Hi, Steven here. This is Product Matters, a semi-regular newsletter on Products and Strategy. Each issue I try to share something I’ve written on the topics of products, digital strategy, and design.
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I’m back! As I mentioned many moons ago in my last newsletter:
COVID certainly did a number on my drive to do anything remotely productive: reading, writing, exercise. While most people felt (at the start) that this newfound time would give them time to do a life makeover and be healthier and more productive, it had the inverse effect on me.
A month ago, I decided I needed some accountability. I signed up for the most recent cohort of Write of Passage, an online course by David Perell. I have actually been a member of the course since Cohort 1, but never participated in the sessions live. I watched the videos as time passed but never really took anything meaningful away. Taking the course live has been a completely difference experience. Wow.
Participating in the Zoom sessions each week gives me so much energy. Even though I’m exhausted at the end of each workday (sessions are usually 5/6pm MST), I find myself smiling and laughing in each of the breakout rooms as I connect with my fellow classmates. The Zoom chat is enlightening and the energy is inspiring. Everyone in the class is extremely curious, humble, and eager to learn. I highly recommend the course for those looking to be an internet denizen and eventually, a creator. Though the course is about writing, it’s about more than that. I won’t spoil it all, but if you have questions or want to chat about it, just hit reply! I am excited about participating in more online cohort-based courses in the future. Despite the commitment, it’s a great way to meet like-minded, ambitious people.
Throughout the course we have been tasked with 5 different essays. I’ll share my first two here, and then hopefully the rest in my next issue. I’m hoping a weekly cadence sticks at the end of the course—two more days!
Our first assignment was to answer the question “what is the definitive answer to the question you get asked the most?” I tried to get a little interpretive with the prompt and decided to write based on the question “what are you reading?” This is definitely more personal than anything I had written previously (something I surpass in my Week 4 assignment). The framework we were given in Write of Passage was to make our writing POP - Personal, Observational, Playful. I got some great feedback from my peers on how to incorporate those elements into my writing.
Our second assignment was based on the prompt “what’s your unique perspective?” As with all prompts, this can be understood on different levels. At first I was going to broad and thought about my outlook on life, but then narrowed in more specifically on personal finance. I ended up re-writing a post from munny.club using some of the pointers in the course and through an intensive sprint they call “Crossfit for Writing”. You can see the original post here if you want to compare. I spent the majority of the piece expanding on the first point and may address the others in the future.
Morgan Housel from Collaborative Fund was one of the course’s guest speakers last week. He shared some really interesting insights into his own writing process and mentioned Selfish Writing as one of his principles. I really like the idea and is something I’m trying to work on - writing for what I want to read instead of trying to imagine what people want.
This blog post by Chris Paik is fascinating not only for its content, a meditation on the impact of the internet on career aspirations, but also for its form. I love the idea of blog posts in Google Docs. Aside from how a GDoc looks. The social internet is so interesting to me and GDocs as a reading experience is one way to get there.
I really enjoy Saeed Jones’ writing. He has a much neglected substack that I enjoy when he sends it. This short piece for The Cut paints a nice picture of the future and getting together once more. It makes me nostalgic for the future in a strange way and reminds me to read more fiction.
That’s all for this time. I’m always looking for feedback on both my writing and my ideas. Have something on your mind? Just reply to this email. I would love to hear from you and I read every response.