Pieter Levels is not interested in doing interviews. Unless it’s for Indie Hackers

  1. 23

    I like how Pieter has 1.5 hours reserved for sex — He has his priorities in order! 😄

    1. 6

      1.5 hours every damn day? What's he eating for breakfast?

      1. 5

        haha — he didn't schedule time for breakfast.

      2. 3

        I'm close to OMAD, so no breakfast :D

    2. 2

      Haha also a lot of hugging, important ❤️

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      This comment has been voted down. Click to show.

      1. 10

        HaViNg SeX iS wEiRd!!!!1111

        1. 0

          No, but having to schedule it in (and sharing that you schedule it in) is weird. Sorry man, you're amazingly successful and you do what works for you.

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      2. 3

        He is having sex by schedule like Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory😂

      3. 2

        Then just substitute "sex" for some other activity you enjoy doing.

        His point was that after you tally up all the things you want to fit into a day, there's not much time for anything else.

        People reading everything too literally and not applying any of their own intuition / creative thought is exactly part of the problem he's describing. I bet he gets a DM every day from someone asking "what version of PHP should I be using!?" and now he's going to get similar DMs from people saying "do I really need 1 hour of sex or is 30 mins enough??!".

        Be part of the solution not part of the problem.

        1. 1

          My point wasn't commenting on him breaking up his day (I think that's smart, to an extent), it was just that writing '1.5 hours of sex/hugs' is just a really weird thing to say. Maybe he's now agreed considering he has updated it to '1.5 hours of sex/hugs/love/gf time'.

          Honestly, I feel like saying something negative about Pieter is opening myself up to a lot of criticism - there exists this weird cult-like bubble with 'niche-famous' people like Pieter (especially on Twitter -- I would NEVER say this there), but that's my opinion and I think it's pretty valid. If you ask a normal human being (outside of our bubble), I think they'd agree.

          Anyhow, it's just an offhand comment, don't look into it so much!

          1. 0

            I don't think you should be surprised if people criticize you for making an unwarranted personal attack (your "he's a weird guy" comment).

            I don't think talking about sex is weird at all, it's a perfectly normal part of human life.

            1. 2

              Fair enough, let me rephrase - 'scheduling in 1.5 hours of sex is weird.'

              Talking about sex isn't weird. Having to schedule it in and then mentioning that you schedule in 1.5hrs daily is weird.

              If you can't see this, you need to evaluate whether or not you're involved in this Twitter circle jerk/bubble.

              Definitely not meant as a personal attack on Pieter.

              1. 1

                Obviously I don't schedule these things, the point was to show an average day and that time in a day is limited.

  2. 12

    I feel similarly. I do keep my email public and my DMs open on every platform, but I don't make a huge effort to read and respond to everything. I'm pretty bad at it. But I make it a point not to feel bad about it, because responding to everything would lead to a terrible lifestyle.

    As @levelsio said, there are only 24 hours in a day. Whenever I get a request from a stranger asking me to do something for them, I think…

    • How long has it been since I called my mom? Shouldn't I do that instead?
    • There are bugs on Indie Hackers. Shouldn't I fix those instead?
    • I still haven't finished that book I'm reading. Shouldn't I get back to that instead?
    • My old buddy's email is still sitting in my inbox. Shouldn't I respond to him instead?
    • I haven't exercised today yet. Shouldn't I do some pushups instead?
    • I've worked for 11 hours today. Shouldn't I take a break?
    • etc.

    Maybe I just sound like some popular guy whining. But it's worth thinking about this from the other side. How do you get someone you don't know to respond to your email or your DM?

    The most important thing is to be empathetic. Put yourself in their shoes.

    Before I started IH, I didn't know anyone, and nobody knew me. I DM'd Pieter, and actually got him to agree to support IH and be one of our first interviewees, even though he told me he doesn't do interviews.

    Obviously he's a popular guy, which means he gets a ton of DMs, and doesn't have a lot of time. So I kept my message short. It was like 3 sentences long, maybe less. I didn't send him my life story. It wouldn't have been respectful of his time.

    Also, in my experience, 99.5% of messages are people asking for help. Only .05% are people offering help. So instead of just asking Pieter to do an interview, I put together a "fake" interview by clipping together things he'd already said elsewhere, and asked if I could publish that. Instead of requesting work, I did the work to promote him and then requested permission to publish. Of course he was all for it.

    1. 2

      I loved this approach so much @csallen! And it worked because now we're friends.

      I can see why a post likes this comes across as arrogant to some but as you say I'm sure people would feel the same if they were in my shoes.

      Especially with having stalkers. Empathy goes a long way. Related: https://tim.blog/2020/02/02/reasons-to-not-become-famous/

    2. 1

      It's interesting in both your cases since you chose to put your own social media links, names and pictures on your sites.

      If you hadn't done that, you'd almost certainly have a lot fewer emails from strangers. A lot of people, probably most people try to create businesses less tied to their personal brands.

      I'd guess that for every Tim Ferriss type who obsessed with getting famous there are a dozen others earning just as much from customers who have never heard of them or a small number they sold to one-on-one.

      1. 1

        Yep, I love @ajlkn's strategy. He does the same as us but with an anon identity. I started blogging on Hacker News around ~2011 when it was still pretty normal to show your face and name. So I just did what everyone else was doing.

  3. 12

    Totally understandable. It's a "first-world problem" of a creator who made it big. Most creators struggle with the opposite problem, complete invisibility.

    1. 6

      Most creators struggle with no customers.

      Creating a repeatable and scalable flow of leads that can be converted into paying customers usually involves making a great product that solves a need, ranking on Google for it, maybe buy ads. If that funnel works you have a good business.

      I personally recommend the focus for makers to be on creating that funnel, instead of getting distracted with messages.

      1. 3

        Thanks for the insight. And for your time.

  4. 8

    Genuine question that I’ve not seen answered before: Did Pieter have this same mentality when he was not “internet famous”?

    I genuinely think this is bad advice for most people. It reminds me a lot of things Naval says. I like Pieter, I like his work. But you are probably not that busy or popular or famous to miss out on opportunities and serendipitous moments that come by allowing yourself time to talk to people.

    1. 3

      Your loudest potential customers are usually not representative of your average customer.

      So the people who message you to request stuff are either
      a) wasting your time because you'll be building something that works only for them
      b) large companies with a lot of annoying internal politics before they agree to anything

      I have met very few customers who know what they need, as opposed to what they'd like. I forgot the exact term, but StackOverflow has a word for people who ask for help with one problem and then during the discussion it becomes clear that they actually wanted to solve something completely different.

      But in any case, the customers that you want to ask for advice on what to build next are the ones that happily use your product and pay for it. Because those are the people that have a real problem that you are solving for them.

      1. 1

        Really great point ^

    2. 3

      I get the angle and it makes sense but I'd argue if you're a beginning solo founder the same advice might apply.

      You need to find customers that pay you, you do that by creating/improving your product. Most of the messages you'll get are not from potential customers, but are distractions that just waste your time.

    3. 0

      My thoughts exactly, however from what he discusses it sounds like he is prioritising enriching his personal life as apposed to working flat out on his businesses. Priorities can change when you achieve financial security.

  5. 7

    This is an incredibly strong sentence though,

    People want my feedback on their startup but what they really need is feedback from customers. 99.999% of the times I'm not their customer.

  6. 5

    Interesting mindset and approach. I think it makes sense that when you reach a certain level of internet celebrity status like him, you simply just can't respond to everyone and have to prioritize your time wisely. Otherwise you won't be creating and just be responding.

  7. 5

    I'm not at all interested in doing calls, or podcasts, Clubhouse talks. Unless it's Indiehackers or a podcast I listen to myself like Joe Rogan.

    1. 3

      Unrelated to the main topic: Do people still listen to the JRE? I stopped completely with the Spotify switch. Watching video on Spotify is a major PITA, and that's how I preferred to watch it.

      1. 2

        I use the illegit RSS feed, Google Joe Rogan RSS Reddit

        1. 2

          Cool man, will check it out

            1. 1

              Sweet, guess I'm listening to Rogan again.
              Oh, see I missed a Hamilton Morriss one

  8. 3

    Love this guy's approach!

    My ultimate goal is to live alone (ideally with someone I love) and unreachable.

    My roadblock is haven't achieved financial freedom... yet.

    1. 1

      Haha, the same for me. Such a coincidence :) My goal is to achieve financial freedom and buy a house with a hectare of land far from the city. To live with my gf and my cats :D

      1. 2

        Cat is the compulsory part of this kinda life!

        1. 1

          And a big fluffy dog IMHO

  9. 3

    After seeing the pie chart, the only thing I could think of what my kid's math exercise about making pie charts (https://twitter.com/katerinabohlec/status/1359514315649404929). Finally, we have good data to update math text books

    1. 2

      That's hilarious. And I thought the same when calculating my hours. I'm in a good position and it's hard to get enough time to do deep work for me too. I can't imagine how it is for most other people who are in worse positions.

      I think what's happening is more grim than anything, the middle class is being destroyed by inflation. If we adjust wage growth by inflation it doesn't hold up compared to actual revenue produced:


      Practically what that means is people are working longer hours for lower pay (in real spending power) and it's really becoming low paid servitude. I made a site called https://inflationchart.com to show that too.

      Escaping servitude and the destruction of the middle class by building your own business is one way but we can't solve it for everybody that way. Universal basic income (UBI) is the best long-term solution I think. People deserve to live balanced lives.

      1. 1

        I haven't yet made my mind up on UBI. As with everything, there are some pros and cons and I'm still weighing it up.

        I agree with the issues you mentioned regarding the middle class and servitude, and understand how UBI could be a solution to the problem.

        I also think there is a lot wrong with the way kids are educated, contributing to the problem - but that is another discussion.

  10. 3

    Interesting piece. Managing your time/energy by settng boundaries is important for us all, no matter where we are on the indie journey.

    1. 1

      I think this is the point exactly. Even if you're a newbie founder/maker, your focus should be on product and customers, not chit chat distractions like DMs, investors, collaborations, incubators, conferences etc. No, just customers that pay you money. Keep it simple.

  11. 2

    Really nice one. I've closed my fb 4-5 years ago, never had an instagram or tiktok. Only youtube (for educational purposes) and linkedin (I check it once a week). After I closed my fb I really felt the difference. Suddenly I got a lot more time to spend on useful things and a lot less distractions. One of the best decisions in my life

  12. 2

    Great post. Lots of respect to Pieter for intentionally living the life he wants to.

    I always ask myself: "by saying yes to this request, what am I saying no to?"

    When I frame decisions this way, it's easier to move forward.

    Another framing I lean on: "To achieve 1 big thing, you have to let 100 small things slide"

  13. 2

    👏 Bravo, thanks for the great story and advice @Leo and @levelsio. I’m a small time (don’t plan on staying that way 🤞) indie hacker and this way of operating—talking less, doing more—resonates with me a lot. Obviously it’s all a balance (you should still want to get the word out, make friends, etc.) but agreed that talk is often cheap in impact but expensive in time/cost.

  14. 2

    i love pieter... always makes me think.

  15. 2

    Saying "no" in life is one of the hardest things to do (unless you're being an a-hole).

    I really believe that being straight about this and just cutting the sword and stop all non-primair tasks in a day is the easiest way to cut the bs from the things you want to do.

    Pieter has the financial freedom to do so, so that's why he can and does.

    I think there is strength in how he approaches this. Being transparent about it is good.
    There is is no way that everybody will agree with you in life, so stopping to care about what everybody says, thinks and wants from you and focus on those that matter to you is a good choice in life if you want to spend time on what's important to you.

  16. 1

    "I have no interest in you or hearing from you or communicating with you. the way I've worded that may come across as arrogant but it isn't meant to be. by the way, I'm only popping up now because I have a book to promote..."


    1. 2

      Very superficial hit piece lacking empathy but expected.

    2. 1

      hi Steve - this isn't Leo's piece, it's one written by Pieter Levels that Leo shared.

      1. 1

        ah yes my mistake - I've edited out that bit now, sorry @Leo

  17. 1

    This goes against the commonly held belief that early stage founders should be speaking to their customers. Even if he has found something close to product-market fit surely he is missing out on large amounts of useful insights by not directly communicating with customers?

    1. 3

      um, maybe research how much money he makes.

      1. 0

        I know who is is and what he’s done. My only point is it may be disadvantageous to put up barriers between him and his customers, do you not agree?

        1. 0

          My apologies - most of his income is now from his job board so his customers are b2b. I'd assume it doesn't matter.

    2. 1

      I have feedback boxes on most of my sites.

    3. 1

      I can't imagine he isn't listening to his customers.

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