maybe pushing towards three months. But that's different.

00:04:00   Like you said, I'm chaining a bunch of stuff together.

00:04:02   Why I'm fairly certain this is the longest one of these—

00:04:07   So again, what am I specifically talking about here? So when I say this term "graycation," I mean

00:04:13   it is this dedicated work trip. There's nothing else happening. I'm not seeing anybody.

00:04:19   I'm not doing anything in the local town. I'm just finding a hotel room and locking myself in there

00:04:24   to work. And part of the reason these trips kind of have a built-in end to them is you can only

00:04:33   sustain that for so long. There are super productive periods of time, but it always

00:04:38   feels to me like 10 days is normally the maximum amount that I can do for this kind of stuff before

00:04:46   I start to be like, "Okay, I'm at the end of this. I can't push this anymore." But this trip was just

00:04:51   going really well, so I kept extending it. So like I said, I think it was about two, two and a half

00:04:55   weeks in the end, which is really long for me. And yeah, I don't know. On this one, I just kept having

00:05:00   this feeling like— I think at all scales, in-depth work just really benefits from how long can you

00:05:10   just concentrate on this task. And I think maybe part of the reason this one also lasted longer

00:05:16   than it normally did is because I was switching between two things. I was working on video stuff

00:05:22   for the channel, but I was also doing a lot of work for Cortex brand, like a bunch of really

00:05:27   complicated stuff with a Stockotron spreadsheet that we have to manage some of our behind-the-scenes

00:05:32   logistics. And I think maybe it was the bouncing between those two kind of allowed me to stay longer

00:05:41   than I otherwise would have. I wasn't burning out on just the one thing. I kind of could extend it

00:05:47   by having the two. Yeah, I don't know. I've always just been a huge fan of trying to have

00:05:53   big blocks of uninterrupted time, and I think that really matters. On the scale of a day,

00:05:59   try to have blocks of time, and on the scale of a week, try to have blocks of time. And this is just

00:06:05   me now doing the most extreme version possible, which is like, "No, just clear the calendar for

00:06:10   two weeks and try to work on something." And yeah, it was really great. There's a video project that—

00:06:16   it won't be anything that people guess because I haven't spoken about it publicly—but there's a

00:06:19   video project that has been on my list for like, "God, I want to check what the original note is,"

00:06:26   but it must be like eight years now as a thing that I've wanted to do. But there's something

00:06:32   kind of complicated about how to execute it, and this Grayscation was the time where it's like,

00:06:40   "Okay, I can just sit down and kind of work out all of the details of how is this going to work

00:06:46   in a video in practice in a very complicated way." I have by far the craziest Obsidian Canvas sheet

00:06:54   that I've ever made to connect all the different parts of this thing before, and I think this video

00:07:01   would have stayed on my "This is an interesting idea" list for like years and years if I hadn't

00:07:09   done this trip where I could just focus on this one thing, keep it all in my head, and as a result

00:07:15   of just not having any other distractions or any other interruptions and being able to like,

00:07:20   mull this over, I came up with a bunch of interesting solutions for different parts of it

00:07:24   that had always been kind of stumbling blocks in the past. So—

00:07:27   - Is this an animated video? - Yeah, yeah, it's gonna be an

00:07:30   animated video. - I wasn't sure, like,

00:07:32   the complexities, are they like physical or just narration storytelling stuff?

00:07:36   - Yeah, it's kind of like the storytelling problem, right? Like, sometimes you just have a bunch of

00:07:40   stuff and you go like, "God, how do you even try to talk about this?" People will see when it's out,

00:07:44   but it will be very obvious to everyone, like, "Oh, this was a complicated thing to make,"

00:07:49   even though the kind of story of it is very simple. And as always, in retrospect, there's a bunch of

00:07:55   stuff that like, once you see how it's done, it's sort of obvious, you're like, "Oh, that's like an

00:07:58   obvious idea," but trying to work out how to do it, like, when you haven't got the answer already,

00:08:05   it's like, it's not obvious. So yeah, it was great. I like, walked away from this trip with like,

00:08:10   script for this video done, I have just like a ton of audio to record, and that's what I'm

00:08:16   gonna do over the next few days and then pass it off to animation. And so like, I genuinely

00:08:22   don't feel like I'm jinxing it. This is like very on target as a September video for like,

00:08:26   great, the writing is done. I know people sort of think that I'm crazy for doing these kinds of

00:08:32   trips, but they are very clearly net positive, and I have a very high success rate of them going

00:08:39   really well for like, there was something that I was having a hard time finishing or figuring out,

00:08:44   or it's just like a big complicated project, and I think it kind of frees up RAM so you can hold more

00:08:52   in your head at once and then make connections that you might not have made otherwise. I am like,

00:08:57   a real weirdo on these trips, because like, I realized when I saw my wife after it was over,

00:09:04   having to do the thing of like, "Oh, right, aside from like, some interactions with the hotel staff

00:09:11   and the deliveroo drivers bringing me my dinner, like, I haven't spoken to anyone on this trip,

00:09:18   it's just, it's very like, in my own head, and then I have to come out of it at the end of it."

00:09:23   No, no, no, like, I'm trying to find a way to like, because you made me think of like,

00:09:29   silent retreats or whatever. I've been intrigued by those kinds of things, yeah.

00:09:33   Yeah, I know this is a thing, like, actually we were recording Connected yesterday,

00:09:37   and I don't remember how it came up. Federico said like, "Oh, I should try a silent retreat,"

00:09:42   and I was like, "I don't think I could last on a silent retreat."

00:09:44   Why don't you think you could last? Because I can't stop talking,

00:09:47   like, that's kind of my problem, you know? And so like, I feel like I would need a noisy retreat,

00:09:51   as much as they just like, just let me be really noisy for a week.

00:09:54   I don't think they have noisy meditation retreats, I feel like that's the opposite of what's going on.

00:09:59   What is that where you scream? Like, that scream therapy?

00:10:03   Like, primal therapy? Is that what it's called? Is it called primal scream?

00:10:07   That's what you want for your meditation retreat?

00:10:09   I always remember, have you ever seen the movie Pirates of Silicon Valley?

00:10:13   Uh, a long time ago, yeah.

00:10:15   It's like the, I think, like, made for TV movie about Steve Jobs and Bill Gates,

00:10:19   which is actually like, really good. There is a moment where the Steve Jobs character

00:10:24   is doing primal scream therapy, and I always imagine that, but anyway.

00:10:28   What I was kind of angling towards is like, people do these things, I'm not really sure why.

00:10:35   Why someone would do a silent retreat, maybe it's just like a way to just like,

00:10:39   not have to interact with people, maybe find a new way to communicate with people,

00:10:43   I'm not really sure, like, but it's just the way that you describe the Gregations is like,

00:10:47   maybe you are getting out of those what some people get out of the silent retreat,

00:10:52   because like, you're not communicating with people.

00:10:55   It's like, it like, removes that as a thing you need to do,

00:10:57   and you're just doing everything it is that you want to do.

00:11:00   It's just like an interesting, I think, byproduct of it more than anything else,

00:11:04   that you're just not having to talk to anyone at all.

00:11:06   The silent retreats, the impression that I've gotten, and the reason I was interested in them

00:11:10   a little bit was, I've only ever heard them in the context of meditation,

00:11:14   so the impression that I get is that the silent retreats are a way for people who are having a

00:11:19   hard time with meditation to like, boot into how to do this faster.

00:11:25   And that by not being able to, that's like, the being silent is forcing you to be entirely within

00:11:34   your own head, and so that like, is a fast track into meditation stuff.

00:11:39   I eventually decided that meditation is just not for me,

00:11:41   and so I kind of lost interest in never doing something like that.

00:11:44   But yeah, I think there's a sort of parallel in what I'm doing with trying to just

00:11:50   remove all the outside distractions of life.

00:11:54   From my perspective though, it's really this feeling of like,

00:11:57   it makes it much easier to hold the entire project in my head at once.

00:12:04   You know, it's like, whenever you're working on something difficult,

00:12:07   there's like this period of like, "Okay, you get up in the morning,

00:12:11   and you're gonna work on the thing."

00:12:12   And there's always a little bit of like, "Right, let me load it back up into my head."

00:12:18   And I think just this kind of really intense working time really removes that Buddha process,

00:12:25   because it's like, "No, no, this is all I was thinking about all day,

00:12:28   and then I went to bed, and then I got up in the morning,

00:12:30   and it feels like a real continuation of what happened before."

00:12:32   I think people just don't realize how extreme I'm being on these things.

00:12:35   Like, I'm not watching TV, I'm not watching movies.

00:12:38   I always bring some books with the idea that I'm going to read them,

00:12:43   but I basically never do, with a little asterisk that I finished a business book on this trip.

00:12:48   But like fiction, I think like, "Oh, I'll have a novel with me to read."

00:12:51   It's like, I never do. I never do that at all.

00:12:53   It's just entirely working on the thing and pacing

00:12:57   and sometimes walking around outside and coming back.

00:13:00   I think that's why it's like, you can hold a complicated project in your head

00:13:04   and never have to put it down,

00:13:07   and then never have to like get it all back in your head while you're working on it.

00:13:10   [BEEP]

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00:15:30   I will say, related to that business book,

00:15:33   there was one thing I was very happy was sort of different on this trip.

00:15:37   Is, of course, being in this hotel for like two and a half weeks,

00:15:43   quite obviously only ever leaving the room to go get coffee and pick up the meals that are being

00:15:51   delivered to me in the lobby. I stand out very fast to the staff.

00:15:56   They just notice me and I think quite rightly, after a certain period of time,

00:16:03   you could tell the staff is like, "What is this guy doing?"

00:16:06   Right? Like, "What is this guy just like living in our hotel?"

00:16:10   And it's extra weird because I was staying in a really touristy location.

00:16:15   So everyone else in that hotel was clearly there for touristy stuff.

00:16:20   And then there's me, right? The one person who's not.

00:16:22   - The air conditioning guy. - Right, the air conditioning guy. The guy who was there on day one.

00:16:27   - Mr. Freeze over here.

00:16:28   - [laughs]

00:16:31   Yes. We only ever see him go to the gym and go to the coffee machine.

00:16:36   Those are the two things he does. And then he picks up the deliveries.

00:16:40   That's it. Housekeeping? No, he doesn't want it. Please don't come into the room.

00:16:46   And so one of the members of staff, I imagine someone who like drew the short straw,

00:16:52   clearly tried to like work up a conversation with me to be like,

00:16:56   "What are you doing in this hotel?"

00:16:57   Right? Like, "We just want to make sure everything's okay.

00:17:00   "The housekeeping staff hasn't been in. What are you doing in there?"

00:17:04   It felt to me like it was the friendly version of the time in Las Vegas

00:17:09   where they brought security to my hotel room for the same reason.

00:17:12   They're like, "We need to know what's happening inside this room."

00:17:14   - You know, I was about to say like, "Oh, I heard. I forgot that was you."

00:17:17   - [laughs]

00:17:18   - That was a thing of like they needed to make sure there wasn't something real bad going on.

00:17:22   - Yeah, yeah, of course.

00:17:23   - In Vegas, they will, if the housekeeping can't get in over a certain period of time,

00:17:28   they're just going to come in. They're just coming in.

00:17:30   - Yeah, it was the manager and a very big man behind him in Las Vegas wanted to check out the room.

00:17:36   I was like, "Oh, I'm just on Grey Master time."

00:17:39   So like the housekeeping schedule and my schedule hasn't overlapped.

00:17:42   So yeah, anyway, like the guy who drew the short straw sort of clearly wanted to strike

00:17:46   up a little conversation with me while I was getting coffee to be like, "So what are you doing?"

00:17:50   And I was very happy because I had a completely legitimate answer.

00:17:55   I was able to, it's because like, I don't want to say what I'm really doing, right?

00:17:58   Like, "Oh, I'm like, I'm writing all this time," right?

00:18:02   Because then it's like, "What do you write?"

00:18:03   And I don't want to have to say any of these things.

00:18:06   So I was able to say the truth, which is, "Oh, I'm a logistics manager for a company."

00:18:11   - Oh, you finally gotten to it.

00:18:13   - [laughs]

00:18:14   I was so happy, I was like, "What I do is I work on logistics spreadsheets,

00:18:20   but they're really complicated.

00:18:22   Like there are hundreds of thousands of rows of calculations.

00:18:25   And so I find it easier just to lock myself in a room and work on these big spreadsheets

00:18:31   without interruption.

00:18:33   So that's what I'm here for.

00:18:34   I'm just like working."

00:18:35   And I was so happy because I could see like in his head, he went, "Ah."

00:18:39   - Boring.

00:18:40   [laughs]

00:18:41   - Boring nerd, right?

00:18:43   Like he hit the two check boxes and then they're like, "This guy is no problem.

00:18:47   We don't have to worry about it."

00:18:49   - Yep, story checks out.

00:18:50   - [laughs]

00:18:52   Yeah, I also can imagine, right, I fit the look of a person who's like,

00:18:57   "I'm working on these spreadsheets.

00:18:58   Would you like to know more about my spreadsheets?"

00:19:00   No, I would not like to know more about your spreadsheets.

00:19:02   - Maybe less time in the gym though, I feel like to fully complete.

00:19:06   - I think it can still check out because they realize,

00:19:08   like they don't know I'm pacing for miles back and forth, right?

00:19:11   - That's true.

00:19:11   - So from their perspective, this is the only physical activity that I'm doing.

00:19:16   And also if they're checking, if they're spying on me, right,

00:19:20   with the security camera that's in the gym,

00:19:21   I'm not down there lifting massive weights, right?

00:19:24   Like, you know, I'm at the very small end of those barbells for the weights that I'm doing.

00:19:29   So it still checks out for the nerd story.

00:19:31   I was very happy to have the first real instance of being able to report that,

00:19:37   like, "I'm a logistics manager, like nothing interesting to see here. Move right along."

00:19:42   - This is kind of incredible because this has actually just been a weird thing

00:19:48   where like a joke that we had years ago has come true.

00:19:52   Like we had a conversation years ago about like explaining what you do in a situation

00:19:59   where you just don't want to deal with the follow-up questions, right?

00:20:03   Because it's like, you know, I have this like, "Oh, I'm a podcaster. What podcast?"

00:20:06   - Yeah, exactly.

00:20:07   - "Oh, what is it? Like, what do you do?"

00:20:09   Like you record, it's like, "Yeah, I have a podcast production company."

00:20:11   "So what is your show?"

00:20:13   And it's like, "No, I have a bunch."

00:20:15   And I'm like, "What are they about?"

00:20:16   And I'm like, it's like tech and creativity and people go, "Oh."

00:20:21   And then the conversation ends.

00:20:22   So sometimes it's just easier to say a different thing.

00:20:24   So like for me now, I say like, "Oh, I run a product design company

00:20:28   and like we make notebooks and stuff."

00:20:30   And that's the thing I feel like I can have more interesting conversations with people about

00:20:35   because everyone can understand that rather than like,

00:20:37   "So I record podcasts with people in America, mostly about technology."

00:20:42   And it's like, "I don't want to have this conversation."

00:20:44   Is what people's eyes say to me.

00:20:46   And so we had a conversation about this years ago

00:20:49   of like how to try and explain what you do.

00:20:51   And back then I said that like I was an advertising logistics manager

00:20:56   because I managed the logistics of ads.

00:20:58   And you were like, "Oh, that sounds good."

00:21:00   It's like an idea.

00:21:01   And it's now it's taken all this time.

00:21:03   And now you are actually legitimately a logistics manager

00:21:08   for a company that produces productivity tools.

00:21:10   - Yeah, I used to have an answer that I stumbled around

00:21:13   with like advertising, but like it never worked.

00:21:16   I never liked it.

00:21:17   It's also the thing of like,

00:21:19   I just don't want to straight up lie about what I do, right?

00:21:22   - No, 'cause it's silly.

00:21:23   - It's silly to do.

00:21:24   It's also a thing of like, why keep track of this in your head?

00:21:28   Also, boy, are you in for 10 times more trouble.

00:21:30   Like if someone follows this up at the hotel

00:21:32   and now it's like the weird guy lied about what he does for a living.

00:21:36   So I just, I never wanted to do that.

00:21:38   And I just never had a satisfying answer.

00:21:40   But that's why this logistics wad, I was like,

00:21:42   "Oh my God, it's completely legitimate.

00:21:44   I really am working on a spreadsheet for like hours at a time in this hotel room."

00:21:48   This is like a perfectly legitimate, maximum boring answer

00:21:53   that I could give to people now when they ask about my work.

00:21:56   So I was very happy about that.

00:21:59   'Cause that's what we're going to do in the show anyway, right?

00:22:02   Like, ba-do-ba-doop, right?

00:22:03   - It probably won't be the ad sound.

00:22:05   It will be like the, ba-do-doop, that one.

00:22:07   - Yeah, yeah, yeah.

00:22:08   We'll do that.

00:22:08   Yeah, that's a little bit of ting, ting.

00:22:10   Or I don't know.

00:22:11   I don't know how it goes.

00:22:12   - Do you have any idea?

00:22:13   What was that one?

00:22:14   - Wait, how does our not ad break sound go?

00:22:19   I can't think of it.

00:22:20   It is blue loop?

00:22:21   - Yeah.

00:22:21   No, no, no.

00:22:22   It's ba-do-doop.

00:22:23   - Ba-do-do.

00:22:23   - That you're doing the, ba-do-doop.

00:22:25   That's the ad sound.

00:22:27   - Right.

00:22:28   - But the one where it's just moving to the next topic is,

00:22:31   it's almost like the highest note is reversed.

00:22:34   - Oh, okay.

00:22:35   Yes, I've edited this show many times

00:22:39   and I still can't like pull it into my head

00:22:42   what that sounds like.

00:22:43   - That sound, sometimes you don't hear it.

00:22:45   The most uses of that sound, the like change topic sound,

00:22:47   go with more text.

00:22:48   - Yeah.

00:22:48   - Which you don't hear that,

00:22:50   'cause I edit it when you're done.

00:22:51   - Yeah, but I still hear the sound.

00:22:52   I listen to the show when it goes live.

00:22:54   Like, I hear the sound.

00:22:54   - I didn't know you did that.

00:22:55   - I hear the sound.

00:22:56   - Okay.

00:22:56   - I just can't think of what it is.

00:22:57   But whatever.

00:22:58   This could be a topic change now.

00:22:59   - It's September.

00:23:01   - September.

00:23:02   - September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

00:23:04   And for the fifth year in a row,

00:23:07   we are once again as a community coming together

00:23:09   at Relay FM to support the life-saving work

00:23:12   of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

00:23:14   St. Jude have a simple mission.

00:23:16   Their mission is to keep working

00:23:19   until no child dies from cancer.

00:23:21   With your support, we'll be one step closer to that day.

00:23:24   One cure closer, one child closer.

00:23:28   So we, over the last five years,

00:23:31   have raised $2.2 million for the kids of St. Jude.

00:23:34   - Wow.

00:23:36   - Which is an incredible thing to achieve,

00:23:40   and I think is an even more incredible thing to achieve

00:23:43   considering the size of our community.

00:23:45   It is an absolutely obscene amount of money.

00:23:48   - Yeah.

00:23:49   - And we've already started very strong.

00:23:52   We're actually recording this episode

00:23:54   on the last day of August,

00:23:55   and we've passed $100,000.

00:23:57   - Yeah, I was just loading it up,

00:23:59   and it just flipped over to $103,000 raised,

00:24:03   and you started how many days ago?

00:24:06   - On Monday, so like three or four days ago.

00:24:09   - Every year, like you said, it's incredible

00:24:12   just how generous all the listeners are with this

00:24:16   as a donation.

00:24:17   Every year I'm shocked by the results.

00:24:20   - And it's incredible.

00:24:22   The generosity is so incredible of people,

00:24:25   and I think it works.

00:24:27   This is a charity that does incredible stuff,

00:24:29   and we have such a personal connection to it.

00:24:32   We've mentioned this before,

00:24:33   but my co-founder Stephen, his son Josiah,

00:24:36   Josiah's life was saved by St. Jude.

00:24:39   He was born with a brain tumor,

00:24:40   and without the work of St. Jude,

00:24:43   we don't know what would have happened.

00:24:45   St. Jude is an incredible place,

00:24:48   and they looked after Josiah

00:24:50   the same way that they look after hundreds,

00:24:53   thousands of children, and they beat these cancers.

00:24:57   They beat these life-threatening diseases.

00:25:00   When St. Jude was established,

00:25:02   it was opened in 1962,

00:25:04   at that time, childhood cancer was considered

00:25:08   to be basically an incurable thing,

00:25:10   cancer in general, but especially childhood cancer,

00:25:12   and the treatments that have been developed at St. Jude

00:25:16   have helped to push the cancer survival rate

00:25:19   from 20% in children to more than 80% in the years

00:25:24   that it's been open, in the 60 years

00:25:25   that St. Jude's been around.

00:25:27   But look, as with all of these things,

00:25:29   I mean, let's be real.

00:25:30   What about the other 20, right?

00:25:31   80% is not enough.

00:25:33   It needs to be 100%.

00:25:34   Pediatric cancer is still the leading cause

00:25:38   of death by disease among US children,

00:25:41   aged 14 years and younger,

00:25:43   and it's worse in other countries

00:25:44   all around the world too,

00:25:45   and that is something about St. Jude.

00:25:48   St. Jude is a hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

00:25:50   Just so happens to be where Steven and his family are from.

00:25:53   Just complete luck, really.

00:25:55   But while they are an institution in Memphis, Tennessee,

00:25:58   which is both a research hospital,

00:26:00   so they treat children there,

00:26:01   but they also research these diseases,

00:26:04   they share that work with the world.

00:26:06   They care for patients from all over the world.

00:26:10   That's the thing that they do,

00:26:11   and also none of these families

00:26:14   ever receive a bill from St. Jude.

00:26:16   They cover housing, travel, food, and treatment,

00:26:20   so families can just focus on making sure

00:26:23   that their child can be as happy as they can be

00:26:25   and that their child can live.

00:26:27   That is what they are focused on,

00:26:28   and all the time, they are learning more

00:26:31   about childhood cancer.

00:26:32   They are learning more about other life-threatening diseases,

00:26:35   and they share this information with the world.

00:26:37   This cutting-edge research that they have,

00:26:40   they share the results of it,

00:26:41   and every year, I get to speak to different doctors

00:26:45   and researchers in the all-around St. Jude institution,

00:26:49   and I'm always blown away by the depths

00:26:52   that they are going to to try and understand stuff.

00:26:55   Last year, I spoke to a neuroscientist, I think,

00:26:59   would be the phrase, who works at St. Jude,

00:27:02   and they were looking into what can they understand

00:27:06   about the brain and is there some kind of link

00:27:09   between something going on in the brain

00:27:10   and cancer cells being developed.

00:27:12   They come at this from every single possible angle,

00:27:15   and that's how they have these breakthroughs there,

00:27:17   but all of that work, both treating the children

00:27:22   that are there and working on the research

00:27:25   to push this stuff forward, it takes time, effort,

00:27:29   and most importantly, money.

00:27:31   And St. Jude, they are donor-led, they're donor-focused,

00:27:34   right, like that's how this stuff is all paid for.

00:27:37   It is by the generosity of people like our listeners

00:27:41   who have donated now millions of dollars

00:27:44   to help the kids at St. Jude.

00:27:45   - Yeah, this is the kind of thing that it's worth funding.

00:27:50   The thing to me that is always very impressive

00:27:52   is just how they share their results.

00:27:55   That to me is one of the biggest things here.

00:27:58   This is not medical research that is going to be locked away,

00:28:02   it's not proprietary.

00:28:04   What they can figure out to make things better for kids,

00:28:07   they are sharing, and I think that's just fantastic

00:28:10   as an organization.

00:28:11   - Give a little bit of information about that.

00:28:13   In 2018, St. Jude became the first and only

00:28:16   World Health Organization collaborating center

00:28:18   for childhood cancer.

00:28:20   The goal of this initiative is to raise the survival rate

00:28:23   of the six common childhood cancers to 60% by 2030.

00:28:27   They have 280 partners as part of their St. Jude Global

00:28:31   initiative as well, it represents more than 70 countries

00:28:34   and growing, so they can share their research out everywhere.

00:28:38   They want to put this out around the world.

00:28:40   And also, if you think about it, for a research institution,

00:28:44   the more information they can find out, the better.

00:28:47   But for us at Real AFM, it just so happens to be

00:28:52   in the company's backyard.

00:28:54   And so it is the absolute, for every single reason,

00:28:57   perfect charity for us to turn our attention to every year.

00:29:01   We are so incredibly grateful for the generosity

00:29:03   that the community has shown over the last five years.

00:29:05   We are asking, once again, for you to support

00:29:09   the life-saving mission of St. Jude.

00:29:10   We are aiming this year to push our overall amount raised

00:29:16   to over $2.5 million.

00:29:17   That's where our goal is right now.

00:29:19   If we hit the goal that we've set, which is just under $300,000,

00:29:22   we will have passed $2.5 million together.

00:29:26   But obviously, we want it to go even further.

00:29:28   Please go to stjude.org/relay.

00:29:32   If you make a donation of your own, if you donate $60 or more,

00:29:34   we will send out some digital stuff to you,

00:29:36   wallpapers and screensavers, if you donate $100 or more,

00:29:39   we send out stickers.

00:29:41   But you can also set up to fundraise.

00:29:43   This is one of the ways that you can do something also

00:29:46   to get even more money.

00:29:48   Like if you can't afford it, or you can only afford

00:29:50   a small amount, you could set up a fundraising campaign

00:29:52   of your own.

00:29:53   You could talk to your friends, your family,

00:29:55   your own community, and raise more money for the kids

00:29:58   of St. Jude that way.

00:29:59   Fundraisers who raise at least $1 will receive a challenge coin.

00:30:03   Fundraisers who raised $250 or more receive this desk mat

00:30:07   with just the most incredible design.

00:30:09   It's so good.

00:30:10   You can go to stjude.org/relay.

00:30:13   You can see these designs there, and you can also find out more.

00:30:16   If you make a donation and you work at a large company,

00:30:19   please click the search employer button on the donation summary page.

00:30:23   You can then do a check to see if your employer offers

00:30:25   a matching gift program.

00:30:27   If they do, you'll get emailed some information about how

00:30:30   to have the match credited.

00:30:31   Basically, this means in a lot of instances, your donation

00:30:34   could be doubled by your employer.

00:30:36   So please check that because you can make your donation

00:30:39   go even further.

00:30:40   Please go to stjude.org/relay to learn more and donate today.

00:30:45   St. Jude won't stop until no child dies from cancer.

00:30:48   With your support, we'll be one step closer to that day.

00:30:52   One cure closer, one child closer.

00:30:54   This month and every month, let's cure childhood cancer together.

00:31:00   So you mentioned as part of your High on Grey,

00:31:04   I Managed Spreadsheets discussion earlier,

00:31:06   that you took a business book on your Greycation?

00:31:11   I took the book I mentioned before, Mike.

00:31:12   I took Understanding Variation,

00:31:14   The Key to Managing Chaos by Donald J Wheeler.

00:31:18   The classic.

00:31:18   Okay, so for context, this was the book that you were referencing

00:31:27   a little while ago.

00:31:27   We spoke about it on the show where me and you were having

00:31:30   a conversation and I just didn't understand any of the words

00:31:34   you were saying, but it was all about like logistics management.

00:31:38   Okay, yeah.

00:31:39   So I picked up this book because my goal was I wanted to read

00:31:43   what mathematical tools do people in business use?

00:31:47   Because as head of logistics, like this is now my responsibility

00:31:51   and instead of just playing around with spreadsheets,

00:31:55   with some of my like old physics stuff, it's like,

00:31:57   let me see how business people do this.

00:31:59   I can't remember how, but I somehow stumbled upon this book

00:32:01   as like a place to start.

00:32:03   And we sort of mentioned it a while ago and I started reading it.

00:32:07   I implemented some of the things and then I was like,

00:32:09   you know what, I want to make sure I finish this.

00:32:10   So I did bring it on the trip and I did.

00:32:11   My only recreational reading on the entire two and a half weeks

00:32:16   was this book, I guess.

00:32:17   And I was like, oh, we should make like a Cortex book club out of this, right?

00:32:22   Like this totally makes it.

00:32:23   And then I thought, I can't do that to Mike.

00:32:25   I'm not going to make Mike read this book.

00:32:28   Let me tell you, I want to just let you know right now.

00:32:30   That wasn't going to happen.

00:32:31   No, because I just know I wouldn't have been able to do it.

00:32:34   Okay. All right.

00:32:35   So that just was never really on the table.

00:32:36   No, because I mean, like I could have tried.

00:32:38   Like none of the information is going to stick in my head.

00:32:41   You know, it would have been,

00:32:42   I feel like it would have just been a wasted book club.

00:32:44   Yeah. I mean, but like I sent you the one joke that was in the book

00:32:46   and you enjoyed that part.

00:32:47   I did enjoy that, but I feel like maybe that was the only part

00:32:51   I would have enjoyed.

00:32:52   Can you explain what like roughly what that was?

00:32:55   Because it is kind of a very strange thing to put in a book like this, I think.

00:32:59   I'll tell the joke in a second.

00:33:00   But here was my pitch, right?

00:33:02   I was thinking like, I like this book.

00:33:04   We have a show.

00:33:05   We talk about business stuff.

00:33:06   Like this is now part of it.

00:33:08   I was like, we should do it as a Cortex book club.

00:33:09   I can't subject Mike, my friend to that.

00:33:13   That would just be cruel.

00:33:14   And like, that would be no good.

00:33:16   So what I wanted to do is I just wanted to give like a super quick

00:33:19   kind of mini one-sided Cortex book club just on this book

00:33:25   that I read of like, so it just didn't hang as a thing that we mentioned

00:33:28   and kind of never came back.

00:33:29   So I just, I kind of wanted to run through like, I think this actually is useful

00:33:35   for people with small businesses.

00:33:36   And I just kind of wanted to do like, here's some key parts for this.

00:33:40   But the thing that I sent to Mike, there's this kind of effect, right?

00:33:44   Like you're reading a book.

00:33:45   It's very dry.

00:33:47   I don't know how to even explain this.

00:33:49   This really looks like the kind of book that was written on a typewriter.

00:33:52   I don't know if that's true, but somehow it just like gives me that feeling.

00:33:55   It's a very mathy kind of book.

00:33:57   But then sometimes like, there's just like a little bit of a joke in a way.

00:34:03   And so there's like this book, it's running you through a bunch of examples

00:34:07   of like, here's how to analyze this data from this business.

00:34:10   And then all of a sudden, like a third of the way in, the author,

00:34:15   he just makes this comment.

00:34:16   He's like, oh, here, take a look at this figure for pounds scrapped in July

00:34:20   for this company.

00:34:22   And then he says, do these comparisons answer all of your questions

00:34:25   about the scrap levels in this process?

00:34:27   Are you ready to go on to some other line in the monthly report?

00:34:32   Surely this must be enough.

00:34:34   And then you're like, a few pages later in the book, he picks it up with like,

00:34:38   did you feel satisfied with the treatment of the scrapped pounds data given on page 73?

00:34:45   If you did, you should skip this section.

00:34:47   In fact, you might as well skip the rest of the book.

00:34:51   You have a terminal case of numerical illiteracy.

00:34:55   - What is wrong?

00:34:56   Who hurt this guy?

00:34:57   - I thought it was like, I took it as a very funny joke in a way,

00:35:03   because it's like, no one on earth who is reading this book

00:35:08   is going to be the person with the case of like terminal illiteracy, right?

00:35:11   Like he waits until you're like, well into this very boring book

00:35:16   to drop a little thing and then be like, oh, hey, this chart,

00:35:20   are you happy with this chart?

00:35:21   We'll just come back to that later.

00:35:23   And then he's like, hey, remember that chart?

00:35:25   You weren't happy at all, right?

00:35:26   Of course you weren't.

00:35:27   Like now let's go into why you shouldn't be happy with this.

00:35:30   But it's just like such a weird tone shift in the middle of what is otherwise

00:35:34   like incredibly dry writing.

00:35:36   - No, but you see, that is funny, right?

00:35:38   But like, if I put it through the lens of a Cortex book club book,

00:35:42   that's the part where I would have broken the camel's back for me.

00:35:45   - Yeah, no, no.

00:35:46   - Right?

00:35:46   - That would have been furious if you were being forced to read this.

00:35:49   - So mad.

00:35:50   To be like, oh, so you just made me read this whole thing and it was pointless?

00:35:54   Right?

00:35:55   Like can you imagine, like, oh, like just this chapter or whatever, right?

00:35:59   Oh, you're reading this information, okay.

00:36:01   - Right.

00:36:01   - This guy literally wastes the reader's time, right?

00:36:04   Like 100% he is doing that just to prove a point to like, I don't know, Jim or something.

00:36:10   You know, I imagine this is solely focused on an individual in his life that did this.

00:36:16   - Yeah.

00:36:18   It is a little bit like the thinking fast and slow thing where he's like,

00:36:21   hey, why don't you solve this problem?

00:36:23   And then like, oh, actually, right?

00:36:25   That was impossible to solve.

00:36:27   - Ha ha, you fell into my logic puzzle, you know?

00:36:29   - Did you think that person was a banker?

00:36:32   You're wrong for dumb reasons.

00:36:33   It's like, yeah, great, thank you.

00:36:35   What I particularly love, what really like charmed me about this little interlude from the guy.

00:36:40   So he does this thing about like, you know, you turn a little numerolosy, whatever.

00:36:43   But then he says like, for all of you who felt a bit cheated by that previous graph,

00:36:48   like let's go on to analyze the data in a more satisfying way.

00:36:52   When I was reading the book, I genuinely did have the experience of like,

00:36:55   I do feel cheated by that report of monthly scrapped pounds in July.

00:37:00   Like that is not an adequate data table at all.

00:37:03   I would like to continue the story, please.

00:37:05   So yeah, this is like a very weird book to have read,

00:37:09   but I genuinely really liked it and I found it super useful.

00:37:12   Basically, here's my little summary of what this is.

00:37:16   And if like, if anybody listening runs a small business and you either deal with inventory,

00:37:24   or you have some kind of quality control issue where it's like, okay,

00:37:28   you need to make sure that there's not a certain number of errors,

00:37:30   you know, higher than every hundred or whatever.

00:37:32   I think this book is totally worth reading and looking through

00:37:37   if you're not really using anything to track this kind of stuff.

00:37:41   What do you mean if you're not using something to track it?

00:37:44   Is you saying the idea of like, this will help you establish something so you could track it?

00:37:49   Yeah, so you have a problem.

00:37:51   The problem that we had is we were just kind of guessing about how much stock to buy

00:37:58   every time we had to make an order.

00:37:59   We were doing the thing of like, oh, this number of theme system journals is low.

00:38:03   And then we like lick our thumb and hold it up to the wind and go like,

00:38:07   "I don't know, how many more should we buy? What does it feel like?"

00:38:10   Well, Mike would say he used his gut, but that isn't a good way to make decisions.

00:38:13   But that was what I was doing.

00:38:15   You know, like I felt like there was some knowledge going there,

00:38:17   but it wasn't actual math of any kind.

00:38:19   Yeah, exactly.

00:38:20   And tons of businesses, just like ours, can get by on like gut decisions for a really long time.

00:38:29   So I think this is like a good book if you're in that position.

00:38:33   Like you've been doing a thing, you've been kind of just like eyeballing it this whole time.

00:38:38   But maybe you want to try to be a bit more rigorous about knowing exactly what you need to buy.

00:38:45   Or again, a lot of his examples are in the— they're not as relevant for us,

00:38:49   but it's in the case of like errors per widget kind of problems that you're dealing with.

00:38:55   And so like, how do you track this?

00:38:56   And the basic concept is what he calls a process control chart,

00:39:02   which that's where this title comes from.

00:39:04   Like the key to managing chaos, right?

00:39:06   The idea is you want to try to get all of your systems under control.

00:39:11   And by this, he's talking about statistical control.

00:39:13   And really, what you're just doing is say, take whatever data you have.

00:39:18   In our case, it's like notebooks sold per day, you track them by time,

00:39:23   and you just make a little graph over time that shows you what is the average result.

00:39:30   And he walks through some steps of how to create a little line on that graph.

00:39:36   Which basically is a line where you can say,

00:39:39   "Hey, if your daily numbers ever cross this line, something very different has happened."

00:39:46   And you need to investigate what that different thing is.

00:39:50   Oh, okay.

00:39:51   This is like unlocking a thing that I've just been hearing from you a lot recently,

00:39:55   which is these kinds of ideas of like,

00:39:58   "Oh, we need to make this change or do this or analyze this or test this."

00:40:04   Because the graph changed.

00:40:06   Like you keep referencing like, language is different,

00:40:10   but like, there has been a statistical outlier here.

00:40:14   Why?

00:40:14   And we need to look into that.

00:40:16   So one of the points he makes in the book, which I think is really good,

00:40:19   is everyone just kind of underestimates how random things can be in life.

00:40:28   And so this is one of the things that we deal with in our business is our data.

00:40:32   In physics, you would say that the data is very noisy.

00:40:35   But what I mean by that is the daily sales can vary a lot for just like,

00:40:39   totally inscrutable reasons, right?

00:40:41   We have days where it's like, "Oh, we sold four times as many as the day before."

00:40:44   Why?

00:40:45   No idea, right?

00:40:46   Oh, we sold none today.

00:40:48   Yeah.

00:40:48   Okay.

00:40:49   It's very strange.

00:40:51   Or like we referenced Saturdays before,

00:40:54   but now Saturdays in the last couple of weeks have been fine and Sundays have been a problem.

00:40:58   I swear to, like, this is one of these things.

00:41:00   I swear to God, it's like the universe heard us talk

00:41:04   and heard us that we figured out that Saturday was a bad sales day.

00:41:09   And like, ever since that episode, Saturday sales have gone up.

00:41:13   I mean, the thing here that I've considered is maybe it's not the universe.

00:41:16   Maybe it's just literally our listeners.

00:41:19   Yeah, it could be that.

00:41:20   Like, it's not the universe.

00:41:21   Like, there are people that heard us say it.

00:41:23   And maybe they're like, "Oh, I want to buy a thesis in journal."

00:41:26   "Oh, I'll get it on Saturday instead."

00:41:28   Right.

00:41:29   Just like mess up the chart for great.

00:41:31   Yeah.

00:41:31   Right.

00:41:32   So in computer science, you'd call that an adversarial situation, right?

00:41:35   You're trying to figure out a pattern and there is an adversary working against you

00:41:38   trying to figure out the pattern.

00:41:39   Most businesses don't have to deal with that as an issue.

00:41:42   I was just filling in some of the sales data yesterday and it's like, "Oh."

00:41:48   On that note, a thing that you've filled in the chart.

00:41:52   I was very surprised the other day.

00:41:54   I opened our spreadsheet and was like, "Hang on a minute.

00:41:57   The numbers are already in here."

00:41:58   I was very confused about this because I put the numbers in and you put the numbers in.

00:42:04   This was very strange to me.

00:42:05   Mike gave me the back-end login where some of the data has been locked away from me.

00:42:11   And so, of course, I'm going to obsessively check that information.

00:42:16   The difference was, like, you could have always logged into the cotton bureau and got the

00:42:19   information, but you just never asked for the login information.

00:42:23   But we have recently set up a team one password.

00:42:25   So now you do have it whether you asked for it or not.

00:42:28   I was never keeping it from you.

00:42:30   However, there is a thing which does make me nervous, which is like, you could just

00:42:34   delete the products now.

00:42:35   I'm not saying you would.

00:42:37   Yeah, obviously.

00:42:38   I get it, though.

00:42:39   Whenever you start sharing information with other people for the dashboard that controls

00:42:44   everything, it's very nervous, no matter how much you trust the person.

00:42:46   Because it's like, I've used this stuff for ages and I've never explained anything to

00:42:51   you and I've seen the system grow and I know how to use it.

00:42:54   And now you're using it and it's like, "Oh, God."

00:42:56   I know you can, but also, it's terrifying.

00:43:00   Well, Mike, you never have to worry because I am only obsessively interested in one thing,

00:43:07   which is completing the spreadsheet.

00:43:10   That's true.

00:43:11   But this is good, though, because now I don't need to fill in the data in the spreadsheet.

00:43:14   Yes, I guarantee you I will always fill that in sooner than you will fill that in because

00:43:18   I'm just like desperate to get the logistical updates.

00:43:21   Yeah, I did wonder sometimes.

00:43:23   I'm surprised you haven't asked sooner because sometimes I'd open a spreadsheet and be like,

00:43:26   "Oh, I haven't been here in a week."

00:43:27   And there was also a part of me that's like, "How does Gray feel about that?

00:43:31   Would he have liked it to have been quicker?"

00:43:34   Because I feel like every time I open the spreadsheet, there's always a note that Gray

00:43:39   has made a change.

00:43:40   Always.

00:43:41   Every single time I open the spreadsheet, it's like, there have been changes to the

00:43:45   spreadsheet.

00:43:46   And I learned a long time ago that there was no point in me checking those because I didn't

00:43:50   understand what was happening.

00:43:52   It was all formula and stuff.

00:43:54   But that was always funny to me.

00:43:56   And I would think, "Oh, am I..."

00:43:59   I try and do it every few days or whatever, but sometimes a week might go by.

00:44:02   And I was always this thing in the back of my mind.

00:44:04   I'm like, "Is he opening it every day?"

00:44:05   And it's like, "There's no new data in here."

00:44:07   But now you can do it yourself.

00:44:09   I will not tell you how often I checked that spreadsheet to see if you had updated things.

00:44:13   I will just say it was one of my prouder social restraint moments of, "Gray, don't harass

00:44:23   Mike about this."

00:44:24   The frequency that he updates the data for our decision-making process is fine.

00:44:30   Like, your obsessive weirdness about wanting up-to-the-minute data does not change any

00:44:37   decision Mike has to make.

00:44:39   So don't ask him.

00:44:40   So that's what I told myself at numerous times of like, "Don't bother Mike about this.

00:44:44   This is not relevant."

00:44:45   Well, you have a 100% success rate.

00:44:48   You've never asked me.

00:44:49   So that is good.

00:44:51   I'm very pleased with myself for that.

00:44:52   I'm not going to lie.

00:44:53   It was quite hard sometimes.

00:44:54   You deserve the commendation for it because I understand it.

00:44:57   Because I mean, I guess this is maybe somewhat frustrating for you.

00:45:01   I check the data a couple of times a day.

00:45:04   Right?

00:45:04   Like, I look to see what the sales are, mostly on the Sidekick notepad, like, once or twice

00:45:09   a day.

00:45:10   Like, it's a tab that I have open in Safari.

00:45:12   But I don't then take that information and put it in there.

00:45:15   Because it's also like-

00:45:16   Boy, I'm glad you didn't tell me that.

00:45:17   I'm glad I didn't know that.

00:45:18   But it's also because it's not helpful, right?

00:45:21   Because like, to me, it's like, "Well, it's only

00:45:23   helpful for me to put the information in when the day is completed."

00:45:26   And so like, I would just do it every two or three days, maybe?

00:45:30   Mostly.

00:45:30   But that is funny.

00:45:31   It's like, yeah, I mean, I do check the information frequently, but there was just nothing I could

00:45:36   do with the spreadsheet.

00:45:37   So I'll just leave that there for a little while.

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00:47:44   I do have this weird thing of like, I never quite know what I should tell you and what

00:47:48   I shouldn't tell you, and I really want to try to not overwhelm you with like everything

00:47:53   that's happening because it just doesn't matter.

00:47:54   We have a similar thing here, right?

00:47:57   Like you don't try and give me too much information about the sales tracking and the inventory

00:48:03   tracking, and I don't give you too much information about the product design process.

00:48:09   I'm talking to manufacturers and our partners a lot, but I'm not giving you all of the information.

00:48:14   You find out when there is a critical thing that needs to be discussed.

00:48:18   Part of what this book is kind of getting at, in a way, I can translate as, how do you know

00:48:25   when something is critical?

00:48:27   So like, how do you know when there is something that you need to discuss with your business

00:48:32   partner about this, right?

00:48:34   If you're running a business and you have this kind of division, one of you is like

00:48:37   the backend math person and the other person is like the front end person and dealing with

00:48:42   other things.

00:48:42   Like, how do you know when you need to discuss things with the other person?

00:48:45   And this is what I was saying before about the data can be really variable on any particular

00:48:52   day.

00:48:53   I think we have an unusually spiky business.

00:48:55   I think that's a byproduct of both doing this show and it kind of being a business that's

00:49:01   on the internet.

00:49:02   So I think there's more things that can just randomly affect sales.

00:49:06   So the real question is, how do you answer a question like, say one of our products has

00:49:11   zero sales on a day and then it has zero sales again.

00:49:15   Two days in a row, is that something to worry about or is that within the realm of chance?

00:49:20   Or on the flip side of it, right?

00:49:23   If you have like, oh, sales have doubled one day and then they're still doubled again

00:49:28   the next day, has something changed or is this just two spikes in a row that are next

00:49:34   to each other?

00:49:35   Like, it's not easy to know the answer to that, especially when, like, as we have discovered,

00:49:39   tracking down spikes is just totally pointless.

00:49:42   Like, unless it's very obvious, you're never going to know why there were more sales on

00:49:45   one day than another.

00:49:46   The big idea in this book is making these process control charts that are trying to

00:49:53   tell you when do you need to worry.

00:49:55   Or on the flip side, if you've done something in your business, how do you know that it

00:50:02   actually had an effect?

00:50:04   So, for example, if you start running an advertising campaign, it's like, oh, if you run Facebook

00:50:10   ads, Facebook's probably going to always lean on the side of like, hey, these ads were great,

00:50:14   you should spend more.

00:50:15   How do you know independently how effective was that actually so that you're just not

00:50:21   relying on that other entity?

00:50:22   Or if you're doing advertising, but it's more along the lines of something like brand

00:50:26   recognition, how do you know if it's actually effective?

00:50:30   And so Tunnel J Wheeler, with these process control charts, has a kind of cute way of

00:50:37   answering two of these questions.

00:50:39   And so one of the things is, it's like, okay, so you put your data on a chart, you know,

00:50:45   you take sales every day, you measure it, and you calculate the average value, and you

00:50:52   draw that line on the chart.

00:50:54   So it's like, oh, average daily sales is 10 units.

00:50:59   And a really quick way to know if something has changed is if you have six days in a row

00:51:08   that are above or below that average line.

00:51:12   There's a bunch of math behind this that doesn't matter, but it works out to if you

00:51:16   have six days in a row that are above or below the line, the chances of that happening just

00:51:22   randomly are less than 1%, or maybe they're about 1%.

00:51:26   Six is like the magic number here.

00:51:29   Yeah, so this is where, again, if I'm trying to think of something like, when should I

00:51:34   bring up something to Mike, right?

00:51:36   If I see we have six days in a row where sales are below average, I can be 99% certain that

00:51:46   this isn't just an unlucky run, something has happened.

00:51:50   And so that's an indication of like, is there something broken on the website so that sales

00:51:55   aren't going through?

00:51:56   Is there something weird that's occurred that has happened?

00:51:59   It's an indication to start looking into things.

00:52:02   And conversely, if you have six days in a row where sales go up, it means something has

00:52:11   probably changed.

00:52:12   So we have an example for this, which is that we've just integrated Cotton Bureau into

00:52:17   both of our YouTube channels.

00:52:18   So if someone goes to watch one of our YouTube videos, either on my channel or on the Cortex

00:52:24   channel, below that, sometimes YouTube will show people, "Hey, there's notebooks for

00:52:30   sale" or "there's a pen for sale, you might want to check it out."

00:52:33   And so we just did this like four days ago, but I could see already like, "Oh, average

00:52:39   sales are up for all of those four days."

00:52:42   It's not six days, but at this point, I'm very certain like we're going to have two

00:52:47   more days of above average sales.

00:52:49   And then that's an indication of like, something happened that was a material change with a

00:52:55   99% certainty that this is not just random.

00:52:59   You integrating this thing has had a material effect on the sales.

00:53:04   And this is how you actually know.

00:53:06   That in some sense is a very simple tool, like just graph your data and put a little

00:53:12   average line on it.

00:53:14   And you're looking for runs of six above and below.

00:53:17   But even for someone like me who has a really math background, the way that I had originally

00:53:22   set up our spreadsheets to try to track stuff, didn't have that as a like visually obvious

00:53:28   part of what was going on.

00:53:30   I was analyzing a bunch of statistics about the data to try to manage our inventory, but

00:53:35   I didn't just have a line of like sales and the average line that goes along here.

00:53:41   And there's a second part, which is sometimes something happens that's so extreme, you can

00:53:47   know right away on that day for sure something has happened.

00:53:53   And in the book, he tells you how to calculate this, but there's a line that you can draw

00:53:58   for people who know about standard deviation, it's three times the standard deviation, you

00:54:02   can draw a line that's significantly above your average.

00:54:06   And if on any particular day the sales like cross that line, or like errors per hundred

00:54:14   units cross that line, you know something happened that day, you don't need to wait

00:54:21   to try to figure out what else it is.

00:54:23   This again is like a really interesting thing from our perspective, because when I first

00:54:28   started doing this kind of stuff, and I didn't have this tool available, from my perspective,

00:54:34   I know you think about this slightly differently, but from my perspective, I caused a mistake

00:54:40   in our business, because we had had an article written about the sidekick in Inc. magazine,

00:54:48   and that article caused a huge spike in sales.

00:54:54   And on a process control chart, this thing showed up as like six times higher than the

00:55:01   standard deviation line.

00:55:02   Like it's just enormous, like you know immediately like something happened that is way out of

00:55:08   the ordinary, but because of the way that I was analyzing the data, that spike was just

00:55:14   getting turned into like what are our average daily sales numbers?

00:55:19   And so I was doing this thing of like very badly overestimating our average daily sales

00:55:24   numbers, because I was less aware of this spike than I should have been, because of

00:55:28   the way that I was looking at the data.

00:55:30   And so we placed an order that was too high in terms of inventory.

00:55:37   Now it didn't matter, sidekick sales were strong, and like it wasn't really a problem,

00:55:41   but it was one of these cases of, oh, from my perspective as like head of logistics,

00:55:48   I caused us to be temporarily overstocked because of the way that I was looking at the

00:55:54   data, and I wasn't using this like very straightforward tool of a process control

00:56:00   chart because it's just not something I had come across in the way that like I was trying

00:56:04   to think about how to analyze this particular kind of data.

00:56:08   I feel like this little book has been worth its weight in gold for just putting some charts

00:56:14   on my spreadsheet to be able to look at the data, and I think it's basically two thumbs

00:56:20   up recommend book for anyone who has a small business.

00:56:24   Well again, because like you can hear someone talk about a thing, it's different to see

00:56:28   someone work through an example, and also whenever you read a book, it's different

00:56:32   to go through the details of how you're analyzing something.

00:56:36   There are like actual examples in the book too, right?

00:56:38   Which is like, you need that.

00:56:40   Oh, and the other thing that I really just liked is a point which is also just kind of

00:56:43   lines up to my overall philosophy of things of like trend lines matter more than goals.

00:56:48   He also just makes the good point that a lot of businesses will like set goals that are

00:56:55   basically based on nothing, and it causes a bunch of problems because your data is noisy

00:57:02   or like the world is uncertain enough that it's just not possible to ever hit that goal.

00:57:07   And so you just get end up in a weird position as a business where it's like, this is a goal

00:57:12   that we want to try to achieve, right?

00:57:13   We only want one error in a thousand, and it's like there's no technology on earth

00:57:16   that can do that, but you don't know that at the start.

00:57:19   So I really like this as a model for what you're trying to do is increase the frequency

00:57:26   of like six day runs where you're very certain that something has happened.

00:57:30   So I think all of this translates to our conversations.

00:57:34   Like when I am talking to you about something, it is almost always because either on these

00:57:43   process control charts or in some of the other methods that I'm doing, a thing has crossed

00:57:48   what we call statistical significance.

00:57:51   To be able to say, even with noisy data where random things happen all of the time, we can

00:57:57   be very certain that this event is not random, that we can point to something that has caused

00:58:04   this to happen, or we need to figure out what is the thing that has caused this to happen.

00:58:10   So that's like when I bring stuff up to you.

00:58:12   So anyway, that's my mini book review of Understanding Variation,

00:58:15   The Key to Managing Chaos by Donald J Wheeler.

00:58:18   - I'm very happy you read it.

00:58:19   I'm very happy I didn't have to read it and that we just got to talk about it.

00:58:24   - It was genuinely a delight to read.

00:58:26   [BEEP]

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01:00:22   I want to talk about Substack.

01:00:24   Oh, okay. Do you want to talk about this?

01:00:26   I do.

01:00:28   Recently you moved your mailing list to a Substack mailing list.

01:00:32   And I am really intrigued about what your business decision is for doing this.

01:00:41   And also I think maybe I would like to still understand like in 2023,

01:00:48   how important is an email newsletter?

01:00:52   For you as a YouTuber.

01:00:54   Yeah.

01:00:54   Because like Substack, right?

01:00:56   Most people know Substack or I know Substack because like it is a platform for writers, right?

01:01:02   It is a platform for journalists, storytellers to be able to create a monetized newsletter system

01:01:11   that they can send out.

01:01:13   And then there's also just like a whole ecosystem based around Substack.

01:01:18   I guess kind of like a company Patreon is what I am talking about.

01:01:23   Not like an individual in the sense of like Patreon is a thing that you have and you are

01:01:28   like a Patreon creator, right?

01:01:30   And you have your Patreon.

01:01:32   But also Patreon is a platform that offers different tools and also like a front end

01:01:39   to a user.

01:01:40   So differently would be say what you were using before MailChimp, right?

01:01:46   MailChimp is just a mechanism.

01:01:49   There's no like I'm going to the MailChimp website and browsing different things to subscribe

01:01:55   to.

01:01:56   So like Substack has its own kind of like way of doing things.

01:01:59   And I'm kind of intrigued to understand why you've moved to this and why you even still

01:02:07   continue to be so focused on having a newsletter as a YouTuber primarily where you realistically

01:02:15   just want people to subscribe to the YouTube channel.

01:02:16   - Yeah, this is a little tricky to talk about because Substack is quite hard to categorize.

01:02:25   I feel like Substack as a company and as a business and as a product, they're successfully

01:02:34   walking a bunch of tight ropes where they sort of exist in between a whole bunch of

01:02:40   areas.

01:02:41   And I first became aware of them existing because of I was inspired by you to use RSS

01:02:49   more a couple years ago.

01:02:50   Maybe it was for last year's theme.

01:02:52   I can't quite remember anymore.

01:02:53   And I was like, I want to try to make my internet more RSS based.

01:02:58   And if you do that, it's like, okay, right, this is where I'm asking, hey, can you please

01:03:03   recommend me blogs, right?

01:03:05   Generic blogs I'm looking for.

01:03:07   And if you're doing that kind of thing, you're going to stumble across Substack basically

01:03:11   immediately.

01:03:12   I want to say Substack is like single-handedly responsible for a kind of blogging renaissance

01:03:18   in the past few years is the way it seems to me.

01:03:20   - This is the issue here where it's like, I agree, but also don't.

01:03:27   So Substack has a business need for them to be Substacks, not blogs.

01:03:36   - Yeah, so, yeah.

01:03:39   - Substack, the company, doesn't want them to be thought of as blogs, I assume.

01:03:43   They want them to be Substacks.

01:03:45   Like that's the name.

01:03:46   - Yeah.

01:03:47   - I don't know, I'm being semantic.

01:03:49   - No, no, no, but the very reason like the semantics come up is what I was saying at

01:03:55   the top.

01:03:55   It's like Substack just exists in an interesting place that makes it a little tricky to talk

01:03:59   about.

01:03:59   And when I say it's like single-handedly responsible for a kind of blogging renaissance,

01:04:05   what I mean is there's motivation again for people to write on the internet, particularly

01:04:12   to write long-form things.

01:04:13   - And that's great that that exists.

01:04:15   - Whereas for a long time, it was a kind of desert of writing on the internet.

01:04:22   It just, if you wanted to make a living at it, it was extremely difficult to do.

01:04:27   Whereas like, I have a business making YouTube videos because YouTube made it really easy

01:04:32   to make a living as a successful video creator.

01:04:34   It's like, they've got this whole platform, they can do a whole thing.

01:04:37   If you wanted to just be a writer, it was really hard.

01:04:42   And I think a lot of people who were talented writers for a number of years were putting

01:04:48   their effort into other things like video, because that was where you could actually

01:04:53   make a living at things, even if you didn't primarily want to do video.

01:04:56   So for anyone who's not familiar, I would just say like Substack, someone can have a

01:05:01   website that basically looks like a blog.

01:05:05   They can have a bunch of articles and Substack provides a really easy way for that author

01:05:11   to set up a paywall behind which they can put some or all of their content.

01:05:17   That's what Substack does.

01:05:19   And they just make it dead easy to set up and they're very hands-off.

01:05:25   So it's not fair to say that Substack is like a platform, right?

01:05:31   You don't go to Substack.com and see like, what are the hot articles now?

01:05:36   Substack allows the individual authors to really have websites that just are their own thing,

01:05:44   that it is not immediately obvious that it's a Substack thing.

01:05:48   Like if you know what the look is, you can recognize them.

01:05:50   I mean, I don't know, like you use it, right?

01:05:53   And so that's one thing, but like I...

01:05:55   Yeah, tell me.

01:05:55   Okay, so like, just like lay my cards on the table, right?

01:06:00   Of like me here.

01:06:02   So we work with, I actually think they're sponsoring this episode.

01:06:05   We work with Membefor, which is a part of Patreon, but it's essentially like the plumbing

01:06:11   for a membership system rather than there being a front end.

01:06:14   And I prefer to, and Relay FM chooses to use them because then we own our front end, right?

01:06:20   And like it's plumbing essentially.

01:06:23   It's all of the things that we need to run Moretex comes that way rather than us doing

01:06:28   literally Patreon, right?

01:06:29   Which is the other side of the company and having it all be in Patreon system and kind

01:06:34   of like a platform.

01:06:36   Yeah, but that's like, that totally makes sense, right?

01:06:38   Like I think any kind of company should, again, they're sponsored this episode.

01:06:42   So listeners, of course, you're required to take what I say with a grain of salt.

01:06:44   Yeah, I think any company should run their own system as much as they can with something

01:06:52   like Memberful as opposed to running a sub stack.

01:06:54   Like a sub stack is much more for an individual.

01:06:57   Like that's...

01:06:57   What about Gray Industries is a company?

01:07:00   Yeah, Gray Industries is a company, but it's functionally just like a micro company, right?

01:07:05   It's not, Relay is a thing, right?

01:07:08   Like there's lots of people doing their own stuff.

01:07:11   It's very different from basically...

01:07:13   We needed like mechanisms to like build into our publishing system, right?

01:07:19   To make it work, which Memberful provided us.

01:07:21   But anyway, my point more is just like, I would never go into a situation like this

01:07:28   with a company like sub stack and assume what you have said, which is like, they are hands

01:07:33   off, it doesn't matter to them.

01:07:35   Like it's only until it does.

01:07:36   Sub stack have an app, which I think they would prefer people to use than the RSS reader.

01:07:43   Yeah, oh yeah, yeah, yeah.

01:07:44   This conversation is not meant to be like the values of sub stack as a company.

01:07:48   I'm more just interested in what you're doing.

01:07:49   But it's just, it's an intriguing thing to me of like, you've moved away from MailChimp,

01:07:55   which was just like pure backend to a company.

01:07:59   Yeah, MailChimp is pure plumbing stuff, yeah.

01:08:01   Yeah, a company that is offering like a whole experience, which is a really nice experience,

01:08:07   especially as like a user, right?

01:08:09   Like I prefer the way that everything looks for you from the emails and stuff now that

01:08:14   they're sub stack emails rather than the MailChimp emails you were using before.

01:08:18   But like, I wouldn't necessarily assume that they're always going to want to be hands off.

01:08:22   Yeah, of course, like companies can change over time.

01:08:25   I think that they've structurally built themselves into a little bit of a corner the way they

01:08:30   run things on the back end.

01:08:31   But that sort of doesn't really matter for this conversation.

01:08:33   So like, again, let's like, let's back up for a minute, right?

01:08:36   So how did this start?

01:08:37   Yeah, we got away.

01:08:39   This isn't even the point of this conversation.

01:08:41   Yeah, well, I also think this is funny because people might pick up that when I first started

01:08:46   doing this, you were, I think it's fair to say you were kind of trying to talk me out

01:08:50   of this.

01:08:51   You're a bit like, I don't know if this is a good idea.

01:08:52   Well, my initial thing was I was worried you were going to break something.

01:08:56   That was my concern.

01:08:57   That was more what I was focused on.

01:09:00   I think sub stack is a really interesting idea for you specifically.

01:09:04   But with caveats, my main caveat initially was like, I was worried that if you just did

01:09:11   the importer that something horrific was going to happen.

01:09:15   It just set off an alarm bell to me when you were just like, they're so hands off.

01:09:18   It's like, that's not a selling point.

01:09:20   Like, because it's only until they aren't.

01:09:23   Yes, of course, of course.

01:09:24   Yeah.

01:09:24   And Mike is entirely right.

01:09:25   Like, I'm, we'll get to it, but I'm using this in a way that they clearly don't intend

01:09:29   it to be used, which is always a risk.

01:09:31   Yes.

01:09:31   Yeah.

01:09:31   You're also doing some strange stuff.

01:09:33   Yeah, I could get a call from Mr. Sub Stack any day saying get off our platform, right?

01:09:37   Like, that's very possible.

01:09:39   Stop linking to Patreon.

01:09:40   One of our key competitors.

01:09:42   We want you to do it here, not there.

01:09:44   So this is like, how did I come around to this?

01:09:47   So there's two directions that this came from.

01:09:49   One, I became aware of like, oh, there's this interesting thing that a lot of long form

01:09:54   writers are using.

01:09:55   Yeah.

01:09:55   And I was looking to try to read more blogs.

01:09:58   And so I came across these things.

01:10:00   And as always, as a user at first, I'm like, oh, some of these people are paywalling stuff.

01:10:04   Like that's annoying.

01:10:05   And then eventually some of them get me.

01:10:07   It's like, oh no, this writer is very good.

01:10:09   Like I want to actually pay for their stuff and get the behind the scenes things.

01:10:12   And so it's like, okay, now I'm in the system, right?

01:10:14   Like I've crossed that threshold of paying for one of them.

01:10:17   And now I'm seeing how this works.

01:10:18   And then the gears start turning up like, oh, this business model is the reason that there's

01:10:22   more people writing because it's possible for people to make a living at this.

01:10:25   Like, huh, that's interesting.

01:10:27   So I was a Substack user.

01:10:28   And then on the other side of it was basically every year at Gray Industries, at the end

01:10:36   of the year, we just do a kind of review of the previous year and like, you know, what

01:10:40   are things that we need to look at?

01:10:41   What are things that we need to think about?

01:10:43   And one of the things that had been at the very top of the list for several years in

01:10:49   a row was, oh my God, MailChimp is mind-blowingly expensive for nothing.

01:10:55   MailChimp was costing us so much money with a huge email list.

01:11:01   And this is a part of the problem of I'm like a weird customer because I just don't think

01:11:06   very many content creators are using MailChimp in the way that I'm doing it as a kind of

01:11:12   like YouTube fallback, right?

01:11:14   I want a kind of messaging system that I can be fairly sure gets to people as opposed to

01:11:21   YouTube notifications.

01:11:22   Oh, and I guess also for this conversation, we need to disclaim again that MailChimp has

01:11:26   been a sponsor.

01:11:27   I don't know if much of a disclaimer needs to be like, "The company was too expensive

01:11:31   and I left."

01:11:32   Like, "Oh, you might be in the pocket of big MailChimp."

01:11:35   Yeah, no, I know.

01:11:37   Like, here, like, people, MailChimp was costing me like more than $1,000 a month.

01:11:44   It would be like at the end of the year, it'd be like, "Oh, we spent like $14,000 this

01:11:50   year on MailChimp to do what?

01:11:52   Send 18 emails?"

01:11:55   It was like, Jesus Christ, right?

01:11:57   This is brutal.

01:11:58   When you say it like that, it's like how many emails are sent?

01:12:02   Like, because, you know, I know like you have a very, very large email newsletter base,

01:12:06   which I understand is probably one of the issues, but like the fact that there's so

01:12:09   few emails, that's the issue, right?

01:12:12   So here's what was really the brutal fact for me, is that the median month I was spending

01:12:18   more than $1,000 just to let people know that an episode of Cortex went up.

01:12:22   Sorry!

01:12:27   I didn't even think about that!

01:12:29   Right?

01:12:30   Oh, no!

01:12:31   Yeah, I support the move to Substack.

01:12:35   Right?

01:12:35   So, but here's the thing.

01:12:37   I paid that as like YouTube insurance in a way, right?

01:12:42   Because I'm very sensitive to this thing of on the internet, if your business exists

01:12:47   on somebody else's platform, you can get shut down at any moment.

01:12:51   Yeah.

01:12:51   And so I'm like, "Look, this is a ridiculous business expense.

01:12:55   Thank you to all of my patrons for like allowing that to happen."

01:12:58   But I just viewed it as a kind of like necessary insurance.

01:13:02   Yeah.

01:13:03   And boy, I'll tell you, like that day that I woke up and I couldn't access my YouTube

01:13:07   account for weird reasons that took a while to sort out, boy, was I thrilled to have an

01:13:13   email list that day.

01:13:14   It's like, "Okay, great.

01:13:15   Like I'm not totally screwed.

01:13:17   I have a way out of this."

01:13:18   But nonetheless, it just constantly came up as like, "This is a ridiculous business expense.

01:13:25   What can we do about it?"

01:13:26   And the answer for years was like, "There just really isn't anything that we can do

01:13:31   about it. Sending out lots of emails is very expensive for other companies to do it."

01:13:35   That kind of cost would make sense for almost any other business that was running an email

01:13:40   list of that size, but it just doesn't make sense for us because we weren't like using

01:13:45   it to promote.

01:13:46   Like we've got new products every month.

01:13:47   Like there was none of that.

01:13:49   So it was just a pure loss.

01:13:51   And so these two things existed.

01:13:54   And one day I realized, "Oh, Substack, I think of it as like a blog front end, but

01:14:02   their business proposition is really that they're an email list and they kind of treat

01:14:08   the website part of it as like incidental.

01:14:11   Like it's almost irrelevant."

01:14:13   Which I still think is very weird business messaging, but that's their perspective on

01:14:18   it.

01:14:18   It's like, "Oh, we at Substack, we're actually a paid newsletter service.

01:14:23   That's what we do.

01:14:25   And we just like happen to make websites because people would want like a website, but we're

01:14:29   actually all about an email service."

01:14:31   And so I started looking into that and I was like, "Hey, I wonder how much Substack charges

01:14:36   for sending out an email?"

01:14:38   And the answer was nothing.

01:14:39   They charge nothing, right?

01:14:40   It's free to send out these emails.

01:14:42   And I was like, "Well, that is quite intriguing."

01:14:46   So this is where Mike quite rightly got afraid because Substack is not expecting a customer

01:14:53   like me to show up and be like, "Hey, I have a giant email list that I'd love to import

01:14:59   so I can just like use your offer of sending out free emails."

01:15:04   Because from Substack's perspective, anyone who would have an email list of my size on

01:15:09   their website, again, is a different kind of customer.

01:15:12   Someone who would have built up that audience as a writer and had a bunch of people paying

01:15:16   for their writing.

01:15:17   - And also like an email newsletter of your size, they would have some kind of chart,

01:15:22   which maybe a book helped them decide if like, "This is gonna make us this amount of money."

01:15:27   But that is not your reason for doing this.

01:15:30   Like you're an abnormal customer for Substack because you are not a writer who is writing

01:15:36   paywalled content.

01:15:37   Like that's who they are creating their platform for.

01:15:41   Like Substack is for writers.

01:15:43   Like that's what it's for and you're not one of those.

01:15:46   - Yeah.

01:15:46   So we'll put an asterisk on that for a moment.

01:15:49   So this is how it started.

01:15:49   I was like, "Ah, well, what could possibly go wrong?"

01:15:52   And then Mike was very concerned and quite right about like many things can go wrong.

01:15:56   - I just wanna state for the record as well that you said you just wanted to use like

01:16:01   the importer tool.

01:16:02   I was like, "That is a terrible idea."

01:16:04   Like with the size of your newsletter list, it is not built for that, I'm sure.

01:16:09   Like I think it worked though, so maybe it was.

01:16:12   But like I would just say like, "Please just send an email to someone, anyone first."

01:16:18   - Yeah, so of course I didn't send an email to anyone first, which I just charged right

01:16:22   ahead and #MikeWasRight because I was like, "I'll just use the regular importer."

01:16:26   And it was like, "No, you will not use the regular importer."

01:16:29   They at least built it to like catch people like me and dumped me over into a special

01:16:35   system to manually import it.

01:16:37   So I was like, "Oh, okay."

01:16:38   Right, they gave me over to a human, but I was like, "I'll just see if it works.

01:16:41   I'll just press this button and see if I can import like 100,000 emails.

01:16:45   What could possibly go wrong?"

01:16:46   - Yeah, yeah, yeah.

01:16:47   - But okay, so here's what my thinking about Substack is.

01:16:52   For me, it exists as like a very interesting middle place between YouTube and Patreon.

01:17:03   So when I think about YouTube, it's like YouTube is a huge platform, right?

01:17:08   YouTube's main advantage is just reach, right?

01:17:11   Like incredible reach like you can get nowhere else.

01:17:14   It's totally allowed me to make a living as a creator, but Patreon is really what allows

01:17:22   me to survive as a creator.

01:17:24   But Patreon doesn't have reach, right?

01:17:28   Patreon is for people who already know that you exist.

01:17:31   So there's just like, there's no way for people to discover you at all.

01:17:38   Substack is very similar to Patreon, but it has just a tiny bit of reach, which I think

01:17:45   makes it quite interesting.

01:17:47   So this is also the thing that you're talking about where it's like, okay, they have a whole

01:17:51   system where if people find your stuff on Substack, they can reshare it with their own

01:17:57   audiences.

01:17:58   People can like things and people can see what other people have liked.

01:18:01   They do have on the main website, there are leaderboards, so you can see who are popular

01:18:06   creators on Substack.

01:18:07   - And they have the app, which they push people towards.

01:18:10   They want people to download the app and then obviously it's an app that they control so

01:18:13   they can like surface any content, make recommendations, you know, recommended articles, recommended

01:18:19   sub stackers, all that kind of stuff.

01:18:21   - Yeah, so there's reach there.

01:18:23   It's not huge, but it's more than something like Patreon, which basically has no reach

01:18:30   at all.

01:18:31   And what I also think is a really key feature here is that, again, as a user, you cannot

01:18:39   be aware that multiple people are using Substack, but when you decide to like sign up to become

01:18:46   a paying member of someone's Substack, at that moment, they can give you discounted

01:18:52   offers on other people on the platform you might be interested in.

01:18:56   It's like, ah, that's very interesting, right?

01:18:58   Like, oh, you know, if you're signing up for this person, we think you'd also like this

01:19:02   person.

01:19:02   You might already read this person and we can give you like a 50% discount if you want to

01:19:06   sign up as a member for them.

01:19:08   So this to me is where like, ah, it's quite interesting to have this thing that's in between.

01:19:14   It doesn't have as much reach as YouTube.

01:19:19   Right now, it doesn't have the kind of earning for Patreon, but it exists in the middle of

01:19:27   these two.

01:19:28   And so I was being very slow and very deliberate about trying to figure out how can I actually

01:19:35   make this work for me?

01:19:36   And I know again, this seems like it's nothing, but it ended up being just like a hugely complicated

01:19:43   project that I had like calls with my assistant and we're working out details for is there

01:19:49   a way we can actually use the Substack membership program that is consistent with the way things

01:19:57   both work on YouTube and Patreon so we can like have another system here.

01:20:03   Because what I always wanted out of a giant email list like MailChimp was a kind of YouTube

01:20:09   insurance.

01:20:10   But years ago, I think you called it by like nuclear bunker or something like this is if

01:20:16   there's a total disaster, right?

01:20:17   This is where you retreat to, but it's not like a great option.

01:20:21   And I think Substack is the first thing I've ever seen come along in my career as a professional

01:20:28   creator.

01:20:29   That seems like, oh, I think this actually kind of can be an actual additional platform

01:20:39   that I could exist on.

01:20:41   That's like a real backup, right?

01:20:43   Not just a total emergency backup.

01:20:45   So we spent a lot of time working it all out and and figured out what I think is a pretty

01:20:50   reasonable system of like we simplified our rewards across all of the different places

01:20:56   people can sign up to try to make things consistent with each other so that Substack could fit

01:21:02   in the middle here.

01:21:03   And if people were Substack users, they could sign up as members there instead of on YouTube

01:21:10   or instead of on Patreon.

01:21:12   And so far, like it seems to be working, but boy, it was this like slow and delicate and

01:21:18   trying to see if things would work and like moving it just like one piece at a time and

01:21:23   just like testing, testing, making sure nothing went wrong, testing, testing again, making

01:21:28   sure nothing went wrong.

01:21:29   I've only just started.

01:21:31   I am very willing to bet that on the platform, I am a huge outlier in terms of there is nobody

01:21:37   with as big of an email list who makes them the least amount of money versus anyone.

01:21:44   Like I just have to be the biggest outlier there.

01:21:47   This is one of the reasons why it's like, I hope Mr. Substack doesn't come along and

01:21:50   say that he has a problem with me.

01:21:52   - You never want to be this person.

01:21:54   - Yeah, this is totally a problem, right?

01:21:56   There's like an additional problem here, right?

01:21:58   Which is also my members only content is video, right?

01:22:04   The most expensive thing to host.

01:22:06   So I don't even know what kind of calculations they've done behind the scenes of like, how

01:22:10   many videos can they host versus like how many members does someone need to have before

01:22:15   they're like losing money on that person?

01:22:17   Like what's happening here is a kind of business to business relationship.

01:22:21   It's like, and you never want to be like the weird outlier who is potentially just causing

01:22:27   problems, right?

01:22:28   If you're a weird outlier and you're a huge source of money, that's different, right?

01:22:32   That's great.

01:22:33   But if you're the weird outlier, you're like, oh, I've got 100,000 people on my email list

01:22:37   at like 0.0001% of them are paying members.

01:22:42   It's like that is not the kind of outlier that you want to be.

01:22:46   But all of this is from my perspective, a risk worth taking because of just this feeling

01:22:55   about Substack as a platform of like, it is the first as a business viable alternative

01:23:04   platform that I have seen really since YouTube that has some kind of reach to it.

01:23:09   So I think that's high level all of my thoughts about why did I try to make this move?

01:23:16   Why have I put in a lot of work behind the scenes to try and make this happen?

01:23:21   And why am I willing to risk being a weird outlier on this platform?

01:23:28   Have subscribers noticed?

01:23:31   So part of the reason I'm so cautious is when your business is basically in the entertainment

01:23:36   world, right?

01:23:36   You have to think about your audience and I've said before, I often think of the audience

01:23:41   as being like a bunch of concentric circles and a bunch of overlapping circles.

01:23:44   There's different groups and you need to kind of be aware of that and you have to really

01:23:49   care about your most core audience, the people who most like what you do, the people who

01:23:56   are most engaged with what you make.

01:23:58   And I've always assumed like anyone who signed up to the email list is much more likely to

01:24:06   be a kind of core audience member, someone who's really interested and who really cares.

01:24:11   And so because of that, that sort of person is also much more likely to notice when things

01:24:18   are different.

01:24:19   So this is part of the reason why I was being so cautious, but I finally had to throw caution

01:24:24   to the winds when I put up the Ken Chess with hexagons video.

01:24:29   It's like, all right, this is going to be the first one that just properly goes out

01:24:34   to the entire former MailChimp list that is now a sub stack list.

01:24:39   And boy, was that a nervous day.

01:24:41   I'm like, I'm going to see how this goes, right?

01:24:44   There's probably going to be a lot of feedback like this is going to be a day of dealing

01:24:48   with things.

01:24:48   - Well, I mean, it's email, so like the real worry that you have, I know it's sub stack,

01:24:53   but so they should have worked this out, but what if all your emails just go to spam?

01:24:56   - Yep, that's the other thing, right?

01:24:58   This is the terrifying, oh, on a hundred thousand people's email system, I'm now

01:25:04   coming from a different address, right?

01:25:06   Like absolutely breathtaking and totally shocking to me.

01:25:11   One, all the emails went through as best I could tell.

01:25:14   Two, I didn't get a single piece of feedback from anyone about this.

01:25:21   And I was like, I can't believe this.

01:25:23   How have I made what seems to be like such a monumental change?

01:25:27   How have I spent so much time on this?

01:25:29   I've been like, you know, working with two other people to like make this happen, get

01:25:32   everything all set.

01:25:33   It's like, oh God, you know, people, you change anything and like people always have

01:25:37   comments on it.

01:25:38   And I did this, nothing, I couldn't believe it.

01:25:41   It was the most surprising part of the whole process.

01:25:43   It's like, I was trying to think of it.

01:25:45   I was like, did people not notice?

01:25:48   Like, I just don't even know, but it's like, nothing seemed different about the email.

01:25:52   It's like, they went out, I could see the open rates.

01:25:54   You know, it wasn't like no one was seeing it.

01:25:56   It's like, no, people were opening up the emails.

01:25:57   They were clicking links.

01:25:58   Some people signed up as sub stack members.

01:26:01   And there's like, not a peep about what seemed to me like one of the most dramatic back end

01:26:06   business changes I've made in years.

01:26:08   So sometimes you can really get things wrong.

01:26:12   - But right at the same time, right?

01:26:14   - Well.

01:26:15   - Like it's one of those things you hear nothing and it's fine, even though it is strange.

01:26:19   - Well, I mean, we'll see long term if this works out, but I'm just really intrigued

01:26:24   in a way that I never have been before.

01:26:28   And I think one of the things that's just a good sign about like, when is something interesting

01:26:33   is I don't think I will do it, but I have caught myself wondering sometimes like, oh,

01:26:42   does it make sense again to maybe just write something?

01:26:47   Like, is there something that you can just write that you don't have to turn into?

01:26:51   Like an extremely well scripted, polished, ultimately going to be animated thing?

01:26:57   Like, does there exist future articles?

01:27:01   And years ago on the show, I know we had some conversation about why I stopped writing articles.

01:27:07   And it was exactly what I said before of, it just didn't make any sense as a thing to do.

01:27:15   There was no way to monetize it.

01:27:17   It does take effort to do.

01:27:19   And it was like, that effort was just 100% better spent on making videos.

01:27:24   So I don't think I will do this, but it's just interesting to note where does your brain go.

01:27:31   And it's nice to feel like, oh, this is a possibility again, this could actually make

01:27:36   sense as a thing to do now that there's real incentives to do that.

01:27:41   But in the meantime, I'm just going to keep using sub stack for as long as they will let me

01:27:48   and putting up members videos and just seeing how that goes as a kind of

01:27:54   YouTube fallback slash email distribution place.