It’s been a year. When I started my newsletter, the goal was a year’s worth of posts. I faced setbacks, priority shifts, and pressures on my time. I put my consultancy on the back-burner, got a ‘real’ job, and got tied down to a great woman. In between, I struggled to dilute my musings into something of value for you.
I challenged myself to make it one-year without stopping, and while I failed to conquer my challenge in the gold-medal photo finish sort of sense, I earned the crap out of my participation trophy.
Where this goes next is some hard truth about you: as of one-year on, you are an incomparable 17-strong. You might be thinking, “you’ve been writing nearly every week for an entire year for a mere 17 people?” Absolutely not! Most of that time there were only six.
My wife, a beloved recurring character on this column, routinely asks me why I fail to promote it. My response? It’s not worth promoting. Which is to say, I’m not proud of it and may never be—but I realize that is just me strapping on emotional armor.
Does it make sense for a column about marketing, written by a marketer, to undergo no marketing? It makes no sense. This points to a broader challenge I face with everything I’ve ever produced. Marketing the work of others, or even work done as a team is a trivial effort—I put my marketing pants on and get to work.
However, marketing something I made, from scratch, with nary an editor? That’s an opportunity for deep, personal rejection. And the fear of rejection gurgles at the molten hot core of my anxiety planet.
I owe this to an adolescence spent making short films hoping to inspire pride in my father. It was an unworthy cause then, it remains unworthy now. Yet the pain of rejection irrationally persists. If I believe my column is trash, then I can avoid promoting it and hold tight to a ready-made excuse for why hardly a dozen people even read it. But this column is not trash.
Looking back, I published a handful of pieces that I should be damned proud of.
I am forced to acknowledge, I’ve done some good here. But what comes next? I came across a mental model this past year that I fell happily in love with: Brandon Turner’s concentric circles. This concept boils down to one idea: to grow, we need to operate in a zone of tolerable discomfort. Too comfortable, we sit pretty, too uncomfortable, and we fail explosively. Comfortable discomfort is where growth happens.
And what was uncomfortable about this first year, at least on the surface, was simply doing the work; focusing on a topic, meeting personal deadlines each week. The real discomfort comes in year two. As Alan Weiss said, “if you don’t toot your own horn, there is no music.” It’s time to play a little song I call, Stanley Bogode.
For The Mmm...Letter’s second year, her goal is to grow her modest readership by ten times. Achieving this may not solve my underlying neuroses, which will require copious therapy sessions to debug. But placing myself in a situation where I face my discomfort and operate where growth can occur is a natural remedy to my personal impasse.
And year two has one other thing going for it: gratitude. As I grow this column, I remain grateful to everyone who takes the time to consider my words. Thank you, all 17 of you, for sticking by as I wade through uncharted territory and release a brand new Stanley who plans to finally get the hell out of his own way.