This is part of a series where I publish a post every week in order to exercise my writing muscle. I welcome any feedback!

Preface

This is the first segment of a 4-part manifesto about the product I’m building.

I’m sharing it here because the fundamental principles are relevant to anyone interested in crafting an intentional life.

You can read the other parts here:

Attention Economy

The self-help industry is broken. The incentives are out of whack.

Consider the example of any prominent YouTuber. Their primary revenue stream is ads, which pays out based on views. The larger and more engaged their audience, the more they stand to profit. In order to sustain their business, they need you to keep coming back.

Here lies the conflict of interest - if they help you achieve your goals, you won’t need them anymore. If they lose you as a viewer, it hurts their bottom line. Helping you hurts them.

This is the attention economy in action - keep your audience hooked, whether or not it benefits them. This misalignment extends to all self-help creators, from productivity bloggers to Instagram motivational speakers to LinkedIn gurus.

Productivity Porn

Their business model is to sell inspiration, not real change. Productivity porn is an apt name - such content is inherently masturbatory. The hit of motivation may feel good, but it’s short-lived and rarely leads anywhere. Consumption is not the same as action. It’s merely the illusion of progress.

Authors are not immune to this either. They sell ideas, not transformation. Don’t get me wrong - these ideas are insightful and informative. However, we need to bias towards action.

Bias Towards Action

An earlier essay explains why:

Thought space alone does not move us forward. Reading a book on productivity doesn’t make you more effective. Listening to a startup podcast doesn’t make you a better entrepreneur. Watching a cooking video doesn’t make you a better chef. Action is the interface between thought space and the real world - we actualize our ideas by doing. Knowledge is merely potential energy. Only when applied, does it translate to growth.

Until then, it’s all hypothetical. You merely have an intellectual understanding; one that’s grounded in abstract theory. When you act, you develop an experiential understanding; one that draws from direct personal experience. You witness the power of your habits and learn to influence them. You internalize the true nature of your obstacles and learn to overcome them. You finally begin to operate in reality instead of thought space… and effect real change in your life.

Building It Into The Product

I incorporated the ‘Bias Towards Action’ principle in my product by placing the emphasis on execution, not education. Content is deliberately sparse because it isn’t the bottleneck - free quality content is readily available at our fingertips. Instead, the product spurs action by helping you set concrete goals and evaluating yourself against them.

Sound vague or simplistic? Stay tuned - it all comes together with the remaining segments of the series!

This post took 240 minutes to write. Why I’m telling you this.