150: 2024 Yearly Themes


00:00:00   I'm really excited. Yeah, you're pumped for themes? Genuinely, yes. Why are you so pumped, Mike?

00:00:05   I'm really excited about my theme. You got a good one? I think I got a good one. There's a big project included in my theme that I've not told you about that I'm excited to tell you about. Okay.

00:00:17   And I feel good about my theme from last year. And I'm, you've been hinting at big things in your discussion. No, no. Okay, don't even dare set it up like that.

00:00:29   What I've actually been trying to communicate is, this is the year that I've, by a huge margin, taken the most notes on my theme throughout the year.

00:00:39   And I have spent what has felt like the virtual equivalent of the past three days shifting through hundreds and hundreds of little index cards with random sentences for thoughts of like, what was going on?

00:00:50   See, that's exciting. To me, I'm excited about this. I'm excited about this.

00:00:54   Yeah, so I felt a little overwhelmed the past few days of like trying to condense down a bunch of things that to me are sort of interrelated.

00:01:03   So I feel like there's been like big thoughts this year is for me what's been going on.

00:01:08   Gray, what is a yearly theme?

00:01:11   That is a tricky question. Because a theme to me anyway, it's very fuzzy wuzzy. It's very hippy dippy. It's a flexible thing that you can adapt for you.

00:01:23   So I always feel like we talk about themes. But trying to nail it down to an exact definition is always a little bit tricky.

00:01:34   But I feel like what you can do is you could talk about some characteristics.

00:01:37   And the things to me that matter about a theme is first, in opposition to something like a resolution.

00:01:44   Boo!

00:01:45   Boo! Boo resolutions!

00:01:48   But like this is what started the whole thing years ago kind of thinking about it.

00:01:52   It's like resolutions suck, right? I'm gonna set a goal for me for a year from now.

00:01:58   Past history has always indicated this works just great.

00:02:02   It works really great. A goal that you don't have to deal with for a year, right?

00:02:08   That you also may or may not have set in a like semi drunken haze the night before, right?

00:02:14   Oh, and also, I feel like even more than that, you're setting yourself up on January 1st to have a disappointment by the 1st of February.

00:02:23   Yeah, and no one is ready to go on January 1st as well.

00:02:28   So it's almost built into a resolution that no matter what you've decided, you're already giving yourself January 1st off.

00:02:35   You're already cutting exceptions right out of the gate.

00:02:39   That to me is like the key defining feature is that it is not a goal.

00:02:44   If it's not a goal, what is it?

00:02:46   And I like to think of a theme as an overarching tool that you are using to help guide your thinking over the course of the year.

00:03:01   Because what happens?

00:03:02   You're just like living your daily life.

00:03:04   You're doing these things.

00:03:05   And every day you've got a hundred million decisions to make about whatever.

00:03:09   And with a theme, you're trying to help shape those decisions.

00:03:15   Just as an example, like let's say you pick like, oh, this is year of family.

00:03:19   It helps shape in those moments that if there's like a tiebreaker between deciding something one way or another,

00:03:27   you should lean in the direction that benefits your family or that has you spending more time with your family.

00:03:34   It's not about, oh, I have this goal of like X hours I'm going to be like spending with family.

00:03:42   I just feel like that does not work as well for these kinds of things.

00:03:45   So let's say for you, right?

00:03:46   You live in a different country to your family.

00:03:49   Imagine you'd spent two trips you'd done this year and you were like, I want to see my family more.

00:03:56   So I'm going to do three trips next year.

00:03:59   But something happens.

00:04:00   Yeah.

00:04:01   But you still make two trips and you extend one trip by a couple of days.

00:04:05   Well, then you've succeeded in the year of family because you've taken steps to improve it.

00:04:11   But you haven't set a fixed goal on the outcome of that.

00:04:17   That's exactly right.

00:04:18   That's another good way to think about it.

00:04:19   It's like it's very easy to set the specific things that you want ideally future you to do.

00:04:28   It just always feels like you're setting yourself up for disappointment when you do that.

00:04:31   And then you can even have like accomplished what you ideally wanted to do, which is to like spend more time on a thing and still feel bad because you didn't do the theoretical amount that you wanted to do.

00:04:43   To me, that feels like just such a defining feature of the theme.

00:04:48   It should help shape your decisions over the course of the year.

00:04:54   And particularly for me this year, it sort of also guided what I was thinking about.

00:04:59   Like I found myself thinking in a very meta way about the theme and what does this mean for what am I doing now and what am I doing in the future?

00:05:10   And so one of the other things that I really like about a theme, which now both of us having done this multiple years, is that it is adaptable.

00:05:19   And I think we have often found that at the end of the year, you feel very differently about what your theme was than at the start.

00:05:30   That you think like, "Oh, I intended for it to be like this, but at the end of the year, I was thinking about it like this."

00:05:37   That also feels to me like a very natural part of the process.

00:05:40   If you are thinking about a thing more, it shouldn't be surprising that you change or adapt the way that you think about that thing over time.

00:05:50   So not a goal, it's a way to guide your thinking.

00:05:54   It's adaptable over the year.

00:05:56   And all of these add up to basically, it's a kind of tool for metacognition, which I might not have ever expressed it that way before.

00:06:05   But it is a way to help you think about what you're thinking about and a way to help you think about the decisions that you're making.

00:06:15   And all of this should add up to improvements in your life overall.

00:06:20   So that's the way I think about a theme.

00:06:22   Something you said last year really resonated with me, which is how hard it is to change something in your life.

00:06:32   Like to make meaningful, lasting change.

00:06:36   And genuinely, having a yearly theme every year might be the biggest change that I've been able to make in my adult life.

00:06:46   Because there are things that I do because of my yearly theme that I would not have focused on or I would not have done.

00:06:54   And there are still ideas that I'm carrying from themes from three years ago.

00:07:00   And they've changed me as a person because I spent 365 days thinking about a specific idea, a specific thing that I wanted to see some improvement on in my life.

00:07:13   Like a word and how that guided me.

00:07:16   It's all about, to me, the theme helps me shape what the year is going to be.

00:07:22   Because we give them these little catchy phrases, it sticks in my brain more and that makes sure that it's front of mind when I'm making decisions.

00:07:31   So it's always there, like having this little impact on me.

00:07:35   I've referred to themes before as like a North Star.

00:07:39   Yes.

00:07:39   And that's one of the key ways that I think about it is that it's always up there and it's always a place for me to move towards.

00:07:46   And I'll just keep moving towards it.

00:07:48   But like the North Star, I'm never actually going to get there, but I'm just going to get towards it.

00:07:53   And that's what it's all about for me.

00:07:55   And so this is why yearly themes are so important to us and continue to be so.

00:08:00   I would also add that the catchy names, I do really think are important.

00:08:06   Like coming up with words that just stick in your mind.

00:08:09   I really do think that this is an important part of picking the theme.

00:08:15   It draws your brain back to it and just having these nudges and these self-reinforcing circuits in your brain of like,

00:08:25   "Oh, I'm thinking about this catchy word," or "I'm thinking about this catchy phrase."

00:08:29   It really does help affect behavior or it helps affect long-term thinking.

00:08:34   It's like a couple of years ago, I was talking about New Decades Dawn and that sort of meant something for me, for my career and my work.

00:08:42   And it's, "Oh, I can still totally feel that."

00:08:46   Like even though that's from the past, it's still affecting a current theme, which is about work.

00:08:52   It's like, "Oh, this phrase has turned into something in my mind."

00:08:55   So yeah, there is also this effect of them layering up over time and kind of forming a background base for your brain and the way you think about things.

00:09:05   The names don't have to be cute and clever.

00:09:07   Like they just have to be something that resonates with you.

00:09:10   I mean, it can be long and clunky as New Decades Dawn again.

00:09:16   Yes. I mean, I'll also do a spoiler alert for at the end.

00:09:19   My one for this year, very clunky.

00:09:22   You're not going to like it, right?

00:09:24   Well, you say that.

00:09:25   I think I prefer them that way.

00:09:27   I wouldn't use them for me, but I always enjoy the names that you come up with.

00:09:31   I'm going to call it right now.

00:09:32   Worst name yet.

00:09:35   It's good. It takes the pressure off the listener.

00:09:37   Yeah, clever might be too much pressure.

00:09:39   That's why I think when I made the video a while ago talking about themes, I ended up circling in on it is a very hippie word, but I think it is the best word of resonant.

00:09:49   You're looking for the thing that your brain reacts to, and that's not a logical process.

00:09:56   That is a feeling process.

00:09:58   Which word do you feel like your brain is attracted to?

00:10:02   When you look at in comments or like other people using their themes, like which of these things do you feel like lights up a little bulb in your brain?

00:10:11   That's what you're looking for.

00:10:13   You're looking for something that is resonant with your brain so that your brain will also be brought back to it naturally over the course of the year.

00:10:23   Can you give us the review of your theme for 2023?

00:10:28   Let us know and let me know how you feel like you did.

00:10:31   Before we do that, I actually want to have a little bit of follow up from a theme years ago.

00:10:42   Wow.

00:10:43   The year is 20 what?

00:10:46   The year is 20 something.

00:10:48   And I had another very work related theme.

00:10:52   It might have been something like new decades dawn.

00:10:56   And in that discussion, I said that there was something that I wanted to make an exception for as a goal, and that was billion or bust.

00:11:07   Oh, yeah.

00:11:08   I wanted to be able to have a billion views on my YouTube channel.

00:11:14   At the time, my best estimate was that this was a long term five year goal.

00:11:20   I thought I might be able to bring that down to four years.

00:11:23   Three years was my very aggressive but probably unrealistic timeline for achieving that.

00:11:30   And I'm here to say that I just did it in two.

00:11:33   What?

00:11:34   As of today, I have one billion seven million lifetime views on the channel.

00:11:42   Oh my God, I just got goosebumps.

00:11:44   I have no idea about this.

00:11:46   Congratulations.

00:11:48   I was keeping it from you because I didn't know if I was actually going to hit it before the theme episode or if this was going to be something we would talk about in January.

00:11:56   I just looked at the views this morning.

00:11:58   And it's one billion seven million.

00:12:01   So just over the finish line in time for the theme episode.

00:12:05   Oh my word.

00:12:06   That's amazing.

00:12:08   Pretty unreal.

00:12:09   So I have an important question, but I have a technical question first because I've just gone to your page.

00:12:13   It doesn't show me that on your about box.

00:12:16   There's a thing that's happened here, which I wasn't really thinking about what I set this goal is that there's two different metrics on YouTube.

00:12:23   There's the public metric of how many views are there, but you as the creator have a private metric.

00:12:30   There's a big disparity between the public and the private number.

00:12:34   That's partly because of things like live streams.

00:12:37   I also archived a bunch of videos this year that I thought were just out of date.

00:12:41   There's also what is now hilariously the rock paper scissors project, which also none of those views count.

00:12:48   So those don't go towards the total because they're like not public on the page.

00:12:52   Yeah.

00:12:52   So any views from an unlisted channel don't count on the public page.

00:12:58   But as I realized, like, oh, there's actually a big disparity between these two.

00:13:02   The thing is, for me, it's like, man, I know that I should care about the public number, but it's like I'm just looking at my like private dashboard.

00:13:11   And this number is getting closer and closer to a billion.

00:13:13   And it's like, this is the one that my heart cares about.

00:13:16   I log into YouTube now and it has one B for the views.

00:13:20   Damn.

00:13:21   Oh, my God.

00:13:23   All right.

00:13:23   So the more important question, how do you feel about this?

00:13:28   Mainly I feel great because when I did set that goal for a billion or bust, I really did do my best to actually move towards that.

00:13:41   And there's a bunch of like non obvious ways that I could do something like that, but it provided like a real target for me.

00:13:49   And we can get into it later.

00:13:51   But I think there's some things about the YouTube environment that have really changed over time.

00:13:57   I'm glad to have been able to do this sooner because it feels like I achieved this number in a time frame where this number is still meaningful.

00:14:10   Like it's still sort of what views meant to me when I started YouTube.

00:14:15   They still mean now.

00:14:16   So like this metric hasn't moved.

00:14:19   I didn't do a thing like, oh, I've uploaded a bunch of shorts to my channel and like cheated my way to a billion views.

00:14:26   It's like, no, because you could have done it way faster.

00:14:29   Yeah, because I could have done it like that.

00:14:30   Like I played with shorts for a little bit and I decided like, I just hate this.

00:14:33   And part of the thing about the shorts was it really did bother me thinking like if I hit a billion views and I've done it with a ton of shorts views, it just will feel worse.

00:14:46   Like it'll feel like I had cheated.

00:14:48   So I'm really happy to have done it with actual videos that people had to click to watch.

00:14:56   You're not leaning on what is a easier path, which is shorts because people can consume so many of them and the algorithm is so thirsty.

00:15:08   There's also just weird things where like YouTube has gotten on what I think of as the old Facebook train where people can just promote a video, right?

00:15:20   Like to pay to promote a video.

00:15:22   And it just feels like, oh, right.

00:15:24   I hate that.

00:15:25   I hate that as well.

00:15:26   So it's like, there's just a bunch of things that are changing on YouTube.

00:15:29   None of them are like in full force now, but it's like all of this stuff is coming.

00:15:34   And I just felt like I'm really glad to have hit this goal at what feels like maximum meaningfulness.

00:15:41   And it's an absolutely inconceivable number.

00:15:45   It just goes right past what your brain can even think of.

00:15:50   And also quite good timing for me is one of the things I wanted to say is like, I'm always so awkward for introducing myself at conferences.

00:16:00   Like, how do I write like the one line summary?

00:16:02   And this was one of the motivators is like, I'd like to be able to just say, like, I run a YouTube channel with a billion views.

00:16:08   Oh, great.

00:16:08   I've got a conference in a few months.

00:16:10   It's like I could just put that as the bio.

00:16:12   And it's like, no more fussing over this.

00:16:14   It's like, no, I run a YouTube channel with a billion views.

00:16:16   Great.

00:16:16   There's my one sentence pitch for who I am at this conference.

00:16:20   So that's also just really nice to have reached this before the next time that I was actually going to use it.

00:16:27   So remind me again, when you set this, what was your timeframe?

00:16:32   So it was on the 2021 episode.

00:16:36   Yep.

00:16:37   And at that point I was 300 million views short and given views at the time, my estimate was like five years, maybe four years, three years if I really push it.

00:16:53   To have actually done it in two years is great.

00:16:56   So like it took you like seven, eight years to get to 700 million.

00:17:00   Yeah.

00:17:01   And then you did 300 million in two years.

00:17:03   Yep.

00:17:04   That's pretty good, man.

00:17:06   That's pretty good.

00:17:08   Like I think it was the last two years themes you've been talking about the idea of like being serious, like accepting who, what that means.

00:17:16   And this is the proof that you did that work.

00:17:19   There's two sides to this.

00:17:21   Like one side of it is what I've in the past talked about as not being a baby and just accepting that the marketing of the video is part of the video and not being like,

00:17:33   I'm going to have a thumbnail from 10 years ago that I thought about for two minutes as like the only things to promote this video.

00:17:40   It's like, no, I was being serious in how do I pitch these to viewers?

00:17:46   What's effective for actually bringing new viewers in?

00:17:49   And there's a thing that I'm going to talk about later with my actual theme stuff, but there's also something that's just been on the back of my mind for a while, which is about the videos I've released over the past few years.

00:18:02   While they haven't been great in number, there's been an unusual number of really good videos in that crop and really good videos for the core audience.

00:18:14   And those kinds of videos, when they come out, encourage people to rewatch a bunch of the back catalog.

00:18:21   So it's a combination of these two things that I think really were able to push it forward is be more serious about actually making it appealing for people to click on a video and release videos that the core audience just really likes and remind them why they like your style.

00:18:41   And then they'll go back and watch a bunch of the old stuff again.

00:18:44   So those are like the two factors that have really contributed to why was I able to get the 300 million views in the last two years?

00:18:54   It's those two things together.

00:18:55   I will also say, like from a selfish standpoint, happy that you had that difference with the internal number because I got to find that information out live rather than if you would have done it before now, someone would have written in to ask a question about it.

00:19:10   Right?

00:19:10   Like if it would have been on the public number.

00:19:11   Someone would have been like, oh, great hit a billion.

00:19:14   Like, what?

00:19:15   How does he feel?

00:19:16   Like, I'm just happy that you got to tell me and therefore all the audience to everyone finds that out the same way, which I love.

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00:21:38   All right, so now I'll take a second shot.

00:21:40   I'll ask you again, how did your 2023 theme go?

00:21:46   OK, so 2023 theme was year of work, as always.

00:21:53   There's some brackets. Part one was work while you still can.

00:22:00   Did you forget that? I was wondering if you forgot that part.

00:22:02   I forgot the subtitle.

00:22:05   Mike, the subtitle was a very important part of what that is, right?

00:22:09   Because year of work means one thing. Year of work while you still can has a very different feeling.

00:22:16   Very different feeling, yes.

00:22:18   And the second part was work on your health.

00:22:21   See, I remembered that one. I remembered it was on yourself.

00:22:25   But I remembered that. I thought it was like year of work and also work on yourself.

00:22:29   I forgot the while you still can part of it.

00:22:33   Maybe I just decided to forget that because it is a horrible feeling.

00:22:37   When I re-listed to the episode, when I said that part, you laughed at this particular Mike way that I was aware of.

00:22:43   Like, oh, he might have just immediately buried that thought in his brain.

00:22:47   Let's not think about that.

00:22:50   So, yeah, I just want to do it in reverse order.

00:22:53   So for health, I'm going to put this as like health and travel were sort of two things that were going on here.

00:22:59   So, yeah, the situation was I had just gotten myself for a bunch of reasons.

00:23:04   We don't need to recap into, like, not a great health situation.

00:23:07   And I was like, OK, I just absolutely need to fix this.

00:23:11   And again, like while themes are not goal oriented,

00:23:19   this is one of the places where it's like, well, I do have stuff to track and I have like this little wiggle room around goals.

00:23:28   It's like the way I think about it in my head.

00:23:29   It's like, you don't want to set goals, but trend lines are OK.

00:23:34   Like you want to see trend lines going in the right direction.

00:23:37   Because like if you say health, then you can look at trends and you can see where they're improving.

00:23:42   And then that's good.

00:23:43   But if you had said weight or if you said how much can I lift like these on in the spirit of themes.

00:23:52   Right. But yes, the idea is just like I want to improve my health.

00:23:56   Well, you can take a look at where it's improving and be like, oh, look, I did it right.

00:23:59   So that's that's the difference.

00:24:01   Yeah, I know. I do feel like this.

00:24:03   This is one part where I like slightly rules lawyer myself about the themes.

00:24:07   I just I just feel like trend lines are getting slightly close to a goal, but I do agree with that distinction, like it does matter.

00:24:13   And it also matters partly because of, like you said, the.

00:24:17   Ideally, the theme is broad enough that it is also flexible enough, right?

00:24:22   Like like a theme that was like, this is my year of biceps lifting more.

00:24:27   It's like, well, now this is too specific. Right.

00:24:30   Now you've just made a goal out of your theme.

00:24:32   But yeah, so listeners over the year will know that I had like 100 little jibes about the Apple Health app.

00:24:40   And this is the reason why, because I was thinking about my health a lot.

00:24:44   And so I was looking at that app and just like constantly checking in on how are things going over the course of the year.

00:24:52   And I'm very happy with the way things went.

00:24:56   Like the big headline marker here is that I dropped 12 percentage points in body fat.

00:25:03   So I went from well above the average to below the average.

00:25:08   Now I've still got like, depending on what metrics you use, I've still got like maybe another five to go to be in like the firmly healthy range.

00:25:17   But boy, I'll tell you, like you just really feel that change in percent body fat over the course of a year.

00:25:23   Like you really do.

00:25:25   I was also tracking just a bunch of other things.

00:25:27   And for me, the other main one that I was looking at was like VO2 Max.

00:25:33   OK, so basically VO2 Max is like a proxy for your aerobic health and kind of talking about how themes layer on top of each other.

00:25:44   Past me would just never have been able to care about aerobic health in any way.

00:25:52   Listeners who have been on this journey with me, they will know like it took so long to get me to care about physical health in any way.

00:26:03   It took so long to start establishing just minimal weightlifting as some kind of repeated health habit.

00:26:11   To have like this, what I think of as the basic platform for any kind of health in my life,

00:26:17   like even at my highest percent fat over the course of the year, I was still doing OK on the strength front compared to previous me who had just never done anything like this.

00:26:29   Yeah.

00:26:30   So I feel like it kind of built up.

00:26:33   And this year, much to my own surprise, I was actually really able to make it part of the routine to add on top of this just doing much more aerobic exercise than I've ever done before.

00:26:48   What really helped was to have a specific goal, right?

00:26:50   So in the past, right, people are always like, "You need to do aerobic exercise."

00:26:55   And it's been like, "So what?

00:26:57   I just need to be on this treadmill until I'm too sad to be on this treadmill anymore?"

00:27:02   That sucks.

00:27:03   I hate this.

00:27:04   You know, what am I supposed to actually do here?

00:27:06   And what I mentioned very briefly in the state of the apps is the thing that I sort of settled on is like, OK, this is the actual goal and the target with what is a meaningful improvement in aerobic health is like the number of minutes.

00:27:22   What I was tracking is the number of minutes every two weeks that I spent in zone two heart range.

00:27:30   So, oh my God, like I never would have done this without the Apple Watch previously, but like the ability of the Apple Watch just like set an exercise and then set little alerts for when you drop out of or you go, very importantly, you go over the target heart range.

00:27:45   It's just like life changing.

00:27:48   So good to be able to do something like that.

00:27:50   So the VO2 max of my like health trend, it's the most stubborn metric to move.

00:27:57   But this is one where it's like, OK, over the course of the year, I could see that the trend line is up.

00:28:04   It is like very slow.

00:28:07   I would still love to get it to be in like the above average range, but it's like I'm at least like a normal person now with my aerobic health.

00:28:16   And I'm not just at the absolute worst when I first started being concerned about this, when my Apple Watch was like, oh, hey, you're at the bottom two percentile of aerobic health or whatever it was that it said.

00:28:27   And I was like, oh, that sounds really bad.

00:28:30   No, I don't like that.

00:28:32   Yeah, I don't like that at all.

00:28:33   That sounds like the Grim Reaper is standing above my shoulder, like tapping his watch.

00:28:37   Basically, the summary of this is with the exception of sleep, which we talked about on a few of the more text episodes, all of my health metrics that I can track are trending in the right direction over the course of the year for health.

00:28:53   So the question that people would naturally ask is like, how do you do that?

00:28:57   Right.

00:28:58   And the thing for me is always you can't just say, oh, just work harder, bro.

00:29:04   Like, just do it more.

00:29:05   I didn't just do it more this year.

00:29:08   The thing that was really absolutely key for me was I just really paid attention to and thought a lot about where does this fit in my actual schedule exercise?

00:29:23   Where does this go?

00:29:25   And over the years, I've tried to like fit it in in different ways.

00:29:29   I've tried to do it at different times.

00:29:31   And I realized this year that basically, I have two options that work successfully long term.

00:29:41   If I'm going to exercise regularly, I basically have to do it every day.

00:29:47   Otherwise, I just fall off the wagon.

00:29:50   And it needs to be the very first thing before work starts, or the very last thing after work is done.

00:30:01   This is what I learned this year.

00:30:03   It's like, man, if I try to do anything else, it just doesn't work long term.

00:30:08   I just been trying to do things like in the past, oh, exercise.

00:30:12   This seems like a great break in the work schedule.

00:30:15   And it's like, no, it's actually terrible.

00:30:17   It breaks it.

00:30:18   That's the problem.

00:30:19   Yeah.

00:30:20   Again, like, it's so dumb.

00:30:22   But I always say like, understanding yourself is surprisingly hard to do sometimes.

00:30:27   And you really need to spend mental effort on really understanding what you're like,

00:30:36   keeping in mind that your brain is also just delighted to trick you about what are you really like,

00:30:42   you know, what is actually effective.

00:30:44   I think in particular, just realizing that an exercise schedule I had been really resistant to,

00:30:48   the idea of exercising first thing in the morning actually was more effective for me.

00:30:55   It had changed that my best routine used to be just like, wake up.

00:31:01   And the whole goal was like, how fast can I go from waking up to typing on the computer?

00:31:06   That was like my whole life previously.

00:31:08   But something has totally changed with me in that.

00:31:11   And I was slow to recognize it, but it's like, oh, I wake up, and now it is just a longer time before my brain gets going.

00:31:21   And I realized, oh, well, instead of just having a slow morning, you know what you could do?

00:31:29   You can have a slow morning while you're exercising.

00:31:32   And it's like, man, it's worked really well for me.

00:31:35   Interesting.

00:31:35   And then there's this fallback of, well, if I don't, for whatever reason, if I don't exercise first and I start working,

00:31:42   because there is just something that's straight on my mind, it's like, okay.

00:31:45   Well, then the very last thing when you're done working for the day should be the exercise.

00:31:51   That's the flip side of it.

00:31:52   It's like one of these two things.

00:31:54   But I'll tell you, there's a real bonus for doing it in the morning.

00:31:57   Turns out between sets, excellent time for theme system journaling.

00:32:02   This has just been perfect for me is I don't want to be in the morning really listening to anything.

00:32:10   Like I'm not going to listen to a podcast while I'm exercising in the morning.

00:32:13   It's like, no, no, no, because I'm kind of like gearing up my brain for work.

00:32:17   I've always said in the past that I do tactical journaling with the theme system, but this year it's also switching to exercise in the morning has had a huge impact on the amount that I journal regularly.

00:32:30   And it's because, no, this is great.

00:32:32   I'm exercising.

00:32:33   I've got the journal and what am I doing?

00:32:37   It's like, oh, you're doing some exercise and then you have to wait two minutes before you do the next set.

00:32:42   And I just have the journal out and I just go through that in the morning.

00:32:47   It's like, you know, one of the things that I like to do with that is I think like what's on my mind?

00:32:52   And it turns out, well, if I'm going to be exercising for like 45 minutes before I start to work, I actually have a bunch of time to really think about what's on my mind.

00:33:02   I have a bunch of time to really think about, for me at the bottom, I like to put like two things that I'm going to try to do for the day, like the top two.

00:33:09   I have a lot of time to think about that.

00:33:12   And I found this schedule just works kind of amazingly as a booting up process.

00:33:18   It's going to take me a while to get ready to work anyway.

00:33:21   I might as well start exercising first thing in the morning.

00:33:24   And while I'm exercising, I might as well have the journal open and just this is the time to think about all of the different parts of this.

00:33:34   And it's been kind of amazing.

00:33:36   That is a very interesting way to fit journaling into your life.

00:33:40   Like I never would have considered that as a thing.

00:33:43   Yeah.

00:33:43   But it makes sense though, because I know that when I'm doing some kind of exercise that takes time and I'm not watching or I can't watch or can't listen to something, my brain just goes around and around.

00:33:59   And swimming is the one that I always think of in that.

00:34:01   Because when you're swimming, you can't listen to a podcast, you can't watch The Office.

00:34:08   Like you're swimming.

00:34:10   And it's always been like interesting to me.

00:34:13   Like I like to swim and I like the way that it gets my brain going.

00:34:17   But what I also then don't like about swimming is it's very hard to capture anything.

00:34:20   Right.

00:34:21   Exactly.

00:34:21   What are you going to do?

00:34:22   Yeah.

00:34:22   When I was swimming more frequently, I had a waterproof notebook and pencil that I would leave by the side of the pool.

00:34:31   And would jump kind of out of the pool like a mad person and make notes and then jump back in again.

00:34:40   I must have looked so weird to people doing this.

00:34:43   That was what I would do.

00:34:45   Or I did also for a while, I would like dictate into my Apple Watch.

00:34:50   But then like when I was doing this, the Apple Watch was not very good.

00:34:55   And so like Kerry will often tell of this time where I would send her messages and they would barely make any sense.

00:35:03   And it would always be like, "I'm swimming right now" would be as part of the message.

00:35:07   So she would know to try and like loosely understand what I was getting at.

00:35:12   Right.

00:35:12   Any of these words could be words that sound like other words.

00:35:15   Exactly.

00:35:16   What does this sentence mean?

00:35:18   And it's also like one of those things when you're talking into a smart device where like and it's dictating for you,

00:35:23   if you're sending it to someone where there is always that part of the message where you have to explain what you're doing.

00:35:29   Yeah.

00:35:30   And you kind of can't stop at that point.

00:35:32   You just have to just keep going and it gets a bit messy.

00:35:35   Yeah.

00:35:35   It's really interesting.

00:35:36   It's really interesting.

00:35:38   I can't like a lot of things.

00:35:40   It seems really simple and obvious in retrospect, but it's not simple and obvious to come to that solution in the first place.

00:35:48   I mean, just to be clear, I'm never doing the aerobic exercise in the morning.

00:35:52   That's where it's like, I'll do that at the end of the workday if I'm going to do it on that day.

00:35:56   So this is just strength only.

00:35:58   And the strength just, I find, incredibly lends itself.

00:36:03   It's like that bit of boredom and that like, what are you thinking about?

00:36:07   And like, give your brain some place to focus.

00:36:09   And then I find it just works as a nice transition into work as well.

00:36:13   So it's like, OK, do the journaling.

00:36:15   Usually the journaling doesn't take the full exercise time.

00:36:19   And then in the rest of the time, like, well, now I'm actually kind of waking up.

00:36:22   Then it's like, ah, OK, bring now onto the computer part.

00:36:26   Like, here we go.

00:36:26   Now you're up.

00:36:27   But yeah, the meta lesson here that I just want to pass on to listeners is it's very easy to have an idea about yourself that you don't recognize has changed.

00:36:40   And it took me a while to recognize that wake up to typing, minimize that time was just not the goal anymore, that this had changed.

00:36:50   At one point, this was great, but I was actually being anti-effective by trying to optimize for this marker because I hadn't been self-reflective enough on like, dude, this obviously doesn't work anymore.

00:37:03   Don't keep fighting it.

00:37:04   Just think about something else to do.

00:37:06   I feel like this is a really totally unintentional but absolutely perfect intermingling of the two parts of the theme of health and of work.

00:37:19   Next, let me just quickly talk about the travel stuff.

00:37:22   This is pretty minor, but one of my things for this year was I don't know if I had this exact phrasing at the start, but it morphed into my mind of I will not get on a plane this year.

00:37:34   That's sort of what it solidified as the target.

00:37:37   I really wanted to just reduce travel and boy, I just had no idea how much this was going to save me over the course of the year.

00:37:48   This was just a very weird year for me in my life.

00:37:52   There were a bunch of ways that this was like quite a personally difficult year that I'm just going to skip over right now.

00:37:58   But yeah, I've got to say because of that, deciding in advance not to travel just really saved me.

00:38:09   I think this year would have been just a complete disaster from top to bottom if I had also done a bunch of trips.

00:38:18   And as you know, like travel just really affects me.

00:38:21   I feel like it always throws like whatever the actual time of the trip is, I feel like 3x that time gets messed up for me on either end.

00:38:30   So I'm just like, I'm less effective. I'm not focused on things. I'm focused on the actual travel itself.

00:38:36   And so, yeah, this was just so good to do.

00:38:40   But boy, the year really did test me because I just had some uniquely interesting travel opportunities come up.

00:38:49   And to me, it's just such a good example of how in life, it's like, there's just trade-offs.

00:38:57   That's all there is. There's no perfect solution to a thing. There's only trade-offs.

00:39:02   And I definitely traded off saying no to some interesting things.

00:39:09   And I did try to let everybody in my life, like friends and family, know in advance.

00:39:14   I was like, "Okay, listen guys, just so you know, this year, I'm not going to get on a plane. That's what I'm going to do."

00:39:22   And it's just kind of funny because this is obvious in retrospect.

00:39:24   Everyone was like, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, that totally makes sense for everybody except for me.

00:39:29   But like, for me, right? Like you'll get on a plane?"

00:39:32   And it's like, "No, no, I mean this for the year. For me, I'm not getting on a plane."

00:39:39   And it's like, "Yeah, yeah, you won't get on a plane to see other people, but you'll get on a plane to see me, right? Like, oh no."

00:39:47   So I definitely had a few frictions with some people about, "I cannot believe that you're not going to travel to do this thing."

00:39:55   But I'm glad that I did it. And it's like, being able to tell people, it's like,

00:40:01   "I'm not making a decision about this trip with you. I made a decision about what I need to do for the year."

00:40:08   Really did help those conversations, even if everybody did feel like they were going to be the exception to that rule.

00:40:15   So yeah, I'm really happy about it. And that ended up being just what I didn't realize was a really important decision that, I think,

00:40:25   saved my year from what would have turned into just a huge disaster if I'd done all the travel that was asked of me.

00:40:31   And this is a great example of pre-commitment working. And that sentence is me foreshadowing pre-commitment that doesn't work.

00:40:42   What about, like, the work-work part? Like, while you still can? Like, where is that in this?

00:40:48   Right. Work while I still can. Yes, yes. Work hours were just up hugely this year.

00:40:54   Especially what I didn't—again, thing I didn't expect at the start of the year, but what you know as well is,

00:41:00   like, boy, especially with regard to Cortex. There was just an insane explosion of work hours logged related to Cortex.

00:41:12   I don't do the yearly comparison with my time tracking, especially I couldn't do it this year since I switched time trackers halfway through the year.

00:41:20   But man, like, if I could know what the percentage difference was this year versus last year for Cortex hours in particular,

00:41:30   I would love to know, like, how many hundreds of a percent increase that was.

00:41:34   And I'm sure people are thinking, like, "Oh, it's Gray's new job as chief logistics officer."

00:41:40   That's part of it. But it's also just, like, the podcast. This year, like, just put in more preparation time, more editing time, and—

00:41:49   More episodes.

00:41:50   Yeah, more episodes. That delightfully crazy episode to put together with Vision Pro. Like, boy, that was like a busy time.

00:41:58   But yeah, I feel like it's in Cortex land. Like, it's really paid off on both fronts. Like, the Cortex brand stuff has paid off hugely,

00:42:06   and I also feel like the extra time put into the show has paid off really well. Like, I'm just so happy with the way that it's gone.

00:42:16   I don't know how it feels from your end, but it's just something that I wasn't really thinking about at the start of the year as something that would change.

00:42:25   But yeah, all hours are way up, and Cortex hours, percentage-wise, are up, like, just some insane number.

00:42:32   It doesn't surprise me, because I know that my hours are up as well. So, like, they would go up together.

00:42:38   Yeah, I guess that does make sense, yeah.

00:42:39   But that doesn't have to be the case, but I know that it would be the case this year just because of what the work has been and how we've been doing it.

00:42:47   It just makes sense to me that hours will go up. I mean, I just figured yours have anyway, because I just know how much work you've put in on the logistics stuff.

00:42:56   So, it just seemed natural to me that that would be the case. But I do follow a similar feeling to you of, I've been very happy with the output of the show this year.

00:43:08   I feel like it might be the best year for content. I've felt very, very happy with the content. I feel very happy with the way we've planned it out.

00:43:18   Like, all of that stuff feels better, and what makes me happy about it is it doesn't feel like a fluke.

00:43:25   It was planned this way, and we have better plans in the way that we're thinking about how the show is produced. So, I'm pretty enthused about that.

00:43:36   I mean, there's so many episodes and so many years now. It's hard to rank order them in any way, but that is my gut feeling is the hours have paid off in just quality shows,

00:43:50   and anecdotally, I feel like I've gotten way more compliments from people about liking particular episodes.

00:43:57   You know, that's always hard to know. It's hard to remember, but yeah, it's an interesting question. But yeah, I think it might be the strongest year for the show, and it also does feel like it's not fluke-y.

00:44:08   Like, we didn't just happen to have a couple of topics that went really well.

00:44:12   One of my things for this year with work time, because my thing was sort of like the inverse of yours, where it's like, I'm focused on the work days, and you were focused on the weekends.

00:44:24   And I was really careful of like, okay, when I was having busy times this year, my big concern was like, I don't want to have just an endless number of days that like mush together.

00:44:38   It is important to have defined breaks, but I did kind of cheat the weekends a little bit. So, for parts of the year, I wasn't running on…

00:44:50   Okay, here's a thing I don't recommend people do. I wasn't running a seven-day week. I was running a 12-day week instead.

00:44:58   So, what I was doing is three days on, one day off, three on, one off, three on, one off, repeating this sequence of three sets of four days with a different pattern of like, what am I going to do on every day?

00:45:11   This is a moment where I legitimately wish we produced a video podcast, because I didn't make any sound that could accurately get across what my face was doing while you were explaining that.

00:45:23   How would you describe your face?

00:45:24   I feel like I was just loading.

00:45:26   Well, look, we all know that the seven-day week is terrible, right? We all know this.

00:45:31   Sure, we can all agree on that.

00:45:32   We can all agree on it.

00:45:33   And what everybody wants is it to be longer. That's what everyone was thinking. We're all in agreement.

00:45:39   Well, I mean, if it was longer with more weekends, I think people would be in agreement.

00:45:44   But yeah, what I don't recommend people do is that they set up a bunch of repeating events on their calendar to try to create a 12-day week on top of their calendar, which only wants to know about seven days.

00:46:00   Although I will say, Fantastical is really valuable here, because it lets you set like the two-week view at any number between one and 14 days, I think.

00:46:08   Ah, great. Thanks, Fantastical. 12 days.

00:46:11   That is a very strange feature to have.

00:46:15   But I'm pleased that there was an app that could already do this for you.

00:46:20   Yeah, it would have been really brain-bending if I couldn't have done that. I think that might have gotten in the way.

00:46:24   But I sort of played around with this for a while, and I discovered like, "Oh, I think this really works well for a sort of crunch time schedule." So it's fewer weekends than would normally be the case.

00:46:39   So obviously, also as part of the year of work, I did several gradations over the course of the year, and I was mostly running the 12-day schedule while I was on those gradations.

00:46:50   It's like, "Okay, I'm going to do three intensive days, and then like one easy day, and three intensive days, and then one easy day." And I just think that works really well for me.

00:46:58   I did learn a kind of personal lesson with regards to happiness, and particularly working on videos, which was,

00:47:08   "Weekends are important, but I can enjoy a weekend day much more if I have done what I think is like the minimum possible amount of work first thing in the morning on that day."

00:47:27   And so, what I've also just gotten into the habit, like when I talked about exercising every day, it's like, "Okay, even when it is the weekend..."

00:47:35   And my wife and I had planned like, "Oh, we're going to go somewhere later in the day."

00:47:39   I'm still going to get up pretty early. We're going to do exercise. And I'm going to do like an hour of writing.

00:47:49   And I kind of learned like, "Oh, this lets my brain really just relax and enjoy the rest of the day."

00:47:58   It sounds weird, but doing one hour of work on a weekend day made that weekend day more relaxing than if I hadn't done that single hour.

00:48:10   It was just a bit like, "Oh, my brain can actually let go of a thing."

00:48:15   So that was kind of something that I learned about myself this year, and like had a conversation with my wife about this.

00:48:23   It's like, "Okay, here's something that we're going to do." And she also could see over time. She goes,

00:48:28   "Oh, yeah, you just are way more relaxed if I leave you alone for an hour and a half first thing in the morning, and then we go do whatever we're going to do."

00:48:38   She also appreciated that this is better for her than me getting up and feeling like, "Okay, I'm going to intentionally not do anything this morning."

00:48:50   So now listeners might be asking, "Where did all that time go?" Right? Like, what's happening with all of this work?

00:48:57   Well, you made like 400 videos.

00:49:00   Well, this is part of the weirdness of my year.

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00:51:25   So I want to talk about what I've been thinking about all year and have had a really difficult time to try and articulate it until now.

00:51:35   You and I, Mike, a couple of times throughout the year were like, "Hey, Gray's thinking about work a lot. Like, let's talk about a thing."

00:51:42   And we never did because I was always like, "I just don't really know how to express this."

00:51:47   So year of work caused me to think about my work a lot, which means thinking about YouTube a lot.

00:51:53   So I want to talk about the best I can do to summarize a bunch of complicated thoughts that I have had over the course of the year.

00:52:02   Work while you still can.

00:52:04   When I said that last December, the main thing that I was thinking about was AI. Oh no, right?

00:52:12   ChatGPT had just come into existence. We were all staring down the glowing eye of our potential destructor thinking, "Oh, how is this going to go?"

00:52:21   But I'm just going to, for this, I want to just like, I want to take that topic and I want to shove it into the future, right?

00:52:27   Once again, we're like, "AI, not going to talk about it now."

00:52:31   It was the source of like my worry, though, for the while you can.

00:52:36   And while that's what I thought I was concerned about at the start of the year, I realized there's something else that's going on in the world and in the world of video content in particular

00:52:48   that is also very concerning and that I need to think about for like, what does this mean for me as someone who makes videos?

00:52:58   So we've discussed in the past a little bit, we've kind of touched on an idea in economics, which is called the missing middle.

00:53:08   Now, for actual students of economics, I'm going to kind of like mix together a bunch of different concepts under this header.

00:53:14   Don't worry about it. And so people will recognize this phenomenon of in any market for any kind of product, the longer that market exists, the more products in the middle get pushed out.

00:53:30   So if you rewind the furniture market to however it was 50 years ago, you could find a wider variety of products at different prices.

00:53:41   You're looking for a chair. Well, you can get a cheap chair, you can get a fancy chair, and you can also get good value in the middle chair.

00:53:51   But as you start turning that dial over time, it becomes harder and harder to find the product in the middle.

00:53:59   There isn't a single good reason for why does this happen. It's more like there's a bunch of things that contribute to this effect.

00:54:08   One of the things that contributes to this effect is just economies of scale. You get really big advantages from producing a huge number of chairs, and you don't get good economic advantages from producing a small number of chairs.

00:54:22   It makes the individual unit cost go up. And so what happens is there's a push towards either end.

00:54:29   A company is probably going to make more money manufacturing a million chairs that they're making a tiny narrow profit margin on, or a company is going to make more money by producing a small number of very high quality chairs.

00:54:47   So now this is something that I've thought about for a while. I mean, in some ways, it's kind of like a cortex brand effect, right?

00:54:54   You can go for the low end of the market or you can go for the high end of the market. But if you go for the middle of the market, you will almost certainly find yourself pushed towards one end or the other over time.

00:55:09   Now, what I hadn't really fully considered before is that this is not just constrained to physical things. It is also true for the entirety of the entertainment industry.

00:55:24   And so YouTube and online video is a relatively young market, but I think it has existed long enough now that particularly in the past couple of years, we're really starting to see the effect of the missing middle.

00:55:42   One of these axes is what we can think of as like, this isn't a great word for it, but it's like high effort versus low effort content. I really kind of want to say like high quality versus low quality content, but I feel like that doesn't quite hit it either.

00:55:57   So I'm just gonna say high effort versus low effort, but like, what takes a long time to produce? And what can you produce very quickly? And projects in the middle of that range are increasingly pushed towards one end or the other end.

00:56:15   The other axis is long content versus short content. We've even talked about it again without like really thinking about it in the past couple years of just mentioning for example, like, oh wow, it seems like more and more content creators are going longer and longer.

00:56:38   Periods of time and then they're producing a video that's like three hours long, right?

00:56:46   Yep. Everybody has their favorite creator, right? Who like within the last couple of weeks has dropped like a 12 hour video or something.

00:57:13   They haven't stopped. Oh wow, this effect is way stronger than even I thought it was and I was already thinking about this.

00:57:21   So there's a push towards long and then on the opposite end, there's a push towards short, which I think is the more obvious one to people. People know like TikTok and shorts, right?

00:57:33   There's a push towards really brief content, but it's not as obvious to people that there's an equivalent push towards really long content.

00:57:42   So now we have a sort of two way access here of which kinds of content are being increasingly favored over time and it's things that are high effort and long, low effort and short, or you can do it's low effort and long or it's high effort and short.

00:58:04   Any of those extremes are where everybody is getting pushed in content.

00:58:10   That second part that you mentioned that like set something off in my brain.

00:58:14   Okay. All right. Yeah. Yeah. What are you thinking?

00:58:16   I'm thinking of you in the sense of like content that's long, but your content isn't long.

00:58:22   It isn't long.

00:58:23   It's short, but it's takes a long time. It's very high effort, but short. Similar to there are a lot of people that create TikTok and shorts that do take a long time.

00:58:33   Right.

00:58:34   Because they're not like, here's a dance or here's like the meme, but it's like, I'm making something that's going to take a long time just so it can be a short video because it's actually more impactful if it's short, but it took me days.

00:58:46   I think I've kind of hit upon something that clarifies a lot of conversations that I've had with people or when I hear people talk about content, it's missing that there are four different natural attractors.

00:58:57   Like here's the classic version of this, right? You talk to people and they go like, ah, everybody's attention spans are so short these days, right? Like that's why TikTok is doing so great because it's just, they're only watching 30 second videos.

00:59:09   It's like, yeah, yeah. They're only watching 30 second videos or seven to 16 hour streams that a person is doing.

00:59:18   It's like those two things are at such incredible odds with each other. Like, oh yeah, yeah. They're just watching those 30 second shorts or they're watching this four and a half hour documentary about an obscure thing that they're super interested in.

00:59:34   But then it's also very easy to forget that both ends have their own high effort and low effort versions. There's low effort and long things and there's high effort and long things and it's the same with short content.

00:59:52   So this is what I've been thinking a lot about is there's this thing called the missing middle, but what makes it complicated is that there's two axes upon which entertainment exists. Whereas for physical products, you really just have the one axis, which is about how much does it cost to make this thing?

01:00:11   What this means is every single content creator, you're going to have this effect of whoever you are, whatever you make, wherever you stand on this chart, you are the middle because there really are only four people in your world at one of those extremes.

01:00:32   And if you aren't one of those four people, you're in the middle. This is kind of related to the phenomenon of like Mr. Beastification. Mr. Beast is the most obvious example on YouTube. He's the current person who gets all of the views.

01:00:46   And I don't think it's like an accident that Mr. Beast exists now and that the system rewards him as much as it does. Mr. Beast makes high effort and by YouTube standards, pretty long content. Like his videos are surprisingly long and they take forever to make and he just outcompetes everybody else on production value for these things.

01:01:11   He was in my mind because I just saw a short video where he climbed the stairs of the Empire State Building. Now that is a very high effort short video.

01:01:22   Exactly. Yeah.

01:01:23   Because you just climbed the Empire State Building. That took a lot of effort and it was a short. That was what it was for.

01:01:31   That's the most literal high effort short video that might exist. I heard him talk about short content in a couple of interviews. It's very interesting to hear the way that he thinks about it. And yeah, he's also doing the high effort short stuff. I'm just less familiar with his shorts.

01:01:49   But so if we think about what like what's happening with Mr. Beast, Mr. Beast get just gets like crazy view numbers, but it's also interesting to see that this missing middle effect has also happened to Mr. Beast himself.

01:02:05   If you go back and you look at the history of his uploads, I think people in their mind have this idea like, oh, Mr. Beast uploads a ton of content, but there is one clear direction, which is down. Like the frequency of his videos has just been going down over the past few years as the like effort that goes into them goes up.

01:02:28   And I think it's because he's existing on this one spectrum of like high effort long videos. Now the thing is, where are those views coming from? They're coming from the creators in the middle. It's like all of the views are getting aggregated to these points.

01:02:47   Why do shorts get just insane numbers of views? It's because the things that are optimizing a short form content are very successful at catching attention of people for long periods of time.

01:03:01   So they rack up just like crazy numbers of views for this short term content. But where does it come from? Those views again are coming from videos in the middle that are not getting watched.

01:03:16   When you're saying coming from, what do you mean?

01:03:18   It's not entirely true, but we can functionally think of it this way that the number of human hours that can be spent on watching YouTube has basically been maximized.

01:03:34   So here's one of the things like why hasn't the missing middle phenomenon weared its head sooner? The reason it hasn't reared its head sooner is because YouTube was growing and that growth allowed just an increasing number of views and increasing number of human hours to be spent on like whatever's there.

01:03:55   I think this is also where like when the pandemic hit, I think that growth was at its end and then the pandemic kind of artificially hid that by massively exploding the number of hours that were available for people, right?

01:04:08   But that growth and that artificial bump are over. You know, it's kind of like famously the Netflix CEO years ago said like they view their prime competitor as sleep.

01:04:19   It's like boy, if you really think about what that means, that's really horrifying, but it's getting at the same idea that they've kind of like optimized the number of hours that a person is going to spend watching Netflix.

01:04:32   And so the only way to increase that number is like a push into people's sleep.

01:04:37   I wanted to clarify it because like when you're saying it's coming from the people in the middle, what you weren't saying was the people in the middle are generating their content. What you're saying is people that would have made content that was in the middle of the time effort scale, those views don't exist for them anymore.

01:04:56   And that thing, the Netflix thing, lots of people have said some version of this where it's effectively you're just competing for time. Like that's actually what everybody's competing with.

01:05:09   Where like it seems very strange, but people listening to this show right now are not watching Netflix or they're not listening to music on Spotify or we're not just competing with other podcasts for somebody's time.

01:05:26   We're competing with anything they could possibly be filling their time with for their attention.

01:05:31   Yeah.

01:05:32   And that's how like these big platforms think about that. Netflix are competing with video games as much as they're competing with other streaming platforms.

01:05:41   Yeah, exactly. And I'm trying to keep this relatively constrained, but there is another big part of this which I think will probably make sense to talk about in another episode.

01:05:49   But that idea is also related to something I've been thinking about quite a lot this year.

01:05:54   And I think is also, it leans right into like why is the missing middle phenomenon occurring? Because we're in a time where not even necessarily on purpose, optimization is occurring.

01:06:11   And I also just want to like signpost before we get any further that none of this conversation is to be implied that it's from me of like YouTube should do something different.

01:06:22   This conversation is a bit like the weather and it would be like saying the weather should be different, right, with my hands on my hips.

01:06:30   Like, great.

01:06:31   The government needs to do something.

01:06:32   Yeah, it's like that doesn't mean anything, right? Like the weather is just happening.

01:06:36   It would be like in any other part of the economy going like, "Ah, there should be quality products in the middle."

01:06:43   Well, that's lovely to think, but physical reality and also the revealed preferences of customers says no. It says that they don't want the thing in the middle, despite how much people might tell you.

01:06:55   So that's what's happening with this phenomenon.

01:06:58   So just to clarify, the creators that exist at any of those four corners are drawing views, right, or they're getting the views that in years gone by would have been more evenly distributed to creators who were making things that were more in the middle.

01:07:18   And again, like, I just want to specify, I view myself as a creator that is in the middle of these things, and basically everyone will view themselves as the creator who is in the middle.

01:07:31   And that is true, because basically everyone isn't MrBeast. But there's also going to be, no matter what world you exist in, you can increasingly identify who is the MrBeast of this area.

01:07:49   So in my own category on YouTube, it's very clear to me like, "Oh, Mark Roper is the MrBeast of education." And it perfectly makes sense. Like if you watch his content, you can see this same thing of he is really emphasizing the high effort and, for YouTube, long form content.

01:08:12   And so Mark Roper is doing the kind of crazy view numbers that wouldn't have been possible in the past in like a less optimized kind of world.

01:08:22   And so if you look around, you can try to identify who is the MrBeast of whichever area.

01:08:31   And there's some areas where it's like that person might not be on top yet, because this is still taking some time. Like in particular, I'm kind of thinking of like in, I'm less confident on this one, but in the tech world, it's like your first thought might be like, "Oh, MKBHD is the MrBeast of the tech scene."

01:08:47   But I'm not sure he is. I actually think there's a creator called MrWho's the Boss, which feels much more like he's the MrBeast of this world. He just hasn't caught up yet.

01:08:57   Yeah, I think about this. I still think it's MKBHD right now, but I see the argument. The reason I say that is I just think MKBHD holds a lot of power.

01:09:07   Yeah, I don't think MKBHD is going anywhere. I would just be very curious to see like two years from now, where are those creators relative to each other.

01:09:16   So this is to say you increasingly see on the platform as a whole, and also in any sub-genre, that views are getting concentrated in a smaller number of creators.

01:09:31   Basically, it's a natural phenomenon. There are algorithmic reasons that I think that happens that sort of don't help. But even without them, I think the phenomenon would still exist.

01:09:44   I think this can just be a difficult topic to talk about, especially sometimes with other creators, because this is also very much a relative phenomenon.

01:09:53   So someone is either like more extreme on any of these axes relative to you. So like, I can think of creators who from their perspective, I am the like low effort, short, fast creator.

01:10:09   And I can think of creators who from their perspective, I am the high effort, long creator. It's like one of these graphs, right? Like every point on the curve, you can look down and up and you see the exact same effect.

01:10:21   But just what happens is the further along the curve you get, the stronger that effect is. And also, the more you go over time, the curvier that curve is.

01:10:31   Anyway, this is the reality. The missing middle has come to entertainment. I don't think that this effect is widely seen because it's sort of subtle, like it's small, it's not obvious on any particular video.

01:10:45   But pretty much everyone I know, if they look through their analytics, and they think about their videos can feel this squeeze happening.

01:10:54   Oh boy, like a video that I used to think was going to get like X views actually got 70% of X views. And those views have gone to the extreme creators.

01:11:05   I think it's a thing that all creators need to be worried about because not everyone can be the person who optimizes to be the most extreme version of that thing.

01:11:15   What this means for me is that if you depend on an algorithm to bring viewers to your content, this is disaster and bad news for you.

01:11:26   No matter what else might happen with AI, like I think AI will accelerate some of these trends. But even without it, it doesn't matter. This is just like an economic effect that is in place.

01:11:38   And so I think this now explains why. Why is it that I spent a huge amount of time this year switching over to make sure that like I had a website and an email list that really worked in a successful way.

01:11:57   That wasn't working against me as I gained more people actually following me.

01:12:03   It's also one of the reasons why Cortex has been on my mind because Cortex is like charmingly old fashioned in the way that it works on the internet, right?

01:12:11   People subscribe and then what happens? They get an episode and it's delivered to their podcast player and they can actually just listen to it.

01:12:20   And you can, as the creator, be reasonably confident that they at least have a chance that they're actually going to see it.

01:12:27   So this thought has just completely shaped the way that I've like picked projects. It's completely shaped the way that I've been working a lot on a lot of stuff in the background this year.

01:12:41   And it has just been so top of mind. I feel like it has touched everything.

01:12:48   And so very early in the year, like a bunch of my plans that I was kind of thinking for like, "Oh, how do I want to do things?" It's like, "No, I'm kind of like scrapping all of this. I'm working on a ton of the backend stuff. I'm going to flip all of that over."

01:13:02   And in particular, I want to think about the kinds of projects that I'm working on. And I want to think about how is it that I can actually ensure that the people who really like my stuff can see it in the future.

01:13:17   And I need to be able to get people to be actually following me in places where I can be reasonably confident they will be notified about my stuff.

01:13:27   And fundamentally, like, YouTube is just not going to be great for that.

01:13:33   So that's been one thing is how do you get people to actually watch? You need to get them in like places where they can be notified.

01:13:41   And then the second thing is just thinking about my work and what do I make that I like and what do people who like my stuff like?

01:13:51   Someone left a comment on one of my videos that I really liked.

01:13:55   The best projects to watch or to read are the kind that really hurt their creators in the process. That just totally nailed something that's right.

01:14:06   Suffering for your art.

01:14:08   I mean, that's a very pretentious way to put it.

01:14:10   But it isn't. It's the same thing, right?

01:14:13   There is something there and it kind of hits the like high effort axis.

01:14:19   And when I think about the videos that I've made over the past couple years, the things that really did help allow me to hit that billionaire bust so far in advance,

01:14:32   the commonality of them has been, boy, it's just been videos that have freaking killed me in one way or another.

01:14:41   It's like, oh, that runway video. So good. But goddamn, was that just brutal.

01:14:47   The flag video that I made this year for the States, we never talked about it, but like, I cannot even possibly begin to recap the amount of work that went into that thing.

01:14:55   But it's like, I think that might be the best video I've yet made. It's just like, that video is perfect.

01:15:02   I think I said that to you. I think that is like absolute S-tier video of yours.

01:15:09   It's also interesting because I think it's a video that sort of really splits the core and casual audience.

01:15:14   Like the core people just absolutely love that. And I feel like they kind of get that it's almost like barely a video about flags.

01:15:22   It's like, it's a lot more than that. You know, there's a casual audience who's there as they just want a list of flag rankings.

01:15:27   And it's like, you know, that's fine, but you're sort of missing out on a bunch. That core group really love that.

01:15:33   And that was just brutal to make. And then again, rock, paper, scissors. What a nightmare.

01:15:39   Don't need to recap it, but rapidly moving its way to be the most viewed thing that I will probably ever make if you want to count it in like the weird way that may or may not make sense to count it that way.

01:15:50   And then when I also just think about my own personal happiness working on things, I've really realized like the videos that I hate the most and cause me the most pain are the ones that I am the most happy to have made.

01:16:07   So I'm just totally leaning into that. I'm just going to lean into this thing. And that's what I've been doing all year is leaning into look on average over the years of my career, like the average amount of effort per minute and hours per minute has totally just gone up.

01:16:27   Even my like quick and easy videos, something like the Antarctica video, like so much longer and so much more effort than full videos 10 years ago. It's just kind of crazy.

01:16:39   So I have this feeling right now like, oh man, I have been talking for hours and I feel like I have barely covered 20% of the sort of things that I want to.

01:16:48   There's just been this was a really weird year. I think it had some strange projects that end up reflecting that this is a huge project that just got killed, which also falls into the like I wouldn't want to do this year again, but I feel like it was an important year.

01:17:06   And I made progress on the things that matter. I feel like I have some good thoughts about how it is that I want to work and this might be one of the biggest divergences between what I thought it was going to be at the start and what it actually was at the end.

01:17:29   So this is very big. This is very lofty. Like we're talking about some very large things here that I have no doubt are going to come up more. And I know this is one of those times where you're going to listen back to the episode and you'll have 20 things.

01:17:42   Oh, I'm going to hate it. I'm going to hate every second of this.

01:17:44   No, not that. You're going to have to just have things that you're going to want to expand upon more and we'll talk about them in future episodes.

01:17:50   But I think what you're highlighting here is an example of how your theme helped you where like you had this idea of work while you still can and your initial feeling was that it was going to be AI related.

01:18:05   But you kept it broad because it was like you knew there was change coming. But then throughout the year, you've been able to adapt to the idea of like, oh, the change was different, but I'm still aware of this change.

01:18:16   And so the work that you had done in trying to prepare yourself for change could still pay off and you could like guide it differently to kind of where you are now.

01:18:26   I think you've summed it up very well, Mike.

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01:20:51   Alright, you have to tell me about how your year went.

01:20:55   So, mine is simpler. The year of the weekend.

01:20:59   The description that I gave was in the idea that over the years prior, what I was trying to do and was successful with was to bring more structure to my life.

01:21:10   But, at the same time, I had more and more projects coming my way.

01:21:16   So, one of the ways that I was going to address this was to force myself to be as productive as I could be by only working for five days and then having two days off.

01:21:28   This is a weekend as it is known around the world.

01:21:32   But, something that I had not been doing a very good job of observing that I would find myself working some amount of time every single day of the week.

01:21:42   Essentially, I was not allowing for rest and that wasn't good for me.

01:21:47   So, I wanted to observe the idea of five days working, two days off. Ideally, Saturday and Sunday.

01:21:53   But, I would be kind to myself if I had to work Saturday, I could take another day off or something like that.

01:21:58   So, we'll start with that part. I have a bunch of outcomes that I was hoping to achieve this year and I want to review those.

01:22:05   So, I think for anything that I've had, this idea of the five days on, two days off might be the most successful I've been in any part of any theme I've ever done.

01:22:17   Oh.

01:22:18   Because I just did it.

01:22:19   I have not been working on weekends and the vast majority of weekends this year have seen no work.

01:22:27   I've been very good at ensuring that I take days off if I have had to work on a weekend.

01:22:33   And because of the conscious effort in making sure that the days were free of work, I have been very good at relaxing in a way that I have not done, I think, in my entire self-employed life.

01:22:50   Wow.

01:22:51   Like, taking effective time to relax and also recognizing a relaxed feeling, that has been very successful for me.

01:23:02   And also having time to take care of a bunch of personal and family stuff.

01:23:06   Like, there's been a lot of things coming up this year, some stuff unexpected, some stuff where I had to purposefully take Wednesday off and work Saturday.

01:23:15   Like, in the opposite.

01:23:16   Mm.

01:23:17   Because, like, I have something going on, I need to do this.

01:23:19   And the structure that I've had has allowed for that in a way where I think it would have been much more chaotic in a regular year.

01:23:28   So I've been very pleased with this.

01:23:30   And I feel like I have actually had a better work-life balance in 2023 than any other year.

01:23:38   That sounds pretty good.

01:23:39   Yeah.

01:23:40   I just wanted to pick up on something.

01:23:41   When you say, like, that you recognize a relaxed feeling, like, what do you mean by that?

01:23:46   I guess it's hard to describe, but just in a sense of, like, not only am I not working right now, I'm not thinking about it either.

01:23:56   Mm.

01:23:57   It's hard to describe an absence of something.

01:24:01   Okay.

01:24:02   You know what I mean?

01:24:03   But, like, there has been times this year where I've been, like, I feel pretty chill right now.

01:24:09   And that is rare for me, I think.

01:24:12   And this is not to say that this year hasn't been stressful.

01:24:15   I would actually say for stress, this might have been one of the worst years of my adult life.

01:24:21   That's sort of why I wanted to expand on that a little bit, because from the outside perspective, at least what I am aware of in your life,

01:24:30   like, you know, a person never knows the full extent of what is going on in someone else's life,

01:24:34   but your life has seemed to me the most stressful probably of the time that I have known you.

01:24:41   Like, I feel like the only asterisk to that is maybe, like, one of the first couple years I might have known you,

01:24:45   but I just don't remember well enough.

01:24:47   So, yeah, this has seemed like a very stressful year from my perspective.

01:24:52   So, it feels like an extra accomplishment for you to feel relaxed this year then.

01:24:58   Exactly.

01:24:59   This is a very hard thing to balance.

01:25:03   The way I've been thinking about it is imagine what it would have been like of a different theme.

01:25:08   Right. Yeah. Yeah.

01:25:09   You are right. You know enough about everything in my life to know that this year would have been very taxing, very stressful,

01:25:18   but the fact that I had the year of weekend in my corner meant that when nothing was going on, I was able to truly savor that time.

01:25:31   Right?

01:25:32   Right? Like, if I was like, "Oh, today I have no appointments, I have no shows, I am going to just enjoy my day,

01:25:40   or I'm going to tackle that project that I've been wanting, or I'm going to play that video game."

01:25:45   Like, it almost helped clarify that when something wasn't happening, I was actually achieving something by doing nothing.

01:25:54   Right. Right. Okay.

01:25:55   And under a different theme, this would not have worked for me.

01:26:00   Say like a year of growth, or a year of work, or a year of foundation, I would have run myself ragged this year.

01:26:07   Because I would have been trying to squeeze as much as I could into the time where stuff wasn't happening.

01:26:14   And it would have been too much.

01:26:16   So it's very strange to have had such high stress, but also to feel relaxed and like to feel like my work life was good,

01:26:24   like the balance was good.

01:26:25   But the thing was, even though there was stressful things happening, it wasn't ending up in putting more hours in.

01:26:31   It was just like, that's not going to solve this problem.

01:26:34   Right.

01:26:35   So I just have to make sure I'm keeping things balanced.

01:26:39   So in that, more family time has been one of the bigger effects.

01:26:45   I think I've done very well not working weekends, giving myself the days off,

01:26:50   and the number one person I'm able to then spend time with is my wife.

01:26:53   And we've had a lot of time together this year.

01:26:57   And a lot of it has been spent like settling into a new home.

01:27:02   But it would have been so much worse if I wouldn't have been able to do this.

01:27:06   Like we would not have been able to get things to the point where they are now,

01:27:09   where we are mostly settled and our house is starting to feel like a home now.

01:27:13   Because I've had the time.

01:27:15   And I also feel like I have increased the amount of time that I've spent with my wider family.

01:27:20   I can always do better at that though.

01:27:22   But I've been able to be more available to my family.

01:27:26   Like if my mums needed something from me, I would have been more able to be like,

01:27:31   "I can come over on Tuesday."

01:27:32   Where like before it might be like, "What are you doing a week Sunday?"

01:27:35   Which is not good.

01:27:36   Yeah, that's really not good.

01:27:38   I can schedule you in three weeks from now.

01:27:41   It's not great.

01:27:42   Because this is one of these things where when I was working basically every day,

01:27:48   people in my life wouldn't understand why I couldn't be available for them.

01:27:52   It's like, "Well, if you worked seven days a week, you probably wouldn't be available for me either."

01:27:57   So that's been very positive.

01:28:00   I mentioned the house and the home stuff.

01:28:02   I wanted to be Handyman Mike this year.

01:28:04   Oh right, yes, that's right. I forgot.

01:28:07   Maybe the least successful part of the theme to be honest.

01:28:10   I would say I have gotten better at picking up house projects and doing things.

01:28:16   But nowhere to the level that I wanted to be.

01:28:19   I would say though that this has been part me, part just the house itself.

01:28:26   I don't really feel like our house has been conducive to the idea of home projects until kind of like about now in a lot of instances.

01:28:35   Like a lot of the things like the homely stuff that you would do, we kind of haven't been able to do that.

01:28:42   We had actual more work to have done on the house by professionals than we'd considered when this time last year.

01:28:50   Yeah, I don't know. I feel like it's because you just didn't get the hammer jeans.

01:28:53   I also didn't have a pair of hammer jeans and that, you know what, that was probably what held me back.

01:28:57   It probably held me back.

01:28:59   The hammer jeans would have changed everything, Mike.

01:29:01   I think you're right.

01:29:02   I would say also this is something where I feel like I have prioritized work stuff over these projects.

01:29:10   It's something that I will continue to want to spend time being better at because it's something that I do want,

01:29:18   but I haven't got my priorities in check when it comes to this stuff yet, I think.

01:29:22   So I wanted to be both smarter about my scheduling, so not booking like one appointment into a day that was otherwise empty.

01:29:32   And I also wanted to start to change my feeling of needing to be connected to work all the time.

01:29:40   I will have more to say about these in a minute because I think I found a better way to do this.

01:29:45   Like I got a little bit of the way there, but this is part of my 24 theme now.

01:29:52   And I wanted to, with moving into a new area, experience that area and spend time with my friends.

01:30:00   This has been so great.

01:30:01   I had no idea what 2023 was going to give me when I set this.

01:30:06   So one of the biggest changes is two of my oldest friends just so happened to move within 15 minutes of my house.

01:30:17   And it's been amazing.

01:30:20   And we've gotten to spend so much time together this year.

01:30:24   Scheduling is particularly problematic between the three of us.

01:30:29   We're all very busy and they travel a lot.

01:30:32   They travel much more than me.

01:30:34   These two friends travel more than me of 2019.

01:30:38   Oh, wow. Okay.

01:30:39   Yeah, they are very international people, but we're committed to spending time together.

01:30:43   The best thing that we had done is if we would see each other, we wouldn't leave until we'd set the next date.

01:30:49   Yeah, that is so key if you actually want to keep up a relationship.

01:30:53   It's so hard to do, but yeah.

01:30:55   I'm the problem now, though.

01:30:56   Like I was doing that.

01:30:57   I was taking that mantle and making sure that we would do it.

01:31:00   But then Stacked September came.

01:31:02   Right.

01:31:03   And I was like, guys, I'm not going to see you all in September.

01:31:06   And now since then, it's been almost impossible to try and arrange something via WhatsApp for the three of us.

01:31:12   But we will get back to it and then I'll get back on the wagon again.

01:31:15   But this combined with like they live close to me.

01:31:18   So I'm experiencing things that they enjoy in our shared area.

01:31:23   But then also like me and Adina have been kind of venturing wider and wider from our neighborhood into like neighboring neighborhoods.

01:31:30   And this has been fantastic.

01:31:32   And I feel like the groundwork has been laid for this, that it's becoming part of our lives to experience things that are local.

01:31:41   And the great thing is we've moved to an area where this stuff is around.

01:31:45   So that's not going to change.

01:31:46   So that has been the biggest surprise and one of the biggest impacts for my mental health this year is these two things.

01:31:54   And again, it was like I'm so happy that I made it so I was allowing myself this year to have a better work life balance because it has allowed for these things to happen.

01:32:08   Where if I was maintaining my 2021/2022 kind of mentality with my schedule, this just couldn't have occurred.

01:32:17   Because it's hard enough with me working the five days that I work because I work such weird hours.

01:32:23   If I also didn't have weekends free, I wouldn't have been able to take advantage of any of this.

01:32:28   Yeah, I think that's incredibly fortuitous for you.

01:32:30   Maintaining friendships is so hard and one of the primary reasons is just lack of proximity.

01:32:38   Lack of proximity will just kill a friendship dead 99 out of 100 times.

01:32:44   And the other thing that will kill a friendship is lack of time.

01:32:48   You need these two things.

01:32:50   You need the frequent contact and you need them to be proximate in your life.

01:32:53   And there's totally an alternate universe version of you where you got the proximity back but you just weren't able to spend the time.

01:33:01   And it's like, "Oh, that just sucks." And you would have missed out on this.

01:33:05   So I feel like, yeah, that's such great luck to be able to have the time when proximity presents itself with old friends.

01:33:13   You're really in a great position with that.

01:33:15   So typically when I get towards this time of the year, we spoke about this before, you're like, "How did my year go? Did I really do what I wanted?"

01:33:23   And yeah, I did what I wanted.

01:33:25   This was just a success.

01:33:27   Everything I feel like was successful, just different levels of it.

01:33:32   I don't really feel like I failed at any part of this idea of what I wanted my life to look like this year.

01:33:40   I feel like it's been a very positive theme for me and I feel like I'm going to be carrying this one forward very easily.

01:33:53   It's changed a lot of my approach to work and I'm just very, very happy with the way that it's gone.

01:33:59   Year of the weekend. Very successful.

01:34:01   There's nothing more to say. I feel like it's a simple theme.

01:34:04   Yeah, yeah.

01:34:05   It was executed well and so it's just tick, tick, tick across the board.

01:34:09   I didn't learn anything grand about myself this year except I like to have weekends.

01:34:18   Hey, it's important to know yourself.

01:34:20   Yep. All right. Lay it on me.

01:34:23   Okay, so listen.

01:34:25   Here we go, here we go.

01:34:30   As it may be clear to listeners, last year's theme was a real biggie for me.

01:34:36   Quite exhausting in many ways. Exhausting to even try to recap a tiny part of it.

01:34:42   I'm looking at all of my notes and all of the things we still haven't spoken about.

01:34:45   It's just like, I'm just going to let that go for now.

01:34:48   We'll bring it up in the future if it matters.

01:34:51   So I was really aware of that.

01:34:54   I was like, this was big theme year and so looking forward, I thought, you know what I need?

01:35:02   I need something that's not as big of a theme, right?

01:35:06   This is like, Mike's done year of the weekend.

01:35:08   That sounds lovely.

01:35:10   Something like clear and simple that I could focus on as a theme.

01:35:15   This is what I need.

01:35:17   You know, as the end of the year is approaching, I was thinking about different things.

01:35:20   Like, oh, I might like this to be different or I might like that to be different.

01:35:24   But I had a problem with a bunch of the things that were coming to mind where I kind of thought they were too small

01:35:31   or they didn't really make sense as a yearly theme.

01:35:35   It's like, oh, this might make sense as a seasonal theme, but it's just no good for --

01:35:41   I want to try to pick something to lay out for the year.

01:35:44   So I'm mulling it over, mulling it over.

01:35:47   And then I realized that a bunch of these little things had something in common.

01:35:53   And in that moment, I thought, ah, I know what the theme is.

01:35:57   I am inspired by a thing that happens in video games.

01:36:02   They'll have a bunch of releases.

01:36:04   They go, oh, here's a bunch of new features to play with.

01:36:06   Oh, great, another release comes out.

01:36:08   And you go, ah, a whole new set of mechanics.

01:36:10   That's amazing.

01:36:11   Another release comes out.

01:36:12   Oh, here's a whole new kind of army or units to play with.

01:36:15   Fantastic.

01:36:16   And then sometimes they go, this is a quality of life release.

01:36:20   We haven't added anything.

01:36:22   We've just made a lot of things easier.

01:36:25   And I thought, that's what I want my theme to be.

01:36:28   I want this year to be a quality of life release.

01:36:33   There's nothing major here.

01:36:35   There's just a lot of little things that I want to make smoother in my life.

01:36:43   So your quality of life release is a terrible name.

01:36:47   That's no good.

01:36:49   The best I've come up with so far -- I'm open to workshopping this.

01:36:53   Okay.

01:36:54   But the best I have so far is year of small improvements.

01:36:59   I'm trying to have something that's a bit catchier.

01:37:02   But if you have any suggestions, if cortexes have any suggestions for something catchier, I'm really open to that.

01:37:08   But that so perfectly says, maybe there's something catchier, but that works, right?

01:37:14   Maybe it's just because quality of life release really sticks in my head as that's the thing that my brain is really thinking of.

01:37:21   For me, I kind of like that it doesn't fit in with the year of pattern.

01:37:27   Just like a real quality of life release.

01:37:29   We've stopped. There's nothing major that's happening here.

01:37:32   We've just tidied up a bunch of stuff.

01:37:34   And the thing that really pushed me over the edge into realizing that this is what I should be doing,

01:37:41   it was actually our state of the hardware episode was the thing that started to --

01:37:46   it was the beginning of the crystallization of this idea in my mind where I realized in getting ready for that episode

01:37:55   that I hadn't just done a mental and physical sweep of my full environment in a long time.

01:38:04   Like when you do an episode like that and you think, "Oh, we're going to go through all of the stuff that we use in our life,"

01:38:09   I think there's a way in which your brain can just kind of forget about or ignore the environment around you in some ways.

01:38:19   And it's like, "No, I'm really looking at everything now.

01:38:22   I'm looking at all of these things while I'm preparing for that show."

01:38:25   But in the process of looking at everything and thinking about all of the things, you're also just thinking about how can stuff be better?

01:38:32   As I mentioned on that show, I was thinking a lot about what are the high-touch items in your life?

01:38:38   What are little things that you interact with all the time that could be slightly less annoying or could be just improved in some ways?

01:38:47   And the thing that really started me down this path is for whatever reason, that show triggered in me this thought where I was like,

01:38:57   "I just hate the arm that I use for podcasting.

01:39:02   Like the arm that's on my desk that the microphone is attached to, I hate this thing.

01:39:07   It's big and it's ugly and it's always kind of in the way.

01:39:10   And even if I try to push it to the side, it still takes up so much space and it's in my field of view."

01:39:15   And I thought, "Can I solve this? There's got to be a better solution."

01:39:20   And I went around and I looked. There exists low-profile microphone arms.

01:39:25   So instead of being like a big triangle on the desk, it's like two parallel lines that are horizontal just above the desk itself.

01:39:35   And I found one of those that was just really nice. I got it.

01:39:40   I couldn't have been more happy to throw away that old podcasting arm. I was like, "I hate this. Goodbye."

01:39:45   Put the new one on my desk. I was like, "Ah, it's so much better. It looks nicer. It's less in my way.

01:39:53   It's actually, with it being low, it's easier to have the microphone in the right spot."

01:39:59   That was it. That sealed the deal. I was like, "This is what I want my whole year to be.

01:40:04   What are little things that are annoying? How can I improve it?"

01:40:08   I've got a ton of little automations on my computer that I can easily improve to make my work a little bit better or a little bit faster.

01:40:17   There's like so many tiny things and I feel like I just need to do a kind of full sweep of lots of stuff in my life and think about the small ways that it can be better.

01:40:29   Another one of the things, the kind of example of the thing that I'm thinking about is, partly because of the health improvements this year and partly because of doing a bunch of gradations,

01:40:38   my wardrobe is now sort of eclectic and I have a bunch of stuff that doesn't fit me. This is exactly the kind of thing.

01:40:46   Quality of life. Sort out your closet, sort out your clothes, have all of the socks match, have all of the things be stuff that you can actually wear now and things that you like.

01:40:56   Go through it and take care of that. So that's the theme.

01:41:00   I don't want to be thinking big, exhausting thoughts about the future of my career. No.

01:41:05   I just want to be thinking about the things that are around me, the way I use my tools, and is there a way that I can make a small improvement to everything that I interact with?

01:41:17   So small improvements is great. Bug fixes.

01:41:21   Could be a year of bug fixes, but yeah, small improvements is different.

01:41:25   It's nicer. And quality of life, I think, is part of it and that fits within it, but I do feel like small improvements is a theme name which could allow for some other stuff to fall into it later on in the year that you're not yet perceiving.

01:41:39   That's also the trickiness, is like, where can this be effective?

01:41:43   Also, I kind of don't like quality of life in one way because I feel like it's a little too grand. That's not really what I'm going for.

01:41:50   Yeah, maybe you're talking me into small improvements. That term is bad, but it's what it means though, right?

01:41:55   Like a quality of life improvement in a video game is pressing one button instead of two buttons, right? Yes.

01:42:00   It reduces that overhead. It reduces the frustrations that you don't even know are frustrating you, and then it makes your experience much nicer.

01:42:07   So like, I see where it comes from, where the idea comes from for quality of life, but quality of life improvements and some other things will be part of the year of small improvements.

01:42:19   I love this for you. Oh good, thank you. It feels like you had a real big one.

01:42:24   And what I will say is I think that our 23 and 24 is going to flip a bit. So my 2023 theme was very soft.

01:42:36   And it was about taking care of myself and making my foundation, my structure in my life better. And yours was about heavy work.

01:42:52   And your 2024 theme is that, right? Like it is a softer theme. We're not going like huge big picture here. It's actually drilling down to some very specific little things, tweaking them, and making your day to day a little bit more pleasant.

01:43:11   Which I think is nice because I think listeners will know by now you add a lot in your mind.

01:43:20   Yeah, I'm sorry, I'm sorry for all of that. No, apologies. This is what people were here for.

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01:46:11   Don't keep me on the edge of my seat anymore. What's your theme going to be, Mike?

01:46:16   Alright, so my preamble. I've said this before that typically when I'm working on a theme, I think about the things that I'm looking to change. So I kind of get towards the end of the year and I start writing down in a note, which is called this one, the 2024 yearly theme. Like it's always got that name to it, whatever the year is.

01:46:37   I start writing down a bunch of words, phrases of things that I'm looking to change.

01:46:44   It tends to be stuff that I'm frustrated with and it helps me construct my theme for the year. This time it actually started in the opposite.

01:46:57   I started writing down things that had surprised me in my work here this year, things that had worked out better than I imagined and things that I wanted to do more of. And I use this to construct my theme, which was different.

01:47:18   2024 for me is the year of people. So I have gotten to a point in my working life where I have realized I need more help if I'm going to be able to achieve the things that I want to achieve.

01:47:36   This means letting go of the reins a little more, seeking help from people with different skills and bringing more people in to be able to get where I want to go.

01:47:52   It's interesting. Again, we never know what the other person is going to do. I feel like this makes sense as a theme for you. You are not the best at letting go of the reins.

01:48:06   I'm a control freak. It's fine. I know this about myself. I've known this about myself for a long time, but I believe that part of the reason that I'm in this position is because of that.

01:48:18   I have a very specific way that I like things to be done and I like things to be done right. Those aren't the same thing always. Sometimes they are, but they're not always.

01:48:32   I like things to be done correctly. I also have a gut feeling for things. You'll never know if things are done right or wrong sometimes from a decision that you make, but I'm just happy in knowing that a decision that I'm involved with had an input from my gut.

01:48:48   But I have come to a point where it is not feasible anymore for me to continue work the way I have. The thing is on this, the reason I've been able to come to this decision is over the last couple of years, I have been letting go of things.

01:49:12   The biggest thing that I let go of was the ad sales at Relay FM. That one was easy because I didn't enjoy it at all. I wasn't necessarily good at it. It was just somebody had to do it.

01:49:26   So that was an easy one to let go of. I learned from this that you can impart upon someone your standards. When working with Kerry, I imparted with her these are the ways that we do things.

01:49:45   She's been able to adapt that and take things into different directions to me, but we have a similar core set of principles for how advertising is handled for Relay FM.

01:49:57   If I would have just found that out to another company completely, I would have had no input and it would be completely different. But because we were working together, we could establish a set of principles that we were both comfortable with and then I can feel happy in knowing that things are going to go a little bit the way that I want.

01:50:15   I'm also involved but nowhere near to the level. I'm more of a sounding board now. It's great because all of the hard work I'm not doing anymore. But I would say of everybody that I work with, you should be the person who is the least surprised to hear this.

01:50:31   Because over the last year, you have been front row to this happening. So there are a lot of elements to the year of people and the first one is working with people.

01:50:46   Finding capable individuals who I can work with and trust to push my projects forward. So this has been happening at Relay longer. So Carrie has been handling ads over time. Stephen and our community manager Kathy have been, well they've managed the membership and they look after all of that part of the business.

01:51:10   But also as well as time has gone on, they have both been handling more and more of the things that hosts need from us. Which has been, like there's just been a rebalancing in the way that that's gone.

01:51:23   More and more of my podcasts have been edited by external letters. Mostly Jim who I work with at Relay has been taking more and more like we spoke last year about me handing upgrade over to Jim. Which has been a huge time that I've been able to get back.

01:51:40   And also it has just been for the better of the show. At Cortex brand, this is where the most changes occurred this year. So previously mentioned Carrie has been working with us with marketing stuff.

01:51:56   We have a designer, David, who has established the feel of the brand more and more. And this is again one of these things where I have my feelings on the way these things should be done. He has his feelings on the way that things should be done.

01:52:12   And I have been more and more letting go of mine. And allowing him as the expert to help me establish the look and feel of the brand. I've also felt this way with our manufacturing partner on the Sidekick notepad.

01:52:29   The company we work with, F.E. Berman, I couldn't have made this product without them. I know that sounds weird. But I needed a company who could help guide me through the potential decisions that I needed to make.

01:52:45   Because this one came from a ground zero. We had nothing to base it on. So I had to start trying to understand how to do it. And it was a very long collaborative process to get us to that point. And that helped me learn a lot over that time.

01:53:02   I guess we should probably bring in here. I wondered if you thought I was leaving this out. I don't edit Cortex anymore.

01:53:08   I was kind of very surprised I was able to convince you on this. I feel like it's been a funny road these years in the Cortex edits. And we've basically now reversed the order in which the show is edited. With instead of you going first, you going last.

01:53:25   I was trying to talk you into that and I thought, "Mike will never go for this now."

01:53:30   I always said I would never do it.

01:53:32   You were so certain of "never." So I kind of can't believe you got convinced into that at all.

01:53:39   Well this is a slow moving process that's been occurring throughout the year. So we've done more episodes this year than we would have otherwise. It was a concerted effort that we had of wanting to do a couple of special episodes.

01:53:53   And to be able to do that effectively, I needed some help. I couldn't have added more episodes in to my schedule.

01:54:03   Because that part of the edit is an extra 10 to 15 hours of work. And I couldn't have found it.

01:54:12   Basically the editor we've been working with, he is really good. And all of the nerves that I had around it were taken away by the fact that it's someone who knows the style of the show and has been able to replicate it very quickly.

01:54:32   And of course you're in the middle before it comes to me. And that's how it always was. I would take first and last because I would finish it off and post it, which I'm still doing.

01:54:43   I still have a hand in it. I still listen to the show before it goes up. And depending on the episode, I might still do a few more tweaks.

01:54:51   But this decision was finalized halfway through the recording of State of the Apps when we were two hours into the recording.

01:55:04   Right. That's where this happened. That was the thing that finally pushed you over the edge.

01:55:08   We've only had half of the content done.

01:55:11   That's right. It's like, Mike, you're never going to get through this.

01:55:15   I had a time crunch. I think I was traveling.

01:55:18   Yeah, you were traveling.

01:55:19   And I knew I wasn't going to be able to do it. And so at that point, it was like, well, just let go.

01:55:26   If I'm going to have them edit the most listened episode of the year, why am I still holding on to this now?

01:55:33   Yeah, yeah, yeah.

01:55:35   It has been let go. And again, I look at the time we've been recording for today. I'm really happy I'm not going to be taking the first pass on this edit.

01:55:44   Right. And so this is something I thought I would never do.

01:55:49   But I have gotten to the point now where the way we record the show has internalized the way we produce the show.

01:56:00   So there is less content editing needed, I feel like, than there has been in the past.

01:56:07   And it still goes through you and it still goes through me. And so I'm good. And now I get 10 hours a month back.

01:56:18   So is the idea with Year of People that you're looking for more of that?

01:56:22   Yeah. So there is a little bit extra to it as well. So my wife, Adina, works on what we refer to as special projects for us.

01:56:30   So we run things together in that way. And she is the other person who I have that I can trust with complex and unique tasks.

01:56:39   And over the last year, I've been giving more and more stuff to people.

01:56:45   One of the things that really solidified the idea in my mind of the Year of People is in Cortex brand, of having Kerry and my new assistant and our designer,

01:57:01   they all needed to work together on things. So like, Kerry needs something for Instagram, so she'll talk to David to get that made.

01:57:11   I'm like in Slack and can see them doing it. And it was like, there is work being done and I'm not involved. This is very good.

01:57:21   Yes, it is.

01:57:23   And I think it took me seeing it, which was the important part. Because this happens in my life all the time.

01:57:30   My co-hosts on a show will plan a document together or whatever, but I'm coming into it and it's done.

01:57:37   But seeing the conversation and the back and forth and then there being an end product to it, started making me look for this in other areas of my life and seeing where it's happening and where it can work better.

01:57:51   So that is something that I am going to be looking for more opportunities for in this year and beyond of how can I empower skilled, talented people to work together to produce work for the projects that I'm involved in.

01:58:14   So that's that part of it. There are other parts of this.

01:58:18   So building on from 2023, there are people in my life that I care about. I want to spend more time with them.

01:58:27   So that to me felt like an easy thing to put into people.

01:58:31   Right. Okay.

01:58:32   And then also as well, like building on, I said there was something else I could come back to that I don't really know the least effective parts were like the way I was doing scheduling and my like connectedness to work. I need to work on setting better limits for how available I am to people.

01:58:52   Hmm.

01:58:53   I think that I have established over the last decade, the habit in others from my own actions that I'm available whenever people need me.

01:59:07   I'm really glad you phrased it that way because it's so clear that you as in the general you, you establish the boundaries that you have with other people through your own actions.

01:59:20   And if you always get back to people immediately, you are teaching them you are always available.

01:59:26   Exactly.

01:59:27   That's just the way it is.

01:59:28   And if you get back to people after long periods of time, you are teaching them to not expect instant responses on anything.

01:59:37   And you have been very available to, from my perspective, a insane number of people for years.

01:59:47   Mm hmm.

01:59:48   You have definitely instilled that behavior in a lot of people that you are available at any random time that people on all sides of the earth can possibly be.

01:59:59   It took reflection over the last year to work out.

02:00:05   I'm the problem here.

02:00:07   Like I set this.

02:00:09   Yeah.

02:00:10   Yeah.

02:00:11   And I have been working on this.

02:00:18   It's going to be a longer time of amending, undoing and realizing and trying to understand how much can actually be changed.

02:00:26   Mm hmm.

02:00:27   And so like that is another thing.

02:00:30   I have a whole other thing inside of this thing.

02:00:34   So where earlier you had your big realization inside of your theme review, I have a whole secret project inside of my theme.

02:00:44   Oh, OK.

02:00:45   It is called Project Air Traffic Control.

02:00:48   Oh, my.

02:00:49   All right.

02:00:50   I have been working on air traffic control for like two months.

02:00:55   So in looking at the year of the weekend, looking at the year of people and looking at Stacked September and the Cortex content calendar, I started to see like into the matrix of all of these things together.

02:01:13   What I worked out is I am involved in a lot of projects.

02:01:18   I'm only going to be involved in more projects.

02:01:22   The fact that I do not have some kind of overview of all of this.

02:01:29   I can't believe I've gotten this far.

02:01:31   Mm hmm.

02:01:32   So this is going to become additionally more important if I'm going to have more people involved in my work, because I need to make sure that I'm fully tackling what they need from me.

02:01:44   I need to make sure that I'm not going to lose track of where a project is living with somebody else.

02:01:49   Like there has to be this big overview.

02:01:53   So I'm working with my new assistant to build a notion.

02:01:59   Dashboard she is building for me that tracks all of the various projects that I'm involved in their status, what is needed from them, what timelines are they on, where do they fit into the year?

02:02:13   We're going to then meet weekly to go over the priorities for the week ahead on any project that I may or may not be tackling.

02:02:25   If I have a new idea or a new project, it will pass through her and then go into this system to be kept track of.

02:02:32   So we are spending time now building like the foundations of this and the habits as well.

02:02:42   So like I just realized now as I was talking, I had an idea today for a new Cortex brand thing.

02:02:50   I have lots of these ideas.

02:02:52   Most of them never go anywhere, but it's a thing like, oh, I wanted to play around with this.

02:02:56   So I realized now that I have to open notion and I have to add this in to be spoken about in our meeting next week, because otherwise I've broken the rules.

02:03:06   So I'm adding it right now.

02:03:08   Right.

02:03:09   So like we have like a little place in notion where it's like a asynchronous kind of conversation.

02:03:14   So like I'll just put a bunch of bullet points.

02:03:16   She'll put a bunch of bullet points.

02:03:18   It'll be addressed next week as to what these things mean.

02:03:20   And then we can decide are they going to go into the system?

02:03:24   Where are they going to go?

02:03:25   Are they going to go onto the calendar?

02:03:26   Where are they going to go?

02:03:27   So it's been like a really interesting couple of months where I've been having to kind of give her the crash course in all of the stuff that I do,

02:03:36   which has also been very weird to talk about all of the things that I do.

02:03:42   Yeah, but that's also just a great thing to do.

02:03:46   It's all just a big mess of spaghetti in your brain.

02:03:50   And the moment you have to externalize that in a way that an other person can really work with.

02:03:57   I always find that that kind of thing just really helps straighten out a bunch of your own thoughts.

02:04:02   Like, wait, what am I actually doing?

02:04:04   What are all these projects?

02:04:05   What things are really moving forward and what are things I've just been vaguely thinking about for months?

02:04:10   Yeah, that's a really good thing to do.

02:04:12   So like, as I mentioned, this came out of the combo of the Cortex content calendar, which has been really great for planning out the show.

02:04:20   And I was like, I should have one of these for my life.

02:04:23   And this came after the end of Stack September where basically what happened was there were too many big important things happening within a 60-day period.

02:04:34   That shouldn't have happened.

02:04:35   There were decisions that should have been made before.

02:04:38   There were projects that should have been done before or after.

02:04:42   There should not have been so much going on between September and October.

02:04:46   There was stuff happening in there where I was adding more pressure on myself than was needed.

02:04:52   And/or I was not adequately prepared for what was coming.

02:04:56   And so I feel like having someone understand what I'm working on, talking that through with me and helping me get it all planned out better is what I need to make sure that I won't fall into a situation like that again.

02:05:13   Hence the air traffic control.

02:05:15   So all projects must be directed.

02:05:18   And she is the air traffic controller.

02:05:21   That also adds a level of accountability into my work that I have not had for a really long time.

02:05:26   Like, I'm going to be agreeing on the work that will be done.

02:05:31   I will need an answer if it hasn't been.

02:05:33   Where a lot of work that I do, I don't have to answer to someone.

02:05:39   Most of the projects are collaborative where we don't have that kind of relationship.

02:05:45   If me and say you or me and Steven or me and Jason are working on a thing together, there isn't so much of an I'll handle that, oh, I didn't do it, oh, why didn't you do it.

02:05:57   It's not really that kind of accountability relationship.

02:06:00   We just all kind of chip in and pick up on each other's slack or whatever.

02:06:05   But there are a lot of things that I do where if I don't do them, they're just not done and then that's the end of it.

02:06:10   And it can't be that way.

02:06:13   All of this is because 2024 is, I think, a year of a lot of hard work for me.

02:06:21   I have some big things that are going to need a lot of effort coming up.

02:06:27   I have realized I need to be fully focused on the things I am best at doing.

02:06:34   And I need people around me that can enable that.

02:06:41   I need experts and support on the things I'm not so good at.

02:06:46   And I need to rely on those people.

02:06:48   And then I need somebody who is making sure I'm keeping track of all of the milestones and the things that I have to work towards.

02:06:56   That's Project Air Traffic Control, which is part of the Year of People.

02:07:01   Man, jeez, you've got a lot going on.

02:07:04   I ain't done yet.

02:07:06   Oh, holy moly, Mike.

02:07:09   Real AFM turns 10 years old this year.

02:07:11   Unbelievable.

02:07:13   So I want to make sure that I do not lose sight of this.

02:07:18   And so I'm going to make sure I spend time this year reflecting on the people that made that happen.

02:07:26   And ensure that I remember and keep front of mind how grateful I am to everybody who has allowed this life for me.

02:07:36   That is you and everyone else that I work with and Steven and all of my co-hosts, every single listener.

02:07:45   Right? Like these are all people.

02:07:47   Without any of these people, I would not have the life that I have.

02:07:52   And like my life can be busy.

02:07:54   My life can be stressful.

02:07:55   But at the end of it, the core of all of it, I am living my dream.

02:08:01   This was my dream.

02:08:03   It still is the only thing I want to do, is the things that I am doing.

02:08:08   And so I want to make sure that I do not lose sight of the fact that that is only possible because of a huge group of people.

02:08:17   Both close to me and far from me.

02:08:20   I'll also be spending time with a bunch of our hosts this year.

02:08:24   The people in person.

02:08:27   Lots of them who I don't get to see as often as I would like anymore.

02:08:30   And we will be in front of the most people ever assembled for a Relay FM live show in July.

02:08:37   There's so many levels to this team.

02:08:40   There's people! There's people everywhere!

02:08:42   It turns out great. There's loads of people on the planet.

02:08:44   And I'm going to learn all of them.

02:08:46   That's what I'm going for.

02:08:48   I have one last thing.

02:08:49   Yeah.

02:08:50   Investing in people is a thing that I want to focus on this year.

02:08:55   And that is about empowering people around me to do the best work they can.

02:09:01   That also includes me.

02:09:04   We don't have time to get into this in more detail today.

02:09:08   But next week I'm going to school.

02:09:12   What?

02:09:14   I'm going to college next week.

02:09:16   What the f*** are you talking about Mike?

02:09:18   I'm going on a product design course.

02:09:21   Oh yeah?

02:09:22   At a college in London.

02:09:24   It is a five day course.

02:09:26   Ten to four each day for five days.

02:09:29   It is a fundamentals in product design.

02:09:32   So again I'm very thankful for the people that I work with who are allowing me to do this after I just came back from a vacation last week.

02:09:39   Essentially where this is coming from is I've found myself in the world of physical products.

02:09:46   And there is a lot of fundamentals that I know I don't know.

02:09:49   There's a lot of language that I don't know.

02:09:51   There's a lot of terminology that I don't know.

02:09:53   I am not fooling myself right?

02:09:56   Like this is not a replacement for a four year university course.

02:10:00   But the college that I've found offer lots of courses like this.

02:10:05   And my plan is if this one goes well and I enjoy the curriculum and it's a good experience that I will take more and more of these.

02:10:13   To try and just give myself a better baseline when I'm talking to the professionals that I want to be working with.

02:10:22   About what things mean, what they don't mean.

02:10:25   You know if people use certain terminology which I've had to learn.

02:10:29   Like I've learned a lot of terminology about paper.

02:10:31   But it's been difficult.

02:10:33   And so I want to have a better kind of foundational understanding.

02:10:38   The reason this is such a strange thing for me is I last had any kind of education at the age of eighteen.

02:10:45   I did not go to university.

02:10:47   I never expected in my life that I would go back to any kind of education.

02:10:53   But I found myself wanting to.

02:10:58   Which I'm also not sure I ever wanted any kind of education in my life.

02:11:03   But this is a thing that I wanted to go and be in a classroom and learn from someone.

02:11:10   And so that is my week next week.

02:11:13   Is going back to school.

02:11:15   Boy I just didn't have any idea what you were going to tell me with going back to school.

02:11:20   Yeah I'm quitting and I'm going to go get a major in film studies.

02:11:24   And I'll see you in four years.

02:11:26   I'm taking an accountancy class and I'm going to be a chartered accountant.

02:11:30   Now's the time.

02:11:32   I will be quite curious to see how you find that.

02:11:36   Me too.

02:11:37   You said it's every day for how long?

02:11:39   Five days.

02:11:40   Five days. Okay it's five days.

02:11:41   Basically with this course I could choose to have done it for like twelve weeks.

02:11:47   With I think like it was like a few hours once a week over Zoom.

02:11:53   Or go to a college for five days.

02:11:57   And I was like I know what I prefer.

02:11:58   Yeah that's a no brainer decision.

02:12:00   Yeah that's obviously the correct one.

02:12:02   If I'm going to do this I feel like I need to immerse myself in it.

02:12:05   Yeah yeah.

02:12:06   But I've got my school bag.

02:12:07   I've got a bunch of equipment I have to take.

02:12:09   Do you have a lunchbox that you're going to take with you?

02:12:11   Apple for teacher.

02:12:12   The whole nine yards.

02:12:14   I have been so excited about this.

02:12:16   I booked it like three months ago.

02:12:17   And I'm very very much looking forward to this experience.

02:12:21   I have no idea what to expect.

02:12:23   Like you know this is one of those things where they're like it's absolute basics.

02:12:27   And it's like yeah but is it though?

02:12:29   Like I guess we'll find out.

02:12:31   You never know.

02:12:32   Yeah you never know.

02:12:33   It's hard to tell.

02:12:34   It's like I have no idea like what are the age of the other people that are going to be there.

02:12:38   Yeah you're going to be the mature student Mike.

02:12:40   Maybe.

02:12:41   I don't know.

02:12:42   Like this is a later learning course I guess.

02:12:45   I actually I have no idea.

02:12:47   I really don't know.

02:12:48   Like I know how I found it.

02:12:49   And I know that I paid for it.

02:12:51   And I assume everybody else there has done the same.

02:12:53   But like I don't know what I'm going to be going into.

02:12:57   And I'm actually kind of excited about that.

02:12:59   Oh man my head is spinning from all these people.

02:13:03   There's a lot of people out there.

02:13:05   I can guarantee you I am never doing a year of people.

02:13:08   But boy does it sound good for you.

02:13:10   Hey listener.

02:13:14   If you are still here.

02:13:16   If you have listened to all of this.

02:13:19   You are obviously interested in yearly themes.

02:13:23   You should do a yearly theme for yourself.

02:13:26   There's so many ways that you can do this.

02:13:29   As you've heard us talk about.

02:13:31   It's flexible.

02:13:32   You can make it work for you.

02:13:34   But we have designed what we think is the best tool to facilitate a theme.

02:13:41   And that is the theme system journal.

02:13:44   The theme system journal is split into three sections.

02:13:48   You have the yearly theme section.

02:13:50   Where you detail your yearly theme.

02:13:52   You kind of write down what you've heard us talk about.

02:13:55   You then have the journaling section.

02:13:57   This is where you will spend time every day.

02:14:00   Reflecting on how your day has been.

02:14:02   And how you've moved progress on your theme forward.

02:14:06   The journal pages consist of four unlabelled boxes.

02:14:10   Allowing you to create your own structure.

02:14:12   You can use more than one page for a day if you want to.

02:14:15   This allows you to focus on the areas most important to you.

02:14:18   And it was also adaptable throughout the year as your priorities change.

02:14:23   So for example my boxes.

02:14:25   I write something good.

02:14:27   Something bad.

02:14:28   I write down things that I'm grateful for.

02:14:30   And I write down something I'm looking forward to.

02:14:32   Midway through the year last year.

02:14:35   I added the grateful part in.

02:14:37   It used to be, what are you thinking about?

02:14:39   But I decided I wanted to start writing what I was grateful for.

02:14:42   The flexibility of the theme system journal allowed me to change that up.

02:14:45   The final section is what we call the daily theme section.

02:14:49   For this we recommend that you consider some key areas that you want to focus on every day.

02:14:55   And then track your progress on them.

02:14:57   For me this is a mix of things.

02:14:59   There are areas that have effect on my theme.

02:15:02   But there are areas that are also, I have to move some progress forward in all of these as a baseline for my working life and personal life.

02:15:11   So I track the following ten things every day.

02:15:14   Am I creating something?

02:15:16   Am I moving a project forward?

02:15:18   Am I generating revenue for my business?

02:15:21   Am I working well with my team?

02:15:23   Am I being a good husband?

02:15:24   Am I being a good friend?

02:15:26   Am I focusing on my health?

02:15:28   Am I giving myself some free time?

02:15:30   Am I ensuring that my day is structured well?

02:15:33   And am I spending time thinking about home?

02:15:36   I've added to this over time.

02:15:38   I've mixed it around over time.

02:15:40   And various themes have contributed to this.

02:15:43   And you'll see that there are themes I've had in the past that have found their way into my daily theme section.

02:15:47   Because they're things I still want to keep focus on.

02:15:50   The theme system journal is a high quality product.

02:15:53   It is well constructed with fantastic paper.

02:15:56   It features perforated corners for keeping track of where you are in your journal.

02:16:00   It is a joy to use every day.

02:16:02   I use mine every single day.

02:16:05   You can buy yours today at cortexbrand.com.

02:16:08   You can buy them as single purchase.

02:16:10   You can also subscribe and we will send you a journal automatically every three months.

02:16:15   You get a discount for doing so.

02:16:17   And I will say, a subscription is a commitment to your theme.

02:16:22   If you want any more information about the theme system journal,

02:16:25   you can go to themesystem.com where we go into more detail and provide more illustrations and stuff for you to see.

02:16:32   But you can buy yours today at cortexbrand.com.

02:16:35   And if you are at this point in the show and you're like,

02:16:40   "I want to do this, but I'm not sure of what my first theme should be."

02:16:46   On the Cortex Brand Instagram account, we are @cortexbrand.

02:16:50   We are going to be doing the 12 days of themes from January 1st.

02:16:55   Every day for 12 days, we're going to be sharing an example of a theme that you might want to pick up

02:17:02   with some little tips and tricks as to how you could make it work for you throughout the year.

02:17:06   We are @cortexbrand on Instagram.

02:17:09   Get your theme system journal today at cortexbrand.com.

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