The Penguin Latte Podcast #9: The Austin Calvert MegaEpisode – What It Takes To Be Ferociously Yourself in Your Craft

It’s been so hard for me to keep this episode unreleased until today. I’m so excited that I get to finally share this with you all. This is the longest conversation episode to date. Austin completely and gracefully over delivered on everything I asked him. He’s the first guest to stand up and lean into the microphone during our conversation. I could feel his energy bursting from my screen.

Listen on Spotify | Listen on Apple Podcasts | Watch on YouTube

…What I’ve been learning about the Internet is…you can grow exponentially through these scaled networks..but to me, what that means is your real life actions just translate to the Internet. Your real life actions are essentially compounding, right? We don’t really need the Internet to do that. Real life actions in the 1960s could have compounded as well. It’s always been there….

Austin is a true artist in every sense of the word. He’s one of those remarkable individuals who knows how to express art, even when using the most crowded market for creatives on the Internet (YouTube).

If you haven’t watched his mini-documentaries about the future of technology, please do. And if you have, watch them again. I get goosebumps every time I watch one of his videos. Especially this one.

A note on audio: something happened to how my computer was receiving Austin’s audio feed through Zoom. I could have said something during our conversation about this, but I didn’t. I didn’t want to interrupt the flow of the conversation. I’ve been kicking myself over that for weeks. Luckily, Austin was such an amazing guest so everything he says makes up for my mistake.

A note on future podcast episode numbers: I’m resetting the interview episodes. All numbered podcast episodes will signify that the episode is a conversation. All unnumbered episodes will signify that it’s an Akimbo styled episode: a short reading of one of my blog posts, or an improvised riff or story.

Consistent content. Even if you don’t think it’s good.

Talking Points

Austin’s background (3:00)

Learning multiple skills at the same time (8:00)

How much content should creators be pumping out everyday? (10:00)

Going off on the wrong path / A bedridden depression / Living in Berlin /Austin’s travels (11:00)

Experiences with Ayahuasca (If you’ve ever heard The Tim Ferriss show, you know the risks involved with this. Do your research.) (18:00)

“As consensus turns into a form of truth…” (32:00)

Fighting back against the daily darkness (35:00)

What happened after his Ayahuasca trip? / Being relentlessly yourself in your craft (39:00)

On compounding actions without the Internet (42:00)

Why did Austin decide to start making videos? (45:00)

How long does it take Austin to make a video? (48:00)

Thoughts on newsletters (51:00)

Why every creator should see themselves on an exponential curve (54:00)

A huge discussion about the ownership economy (56:00)

Appreciating the work you’ve done so far (1:18:00)

“Speed is a poison” (1:19:00)

Where’s the finish line? (1:23:00)

David Choe (1:25:00)

Staying anonymous (1:30:00)

Leaving your audience with a feeling (1:34:00)

Go beyond the limits of your medium / Austin’s definition of authenticity (1:35:00)

David Foster Wallace – This Is Water (1:48:00)

Austin’s favorite books (1:50:00)

How information itself is transforming with technology (1:55:00)

The real darkness of self-transformation vs “struggle porn” (1:58:00)

Low quality self-improvement advice (2:05:00)

Do we need mentors? / The mass pretending phase (2:08:00)

Lying to yourself on purpose (2:11:00)

Giving back (2:14:00)

Austin convinces me to drop Evernote for Notion (2:18:00)

The Final Question (2:22:00)



Naval Ravikant

JRE 958 with Dr. Jordan B. Peterson




David Choe on The JRE

David Foster Wallace

Civilized to Death

The War on Normal People

David Goggins

Tony Robbins

Boards of Canada

The Alchemist

How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others and Find Work That Suits You

Naval Ravikant once said, “A sick person wants only one thing.” I’m sick. I want only one thing – to stop comparing my blog to other people’s blogs. Seeing other people’s blogs is now a way to inspire and depress me. It’s great to see other writers sticking it out on their own, making money while they sleep. But it’s depressing when I perceive their success as evidence that I’ll never do the same.

So I wrote this to cure my sickness. If you’re catching yourself comparing more than creating, I hope this helps.

I wish I could position myself as someone who doesn’t struggle with this. “I can’t. I’m no guru.” I often paralyze myself by looking at all the blogs with as many as thousands of readers and as revenue. But by doing this I’ve learned that too much comparison leads to a temptation to copy. “They’re doing it that way. So, I must do it that way. Though I know nothing about SaaS marketing, I should start a SaaS marketing blog.” A project should be as interesting today as it is tomorrow. If I were to start blogging about SaaS marketing, I wouldn’t look forward to working on it the next day.

Ambitious coders and writers in the world of the “new rich” dream of building the asset that earns money while they sleep. When a side-project succeeds in becoming that money earning asset, we see it as the ticket to our dreams. “That worked for them. Which means that I should do the same.” But it’s likely that the work that went into their successful project is not the kind of work that you want to do. You see their results. You don’t see the type of work that led to their results. So you cannot truly copy somebody else’s results. You could copy the image of the results. You could build a landing page that promotes a new email service. But if you’re not interested in programming everyday, then you’ll lose interest in the project.

Projects that interest you are projects that remain interesting. Let’s say that you’re interested in metaphysics. Writing about metaphysics might seem like a waste of time to a Javascript developer. But to you, it’s something that you could write about tomorrow, the day after, and next week. Pretty soon you’re running, the number one metaphysics blog. Now, that Javascript developer is jealous of you. They haven’t made a dollar off of their coding project. They’re comparing their software to your blog. They’re sick. All they want is their project to succeed.

Naval Ravikant followed up his statement about sick people by saying, “Happy people want ten thousand things.” A happy person wants their projects to succeed. But they also want their success to benefit other people. They want other people to reap the rewards of the hours of work that went into this piece of coding or writing. This list goes on for another 9,996 reasons for why the happy person stays productive.

Comparing yourself to others is not an effective way to move forward. A better way to move forward is to start working – even if you don’t know what to work on. This is a kind of work that I call faux-work: the work of figuring out what kind of work suits you. Faux-work is the foundation of the work that you’ll do for the rest of your life. When you start faux-working, even if you’re just spewing word vomit into Evernote, you’ll become conscious of what interests you. What interests you becomes your work. Your real work. The work that you can’t wait to get back to. This isn’t to say that we don’t need accountants. There are people who would love to do your accounting. And there are people who would love to read your blog about metaphysics.

Hey Penguin – Week of July 20

newsletter cover 1

Hey all. Welcome to the first Hey Penguin. This is a behind-the-scenes look at what I’ve been learning and applying to the content that I make. These are the tools and ideas that I’ve been using to feed the blog, podcast, and the way that I live.

Consider this newsletter as evidence that there’s no such thing as good ideas pulled out of thin air. There’s no lottery ticket. Only process.

I hope you’ll find these resources helpful to you as well.

[note: I’d like to make this an email newsletter. See the note at the bottom for more.]

What I’ve been thinking about: Reiteration. Alleviating dissatisfaction by treating everyday (and every project) like Groundhog day. Quit doing what isn’t helping you get to where you want to go. This newsletter, like everything else, is going to go through reiterations. You can reiterate your narrative. You can adjust your story as you see fit.

You can’t become who you want to be unless you start from who you are now. You need to go through steps 1 through 9 before you get to step 10. You need shoulders to stand on. Even if they’re weak shoulders. Even if they’re step 1 shoulders.

For more on this, here’s You can walk on water – a popular blog post from last week.

Podcast that’s blowing my mind: Naval on wealth and happiness.

Every ambitious creative person needs to listen to this podcast from start to finish.

Naval Ravikant is Marcus Aurelius plus Warren Buffet. I haven’t heard one thing from this guy that I disagree with. He’s a rare prophet who knows exactly what the future of work will look like. Lean into what he says about using software to leverage creativity to build assets while you sleep.

What I’m reading and applying to my work: This Is Marketing by Seth Godin. I wouldn’t be writing this newsletter if it weren’t for this book. This Is Marketing is helping me solve several tiny questions with major implications about my work:

Who is this for? (The biggest one.)

What is this for?

What promises am I making to the people who engage with my work?

Why should my content exist?

(I also see overlap with Carl Jung’s psychology of ideas. But that’s a different post for a different time.)

Which brings me to…

The book that I’m revisiting (sort of): Essentialism by Greg McKeown. I’m not reading it now, but I’m keeping the principles in the back of my mind. The 80-20 rule. Not multitasking. Taking breaks. Sleeping. Removing clutter. Seth Godin’s book is unlocking all the ways in which I can make great content for people who care. But it’s coming at a price. I often think of dozens of ideas for content at the same time. On the outside I look calm. But on the inside it’s like I’m going to explode. So I need the 80-20 rule. I need to take breaks. I need to remove clutter. I need to create space and time to focus on “what’s meaningful, not what’s expedient.”

Also, Captain Sinbad has a great video on the feeling of creative overload.

Community I wish I had joined earlier: This is a community for people who buy mushroom coffee because they heard about it on Tim Ferriss. It’s a community of entrepreneurs, content creators, developers and builders. There’s no hustle. It’s full of smart, conscientious people working to make things better.

The great thing about this website is that you can see what other people are working on. There’s little survivorship bias because you can see peoples pivots and mistakes, too. I hope this community is around forever.

App that I’m obsessed with: Hemingway. Writing is now solved. For the last week, I’ve been putting every blog post through this app. It’s shown me errors that I’ve never considered before. It feels like cheating. (Put other people’s writing through this app. You’ll see things you’ve never seen before.)

Strange coffee that I’m addicted to: Foursigmatic’s Lion’s Mane dark roast. This is a coffee that’s made with mushrooms, and it’s fantastic. It doesn’t taste like mushrooms. It tastes like an excellent dark roast. I don’t know if it’s placebo, but this coffee makes me smarter. At least to the extent that I don’t check Twitter while I’m writing a sentence. And no, they don’t sponsor me.

Chrome extension that’ll lower the price of the strange coffee that I’m addicted to: Honey. This extension browses a database of coupons at checkout when you shop online. I used it to get a discount on the mushroom coffee. It’s amazing. Don’t buy another product online before installing this app. And if you use Firefox, sorry. There’s no hope for you.

A note about the future of this newsletter.

I’d like to make this an email newsletter. Starting an email newsletter isn’t free. It’s a major goal of mine to make content like this for a living. So I’ll need your help. Consider supporting me on Ko-fi. It’s a small, one time donation of $3. Every bit helps me to keep showing up to serve you.

I’m also thinking of starting one on one services that I can provide to creatives who feel stuck. I’d make it personal, focusing on what’s blocking this specific person. Kind of like unlicensed therapy for stuck creatives.

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