6 Figures in 3 Months

How important is speed to you in business?

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Life can be so funny. This week, I set out to explore the notions of speed and growth in business in the newsletter. Then life decided to throw me a curveball. My computer died.

I had to take a big spoon of my own medicine. It‘s been a week of reorganizing work and very understanding clients (🙏).

Admittedly, I‘ve been grumpy about it. I had big plans for this week and now I‘m slowed down, running my business from my iPad. While I’m very grateful I can at least do that, typing on its tiny keypad is cumbersome.

Given these recent events, I needed to re-evaluate my priorities and ask myself some hard questions:

  • What do I really-really need to do?

  • Where have I been creating busywork for myself? [a specialty of mine]

  • What have I been doing that‘s superfluous and hinders speed and growth in my business?

I‘m learning about this in real time and am happy to report back to you, once I know more.

What is Healthy Speed in Business?

Now, let’s get to this week’s newsletter.

Below, I’m interviewing Justin Anderson, who writes Turtle‘s Pace. In his newsletter & blog, he explores how we can make things that matter at a sustainable pace. You can sign up for it here.

I was drawn to his work, because he offers a calm and sensible perspective on how to get things done without breaking yourself.

In the current entrepreneurship and marketing landscape, I see two big, almost opposing themes:

  • ⚡️6 figures in 6 weeks, YOLO, let‘s flipping go, bruh!!! To the moon!

  • 🌊 just flowwww and ease into success, lalala

I‘ve tried both and neither worked for me. Overdoing speed is as unhealthy as hoping to chill yourself to a sustainable business.

But, where‘s the sweet spot? How do you enable a healthy, sustainable pace in what you‘re building? How can you be wise in the moment and neither throttle a good thing, nor force things when the timing’s not right?

I think my interview with Justin can help you and I find some answers.

An Exploration of Slowness with Justin Andersun from Turtle’s Pace

Why did you choose to “move slow and make things”?

In 2013 when Facebook exemplified its hacker ethos of “move fast and break things,” my university sponsored massive hackathons to do just that. “Move fast and break things” embraced creative destruction through innovation, and hackathons aimed to imbue that spirit in computer science students. Busses of students from dozens of schools would arrive at a stadium, and we’d stay up for two nights building apps from scratch.

The speed and environment were intoxicating. [Sidenote: I was in startups/VC for a bit and can attest to that. The speed and hustle in this world can feel like you‘re holding the keys to the universe.] At one event, a friend and I built a Tweeting Chair (shockingly, the account is still around a decade later). I felt proud of our accomplishment, immediately went home to crash, and awoke to never sit in the chair again. The Tweeting Chair met the fate of so many caffeine-induced sprints: nothing. It collected dust in a dorm room until I peeled off its brain (a Raspberry Pi) for another project.

I loved the energy of hackathons and appreciated the excitement generated by “move fast and break things,” but that approach never panned out for me. I did NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) several times and came away with a couple of fifty-thousand-word “novels” that were so bad I didn’t bother to edit, let alone read, them. I tried this approach with fitness, relationships, and project after project, but once the initial excitement had worn off, I was out of steam, and whatever I tried failed.

In 2020 when the world locked down and I felt hopeless, I read Atomic Habits and committed to change. I focused on the long game and “cast votes” for the person I wanted to be. Instead of high-energy sprints, I broke my goals into small chunks that I could do daily. The timelines expanded, but I was making progress. I ran a marathon. I wrote stories that got published. I embarked on mountaineering trips I could have never completed without learning to slow down and be consistent.

It's not as thrilling as the sprint of the hare, but the saunter of the tortoise has proven fruitful.

Justin Anderson, Turtle‘s Pace

🐢🐢🐢

What is the value of going slow as an online entrepreneur or creator?

People want three things: cheap, fast, and good. The joke is that you can only have two.

As a creator in the age of generative AI, it’s not worth competing on “cheap.” For the price of a coffee, you can get a monthly subscription to image generation software to design hundreds of illustrations. And quite frankly, these generative services are speedier than any artist, so competing on “fast” isn’t worth it either.

But you can always compete on “good.” Quality is the ultimate differentiator, whether art, writing, software, or physical goods. Many creative endeavors are flashes in the pan, so refining one’s craft is a worthwhile investment. Developing a skill takes time, and others will opt out of that effort for a faster time-to-market.

Don’t get me wrong, speed matters, but it can’t come at the cost of quality. A startup I worked for was known for its remarkable speed since our CEO was famous for saying, “Pull it to the left!” when seeing project timelines. But, even with that bias, he never let us release a bad product. He'd understand if we had to miss a release date because the quality wasn’t there. “People won’t remember a missed release,” he’d say, “but they’ll remember a crappy product.”

There’s a fine line here between speed and perfectionism. An entrepreneur can easily fall into the trap of never getting off localhost by constantly refining their app to meet an unattainable ideal. A quality product doesn’t mean a perfect product. To strike this balance, consider the motto of Caesar Augustus: Festina lente, or “make haste slowly.”

A creator who cares about quality can strike a balance of executing deliberately and diligently but still with a sense of urgency.

Justin Anderson, Turtle‘s Pace

We can make reliable progress toward a goal with slow and steady progress each day.

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What can we do to divorce our notions of success from speed? How can we scale meaningfully?

People in almost every culture are fascinated by speed. We cheer for our country racing in the Olympics and place gold medals around the necks of the fastest runners, skiers, and swimmers. We nerd out over the stats of sportscars and jet engines and stare with awe at the sprint of a cheetah.

It’s no wonder we associate success with speed.

But speed isn’t all that important for humans. It never was. Early humans survived not due to our speed or intelligence but our persistence.

We chased herds of animals for 50+ miles until the prey collapsed from exhaustion, and we methodically caught it. Our bodies evolved for endurance, a steady and unwavering effort. Success doesn’t need speed; it requires persistence.

So, how do we scale meaningfully?

Think longer term. Instead of focusing on what we can accomplish today, this week, or this month, think about what we could achieve this quarter, this year, or this decade.

Justin Anderson, Turtle‘s Pace

Brilliant people like Bill Gates and Arthur C. Clarke supposedly said, "People overestimate what they can do in a day but underestimate what they can do in a year.”

If we rush and make hasty, short-term decisions today, we’ll sabotage our future attempts at scaling. If we slow down and consider where we’d like to go, we can make deliberate decisions that enable growth. Then we execute, one persistent step at a time.

🐢🐢🐢

Anything else you wish I’d have asked you?

No, I rambled too much already 🙂

Read More On Speed in Life and Business

  • I highly recommend this thought-provoking article on the exponential age. We’re experiencing the butterfly effect in real time. Things can happen crazy fast because of scale and connectivity in the present. To be aware of this is a key to understanding life right now.

  • The Life Intense, a book on our quest for speed and intensity in the modern era.

Happy Marketing 📣,

Johanna

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