1/100: Writing for me vs. Writing for you

Friction, Article Ideas, Reflection

These past couple of days/months - I’ve been working to produce some articles that were inspired by random journaling. However, the shift from writing for myself to writing for others is something that has created uneasiness and quite a bit of friction.

All the ideas were relatively simple, and certainly circled around the 3 topics I spoke of in 0/100 (Family, Culture, & Tech). One article was titled “Why We Need a Soft Authoritarian Smart Phone” another was “The World’s Next Food Fight” and the third was “Serving a Cold Msg on a Hot Plate.”

Each of these articles/notes came from very real experiences and having consumed a lot of random information, I began to align new learnings and invent conclusions/solutions that might be best not only for me but maybe everyone. As a little exercise to jumpstart my writing, I’ll dive into how these ideas came to life below.

How were these article ideas born?

Soft Authoritarian Phone:

I live in London. But every 6 months I travel back to the US to visit family. Somehow, miraculously, I was able to keep up with this schedule despite the world paralysis brought on by COVID. Not being in a single place for a long time can be exciting. However, in the midst of a pandemic the nomadic nature of my existence was a bit anxiety inducing. During this time, I ended up using my phone more than I wanted to and as a result, losing much of the value that comes with it.

With this, I came to recall the sentiments of Singpore’s famous Lee Kuan Yew: “People don’t know what is good for them” (I’m paraphrasing) vs the contrasting Western view that holds fear towards any exercise of central control. I decided to draft a piece and make the argument that in many cases, some individuals are very open to relinquishing control over certain types tech consumption - and in some cases people are willing to pay a premium for it. I’ll ship this soon on my blog Hypothesis House.

World’s Next Food Fight:

Shortly after reading How Russia Wins the Climate Crisis an article done by the NYT and Prorepublica, I started to dive deeper into the world of food and cellular agriculture - I spoke with CellAgri’s founder Ahmed Khan and discovered how vast the networks involved in this process were - how much these systems are at risk and in need of resilience. For many people, when you sit down to eat - you are completely disconnected from the source of your food and it is not absolutely necessary to think about how your meal landed in your plate. Food systems are intricate, often traditional and with the issues of climate change - are dying. Where food comes from is not only a matter of geography, it is a matter of politics and economics. Who produces food, how the food is produced is cultural. Traditions and practices of the culinary arts have the potential to be completely reconstructed due to the macro issue of climate change, caused by the emission of greenhouse gasses of cars, cows, coal, and buildings. The world is certainly connected. I’ll get to writing this out soon too - but in the meantime, if you are curious to learn more about cellular agriculture check out the article “Labriculture Now” by Jan Dutkiewicz, Gabriel Rosenberg.

Serving a Cold Msg on a Hot Plate

The beloved “cold message” - this little practice of speaking/reaching out to people I don’t know has been a practice of mine since childhood. Almost like meditation, everyday I would speak to a stranger and in college started doing so online as well via Twitter and LinkedIn. I often did so for professional advice and career wisdom.

Only recently, did I start to realize that the cold message is everywhere. It is there when you approach a stranger at a cafe, when you get a match on Bumble, when you sit next to someone on a plane, or even tweet something. You’re engaging with someone “cold” - without knowing them.

I came to this realization a few weeks ago, when I decided to became a member of Borrowmydoggy.com - a dog loving community, and more practically a website that connects dog lovers with dog owners that need a bit of help in taking care of their beloved pets. The site doesn’t make money by charging dog owners to advertise their dogs, or by taking a cut of dog walker’s services. Borrowmydoggy makes money by charging dog lovers for access to the dog loving community, and namely to cold message one another for the purpose of a furry connection.

The people who want to be there, are there - because they either love dogs and don’t have one, or because they love dogs and do. The website is purely about loving dogs - nothing else…

Since college: I’ve been cold messaging for fun. Famous people, random people, CEOs, anyone with an interesting background - just to learn about their journey and connect. With a variety of people, I devised a variety in types of messages: straightforward, unique, cringe, funny, and of course…clever. 3 months ago: I quit my job to be a VC without having a VC job - I began angel investing, advising startups - the works. This certainly includes a lot of cold messaging. Today: I am paying a website call borrowmydoggy.com to let me cold message dog owners with the hopes of being able to walk their dogs.

There are certainly a few sensational insights here, surrounding the cold message: the value of having access, the degree to which individuals feel open to connecting with certain types of people, and how people are willing to pay for all this. I’m currently working on building something in this space of cold messaging, and if you’re also a hustler and can potentially compliment my non-technical background pls reach out :)

Keep an eye out for this essay on hypothesis house as well, and if you don’t see it soon give me a nudge by replying to this email.

All this to say…

After writing this and reflecting upon the friction of getting these pieces written and published I noticed that there is an important distinction that needs to be made when starting to write in public:

There is a difference between writing for the purpose of showing others what you are thinking and writing to engage with what others are thinking. Finding the balance between the two can be quite helpful.

This is day 1. Thanks for reading - also just to gauge where my audience is, please respond to this email with the city you are reading from! I’ll include the list in tomorrow’s letter.

S