Ever since I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with learning.
Yes, even years ago when I was playing video games for 3-6 hours a day.
I always carved out time to learn. A lot of it took away from the quality of my school work or job – but somehow I always knew that the knowledge acquisition would pay off.
At first, I thought my thirst for learning was shiny object syndrome.
You know… the “dangerous” thing that every successful person warns against.
But, if my bursts of obsession were true shiny object syndrome I wouldn’t be where I am now.
My path has led to something I couldn’t fathom as a teen. Now, I’m here to share that path with you (but in a streamlined fashion, without the road bumps).
In the course of 10 years, I’ve obsessed over:
- Web design
- Web development
- Graphic design
- Digital art
- Social media
- Content writing
- Marketing & sales
- Copywriting & funnels
- Self development
- This list is getting too long so I’m cutting it here… but there’s more.
Each obsession lasted ~1-3 months.
And of course, I wouldn’t exclusively learn about one thing. If a nutrition podcast piqued my interest while I was obsessed with copywriting, I’m still going to listen to it.
The results after a decade? The one thing that most people tell you is impossible. And even if they don’t literally say it’s impossible, they imply it.
The impossible achievement:
Doing what I love for a living.
Hopping from skill to skill did not prevent me from making an income at the start. Don’t get trapped thinking that you can’t replace your income early on in your journey (If you build in the real world, in front of real people, as you learn.)
To start, let’s not mistake shiny object syndrome for skill stacking.
Skill stacking > being a specialist > doing nothing at all because you’re afraid of saturation, automation, or any other excuse that leads to distraction.
Skill stacking allows you to build a creative solution to almost any burning problem on the market.
I can get better results than a specialist agency simply because I have more awareness of the domain.
I know how A will impact B will impact C and so on throughout the alphabet (and how the alphabet makes sense from a cosmic perspective.) Specialists tend to understand how A impacts B, but when it gets to C… things start to get fuzzy, which leads to limited results, even if those results are above average to the person receiving them.
We’ll talk about why that’s the case toward the end, but first, we have to understand what skills to learn (and in what order).
Stacking Evergreen Skills For Profitability
If you follow success-oriented social media accounts, you’ve probably been screamed at to learn certain skills.
“Start an agency!”
“Learn Facebook ads!”
“Start a personal brand!”
This isn’t bad advice, but I want to propose a different approach.
So, let’s zoom out and go meta.
For profitability, you will be exchanging value for value (in the forms of money, time, social leverage, information, or expertise).
You will be exchanging this value with other humans.
At the top of everything, human nature and psychology reign supreme.
So, we need 3 things:
1) A valuable message – a way to communicate with others that is relevant, understandable, or actionable.
2) A medium for distribution – a way of putting your valuable message in front of people (or else nobody sees your value).
3) A results-oriented skill – a way for delivering a transformation to the people you have attracted with 1 and 2.
Message, medium, and applicability.
These are all skills that interact with and enhance one another. Without one, you won’t get results. This is why it takes 6+ months to feel like you know what you are doing. You can’t just learn a skill and expect people to come to you (and then buy from you).
People, especially creators, tend to glance over the fact that people can become interested in anything.
Self-awareness and reflection are key here.
If you’re interested in a weird topic, how did you become interested in it? Were you just born with that interest? Of course not. So how can you get others interested and attract an audience large enough to make a living from it?
If your words aren’t resonating with others, it’s not them, it’s you.
You are either:
- Speaking from an advanced level (when 95% of the market are beginners).
- Don’t understand persuasion. You have to answer or imply an answer to the question “What’s in it for me?”
- Didn’t capture their attention and deliver a valuable message to that attention.
For the last point, “value” does not always mean actionable.
Value can be described by the key pillars of content creation.
Educate, entertain, and inspire.
Entertainment is just as valuable (to some) as education.
And, “entertaining” doesn’t mean humorous. A relevant statistic or fun fact that captures attention can be entertaining. Learning something new is a form of entertainment.
There are 2 skills to study if you want to craft a valuable message:
1) Marketing – creating a message that is attention-grabbing, relevant, and valuable for a specific person.
2) Sales – a process for making people aware of their problems and presenting a solution to those problems. Notice how you don’t just target people that are automatically aware of everything you do. It’s a process.
Sales can also be synonymous with storytelling.
They both imply a transformation by overcoming problems in a unique way.
For the sake of brevity, this letter will not go into each and every skill, that would be impossible to accomplish in one letter.
But, in the last section, I will show you how to best learn these skills.
If you want my marketing and sales systems that I use to create and launch profitable offers, check out Digital Economics.
In life, discipline = freedom (shoutout Jocko).
In business, distribution = freedom.
With an internet business, distribution comes from the combination of media and code.
Coding is a great high-value skill to learn, especially when paired with marketing know-how.
Building software, distributing it online, and actually getting users through marketing is a superhuman skill stack. Most coders only know the technical side, but not the human side.
However, many of you here are going down the creative route.
In this case, keep in mind that you will need technical know-how for the software you choose to use.
You will have to learn no-code tools (like website builders, course platforms, note-taking apps, and organizational tools) to maximize the effect of your skill stack.
Your message, from above, is what leads to engagement, impact, and sales.
But if you don’t have a medium for distribution, people aren’t going to see that message, obviously.
This is where I went wrong in the past. I was too focused on perfecting my product or service.
No sales, of course. I didn’t have a plan to get traffic to my freelance service with an overly fancy website, logo, and 3 months of “work” down the drain.
And, I didn’t have any data. I was creating a product blindly without testing first (with content and an audience).
Now, in this letter, we are taking a meta-approach.
You build distribution by growing top-of-funnel social media channels.
We talk about distribution and leverage in The One Person Business Roadmap.
This can be any of them, but I would recommend beginners start with a social platform that allows you to control growth.
YouTube, podcasts, and blogs are great… but they take time to build. I would save them for later in your journey. Treat them as authority-building platforms and let them grow with time.
At the start, I would highly recommend Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn… Twitter being my favorite. The only skill you need is writing while learning other skills along the way.
The principles of these “growth” social platforms are the same. You need:
- A valuable message
- Eyeballs on that message
- Consistent effort on getting your content shared
- A brand that looks like it should have 1 million followers
Fancy tactics for rapid growth are great. But, it’s better to focus on creating content that will bring in followers on any platform.
So, the medium for distributing your message comes before the social media platform.
Writing and speaking.
Those are the mediums for distributing your message.
When paired with marketing and sales you get copywriting and persuasive speaking.
This is the foundation of all of my social media growth. Written newsletters are scripts for YouTube. Written tweets are scripts for reels (and can be copy-pasted to all other platforms.)
In 2 Hour Writer, I show exactly how I write a long-form newsletter, deconstruct it into engaging tweets, and distribute that writing across all platforms.
ALL of my social media growth is based on my writing.
Speaking comes second (which I base on the written scripts).
Other skills to help illustrate that message come third.
So, start writing to articulate your message. Build distribution on social media. Then practice speaking when you are ready.
Results Oriented Skills
By now, we understand that you need an attractive, valuable, and persuasive message paired with a medium for distribution.
That is all you need, but you can enhance these skills by applying them in specific ways.
- Email marketing
- Sales closing
- Graphic design
- Web design
In short, you learn how to apply the medium and message – to your own or someone else’s business – with technology.
Every business needs specific technology to pull in customers on the internet.
When you understand how those pieces work, you can deliver specific results through that technology.
You can write emails that pull in more customers.
You can create graphics that pull in more followers.
You can create videos that hold more attention.
You unlock a new level of power when you pair marketing, sales, and communication with a specific technology that can be leveraged for what everyone wants:
Money, followers, reputation, opportunity, freedom, and status as a whole.
Stacking Personal Interests For Individuality
In these letters, I talk about turning yourself into the niche and building a personal brand.
But, this can also apply when you are trying to sell to a different customer avatar, person, or business.
With a personal brand, your interests are what make you unique.
When you have an offer to sell, your interests help you niche down who you sell to.
If I’m interested in fitness, I attract people interested in fitness. Meaning, I can introduce them to my other interests.
Since I understand the fitness scene, I know a LOT about my target customer. I can piece together an offer for fitness coaches and help them get better results. And, that just sounds more enjoyable than working with a business you despise for the sake of money.
And, if I’m already attracting fitness people by talking about fitness (rather than just business) then my target audience IS my audience.
My interest is fitness, so I incorporate content on that to make myself more unique.
My target customer is a fitness coach, who are attracted through my fitness content. Since they are in my audience, I can educate and sell them on my business-related offer.
See how that works?
Many people are afraid to incorporate their interests into a focused brand.
“What if it doesn’t get good engagement?”
Then it isn’t interesting enough. You aren’t hitting a relevant pain point and why they should care. Anyone can become interested in anything.
Broaden the topic and speak to a beginner level.
(Yes, this will still attract advanced-level people. I’m advanced in fitness but still need to be reminded of the fundamentals, so I consume basic fitness content.)
“What if I don’t make as many sales?”
Are you hard promoting with every single post? No.
On a 5-year time scale, if 20% of your posts are about a specific interest, do you really think that is going to impact overall revenue?
Hint: it doesn’t, and if anything, it contributes to more sales because you aren’t hyper-focused on one thing like everyone else.
“What if my interest has nothing to do with the thing that makes me money?”
Get creative. Use it as a way to help people understand.
Like when I talk about creators being like DJs.
I like EDM, but that isn’t related to business. So I note common patterns and make business more interesting with it.
Stacking Experience For Nuance & Navigation
Nothing happens, then everything happens.
When you are on the path of mastery, not in one skill, but one domain… your life, you will experience this lesson multiple times.
From the book Mastery by George Leonard, mastery is “the mysterious process during which what is at first difficult becomes progressively easier and more pleasurable through practice.”
This is the opposite of instant gratification – and why it is so difficult to internalize without action.
I am not going to baby you here and give exact steps for immediate reward.
I am, however, going to give you the meta-skills necessary for this path.
Hold these in your mind while on the path.
When things get difficult, remind yourself that it is a part of the process.
By sticking things out, you will experience short bursts of intense progress. Lean into those. Enjoy them.
Bursts Of Building
The 2 skills that will help you learn the skills above are rapid learning and rapid execution.
Combined, we can consider these skills as one:
I wrote an entire letter on this, you should read it… or watch it.
In short, here’s what you do:
- Choose a project to emulate. This should incorporate the skills you are trying to learn.
- Start building your own version. Create an outline for your project and build until you hit a wall.
- Seek specific knowledge. When you hit a wall, learn the skills necessary for that specific real-world situation. This helps you cut through the fluff that can be learned through experience.
- Bonus: teach along the way. Teaching will identify your knowledge gaps, meaning you can seek more specific knowledge.
My favorite way of integrating everything we’ve learned in this letter is by building a one-person business.
It’s obvious to me, but not to those that haven’t started.
You get to practice all skills mentioned on your own business.
Writing, speaking, marketing, sales, and complementary skills like design, video, or email.
You write content, sales pages, and promotions.
You market your own Minimum Viable Offer (or affiliate product, you don’t have to have your own) and get data to improve.
You design your profile picture, banner, product assets, and more.
Your one-person business success is determined by your ability to learn as you build.
Then, with that skill stack, you can create an irresistible offer for almost any online business… or just monetize what you’ve built on the way.
Tending To Your Perspective
1% of 50 years is 6 months.
And 6 months is just the start of the beginning.
If you are on the path of mastery, you are on it for life.
When you open your mind beyond surface-level living, you can finally see the depth, enjoyment, and reflection of life that the path of mastery presents.
I mentioned earlier that shiny object syndrome isn’t a bad thing.
The “bad” shiny objects are the ones that take you off the path.
Learning a new skill that can complement your current ones is not bad.
Your skills compound, and nobody can take them away from you.
When a distraction registers in your awareness, and you allow your focus to narrow in on it, you close your mind to the depth of your craft.
The distractions are just that, a temporary bump in the path.
Because once you’ve started, you will always come back to it, as that is the only way to achieve what you want in this life.
The most important pattern to notice here is this:
Nothing happens, then everything happens.
Mastery is a cyclical process of slow, or no, progress followed by exponential leaps in progress.
In business, the first exponential leap happens after 6 months of consistent effort. This is followed by massive resistance. You will feel like you aren’t getting anywhere.
Notice that the months of potential despair are a part of the journey.
Nobody said you aren’t supposed to feel good (or bad).
Nobody said it’s going to be easy (or hard).
Nobody said you are supposed to be rich (or poor).
Those are expectations you hold in your mind.
See beyond them.
Gradual Awareness Of The Domain
Everything we’ve discussed is a guide until solidified with direct experience.
“Nothing happens, then everything happens” is just a feel-good saying until you truly experience it.
When you learn one skill, a field of awareness opens around it.
Like a candle in a dark room.
This allows you to see the next step forward, and leads to the next skill, broadening your field of awareness further.
The candle turns into two.
Then three, four, and so on.
Soon enough, you’re able to navigate a large portion of what used to be a dark room.
Nothing happens (pieces of the puzzle that form an ugly mess) then everything happens (a piece clicks into place that forms an image you can make sense of).
This “field of awareness” is where you can help others, build creative solutions, and map your journey.
Commit to the path.
Stack evergreen skills (medium, message, and results)
Stack personal interests (for individuality)
Stack experience (for nuance and navigation)
Give yourself 20 years, not 2 weeks.
– Dan Koe
When you’re ready, visit my site for free tools and products for building a life that you control.