Interesting Developments

A few days ago I asked my email list if they had any side projects going on, any hobbies to direct their creative energies, any businesses they were trying to build.

Photo "001102" by my new favorite photographer Alexey Gaponov, Flickr, CC-By-2.0
Photo “001102” by my new favorite photographer
Alexey Gaponov, Flickr, CC-By-2.0

I heard back from a few of my most excellent subscribers (thanks!) sharing some cool side projects. Photography and drop-shipping are among of the responses that I share an interest in.

One reader, William, wrote in, and he and I had a little conversation… William mentioned that he had an interest in side projects… but was having a hard time finding something interesting enough to spend his valuable time.

I completely understand. From the outside, when we don’t know much about a topic, it can be uninteresting.

And when we know too much about a topic, when we’re fully immersed, it also can lose a lot of the appeal that first drew us in. That’s how we get burned out after a long time in any one field.

Finding that middle ground, and keeping variety in our activities, helps to stay us balanced and continue forward.

What I’ve come to realize is that you and I aren’t automatically drawn in to most things.

Instead we develop an interest, when we…

Dig Into the Complexities Below the Surface!

Sports fans might watch a baseball game, but hardcore baseball fans delve into the stats and know the history of players I’ve never heard of.

(I’m recording an audiobook of “Obvious Adams,” written in 1916. I’m doing this mostly so I can listen and absorb the lessons while I drive. When it’s done I’ll share it with you as well on my Podcast channel.

Anyway, the book is about business and comes highly recommended by David Ogilvy, an influential copywriter.)

In the book, Adams is denied the opportunity to work on a cake advertisement. Undeterred, Adams continues to work the campaign in his spare time.

And when the advertising campaign is in danger of being cancelled, Adams gets upset:

“He had become very much
interested in that cake business.”

Adam’s didn’t start with an interest in cakes. He spent his own time to learn about the business of cakes, and that’s when it got interesting.

It’s this digging in that leads to fascination. It’s the details.

One example that comes to mind is Pencils.

I love myself some pencils.

You might think, oh, pencils. Some wood and some lead…

Old technology. And you’d be right.

But there is a lot that goes into a pencil. The “lead” is actually graphite blended with wax. The ratio changes the hardness and the darkness and the smoothness. The wood matters. Everything matters.

Digging deep allows someone like David Rees to write a hilarious book about pencils, “How to Sharpen Pencils.”

He’s also created this deadpan video that knocks me on my ass.

Has David retired from this book, or even changed careers? I can’t say. But has he poured his creative energy into something that people enjoy and have paid him money for?


What do you know more about than anyone else?

or what do you wish you knew about?

or what are you doing tonight that doesn’t work out, and a solution would help a lot of people?

(For myself, this last one is “stir fry sauce.” Damn I wish I had a good recipe for a homemade stir fry sauce that tastes like it came from a decent Chinese restaurant. I’d pay for that.)

Dig in. How can you solve a problem and share it with the world?

In my attempts at self improvement, I know that physical activities and analog media are more impactful to my brain.

Digital doesn’t engage us in the same way as a pencil and notebook does.

While I like the Palomino Blackwing pencils, they’re a bit pricey. My favorite day-to-day pencil is the Tombow 8900 HB. It’s got a great waxy feel to it that I appreciate often.

And what use is a dull pencil? This is the best pencil sharpener I know of  😉 I’ve purchased one for myself and recently three more as gifts. The holidays are coming and this hand-cranked dual-burr sharpener makes a great gift for the analog lovers in your life.