The Muselet #20: The Curve

I’m an extreme case of an early adopter.

The first first thing I do when I wake up — and this is for real — is unlock my iPhone, go to the App Store, pull down the list of app updates to see if there’s anything new, read the release notes and update all apps. I know, apps update automatically on iOS, but there’s a delay. I can’t wait that long. The curve is coming, and I have to stay ahead of it.

For the last half a year or so, I’ve been working practically full-time on an iPad Pro 13” with the magic keyboard. Note that that I don’t write code at this moment, I spend most my time in Zoom, Google Calendar/Docs/Sheets/Slides, email and Ulysses. Is it always a perfect replacement of my Macbook Pro? No, but there’s advantages (covering that warrants a separate email). And for sure it’s ahead of the curve.

If my role would involve more coding and I would need to buy a new Macbook, it’d have to be an M1, on which many developer tools won’t work properly for the next few months — but I won’t be able to help myself. The curve, you see.

started blogging early as well, in 2003. I started a podcast in 2004 (spoiler alert: that link is severely broken and the MP3 you can no longer find — thank god) briefly after Adam Curry invented it. I was on Twitter early, that’s why I got @zef.

Maybe with starting a newsletter, I wasn’t ahead of the curve — but still for personal newsletters, I’d say it’s still early days. The thing we’re doing here is different than the JavaScript weeklies that have been around for years. 

However, starting a newsletter wasn’t purely a “it’s fresh, so I have to try it” thing. I decided to try it out during a vacation in July.

It was a week where I felt I needed new stuff to read, which led me to explore the world of newsletters. Newsletters became a bigger and bigger deal, or so it seemed to me. A vacation seemed like a good time to jump in and find out what the fuss was all about. In a matter of days I had subscribed to a dozen newsletters or so and started reading. Not long after, I concluded: yah, I need to try this myself.

And so I did, and twenty weeks in, I’m loving it.

Here are a few reasons why it works for me:

It gives me a cadence and deadline: It’s good newsletter practice to send one at a regular interval. Weekly is most common. Therefore, I too committed to a weekly email. I decided it would be sent out on Sundays at 8am CET. And so far, I’ve not missed a beat, including vacations (through the magic of scheduling). Although I do have weeks where the topic of that week’s issue comes to me sometimes scary late, and for sure there are stronger and weaker weeks, but... committing to one shareworthy thought per week, it’s doable.

I get something back. While I had assumed most feedback would come via email (you know, using your email client’s “Reply” button) — more often it comes via other channels: Twitter, LinkedIn, Zoom meetings, or Slack. Whatever the channel, I often get something valuable back. There were plenty of ideas, articles and books that you recommended me that were interesting and helped me further my thinking.

It generates content for my blog. As I mentioned, I started blogging in 2003 and my frequency of posting on zef.me (and its previous incarnations) has seen its ups and downs. There was one crazy year during my studies where I set myself the challenge of writing something every single day, and I managed to keep doing that for a year straight. Those were different times. However, with my newsletter I once again have a steady stream of content. When I’m happy enough with a newsletter post, I edit it a bit, and a week later publish it on the blog. Yes, a week later, so that subscribers feel they’re ahead of the curve, you know. The curve.

A few fun facts for you. 

It started as an experiment. During the aforementioned vacation, I set up The Muselet on substack and announced on Twitter and LinkedIn I’d be starting a newsletter. At that point I had not really decided on the format yet, nor fully committed to actually doing it. I decided to only really commit when at least ten people would sign up. It’s a common “lean startup” technique. Luckily, collecting ten subscribers didn’t take long, and it was a go. And as you know, I like experiments.

People have cited The Muselet as a reason to quit. Before starting The Muselet, I had been publishing similar content as weekly update emails inside OLX. I realized a lot that content wasn’t all that OLX specific, and could easily be generalized for a wider audience. A few months ago a manager in my group resigned. “A lot of the learning I got here came from your weekly update emails, and since those are public now, that gave me one less reason to stick around!” Oh the exit interview fun! More seriously, though — don’t quit on me, people.

”Don’t mention me again, please.” Likely the most widely read and shared post I wrote was on the Netflix documentary ‘The Last Dance.’After it, my boss requested not to mention him in the future (whoops, I suppose I just did it again), he had some people reach out to him about it that he’d rather not be in touch with. 🤔 

Anyway. Thanks all for sticking around this far! Since the very beginning of The Muselet only 2 people unsubscribed (and yes a whole lot more than that subscribed — hah), which in itself I take as positive feedb... impactback.

Since the title of this post is “The Curve” here’s The Muselet’s subscriber curve.

And if you were one of the people signing up all the way to the left of that curve: congratulations, you were ahead of it.