It's lightly edited but otherwise untouched. I've kept them on the site to show how the journey has evolved.
One of the hardest challenges online is sorting through the barrage of conflicting advice.
An example would be JK Molina’s approach of ‘Likes Ain’t Cash’ but me advocating the audience-first approach.
Best case, you stumble onto the right path. Worse case, you invest years of effort chasing multiple goals yet achieve none.
So today I want to give you a compass to help navigate these stormy seas.
It’s a 6 minute read.
Let’s talk about core values.
How to use core values to improve your business decisions
“You can't overestimate the value of making good initial decisions.”
- Shane Parrish
Last month, I had my first 6 figure launch. It was wild. But it left me with an unexpected problem:
What the hell’s next?
My DMs began to flood with advice.
‘Launch the next big cohort’
‘Upsell your customers with high ticket’
‘Scale your product and business with paid ads’
None of these were priorities before High Impact Writing.
But fame and fortune gets pretty damn appealing when it begins to roll in.
And I get it my friend.
What a problem to have, right?
Trust me, I didn’t expect to write this email at this point in my writing career.
But it’s these moments where you need to be clear on what you want, else you end up chasing someone else’s dream instead of your own.
I made this mistake as a dentist.
I was never excited by the job.
But it’s a prestigious profession with decent pay. So I worked hard and tried to ignore the voice in my head screaming ‘what the fuck are you doing with your life?’
The truth is there're no points for climbing the wrong mountain.
You need to make sure you're building what you want.
To do that, what you need is what Warren Buffett calls an internal scorecard - a set of values to hold yourself accountable to.
"All successful people have values that allow them to achieve their goals. If you don't have values, you are just reacting to events that happen in your life without thinking about how to best react to them in a way that lines up with what's important to you."
- Taylor Pearson
Now, your values will differ from mine.
Although we probably share a lot of crossover. Once you know your values, you can project them in your content - which is useful for building relationships at scale.
I’ll show you mine below.
But first, let’s find yours.
Step 1: List what’s important to you
There’re two key points to step 1.
First, you must shake away the influence of those around you.
That’s easier said than done.
But one of the most important ideas in life is to understand success is subjective - you get to decide what that means.
My recommendation is lots of reading, walking, and of course, writing.
Second, get it all out.
Most people try to pick the perfect values right off the bat. But ideas on paper are much easier to process than those hiding in your head.
So what do you write?
It could be stuff like family. Creativity. Spirituality. Entrepreneurship. Discipline. Fitness (there’re more examples in an article at the end of this email).
Try list 10-20 ideas.
Step 2: Elimination
The mistake people make is having too many values.
If you have 15 you essentially have none. We use them to guide decisions. Imagine the chaos of having 15 people advise you for every choice.
Instead, aim for 3-5.
The most effective way to do this is elimination. Keep crossing ideas off your list, beginning with the least important.
A word of warning. This part's tough.
A great question to ask if you’re struggling is, ‘Why is this value important?’.
You’ll find underlying core motivations run through a lot of concepts - which’ll help you narrow further.
Step 3: Define their importance
Here're my values:
But a list of words isn’t useful.
You need to clarify what they mean so you can follow them at crunch time.
Write out the definitions.
You can’t control what happens in life but you can always control your response.
You should be disciplined when you feel lazy. You should work hard when you’re tired. You should delay gratification instead of chase it. You should smile when times are tough and laugh when they’re worse.
Character is about being a good person at all times, not just when you feel like it.
“Mastery is the best goal because the rich can’t buy it, the impatient can’t rush it, the privileged can’t inherit it, and nobody can steal it.”
- Derek Sivers
Mastery isn’t about being the best. It’s about the person you become as you push yourself to be.
Everyone deserves to turn their passion into purpose.
The (public) pursuit of mastery is how.
Philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau once said, “Man is born free and everywhere he is chains”.
I love this idea.
You might not know this about me, but I grew up in a military boarding school.
I spent a lot of life with minimal freedom and this attitude bled into my work. I always prioritised my boss’s opinion over my own.
The day I quit dentistry was the first time I ‘bet on myself’.
Now freedom is the value that wins most decisions.
Because success is about being in control of how you spend your day.
Who you work with. What you work on. Where you go and what you do. How you think and how you feel.
This quote from Zig Ziglar has stuck with me over the past few years:
“You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.”
As a writer, you have an opportunity to make an impact at scale. You get to reach thousands of people with ideas you believe in and build a business as a result.
This is the basis of creator success.
Help your audience achieve their success they’ll help you achieve yours.
Using your values
“To get what you want, you have to deserve what you want.”
- Charlie Munger
Once you've defined your values, keep them close.
As you build your business you’ll be faced with constant choices.
Instead of making decisions based on how you feel in the moment, values guide your focus.
The secret here is understanding second order consequences.
The immediate outcome is much less important than the delayed because it’s the latter that often takes up most time and energy (which is the opposite of how we’re wired to think).
Let’s do an example to finish off today.
You want to achieve digital freedom (you’re in the right place 😉).
As you grow your audience an opportunity to ghostwrite rolls in. It’s not quite your plan, but the money’s great and everyone else is doing it.
So you create less content and take on clients.
12 months in, business is going well. But as you approach $20k/month you’re damn busy. So you hire a ghostwriter.
As you expand, so does your client roster. The money is brilliant so you hire a manager and a sales person too.
Let’s say 3 years in, you get to $100k/month. Amazing. But you have 6 staff and 50 clients to manage.
A lot of commitments, meetings, and moving parts.
I’m not saying this is wrong. It could even be great if it aligns with your values.
But remember, opportunity cost.
You can only build one empire at a time.
Let’s wind back 3 years.
You decide not to ghostwrite because you realise you can make a bigger impact building your brand instead of other people’s.
So you take the newsletter + education route.
12 months in, you’re doing a bit of coaching. But you're not making much money.
Instead of taking on more clients, you build a digital product.
You know it’s not going to make you rich from day 1.
But it’s an asset that sells while you sleep so you've gained a little bit of freedom.
By year 3, you have a big online presence and a powerful personal brand.
You release product 2.
You’re now making enough to stop selling your time.
You’re free to work wherever you want.
You’re not bogged down with building a company so you can write more - the pursuit of mastery.
And because you’re writing well, you reach hundreds of thousands of people per day with your ideas.
Something you’re highly motivated by.
Most importantly, you’ve created a scenario where you’re completely aligned with your values.
So guess what?
Not a single day feels like work.
Trust me, that’s powerful. Nobody can compete with you if you’re having fun.
Two paths to success. Wildly different lifestyles.
"The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything."
- Warren Buffett
As you can imagine I won’t be building big cohorts or launching a high ticket offer any time soon.
My aim is to write more, not less. To create freedom, not lose it.
I’ll share my plans as they unfold.
But I want to leave you with this:
Success isn’t about saying yes. It’s about saying no to almost everything to excel at one thing.
That’s what core values do.
They give you a reason to turn down opportunities that most people would snap up.
So think about what’s most important.
Then as you build, follow Derek Sivers’ framework for decisions:
If isn't a hell yes, it's a no.
Watch how your journey unfolds.
Decision making is a skill. But it ain't easy. So here're a few resources that’ve helped me.
- First, an article from Taylor Pearson explaining core values
- Second, an article from Farnam Street on second order thinking (Please follow the links down the rabbit hole. It changed my life - it might change yours)
- Third, please read Essentialism if you haven’t already. It’ll help you find what’s worth focusing on.
And if you're torn between choices online, email me with what's on your mind.
But only listen to me if we share similar goals.
You can get the right advice from the wrong person.
Ex dentist, current writer, future Onlyfans star · Sharing what I learn about writing well, thinking clearly, and building an online business