Carl Richards of Behavior Gap joins me to talk about why it makes sense for him to sell his new book for $10,000.
- The paradox of working in public every day
- The terror of going from 0 to 1
- Using permission-less projects to get going
- The importance of noticing “tailwind”
- Turning flaws into features
- Using impostor syndrome as a compass
- Reacting to negative feedback about pricing
- How to decide whether to start a podcast
Carl Richards is a Certified Financial Planner™ and creator of the Sketch Guy column, appearing weekly in The New York Times since 2010.
Carl has also been featured on Marketplace Money, Oprah.com, and Forbes.com. In addition, Carl has become a frequent keynote speaker at financial planning conferences and visual learning events around the world.
Through his simple sketches, Carl makes complex financial concepts easy to understand. His sketches also serve as the foundation for his two books, The One-Page Financial Plan: A Simple Way to Be Smart About Your Money and The Behavior Gap: Simple Ways to Stop Doing Dumb Things with Money (Portfolio/Penguin).
His sketches have appeared in a solo show at the Kimball Art Center in Park City, Utah as well as other showings at Parsons School of Design in New York City, The Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, California, and an exhibit at the Mansion House in London.
His commissioned work is on display in businesses and educational institutions across the globe.
Find Carl online here:
What is Ditching Hourly?
My name is Jonathan Stark and I’m on a mission to rid the earth of hourly billing. I hope that Ditching Hourly will help achieve this, one listener at a time 🙂
[00:00:00] Jonathan: Hello, and welcome to ditching hourly. I'm Jonathan Stark. And today I'm joined by Carl Richards of behavior gap. Carl, welcome to the show.
[00:00:08] Carl: Thanks, Jonathan, super excited to talk to you.
[00:00:10] Jonathan: Same here. So before we get started for anyone who hasn't yet heard of you, could you give folks just quick background?
[00:00:17] Carl: Yeah. So I it's crazy to let me think about how to do it quickly. So I. Was a financial advisor and that's not normally thought of as a creative job. But one day I found myself in immediate and I had a familiar experience that I finally realized. Going on. I was meeting with clients and I thought I was really good at communicating.
[00:00:44] And these were really smart clown. My clients were really smart, successful people, and I was trying to explain a concept to them and I was just getting blank stares. Despite thinking that I was really good at this and knowing that these are smart people. So since they were smart people, it was clearly impact.
[00:01:01] I remember who it was either a doctor and a technology sales rep, really technical sales rep. And I remember thinking that. This is bad, right? Like I'm doing the best I can. There's this concept they really need to understand, and I'm not getting it across. So out of a act of really desperation and I had never really done this before.
[00:01:21] I didn't think of myself as a doodler. I didn't draw, I didn't do visual journal. Like I had done none of this. I'd never taken an art class in my life, but I don't have an act of desperation. I was like, there was a whiteboard in the office that I had never used and I jumped up and was like, no, like this.
[00:01:35] And I drew. Like a couple of boxes and some arrows and some circles or something. And I remember the feeling in the room when the clients were like, oh, now I.
[00:01:46] Jonathan: Yeah.
[00:01:47] Carl: And I became a diff is my word. I like to use to that experience of taking something that was seemingly complex, whether it was or not, it doesn't matter, but seemingly complex and reducing it to something simple.
[00:02:00] And so I started doing that publicly. I just, I started a little blog. This was years and years ago. My mom and my sister were the only ones that would read it. Like I found out later, my sister was lying. So it was really just the mom, but I kept doing it. And every time a question came up, every time I read something or somebody asked me a question or a client asked me a question, and at this point it was all about money investing and spending and budgeting. would answer the question and then I would try to, I would try to draw some simple sketch. And at this point, it was Sharpie and cardstock and if the Jitsu snap scanner.
[00:02:36] I did that for a while. I just kept putting them up on this little blog. And I did that for awhile. It was probably a year which is, seems like it happened pretty quick to be honest, I'm a year.
[00:02:45] And then I got an email and there's a little bit of story that I'm leaning out, but not much. I got an email from the editor at the New York times saying, Hey, we love these women. Do it for us. And I knew enough to say yes and figure it out later. So
[00:03:01] Jonathan: Yeah.
[00:03:01] Carl: that started this column for the New York times that we did.
[00:03:04] And again, I had no clue this would happen when I said yes, but we did that column ended up running weekly for 10 years, that led to the book. And then, maybe three or four years into that column, I kinda got bored. Just straight money. And expanded the definition of money and started doing things around creativity.
[00:03:24] And we started thinking of it as a business life column. And so that expanded it to imposter syndrome and fear and doing public work and then. The two books and some speaking engagements. And I started getting asked to do speak at creative conferences, and I did an art show, a solo eight week art show and another one in London.
[00:03:43] And all of it was a hundred percent by accident. And I couldn't ever believe that it happened so that's a little bit of the bio.
[00:03:51] Jonathan: Yeah, that's amazing. Yeah. I love the juxtaposition of certified financial planner and creator of the sketch guy column.
[00:03:57] It feels like
[00:03:59] Carl: super fun to
[00:03:59] Jonathan: interesting Venn diagram there. Okay, cool. So I'm glad you brought up the New York times thing. Cause I was going to ask you about that backstory and yeah.
[00:04:09] Is there a piece that, so I would love to connect the dots if there are any dots to connect. Was it, because the listener is probably either blogging or something like that, YouTube channel, or they are thinking about starting one, maybe it's a mailing list. Maybe it's a podcast, but people who listen generally do some sort of.
[00:04:29] You content creation and I have a I'll just quickly say short stories, not dissimilar. Where I was just, years ago, 2000, I don't even know five ish. I was blogging about a really niche topic for, I feel like I, I posted six posts in six weeks maybe. And a book publisher contacted me completely out of the way.
[00:04:52] And I'm just curious if the New York times thing was completely out of the blue, or if you did anything to was there any, anything you did that actually led to that? Or was it pretty much out of the blue?
[00:05:03] Carl: I wish I had something more, like I've been asked this question so many times, including my editor at the time, it was like, Hey, what would you tell? Wants to, and I was like, Ron, I've got nothing for you. The only thing I have. And this, unfortunately like this doesn't fit into the tips, tricks and tactics and hacks that everybody wants because we all want deeply.
[00:05:24] We just want a tactic that we can follow it up. I think this, endless focus that I have on tactics and we all have on tactics is actually just a place to hide.
[00:05:33] Jonathan: I agree.
[00:05:34] Carl: but so I'm not gonna it would be cute to make up a story. But it really was the only thing I have is playing in traffic. Right, Like that, that, that was it. I didn't even know what SEO was like. I didn't I just kept doing the thing and I don't know why for some people doing the thing that you just can't not do. Like for some people that lead, that ends up being a quiet life of disappointment and desperation, and for other people.
[00:06:05] Something hits and I wish I knew the answer to that. That's the question I've been thinking about for over a decade? Cause they're doing work in public doesn't guarantee that a book publisher is going to reach out to you. In fact, it's highly unlikely that they will, but I promise you, the only thing I have is I promise you, they won't, if you don't do it
[00:06:24] Jonathan: Yup. I'm actually glad. That you have a non-answer there because it is an answer it's stop worrying about that stuff. Keep playing in traffic, you know it,
[00:06:32] Carl: yeah.
[00:06:33] That's all. I often want to be like we, I play a lot of, I think a lot about emphasis hugs versus punches in the nose and this feels like both it's like deeply empathetic look, brother, I get you. I understand. That this can be a lonely pursuit. You got a thing that's bothering you, and by bothering, like stirring within you and you can't stop doing it and you're going to do it publicly, you can do it. And I and stop worrying about all that other stuff. I didn't even know. I just did the work and sometimes it's going to work and sometimes it's not. And that's the big mystery for me.
[00:07:08] Jonathan: I'm a big fan of Seth Godin's approach of suggesting for people who just need a little bit more than what we're seeing right now. Just find the minimum viable audience for the present that you made. And it's so doable. It just feels so doable. Okay. We can move on. I just curious if I'm glad you, it was out of the blue basically, because I think that frees people actually to just focus on creating stuff, they want to create.
[00:07:33] Carl: Gentlemen, before you move on, let me say it like that's that has not stopped. Like I don't have the same thing for the first book. Same thing for the second. Same thing for the book I'm working on now say it like it's, there is no master plan. And so I, yeah, I think to me, that's actually freeing, like you said, so I, Yeah.
[00:07:53] it hasn't stopped.
[00:07:54] I haven't come up with a formula since.
[00:07:57] Jonathan: okay. So let me, so let's go into that a little bit, because I do know for some things we're going to get into here you have at least one probably multiple daily practices. So it feels like you must have systems in place that Allow you to continue or not allow you to but support you in showing up every day.
[00:08:16] Yeah, I can traffic. And this isn't really a show about systems, but I would just say to the person listening that, I don't, I wouldn't say I have a master plan. I don't know every step I'm going to take over the next three, even let's just say. Definitely three years, but I've got a rough goal for the kind of impact I want to have and who I want to help.
[00:08:36] And I have a strategy to do that. And there's some systems in place that helped me show up every day and do it and, meet with great people like this, have them on the podcast. And there, there are, it's not that there are no tactics. It's just not worth worrying about the tactics. You just, have a goal, set up a system to support it and look it heads down and do the system.
[00:08:55] Carl: Yeah. I The word that keeps coming to mind as you're talking is habits. Like I, I have a habit of noticing things in the world. I even have it. There's like a, I even joked, there's a face I make it's I call it the, her face huh. Like I have a habit of looking for that to happen a couple of times a day.
[00:09:13] And then when it happens, I pull out my iPhone and see, this is the interesting piece. If you don't have a knife, if you don't have an iPhone, you can't do this. That's the places to hide. But I'm trying, I'm only going to tell you this, tell your listeners this, because I think it demonstrates like how simple it needs to be.
[00:09:30] I mentioned that earlier cardstock Sharpie and Fujitsu, snap, scanner. I didn't have a flatbed scanner. There was no music playing there. So.
[00:09:37] now it's like I noticed something in the world. I pull out my phone under notes. I have a folder called ideas. I take a note and if I'm moving, I'll just record on voice memo.
[00:09:49] The note, then that folder, when it's time to put something into the world, I go to that folder. And I pull up the idea, like there's one in there from last there's one in there. Let me just do a real quick notes. There's Yeah.
[00:10:03] there was one real, oh yeah. Re the idea of re-investing. Like I have a habit of, as soon as I feel better, like healthy, I'm energetic, I'll go make a big athletic goal.
[00:10:14] And somebody
[00:10:15] somebody was like what if you just reinvested that energy? So that's an idea that will go up on the podcast tomorrow. I go into the notes folder. There's an ideas folder. I pull it up. Oh, reinvest is there. When I do something with the idea of reinvest, I move it to another folder.
[00:10:29] The folder is called used ideas. And that's the end of the, that's the end of the system.
[00:10:35] Jonathan: Yeah
[00:10:36] Carl: Yeah.
[00:10:36] there are habits and I think James Claire's work around process and systems are super smart. And I think that's the thing that sometimes I think there's a big difference between being creative and the process of making stuff.
[00:10:52] Jonathan: oh, that's a good point.
[00:10:53] Carl: And I don't think of myself as creative, although I do now because I'm like, oh, actually it turns out being creative. Isn't some magic for some people. It is. And that's awesome. Like cool. But there's also a process of, and I call it making stuff on purpose. It's like stuff. It's not art. It's not, I it is, but there's no fancy feelings about it.
[00:11:12] There's a big difference between being creative and sometimes they're the same thing, but just for people who don't feel like they're creative, you can create a system for making stuff. It's just like another widget. It's not a big deal. So anyway, yeah, I agree that there are systems, process and habits.
[00:11:27] Jonathan: Yep. Yep. And James has been on the show. So folks if you're interested, if you don't know who James Claire is, check out the podcast in his book, Atomico atomic habits. It's fabulous. So yeah, my, I do a daily mailing list and I just, when I have one of those ideas, same thing, probably talk face. I like that.
[00:11:43] And I whip out the phone and I start a new Gmail message and I typed the idea or I say the idea and I just close it and it automatically saves on all my devices. It's instantly available everywhere.
[00:11:53] Carl: So good.
[00:11:54] Jonathan: Yeah, and it's just, it's the teeniest tiniest little spark will happen during the day. And I just know if I don't instantly grab it, I'm going to forget it.
[00:12:01] 30 seconds later, kids come and say something, make gone all gone. But if you get into the habit of capturing those things, even if you don't have an answer, it's just an inspiration sometimes and or weird observation or paradox, if you don't capture that it is going to be gone. But when you do capture it, you get into the habit.
[00:12:19] I sh I have like over 600 of these unreal. Ideas in this folder. And same thing if I don't have an idea for today, I just open up the folder and oh yeah, let's write about that
[00:12:29] Carl: can I just mention two things, one I've heard that like it's gone thing and I think that's true for, I don't know where the boundary conditions are on any of this stuff. I only want to mention this because maybe there's some listeners. Think a little differently about it. And I have finally I've noticed that the good stuff sticks.
[00:12:49] I don't know where, again, I don't know the boundary condition of it. I don't know. So I've started to be a little less precious about the idea I got to capture it. I got to grab it. Because I find that the good stuff comes back and I don't, again, I don't know if that's just me or, Elizabeth Gilbert's thing at some point, if you don't let the idea out into the world that we'll find a new host.
[00:13:09] I don't know. Is it three times? Is it one time? Is it, I don't know, but, so I've started to be just recently, I've developed a little less preciousness around oh, and I'll even find myself saying it to the idea. Hey right now, I'm driving brother. But if you're really good and you want me to be involved, could you come back?
[00:13:26] Cause I think you're not nice. And I'd like to see you again, right? Like that kind of thing. And then the second thing I would mention is sorry, got what the second thing was, it was preciousness and then
[00:13:35] Jonathan: If it'll come back,
[00:13:36] Carl: it will come back. Exactly. Oh, this the not knowing the answer. I like it took me five years to finally get my editor convinced that point of the column was often the question. Cause there was always this, like this common refrain in journalists of so what what's the point here? And I would have to say the point is the question. And so I only mentioned that because I like, I wouldn't be scared. To share observations and create stuff that you don't know the answer to.
[00:14:07] And you can be upfront about this. And I say this like almost every day on the podcast, I'm like, I don't know. I don't know, but I think it's interesting. And I probably, you, this is, I think we get hung up in this oh, where am I going to find ideas? And this is all the same thread. It's if you think something's interesting.
[00:14:24] And again, it's just for me, if that her face, like I could be reading something. If I notice I have to pause and go back and read a sentence that's assigned to me where I'm like, oh, that's, there's something interesting. If you find something interesting, we live in such an inter it's such a connected world now that I promise, how, no matter how silly you think it is, there's something it's out there.
[00:14:47] That's going to find it. Interesting. It's just a function of doing it long enough in a space where the signal gets clear. So I just wanted to mention that idea. You don't have to have the answers. In fact, I think it's far more. Gosh, far more honest and far more interesting to follow somebody on the exploration.
[00:15:06] I think of the work I do really as like Shackleford journal. I don't know, it's not advice, but if you come this way, if you happen to find yourself on this trail, I found a spring here and it was interesting. It was nice to know that there's water and there's a tree around the corner that provides good shade.
[00:15:23] I don't know if you, if it's good for you, but it was good for me. So that's the one thing I wanted to do.
[00:15:28] Jonathan: Yeah, I do like that. And I did notice that on the podcast where you're like this isn't advice, it's observation things I've observed and there's something, the thing I like about that is it removes the word should from any sentence you would ever write, because the word should always scares me. If that comes out of my mouth, I'm like, that's a little, yeah. Yeah. It's a Derek Sivers has a really. He is a very similar approach. I don't know if you're familiar with his stuff, but
[00:15:52] Carl: for sure.
[00:15:53] Jonathan: yeah, his, especially his new book or it's like how to live. And it's chapter after chapter of almost contradictory ways that you could run your life.
[00:16:03] Some of them are completely contradictory, like one right after the other. And it's here's a bunch of ways you could do it.
[00:16:10] Carl: right.
[00:16:11] Jonathan: It's a fascinating approach. It's and maybe most fascinating. Yeah. How rare it is most books that you'd buy, self-help book would be like, here's what you do first get up at 4:00 AM, make your bet, like the classic stuff.
[00:16:24] And it's yeah, I already read that. And that's not gonna work for me for whatever reason. Cool. All right. I have a feeling that we could talk for four hours.
[00:16:31] Carl: Right.
[00:16:32] Jonathan: This is great. Obviously if people want more of this kind of like talking about Karl's content, like the actual content go to behavior, gap.com and just start reading.
[00:16:42] There's like loads and loads of great stuff there. But what I really the primary reason I reached out is, pricing podcast and you've got a new book coming out that has a pun intended novel pricing structure. Could you talk about that a little bit? Where'd that idea come well first, what is it?
[00:16:59] And then where did that idea come from? Those sorts of things.
[00:17:02] Carl: Yeah.
[00:17:03] Again, no grand scheme here. I I wanted to okay. So keep in mind. Let me just describe what it is first. So I do the sketches. I noticed years and years ago. I. Other people who gave financial advice for living. So this would range from CPAs attorneys, financial advisors, financial planners, private equity, venture capital, anybody who kind of deals with money and takes risk for a living started to ask for these images.
[00:17:33] And they would I specifically remember the first time was like aye. You remember the guy's name? He said, Hey, could I, would you, could I have a print of one of these and would you sign it? And I was like, that is so silly. No. And he said I'll give you two twenty-five dollars for an unsigned one.
[00:17:50] I'll give you a hundred dollars for a sign when I was like, give me the pen, so that was the first time. And I was like, oh, that's interesting. Again. I'm not very good at seeing the future, but I'm really good at noticing T well, I'm getting better at noticing tailwind. And so it was like, oh, that's interesting.
[00:18:05] So we started selling like prints and that's that? That's where like the art show I did an eight week solo 50 piece show that sold out and I was like, Ooh.
[00:18:14] Jonathan: Wow.
[00:18:15] Carl: it was tailwind. So there's this group of people who use. So this is like purpose art, and I've got lots of friends who are off.
[00:18:23] They don't have that kind of an audience and this idea would not work unless you had that kind of an audience. So people give my first book, the behavior gap sold to those same people and they would give it away to their clients. So it's, so it's been years of me thinking like, oh, isn't that interesting?
[00:18:43] These are tools. The sketches themselves. And then the writing that goes with the sketches are actual tools. We think of them as conversation grenades. I think I stole that from class. You throw them in a room and conversations break out and it's the exact kind of con it's supportive conversations for people to give financial advice for a living.
[00:19:00] They, they're the exact kind of conversations these people want to be having. So with all of that, and in mind, I was like, wow, I should create a, I want to create Yeah.
[00:19:08] I've got to tell you another part of this story. I got contacted by somebody who said. I get these kinds of phone calls every once in a while.
[00:19:15] It's actually quite annoying, but they're like, look, do you own all the rights to your material? And I do. And it's been very intentional. And do you own the name bay area? Like I do. Would you sell the whole thing to us?
[00:19:28] And I was like, for how much? And they threw out a number and I was like tomorrow. And it didn't work out, but it got me thinking, and again at NFTE has played into this too. All of these little things mashing together got me thinking, like, how could I ever release? And Bob Dylan selling his catalog for 600 million, like all of those things were in the past. And I was like could I sell a fractional piece of my library?
[00:19:53] And so I was thinking through that and I was like who would I sell it to? And I could sell it to people who use it, not just enjoy it, but people would use it. And wouldn't it be interesting if those people thought of themselves as owners, not just customers. So all of that came together and I was like, all Right.
[00:20:05] I want to create, and then Austin Cleveland's book the size of it, six by six, the map.
[00:20:10] Soft cover matte finish, like all of that, all of it came together. It was like, okay, I'm going to do a coffee table book. That's eight by eight square soft cover, matte finish. And I'm going to make, I love playing with the juxtaposition of kind of Swiss grid and hand-drawn elements. I love that. It's it feels like a business suit with flip flops.
[00:20:31] Like I just love playing around with that. And we, I love juxtaposition and I, we also have a fundamental concept here called permissionless project. So it was like, okay, how can I do this project that would involve no one else's permission, no gatekeeper and a publisher? No, nothing.
[00:20:43] So that's what, that's how the present came about. And it's eight, eight by eight soft cover. It's 52. I took 52 sketches. We wrote up 52 essays. We got a really fine I feel like the subtitle of the book should be better than the New York times, because these are all things that have appeared.
[00:21:00] Then they went through more editorial processes based on feeds. So it's 52 sketches, 52 essays. Each fold of the book is a sketch and an essay when we mixed them up a little bit on which side and how they're done. But each bolt of the book is self-contained sketch essay. And then I was like, all right, great.
[00:21:15] What should I do with this? And I thought, okay, the people, the fractional ownership, the sell of the library and all that MFT, like all of that came together. And I was like, what if I only made this available to a hundred people?
[00:21:25] And each person will get a hundred. Signed and numbered. So I'm gonna, I'm literally calling the printer and saying I'm printing, I'm actually printing 11,000 because I want to keep a thousand as artist proofs for myself to give to friends.
[00:21:37] But so 10 I'm ordering 10. That's the only print run. It will never be printed. And I, all of this is I get so excited about it. Cause it's all part of my ethos. Like a project that has a start, a finish. It's not gonna be around forever. Like I love calling the printer saying 10,000, like the first print run.
[00:21:53] I'm like, no final. Only, never again. And then I'm gonna get this 10,000. I'm going to go sit in the printers place and sign one of 10,002 of them. That's going to take me a week. And then you get the book. A hundred copies of the book to give to your clients. Again, that's the part that you know, is relatively unique here.
[00:22:13] A hundred copies of the book to give to your clients. You get the digital rights, the forever digital use rights for the 52 sketches in the 52 S. These people will use the people who will buy this will use it. These in social media, they'll use them in their client newsletter and they'll use them occasionally.
[00:22:32] We've had people in Texas print them on a billboard. Yes, of course
[00:22:37] Jonathan: I thought I saw that. I thought it was, I thought it was like digital magic.
[00:22:41] Carl: Yeah no. That one, the one you saw probably was digital magic, but there is a real one and I just haven't been able to get a picture of it. So you can print them on a t-shirt. You can print them on a mug as long as you're not selling. To give to clients. So like you, we call it, do the, do whatever you want license.
[00:22:55] So you get to do whatever you want. Licensed 52 sketches forever. Cool. Geez. How do you price that? What do you do? And so I knew enough for my art show because when I did the art show, I went, I literally read everything. I get my hands on and how to price art. And I don't know if you know this, but there's no manual.
[00:23:13] Jonathan: Yeah. I do know that.
[00:23:15] Carl: Yeah. There's no, like I looked everywhere. There's no, like in my world you can price a comp a comparable ass. Of similar risk and similar reward. And you've known with the price in the art world. There's nothing. So the same thing with the book, I was like wait a second. This isn't really a book. It's 52 weeks of marketing.
[00:23:34] It's all these other things. I was like I just picked a number and partially I was like, Okay.
[00:23:38] you know what? I want to do something that scares me. And I've always wanted to do a million dollar book launch.
[00:23:43] And so we priced it at $10,000 a piece, a hundred people can buy. It's a million dollars.
[00:23:48] We've actually made 20 slots available. That would include me coming to speak at your book, like at a book.
[00:23:54] party. So those are 20,000. So it's actually, what is that? It's a hundred and it's a hundred. And if those all sell, it's a $1.2 million.
[00:24:03] Jonathan: Amazing
[00:24:03] Carl: And it's crazy, right? And I feel all those feelings of wait, who told you, you could do this.
[00:24:08] I have a buddy is called imposter syndrome. And he shows up every time I do something cool. He comes every time I talk about like right now, I totally I'm like what? That's nuts. I can hear listeners being like what I'm scared to death. And that's part of the project.
[00:24:22] Jonathan: Yeah, imposter syndrome is a good sign. If imposter syndrome shows up, it means you're doing something interesting and new. Okay. So that's incredible. Very cool. Totally. I saw it and I was just like, oh, we have to talk about this. Has someone besides imposter syndrome shown up to throw rocks?
[00:24:39] Carl: Oh, for sure. Yeah. I We've only recently started announcing, you saw one of the early announcements you probably saw. And talk
[00:24:45] Jonathan: Yeah, I think so.
[00:24:47] Carl: And Blair is a friend of mine and he's had something to do with this. I'll call him and be like, really? Am I doing it? And he's do you know the answer to this?
[00:24:52] I th I, I think I saw, I'm trying to spend less and less time on Twitter. I do use Twitter for a lot for broadcasting, but I'm trying not to do a lot of interacting with. I did see like people in my industry saying things like it's obviously a top that's a joke that will always say like the market's certainly frothy at this point, if Carl's doing this and then somebody else, the one that, and those are like, whatever, like it's certainly, it's not for you.
[00:25:18] You clearly don't understand somebody else said oh, here's Carl playing a joke on all his loyal fans. And w I then explained to him what it was. It was like, no joke here. This is what, and he's oh, I didn't get that. It had the digital rights. So those things I'm like, it's not for you.
[00:25:33] The one that I heard the most recently was somebody saying, I thought you were all about helping people. Why are you suddenly leaving everybody? Yeah. So that, and I can feel that and then say, and it's Okay.
[00:25:48] for me to do a project like this. Yeah,
[00:25:50] for sure. And I don't know if it'll work. We've already, pre-sold a bunch of them.
[00:25:53] We opened up 21 early seats. Cause there were people who sent notes saying literally like I'm bringing a bag of cash to your door. And I was like, oh, okay. But I don't know if we'll get to, I don't even know if we'll get to 15. But I'm okay with that because next year we could sell 10 more and 10 more until all hundred go.
[00:26:12] Jonathan: right.
[00:26:13] Carl: I don't know if it'll work is what I'm saying. I have no idea if that will work, but there's enough tailwind for me to try.
[00:26:19] Jonathan: Yeah, I love that. I actually wrote that down tailwind. That's your so you'd note you're noticing engine is very good. Where you'll notice this sort of puppy, dog face stuff, but then also like when something happens, it's not just like you move on to the next thing. It's whoa, there's the sort of after effect of motion happening here just really good detector.
[00:26:40] Carl: We generally, we tried to systemize that a bit. Like I think of it as a system. Like we use early detection stuff, like Twitter's a great place to toss something out. And again, if you get no feedback, I actually, I don't use that as a, I don't use that as a sign. It's only if I get feedback that I'm like, oh, interesting.
[00:26:59] Because no feedback, actually the sample size is so small that no matter what the feedback is, it's inconclusive. So the only thing I can ever say from it is oh, interesting. Like maybe I should try a little more of that.
[00:27:13] Jonathan: Right.
[00:27:13] Carl: And just it's just a slight tailwind at that point.
[00:27:15] And then, but we try to we have systems now for like, where does the idea get tested first? Behavioral up radio is where it gets heard first. And then if it makes it out of behavior, I pray a little go here. And if it makes it go there, I'll go here. And eventually it'll end up in volume for right.
[00:27:29] Cause that's part of it. That's the other thing I should tell you the book's name. We were like, what did we name the book? I was like Let's just call it volume one. So somebody on the team actually suggested volume one. I'm like we can't do that. Like my publisher would never like we don't have a, what was her, the design of the book jar then?
[00:27:44] How cool is this? Like when we'd realized we didn't have to design for Amazon or the bookstore, all we had to design was for the moment. I just envisioning it. I'm doing it right now. Like a financial person, but it's advice giver has it in their hand and they hand it to a customer, a client that moment we could design the entire book cover for that moment.
[00:28:07] Really cool. So that's some fun stuff.
[00:28:10] Jonathan: Huge. That's amazing. Yep. You're just so focused on what it's for. This is what it's for.
[00:28:17] Carl: Yep. And that circles back to your idea of throwing stones. I have tried to get really good, and I'm not very good at it, but I try so hard that it's not for them. So that's phrase like it's not for you. And so if there's anybody throwing stones, I understand and empathize and get it.
[00:28:37] And there's a reasonable, if they're thoughtful, I treat them as gold because I can make the project better. But largely I would say. It must not either. I didn't communicate well enough or it's not for you.
[00:28:48] And both of those are within my power, which is really freeing to me because if I didn't communicate clearly that's on me.
[00:28:55] And if it's not for you, there's nothing I can do. It's okay. We'll just move on.
[00:28:59] Jonathan: right. Yeah. Not everyone gets the joke as they say so. Okay. So you just mentioned the behavior gap radio.
[00:29:06] Carl: Yeah.
[00:29:06] Jonathan: Let's talk about that a little bit because I am signed up to that. It's well, you can describe it. What's the
[00:29:12] Carl: Yeah.
[00:29:13] I think for your listeners, this may be the most important idea because obviously I, there was a whole bunch of caveats around that book, project. Make it unique. I had somebody tell me a good friend of mine said, Carl, you're an N of one for this project. I don't know anybody else who could do it cause you've got a market that needs it.
[00:29:29] So I understand that. But there's a bunch of N of one projects for everybody listening has an N of one project, right? Like you're the only one that could do it. So don't let that be a place to hide. But behavior radio to me is a, so let me just describe how it happened. I was noticing things in the world.
[00:29:47] And it was actually a challenge from Seth Goden. He, we were having breakfast and he said, Carl, why aren't you writing a daily blog? And I said, cause it's, he's unabashed about how powerful it's been for him. And I'm like I don't like to write. He's you like to talk. And so why don't you just record?
[00:30:03] I'm like, oh my gosh, really? And this was before like the most recent like podcast craze.
[00:30:10] Jonathan: Yeah.
[00:30:11] Carl: So I just started recording. Initially the notes folder I described early on wasn't notes. It was audio files, just what do they call it? Voice memos. So I started recording voice memos and I was saving them on a Dropbox file folder and somebody on the team.
[00:30:26] And when I say team there's three.
[00:30:28] Jonathan: Yeah.
[00:30:28] Carl: Somebody on the team pound. And then they're like, what are you? Do you mind if I, why don't we start a podcast? And I was like no, I don't want to, no, I can't all sorts of imposter syndrome. They're like Okay.
[00:30:37] What if I just put them on SoundCloud? And we embed the player someplace.
[00:30:42] And it was like, oh Yeah.
[00:30:43] fine. And then the times ran across them and they were like, can we run them every once in a while? So they ran it around as well, but then they stopped. And so it was just us posting these things up and I'd get notes, emails from people saying, I love your podcast. And I'd be like, I don't have a podcast.
[00:30:57] And they would say, I don't know what you call it, but would it, could you put it on iTunes so I can listen to it in the car? I'm like, all right. it. And but remember it was just part of my process. That's why I think everybody could do this. It's awesome. Cleanse work, show your work. So I just started recording these every day and sometimes I do six a day and sometimes I take days off.
[00:31:22] Still have the six, like I've, I haven't missed a day for a very long time, except Sundays I take Sundays off in terms of publishing. And then the people that I was having a conversation with the folks at super cast and super cast is a paid subscriber based podcast system, which is amazing. You can go check it out.
[00:31:38] And they were like, wait, you're doing this anyway. And so I decided I didn't care if anybody listens. And Seth says that this is the story I tell myself, at least I'm not sure it's true, but I try to tell myself I don't care if anybody would listened to it,
[00:31:49] I'm doing it anyway. It's the idea generation.
[00:31:52] Seth says, it's the metacognition, right? It's thinking about your thinking and it's the exercise of that muscle, because like you said, you have hundreds of them sitting in there. Like I did too. Like I, people are like, when are you gonna run out ideas? And never as long as I keep exercising the muscle,
[00:32:06] Jonathan: right.
[00:32:06] Carl: so I'm doing It anyway.
[00:32:08] So yeah, somebody was like what if you just made it a paid podcast? So I had this little items I want to do a little experiment. What if I told no one about it for awhile? I just put it up and all we did, so we didn't lean on my list. We didn't lean on the TA. Anybody else? Like we just, all we did was we posted about it on Twitter. We take little snippets, audio grams, post them on Twitter and Instagram. What if we did that? And I thought if I did that for a year and I made it $10 a month, would it, would I be happy or sad at the end of this? It was like, dude, there's no doubt. If I had no audience and I started doing that every day and I put it on Instagram and Twitter, that's all I did every day.
[00:32:49] I took a snippet or I took the highlight. I wrote the highlight on Instagram and Twitter. I said, if you like this, you'd love my daily podcast. It's 10 bucks. Go here, sign up. If you did that everyday for a year, I would be willing to bet money that you would be happy. You did.
[00:33:06] Jonathan: Such a good way to put it
[00:33:07] Carl: Like it's I don't know how happy. I don't know why, but I guarantee you'd be happy.
[00:33:12] Jonathan: Here's the flip side of that because I agree with you, but let's just let the devil come in and advocate. So that's a lot of time to invest in something and I want to pay off Carl. I want it to pay off. I want my tea. I could use that. I could bill $200 for that hour or two every day. So I'm losing, whatever, 365 minus Sunday's times, at least a hundred.
[00:33:37] Carl: Yeah, I don't buy it. So here's what I don't buy it. I see the point totally. And I think
[00:33:41] Jonathan: It's opportunity cost at least.
[00:33:42] Carl: Yeah, I think it's a very good conversation. So number one, it doesn't take me an hour. It takes me about 15 minutes. So we got that. So I should describe it. Yeah. It's a daily podcast.
[00:33:50] I was like, oh, I don't want to start a podcast. I don't wanna have guests. That's so much work. So we have I have another concept that I love called turn the flaw into the feature.
[00:33:58] So it started with the Sharpie, Right.
[00:34:00] Like I downloaded that, believe me, I did, I downloaded the illustrator and tried to figure out how to use it and couldn't figure out how to use it.
[00:34:05] So I was like, I'll just, okay, crap. I'll just have to use a Sharpie and cardstock and a Fujitsu, snap scanner. I did that. And a couple of years later, I hired a designer and I said, Hey, take this and turn it into a beautifully designed product. I put it out and everybody was like, why I love the Sharpie. So the flaw became the feature.
[00:34:23] So in this case, behavioral operators, I was like, oh no podcasts have guests and they're long and they're thoughtful. I didn't have time for any of that. And I didn't want to do it. And I wasn't very good. So I was like, okay but I want to do one okay. What's the fly is, it's just me talking. So it's me talking between three and 12 minutes and I have no problem with it being three minutes.
[00:34:43] In fact, I work really hard to make it three minutes. So it's me talking between three and 12. And now I've asked anybody want me to have guests do no, in fact, I just had somebody yesterday, send me a message saying your podcast fits perfectly into my time while I'm getting, like making my coffee. And I love it because I don't have to set aside a bunch of times. So the flaw has become a feature. So reasonable one, it doesn't take that much time. So if I was saying that to myself, I really want to do this, but it takes too much time. I would say. How could I do it in a way that didn't take much time?
[00:35:18] Number two? I don't know what the value would be. So remember the value extraction. I'm always thinking value creation and value extraction. Value extraction doesn't have to be money value extraction could be thinking about my thinking. Seth claims you'd write his daily blog if nobody read it.
[00:35:34] Jonathan: I would do. I would, I'm terrified of stuffing my daily blog. I would never stop it because my brain would dry up. Like it's where all my ideas. So I've been thinking about this a lot lately and ideas. I don't make my ideas, pop into my head and have created the conditions. That cause a certain kind of idea to pop into my head.
[00:35:59] So it's like these events are happening to me, but if I took away the conditions, the events would stop happening to me, even though they're happening in my head. They're like outside events. It's if I moved to, I don't know Afghanistan, or if I live in Providence, Rhode Island, different events are gonna happen to me and it's going to come.
[00:36:18] Different actions. I'm going to have to make different decisions because outside events are, you can, are predictably different in those two places. And if I stopped doing my daily list, that'd be like moving my brain to a place where it would stop having these things happen to it. It's hard. I haven't figured out how to describe this very well but taking, yeah, go ahead.
[00:36:40] Carl: are those things? Are those things creating value in other areas of your life?
[00:36:44] Jonathan: oh, a hundred percent.
[00:36:46] Carl: Yeah, so that's that to me is the most interesting part, right? Wait, I don't want to do this thing cause it's gonna take an hour and I could have built a hundred dollars. Or 200 or 500, whatever the number is.
[00:36:55] And that would be like saying, the New York times didn't pay me very well. If at all, how could I possibly calculate what it was worth to me?
[00:37:06] Jonathan: Yes. So there's the leap of faith and I've made that leap and it and there's a solid ground on the other side of the chasm. So the thing for the listener who doubts this yeah. I have to, yes, there is. I can give maybe a lead, even more specific question. It's really a question is why are you doing it in the first place?
[00:37:27] So if you want to do it to make a million dollars, then don't do it. But if you want to do it because you want to do it, it seems like a fun way to spend your day instead of doing actual work or not. Even your whole day is spent 15 minutes. Then go ahead. It's like the, when I'm coaching someone and they're like, but how is this going to pay off?
[00:37:47] And I'm like, I don't know, but I'm sure it's, like you said at the beginning, I'm sure if you don't do it, you're going to be stuck right. Where you are right now in two years, in five years in 10 years.
[00:37:55] Carl: Yeah.
[00:37:56] That inability to draw a linear line between creation and capture. Is I think a real hangup for most of us. And I have gotten so comfortable with the idea because we live, we go deep down this hole, but if we live in a complex adaptive system and in complex adaptive systems, you can't draw linear straight lines between creation and capture.
[00:38:17] You have to be comfortable. The idea that it's going to be a messy, everybody will tell you that. That's why you see so many of those little hand drawn things that look like balls of yard, right? You have a hockey stick and that's like the myth hockey stick up into the right.
[00:38:30] It's the myth. And then you have the ball of yarn is the reality. Like I had no clue that this was going to happen. My entire career is a giant ball of yarn. I have no clue what's going to happen now. And I've now gotten to the point where that if I'm not in that condition, I think I just think of it as an irreducible uncertainty, right?
[00:38:53] If I'm not living in uncertainty with extended breaks, Right.
[00:38:56] Like time to rest and recover because uncertainty is, can be a little taxing, but if I'm not living in uncertainty, then I'm doing something wrong. So I love sess. Like it may not work. So I agree. Just go and see everybody.
[00:39:11] I think everybody, who's honest about a creative career says this same thing,
[00:39:17] Jonathan: The argument you mean.
[00:39:18] Carl: Yeah. Everybody who has a creative career, that's worked
[00:39:21] Jonathan: Oh, yeah,
[00:39:22] Carl: and there, and if they're artists that, I just mean that by like self-aware of it, like it's not necessarily dishonest. I'm just.
[00:39:28] Jonathan: sure.
[00:39:29] Carl: They'll say I don't, I didn't know.
[00:39:31] Like I, I had a plan, but mostly it's mostly it's this thing that you could not do. And we've all felt it. And most of us bury it, but if you're feeling it, like all I'm suggesting is damn, I call it dancing with dragons, like dance with a little bit.
[00:39:45] Jonathan: Yeah. Let it out.
[00:39:46] Carl: Yeah. And find a forum. And now it's, I don't care if it's just to your neighborhood coffee shop or if it's on Twitter, like whatever, find a forum, let it out, play in public because I promise you if you do it consistently for a year, you won't be sad.
[00:39:59] You did it. I don't know why you'll be happy, but I know you will be sad.
[00:40:03] Jonathan: Yeah. I hundred percent agree with that. I've just, I've got a lot of engineering mindset folks who. Who feels like they can predict the future in many ways. And when there's decreased amount of certain, about like building stuff software and so forth. So it's I know if I do this, then it's going to do that.
[00:40:17] So it's tough to say to them, it's okay, but you gotta trust. You gotta let go and not know exactly how it's gonna play out. But you're right. If you show up for you. And you're doing something that's meaningful you in some way that you want to do, not just because you think there's a big payout at the end, because you want to do it.
[00:40:35] You're not going to be sad that you did it. You're not, so it's so good. Okay. Is there more to talk about with the podcast, the daily podcast? Or could we jump over? If so then let's definitely do that. I'm also curious about the mailing list and we we, I guess we already did talk about selling the sketches.
[00:40:53] I have a number of illustrators on the list and it's and they're struggling. It's like, how do I, how could I possibly, how can I sure it was in the bowl doing illustration without going on Upwork and just being told what to do by horrible client.
[00:41:09] Carl: Yeah. Yeah. So I don't know, but let me wrap up the real Brady. I would just say the reason I like that as a topic for this audience is because everybody could do it. If you just took your process, And decided to do your work publicly. How did you pick that pen? Which app do you use? I know that's a little tactical, but it's I tried, like just so many of us are convinced we don't have anything to say and I just would beg you to believe me, like that's classic imposter syndrome thinking.
[00:41:36] Yeah. Because it's become easier. Second nature for you. Both of those in air quotes, it's become easier. Second nature for you. You think it's easier. Second nature for everyone else. And if it's easy and second nature for everyone else, it must not be valuable because it's common. It turns out it's not, none of those things are true.
[00:41:54] You've just forgotten. Like I always in my audience, I always tell him, like you forgotten that most people in the world don't know what standard deviation means. Megan, you throw it around, like it's like a normal term. So that's w B area, the podcast, everybody could just start doing that and you look, it doesn't have to be a paid podcast just anyway.
[00:42:13] So that was allied wrap that up the illustration thing. I don't know. I have I have a unique tailwind because these are it's purpose art. But there's a lot of it going on, I see really good friend of mine that does he does. He does marketing cartoons, the Marketoonist Tom fish, board marketing.
[00:42:29] Marketoonist like he does marketing opportunities.
[00:42:32] Jonathan: Huh?
[00:42:33] Carl: Illustrations around. So I think that maybe it's just look, somebody came up, asked me if they could have one on the wall. I said, sure. And they paid me for it. And then we started now we sell digital downloads for a hundred dollars a piece.
[00:42:48] You get the high res file and the forever do whatever you want. Licensed is what we call it. And now who's going to pay a hundred dollars. Like the people who pay the a hundred dollars for these are people who typically it's not, I have a few sketches that people hang on their walls in their house.
[00:43:04] Like one, maybe I'm the only one. My wife would allow it, our house. But the rest are like in the office. They're they serve a purpose.
[00:43:12] Jonathan: Right.
[00:43:13] Carl: I don't know outside of that, except that I've watched some people do. And it's always the same. The formula is always the same. It's like play in traffic, do a lot of it.
[00:43:22] And then find interesting ways. There's so many interesting illustrators Right.
[00:43:26] now on Instagram getting paid for all the standard ways, like a notebook, a print, a t-shirt and then. Digital rights to it. I've followed. I have a collection of those people. Cause I just love because they're permissionless, right?
[00:43:41] Like nobody there's no gallery owner. There's no, like they're direct to the people in Kevin Kelly's standard thousand true fans approach. So that's all I really got on that. I don't really know how to be helpful there.
[00:43:54] Jonathan: I think that was pretty helpful. And again, it's it's like a bunch of things that we've said, I think all would contribute into observations that might work for the illustrators in the audience. It's, there's not a million.
[00:44:08] Carl: Yeah.
[00:44:08] Jonathan: it's, there's just not, you don't have to worry as much about all of that stuff that you might be worrying about.
[00:44:12] And I just, I do love the working in public or playing in traffic and paying attention to what's meaningful to people, but there's, there is also the thing of like I started doing a Sunday comic and I love it. It's super fun. Is anything going to happen from it? Not, no, I don't think so.
[00:44:31] It's just another way to communicate the ideas that I read about it. And it breaks up the, cause I do even Sundays. Seven days a week, I'm putting stuff out. So it breaks it up for me. And it's a different way to communicate hard ideas in a funny way. So I dunno maybe something will happen, but it's just fun.
[00:44:52] Carl: as I'm listening to Jonathan, I'm thinking like I've actually had this conversation probably a hundred times with people. So I do like here's, what I would do is I would find one person that would buy something. Going from zero to one is, I don't know, 60, 70, 80% of the way.
[00:45:08] Jonathan: Yeah.
[00:45:08] Carl: And it, because it's all the fears, they're all the tactical places to hide, but what is it?
[00:45:13] So I don't care what it is. Like I just worked with somebody here locally that loves to draw zombie sort of drawings, which I'm just not into it. I have no interest in, but I love this person because they're way into it. Like I'm thinking agnostic. I just am super stoked when you have a thing. And his thing is he draws these zombie things. I'm like, what are, these would be super cool is a skateboard deck.
[00:45:34] Go would do, would you do me a favor? Just go by one blank screen, draw one and put it up for sale for 50 bucks and just see Hey, made this thing. I hope you like it. Classic stuff.
[00:45:48] Like I do that in public and S and if you don't have it, anybody in public listening, do you send an email to 10 people?
[00:45:57] Jonathan: Yeah.
[00:45:57] Carl: I made this thing. Okay. How about stickers? I made a pack of five stickers. People seem to find my my sketches, a little humorous and light-hearted and it makes me feel good.
[00:46:05] So I made a packet of five stickers. They're $12. Like we could okay. Make a mug, do a t-shirt do it. Like we could riff all day. Hang on what the thing is, but the what matters is the zero to one. Can you get somebody to buy it? Can you get one person?
[00:46:20] Jonathan: Yeah, I'm chuckling because of the terror of doing that first skateboard. I just it's just so classic.
[00:46:27] Carl: Sure. And he hasn't done it yet. And I'm literally I actually went out and bought this kid he's well, he's 20 he's 24. He's an amazing, like one of the best artists I've ever seen, but no one knows it.
[00:46:38] And I actually went out and bought his domain, his name as a domain was available. So I bought it and I told him, you either start putting stuff up on this.
[00:46:47] We're 60 days from now, I'm going to start putting stuff up drawn with my left hand in your name. He's and only because I'm trying to force the issue cause I care about him. But Yeah. it's super scary and I think that's why we all go try to find a million places to hide no cell one thing.
[00:47:06] Jonathan: Yeah. Yeah.
[00:47:07] Carl: one thing there's nothing left to hide.
[00:47:09] Jonathan: Yep, totally. And there's so many people in my audience who just sold their time. They've never really sold anything. They're just renting themselves out or they have a job without a boss or benefits and they've never priced anything. They've never put a price for something. On a thing and said, this is 50 bucks period, and yeah.
[00:47:30] Carl: Can I riff on that for just a
[00:47:31] Jonathan: yeah.
[00:47:32] Carl: I think there's a reason that's so scary and it's it please. I'm like trying to be massive. I'll actually probably get emotional about it because you, excuse me. When you create something like that, you are literally putting yourself up for judgment, Right. You're taking it's. I think It's the most intimate. I have spent my life studying risk and risk-taking I back country ski and I'm involved with lots of venture capitalists and private. like, I know a lot about risk. I cannot think of a more intimate form of risks. Then, what we're talking about here is because you're literally saying, and I always think of this.
[00:48:08] When I hear Seth say this, say here, I made this, I hope you like it. I think of holding something in my hands and extending my arms to somebody else and saying here, Jonathan, I made this. And then the words I hope. You like it. And because, there are going to be plenty of people who don't and they are going to have no problem in an anonymous way being vocal about it, and you're going to hear it.
[00:48:33] And you're like, so I think, I don't think there's any more intimate form of risk. So that is art. That's what you're scared of.
[00:48:42] Jonathan: Yup.
[00:48:42] Carl: And on the other side of that fear is like the most intense, wonderful satisfaction of putting something into the world. And so balancing that I just think is so beautiful.
[00:48:56] Like I just it's like that, that, that rift just now, like that's at the heart of the work I want to do more of is like, how do we get more people to say. I made this I hope you like it to the world because we need that. We, I, as a quote, unquote, consumer need that book. I need that print. I need that.
[00:49:20] T-shirt because it shows to me there's still people making things they care about. And if that's the only world I want to live in.
[00:49:27] Jonathan: Yeah, wow. I don't think we can top that.
[00:49:29] Carl: Yeah. Super fun.
[00:49:31] Jonathan: Carl. Thanks so much for coming on is sharing your observations and experience and expertise. Where should folks go to find out more about what you're up to?
[00:49:40] Carl: Probably the easiest is behavior app.com. And and then, if you're interested in seeing the sort of broadcast stuff on Twitter, it's at behavior and Instagram app behavior,
[00:49:49] Jonathan: Amazing. Wow. Thanks again.
[00:49:51] Carl: Jonathan, my pleasure. That was really good.
[00:49:53] Jonathan: All right folks, that's it for this week. I'm Jonathan Stark and I hope you join me again next time for ditching hourly. Bye.