25 Things I Now Know At Age 25
Note to a younger self:
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Tomorrow is my 25th birthday so this post is gonna be a bit different.
I write this newsletter for a younger version of myself: the 16-year-old Jason tweeting silly jokes with no clue how to make it as a creator online.
Now, I'm 24 and self-employed thanks to tweets and blogs. This year, I hit 10,000 Twitter followers, 2,000 Cyber Patterns subscribers, and quadrupled my income. Cheers to whatever happens in the next 365 days.
In honor of turning 25 tomorrow, here are 25 lessons I've learned about being a creator. Plus 5 more funny ones at the bottom.
25 Lessons I'd Share With A Younger Creator:
Build a portfolio, not a resume. You're a creator, not a doctor. Stop pursuing useless degree and resume boosters. Create work for free or cheap that can lead you to higher paying work in the future. Trust the process.
Don't be afraid of making friends on the internet. Hop on the phone, get coffee, and make a friend like it's the first day of kindergarten. Because internet friends understand what it's like to be an online creator, you'll find your biggest supporters and some of your best friends.
Build a tribe of maniacs: the obsessive creators and builders like you. Surround yourself with friends who are ambitious hustlers in any field: business, art, cooking, whatever. The best in any field require grit and can teach you a thing or two.
Find apprenticeships, not jobs. There's only so many people you can meet at college or in your hometown. You can work under anyone online. Seek out the master craftsmen and find a way to provide them with value for little in return. It will pay off.
You don't need drugs or alcohol to be creative or have a social life. Kerouac died at 42 of alcoholism. Mac Miller overdosed. Billie Eilish and Tyler, the Creator are sober. I'm 3 years clean from all substances. Clarity is the best drug of all.
People will think you're crazy until you're rich. Your teachers will tell you to get off your phone, your parents will tell you to focus on school, your friends will laugh behind your back. Some people just can't see past their own noses. As long as you've got the vision, it's fine. Keep on pushing.
You need to spend money to make money. If you're too cheap or afraid to buy yourself some software or lighting equipment, don't expect to have the same results as people who were willing to take the risk on themselves.
Read for ideas, write for clarity. Books are like conversations with the smartest people of all time. Writing is like a conversation with yourself. Read or listen to podcasts for new ideas and quotes; then write out your interpretation.
"There's already enough podcasts/blogs/etc" is bullshit-speak from NPCs. When you start, people consume your work for the ideas. Eventually, people consume your work because they trust your personal brand. Does Tim Ferriss interview people that well or do we all just love Tim Ferriss?
You are your brand. Spend time crafting the perfect bio, figuring out your tone, and determining your goals. First impressions matter. Make your profile a memorable first impression.
Build leverage through content or code. Both can reach infinitely scalable audiences. As Naval Ravikant said, "If you can't code, write books and blogs, record videos and podcasts."
Be more disagreeable. Ask "why" more. Follow the laws, but don't listen to society's unspoken rules. These are just someone's theories. Come up with your own theory of the world and test it out. Don't want to go to college? Try a gap year.
Spend more time alone. You'll get ideas from hanging out with people, but clarity comes from spending time alone working on your craft. As Warhol wrote, "As soon as I became a loner, that's when I got what you might call a 'following'".
Work a remote job. It can even be for less pay. You can't meaningfully engage with people on Twitter while a boss is breathing down your neck. If you have an idea for a TikTok, you can't make it if you're in a boring office. Work from home.
Optimize for your working style. I hate zoom meetings so I take phone calls with clients while walking my dog. If someone isn't cool with that, they can fuck off. This week, a potential client asked me to run their brand's account and do engagement for them. I turned them down because I can't take the stress. My Twitter already gives me headaches. Figure out your working style and optimize for it in the long run.
Force yourself to create even when you don't want to. Will it into fucking existence. Just do it. It's a grind. Olympic athletes don't get where they are from only working when they're inspired or are in the mood to exercise. Go write more.
Find a romantic partner that respects your craft. I dated a scientist and lawyer and they thought Twitter was stupid and a waste of time. My girlfriend works in fashion and gets the internet hustle. She's super supportive and my biggest cheerleader. It's like a superpower.
Don’t worry about views, listens, or subscribers. Your first project won’t blow up. It takes months and years of iterations and compound growth. Just put in the reps and the number will go up over time.
Build a priceless reputation. 2 years ago, I had to cold call and apply for jobs. Now most of my clients are the ones reaching out to me. People talk. Your reputation is leverage: working for you even when you’re asleep.
Set deadlines. Setting up Cyber Patterns every Sunday made me stick to a schedule and assured I publish 1-2x/week. Amateurs publish when they feel like it. Professionals set deadlines and create content calendars.
Prioritize self-care. Go touch some grass. I like to go on walks while on airplane mode to clear my head. I have friends who are really into yoga and heavy running. Take care of yourself and your work will take care of itself.
Monetize your dopamine addiction. It's too late to quit social media. We're in too deep. You might as well figure out how to monetize your addiction. Otherwise you're just scrolling and posting for what reason?
"Value your time. It is all you have. It’s more important than your money. It’s more important than your friends. It is more important than anything. Your time is all you have. Do not waste your time." — Naval Ravikant, founder of AngelList
Remixing is not plagiarism. "It's not stealing if you put a spin on it," writes Steven Pressfield. All ideas come from somewhere. Even Thomas Edison said, "I’ve stolen a lot myself. But I know how to steal."
Don't tell people, show them. I used to tell people my goals thinking it would help. But their doubts made me doubt myself. Now I just keep my goals on my whiteboard. Don't tell people what you can do. Show them what you've done.
5 Semi-Serious Things I'd Tell a Younger Creator
Be weirder. You should be weirdness-maxxing. Read weird banned books. Watch weird indie movies. Listen to weird crime podcasts. Great work is "weird" to normies.
Get laid more often. Good for creative energy.
When sad, lift heavy stones. No more sad.
Become a tech journalist for 6 months. You'll meet high-status people and get in the habit of pressing publish everyday. In month 6, switch over to the dark side and start working for the tech companies you used to write about. More money, more fun.
Shitpost more often. "Comedians are the best thought leaders because they understand how the world works but they want to make you laugh rather than making themselves feel smart." - Morgan Housel