1 Year Reflection: A Bit Like Sophomore Year
Life in Color launched its first post a year ago on Jan 31, 2022.
50+ essays later I am more energized than ever to keep writing.
Where we go next is simple: more writing collabs and evolving into a writing collective. Specifics will come later on an announcement post.
For today, I just wanted share some reflections and musings after a 1 year of writing Life in Color.
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🖌 On why I write
The inspiration for Life in Color came from my pandemic writing practice. At the onset of the Pandemic I was furloughed (and ultimately laid off).
The feelings of Chaos 100x.
I needed a way to make sense of all this chaos. I discovered a writing practice called Morning Pages where I would write 3 pages a day without constraint. Most days I wrote 3 pages, other days I wrote close to 10 pages. Most of my writing was mainly ramblings on paper but over time they evolved into free form essays. I wrote to give my mind time and space to explore thoughts. All in all, wrote 116K words in about 5 months. 🤯
Today, I write to explore, chase my curiosity, share my thoughts and make sense of all the chaos.
🎧 On writing and broader career
Last week, I was on a Twitter Spaces hosted by my good friend TPan where I talked about how writing fits into my broader career. (Btw, TPan writes a great substack).
Writing is and will become a superpower.
At heart it’s about communication, storytelling and convincing others of your ideas. Literally all the things that make humans unique (compared to other species).
In a world where the noise-to-signal ratio is increasing, especially with technologies like ChatGPT, etc… the craft of writing will become more important.
In all parts of my career, I’ve decided to focus on writing for a few reasons: (1) become a better communicator (2) organize ideas into structured thoughts (3) express ideas in my own voice.
🎨 On the craft
When I first started writing, people suggested different ways I should write. I quickly realized that following this advice meant that I would try to adopt someone else’s voice.
The whole point of writing is to find my own voice. That’s the thing that is priceless.
There is a craft to writing that has no shortcuts.
Like any craft, it requires one to obsess over it and learn and grow on a regular basis.
It’s a journey.
⏳ On discipline
Most of writing is just showing up to write.
It’s such a simple concept, if you want to do “x” just go do “x”.
One cannot be a writer from reading or thinking about writing. One can only be a writer by writing.
Showing up regularly adds another step in the compounding. I’ve written through trips, weddings, holidays and when it felt like there was just no time to write.
Discipline leads to quantity, which leads to quality.
The level of discipline you apply to a craft shows you how important that craft is to you.
🦄 On imposter syndrome
There is something about putting writing out there regularly that also creates a recurring dialogue with imposter syndrome. Actually… it’s not a dialogue… it’s more like a regular sparring match.
Imposter Syndrome forces you to regularly revisit why you are doing something.
The key isn’t to defeat imposter syndrome, but rather to coexist with it.
🎡 On growth and flywheels
There are two primary ways to grow. The first is marketing. The second is business development.
Marketing: Share content to the world with the goal of having it reach the largest audience possible, with the hope that x% convert to some action (e.g. 👇 subscribing to Life in Color).
Business Development: Find people who would appreciate your content and reach out to them directly.
Some people are more on the marketing side, while others focus on business development. I am more on the business development side.
For better or for worse, growth requires both to work together in a flywheel.
We’ve all heard of the Michael Jordan quote: You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
Timeless and simple advice but this is still something that is hard for us to implement.
Even as I was re-reading this post, I wondered if I should post it.
In August 2021, I had a long chat with my close friend Wilson (who is actually a helpful VC), and his advice to me was “you have to be more shameless…” Little did he know how impactful those words were/are to me.
If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
If you ask, you might not get.
On the latter, you don’t need every ask to result in a “yes” … oftentimes one “yes” makes all the difference.
Shamelessness is an underrated super power.
🦁 On work style
Because writing is such a key part of my life these days, I spend a lot of time obsessing over how to work. In this part of my career, I can’t really look to a system for guidance on my workflow. In a traditional job, I had a manager directing my work.
Now I have to be both manager and maker.
I am exploring how to Work Like a Lion. Since most of my work falls into creative output, the input and output model has to change from the traditional corporate setting. This is a good opportunity to rewire productivity habits and a chance for unlearning.
Having the freedom to choose how you work means there is also a responsibility to figure it out because no one is going to give you the answer.
It’s a double edged sword.
🧗 On doing the hard things
Being a writer or content creator in the modern era is actually really hard. It’s like being a 1-person company, you have to do a little bit of everything by yourself… all the while fighting for attention in a world with razor thin attention spans.
While there are some things you should automate, you cannot automate away the hard things.
Doing the hard things and doing them well is exactly what you’ll get rewarded for.
For me, it’s not just writing an essay, it’s writing an essay only I can write. The former is easier, the latter is a lot harder.
If you automate away the hard task, what you risk is not learning the craft. You might get some short term success automating hard things away, but you risk building on top of a shaky foundation.
💭 On irrationality and blind belief
Since I’ve started to write more seriously, there are two broad categories of people I’ve met: supporters and detractors.
They both ask some version of the same question: why are you doing this?
Usually I have a rational answer rooted in some intellectual argument. But my true answer is more irrational.
It’s more of a “leap of faith” type argument.
My business school professor always said: “you have to work on something you blindly believe in…”
The detractors or “realists” usually try to dissect the irrational argument… even after I’ve told them it's irrational. The supporters or “dreamers” just tell me to keep going.
Stick with the dreamers.
⛵️ On gratitude
There are countless people I am grateful for on this journey, from subscribers, to co-writers, to mentors, to friends and family, etc.
Gratitude is a choice.
Aside from the obvious, it’s a choice in perspective.
Choosing how you want to see reality.
Did you miss the boat? Or did the boat miss you?
🤷♂️ On the journey
The irony of learning any skill is that we want to reach the end state, the goal and the last level because we think at that point we achieve some level of happiness or fulfillment.
At the beginning of the journey, we cannot even imagine what it feels like to be at the end – but we romanticize it.
But the “enjoy the journey…” advice actually is quite good advice. At heart, it allows one to focus on the day to day and the next step. That’s when compounding happens.
After a year of writing, I no longer feel like the “new kid on the block” but there is a lot left to explore on this journey.
I actually don’t know where this will go. And that’s perfectly fine.
🪨 Closing thoughts
Thank you for all the support this last year! We have more exciting stuff planned for this year.
I’ll leave you with one last musing in this post:
The boulder one carries stays the same weight. But over time, it gets easier to carry.
It starting to feel a bit like sophomore year.