Taking Action - Inspired by Jason Fried's Founder Letters

Read time: 6 minutes

Welcome to The Ascend Archives Friday Edition where I share insights from the brightest minds in business and life and how I'm applying them to my life.

When I look at people who are “successful” and those who are not, one theme sticks out: successful people take action.

It might not always be the “right action”, but they are consistent, they experiment, they take chances, they continue moving forward. It’s so easy to read the book, listen to the podcast, or watch the YouTube video. All the knowledge in the world is out there for free or the cost of a book. But most people stop there after “learning” the thing. They don’t take what they learn and do something with it.

That is what differentiates people. And that is what I’m focused on doing. Not every podcast or book has something that I execute on. I’m strategic about the types of content I consume, when I consume them, and where I consume them. Here are some examples:

  • I read fiction at night before I go to bed because it’s fun and puts me to sleep (I’m on Book 5 of the Terminal List series by Jack Carr…so good!)

  • I read non-fiction in the morning with sticky notes because I’m trying to think deeply about the concepts and flag pages I want to flip back to

  • I listen to big idea podcasts like My First Million or BigDeal in the car or on a run. These shows have high level content that is entertaining and will occasionally make me stop a run to jot down a big aha.

  • I listen to deep dive podcasts on topics I’m interested in while I’m on a walk or making dinner so I can take diligent notes

    • Knowledge Project: Shane Parrish talks with the most successful people in the world about decision making and life philosophies

    • Deep Dive: Ali Abdaal gives a behind the scenes look at how he is growing his creator business

    • Billion Dollar Creator: Nathan Barry shares best practices on how other creators are growing their business

    • How I Write: David Perell interviews talented writers about their strategies and techniques

I don’t force it though. Sometimes I’m not in the mood for a pod and I’ll just listen to music or walk in silence. I give myself space to do whatever feels right in the moment.

Writing Masterclass from Jason Fried

Last Wednesday, I took a 90 minute walk around Lady Bird Lake. It was a deep dive session with Jason Fried on the How I Write pod. Jason talked about how he overcomes writer’s block, how to keep a reader engaged in a story, and why writing is the number one skill he looks for in hiring new employees.

All useful info. But one topic jumped out at me: writing founder letters.

Jason has founded several multimillion dollar companies. For each company, he writes a simple letter that goes on the company website. Instead of trying to convince people to buy his product, he tells a story that naturally gets people to nod their heads in agreement. It exposes a pain point for the target customer and explains the solution. No fancy sales page. Just 300 words on a page.

I don’t enjoy sales in the traditional sense. But I loved this. This I would take action on.

Writing my Founder Letter

On June 5th, I’m going to a conference in Boise, Idaho. There will be hundreds of creators in attendance. YouTube stars, bloggers, coaches, course creators, and entrepreneurs. My ideal target clients.

I’m going to this conference for 3 reasons

  1. Learn how to improve my own creator business

  2. Learn how to grow my current client’s businesses

  3. Build relationships with other creators to get new clients

#1 and #2 are easy but I have some work to do to be successful at #3. I struggle with my elevator pitch. I need to be clear on what problem I’m solving and what value I provide.

Over the past 3 months, I’ve learned I don’t want to just be known as a ghostwriter. I enjoy the writing but I also enjoy operations. I want to partner with creators to help them scale and monetize their audience, with writing being one component of that.

So I decided to apply what I learned from Jason and write a founder letter for myself. Here’s what I did:

First, I read Jason’s HEY and ONCE founder letters multiple times to digest the message, tone, and how he was conveying his message.

Second, I completed an exercise I learned from Sam Parr called copywork. I spent 20 minutes just re-writing his letters word for word. It got my mind focused on this type of writing.

Third, I drafted my own founder letter. I narrowed in on the problem I am solving. I used examples from my experience working with creators. And I added my personality to it.

It took me about 1.5-2 hours to come to this draft.

Hey everyone - 

I’m Andrew, an operator and a writer. 

There’s never enough time in the day for creators. Or is there?

It used to be easy to post one piece of content each day. To engage with followers in your comments. To create a few lead magnets and direct people to your newsletter. There was time to get these things done and still have a life.

But things changed.

Once you grew on one platform, you started repurposing content on other platforms. Your comments and DMs exploded and you couldn’t keep up. You started going on podcasts and speaking at events, so you no longer had time to write your newsletter. 

You continue to grow, but it’s getting harder to prioritize what to focus on.

Now there’s no time to hang with friends or go on date night. Workouts have gone from 1 hour to 30 minutes to non-existent. There are endless emails, calendar invites, and financials that need to be reviewed.

And yet, you love what you do. You are positively impacting your audience on a daily basis. Your community brings like-minded people together from all over the world. Your Instagram stories inspire people to have difficult conversations. Your newsletter teaches entrepreneurs tactics that 10x their businesses. 

So good news, it’s working. It’s just slow moving, it’s dragging. You are becoming the bottleneck. You are only one person. You can’t do it all.

You need some help. A partner in crime. Someone to do the stuff you don’t enjoy doing. To help build the systems and teams that allow you to scale.

I help creators get their time back to create. To focus on doing what they love. What they are best at. The reason they became a creator in the first place. 

My superpower is getting shit done. If you’re in the market for that, I’d love to chat.

Andrew Fink

Final Thoughts

I sent the draft off to my friend for some edits. I’ll revisit it this weekend, consider his edits then throw it up on a website.

Writing this letter helped me get clarity on my value proposition. Now when I go to this conference, I’ll be more confident in my conversations and have a place to direct people to afterwards. I’m not going to be pitching anyone but just trying to have as many meaningful conversations as possible. Then, I will follow up with thoughtful messages after the conference.

My founder letter, newsletter, and LinkedIn profile is my breadcrumb trail for anyone interested in learning my story and how I help creators.

My letter isn’t perfect and I’m sure there’s more I could do to prepare for this conference, but at least I took some action. We’ll see how it turns out!

Thank you for reading! As always please reply and let me know what resonated, what didn’t, or what you question. I love chatting about this stuff!