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Thanks, Georgia: We owe you
My love letter to the Peach State. Plus: One thing you can do right now to set yourself up to win in 2021 and more.
One of the perks of owning my own mini-media company is that not only do I get to create a seat at the table but I also get to set the menu. And as tempting as it is to give more oxygen to yesterday's insurrection perpetrated by white supremacists who — as Brittany Packnett Cunningham put it — were "aided and abetted by police, incited by elected officials who stood on the Capitol floor with blood on their hands," I want to focus our attention where it belongs. Because in a moment of poetic justice, the Associated Press called the second of the two Georgia Senate seats up for special election for Jon Ossoff while those thugs attempted to subvert the will of the people to no avail. Ossoff and Reverend Rafael Warnock's victory give the Biden-Harris administration a chance to deliver on the mandate we sent them to Washington with. And this opportunity to transform a sweeping agenda into a meaningful policy is due to the diligence and sacrifice of Georgia voters, organizers, donors and volunteers. We owe it to them to remember this amid all the distractions.
What I Wrote This Week
You have a few simple choices: Despite what journalists, politicians and consumers would have you to believe, we should invest our collective energy into the ideas that improve the lives of digital creators like you and me.
This year offers you a few choices between focus versus chaos, discipline versus distraction and action versus performance. The fact that the chasm on either side of reality and perception feels wide is due to the willingness of the Very Online among us to respond to every event with ample shock and outrage independent of its merit while detaching ourselves from how we engage our political, media and cultural institutions. If we’re honest, many of us treat politics as a spectator sport instead of a reflection of who we want to be as a society. We regard politicians and partisans as rivals from opposing teams instead of teammates with opposing views. We simplify policy debates as moral endorsements (or indictments) as opposed to opportunities to practice empathy and transform your vote into many votes so your ideas are backed by the electoral power required to pass meaningful legislation. And when things fail to turn out, we often resort to anger, apathy or revisionist history.
The CEOs won't save us: Recent comments on health care from Whole Foods' top executive remind us of the consequences of our culture's CEO worship.
Mackey's comments are gross when considered in a vacuum. But within the context of the pandemic, they sound even more out of touch. COVID-19 laid bare the enormous costs of care, racial and ethnic disparities in access to care and health outcomes and the fragile infrastructure of our public health network. And personally, I'm all too familiar with the shared stress among creators from not knowing if we'd have access to quality health care when we need it. These are issues that a functioning federal government should be leading on not folks whose power derives from their wealth. Because as Sarah Jones at Intelligencer reminds us: "The world looks different to the wealthy. If you have enough money, the pandemic is something you can afford to ignore."
Meghan McCain and the politics of personal experience: The conservative host's recent endorsement of paid family leave demonstrates the Republican party's view that issues aren't valid until they've felt them first-hand.
For the record, I agree with McCain. Less than a month after I started this newsletter, I wrote an essay in support of a workforce in which paid family leave — including paternity leave — is the rule, not the exception. Creativity is compromised when creators, especially women, feel disempowered to fully focus their time and attention on their pregnancy, the birth or adoption of a child, recovering from a serious illness, or caring for a seriously ill family member. I'm glad she's well and is now speaking up. "Maybe it takes personal experience to get on board," she said during her monologue. But equity and justice shouldn't require personal experience because it's impossible for our identities to capture the breadth of any given person. I'll digress here because paid family leave is bigger than one person. And if it's, as Monica Hesse wrote for The Washington Post, "good for families, good for children and good for working parents," then it may be helpful to discuss why the benefit is so elusive?
Things and Thoughts
It's past time for tech companies to permanently ban Donald T**** from their social apps.
This collection of original illustrations and observations is a just-in-time reminder that even the best-laid plans are subject to change.
Now that Democrats control the White House, the Senate and the House, this should be their only strategy.
Ramen lovers, rejoice: This new brand features flavors like Black Garlic Chicken with notes of garlic, scallions, and umami (and I know the founder — he's cool peeps!).
I love this personal essay on the politics of natural hair in the era of Zoom.
A candle with notes of spice, sea salt, cedar, vanilla, sandalwood, lily of the valley, lilac, rose, and jasmine and from a burning blend of coconut and apricot wax may deliver just the fragrance your space needs after a season of holiday scents.
On Friday (1/8) at 2 p.m. EST, I'll be leading a table discussion at Substack On! — the one-day virtual conference designed to show writers what's possible with the technology that powers The Supercreator and several other independent publications. The conference is free to attend and open to any but registration is required. During the discussion, I'll share my strategy and workflow for writing longform journalism and answer as many questions as I can. I hope to see you there!
I want to transition from my corporate job to owning a small business in 2021. What's one thing I can do right now to clear the way for my new chapter?
Congrats future business owner! Besides your creative work, your business's most important asset will be the relationship you have with the people you'll choose to serve. So I would identify your Perfect People — the folks who represent your dream customers or clients — and start a weekly blog, newsletter, podcast or video series to share everything you know about the topics within your zone of genius. This practice is about consistency, not perfection. Show up for your people every week — unless you're on vacation or experiencing a personal or family emergency — because the people who succeed are the ones who keep going. You'll get feedback on what's working and learn from what's not while building a community that's portable from the limitations of social apps, which prioritize advertisers and cheap "content" over creators and the valuable work I'm sure you'll offer. With this information and access, you can determine the best business model and product strategy to turn your Perfect People into customers and super fans. Keep me posted on your progress!
Have a question about how to make, brand, market and sell with confidence and clarity? Reply to this email or leave a comment below and it may be featured in an upcoming post.
From the Archive
For five years, T**** has used Facebook to advertise lies and misinformation to millions of supporters, many of whom used the social app to organize yesterday's terrorism. And during this time, CEO Mark Zuckerberg allowed T**** to violate its policies without repercussions while he grew his personal and company's fortune. Mark Zuckerberg and Donald T**** deserve each other (published on 6/1/20):
What’s worse is that even though anyone with a smartphone or internet connection can use these apps, we all do so with varying degrees of socioeconomic equity. Zuckerberg’s white male identity exempts him from the oppression, marginalization and discrimination that women, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals experience from those who benefit from the white supremacy that sustains his disproportionate wealth and power. No product — regardless of the convenience or connection it provides — is worth it if it also serves as an unchecked weapon of mass harassment and violence against those of us who have been underserved and overlooked by the institutions designed to guarantee liberty and justice for all.
Editor's note: During yesterday's insurrection, a Facebook spokesperson sent The Supercreator the following statement: "The violent protests in the Capitol today are a disgrace. We prohibit incitement and calls for violence on our platform. We are actively reviewing and removing any content that breaks these rules.” Hours later, the company posted an official response to the violence in Washington. And earlier today, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would ban T***'s Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely.
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