Love Your Work is the intellectual playground of David Kadavy, bestselling author of three books – including Mind Management, Not Time Management – and former design advisor to Timeful – a Google-acquired productivity app.
Love Your Work is where David shows you how to be productive when creativity matters, and make big breakthroughs happen in your career as a creator. Dig into the archives for insightful conversations with Dan Ariely, David Allen, Seth Godin, James Altucher, and many more.
"David is an underrated writer and thinker. In an age of instant publication, he puts time, effort and great thought into the content and work he shares with the world." —Jeff Goins, bestselling author of Real Artists Don’t Starve
Why I Quit Podcasting
After nearly eight years of the Love Your Work podcast, I’m quitting. Here’s why, and What’s Next.
Podcasting is a bad business This is not the immediate reason I’m quitting, but it is at the root: Podcasting is a bad business. When the indirect benefits of an activity run out, it’s hard to keep doing it if it’s not making money.
I realized long ago podcasting is a bad business, but I kept going for other reasons. I’ll explain why in a bit.
Though I didn’t start my podcast with dollar signs in my eyes, I did at least hope I would grow to earn money doing it. I’ve earned about $32,000 in the eight-year history of Love Your Work. More than half of that has been from Patreon supporters, many of whom support for reasons other than the podcast.
During that time, I’ve spent:
$1,008 on hosting $11,749 on assistance with editing and publishing $241 on equipment And some other expenses, for a total of about $13,000 In raw numbers, I’ve made a “profit” on the podcast. But, as I broke down in my latest income report, my “wage” was about $6 an hour. My podcast comprised about 5% of my income over these eight years, and took much more than that portion of my time and energy.
Of course, I don’t think about whether the podcast was worth it in terms of an hourly rate. Creative work happens in Extremistan, not Mediocristan, and I’ve made massive life choices to be free to explore creatively without worrying so much what I’m earning in the short-term.
Ways to make money podcasting But there are many different ways to make a podcast a solid business, and none of them worked for me, for various reasons.
Here are some of these business models, as they apply to the “thought-leader” space (I’ll ignore the more entertainment/infotainment space that podcasts like Gimlet’s inhabit).
Be so massively famous, you can pick-and-choose advertisers, while demanding a lot of money. This is where Tim Ferriss and Joe Rogan are. They both started with large platforms, and applied whatever talents that helped them earn those platforms to make their podcasts huge. After more than fifteen years as a creator, I have a modest platform, but orders of magnitude smaller. Build a “content machine” that manufactures ad slots. I won’t name names, but you’ve heard these podcasts. They’re formulaic and don’t seem to discern much who they have as a guest, nor what sponsors they accept. This business model is why my inbox is still full of pitches – they think I actually want more guests, because more guests would mean more ad slots. It takes a very rare set of circumstances for me to be excited to interview someone. Share information that directly helps people make money. If you have tactical and actionable information that’s useful to professionals in a specific industry, you can charge for premium podcast content. I’m not as interested in the tactical and actionable as I am in the abstract and exploratory. Cover a niche topic. If you have a leading podcast about a very specific topic, advertisers within that niche will be willing to pay high rates to reach that audience. I didn’t want to build my podcast according to a specific topic – more on that later. Have a “back-end” business. If you have a thriving consulting business, or training programs to sell, you can attract more clients and customers through your podcast. As I wrote in my ten-year reflections, “I want to make a living creating. I don’t want creating to be merely a marketing strategy for other things. Is that completely insane?” I flirted with success in a few of these business models. Early on, I hoped my podcast would be famous enough to pick and choose advertisers at high rates. For a while, it looked like I had a chance. I was approached by a podcast network, and I had some reputable advertisers such as LinkedIn, Skillshare, Casper, Audible, Pittney Bowes, and University of California. Various times, I thought I was
A.I. Can't Bake
You’ve probably heard that, in a blind taste test, even experts can’t tell between white and red wine. Even if this were true – and it’s not – it wouldn’t matter.
I was in Rome last month, visiting some Raphael paintings to research my next book, and stopped by the Sistine Chapel.
I’ve spent a good amount of time studying what Michelangelo painted on that ceiling. There are lots of high-resolution images on Wikipedia.
But seeing a picture is nothing like the experience of seeing the Sistine Chapel. You’ve invested thousands of dollars and spent fifteen hours on planes. You’re jet-lagged and your feet ache from walking 20,000 steps. You’re hot.
When you enter, guards order you to keep moving, so you won’t block the door. They corral you to the center, and you can finally look up.
When you hear wine experts can’t tell between white and red wine, you imagine the following: Professional sommeliers are blindfolded, and directed to taste two wines. They then make an informed guess which is white, and which is red. In this imaginary scenario, they get it right half the time – as well as if they had flipped a coin.
If it were true wine experts couldn’t tell between white and red wine, the implication would be that the experience of tasting wine is separate from other aspects of the wine. That the color, the shape of the glass, the bottle, the label, and even the price of the wine are all insignificant. That they all distract from the only thing that matters: the taste of the wine.
There’s some psychophysiological trigger that gets pulled when you tilt your head back. Maybe it stimulates your pituitary gland. When you have your head back and are taking in the images on the Sistine Chapel ceiling, you feel vulnerable. (You literally are vulnerable. You can’t see what’s going on around you. You’d be easy to physically attack.)
What you see is overwhelming. As you try to focus your attention on some detail, some other portion of the imagery calls out and redirects your attention. This happens again and again.
After a while, your neck needs a rest, and you return your gaze to eye-level. And this is almost as cool as the ceiling: You see other people with their heads back, their eyes wide, mouths agape, hands on hearts, tears in eyes. You hear languages and see faces from all over the world. You realize they all, too, have invested thousands of dollars and spent fifteen hours on planes. They, too, are jet-lagged and hot and have walked 20,000 steps.
You can look at pictures of the Sistine Chapel ceiling on the internet. You can experience it in VR. In many ways, this is better than going to the Sistine Chapel. You can take as much time as you want, and look as close as you want. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars and fifteen hours on a plane, take time off work, or even crane back your neck.
But seeing the Sistine Chapel ceiling on the internet or even VR is only better than seeing it in person, in the way that a spoonful of granulated sugar when you’re starving is better than a hypothetical burger in another iteration of the multiverse.
We’ve seen an explosion of AI capabilities in recent months. That has a lot of people worried about what it means to be a creator. Why do we need humans to write, for example, if ChatGPT can write?
The reason ChatGPT’s writing is impressive is the same reason there’s still a place for things created by humans.
Anyone old enough to have been on the internet in the heyday of America Online in the 1990s will remember this: When you were in a chat room, most the conversations were about being in a chat room: How long have you been on the internet? Isn’t the internet cool? What other chat rooms do you like? Part of the appeal of the question “ASL?” – Age, Sex, Location? – was marveling over the fact you were chatting in real-time with a stranger several states away.
Or maybe you remember when Uber or Lyft first came to y
Summary: The Triumph of Doubt by David Michaels
We trust the food we eat, the drinks we drink, and the air we breathe are safe. That in case they’re unsafe, someone is working to minimize our exposure, or at least tell us the risks. In The Triumph of Doubt, former head of OSHA David Michaels reveals how companies fight for their rights to sell harmful products, expose workers to health hazards, and pollute the environment. They do it by manufacturing so-called “science.” Most this science is built not upon proving they’re not causing harm, but by doing whatever they can to cast doubt. Here, in my own words, is a summary of The Triumph of Doubt: Dark Money and the Science of Deception.
Products we use every day cause harm Chances are you’ve cooked on a pan coated with Teflon. Teflon is one of many polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. When introduced in the 1940s, they were considered safe. We now know they’re linked with high cholesterol, poor immune function, cancer, obesity, birth defects, and low fertility. PFAS, it turns out, have such a long half-life, they’re called “forever chemicals.” PFAS can now be found in the blood of virtually all residents of the United States, and have been found in unsafe levels worldwide – in rainwater.
You’ve probably heard that, in moderation, alcohol is actually good for you. But even one drink a day leads to higher overall mortality risk. More than one drink, greater risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Alcohol is a causal factor in 5% of deaths worldwide – about 3 million a year. 13.5% of deaths between ages 20–39 are alcohol-related.
If you’re in pain after an injury or surgery, your doctor might prescribe for you an opioid. But the rise in opioid addiction is responsible for the first drop in U.S. life expectancy in more than two decades. It’s sent shockwaves throughout society. It’s helped launch the epidemics of fentanyl and heroin overdoses, and the number of children in foster care in West Virginia, for example, rose 42% in four years.
You might love to watch professional football. But NFL players are nineteen times more likely to develop neurological disorders, and thirty percent could develop Alzheimer’s or dementia from taking so many hits.
The “product defense” industry sows doubt How have they done it? How have companies been able to manufacture and sell products that cause so much harm, for so long? They do it by defending their products, when the safety of those products are questioned. On the surface, that’s not so bad. But besides lying and deliberately deceiving, they abuse society’s trust in so-called “science,” and our lack of understanding of how much we risk when we move forward while still in doubt.
The tobacco industry is a pioneer of product defense There’s an entire industry that helps companies defend their products from regulation: It’s called, appropriately, product defense. The tobacco industry is most-known for its product defense. In 1953, John W. Hill of the PR firm Hill & Knowlton convinced the tobacco industry to start – one floor below his office in the Empire State Building – the Tobacco Industry Research Committee (TIRC). The TIRC was supposed to do rigorous scientific research to understand the health effects of smoking, but mostly they just attacked existing science, doing what they could to sow doubt.
Just a few years earlier, in 1950, a study had found heavy smokers were fifty times as likely as nonsmokers to get lung cancer. With the help of the TIRC, it would take a long time for these health risks to influence public policy. About thirty years later, most states had restricted smoking in some public places such as auditoriums and government buildings.
Smoking had proliferated in American culture when cigarettes had been provided in soldiers’ rations in WWI. Michaels describes one surgeon who, in 1919, made sure not to miss an autopsy of a man who had died of lung cancer, because it was the chance of a lifetime. He didn’t
Hedgehogs and Foxes
According to philosopher Isaiah Berlin, people think in one of two different ways: They’re either hedgehogs, or foxes. If you think like a hedgehog, you’ll be more successful as a communicator. If you think like a fox, you’ll be more accurate.
Isaiah Berlin coined the hedgehog/fox dichotomy (via Archilochus) In Isaiah Berlin’s 1953 essay, “The Hedgehog and the Fox,” he quotes the ancient Greek poet, Archilochus:
The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one thing.
Berlin describes this as “one of the deepest differences which divide writers and thinkers, and, it may be, human beings in general.”
How are “hedgehogs” and “foxes” different? According to Berlin, hedgehogs relate everything to a single central vision. Foxes pursue many ends, often unrelated or even contradictory.
If you’re a hedgehog, you explain the world through a focused belief or area of expertise. Maybe you’re a chemist, and you see everything as chemical reactions. Maybe you’re highly religious, and everything is “God’s will.”
If you’re a fox, you explain the world through a variety of lenses. You may try on conflicting beliefs for size, or use your knowledge in a wide variety of fields to understand the world. You explain things as From this perspective, X. But on the other hand, Y. It’s also worth considering Z.
The seminal hedgehog/fox essay is actually about Leo Tolstoy Even though this dichotomy Berlin presented has spread far and wide, his essay is mostly about Leo Tolstoy, and the tension between his fox-like tendencies and hedgehog-like aspirations. In Tolstoy’s War and Peace, he writes:
In historic events the so-called great men are labels giving names to events, and like labels they have but the smallest connection with the event itself. Every act of theirs, which appears to them an act of their own will, is in an historical sense involuntary and is related to the whole course of history and predestined from eternity.
In War and Peace, Tolstoy presents characters who act as if they have control over the events of history. In Tolstoy’s view, the events that make history are too complex to be controlled. Extending this theory outside historical events, Tolstoy also writes:
When an apple has ripened and falls, why does it fall? Because of its attraction to the earth, because its stalk withers, because it is dried by the sun, because it grows heavier, because the wind shakes it, or because the boy standing below wants to eat it? Nothing is the cause. All this is only the coincidence of conditions in which all vital organic and elemental events occur.
Is Tolstoy a fox, or a hedgehog? He acknowledges the complexity with which various events are linked – which is very fox-like. But he also seems convinced these events are so integrated with one another that nothing can change them. They’re “predetermined” – a “coincidence of conditions.”
A true hedgehog might have a simple explanation, such as that gravity caused the apple to fall. Tolstoy loved concrete facts and causes, such as the pull of gravity, yet still yearned to find some universal law that could be used to predict the future.
According to Berlin:
It is not merely that the fox knows many things. The fox accepts that he can only know many things and that the unity of reality must escape his grasp.
And this was Tolstoy’s downfall. Early in his life, he presented profound insights about the world through novels such as War and Peace and Anna Karenina. That was very fox-like. Later in his life, he struggled to condense his deep knowledge about the world and human behavior into overarching theories about moral and ethical issues. As Berlin once wrote to a friend, Tolstoy was “a fox who terribly believed in hedgehogs and wished to vivisect himself into one.”
Other hedgehogs and foxes in Berlin’s essay Other thinkers Berlin classifies as foxes include Aristotle, Goethe, and Shakespea
Too Many Ideas, Must Pick One
Many creators and aspiring creators struggle not because they don’t have enough ideas, but because they have too many. Their situations, in summary, are “Too many ideas, must pick one.” Embedded in this belief are assumptions that, if challenged, can help you feel as if you have just enough ideas.
In my recent AMA, I got a question I’m asked about creativity, probably more than any other:
How can you pick a creative project when you have too many ideas?
I’ve experienced, “too many ideas, must pick one,” many times. I still often do. I of course answered this question in the AMA, but here I’ll answer more in-depth. This is the thought process I guide myself through when I’m in the land of “too many ideas, must pick one.”
There are three assumptions embedded in, “too many ideas, must pick one.”
All these ideas are equally likely to succeed. I’m equally capable of succeeding at each of these ideas. I can’t work on multiple ideas at once.
Let’s look at each of those.
Assumption 1: “All these ideas are equally likely to succeed”
If you feel you have too many ideas, you must think they’re equally likely to succeed, which is the first assumption. That might not sound correct at first, but think about it. If you were starving, and only allowed to eat one of various sandwiches, you would probably pick the biggest and most calorie-rich.
You might not be able to tell so easily which is the biggest and most calorie-rich sandwich. In fact, there may be other factors that play into your decision. Maybe the avocado and pork belly sandwich is the most calorie-rich, but you’re craving roasted duck in this moment, and there happens to be a roasted-duck sandwich amongst the selections.
While satisfying your hunger is one objective of choosing a sandwich, there are other goals in mind, such as satisfying cravings, which may compete with one another. If you have a hard time deciding amongst all the sandwiches, you expect eating one sandwich to be equally likely to succeed as eating any of the others.
As with projects, “success” may come in many forms. We’ll get to that in a bit.
Assumption 2: “I’m equally capable of succeeding at each of these ideas”
If you feel you have too many ideas, you must think you’re equally capable of succeeding at each of these ideas, which is the second assumption. If assumption one weren’t correct, and you didn’t feel each idea were equally likely to succeed, you would probably pick the one most likely to succeed. The avocado and pork belly sandwich would clearly be more filling than peanut butter and jelly.
Now, if you weren’t equally capable of eating each of the sandwiches, that would make your decision easier. If you’re choosing between avocado and pork belly and peanut butter and jelly, but you’re a strict vegetarian, the decision is easy. Same if you’re not a vegetarian, but allergic to peanuts.
But since you feel each idea is equally likely to succeed, and you feel you’re equally capable of succeeding at all of them, you feel you have too many ideas.
As with projects, you may have little information about your capability of succeeding, which is why, for all you know, your capability to succeed is equal across all ideas. We’ll untangle that later.
Assumption 3: “I can’t work on multiple ideas at once”
If you feel you have “too many ideas,” you feel they’re equally likely to succeed and you’re equally capable of succeeding at each of them. If you feel you “must pick one,” you feel you can’t work on multiple ideas at once, which is the third assumption.
In our sandwich scenario, you’ve been told you have to pick one sandwich. If there’s no one else around and the sandwiches will go to waste otherwise, you might as well taste all the sandwiches, then pick one. Or eat a little of each, until you’re full. But, in that case, you wouldn’t finish any of the sandwi
Livestream/AMA: Publishing Outside Amazon, Focusing Curiosity, and Mind Management
Today I have a special episode for you. If you missed last month’s AMA/Livestream, I’m delivering it right to your ears. In this AMA, I answered questions about:
What’s the best self-publishing platform, and how did I publish 100-Word Writing Habit, non standard-sized, outside of Amazon? Buenos Aires versus Medellín, which is better for mind management? How to pick a creative project when you have too many ideas? What’s surprised me most in the past two years? What task management software do I use for mind management? How to focus on one project when you have multiple curiosities? How to keep from falling down a research rabbit-hole? How many half-formed ideas do I have captured somewhere? There are some parts where I refer to visuals, for the best experience, watch on YouTube.
About Your Host, David Kadavy David Kadavy is author of Mind Management, Not Time Management, The Heart to Start and Design for Hackers. Through the Love Your Work podcast, his Love Mondays newsletter, and self-publishing coaching David helps you make it as a creative.
Follow David on:
Twitter Instagram Facebook YouTube Subscribe to Love Your Work Apple Podcasts Overcast Spotify Stitcher YouTube RSS Email New bonus content on Patreon! I've been adding lots of new content to Patreon. Join the Patreon »
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/four-sources-of-shiny-object-syndrome/
Well made, valuable, and enjoyable!
I just got caught up on recent episodes of Love You Work. Quality show, quality content. David digests far ranging concepts in business, creativity, and happiness into easy to digest episodes. Plenty of fodder for getting unstuck on a project, or reframing your perspective to make work and life easier and better.
A Must For Creatives!!
I first encountered David Kadavy through his book “The Heart to Start.” It popped up on my new kindle in 2018; I purchased it and was greatly encouraged by his writing; he specializes in the ins and outs, ups and downs of the creative process, often debunking common myths surrounding the subjects of creativity and productivity.
I am still finding my way on my creative journey, and David’s podcast continues to be a vital contributor to my personal process. He has an approach that is refreshing and down to earth, and he thinks out of the box…. thoughts I believe can help myself and others “escape” to creative freedom.
Every episode is gold!
No matter the subject, you’re guaranteed to gain something from every episode - can’t recommend Love Your Work enough. 🙌