5 Insights That Might Change Your Life

Gems for 2024

Happy 2024, everyone.

I’ve been out of newsletter commission for nearly a month.

Life gets heavy sometimes.

The good news is that 2023 was an incredible year and primed me for an even better 2024.

Now I’m going to share with you 5 insights that changed my life this year:

I think they may help you too.

(1) First principles thinking

First principles are the key to unlock every new startup challenge.

Many startup problems you face will be new to you.

Understanding how to approach problems from the ground up has changed my work life dramatically.

If you’re new to the topic and work in startups, I’d recommend either first principles thinking or the first principles of buyer psychology.

But I wrote 8 essays that touch on the topic.

(2) Strategy

A lot of famous business people have fancy definitions of strategy.

I found the most useful compass of all when doing a write-up about Nvidia’s CEO, Jensen Huang and his leadership style.

This gem has stuck with me:

“Strategy is not words. Strategy is action. So if the company has a set of strategies, but people’s actions are not that, then they’re obviously not executing the strategy. The strategy, as it turns out, isn’t what I say, it’s what they do.”

Jensen Huang

This point hit particularly close to home.

The easiest way to tell if you and your team have a real strategy is to see how you spend your time.

If a lot of time is spent on activities that don’t further the primary goals, then the strategy is unclear.

(3) Positioning

I spent hundreds of hours playing with LLMs this year.

They are incredibly useful for marketers to gain an understanding of their market and competitive landscape.

Here’s an essay I wrote about how to use LLMs for positioning insights.

I was overly optimistic about how “truthful” LLMs are at this phase of their development (they lie all the time).

Still, a few simple prompts can extract golden insights about your target demographics and competitive positioning.

(4) F-A-C-T-S: how to master any marketing channel

I came up with a cool acronym that summarizes my approach to winning on any marketing channel.

If you are a marketer, I think you’ll find it useful:


F = first principles
A = ask experts
C = competitive research
T = test and learn
S = systems

(5) Gmail shortcuts

I’ve grown to fear my inbox over the past several months.

I have 33,220 unread email messages and hundreds more arrive daily.

I finally downloaded a cheatsheet of Gmail shortcuts to see if there was a cure.

Now I’m able to dispose of my daily email maintenance in a couple minutes a few times per day, without touching a mouse.

I’m not a productivity guru.

But this is cool stuff that will save me a zillion hours of stupid time I would have spent (or not) scrolling my mouse through piles of boring crap spam emails.

Using a mouse is probabilistic and requires more physical movement.

Shortcuts allow you to deterministically click away a pile of messages with simple key strokes.

That’s it for 2023.

What’s your goal for 2024?

I’d love to hear from you and learn how I can help you achieve it.


PS - avoid complexity was another insight I’ve held close. Check it out.