I’ve been staring at the blank screen for tens of minutes in a row. Been asking myself some tough questions lately, and I don’t like the answers. Something needs to change (relax, I’m not breaking up with you).
But first things first…
It’s almost been one year since I started sending this weekly newsletter. I built it with a few goals in mind, while others developed in time, as it grew and transformed:
1. This is going to sound very romantic and naive, but I truly believe this newsletter can inspire and change people. I’ve taken all the replies received so far as signs that prove me right.
This is happening in two main ways: through the stories of those people I personally learned from and consider to be my mentors – no matter if I ever met them or not (some of them aren’t even alive anymore) and, something that I realized later, through my own stories (by publicly and unashamedly exposing my mistakes and lessons, I’m hoping you can learn and grow as well).
So yeah, first and foremost, it’s about building a platform where I can communicate the messages of those folks I learned from.
This has always been my goal, no matter what form the empowering pillar took. I’ve always taken the abstract / hard to understand messages of creative people, no matter if they were rappers, rock musicians, entrepreneurs, freelancers, managers or writers, translated them into plain words that you can easily relate with, and amplified those messages, helping them reach their maximum potential and leave their marks on other people.
2. By putting ideas into a written form I’m able to cut through the clutter of my own thoughts. Explaining and trying to teach others about what I read is a great way to learn and master those ideas myself.
I know, at first glance it might seem like I’m an arrogant know-em-all bitch, until you read more of my weekly newsletters and start to realize that it’s quite the reverse. I’m trying to keep a beginner’s mindset, always eager to learn more, and not afraid to change my mind overnight if I discover new perspective-altering facts.
It’s also born out of a personal frustration. I started reading books really late in life, only after I was out of the traditional educational system, mainly because of my repulsion towards authority figures and the idea that reading is something mandatory (and, thus, I truly hated and rejected the activity). Only after graduating from university was I able to enjoy reading and learning – while also beginning to feel frustrated that I need to fill the knowledge gap and all the advantage that others gained in the meantime.
3. For my need to connect with more like minded people, who share common values. I defined the category as folks who are always eager to learn more – but with a clarified target and keeping an eye on the long term perspective, not just for general education or leisure. People who aren’t afraid to tell me when I’m full of bullshit, and they’re not afraid to admit when they’re wrong themselves. On the contrary, they’re actively looking for the counter arguments. People who prefer an unfiltered, raw approach, than one that’s ultra-artificial and bullshitty.
4. As a way to support learning through long form content – complementary to the superficial channels that are mostly used today. Sure, I’m a big fan of Twitter (I’ll always appreciate someone who can express an idea as simple and clear as possible, using few words) and you’ve heard me rant many times before about authors that take one great idea and explain it using all sorts of stories and situations throughout their book.
However, I came to believe that the best way to learn something is through long form.
I’m not saying I’m against all those apps that summarize books, articles filled with bullet-points or Instagram stories – those are fun ways to capture masses’ attention and develop an appetite to learn more. All I’m trying to say is they’re not enough. Those won’t stick to you or sediment into your brain over the long term. Especially now that we’re constantly being distracted.
5. To stop being addicted to social media’s overnight changing algorithms. In my work with those mentioned at #1, I’ve always warned them about building a house on rented land. That means: don’t rely on social media channels. These come and go. They change overnight. Use them as extensions to bring people to channels that are under your control. Your own website is under your control. Directly communicating with people via email is under your control (and probably will be for decades from now on, according to Lindy effect).
In the past year, I’ve also became aware of the harms caused by being always connected on social media, which only added as extra argument to what I was saying above. After quitting Facebook, I realized I was now able to focus for long stretches of time – an issue I wasn’t even aware of before (I’ve run almost-day-long races before, I’m obviously above average when it comes to mental endurance). And yes, I’m still writing on the book dedicated to this subject.
BUT… ahh, yes, as it always happens, there’s a big BUT coming.
Something started to slowly bother me in the past months and at first I couldn’t quite pinpoint. It outgrew into the punk elephant in the middle of the room (yeah, I made it punk on purpose, not pink, got a problem with that?). If I don’t address it, it’s going to destroy the house that I built. So here it is:
Writing & learning about something is not enough. I want to help you to do more. I want to help you start applying those things I’ve been writing about. And I want you to change others as well.
Sure, it’s great that we stopped endlessly scrolling Facebook’s newsfeed. But we need to start applying those things instead of being caught in the fantasy that we are doing something, just because we’re talking about what can be done.
I don’t want to be just the soft shoulder that you cry on. I expect great things from you. So can we please stop the whining and shall we do something about it as well?
I’ve been thinking about potential ways that I can help you achieve more and be your empowering pillar. Not “you” as in all of you, my 1000+ dear readers, cause that wouldn’t be realistic, but at least 0.1% of you. If there’s any way I can help 0.1% of you to do more, I’ll be more than happy. 0.1% is enough.
Next Friday (that also marks the one year anniversary of this newsletter) I’m going to let you know what I’ve been planning. Stay tuned.
And, in the meantime, stop expecting others to save you. It’s not going to happen. You need to do it yourself. I can be your support pillar, but I’m not going to do the work for you.
Cristina’s Friday Read #48
1. How The Hundreds Creates Culture, Content, and (Then) Commerce – The Hundreds is an awesome model for how to do content marketing the right way. It’s a streetwear brand created by Bobby Kim (more known as Bobby Hundreds) and Ben Hundreds. They use Shopify as a web platform, another brand worth following for how they do content marketing, and also the reason why this case study is published there.
Since 2003, their co-founder Bobby Hundreds updated his blog daily and posted something, no matter if he wrote in the back of nightclubs, a beach, airport lounge or even from the hospital. It was the go-to place to take your streetwear dose, and consistency is one of the factors that separated him from the crowd. He still posts frequently on his blog and interviews people from the street fashion scene, giving a voice to the underdogs.
Even among the links I send in this newsletter, Bobby’s article „The Truth About Streetwear” was one of the most clicked-on articles I’ve recommended.
2. „Dear Graduates: Lessons From a College Dropout” – a letter written four years ago, by Ryan Holiday, with life advice for those who just graduated from college. Ryan’s a college dropout himself, he decided to pursue a unique opportunity that presented to him in his first college year, and, as they say, the rest is history.
I’m sort of a dropout myself – technically, I did graduate, but I stopped attending classes after my freshman year in University. I had just turned 19 when I realized I need to step up my game and started asking around for any internships opportunities. I accepted to work for free – and continued working for nothing in as many places as possible, just to be able to get hands-on experience and decide what I want to do in life – the faster I figured it out, the better. It was also then that I said yes to an internship at the news department of one of the biggest TV stations in Romania, and realized I don’t agree with the way entertainment journalism is being done, and decided I want to change that – yeah, I was young, arrogant and naive, but that disregard for the status quo led to the birth of what became the most popular music blog in my country.
3. A few thoughts after Marathon 7500 – the trail running race I competed in last weekend. I wrote about the mistakes I’ve made before the race (killing myself with work, to the verge of burnout – #stoopeed) and the needed readjustments.
4. Lucy Bartholomew is a 22yo Australian ultrarunner that recently placed third female at the Western States 100 Mile competition. This is one of the world’s oldest and hardest endurance runs, with the 160 km course taking you from snow and below-freezing temperatures, to insanely hot temperatures (40+ Celsius). Lucy’s been a vegetarian for 5 years, with a plant-only based diet in the past two years – yet another proof that you can perform at the highest level without proteins taken from group of foods that had a mother.
Here’s a quote from her interview that caught my attention:
„I have this attitude that does well in the sport I am in, where I will stick to anything and make my own decision on what is good or bad for me. When I first went plant based I had a lot of people tell me I would not be able to run and perform, “Tell me I can’t and I’ll show you I can,” was my response.”
5. Another interesting quote:
„As social media became entrenched as part of mainstream life, they also became subject to the downsides of any normal thing: too much noise, too much exposure, and increased risks of abuse or harassment.”
From here: Ding Dong, the Feed is Dead – It turns out archiving your entire life online isn’t so great after all.
6. Not an article. We just launched a Telegram channel for The CEO Library. So, if you use the app and want some more book-goodies, join us there. I’m irregularly posting all sorts of quotes from books, from our interviews with entrepreneurs.
In case you’re not familiar with Telegram channels, here’s how its group channels are different from WhatsApp: first of all, you can join it without giving your phone number. And only the admin(s) can post, so no noise. However, I still strongly encourage you to turn off all push notifications and only check the app on your own terms, when it’s convenient for you. Don’t let any IM app be a constant source of distraction.
After reading this book, I felt like addressing everyone with „BURPEES TEST, MOTHERFUCKER!!!!” (I read it on Tuesday, so I’m still under its spell). I don’t remember when was the last time I laughed so hard while turning the pages of a book, and I can’t seem to figure out if it’s because I’ve been closely following and admiring one of the two main characters of this book for a while now, if I’m aware of how hard those stuff they talk about really are and I have the baseline to compare with, or if it’s just that hilarious.
Ok, let me back up a little bit.
Jesse Itzler, the author of this book, is an entrepreneur, ex rapper, ex owner of a record label that produced anthems for sports related campaigns and teams. At some point in life, he completely changed the field and started a new business from scratch: he co-founded a private jet card company (something like subscription service for private jets: you buy an annual membership and have 25 hours of flight available to use as you wish). He actually founded multiple businesses, but that’s not the point.
Well, Jesse’s a runner and finished many marathons in his life – he began running in 1992. A few years ago, Jesse signed up for an ultramarathon that he did as a relay, together with 5 more friends. It was then that he met SEAL, who was running alone the entire race, and kept running until he broke his legs (taped them together), was close to kidney failure, and so on.
He was so impressed, that he found out SEAL’s number, cold called him and asked to live with him in New York, in Central Park West, and train him for a month. SEAL accepted, with the only condition that Jesse does everything that he says.
What could go wrong, right? Well, this is what this book is about – those 31 days that Jesse spent living with SEAL in his house and how it changed him forever.
SEAL’s name is David Goggins and he’s a legend in the endurance world. Even if you don’t end up reading this book (although it would make a perfect beach read), at least take 57 minutes of your time and watch this interview with David and Tom Bilyeu.
„Every day do something that makes you uncomfortable.” (SEAL’s words)