Marketing Lessons with Jack Butcher
Somebody asked me: “If you had to invest in a single creator, who would it be?” My answer is the designer Jack Butcher, who runs a company called Visualize Value, and used to work with companies like Ferrari and Michelin. In this YouTube conversation, we talked about how coining terms can propel your marketing strategy.
David: Hey everybody. I’m David Perell and I’m here with Jack Butcher. And today, there was a question that somebody posed on Twitter: “If you could invest in one creator, who would it be?” And I said Jack, by far and away. Jack to me is probably the most exciting and underrated creator, maybe even in the world right now in terms of the intersection of design and this deep originality that you’ve cultivated, Jack. Also, this aesthetic that you’ve developed that nobody else has. Today, we’re going to talk about the power of coining language. You have terms like “Permissionless Apprenticeship,” and “Build Once, Sell Twice.” You’re using the internet as well as anybody I know. So what we want to do in this time is to basically take what we’ve learned about coining terms and about building online brands and using the Internet to build a business that makes us sovereign, that allows us to control the relationship with our audience. And is there anything that you want to add?
Jack: No, I think that that works great. There’s so much overlap between what I’ve learned from what you’re doing and iterating in public for 18 months or so, that I think there’s a couple of topics that haven’t even unpacked or explored. And having the kind of feedback loop between someone who thinks about writing a lot more than I do is going to lead to a pretty interesting conversation.
David: So how did you come up with the idea of “Build Once, Sell Twice?” So that’s the idea that we’re going to riff on for you. And then for me, it’s a “Personal Monopoly.” So let’s talk about what we’ve learned about the power of coining terms and language, and we’ll see where we end up.
Jack: I think this is the product of a lot of iteration. And the more I reflect on how I ended up landing on terms or being so not necessarily precious, but really putting pressure on myself to land in a place where you have something that really describes the thing. And you’re going to keep using that, I think comes from my time in corporate America and advertising in a corporate environment. So it’s like if you’re working with American Express or whoever, you come out with a line that describes a product. And that line has to endure, has to be on the side of a bus, has to work on a billboard, has to work in a magazine, has to work on a radio ad.
So I think, again, this is anecdotal. I don’t know if this is exactly how I arrived at least over-indexing on the importance of how can I have a phrase that I can repeat a thousand times that people aren’t going to get tired of. I think that’s where it comes from. And it’s almost a mental puzzle. I remember the late nights in an advertising agency where you’re just rearranging words. “Take that out, put this in. Does this describe what the product is about? Does it feel like it’s in line with the way the brand would talk to somebody?” So I think at the conceptual level, that’s where I think my tendency to value writing comes from because I’ve seen it work so effectively for companies that operate at that kind of scale.
There’s actually a friend of mine I met through the process of publishing works at LinkedIn. They fund a lot of research into corporate advertising, marketing, language. And he’s got this great phrase. He says, “Great advertising wears in, not out.” And I think this is a counterintuitive truth, especially in the creator space where you’re always trying to create new things, or you’re always trying to say something new. Whereas there are all of these mental heuristics and biases that people have. When they hear language over and over again, they see a logo over and over again, there some subconscious accrual of understanding of that idea or association with that brand. I read yesterday a statistic about Corona beer in the UK.
David: Has it gone up or down?
Jack: It’s gone up 68 million in sales this year. And they call it mental availability. So just the fact that that word is being blasted at you from every channel, it’s like, “I’m going to buy some beer. Corona.”
David: That’s hilarious. I’m not surprised. Because there’s been many times where I’ve bought a Corona just as a practical joke for friends, just because of what’s happening right now. That’s hilarious. One of the things that I think a lot about is I like to ask people who work in a certain industry. Like if you’re an investor, what is it that you as an investor know about the world that regular people don’t know? And you can go to any different industry. And when it comes to marketing and advertising, if you were to say, “You work at an ad agency. What is it that you know about the world that normal people would doubt or underestimate?” And the answer is for marketers, is that in the human mind, repetition is inconceivable from truth. And that if you can repeat a word in the potential customer’s mind, if they can hear a word, a phrase, a slogan, see a logo over and over and over again. In some fundamental way, that thing becomes truer and truer over time.
And I really like that you used the word rearranging when you were talking about your time in the advertising agency. Because there isn’t in these creative moments, there’s some kind of vision at the end. I’m going to make something, I have a goal. But a lot of it comes down to the simple act of putting a lot of stuff on paper. And it’s almost like a kid when you’re playing with Legos. You’re saying, “This almost works.” And then you’re moving words around. You’re trying to find what sticks. But I think that in addition to that, what you and I have figured out is not just how to rearrange in isolation, but how to rearrange with the Internet. To think with a number of people who can help us and give us signals for when something is working. And you never really know.
I mean, I try to coin terms. I coin multiple a week. I’ve come up recently with “Imitate then Innovate.” I’ve come up with “Niche Fame.” Those were just in the past week. And what I’m always trying to do is put words out into the world and just see what people are resonating with. And when it comes to something like “Build Once, Sell Twice” or “Personal Monopoly,” I think both of these ideas were actually just part of our normal rearranging process. And then one day, we put that out. We said, “Wait, this thing actually stuck a little bit more than the others. Let’s double down on it. Let’s double down on it.” And then you get this positive feedback loop where other people are actually developing the idea with you.
Jack: Yeah. And as you’re describing both those terms, and again, to go back to the model you use when you’re writing a line for a piece of advertising, it’s how does this line read to me without context as a potential consumer of this product? I think what “Build Once, Sell Twice” and “Personal Monopoly” do, they imply a benefit to anybody. Right? I want a Personal Monopoly. Regardless of whether you’re a chef, or a designer, or an architect. It really speaks to the situation you’ll end up in without necessarily excluding anybody in the statement. The idea, you can kind of transpose that idea. And I think that’s what helps things resonate at scale.
David: I think what you’re getting at is something really deep. That a first time person can intuit how this thing will benefit them. And therefore, it piques their interest. But it also doesn’t give everything away to the point where you lose your interest.
And I’ll give you an example of that. There’s a book by Thomas Friedman, who wrote for the New York Times, called The World Is Flat. I’ve never read the book because the title seems to imply exactly what the book is about. And I read the title. I’m like, “I already get the thesis. I don’t need to read.”
There’s another book that I’ve heard a lot about. And let me just caveat this with I might be totally wrong about what I’m saying in terms of I’m just assuming that I know exactly what the thesis is. But I actually could be totally wrong about this. But actually for the purposes of this discussion, that doesn’t matter because we’re talking about the psychology of language.
So there’s another book called The Upside of Stress. So I hear that, I’m like, “Okay, I get it. Stress is good for you. You can actually do better with some stress. I get it.” But then there are other books like The Black Swan, like Antifragile, like Skin in the Game. I hear that. And I’m like okay, Nassim Taleb has done a really good job of telling me a little bit about what this book is about, but not so much that I’ve lost my curiosity.
Jack: Yes. I think that’s a great way to look at it. And yeah, even in those couple of examples of those book titles, like Antifragile is a perfect example of, “I want to be that.” But what is it? It just leaves enough. Yes. That’s cool. And think about it in terms of a book title. But that’s again, another great way to evaluate an idea. Even if you’re not publishing a book is like if this was on the spine of a book on a shelf in the same way that if this was on a billboard, does this pull enough interest to get somebody to want to learn more, or buy the thing? Or whatever that next step in the transaction is. Are you buying enough of somebody’s attention to get them to commit to that next stage?
David: Yeah. There’s a famous American line by president John F. Kennedy. And he says, ” Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” And as you hear that, there’s a parallelism where the way that the sentence is set up works really well with the resolution, and they almost mirror each other. And “Build Once, Sell Twice” does that too. Build sell, once twice.
So there’s actually ways to structure language. And intuitively we really understand this. And then things are catchy. And once something becomes catchy, it sticks in your brain, and you just kind of instantly remember it. Like when you hear a song or you read something, you’re just like, “I just won’t forget that.” “Build Once, Sell Twice.” It allows you because it is so catchy because the idea is so simple. Not only does it help somebody understand what it is that you’re saying, but then they can easily communicate that idea to their friends. So then you get a word of mouth viral loop.
Jack: Yeah. And another accidental realization of this for me was visualized value. The name of the brand itself was actually coined as a way to explain the service to a would be client originally. So we went from being at a design studio called Opponent. I registered an LLC in New York called Opponent because I was like, “I’m going to be different than every other ad agency. We’re going to challenge you in your ideas,” and all of this kind of stuff. So there’s meaning there. But at the same time, it’s just a cool agency name, whatever, right? Versus this is visualized value being a description of what we do for you, and the implication that your value becomes visible. It’s like I’m buying into that because I want that. And also, it’s a descriptor of the service I’m going to get.
So again, I struggle to even explain the specificity behind why it works. But in hindsight it makes sense. And this was actually inspired by you, the first education product we built, the design course. If we didn’t have the name Visualize Value, it would have been incredibly difficult to position that course. So if you want to just go to the market and say, “Hey, I’m doing a design course.” You’re like, “Welcome to the world of design course, there are another 50,000 people selling that.” But as soon as you say “how to visualize value” and you have this thing that represents the outcome, that I think gives you an edge in the market because you’re describing something very specific about your point of view, your approach. “Personal Monopoly” does the same thing. Not a writing course, but a writing course that helps you establish a Personal Monopoly. Just has this distinct benefit that moves you away from just, “Hey, learn how to write.”
David: I think that you’re saying two things here that are really insightful. The first is the way that names can be descriptive. And another good example of this is PayPal. I am going to pay my pal, PayPal. And you just hear it, and it sounds friendly, and it tells you exactly what the service does. Which I think makes it an easy name to remember for people. Whereas I actually don’t think Braintree or Venmo are nearly as good. Now, one of the things that Venmo and also Google did was they turned their names into verbs. So you Venmo somebody, you Google something. And that’s really powerful, but sort of beyond the scope of this conversation.
And then the second thing is the aperture of your idea. So one of the things that I really like about visualize value is that, and same with “Build Once, Sell Twice,” is they can sort of go on for infinite spaces. And you don’t always want that. Right? You have design fundamentals. That can’t go be a movie set an animation course. I mean, maybe there’s a design component there, but you get what I mean. But what I really like about “Visualize Value” is you can take that idea and just copy and paste it everywhere. And it’s the same thing with “Personal Monopoly.” It’s the kind of idea that I know has legs for the next 10 to 20 years because it’s so core to the modern economy. It is specific enough to mean something, but broad enough that I can use it in a lot of different spaces.
Jack: Yeah. And one of the things that I, again coming from the advertising world, the stickiness that an idea has to you personally as well is kind of fascinating. There’s an intangible relationship there where it’s like when you’ve put it out and it saturates the market enough, it can never be divorced from you again. So it’s like this IP that you own beyond the scope of a trademark whereas Antifragile, who you’re going to think about when you hear the word Antifragile? There’s only one name that comes up. Everybody else can start using your terminology, and they grow your brand as a result of sharing your language. So that is another network ripple effect that comes from coining language is the spread of this idea just increases the eyeballs on the original product, or brand, or whatever it might be. It’s the same as corporate slogans. When people say them out loud, “I know exactly.”
David: Right. Like “Just do it.” Adidas would never have “Just do it.” You could transfer the trademark to Adidas, and it wouldn’t work. Nike just owns that idea. I’m trying to think about why coining language is so popular. I’m talking about coining terms, not really slogans. “Build Once, Sell Twice” and “Personal Monopoly” are ideas, like “Aggregation Theory” that Ben Thompson has. And the best analogy that I’ve found has been crossing a river.
So you know when you go hiking and you get to a river and you’re like, “Oh my goodness, we got to cross this.” And you’re eyeing this river. And there’s enough stones that you can get across, but you know it’s going to be close.
And I think of terms like stones for the world, where the world is infinitely complex. There are so many things, ideas, concepts that somehow exist out there, but they’re too hazy. They’re too abstract. We don’t actually understand them. And they’re sort of where the water goes. There’s just sturdy there. And when you coin a term, you’re not just coining a term, you’re coining an idea. You’re putting a stable stone in the water. And the more that you develop that idea, the more easy it is to remember, that then becomes a path that other people can walk to that people share. And each stone actually allows people to make sense of the world.
And I like the stone idea because what your term is doing is it’s supporting people’s intellectual weight as they cross the river of the world where they’re saying, “This is the Personal Monopoly stone, this is the Build Once, Sell Twice stone.” And in the river of actually building a profitable business, we are then creating stones that are in people’s mind. And they’re just there. And they build on each other for years.
Jack: You know, another idea of yours that I quoted in the design fundamentals course is this idea of the world not rewarding the people with the best ideas, but the world rewarding the people who are best at communicating their ideas. And these things to me operate like a valve. Right? So if you have a great product that you can’t describe with great language, it’s forever going to be throttled by the quality of the language you have on the front end. And I think undervaluing or underindexing on how much time you spend perfecting the really like succinct version of that … I think idea is the right thing. Regardless of whether that translates to a product, or a piece of media, or whatever it is. I think we collectively undervalue how much of a difference the right structure of two or three words can make just an enormous difference. Just do it is another just incredible example.
There’s a movie called Art & Copy. Have you ever seen this documentary? You’d love it. It’s about the relationship between art director and designer. And they go back through a ton of really famous advertising campaigns. And they talk a lot about just do it as essentially maybe the best ever example of a slogan. And they talk about where the idea came from, which it’s really morbid, but it’s a great story.
So the guy that wrote this campaign was sitting in a diner, I think close to the morning of the presentation where they go in to Nike to pitch this thing. And he reading through the paper, and somebody on death row. It’s like, “What are your last words?” They just said, “Just do it.” That was somebody’s last words, which translates, he’s like bang, light goes up. “I’m going to go and pitch that.”
David: Inspiration is everywhere.
Jack: Yeah. And I haven’t watched it for a few years, but they talk about the way that campaign was received, and just the amount of inbound they got off the back of that campaign. So there was people that were like, “I was in an abusive relationship and I saw this first ad with just do it. And I got out of it. I was morbidly obese and really struggling with a health problem. And I saw this slogan and the way they put an ad together.” And you know these guys are artists with the way they crafted their, they still are, the way they crafted that corporate communication. And this idea I think just resonated at a level so deep beyond buying a pair of shoes or wearing an athletic apparel of some description that it just had this deeper meaning. And yeah, obviously that’s had a commercial benefit for Nike over the longterm.
David: You’re using the word resonate that I think is really important. And I think it speaks to how you and I think of developing ideas. And at least for me, when it comes to thinking of terms, I sort of wing it off the cuff in terms of, “I’ll just try this and then I’ll try that.” And then what I’m doing, I’m not sitting in a room just putting a bunch of terms on the wall, and just focused on this. It’s really more a by-product of my life.
So I’ll give you an example. Earlier this week, I came up with this term called “Niche Fame.” And I was trying to basically describe a kind of fame that comes to online writers like ourselves who are really interested in a single idea, who we own the relationship with our audiences. We have businesses around this. But we’re never going to be on CBS early morning news or Good Morning America. I don’t really think that we aspire to that.
But at the same time, we have certain benefits from what we do in terms of being able to meet people, make things happen, build businesses off of this. And when we think of celebrity, we usually think of that kind. Matthew McConaughey, Leonardo DiCaprio, Serena Williams. So I just don’t aspire to that at all. So I was trying to come up with a different idea of fame. So I go on Twitter and I start with a Twitter thread, and I call it “Internet Fame.” And all these people respond. They’re like, “Not a good word. I think of something else. I think of TikTok stars. I think of Mr. Beast. I think of all these giant people.” So I was like, “It’s so frustrating.” So then I get into the comments, I start talking to people. I’m like, “Okay, what would be better? What would be better? What would be better?” And one of the responses that I gave was “Niche Fame.” So I was like okay, that works.
Now you might hear this and you might say, “That’s not fair. David and Jack, they have audiences. They can do this. But I don’t have an audience. So you know what, I’m just not even going to try.” But here’s the thing. And I really mean this. Where actually, what I’m doing is I take that kind of dialogue back and forth and I apply it to all my real life conversations. I’m doing it right now. I’m trying to pay attention to what is Jack resonating with. What are the things that I’m saying that I actually resonate with? What are the different ways of actually phrasing and positioning my ideas in a way where other people hear those and their eyes light up, they get excited? I’m going to a barbecue after we get off this call. I’m going to do the same thing just in the normal course of my interactions.
And when you spend enough time just consciously saying different ideas, positioning them in different ways, and then being open to both the criticism and the reception of what it is that you’re saying in casual conversation. You then develop these ideas over time. So the advantage isn’t you sit in a room, and you just put everything on a wall, and you’re just in a state of deep work trying to think through this copywriting for hours. It’s actually just being very receptive to the social feedback that you are already getting, but probably not paying attention to.
Jack: Yeah. I received, maybe it was just a great compliment the other day around the idea of packaging. I got a lot of smart friends, way smarter than me, can build things way more compelling and difficult than I can. Especially in writing code and building things. But they’re horrible at packaging stuff, right? It’s like they can build these amazing tools, they can identify a problem, can solve a problem. But their ability to package something in a way that makes it, somebody want to unwrap it essentially. And this term packaging is so synonymous I think with that advertising, the process in which you deconstruct how you’re going to position a product. Packaging to me is a really interesting term to apply whatever your chosen medium of communication is. You can package something a certain way when you speak. You can package something a certain way when you type. You can package something in a certain way when you design. And then you can obviously layer all of those things together, just make this thing very compellingly packaged. And I think that there’s a lot of money left on the table and a lot of relationships left on the table from this inability to package things. That’s the deficit that exists in a lot of places.
David: You’re absolutely right. Can you talk a little bit about what we were texting about recently about the constraints in packaging, the constraints in building a brand? And how what you’ve done for example is you’ve taken a font, you’ve taken two colors, you’ve taken an aesthetic style. And you said, “You know what?” It’s super simple. I like it. And I’m not going to go beyond these guardrails that I’ve set for myself.
Jack: Yeah. So there’s an amazing Tim Ferriss quote says, “Make one decision to eliminate 1,000 decisions.” So from a very practical standpoint, that is the first thing. Yeah, exactly. That idea paired with (I think it’s been beaten into me in advertising agencies), “these are the brand guidelines. If you present anything that moves away from these guidelines, we’re going to be in trouble.” Somebody spent $250,000 on this PDF that says, “Use this color, use this font, make sure this is this far away from that. So you need to follow these rules.” Right? And there’s a little bit of an in-joke at ad agencies, “I don’t want to follow the rules that somebody else set.” And that’s honestly where most of the churn in time goes in advertising agencies because people don’t want to follow the rules. But that was deeply embedded in my consciousness somewhere.
But I think what it comes down to, why it’s effective is it transfers the responsibility to me to solve the problem creatively as opposed to leaning on style. Does that make sense?
Jack: So you can easily spend hours and hours picking colors, messing around with fonts. Like stylistically making selections of what photographs to use and all of these different things that are not necessarily increasing the fidelity of the idea. So if you have a system that you can essentially use to express any idea like language or very, very simple design, then I think constraint really forces you into a corner where it becomes about your ability to get creative as opposed to your ability to introduce new variables. Constraint and creativity go hand in hand. And it’s been very intentional, but it’s also been, I’ve realized in moments when I was in a position before this when I didn’t have a system like that, the blank page was so much more intimidating than it is now.
David: You know, I think that what that does having the aesthetic that you go with over and over again is in the same way that you can own terms, you can own the aesthetic. And anybody who even tries to copy you in some way actually ends up promoting you. And that kind of military almost computery font that you use that is so core to Visualize Value. I now think of you whenever I see it. And it’s the same thing with you’re really good with sharp contrast, and always use black and white.
And we were talking about coining terms earlier. And if I were to summarize our conversation of what it’s like when you use that rearranging, when you’re trying to rearrange terms. Try to work through what is this term going to be? I think if there’s one thing that I’ve learned, it’s in moments like that to read with the ear, not with the eye. And what I mean by that is usually when you read, you’re sort of reading for understanding. But actually, most people when they read have a little voice in your head. And you’re almost talking to yourself as you read. So you are listening to the words as much as you are seeing them. And when something sounds good, it’s going to spread a lot farther.
So if there’s anything that I’ve learned about communicating ideas on the internet, it’s that small tweaks. And I mean really small tweaks. One word here, one word there in how you structure your sentences, how you structure the idea that you’re presenting can lead to exponential differences in the spread of an idea.
So with what you said earlier, and I think it’s important that I can actually remember what it is that I wrote. The world doesn’t reward the people who have the best idea, but the people who are best at communicating ideas, right? We have the mirror, we have the parallelism in that. If I don’t have that term, it isn’t catchy. It doesn’t spread. It doesn’t make it into your course.
Jack: Yeah. And I can give another example. It was “Build It Once, Sell It Twice” originally. And it went nowhere. You just take the two it’s out. And it’s like now it’s a thing.
Jack: Fascinating. And James Clear actually did a tweet. It’s just got to be about a year ago now. He said, “Measure twice, cut once, and then build once, sell twice.” Which later, we got in touch. I’ve spent a bit of time with him since. But it’s just fascinating, the idiom that has stood the test of time follows a similar structure. I think you can subconsciously recall these things that have this cultural velocity like that idea where it’s almost, and this is another Taleb Lindy idea. It’s like how does this idea become Lindy? How does it stand the test of time? It’s because it just echoes some deeper truism that people can take an idea.
And I think a lot about this. It’s like, what makes something resonate at scale? I think it’s why people who have had a lot of experiences, traveled a lot, met a lot of people, are great writers is because they’re filtering an idea through hundreds and of experiences. And it remains kind of true amongst all of those experiences. It’s like, “Hey, if I stress test this idea against my time working in that environment, versus living in this country, versus having a conversation with this person, would I still stand by it?” And I think you wrote something about that once around what would my worst critics say of this idea? And that just allows you to bulletproof. To the extent of your experience, you can really strengthen your ideas if you view them through those lenses and try and beat them up.
David: Right. One of the things that you keep coming back to that I think is super important is the importance of the subconscious and the intuition. And an embrace of these intuitions that we have rather than … notice that we haven’t talked about the three principles, the three things that you need to do. This is a way of being, it’s a way of thinking. And it’s a certain mindfulness that you have with how your ideas are resonating with the world.
And one of the things that you can always look for when you’re trying to coin terms is if you can talk to three people in a row who laugh after you say the idea. And that is because laughter isn’t just humor. It is understanding. It is somebody saying, “That is funny because it’s a compressed way of looking at the world. Something I’ve always known, but never had the words to say.”
Jack: Yeah, a really good friend of mine who’s a great salesperson, always uses this term epiphany bridges. So build epiphany bridges. And it’s similar to your stones for the world idea. But if you’re in a pitch and you have to get somebody from believing this about the world by slide one, to believing that about the world by slide 20, they’re at five bridges that you have to take them across, and they all must contain an epiphany of some kind. So maybe they’ve been thinking about this market wrong. They don’t understand the behavior of this particular type of person or the nuance of this problem. And you just slowly just take epiphany by epiphany to get them to that realization. In some cases it’s really simple. Maybe it’s one or two ideas. In other cases for complex products and complex problems, it may be a little more complicated than that. But we work together on a blockchain presentation and there’s a lot of epiphanies you have to get through to get to an understanding of that from a layman. But I’ve always loved that idea. And I think the laughter is kind of the external symbol of an epiphany, right?
And the other thing is “why didn’t I think of that?” That’s basically the best indication you can have that an idea resonates. It’s like, it’s so simple. I’m almost frustrated that you’ve managed to turn this into an opportunity because it’s so obvious. And I think that that is a weird indication of just landing on something great.
David: Yeah. But I think that it’s really crucial to all of this, the fact that you and I between us, we’re probably publishing six to 10 tweets per day. And then we have our newsletters. And then we have a constant media engine that’s going in terms of epiphany, publish, epiphany, publish. And so many of them fall flat, and that’s totally fine. And what we are doing is that’s different from others is that when we have an idea, we are putting it out for the public and normal people we’ve never met before to contend with, and think about, and criticize, and improve.
And I’m always reminded of this idea that you know it takes 50 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup? And the way that this relates is you’re not just trying to only write the very, very, very best things that you’ve ever published, and you have this little corner over there of all the ideas that you’ve never actually shared before. What you’re doing is you’re just sharing stuff all the time. And eventually, that sap turns into this super sugary and sweet maple syrup. Both because you’re just throwing a lot of stuff out there and it’s getting refined over time. And also because you have no idea whatsoever about what’s going to stick. And in years of doing this craft, I’ve gotten no better at predicting what things are going to resonate. The only thing I’ve gotten better at is the average or the median thing that I do is just slightly better than it used to be. But the things on the tails, I have no idea. It’s like voodoo magic for me.
Jack: Yeah. And I think this is like, as you’re explaining that, it’s the thesis of a investment portfolio too, right? It’s like you only need a couple of winners to have a really outsized result. Nobody that’s got 100X return in their portfolio made one bet. That’s just not the case.
So I think yes, the volume and the inability to predict, even if this thing makes total sense to you, market might reject it entirely, right? The whole thesis might make sense. You can put it all together perfectly and marry up a ton of examples to it. But then it falls flat when it arrives in the real world. But this idea of packaging being a way to maximize the success of those ideas in the same way that a great name of a startup or a start up that is easy to understand what the benefit is to the consumer. That idea is going to be better stress tested just because you’ve built a better front door for people to come and spend time with the product. So I think that that’s true, whether you’re talking about a company, a paragraph, or an article that you’ve written. So that’s a great metaphor too I think, or analogy I should say.
David: It’s a great place to close. “Build Once, Sell Twice,” “Personal Monopoly.” And I think that what’s key about these ideas is that we’ve published so many of them. And what really stuck out with me about what you said is that idea of rearranging, trusting your intuition. And what’d you say, “build it twice, sell it twice?” You went from that to “Build Once, Sell Twice.” That’s how close a lot of people are to having their term. So I would say, if I were to just summarize all of this, pay attention to what ideas resonate in casual conversation. If things do resonate, share them in public. Then as you do, try to continue to refine them.
And then like what you just said, build a portfolio of terms. And you just have unlimited upside on the one that works. Know that the key here is that you are taking ideas, turning them into published thoughts. And you’re sharing them, you’re being prolific. And you’re just actively trying to coin terms. Eventually you get slightly better at it. And you look back after a couple years and you say, “Wow, I have all these terms.” I mean, for me serendipity vehicle, Write of Passage is even a term. Imitate then Innovate, Niche Fame, go on and on and on. Personal monopoly. And in Write of Passage: Summary Box, Find Your Shiny Dime. I mean, there’s just so many. I probably have 50 of them that have just been coined.
Jack: That’s awesome. And I don’t want to labor another analogy, but the music metaphor too. B-sides versus hit records that you hear on the radio. So I just moved out of the city. I had a car for the first time in 10 years. And the one thing that made me realize every time I get in the car, I turn it on the radio’s on I’m like, “This is the same song that was playing when I got in the car yesterday.” I’m still loving it though. The day before, same song. And then after that, it’s with a mix of maybe 12, 15 songs. And how many songs are there in the world? It’s like people don’t really get tired of a good idea if it’s good. It just has this timeless quality to it that people tap their feet to it. And I love the point you made about lyrics before where it’s like if you hear the first note of a song, it’s like I know every lyric to this thing, it’s just embedded at a deeper level. And that to me is like, I’ll never understand the science behind that, but I love trying to get to that level of resonance.
David: Totally man. So my sister and I, one of our inside jokes is we send childhood songs to each other. And I remember every single word, it’s been 15 years. Also, I swear, if you live in Nashville which you do, is it government law that you have to end all videos with a music analogy?
Jack: I think they just wrote that into law. Yeah.
David: That’s what I heard.