I'm writing this on the edge of delirium. After two years of pandemic bingeing, I needed to reset my diet so Sarah has paid for us to go on a five day spa retreat in the middle of the desert. No food for the week, just juice and supplements and hiking and yoga and something called a 'sound bath'.
Today is day four and I'm close to eating my laptop.
The good news is that not having to prepare or eat food has freed me up to catch up on a whole pile of outstanding admin, including writing this week's newsletter. The bad news is that forming complete sentences is an epic struggle. Paragraphs an impossibility. So we're going to do this one with bullet points!
BULLET POINT #1
First thing first: This whole Twitter mess. People keep asking me if I'm pleased that the Musk acquisition seems to be falling apart, and if I'll rejoin the platform if the company stays public. (Long time readers will remember that I deleted my account in response to the then-rumored deal.)
My answer on both counts is an emphatic no. It was always highly likely that Musk would try to get out of the deal: Recent tech history is littered with his broken promises; bold announcements exposed as pure - often dangerous, sometimes defamatory - attention seeking. One Twitter insider confidently predicted to me weeks ago that Musk would try to invent an excuse to reprice the deal, knowing that Twitter's board will reject it. Then he'll act like the victim to his fans and followers. And lo and behold!
It doesn't matter. The damage is already done: Twitter's staff morale is underwater (in part because CEO Parag Agrawal seems to be trying to appease Musk in anticipation), the company's stock price is one Elon tweet away from the toilet, and the right-wing press stands ready to pounce, blaming "woke" employees, the CEO, and the board for failing to deliver the perfect takeover for their idol (and dashing their hopes for a white supremacist renaissance on the platform).
Perhaps they shouldn't worry too much on that last point: In his slathering, pathetic, conflict-averse scramble to avoid upsetting Elon and his trolls, Jack Dorsey rushed to declare that he agrees that permabanning Trump from Twitter was a mistake. Even when Musk moves on, that position is on the record. As we hurtle towards the midterms, it's going to be incredibly hard for Jack to resist right-wing attempts to hold him to it. Not that he'll try.
BULLET POINT #1A
I'm overdue sharing my latest appearance on Mark Hurst's fantastic WFMU show. We talked a lot about Elon Musk.
BULLET POINT #2
I hate business biographies and memoirs, and I say that as someone who has written two. Especially when it comes to tech founders, they tend to fall into three bad categories: Gushing hierography about sociopathic founders ("SUPER PUMPED!"), dry takedowns that nonetheless end up burnishing the legend of sociopathic founders ("THE EVERYTHING STORE" / "ACCIDENTAL BILLIONAIRS"), or bro-y self-help pablum written by... well, you know. ("FOUR HOUR WORK WEEK" / "CRUSH IT").
BUT onto this dismal field strolls something actually different: Andy Dunn's "Burn Rate", which I've been reading this week between yoga sessions and juice shots. The book is a memoir of his experience building ecommerce startup Bonobos while secretly battling with bipolar disorder.
I first met Andy a few years ago when he agreed to act as a startup mentor at our Pandoland conference. He always seemed like a breed apart from most ecommerce bros, but still the book is eye-opening in the extreme: at one of the pivotal moments of building Bonobos, Andy was hospitalized and then jailed after a manic episode where he violently attacked his then girlfriend and her mother. The subsequent story of recovery, remorse, and restitution (that girlfriend is now his wife) is not just a masterclass in admitting one's faults (I'm in awe at his candor and, again, I've written three memoirs about alcoholism) but also an important counterbalance to the mythmaking bullsh*t and "f*ck your feelings" tone of most of the memoirs it shares a shelf with.
Turns out you can be a successful tech founder and a human being. A must read.
BULLET POINT #3
One last bullet point before I collapse, drooling on my keyboard. After the surprising success of my eight-week online course on how to get published (hello newsletter-reading alumni!) Sarah has asked me to do another one.
Starting June 13th, I'm teaching a six week course on how writers can survive and thrive in today's hustle economy. Basically how to make $$$ from your words, without selling out.
I love reader/listener-supported media... paid newsletters, Patreons, podcasts, speaking gigs, self-publishing books... I launched my first paid newsletter back in 2003 (not a typo) and we got tens of thousands of subscribers before that was even a thing you could do. NSFWCORP was largely reader supported, and our 24+ hour telethon radio shows kept us in business for months after we should have gone bust. I've written before about how my self-published novel led to a traditional publishing contract and a ton of sales across print, ebook, and audio.
Over the six weeks of the course, I'll teach everything I know about getting paid for your writing, building your platform, avoiding career-killing mistakes, and generally how to make $$$ in a ridiculously crowded market. Again, without selling out.
I'll also be joined by a bunch of brilliant guest teachers, who you won't find teaching this stuff anywhere else. Most recent to join the syllabus is John Dolan aka Gary Brecher aka The War Nerd who some of you will remember from NSFWCORP/Pando. John's podcast, 'Radio War Nerd' (co-hosted with Mark Ames) has thousands of subscribers, paying up to $100 a month. Obviously he's going to help me teach the week on profitable podcasting.
The course is strictly limited to 25 people - any more than that and the live office hours discussions become unwieldly - and I'd love for you to be one of them. It starts June 13th and is 100% online - two hours a week, split between pre-recorded video seminars and live "office hours" on Zoom.
The sticker price is $599 for the full six weeks but if you email me before the end of the week (firstname.lastname@example.org) I'll give you my super secret friends and family code to save 25%. (It really is my friends and family code so I'm not supposed to share it anywhere online or in the newsletter). Just ask!
You'll find more info and a registration link here. If you hit an error message, it's because the course is full. Hopefully I'll run it again some time in the future.
Ok. That's it for this week. I literally can't form any morjyasksd sdfgils;a3w;fds...
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