How to Speed The F*ck Up by Catching Digital Greenlights

Momentum is the best drug in the world

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I’ve been reading Matthew McConaughy’s memoir Greenlights. The idea behind the book is that there are “greenlights” that pop up in your life telling you to keep going on your path and not stop.

A greenlight can look like a good date with a girl. You choose to keep going onto the second date and then the third and fourth. It could look like accidentally turning down the wrong street and finding yourself in a beautiful part of the city. You choose to keep going and explore.

Well, the same concept applies to making content online.

Enter Digital Greenlights.

Recognizing and acting upon Digital Greenlights is the key to building a solid content strategy and hitting exponential growth. Digital Greenlights are anything showing you that you’re on the right path: getting a new subscriber, making a sale, going viral, getting followed by someone you respect, etc.

When you see a Digital Greenlight, you have 2 options:

  1. Slow down.

  2. Speed the fuck up!

Who would ever slow down? People do it. Remember that app Flappy Bird? The creator shut it down when it was making a reported $50,000/day.

And it’s not just this schmuck! Hell, I’ve slowed down at greenlights.

Back in college, I was running a music magazine and it was going great. Lots of greenlights. We were landing cool interviews and getting new readers. But I shut it down to smoke weed and laze around all summer with my friends and ex-girlfriend. By the time school was back in the fall, I had lost all momentum on the magazine and called it quits.

I think choosing to slow down at greenlights comes down to a few things:

  1. They self-sabotage due to internal issues (i.e., 18-year-old me getting stoned all summer instead of working on something cool)

  2. They’re not grateful for the greenlights (i.e., they don’t think 10,000 followers is a big deal because it’s not 1 million followers)

  3. They’re too busy staring at the redlights to realize how many greenlights there are (i.e., they get 100 good comments and 2 bad comments and think they should stop posting)

  4. They think it’ll be greenlights forever (i.e., they get cocky and complacent and think it’s fine if they take a break to slow down because it’ll always be greenlights)

I hate looking back and seeing how many greenlights I drove up to only to stop. It’s depressing. I gave up on a lot of cool projects over the years because I couldn’t recognize the greenlights. I learned the hard way you gotta catch the greenlights because they won’t be green forever.

Now, when I see a greenlight, I speed the fuck up.

I’m watching out for greenlights like I’m Gatsby.

  • I realized videos were doing well on Twitter, so I hired a videographer to make professional-grade videos. The first few videos went swimmingly so I flew to SF for a weekend just to film some content. Pedal to the fucking metal.

  • I noticed my threads about marketing geniuses were getting me a lot of newsletter subscribers (greenlight) so I upgraded my frequency of publishing and am also sending out case studies 2x/month here for premium readers.

  • My tweet about wanting to start a banned book club got a lot of engagement (greenlight), so within 5 minutes, I had a Discord up; within an hour, there were 25 people in the club, and we chose a book for Month 1.

What happens when you hit a greenlight and speed up?

You gain momentum. Life starts moving fast. The money gets bigger. You meet more people. Small wins stack up and turn into big wins. Big wins stack up and turn into huge wins. Crazy shit starts happening. Speeding up at Digital Greenlights is good for the soul and bank account.

So you’re probably wondering…

How do you recognize and catch a Digital Greenlight?

The easiest way to catch a Digital Greenlight is through data analysis.

Which content is getting the most engagement? What’s leading to subscriptions? What’s making money? Whatever is doing best, 10x it. Speed up. That being said, data isn’t perfect.

As any data scientist knows, data tells a story, but it’s just one story. You can’t rely solely on data—that’s why most of the time catching a greenlight is about following gut instinct.

“Catching greenlights is about skill: intent, context, consideration, endurance, anticipation, resilience, speed, and discipline.”

Matthew McConaughey

Catching greenlights and trusting your gut are both skills you learn through time and repetition. You improve by spending more time in the game. I’m much better at catching greenlights than I was when I first started my internet adventures. I’m also much better at avoiding redlights.

Avoiding Redlights

Another way to catch a greenlight is to avoid the redlights.

“We can catch more greenlights by simply identifying where the red lights are in our life, and then change course to hit fewer of them.”

Matthew McConaughey

Avoiding redlights could mean avoiding people who don’t get your mission and try to stop you. It could also mean just staying off some social media platforms because they’re not helpful.

But it’s not always possible to avoid redlights (i.e., hateful comments on YouTube). If you really want to succeed online, you’re gonna need to learn how to run redlights and laugh while doing it.

Running Redlights

Redlights are optional, you do realize that, right.

They’re not laws of nature, they’re laws of man. You can follow them or choose not to and deal with the consequences. Sure, you may crash or get a ticket, but more than likely, you’ll make it safely through with nothing happening.

My great grandpa used to drive through stop signs in quiet areas, laughing, and saying “That was an optional one!” That’s the DNA in my blood. I do the same thing when I’m back in the burbs.

And I do the same damn thing online.

Whenever I get a hateful comment, I troll their asses right back! They want you to stop, they want to bring you down, don’t fucking let them, whatever you do. Ironically, the redlights for online adventures are often offline (i.e., parents who tell you to stop working on a project).

My friend Randy has a rule when it comes to his career: whatever his parents advise him to do, do the opposite. They told him not to start selling sneakers as a teenager, he did it. They told him not to write a book in college, he did it. They told him not to leave corporate to start a content agency, he did it. He ran the redlights. Now Randy is 26, running his own business, traveling the world with nothing but a backpack making more money than any 26-year-old investment banker would. As we sat around at 2 PM on a Tuesday catching up on a sunny rooftop in Manhattan, I started to realize something.

Most of the time, stopping at redlights is fucking pointless.

Sure, some of the time, you hit a redlight and it’s useful because you’re at an intersection. But most of the time, it’s just something holding you back from your destination.

Rules are meant to be broken, redlights are meant to be run.

Redlight or greenlight, speed the fuck up. 

If you want to become a better content strategist, subscribe below:

Coming Soon: Barbie Marketing Case Study

See how Barbie became the movie everyone wants to see.

In 72 hours, I’m posting a case study on Barbie’s marketing tactics.

Upgrade for access here:

Ok onto today’s piece!

Cool Shit Corner

3 things that helped me be a better creator this week:

✍🏻 I found an old Tim Ferriss blog titled Blogging by Numbers: How to Create Headlines That Get Retweeted.

📘 I started a book club for banned books! It’s 100% free just for fun. We’re reading and discussing our first book. Join here.

☕️ Coffee lovers, here’s a great piece called Cafes and Grand Narratives by Venkatesh Rao! On the beauty of turning coffee into work.

Thanks for reading nerds.

Create some cool shit this week.


Your cyberpunk content strategist

Jason Levin

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