The CEO's Brainpan

An itch that I can't quite scratch.

No Employees
Founders Code
Solo Founder
Communication
Community
Content
Mailing Lists
Productivity
Task Management
Writing

A weekly, personal note to my friends in the "trenches" — fellow CEOs, builders, entrepreneurs, and indie hackers.

May 26, 2021 Actually, I Lied...

... I'm closing this down too. Entirely. I'm sequencing things in a more obvious manner. I will need more time to do less things and one less property is going to be an absolute godsend for me.

This was a fun newsletter, while it lasted. I'm glad it lasted this far.

May 22, 2021 The Story Continues...

... I shared some larger news on my use of Indie Hackers in the coming weeks and that also means that I won't be updating this project as well.

I have loved being here and a fun way of capturing my thoughts on the process. I continue to write this newsletter every week; it was never just for me but for my friends.

Talk soon.

April 2, 2021 Long Streaks

There's something quietly beautiful about doing something simple over a long period of time; the fact that I've been delivering a newsletter for weeks and weeks now to a growing (yet declining...) audience is a treat.

The challenge is satisfying itself enough to continue; but, the connections and the relationships is what keeps it interesting, inspiring, and even motivating (at times).

Perhaps most important is the fact that long streaks teach you something valuable about yourself; it helps you refine your approach to the fundamentals like time, commitment, value, and the elements of work.

I like growing. I like learning most of all. Long streaks is how this happens.

December 18, 2020 Not for Everyone

I currently manage two newsletters and while one is growing like a small little weed the other is slowly dying — this is the (short) tale of two very different newsletters.

The YEN.FM newsletter is 85 days old and is growing faster than any newsletter that I have ever worked on, including my Brainpan Newsletter.

In fact, the latter is losing subscribers every month — having dropped from 19k+ to now < 19k. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this b/c losing 1k subs in the last few months feels crazy, but, people are tired of mediocre newsletters and, clearly, YEN.FM is not mediocre while...

... brainpan might just be... so-so.

That's okay. My writing isn't for everyone.

November 27, 2020 My Favorite Word

It seems that every single person has a different "take" on the word fuck and what it means to them and how offensive it is (or isn't) and whether or not they use it themselves or not... or, on random and rare occasion.

For myself, it's one of my favorite words and I use it intentionally, making it "serve the work" when I can:

I'm not always on target, though, and the above sub-title had > 200 folks unsubscribe over the following 2 weeks post-publication — I got a lot of responses specifically telling me that this was the "straw" that broke the proverbial camel's back.

... ¯\(ツ)

Then, I'll get notes from folks who absolutely NEEDED a note like this from me:

A wonderful reminder that the #1 goal is to simply be yourself and write what makes you the most happy because there's 100% chance that you'll fail at making everyone equally happy, every single time (if that's your aim).

Don't fuck yourself; it's your newsletter, besides.

August 28, 2020 It's okay to dream a little...

... since "the dream" is what keeps us hungry, focused.

Hey friends,

I connected with a few of you this week because… as you know, I needed a good slap in the face. Sometimes I can get so hard on myself for no reason other than to… get down on myself. I’m not exactly sure the trigger, but, it probably has something to do with my past… being adopted… you know, early-childhood trauma and shit.

It’s real — I’m not poo-poo’ing it… but, for whatever reason, I got “in the dumps” this week about myself, the startup, my employees… everything.

Thankfully, with a bit of perspective and some great convos, I’m back but I wanted to share with you the gem that helped me walk through those strange and weird feelings: I began to dream again.

Not the nighttime dreams… but, you know, the ones about a better future, the things you want for yourself and your family and those you love and cherish.

I realized that I had forgotten to dream big dreams. I had forgotten to allow myself the pleasure of thinking positively about my future. I had forgotten to appreciate what I’ve got now that allows me to dream in the first place.

We are destined for greatness, you and I. I was reminded of it this past week and I have no intentions of letting that go.

Love you all,

john

[via substack]

August 10, 2020 Worth It

Getting feedback on your newsletter can feel, at times, like pulling teeth! I know this better than most after having started nearly a dozen newsletters over the last decade+ — it all starts out so positively and then everyone ends up hating it and turning it off.

... or, perhaps that's just me. 😬

I do ask for feedback every once in a while but there's never a guarantee that I'll get much, if any. On occasion, I'll get something overtly-positive and it already hits me pretty hard — mostly because getting (positive) feedback on your newsletter is so incredibly-rare.

This one was a keeper:

First of all, one of the best mailing lists I am subscribed to. I find your writing very friendly and easy to connect to (feels like we are having a conversation).

You really create easy-to-read, pleasant content, and that's awesome.

👆🏻 — It does make it all worth it.

July 14, 2020 Smaller is Better

A short and 250 character update!

I've been writing, every single week, as per the usual and the I've been slowly losing subscribers as we "slough off" readers who were interested in more of the defi and crypto-centric thoughts that I had when I was building product & community in that market and industry.

I've come to realize that most folks came for the financial "insight" and not for the systems of thinking that helped translate said data into insight... which is unfortunate because the latter is fundamental to the former.

These folks were never interested in a relationship with me... ...much more about what they could get from me.

I'm fine without them.

June 28, 2020 A Custom (Vanity) Domain

I just paid for another year of a custom domain name for my email newsletter: http://brain.xn--q9jyb4c/ or http://brain.みんな!

Now, this isn't exactly the easiest url to spell and thus it has almost zero utility, except for the fact that it's cool.

I mean, I think it's cool... and I guess that's all that matters.

But, normally, I'd recommend buying a short-domain or custom domain / URL that's easy to remember and share. Do as I say, not as I do in this instance!

May 4, 2020 4 Letter Words

I had to let my mom know that it's unlikely that I'll stop using 4-letter words in my newsletters... she already knows this but she finds an opportunity to remind me of this when she can.

👋🏻 — Hi mom! I always appreciate your support... you were my very first subscriber!

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A weekly, personal note to my friends in the "trenches" — fellow CEOs, builders, entrepreneurs, and indie hackers.