Back in July, I wrote about what I had learned from your feedback. It’s been a crazy half-year since. Discovery is really about re-discovery, right? Based on your replies and visits, these are the links that got the most attention in 2023. (I also sprinkled a few favorites that never made it into the newsletter but kept my attention throughout the year.) Enjoy!
- Thinking about how AI will change your world? No worries. I gathered a list of principles for creating with AI this year based on your input and what we’ve all experienced so far. The predictions seemed to have held up. Other lists of principles (or manifestos) this year included: why (against all market trends) you should still write a book, why “personal brands” still matter, why you need brainless tasks, and truly useful creative constraints.
- Some of my favorite things to share this year were garden offices, the notion of solitude deprivation, the importance of namedropping, and the wisdom of bankers boxes.
- My favorite internal revelation of the year was how to solve the personal vs. professional newsletter conflict and what it means for the process of newsletter creation. In short, everyone should try both and even though everything is an essay, curation will be the future for creators. How can you combine these ideas and create more valuable experiences for your subscribers? (I like lists. Judging by replies, so do you.)
- My favorite book of the year was Kevin Kelly’s Excellent Advice for Living, because I love “no excuses” books. It’s a perfect constraint. I can’t wait until Merlin does something similar with his Wisdom Project.
- In the marketing world, we re-learned why social proof is overrated and personalization is creepy.
- In productivity land, we re-learned (again) about the folly of the external brain.
- I loved sharing the work of personal newsletter publishers and their processes. It reminds me of this post from Austin Kleon.
- Your favorite post (most visited page on my site) was a post from last year: 35 Lessons from 35 Years of Newsletter Publishing. I’m glad you’re still into that kind of thing because there’s a book coming based on that list. Hit me up if you want a sneak peek.
- I don’t understand why, but the post with the most replies was: Some Idiot Wrote This. The one I revisit the most is: The Workspace of the Future Is a Workbench.
- There were so many possibilities for quotes that defined the year (for what we do), but I think this one sums it up the best.
See you all in the new year! – CJ
P.S. Derek Sivers could have won best quote with this. “Do whatever interests you now, no matter how uncharacteristic. Refuse to assign yourself a purpose. There is no plot. You are not a story.” But he edited it on his site.
P.P.S. My personal favorite quote (showing up in my notes multiple times) relates to the above and is from the hilarious and thoughtful journalist, Michael Moynihan. “None of the tribes want you. They want you to be tribal. Tribes are boring. Who cares? Read books that are interesting. Read books that are bad. I was once attacked for ‘platforming’ somebody. How did you know that person was ‘bad?’ Because somebody ‘platformed’ them before. We used to call it reporting. Read what you want. Believe what you want. And never call yourself anything. It’s a dead end.”