Work Like Its The Middle Ages
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When I was 16, I had an idea for a food truck that serves s’mores with different types of chocolate rather than just Hershey’s milk chocolate.
My parents told me to write a business plan (which I did), but I then immediately got intimidated by the scope of the project and backed off.
I still think the idea is brilliant - imagine white chocolate s’mores - , but I have no interest in running a food business.
Regardless, what I wish I could have told my younger self though was “go work for a food truck and learn how it’s done.”
I would’ve spent the summer working on a food truck and going to music festivals instead of going to Planet Fitness and screwing around with friends.
2 years later, I fell for a similar trap.
I started an online music magazine called Monday Mourning after never having written for a magazine. For me being a freshman in college, I think it was pretty successful. We interviewed Bad Suns, Matt Costa, and a few other big indie musicians.
But, on the business side of things, I had absolutely no clue what I was doing. I was pouring money into Facebook ads and spending countless hours on this project with no idea how I was going to make any money from it.
Maybe it would’ve been smart to write for a magazine or even just write some articles for my college friend who was putting on shows and publishing album reviews.
Oh yea, didn’t think of that? I had to be the Zuck.
The Zuckerberg Trap
The Zuckerberg trap is what a lot of steadfast teenagers fall into. They think they can start a business without ever working for one.
I had made $20,000 selling stickers online by age 18 so I thought I was the shit. I got into a top 3 business school in the country, so why couldn’t I be that one-in-a-million kid who is a millionaire by 21?
Newsflash - not every teenager is going to start the next billion-dollar company. I had no skills (minus Photoshop) and no clue how to run a business.
That being said, I do think it’s good for teenagers - and really anyone - to just jump into smaller projects and start building them.
When I started Brain Blasts, I had a) never written professionally besides the local paper, and b) never been on a podcast. I just jumped in.
This works really well for simple permissionless projects like newsletters, TikTok, YouTube, and selling sneakers.
But, at some point, you’re going to want to scale your project.
That’s when you need to hop on Twitter, find someone whose already done what you’re trying to do, and get yourself a front row seat at the table.
Let’s jump from my stubborn teenage years to age 24 in March 2022.
I’m working in corporate, building on Twitter, and writing for a DAO called Cabin.
I hit up Twitter legend Greg Isenberg and started freelance writing for his team at Late Checkout. The highlights were live jam sessions with the team and Greg’s comments on my Google Docs.
I’d write a decent thread and he’d hop in, drop a killer hook, and boom. It’d go viral.
When I worked with Greg, I felt like an apprentice learning my craft.
It had been my goal to be a professional writer since I was a kid, but I had grown up with so much bs in my head that I thought it was an impossible feat.
It turns out it was possible. I just needed to become an apprentice first.
In a Forbes article published last week, author Ryan Craig described how there’s millions of unfilled tech jobs inaccessible due to skill and experience gaps.
He suggests “the only model that solves for skills and experience in a single, transfer-less, transition-less bound is apprenticeship.”
You don’t need to apply for an apprenticeship. You can just find someone on Twitter who is further along your career path and offer to help out1.
This is the beauty of digital apprenticeships.
“Because apprenticeships are jobs with clear career trajectories, they’re the only pathway to socioeconomic mobility that truly level the playing field”
- Ryan Craig
Due to my part-time work with Greg and his team, I started writing for a living.
Just a month later, I got a full-time offer as a Staff Reporter for The Defiant.
I’m full-time in crypto baby! A miracle!
This isn’t just a job - it’s another huge learning opportunity.
The founder of The Defiant is Camila Russo, journalist and author of The Infinite Machine, a book about Ethereum that is getting turned into a movie.
The team also includes an experienced editor, an anonymous NFT mogul, a marketing mastermind, and more brilliant folks. I may be an employee, but in my mind, I’m also a digital apprentice.
Like a blacksmith’s apprentice worked in a workshop, I spend my days on Discord and Twitter refining my craft.