we’re starving for original thought

Since starting this daily newsletter, I’ve paid closer and closer attention to messages and “content” that get a lot of engagement. The assumption, which may be obvious, is that there would be some sort of pattern or commonality for what resonates.

Honestly, I didn’t find a real clear through-line. Authenticity? Maybe. But there’s a lot of bullshit marketing messaging getting a ton of engagement.

But then I realized I was looking at the wrong thing. I don’t really care about one-off messages and thoughts that resonate…I care about people who consistently share and connect with an audience. What do they do?

I’m talking about people like Seth Godin, Bob Lefsetz, Cal Newport, Tim Urban, Ben Thompson, Mark Manson, Ryan Holiday…I realized what they’ve truly done to create authentic connection with an audience is pretty simple: they’ve created and shared original thought.

It sounds too simple. Aren’t all the things we post on social media or write in an email original thoughts?

Sort of. But what I’m saying is that the people I truly admire aren’t saying the hollow, vapid messages that have been proven to convert to email subscribers (build an audience! follow your dreams! shun the haters!) but that they’ve coalesced their ideas into strong and consistent beliefs about how the world operates (or could operate).

Seth Godin talks about connection, tribes, and marketing through empathy. Cal Newport talks about a better way to focus and do important work. Ben Thompson has coined Aggregation Theory and Tim Urban breaks down complicated ideas so anyone can understand them.

And it isn’t easy to do. Creating a model and understanding of how the world works requires deep and careful observation. It requires space and curiosity to learn and find ways to relate complex ideas to one another. And then it requires the courage to take a stance and stake a claim that people may disagree with.

We don’t often allow ourselves that space. We fill every moment with newsfeeds, music, podcasts, emails, or streaming television. This daily newsletter hasn’t been a habit of writing, it’s been a habit of thinking. And it’s the most valuable habit I’ve learned in years.

There is a universal demand for your voice. There is a hunger for your thoughts and ideas. When you rob yourself of the time and space to think creatively and form ideas, you rob the world of them too.


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