There are only 26 weeks in the next 6 months. Welcome to 2022.
I’ve been seeing all sorts of people over the last few days posting about how consistency has changed their entire life. The simple act of creating and showing up every single day or every week to share content is apparently one of the most obvious no-brainer techniques for anyone trying to build a brand heading into 2022.
Of course, content should be relevant, truthful, and ideally aiming at making things better in the world. We should all strive for high-quality content, and also for alignment of our own value systems with our content (and therefore the value systems of our potential future audiences).
If you’re still with me, dear #unautomatable reader, then please, read on.
When consistency is easy, it’s easy
When I completed the first and only On Deck Course Creator program in mid-2021, the importance of consistency was one of the key messages that I took away from the entire experience. Participating in the ODCC1 cohort is what I think made me catch the #buildinpublic bug in the first place. I’ll be forever grateful for the amazing people that I met who really opened my eyes to building in public, to Twitter, and to the importance of showing up every day to ship something. For instance, the #EveryDayInMay video challenge - which was an incredibly powerful experience for me - was what I left the program being most proud of.
After the program, my journey continued…
I spent the rest of the summer creating content on YouTube while teaching engineering courses at the university. I seemed to be slowly but surely growing my audience organically, even if it was only with current students 😆!
I even launched an online course in the summer to teach high school students 3D printing remotely. This is the course that I had pitched to get into OnDeck in the first place. Ironing out the central tenants of the course and also the transformation that I hoped to facilitate for students was encouraged right along by the accountability and consistency vibes that I got from other ODCC1’ers.
In short, content-creation consistency was going well. It was easy. It was tied to my day job. I would create 1st draft content, present it in class, and then I would create evergreen content. It was a great system.
When consistency is hard, it’s really hard
But then, I made a hard pivot, and content consistency became a LOT harder.
After I’d spent a solid year at the university trying to innovate and build communities around manufacturing, machine learning, and entrepreneurship, and after I’d launched my Minimal Viable 3D Printing course that ultimately taught me just how important it is to talk directly to students before launch, I really felt like I just couldn’t live within the walls of an old-school brick-and-mortar educational paradigm any longer.
It turns out that while you can get the whole town or an internet audience on your side from the top-down about what students should be learning in high school or at the university, you can’t put students through a transformation that they aren’t totally pumped about. This, in retrospect, is part of the essence of successful zero-to-one product management in general, whether your digital product is an online course or anything else.
At the same time, I also felt like I’d been back in Dayton for long enough.
Instead of talking about how to be an entrepreneur and about how to build the future of education online, I needed to just go do the damn thing, skin-in-the-game status.
So I decided that I would leave my job as a professor, drop the new course I had created, and head out to Silicon Valley to work for an early-stage startup, building a real 21st-century network platform at the intersection of manufacturing, machine learning, and online education. Now, this was real entrepreneurship, or rather, as I learned, they just call it product management out here in SF. I was going all-in on one thing for the first time in my life.
But, alas, after moving to San Francisco and starting the new gig, I found that I “didn’t have any time” to create YouTube videos. My blogging also slowed until it finally ground to a halt. Yikes.
I also started to feel like I was losing myself a bit. Once this feeling started, it went further downhill from there. I wasn’t happy. My boss wasn’t happy. I got fired from that job 6 weeks after starting it, and that was a good thing. I had only found technical fit, not culture fit. And wouldn’t you know, I didn’t even have any content to show for it. Brutal.
When consistency is in the middle, it’s still not enough
Luckily, I bounced back really quickly after reaching out to some opportunities that had existed already in the past, but that had never quite made sense until I found myself both detached from academia completely, and living in San Francisco seeking to work in “product.”
I decided to triple down on digital product management and online course creation. Yea, that felt right.
The first thing that I did was to revamp my original course idea, moving away from 3D printing and gearing it more towards the concept of unautomatability. I called it the Path to Unautomatability, but I never quite got around to marketing it. Kept it kind of quiet emailing one person at a time to sign up. It went OK. For the first half of 2022, though, I’ve made the tough decision to shelve it.
At the same time that I had returned to the course on unautomatability that was calling me from within, the first job that I landed was an online teaching opportunity (without, I guess?). I’m happy to report that I’m officially in buzzword compliance again and I now teach Machine Learning Operations (a.k.a. MLOps) for a company called FourthBrain, which is fancily backed by Andrew Ng’s AI Fund. This was an epic find. I onboarded in October and started teaching in November. It’s going great.
I even did a speaking event (my biggest one ever to date) and created some longer-form content for FourthBrain’s YouTube channel. However, my personal content creation was still not getting much love. Actually none.
The second job that I landed was managing the Career Coach product for FactoryFix, a rocketship of a startup building a jobs network platform for manufacturing. I was about their 50th hire when I joined almost 2 months ago, and they’re hiring about 10 new folks a month now 🚀. It’s awesome. Culture fit FTW.
So there we are, right? Back to manufacturing 🏭, machine learning 🤖, and entrepreneurship.
So what’s the problem?
Well, it troubles me to report that once again, I “didn’t have time” for the remainder of 2021 to do the most important, most antifragile, and the most skin-in-the-game thing that I can think that I should be doing - to force myself to create for myself.
🎯 In 2022, I aim to make consistency easy again
Right now creating is hard for me. I still feel like I “don’t have time.” But too bad. I’m going to make time. I’m going to #buildinpublic. I’m going to have #skininthegame. I’m going to join the ranks of the true #unautomatable workforce of the long-term future. I’m going to ship every day. I’m going to build and ship every week.
In the first 26 weeks of 2022, I will:
Post on Twitter and LinkedIn every day
Release 1 YouTube video every week
Release 1 blog post, right here on substack, every week
Feel free to sub to the new central point of my brand new streamlined content stack to stay posted.
And here, friends is where my journey to unautomatability continues. Let’s see what happens.
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