The Work of My Life: August 2021 Report
“People often come to NYU and say, ‘Follow your passion’ — which is total bullshit, especially because the individual telling you to follow your passion usually became magnificently wealthy selling software as a service for the scheduling of health care maintenance workers. And I refuse to believe that that was his or her passion. What they were passionate about was being great at something, and then the accoutrements of being great at something — the recognition from colleagues, the money, the status – will make you passionate about whatever it is.” – Scott Galloway
I have strong but mixed feelings about the Scott Galloway quote reproduced above. On the one hand, I understand how tone deaf many “magnificently wealthy” people can sound when they glibly imply their path can be easily recreated if only you [fill in trite platitude here]. On the other hand, I’ve lived my own personal transformation from growing up in deep poverty, spending countless hours studying so I could escape the trap I was born into, finding myself in the prime of my career working a lifeless, soul-sucking job to, finally, spending most of my working time pursuing things I love doing with people I enjoy being around. If I had stayed in my old corporate life, I’d undoubtedly have a larger bank account than I do today, but the thought of going back is inconceivable. I’m going to make this work, because I have to. It is my passion.
Some context is probably appropriate. Doomberg is the product of a small, diverse, and tightly-knit team. While I am Doomberg’s main author, I do not work alone. We collectively tackle brand development, new ideas for Doomberg pieces, photoshopping, charting, and editing – all the things needed to produce high-quality content online.
In real life, this team runs a bespoke and discreet consulting business. We specialize in simplifying complex problems, climbing learning curves quickly, and generating novel solutions to otherwise difficult challenges. We communicate these ideas crisply – a core brand attribute of our firm – and we have a blast doing it. All our business comes from word of mouth, we carefully select who we agree to work with, and we prioritize life margin over dollar margin.
It wasn’t always this way. As peers in the corporate rat race, we planned our escape over a couple of years. One thing we realized about corporate America is you tend to accomplish all of your productive work in about 20% of your time – the other 80% is wasted in worthless meetings, performance management sessions, travel, office politics, and mindless training seminars. We decided to isolate the things we loved about the 20% and offer that as a product to prospective clients. With our first clients informally lined up, we took the risk, hung our own shingle, and enjoyed some early success. We realized that the accoutrements of our old lives were handcuffs that kept us in jobs we hated. The so-called need to keep up with the Joneses is, in fact, mostly self-imposed nonsense. The magical feeling of only working on things we enjoy – while only having ourselves to hold to account for our wins and losses – is difficult to describe if you’ve never done it.
Then Covid-19 hit. Like a ton of bricks.
Effectively overnight, we lost nearly all of our business. In March of 2020, we set a record high for revenue. By May, we had set a record low. Only a few years into our experiment and barely meeting our fixed costs, we were in crisis mode. Had we made a terrible mistake leaving respectable careers to chart our own course? Could the business be salvaged? Would our small team hold together, or would we admit defeat, go our separate ways, and rejoin the drudgery of corporate America for the stability of a job with good benefits – assuming we could find one? In short, the pucker factor was high.
We decided we would go down swinging. The work of our lives was worth fighting for! We reinvented ourselves around a critical observation: the very nature of work was radically changing – likely forever. The shutdowns induced by Covid-19 were going to totally realign how work will get done, who does it, and how people will get paid to do it. In particular, we recognized that an entirely new ecosystem – one that more directly and efficiently connects brains to those who need them – was forming. This was just another learning curve for us to climb. We completely immersed ourselves into this new paradigm – learning by doing. We began to help old and new clients alike position themselves for – and profit from – this ongoing megatrend, which is only just beginning. By the end of 2020, we had succeeded in restoring our business to pre-Covid-19 highs.
With Doomberg, we are living this change directly. It is both an outlet for my personal passion and, hopefully, a showcase for the combined skills and critical thinking of the Doomberg team. We don’t yet know precisely where Doomberg will take us, except we know it will be forward. Work is changing. Doomberg showcases some of our talent. It will someday add significant value of some kind. It must. There’s no going back. This is the path we have chosen.
August was another incredibly strong month of growth for this Substack. We are especially happy with the number of new email subscribers and Twitter followers. Certain pieces really resonated with our readers, most notably The DOJ’s Crypto Dragnet is Bigger Than You Think and America’s Energy Strategy is Bonkers. Here are the latest numbers:
Articles published: 39
Total views: 368,174
Email subscribers: 5,530
Twitter followers: 7,910
Am I recommending you quit what you are doing to blindly follow your passion? No, I’m not nearly “magnificently wealthy” enough to be so glib. Can I attest to the life-altering exhilaration of having the courage to try? Absolutely! Are such attempts without risk? Absolutely not! With your help, we are going to succeed. Maybe someday, we can return the favor.
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