Dear <<First Name>>,
I sent my first Consumed / Created newsletter on May 15, 2017 to 76 recipients. The newsletter got a 71.6% open rate and there were hardly any clicks at all.
A little over 3 years later, I've just sent my 100th edition. It's been a productive and fun habit. My list size hasn't grown by much (249 subscribers) but I appreciate those who've stuck around and occasionally dropped a note.
The hardest thing to master was consistency. It wasn't until last November when I decided to commit to making this newsletter a "sacred" activity. Every Saturday, even when I'm feeling lazy, I log in to MailChimp and create a new campaign draft. After I send out a newsletter on Monday, I immediately create a new Evernote entry to collect links for the next week (I usually get to 7-12 links by end of the week and curate from there). By religiously repeating these rituals, I've been able to reel off 39 consecutive weeks of newsletters whereas before, it took over 100 weeks to send out 60 newsletters.
I've thought about a couple of quotes from Atomic Habits by James Clear: "All big things come from small beginnings. The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision. But as that decision is repeated, a habit sprouts and grows stronger." and "Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity."
This newsletter is still very small and, I hope, in its early days. I've benefitted from the compounding that's happened from forcing myself to reflect on the things I've consumed and from eking out my own content every few weeks. Reading and writing has not only helped me to learn new things, it's helped me to evolve as a person and to be exposed to subjects and ideas I was unaware of before.
To all my subscribers: thank you for reading and giving me motivation to send each week. It's been a rewarding pleasure.
Last week's newsletter got a 57.4% open rate. The most-clicked link was to my new web section that shares my stock portfolio. The most-clicked link not by me was How CEOs Think: 5 Mental Models to Shift from Founder to CEO.
Nintendo, Disney, and Cultural Determinism by Matthew Ball (blog post)
Fascinating essay by Ball (who also wrote a wonderful series of essays on Epic Games) on Nintendo's focus and why it hasn't fully embraced multiplayer, games as a service, and widespread licensing of its IP. Not all companies, it seems, want to become massively profitable platforms that leverages its "IP flywheel".
Statement by Jeff Bezos to the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary (blog post)
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, in his testimony before the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law, does a masterful job of telling Amazon's founding story, its core values, and how it's able to add value at it scale, playing up the competitiveness of companies like Walmart and Shopify to download Amazon's dominance. Loved how clearly he articulates the company's mission and its achievements while framing their success as a win-win for the US and customers.
Kat Cole – How to Operate: Lessons in Brand, Distribution, and Leadership – [Invest Like the Best, EP.184] (podcast)
Really enjoyed this podcast with Kat Cole, COO and president of North America at Focus Brands which includes brands such as Cinnabon, Jamba Juice, and Carvel. The interview covers a lot of really great topics on leadership, brand relevance, and licensing deals.
One thing that stood out was how Cole conducts her check-ins with her husband each month and invests the time to identify things in their relationship and lives they can improve and better support each other on. Really loved the concept. One question used in the check-in that felt especially effective is: [What is] one thing I can do differently (more, less, etc.) to be a more effective/better partner for you?
Top Five Most Read Blog Posts on PeterKang.com Since May 2017
To commemorate this 100th newsletter, I thought I'd share the top 5 most read blog posts on my website since I sent out my first issue 3+ years ago. These posts attract the most traffic because they got ranked high for certain keywords, but I feel they are also a good reflection of the things I consumed and wrote about over the years.
1. Thoughts on “Exactly What to Say: The Magic Words for Influence and Impact” by Phil M. Jones
I wrote a quick blog post about my takeaways from a skinny book I read on how to use "magic words" to be more effective in conversations with people. Little did I know this would become my most visited blog post by far.
2. The Seven Learning Disabilities from The Fifth Discipline
From one of my favorite books of all time, I still reference this blog post whenever I'm seeing challenges and problems bubble up at work to remind myself of potential learning disabilities getting in the way.
3. Personal Mastery from The Fifth Discipline
People with a high level of personal mastery live in a continual learning mode. They never “arrive.” Sometimes, language, such as the term “personal mastery,” creates a misleading sense of definiteness, of black and white. But personal mastery is not something you possess. It is a process. It is a lifelong discipline. People with a high level of personal mastery are acutely aware of their ignorance, their incompetence, their growth areas. And they are deeply self-confident. Paradoxical? Only for those who do not see that “the journey is the reward.”
4. Lessons from Pricing Creativity by Blair Enns
I'm a big fan of biz dev coach Blair Enns who, over the past 7+ years, has shaped my thinking on sales and client relationships at creative firms. We had the pleasure of working with him in person at Barrel in January. I wrote this post when his book on pricing came out, highlighting a few lessons that stood out to me at the time.
5. Netflix Culture Deck: 7 Slides to Remember
After an inspired reading of the famed Netflix "Culture Deck", I decided to pick 7 slides I liked best and to write about it in a blog post.
P.S. You can check out my list of books read right here. My hope is to get a good mix of challenging reads with some that are entertaining, inspiring, and instructive.
If you like what you've read, please share with your friends. They can sign up for the list here. Also, I always welcome recommendations of any kind–books, podcasts, movies, etc.
About me: Peter Kang is co-founder of Barrel, a digital agency in New York City. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, son, and dog.