Category Archives: YENFM


Good morning yeniverse!

I’ll cut to the chase: I fucked up and I may have gotten more than a few of you excited about the upcoming changes that I shared on Monday

… because today is the FINAL ISSUE of YEN.FM for the foreseeable future. It’s been an incredible ride and an unbelievable journey. But, as I assessed the work ahead of all of us I realized that my time would be better used in other, more strategic parts of the expanding metaverse. It was simply about time, something we all need to be hyper-sensitive too.

You see, I am a suicide survivor — you may not have known that. I spent a good deal of my life thinking that no one liked me and that no one cared. I was dying on the top-bunk of my freshman dorm while my “roommate” played HALO on his newly-minted XBOX.

I had never felt so lonely (and I was glad that it was going to be over soon). Apparently, I suck at suicide so that didn’t work and I woke up in my own vomit and with whatever energy left I called my Uncle and Aunt some 30 miles away who came and helped me take back my life.

I have been on a mission to not fuck around with my time ever since; even at the cost of losing so many connections and relationships that I’ve made with all of you (but we can connect in the YENIVERSE now!!).

Thank you for reaching this piece-of-shit in your inbox everyday; I see the stats, I read the comments, I think of each one of you by memory (I do, it’s weird, I know). I’ll see you in the metaverse.

🛑 — Oh! We’re launched on Product Hunt! Upvote, share… you know the drill! 🎉

You know what to do!


To infinity & community,

— john

One… more… time.

  1. Forest. The real OGs. Good question. Supply, stupid. Art.
  2. Burn. Twitch. Not boring. Topics. Smells like success. Easy.
  3. Amaze. WTF. SPACs. It’s not about energy, it’s about control.
  4. Neat. Toys. Crazy. Steve. Hiro. Service. Trends. Real-time.
  5. Good resources. Python. Tunes. More metabusinesses. Close.
  6. The portal opened. Whoa. Rare. Marketing. ADHD. Not new.
  7. Glorious. Metaforming. More smells. Internet. Mining. Futures.
  8. On hiring. Find your voice. Already happening. Fix this. LOL.
  9. Twitch. Ship. Contributions. Animoca. TL;DR. For this. Beautiful.
  10. Fashion. Ready Player One. Tim. Integrity. Time preferences.
  11. Nextjs. Yes. From. Welcome. Privacy. Close. Go long. Okay
  12. Gamble. Both / And. Product-led marketing. Bomb. Woz. My Woz.
  13. Saverin. Insights. Problems. Stats, bro. Believe in yourself. Fun.
  14. But don’t stop there. Bonds. Origins. UFC. Not future. Ads.
  15. PR. Editions. Capsules. Moar. Market. Boring. Stupid. Whoops.
  16. Impossible to follow, but entertaining. Fashion is identity. Old.
  17. Hate, but, okay. Renet. Flat. Pyro. Birds. Whatever. Curious.
  18. Superworld. Evil Corp. I’m hiring a #metadesigner. Smaller now.
  19. Feels. Shared world. The right shortcut. Hyro.

I’m sorry I can’t finish the #yenBOOKCLUB that we had started! But, I’ll post my notes from the remaining chapters here — thanks for those that were reading with me! So much of my design aesthetic for this first iteration was reinforced by this book. But, I’d be lying if I said that I loved it; maybe… 20% of it.

Week 9:

  1. A major shift is happening, the first is the inexorable blurring of lines between “product” and “service” as consumers shift expectation of just functional performance to a more broadly satisfying experience. Secondly, design thinking is being applied at new scales from discrete products to complex systems. Thirdly, that there is an end to the unsustainable pace of consumption; limitations and constraints.
  2. “How might we…”
  3. Instead of an inflexible, hierarchical process that is designed once and executed many times, we must imagine how we might create highly flexible, constantly evolving systems in which each exchange between participants is an opportunity for empathy, insight, innovation, and implementation. Every interaction is a small opportunity to make that exchange more valuable to and meaningful for all participants.
  4. If we take time to examine the whole cycle of creation and use of a product — from the extraction of raw materials used in manufacturing to disposal at the end of its useful life — we may be able to find new opportunities for innovation that reduce environmental impact while enhancing rather than diminishing the quality of life we have come to expect.

Week 10:

  1. The greatest design thinkers have always been drawn to the greatest challenges, whether delivering fresh water to Imperial Rome, vaulting the dome of the Florence Cathedral, running a rail line through the British Midlands, or designing the first laptop computer.
  2. Sometimes necessity is the other of innovation.
  3. The idea of designing products, services, and business models that create a rapid return on investment seems very attractive, and it is no accident that it first appeared in places where most people have no choice.
  4. Design thinking is how we will continue to spot opportunities that have global relevance and how we will avoid becoming the victims of the new competitors who thrive in environments where more prudent organizations fear to tread.
  5. The key, as every designer knows, is to craft a brief with enough flexibility to release the imagination of the team, while providing enough specificity to ground its ideas in the lives of their intended beneficiaries.
  6. Don’t forget the children (and education). Design thinking is about education.

And here it is, the final week:

  1. The tools of the design thinker are: getting out into the real world (to be inspired by real people), building prototypes, creating stories to share ideas, and joining forces with folks from other disciplines.
  2. The most challenging design problem is how to design life.

The final chapter captures the high-levels and notes:

  1. Begin at the beginning: It’s about the inclusion and expansion of thought and ideas within the broader organization and network. You need them in senior leadership roles.
  2. Take a human-centered approach: Observation of human behavior is at the root of design thinking. Start with humans first, then business / tech needs second.
  3. Fail early, fail often: Time to first prototype is a good measure of the vitality of an innovation culture.
  4. Get professional help: Seek out extreme users and think of them as a creative asset.
  5. Share the inspiration: Make sure you support inspiration within your organization and community, not just efficiency. In-person and real-time events help nurture this.
  6. Blend big and small projects: Diversify your assets as an organization. Encourage experimentation.
  7. Budget to the pace of innovation: Design thinking is fast-paced, unruly, and disruptive. You will have to rethink your funding schedule and reporting / metrics. You’ll have to reset your expectations.
  8. Find talent any way you can: Source from within. Then, create a system to recruit them.
  9. Design for the cycle: Let the team (members) go through the entire lifecycle of a project.
  10. Don’t ask what, ask why: Is this the right problem to solve?
  11. Open your eyes: Schedule in time to observe the ordinary. Ask questions.
  12. Make it visual: Don’t just think, look. Record your observations and ideas visually.
  13. Build on the ideas of others: All of us are smarter than any of us. Socialize and diversify the idea formation and evolution throughout your organization and business.
  14. Demand options: The pursuit of new options takes time and makes things more complicated, but it is the route to more creative and satisfying solutions. Set deadlines so you know when to stop.
  15. Balance your portfolio: Remember to document the process as it unfolds.

Here’s a practice pitch I found buried in the archives that I thought would be fun to see! Thanks James for anchoring it with me; a good iteration and pass, for sure.

I had no idea at the time that we’d be building out most of that stack (but definitely not in the ways that most people would think). Fun to live in the future, that’s for sure.

I was also hoping to share this for another issue but it’s just this wonderful series from a friend on communication and public speaking — I hope my friend doesn’t mind me sharing it.

I learned a great deal fro this man and I owe him quite a bit. In fact, we all do.


📻 — BIG CHANGES AHEAD: YEN.FM is now The Metaverse Daily, New Content Schedule, Focus

Hey yenizens!

Things are changing around these parts and I’ll just cut to the chase: We are re-focusing our content towards the imminent and exciting #metaverse and leaving behind the slightly-more boring focus on just “community” and “creator tools” (although I’ll still very much cover those things).

The reason is simply because this is part of my larger content and branding strategy for the YEN Project (aka “The Metaverse Company“) which includes this publication as well as a metaplatform that’s releasing in BETA soon. In fact, I spill the beans below…

… focus!

If things like “metacreator” and building “metabusinesses” in the “metaverse” aren’t interesting topics for you then that’s entirely cool! At the very least read this new and updated landing pages to see if anything resonates and if nothing does then feel free to UNSUBSCRIBE — no hard feelings! I know that your time is super-valuable and precious and I’d be the very last person to waste it — as you already know.

I respect each and every single one of my readers because I know that I must earn the right to enter their guarded email inboxes every morning and I take that very, very seriously — as serious as I do my own inbox (and I’m a fucking maniac when it comes to inbox / email management)!

If you do end up sticking around it’s important to also note a few, important operational and logistical changes that might also change your opinion — here’s what’s going down:

  1. I’ve moving to a weekly publication instead of daily. Some of you may love this while a number of you might (privately) rejoice. In either case the reasoning is simple: My role is going to change as my organization and startup changes and since I’ve done this before as a metacreator I know what the next evolution is going to be and, more importantly, feel like. What I’m going to need more than anything is time to think, strategize, and cope with the growing universe that we’re going to have, quite literally overnight. I’m excited, nervous, anxious, afraid, and even a little bit sad since I have loved writing this thing daily because writing is my art.
  2. Content focus will change slightly. You’ll still get an assortment of links and good-reads that I collect from the growing metaverse (like below) but the list may actually get larger! Imagine 5 days-worth of links in a single issue?! I’ll have to give that some thought… in any case, I’ll be reporting on all of the same types of things that you’ve come to know and love but I’ll also be adding a section dedicated to our growing community — THE YENIVERSE. This will mostly be stories of (growing) success for our metacreators as they build metabusinesses that they are super-proud of. My hope is to help at least 1,000 folks build profitable businesses this year and I’m going to need time and space to do just that. Part of that is sharing the stories via this popular newsletter which all of us have grown from scratch. Amazing.
  3. While I cannot guarantee size or length but what I can promise is delivery time: Friday Mornings, PST. You can now expect an issue of #yenFM in your inbox — fresh in the AM! — San Francisco time. I can’t wait to serve you every morning with a fresh dose of the metaverse and what’s happening in our world.

I love you all. Thank you for supporting this newsletter since from very beginning. I have loved, loved, loved writing for all of you and I’m so grateful to carve out time to do that at least once a week.

I’ll see you in the metaverse (and via Friday’s pub starting this week)! Here are your links:

  1. Visions. True. Dream! Grand. God’s name. User hero. Miventure?
  2. Pretty. AI. Shortest. WPEngine. Mighty sucks. Google. Options.
  3. Broken. Dodging bullets every single day. FBSports? War. Just start.
  4. Unhappy. Nap. Some, better. Our part. +1. Be irrational. Future. Neat.
  5. Tiny projects. Simple. Wrong. Assemble! Avoid. Honest. Real art.
  6. This. Eddy. Notepad. The right skills. Maths. Never. Streaming kit. Oh.
  7. Empathy. Selfcare. One of the better ones. Selfish. No mobs. Emo.
  8. Fun video in here. Hypocrisy. The fuck. Loom, damn. Probably not for you.
  9. Pony. Korea. Jaw on floor. Eternally grateful. Netflix. Freedom is coming.
  10. Tim. Somnium. Fashion. Vesting. Easy bets. Friendly? Gambling. But.

To infinity & community,

— john

Obviously, you’re probably wondering how the logistical chances of the publication cycle cited above impact the rest of my personal publication universe. Well, that would be a great and curious thing to think about! I’ll satiate you as it’s captured above for you.

This new schedule is pretty simple to follow:

  1. I’m writing (at least) 1 blog post per day on my personal blog: I’ve been doing this for 20+ years so this isn’t really something that I needed to even put in the line-up but it’s worth visually seeing the components all together.
  2. I’ll be uploading content to YouTube twice a week: With my new production team behind me I’ve been able to put together a handful of test-flights that I like and we’ve got a good rhythm now. I’m enjoying the process of capturing my thoughts candidly about my new METACREATOR LIFESTYLE™️ which is effectively the same lifestyle that I have now but I’m just calling it that to make it sound more cool. You know how we do.
  3. I’ll be hosting #yenHOURS twice a week — 3 hours of “open office” where I help other metacreators build their metabusinesses in the growing metaverse. I also will be using those times to help folks onboard into their personal YENIVERSE(es) and talking all things metaforming.
  4. I’ll be publishing my personal newsletter once a week but I’m going to put a paywall around it most likely; I usually share my most intimate thoughts in that little thing and I’d rather have a smaller, more intimate audience from here on out. This is not an advertisement in any way, shape, or form — it’s just what I’ve captured above in my new content schedule.
  5. Finally, I’ll be using @8BIT / @yenFTW daily (the floating “cloud” below the rest) as well as engaging directly in the growing YENIVERSE that I’m so excited to experience! This is what I’ve been dreaming all of my life and the first major part is going to drop this week — I can’t fucking wait!

So, hope that helps. I start this new routine / workflow… today!!

This is a random thumbnail that I had created but didn’t get to use… so, here it is. LOL.

Over the next week — if you’re following closely — you’ll see some pretty dramatic transformations from both my personal brand (especially via Twitter if you haven’t already) and I’ll just let you know what’s going down: We’re launching BETA publicly this week!

🛑 — If you want a front-row seat to that then you’ll want to subscribe to our Product Hunt SHIP page — we’ll be dropping the “hunt” @ 12:01am Thursday morning, San Francisco (PST) time! Put that thing on your calendar! Don’t worry about “spam” after the launch as I plan on turning that service off right after we launch; it’ll be a one-time thing for most of you. I may even try to livestream the darn thing!

We’re going to need your help making it a really big thing; perhaps one of the biggest launches ever! We’ve got thousands of folks who have been waiting literal years for this launch:

Patience is an incredible thing when you’re trying to change the world.

As you can see, we’ve lost quite a few folks over the years as well — some folks just didn’t make the distance.

Oh well. Only the strong survive this game and the future belongs to the metacreator. I hope you join me in this exciting and bright future! And I hope to see some of you on Thursday morning in the early AM!!

🚀 — Let’s fucking go.


📻 — Lawyers “Love” the Metaverse // Be Legendary via Mike Maples

Good morning yeniverse!

This massive thread is an important one for us as a community; a bit of a history lesson (our story as a community) as well as a somewhat controversial take on “Initial Coin Offering” — here you go:
  1. True. You’re welcome. Radical. Upgrades. Math. Okay. 404.
  2. Why I was created. Here to stay? Creator week. Assess.
  3. Verified. Talent. Tandem. Media. Reading. Loopple. Collect.
  4. That’s all. Scale. Uh. Gummy. Mann. Maven. Polywork.
  5. Structure. Wow. Economics. Roblox, for whom? The most money.
  6. Models. Not yet. The plan. Roblox. “Reality entrepreneurs.”
  7. 3 new jobs in the metaverse. Earning money. Features. Postplan.
  8. Lifestyle. Not wrong. Nobody. Updated homepage. Appflowz.
  9. Cool. Generations. Danny. Again. Arrogance. Insumo.
  10. FrontEc. Culture. Win-win. It won’t be a surprise.

To infinity & community,

— john

This talk is everything — so, you should just watch it and that’s about it for Friday! Love you all. This was a good section re: “Category Kings” (which is what YEN is planning to do with all of your help):

  • Category Kings don’t just make something to sell people
  • Category Kings introduce the world to a new category of product or service
  • Category Kings replace our current point of view with a new point of view
  • And ultimately they change how people and businesses decide to spend their money

A few more notes:

  • Know your Moore’s Law, Power Law, and Metcalf’s law
  • Proprietary power is about avoiding the need to compete. It’s about monopoly power. Have an unfair advantage. “True” capitalism and competition are opposites. A capitalist is one who aggregates capital based on an unfair advantage. Being different is the best strategy. Perfect competition is not perfect. Mindless competition is pervasive in Silicon Valley. Can it be a monopoly if it works? Is there a structural competitive advantage, not just a first-mover advantage?
  • Product power is about product-market fit. Why now is a good question to ask. In a great market, a market with lots of real potential customers, the market pulls product out of the startup. Conversely, in a terrible market, you can have the best product in the world and an absolutely killer team and it doesn’t matter, you’re going to fail. The #1 company-killer is lack of market.
  • Company power is about preparing for rapid scaling.
  • Category power captures the value from changing spend.

Let’s win the internet, together.

A bunch of lawyers wrote this and it’s crazy bad (that’s just my hot-take). But, if you want a chuckle, go for it!

Have a good one folks! And a great weekend!


📻 — Change by Design, Chapter 7 — #yenBOOKCLUB

Good morning yeniverse!

Fun links, for you. Let’s get to it! We’re doing some light onboarding too — hit me up on Twitter if you’d like to take a look into what we’re launching soon!

  1. WoMD. Seems like a lot. Otter. Upstream. Presence. A code.
  2. Essential. I feel seen. The truth. Overlord. Positive. Choice?
  3. History. Alfred. Lin. Freenode?! Sad. Lemstash. Lotsa landing.
  4. Suck. Twitch. Always. Credit. Steve! Disappoint. Ecosystems.
  5. PlanetScale. Status. Bad math. Don’t lie. Darkside. Fucked up.
  6. Spokesperson. Ecommerce. Docs. Bias. Parler. More women.
  7. Mailchimp. Metaverse. Bullshit. History. Accurate! Do no harm.
  8. Insane shit. Created economy. Congrats! Just wait. You’re welcome.
  9. Telegram. Community show! Start. Don’t know. Useful. Refi. Huh.
  10. Same mission. Health, burnout, no! Ransom. Reality. The future.

To infinity & community,

— john

It’s Week #8 of the #yenBOOKCLUB and here are a few of my personal notes that I’ve captured in last week’s reading (Chapter #7) — and, of course, I’d love chat over the book with you during #yenHOURS today! Feel free to stop by if you have time!

  1. The most challenging type of innovation — and the riskiest – is that in which both the product and the users are new. A revolutionary innovation creates entirely new markets, but this happens only rarely.
  2. Workshops helps expose people to design thinking as a new approach. Pilot projects help market the benefits of design thinking within the organization, and leadership focuses the program of change and gives people permission to learn and experiment.
  3. Design thinking is unlikely to become an exact science but there is an opportunity to transform it from a black art into a systematically applied management approach. The trick is to do this without sucking the life out of the creative process — to balance management’s legitimate requirement for stability, efficiency, and predictability with the design thinker’s need for spontaneity, serendipity, and experimentation.

Lovely. Lovely. Lovely. We only have a few more weeks of this #yenBOOKCLUB! What should we read next?

My follower strategy above and a more important note on the “why” below:

Have a wonderful day folks!


📻 — Anne Lamott: The Secret to Writing Well is Writing Badly

Hello yenizens!

It’s hump day! Oh! Last night a few #metacreators and I terraformed the first community space in the coming #metaverse! Check it out:

This isn’t an official “pre-boarding” call but if you’d like an early chance at test-driving the platform (and creating your own #yeniverse!!) I’ve been opening up time during #yenHOURS. I’ll be around tomorrow if you want to hang and get a first-look! I’ll probably cap it at 3 or 4 folks.

Here are your #metacreator links:

  1. Raising. AI. Contraints. MGM. Curve. SMBs. Twitch. Work to do.
  2. Savage. Therapy. Humans are awesome. 4 years. Dead. No gods.
  3. Some day. Not a bad thing. Shein. Sleeve. I hate the word “guru“.
  4. Bad. Credibility. Fun name for a unicorn. Made up. Credo. Cool. Fuck.
  5. Just a game, right? Good, troll. Evening read. Bookmark. Fate. Trade.
  6. Marketing. Twit. Fuck circle. One of us. Improvise. Never finished. Wow.
  7. The right investment. Investable. Unicorn. Collin. Keep going. Jeans.
  8. How to be happy. Reinvention. Tools. Passion. Pessimism. Less.
  9. Full queue. Book. China dating. Got me shook. Biz model. But, why?
  10. Community is the solution. Hand to hand combat. Last mover. Power.

To infinity & community,

— john

Honestly, the things that I was able to capture from this amazing gal are worth a review; I’ve reproduced the text below. Anne is a living legend and I want to be her when I grow up. So, here you go:

  • “The secret to writing well is to write badly. It’s much easier to not write than to write, so if you want to fail at writing, just stop writing.”
  • “Most folks spend more time explaining why they aren’t writing right now; you have to stop not writing now. If you won’t write today, you won’t write in the future.”
  • “If you give me 30 minutes a day, you’ll become a writer. STOP NOT WRITING; you have to care about it.”
  • “My 19th book was as hard as the first one. A great place to start is with your childhood; start by capturing your childhood memories and write it down badly.”
  • “Anybody who has survived his childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days.” ― Flannery O’Connor
  • “Intimacy actually means “into me, i see”. It means you get to see all the “dark shadows” of who you really are.”
  • “Your stories are the stories that you do; they aren’t always sane but they are stories. Your readers have to belief that the events actually took place, even if they are made up. Great fiction operates this way. The reader has to trust the author that these things are true.”
  • “Everything that happens to you is your story; even and especially the difficult parts. Those are yours. You’ll figure it out how to tell it later.”
  • “It was so appalling and fabulous. You own all this material; you get to tell it. And you have to do it now.”
  • “A “pod” is an hour of writing. Usually 45 minutes since you have to “agitate” and get settled. Tell one story in 45 minutes; budget an hour for it.”
  • “I tell my students to just write what you want to come upon. If you want to read something specifically, why not write it yourself?”
  • “We mostly like stories of ourselves. We love to hear stories about what we have collectively experienced. A good story helps us lighten up; it “gooses” us up. Good books ask the question “Who are we?””
  • “Laughter is carbonated holiness.”
  • “Writers don’t know what they are doing until they’ve written the terrible first-draft. Do not wait for inspiration. It’s a ‘debt of honor’ because no one cares if you write (or not).”
  • “A confused reader is an antagonistic reader. All shitty first drafts that eventually ‘hung together’ into something meaningful.”
  • “All of my time and attention is the answer. There is a trick; since writing is very hard and rewriting is easy/fun, I write through my scripts as fast as I can; maybe in one sitting.” — John Swartzwelder
  • “You have to kill your little darlings.”
  • “I do the same thing, every day. With writing, it’s the same.”
  • “The self-loathing is the hardest part of being a writer. Finding ways to center yourself, practice mindfulness, you’re going to have a critic on your shoulder narrating how terrible you are, 24/7/365.”
  • “Most writers will spend the first hour of their day tearing themselves down before they get started. The ‘monkey-mind chatter’ will try to stop you time and time again.”
  • “Help me stay out of my way so that I can write what wants to get written.”
  • “Your material always knows what it wants you to write. You’re just capturing what is already coming through you. Get out of the way.”
  • “When you’re calmer, you can activate your imagination. This isn’t 3rd grade writing class; it’s more than that. You must re-honor your imagination.”
  • “Waste more time. Stare out into space. Aimlessly let your mind wander; the images and thoughts will come to you where it was once blank.”
  • “There is far too much meaningless bullshit — using the theological terms — we’ve lost touch of these dreamy-worlds that describe the simple things of life. Curiosity.”

A few of my personal notes from an amazing livestream via Grummz; the lead for Vanilla World of Warcraft! I’ve been thinking about game mechanics much more these days when it comes to building software and our #metaplatform — my background comes via video games so this is a surprise to no one.

Love you all.


📻 — Living in the Future via Mike Maples: Startups are Not Companies

Good morning yeniverse!

Here are your links, punks. L(° O °L)

  1. I guess. Jelly. Physics. $100k. Chats. Native universities.
  2. Fuck slack. Megan. Why. Biz models. Formsy. Pidoc. Photos.
  3. Future. Mars. Twisted. Still. Loyalty matters. Don’t die. Bucket.
  4. Anne. Good. Startup basics. Glauber. Finally. White-adjacent?
  5. Break the meta. Tom. Angel investing. Failure theory. Debt. S1.
  6. Frame. Excited. Lossless. History. Obvious. Nonsense. True.
  7. Parler. Fave. Startups are hard. Profound. Look. Strong. Projector.
  8. “Data driven.” Good gifts. Pizza. Real behavior change is hard.
  9. Neato! Li on NFX. Fundamental. Content. Commons. Timing.
  10. Become the media company you were born to be. Coffee.

To infinity & community,

— john

An unbelievable interview via FS; I’ve taken a ton of notes for you (and me!): I’ll try to add some context when I can but you should really listen to this man — he’s got some really fantastic ways of not just looking at opportunity but also understanding the systems and patterns that undergird them. Fuck… he might even be “brilliant” (I’ve never met him so I’ll figure that out if I ever do).

I’ve decided to spend my time with people who are living in the future.

It’s neat to be so decisive about one’s position in life. I respect that a lot.

What we’ve come to realize is that a startup isn’t really a company at all.

A startup is a set of founders with hopefully a set of proprietary insights that are a result of them living in the future. A startup has to achieve 3 or 4 breakthroughs to make it work.

This was honest. Although 99 out of 100 people would call my project a “startup” — especially since I’ve raised > $4M in venture capital — it’s still not really a company because we aren’t making revenue. We have the insights but that won’t be enough for very long. Thank God we’re close.

Most of the great startups come from a great insight; it usually occurs with someone who’s living in the future and they notice something that’s fundamentally missing. The founder’s job is to be the time traveler and bring back to the present this insight and to find those first, true believers.

The insight will oftentimes define the market; it’s about finding something valuable about the future and then starting a movement of people who believe what you believe, until everyone believes. The insight contains the “potential energy” of the idea and if it’s right you change the rules and gain an asymmetric upside as a result.

I do feel like I’ve found something so obvious via the future and that I’m just living there while simultaneously doing my best to build that reality. We have a ton of “potential energy” that’s about to be unlocked.

Sometimes people will ask me, “How do you get a good startup idea?” The counterintuitive answer to that question is don’t try to think of a startup. People are like, “What are you talking about? That’s a crazy answer.” Well, it turns out that most of the great startups come from a great insight and a great insight usually occurs when someone is living in the future and they notice something that’s missing.


The team matters a lot and they like “improvising their way to success” instead of working toward KPIs. What you’re trying to do in value hacking is figure out what you can build that is unique that people are desperate for. If your insight is truly powerful, it will connect with somebody desperate because you’ll be solving problems in a novel way that’s never been solved that way before and it’s an order of magnitude noticeably better for those people.

“Value hacking” is an interesting way of putting it but it resonates, at least to the degree where you’re testing early market resonance via technology and positioning. The hardest part is that you must get both right for this to work! A great product doesn’t always explain itself (but I believe it can). Over-engineering this is also a danger.

The value phase is all about seeking the truth, rather than selling. If the truth of your value proposition is super-compelling, then growth becomes an exercise of syndicating the truth. If the truth of your value proposition is not present, you have to grow by throwing money at the problem of growth. You have to spend money on marketing programs and you have to persuade people to buy rather than teach people to buy. This is called “fake growth.” Now, you know how to delivery value in a way that no one else knows.

What a startup needs is how can I can have a value proposition that’s so awesome that is resulting in customers literally pulling the product out of me, desperately. Then, we can think about growth because we can teach them to buy instead of convincing / persuading them to buy. It must be so strong that the customers in your market would be irrational not to buy it if they knew the truth. Then, you can scale as the market readies itself.

Reading the last few sentences above really does kick me in the sack; a very hard and visceral reminder of what it takes to get to the promised land of product-market fit. The utter irrationality is key. I’ve only experienced it twice; maybe 1.5 times if I’m to be honest but I will never forget the feeling of the customers literally pulling the product out of our sweaty hands. Crazy-awesome and crazy-fucking-scary at the same time. It was so hard during those growth periods that I had to get hospitalized for burn-out — I can’t believe that was 9 years ago!

Yikes. Time is moving fast my friends. Let’s not fuck about.

You want a leader who is a “learn it all” type of person; someone who absorbs new ideas like a sponge and they are mentally-flexible when they are wrong. A unique combination of a lack of ego and determination to fill in the gaps of what they know and what they don’t know.

I try to be this type of person / leader but I know I have a lot of areas to improve. I’m grateful for clarity of thought these days; infinitely more than when I was a younger entrepreneur. I simply allow myself to sit at my desk and think — for hours if I need. Ideas are oxygen to the brain and soul; we forget to give it a bit of a break.

Great investors read a lot, they are genuinely curious, and try their hardest to not repeat mistakes.

I hate most investors; even a few of the ones that have given me money. I’m not sorry about that, I just think that most of them have no idea what it takes to do this type of work and if they really did then they’d act very, very differently. But, I’ve also had to learn to live with my mistakes and then not repeat them. I’m getting better at choosing my financial partners and I aim to improve every single time.

The defining characteristic of a founder is that they are an artist; in the sense that they notice things that most folks don’t notice and they present their ideas in ways that move people to act in ways where they will abandon logic.

Part of being an entrepreneurial artist is seeing the emergence signals that you weren’t necessarily looking for explicitly, but they reveal themselves and you see them with a sensitivity that an artist would see an emotional thing that they can put on a canvas for their art.

Founders must have the skill to convince normal people to do something that most people will consider crazy. You have to get them to join a movement; something that they are moved by.

They have a vision that compels a set of like-minded people; and they all feel as if they are in on a secret together and they believe that they are going to convert everyone to their point of view because it’s so obvious to them.

💯 — I know how to galvanize people into action because I really do believe the shit that I’m thinking and talking about. I really do believe in a decentralized future (in fact, it’s already here). I really do believe in the metaverse and our inevitable ability to frictionlessly-connect with anyone — anywhere — even if they are on Mars (thanks Elon). This is so obvious to me that I sometimes think I’m crazy because most people around me do not see this and the very concept seems frightening (but they are unsure of why).

We invested in Lyft when it was Zimride back in 2010 and it would be very easy for us to believe we knew more than we knew at the time. Same with Twitter, same with Twitch, same with Okta. The ones that we did say yes to and it was a big win, we try not to breathe our own fumes too much. We try to go back in time and say, “What went right and what did we get right, and did we get it right on purpose or by accident?”

Lots of people tend to go through life taking one problem at a time, deciding one problem at a time. I think it’s helpful in living a better life to acknowledge that there are better ways to decide things. Sometimes you know there’s a better way through experience or reading books or whatnot and sometimes you don’t know what the better way is. I look at mental models as frameworks for making decisions that maximize the probability of the best outcome.

Cool. Thanks Mike.


📻 — Remember Why You Started; Don’t Give Up, Backdown, or Quit

Good morning yeniverse!

I had quite a weekend on Twitter; it seems that coming back to @8BIT as my main has awoken something fierce inside my soul that is thirsty for engagement. I may have overdone it this weekend, to be honest.

If you survived the storm then… thanks! I appreciate that. I’ll do my best to offend you as often as possible. Oh, and I’m moving back to SF today! Like, right now:

Your links, my yenizens:

  1. Money. Opportunity. Elon tweet. Watchdog? Reinvention? No category.
  2. Make money. What is wrong with MMOs. Services. Idiots. Slow. Jobs.
  3. Bullshit. Choose one. Lies. Are we behind? Defy. Memes. Agitate. Sex.
  4. Liz. Okay. Traverse. Imagine. No. Tracking. Neat. Go long. Longer?
  5. POEM framework. Chris. Consensus. Games. Venmo. Inheriting.
  6. Management layers. Hypocrisy. Immigrants. Scale. CommDao. Obsessed.
  7. Segmentation. Roadshow. Scaling weekend club? Ouch. Pants.
  8. Problems. Immigrants. 10 years. Inflation. Roast. Don’t write books.
  9. Tracked. Zero bullshit. Fucked. Shelf. Pick that nose. Bad design.
  10. This thread is everything. Code. Piano. Hijacked. My next career.

To infinity & community,

— john

I had no idea that there was a “World Password Day” — of course there is. But this is very true:

You may not realize it, but passwords are the single biggest threat to your online security – they’re easy to steal, they’re hard to remember, and managing them is tedious. Many people believe that a password should be as long and complicated as possible – but in many cases, this can actually increase the security risk.

Complicated passwords tempt users into using them for more than one account; in fact, 66% of Americans admit to using the same password across multiple sites, which makes all those accounts vulnerable if any one falls. 

The best solution to this is actually having no password at all. Guess what? This is how we’ve built The YENIVERSE; so, we’re already ahead of the curve as a community.

From the archives of the vloggitty vlog.

Remember why you started your project; don’t give up and don’t back down. When I recorded this nearly 8 years ago I was obsessed with competition; I had this entirely wrong.

It can be disheartening and very discouraging which is why I now no longer obsess over my so-called “competition” because it does not actually matter. Every day we see the “highlight” reels of what’s working which usually accounts for < 5% of the actual startup business. The rest of the 95% is an absolute dumpster fire.

If you find yourself jealous then you’re heading down the wrong path because you’ve forgot your first love — your customers. You only need one (maybe two) core features that fundamentally drive 100X value for the folks that you love.

When I think about what we’re co-building together I think of you by name. I think of what you’re struggling with and what I know is true and what I know we’ve built. And I can’t wait to hang out more; it’s very, very close.

Talk soon. Don’t give up. Fuck the haters. There’s a place for you in the metaverse.


📻 — Are You a Metacreator? — It’s Time to Start Onboarding Into the Mothership…

Good morning yenizens!

#YENIVERSE Season 1 of the vlog is back up in this mother! I’m excited to bring all of you for the journey as we explore the creation of the metaverse! We all have a very important part to play, mind you. Either you will be part of the coming sea-change or you will be left behind.

Which one will you be?

  1. Start here. DevRel? History. TikTok. Different? yenKIDS. Tooling. 11.
  2. BaaS. Get some. Hire, now. LXI. ZipMessage. Comments. Deckbase.
  3. Taproot. Community Led! Serious. No no no. Intimacy. Take care. Yes.
  4. Ultra. Positive notes. Stalker city. Big deal. Strategy. Concern. Cool.
  5. Daughters. It’s back. Go direct. Second place. Up. Binance. Fraud.
  6. Startups. They tried. Pinterest. Good. Celebrate wins. Reshuffling. Great.
  7. Splits. Money. Single-minded determination. The right games. Eat it.
  8. The Metacreator Middle Class. Shopify doing it right. Bluecheck. Write.
  9. Atlanta. Whoops. Diem. Disgusting. Voice acting. Kids. Wait, what?!
  10. Fucking, lol. Do you? Hand motions. Ultimate? Overnight. Get paid more.

To infinity & community,

— john

Wow. Just wow. I have nothing but respect for Justin. I was a customer of Atrium on both the services side of the house as well as a candidate for their “Series A” accelerator (or whatever they called it). Check out this vlog from way-back:

Startups are hard.

“Don’t Be The Best, Be The Only”

via Kevin Kelly and NFX:

  • The one thing that I’ve been impressed by in talking to many high achievers, not just entrepreneurs, but all classes from actors, singers, musicians, business people, and writers …. the more curly-Q their career path was, the higher they went.
  • Almost none of them have a direct path. Anybody on a direct path I would be skeptical of.
  • I think a meander is almost essential, but certainly conducive to really becoming a world-class individual and an only.
  • I resonate with this idea that is often attributed to Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead, which is “Don’t be the best, be the only.”
  • I am really interested in companies and individuals who are the only, who’ve become the only. And that to me is a much better place to be than just merely the best.
  • The only would be this guy who does “Magic for Humans”, Justin Willman. He’s a magician with a very special style. He’s a street magician that’s wrapped up his magic into themes about fatherhood or motherhood or telling the truth. As far as I can tell, he’s the only person doing it. That’s a niche for him. It’s a certain kind of magic and a sermon.
  • He’s an only in my book. He’s not really competing against other magicians. He has this little niche to himself.
  • Both as an individual and as a company, you want to work on something that nobody has a name for. When there’s no name for what you’re doing, that means that there’s no category and you have difficulty explaining to people what it is that you’re doing. That means that you are on the path to the only because there’s no category.

There is only room for the authentic version of you. If the yeniverse doesn’t get it… then, who does?

A few key thoughts from Tommy Palm, the co-founder / CEO of Sweden’s Resolution Games via The Information ($$$):

Work-life balance is a constant topic of discussion in game development. Long stretches of overtime, known as crunch, are pervasive throughout the industry. At Resolution, how do you structure and manage projects to ensure that people can work in a healthy way?

I think a lot of the crunch culture that exists in games is just that: culture. In all my companies that I’ve started or been a part of, we have made a big effort to say that it’s not about this particular game that we’re developing right now. It’s a marathon. We want people to be experienced and we can’t have them burn out on their first production.

There are several things that you can have in your process and methodology in order to make sure that you are creating a culture where everyone feels it’s okay to go home. One of the things that we’ve tried to do is to never just have one person in a role. We try to communicate openly with the player base as well, and say “we’re working on this, we think this is the deadline when we can release it,” but we’ll update them if something goes wrong.

Have a great one folks, love you all. Get some rest this weekend; we’re all going to need it badly.


📻 — Change by Design, Chapter 6 — #yenBOOKCLUB

Good morning yeniverse!

It’s Week #7 of the #yenBOOKCLUB and here are a few of my personal notes that I’ve captured in last week’s reading (Chapter #6) — and, of course, I’d love chat over the book with you during #yenHOURS today! Feel free to stop by if you have time!

And what about the daily #yenQUEST? Get it in! Some links before we jump in:

  1. Roblox. Mow-Rio. Collide. Just walk. TikTok. Huh. Red team.
  2. Not fucked. What’s going on. Land, expand. Fix this. Thread. Don’t freak.
  3. Evolution. Focus, niche. Close-minded. Win. $100M fund. Safety.
  4. Congrats! Vidds. Duckly. Turn on sound. Treasury invest. Diversity.
  5. Presence. BMW. Famous. iRithm. Metaplayer, Mode. Legend.
  6. Team. Wisdom. Creator economies. It got crazy. All-time. Zero sum.
  7. Sash. In-app shopping. Juggular. Community isn’t hard. Big, small.
  8. End well. FB crypto. Neat! Garnet. Paco. Trends. Icons. Compensation.
  9. Score. Pretty. Broadcast. Useful. Foal. Great name. Collective. Old.
  10. The future. Urban bot. Fangs. Lightforge. No more lies. Elearning.

To infinity & community

— john

Today’s reading had some juicy bits! Here are some of my more-important notes:

  1. Design thinking requires story telling to create context and to give meaning.
  2. The “fourth dimension” is designing with time; a structure of sequenced events that build upon one another, across time. It means thinking of people as living, growing, thinking organisms who can help write their own stories.
  3. There are three self-reinforcing phases of medical treatment: The patient must first understand their condition, then accept the need for treatment, and then finally take action.
  4. Allowing customers to write the last chapter of the story themselves is only one more example of design thinking in action.

I haven’t always appreciated the relationships between design and story; now, it seems inextricably tied together in a way that would be utterly harmful if removed. In many real ways, the best story wins. Give that some thought.

The last bullet might be something interesting to do for today’s #yenQUEST; feel free to share your thoughts!

via Richard Cadman

There are 3 broad areas “biz ops” typically falls into for a business:

  1. Operations — the supporting functions
  2. Business Operations — the customer value chain
  3. Strategy — steering the business to maximize value (for all stakeholders)

Although, for many folks on IH, we’re in the pre-PMF category of ops:

At an early stage company (pre-Series A), operations — as a general rule — should serve to maximise the productivity of the rest of the business in the pursuit of product-market fit. At the most basic level you’ll be stopping the wheels falling off the bus so everyone else can concentrate on building the product. It’s broad in remit, flexible to the skills and interests of the individual, and relatively unpredictable. Your role will likely span all of the supporting functions. The role could also expand to include a heavy strategic component — market analysis, product management, financial modelling, raising finance.

The Charlie Munger Playbook

Everyone and their mother is talking about Berkshire Hathaway and all of the nonsense that those two are sharing from their lofty positions behind billions of billions of billions upon billions. But, they do, on occasion, still have things we need to hear.

Charlie is one of my favorite “old timey” characters that I grew up watching from afar as he amassed his wealth in ways that I’d only come to understand in my mid-to-late 30’s. Here are some of the better high-level considerations that drive his life and financial philosophy:

1. Change your mind. Evolve. Reinvent.

  • Without Charlie’s influence, Warren may have stuck to chasing cigar butts his entire career, and missed out on wonderful businesses like See’s Candy, The Washington Post, Capital Cities, Geico (for the longterm) and Coca-Cola.
  • Charlie’s life experience taught him that the world can change on a dime, and what worked in the past won’t necessarily work in the future. To succeed over the longterm you have to be a constant learning machine — which sounds obvious, but the difficult part is being willing to question your own deeply held assumptions and beliefs, and then discard them when they no longer fit reality.

2. Focus on getting a few simple things right — and the rest takes care of itself.

  • Adapting his beloved grandfather’s motto (“Concentrate on the task immediately in front of you, and control your spending.”), Charlie learned early on that there are only a few bedrock sort of things in life that never change — and that if you just focus on getting those right, you’ll do well. Find a great spouse who makes you better in life; buy wonderful businesses at fair prices; never get into a position where you’re over-extended; be philanthropic when you can; have fun along the way. It’s hard to argue much else matters.
  • Reflecting back on his and Warren’s success, Charlie says, “It isn’t that we were so good at doing things that were difficult. We were good at avoiding things that were difficult — finding things that are easy.”

3. Risk ≠ volatility. Risk = chance of going out of business.

  • The Efficient Market Hypothesists of the 1970s-80s proposed that all investing risk could be reduced to “beta”, or volatility relative to the market. This led to the 1980s’ explosion of debt, derivatives and other “weapons of mass financial destruction” which people believed “riskless” because their volatility was hedged. Charlie and Warren recognized before anyone else that to the contrary, these instruments greatly ratcheted risk in the system! Operating with so much leverage, a single small but unexpected event could topple the whole house of cards. Unfortunately Warren and Charlie didn’t listen to their own advice when entering the Salomon Brothers saga…

4. Never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.

  • Some people (and companies or even whole industries) are addicted to “getting dirty” — deceiving, betraying, evading, cheating, belittling, and generally pursuing their own self-interest above all else. It can be tempting to engage with such people, because they often have or promise great financial rewards. But you can’t win in the long run. As the saying goes — you’ll both get dirty, and the pig will like it. Unfortunately again, Warren and Charlie didn’t always listen to their own advice…