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Dandy Cast 041: Bad ideas are opportunities in disguise

Sean Anderson
Sean Anderson

This podcast episode was recorded as an accompanying audio version of the Dandy Newsletter that was published on September 08, 2020.

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Show notes

Let’s keep talking about evolution. It’s important, you know? I’ve gone through many professional changes in my life. I’d say it’s a common practice now. Gone are the days where a person can work a single job their whole lives and then retire with a cushy pension. We’ve got to face reality and reality dictates change.

Sometimes those changes won’t work out well for you. Some of my ideas turned into flaming wrecks, but hey, at least I learning something valuable from each failed endeavor. That’s the important thing about life: you’re going to fail, but don’t fail at learning a lesson.

There’s also a brand spankin’ new blog post waiting for you. It’s called, Conquering Your Calendar, Part 4: Invite Others.

We’re continuing our wonderful calendar instructional course by extending the bounds of our calendars outside themselves. We’re going to talk about inviting other people to share the events we made in the previous entry to this series. Let’s get all collaborative and friendly.

We’re wrapping things up with what I’m watching, reading, and listening to this week. It’s a great assortment of media that’s worth your time.

Links to stuff that was mentioned:

Conquering Your Calendar, Part 1: Introduction - Dandy Cat Design

Krabi - Aspire Themes

Sunk cost - Wikipedia

Fallacy - Merriam-Webster

Conquering Your Calendar, Part 4: Invite Others - Dandy Cat Design

Flimsy, but Useful | Back to Work - 5by5

The Orville - IMDb

We Have Amnesia Sometimes | Yo La Tengo - YouTube

After Dark | Haruki Murakami - Goodreads

The full text

The Dandy Newsletter—09/08/20

In debuting my Conquering Your Calendar instructional series, I appear to have put myself into a multi-post mindset. The calendar series consists of five separate parts and is going strong. That one was intentional; I’d been planning and working on it for months (probably longer than I should have done) before starting to post them.

This newsletter series of posts you’re reading is much more spontaneous. Indeed, I only thought to write multiple dispatches about a central theme right around the time I needed to start writing last week’s post. Hey, when a good idea hits you, no matter what it might be, you should run with it. I’m going with this one because it’s about a topic that should be at the forefront of your mind when you’re building or operating an online business.

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the necessity of evolution when running a business (and also about the deep, unrelenting, horrifying shame of using Twitter again). Last week, I wrote about Dandy Cat Design’s new website theme and caring for yourself as you develop your business. This week—the final post in this mini-series—I want to talk about learning to be okay with letting go.

Towards the end of my time in film school, three of my friends and I did the hard work of setting up our own video production studio. We called it Studio A138 and it was the first business any of us had ever created. We learned a lot of hard lessons as we grew it into a “real thing.” I’m very proud of the work we did with it. Studio A138 still exists, but it’s run by a single person now. Three of us exited the company, all for meaningful personal reasons. For myself, by the time I left, I was in no good mental place to give it all the time and effort it deserved and it wasn’t fulfilling my needs.

A few months before then, I had also chosen to stop pursuing another business I was trying to get off the ground. This one was called, and I’m still pretty proud of this, Ctrl-Alt-Declutter. This was a company that would clean and organize the files and folders on a person’s computer. I really enjoy my own well-kept computer, so I thought this would be a viable source of income. Turns out I couldn’t get it to work well enough. After a lot of difficult consideration, I chose to stop developing Ctrl-Alt-Declutter.

Dandy Cat Design was born a short time after that and has, so far, been a business worthy of all I’ve put into it.

All the companies I’ve left or stopped working on had something in common: either they weren’t clicking with me or they weren’t clicking with people who wanted to give me money. By the end of each, I saw that I was spinning my wheels with something that wasn’t garnering much attention or investment. As hard as it was to see it, I realized that none of them were working for me. I wasn’t happy with them.

Sometimes evolution isn’t just about growing or trying something new. We tend to think of business evolution only as an act of improving something we’ve worked hard on. We forget the truer meaning of the word “evolution”:

Completely ditching what isn’t working for us.

To understand that better, let’s condense the enormous expanse of time into more visible moments (and let’s also simplify the definition of “evolution” a little bit). I know, big ask.

Consider a lizard. I have a lot of them in my backyard, especially during these warm summer months, so they’re on my mind. They’re not the most intelligent animal by a long shot; there’s a reason why we call the most fundamental parts of our minds our “lizard brain.” However, through evolution, they’ve developed a fascinating ability: they can lose a limb and grow it back. Does it hurt to lose a tail? Hell yeah, but it’s not fatal. They’ll survive and will eventually have a replacement tail.

Past lizard generations may not have had the ability to regrow those lost limbs. Lose a tail and that could be lights out for those ancient lizards. But if you’re going to be susceptible to losing an entire appendage, wouldn’t it be advantageous to, you know, not die? For the sake of future lizards, genetic variation was passed down over many generations and the ability to survive a traumatic tail injury would develop. Now we’ll occasionally see disembodied lizard tails on the sidewalk. Fascinating, isn’t it?

Back to business evolution...

It can take a long time to see when something isn’t working because we tend to be blind to our potential for evolution. We haven’t developed that trait yet, I guess. When we put in so much time, energy, and money into an endeavor, we want to know that it’s all working out well. Why would we ever want to consider that something isn’t working after doing so much? It’s the sunk cost fallacy run amuck—we don’t want to stop doing something because that feels like everything we did was for nothing.

Unfortunately, it’s also hard to see sunk cost for what it really is. It’s a fallacy for a reason. Instead of cutting losses and moving onto something different that may be more fulfilling and profitable, we feel compelled to stick with a project because of what we’ve put into it. It’s a damn hard thing to overcome, but overcome it we should.

I want to encourage you to take a look at the things in your life that may be dragging you down, whether it’s something small like a mediocre shampoo or something much larger like a company that isn’t bringing in the money it should. Take a long, hard look and ask yourself if this company, or whatever it may be, is doing what you’d hoped it would.

And then answer truthfully.

Yes, with every business venture there’s a stretch of time when you won’t be making much or any money. However, if that stretch of time is many years, then you should take that as a sign to ask that hard question. Ditching it and moving onto something else will be tough. You may feel like you failed at something, you’ll probably be pretty down for a while, and I would empathize if it brought on a few angry yells or sad tears. However, tell yourself that you’re not a failure. You’re evolving. This painful process will still be easier than being pulled into the sticky muck of real failure. The kind of failure that comes with being stubborn about something that’s doomed.

Evolution isn’t easy, but in the long run it’ll be better for you.

Come and join me in my calendar!

There’s a new blog post waiting for you. Hip-hip-hooray! 🎉

It’s called: Conquering Your Calendar, Part 4: Invite Others.

Stop! Collaborate and listen!

Okay, I couldn’t help myself, but when I’m able to talk about collaboration I need to take the chance. In part four of Conquering Your Calendar, we’re doing exactly that. We’re going to start collaborating with others within our own calendars. Oh yes, our calendars don’t have to be their own isolated islands.

We’ll be discussing how to take the events we created in part three and invite other people to join those events. This way, events in your own calendar can also appear in another person’s calendar app. It’s a really neat feature that expands the utility and productivity of our calendars to new levels.

Click through the link above to take the next step toward developing your most organized life ever. I hope you find great value in it and I appreciate your support of both this series and Dandy Cat Design.

If you ever want to throw some suggestions my way, then send me a reply to this email. They’re always wonderful to receive.

Seriously friend, I'd love to hear from you.

Until next time, stay dandy, cat.


Sean Anderson

Lover of productivity tips, Apple devices, and vegan ice cream. Mostly, I'm busy petting cats 🐱 and dogs 🐶

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