What book has had the most impact on your career or life? How so?There are way too many to count. Geoff Dyer’s But Beautiful: A Book About Jazz dramatically expanded my ideas of what was creatively possible in music writing. Lewis Hyde’s The Gift helped me articulate the inherent conflict anyone feels in the business of commercializing the gift of art. Books like Ben Horowitz’s The Hard Thing About Hard Things and Geoffrey Moore’s Crossing the Chasm were invaluable bootcamps in understanding the challenges of marketing and growing any business and made me more empathetic to founders. My life is currently being transformed by James Clear’s Atomic Habits, which has taught me that I really need to get my sh*t together.
An easy & proven way to build good habits & break bad ones
What's on your homescreen?I download a lot of apps both for personal curiosity and for my research, especially in music, audio, video, and entertainment. I also hate scrolling. So, I’ve aggregated all of my apps onto one single page, i.e. my home screen, which is filled with lots and lots of folders organized from top to bottom by size (e.g. I have 18 “Music+Audio” apps and 14 “Photo+Video” apps, so those are highlighted at the top). Altogether, I have 150 apps across all of these folders but realistically use only 10 or so on a regular basis. The four apps at the bottom — the default iOS phone app, Patreon, Mailchimp, and Superhuman — are there because they’re all essential for my day-to-day business. Please ignore the unread emails I am ignoring.
You're on a deserted island and you can only bring one product that you own. Which product will you bring and why?I was going to say my iPhone, but then I realized there’s no way for an iPhone to charge itself in the sun (yet). So, I would probably bring one of many mostly-empty notebooks that have been gathering dust on my bookshelf at home. I would find a way to make a writing utensil out of some of the materials on the island. And then I would write and draw the time away.
Which podcasts are you listening to right now? What do you like about them?Recently, I’ve been turning to podcasts that offer a north star for navigating the world in the specific contexts of the various industries I work in, including tech, business, writing, and entertainment. Those include Freakonomics Radio, the Longform Podcast (personal, honest interviews with many writers and editors I admire) and the Music Business Podcast (straightforward, digestible, career-driven interviews with entrepreneurs and tastemakers working behind the scenes in the music business).
What’s the most useful product you own that few people know about? Why do you love it?One small but highly underrated utility that I use on a daily basis is Magnet, an app that allows you to use keyboard shortcuts to instantly resize and snap any windows on your screen into a grid of your choice (thirds, quarters, single fullscreen, etc.). It costs a one-time purchase of $1.99, and setup is painless. As someone who easily has five or more different windows or apps open on my computer at any given time, I’ve found Magnet to be essential for organizing my work and ideas.
In general, many of the software products I love the most bring easy, painless automation to small tasks that I never realized I’d done manually for years. (Command E, which aggregates and streamlines cloud search across G Suite, LinkedIn, Dropbox, Notion, Twitter, etc. into one eponymous keyboard shortcut, is another great example of this.)
The faster way to navigate your workspace. An easy keyboard shortcut to open any document, contact, file or record from the cloud.
What tools do you use to write and publish your weekly newsletter? Why those tools?I write first drafts of my articles in Google Docs, and second drafts in the Hemingway App. I started using Hemingway a few months ago, and it’s since done wonders for making my writing much cleaner and more streamlined; previously, my sentences tended to get too long and academic. It’s like an automated editing partner that makes sure you’re getting your message across as efficiently as possible.
Hemingway makes your writing bold and clear. Put in text and see where it can simplify your prose.
I make almost all the visualizations in my newsletter articles using Canva, and send out the newsletter using Mailchimp. My paid membership runs on Patreon and Discord. I’m sticking with the Mailchimp/Patreon combo for now instead of using other popular newsletter-publishing tools like Substack because I care about analytics, visual customizability and price flexibility (Water & Music members are paying as little as $3/month or as much as $200/month for a wide range of benefits).
What newsletters do you read?For the business of music/entertainment: Dan Runcie’s Trapital, Denisha Kuhlor’s Stan, David Turner’s Penny Fractions, Shawn Reynaldo’s First Floor, LionTree Weekly Update, Bloomberg Screentime, Rolling Stone Pro. For the business of eCommerce/software/tech/VC: Web Smith’s 2PM, Nathan Baschez’s Divinations, Josh Constine’s Moving Product, Brianne Kimmel’s newsletter on the future of work, Biz Carson’s Protocol Pipeline, First Round Review. For the business of media/writing/books: Kate McKean’s Agents and Books, DongWon Song’s Publishing Is Hard, Todd Burns’ Music Journalism Insider, Study Hall, Axios Media Trends.
Jun 17, 2020
Josh Constine - Principal & Head Of Content at SignalFireJosh is a principal investor, head of content at SignalFire and former Editor-At-Large at TechCrunch. Josh also writes a weekly newsletter called the Moving Product, sharing weekly deep dives on fresh ideas, examples of brilliant new designs, and commentary from top product experts.
Jun 19, 2020
Marco Marandiz - Co-Founder & Head of Marketing at ElliotMarco Marandiz is a co-founder and the Head of Marketing for Elliot, as well as a strategist for high-potential DTC brands.
Jul 14, 2020
Hiten Shah - Co-founder of FYI & Product HabitsHiten – regarded as one of the most helpful people in tech – is a coveted Product Hunt Golden Kitty Award winner, angel investor, and co-founder of FYI and Product Habits.