creating a volume of work

In building a business, creativity, deep thoughts, inspiration, motivation, personal brand by Jay Clouse

As long-time readers of this newsletter will know, I listen to a lot of podcasts. Mostly long-form interviews with comedians and other people known for being “successful” in art or business.

You’ve probably heard of the Tim Ferriss podcast (or human), but he rarely tells his own story. Very rarely, he’ll be interviewed on his own podcast by a guest, but even these interviews seem to be fairly guarded.

I’ve been digging into Cal Fussman’s podcast lately, and he did an early episode interviewing Tim. (Coincidentally, Tim Ferriss’s podcast is where I was first introduced to journalist/master interviewer Cal Fussman).

Cal conducts great interviews, and Tim seemed much more open (and even excited) to share more about his own journey on this episode.

And the biggest takeaway that I had was being just blown away by the pure length of time and volume of work he created before he found really any success with The 4 Hour Work Week. 

He spent time doing free illustrations, working odd jobs, working in a call center, starting his supplement company (written about in 4HWW), and more. It was just a very thorough retelling of all of the (in hindsight, logical) steps to where he finally found a breakthrough success. And there were a ton of them!

I’ll be honest — I’m watching a ton of my peers rise to higher and higher positions within their companies, or find success with their own after working 5+ years, and I’m getting a lot of FOMO.

On one hand, I could be working my way up in a company, making a great salary, and saving cash to leverage and build a financial engine that I, frankly, don’t have right now.

The FOMO for my friends who have been working on the same company consistently for years and are now breaking through is real too.

In both cases, I’ve realized the FOMO is for the progress towards wealth, and not in the work itself. I love my work and I wouldn’t want to change it for anything right now.

“Wealth isn’t everything, Jay.” 

Yeah, I know. I get that. But, financial freedom to create and maintain personal freedom is very much a goal of mine.

And the path I’ve chosen to work down is in building leverage. I have a whole piece I want to write about leverage coming soon, but it’s very well outlined in this tweetstorm by Naval Ravikant everyone seems to be writing about lately.

For me (and others) to take this path, it comes down to creating leverage through specific knowledge. Becoming a “meaningful specific” instead of a “wandering generality.” There are plenty of ways to make a living as a walking generality, but you won’t build leverage through specific knowledge that way.

My work serves many purposes, including building specific knowledge, building a network, and ultimately a (gasp) brand. It’s gonna take a huge volume of work and a lot of time. Without getting lucky, there’s no way around it.

And so when the FOMO comes, the age old question: “Is this what I should be doing? Am I willing to put in this time and create this massive volume of work?”

I have no plans to slow down or quit at this point, a little over a year in. But I’m not going to bullshit myself on the amount of output necessary to even have a shot at building real leverage this way. You shouldn’t either.


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