Summary of 7FS Live: Paul Jarvis on Building a Personal Enterprise While Ditching the Personal Brand

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00:00:00 - 01:00:00

In this YouTube video, the hosts and guest speaker Paul Jarvis discuss a range of topics from the recent controversy at Basecamp to the importance of mental health in the tech and startup culture, the difference between building a personal enterprise versus a personal brand, and the challenges of dealing with negativity and trolls online. Paul Jarvis shares his own journey of building a personal brand to attract an audience around an idea instead of tying it to his name. He also emphasizes the importance of having purpose behind your work and listening to your audience, while being willing to let go of a product if it doesn't work out.

  • 00:00:00 In this section, the hosts introduce Paul Jarvis, who is a pioneer of the seven-figure small lifestyle and the author of the 2020 book Company of One, which has inspired many to pursue their big goals by staying small. He is also among the founders and instructors at Creative Class, where they help freelancers improve their business operations. Additionally, he is revolutionizing website analytics via the privacy and simplicity of Fathom Analytics.
  • 00:05:00 In this section of the video, the hosts discuss the recent controversy involving Basecamp, where the founders announced that they would no longer allow political or societal discussions on the company's social media accounts or internally. This announcement led to several employees accepting buyouts and subsequent reporting by Casey Newton at The Verge revealed that the move was precipitated by an internal controversy over a list of funny customer names. The hosts express disappointment in the situation, as they previously admired the company for their software work but found their recent preachy attitude towards company management to be off-putting. They also mention that the controversy seems to have been exacerbated by one of the co-founders protecting a long-time executive who was a white supremacist denier.
  • 00:10:00 In this section, a discussion takes place regarding the recent controversy at Basecamp, where the founders dismantled internal committees on diversity and inclusion, leading to a number of resignations. While understanding that this had to do with discomfort rather than politics, the commentators note that Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, the founders of Basecamp, should have handled the situation differently by listening to their employees, holding space, and seeking to improve. The commentators express disappointment in the decision-making and management capabilities of the founders of Basecamp, who come from technical backgrounds rather than human resources or people management, and suggest that maybe they lack the qualifications to manage a company of that size.
  • 00:15:00 productive, you're not valuable. In this section, the conversation revolves around the recent controversy surrounding Basecamp and the importance of handling issues and communication appropriately. The discussion then shifts to the issue of mental health in the tech and startup culture, with a CNN video on the link between entrepreneurship and depression being brought up. The video highlights the need to prioritize mental well-being over productivity and the detrimental effects of disregarding the importance of personal life and mental health. The group discusses the danger of sacrificing personal well-being for the sake of productivity and the need to create a healthier approach to work culture.
  • 00:20:00 In this section, the hosts discuss how companies can prioritize non-profitable things such as mental health and fair wages, even though they seem to go against the point of capitalism. They also touch on the idea that "if you're not growing, you're dying" is tired business advice and that building and designing a business to serve the lifestyle that you want is more important. They ask the question of whether building a personal brand is necessary for building a personal enterprise and if you need it at the beginning or if you can ditch it later. The hosts also discuss how they have built successful personal enterprises without leaning fully into the personal brand.
  • 00:25:00 In this section, Brian and Paul discuss the concept of a personal enterprise and how it differs from building a personal brand. Paul shares his own journey of building a personal brand before realizing that he didn't want to have a public opinion or exist in the rat race of people listening to him. He explains how his passion for analytics led him to start Fathom, an analytics software company. Paul also discusses his past projects, such as the Sunday Dispatches newsletter, Creative Class, and the Mailchimp course.
  • 00:30:00 concerned, passion can follow experience. Paul Jarvis emphasizes that it is not necessary to be passionate about something initially to be involved in it. He speaks about venturing into the analytics market with a unique product that prioritizes digital privacy and simplicity. Contrary to Google Analytics, his solution features web analytics that is easy to understand and use. Paul Jarvis' success in creating brands that are not solely dependent on personal branding highlights the importance of creating entities that can function independently of a single person. By doing so, it can live longer than the individual's active years run.
  • 00:35:00 In this section, Paul Jarvis discusses the importance of having purpose behind your work and how it can lead to innovative ideas, as seen with his privacy-oriented analytics tool called Fathom. He also emphasizes the importance of listening to your audience and being willing to let go of a product if it doesn't work out, while also emphasizing the need to build an audience before launching a product. Lastly, he mentions the time frame in which a product should be making money and how this can affect its success in the long run.
  • 00:40:00 In this section, Paul Jarvis talks about his evolution from building a personal brand to attracting an audience based on ideas. He mentions that while building a personal brand worked well for him in the past, he would now focus on building an audience around an idea and not necessarily tying it to his name. However, he highlights that his audience was not tied to a single idea, allowing him to write and create content based on different topics without problems of overlap. Additionally, he talks about his struggles with attracting negative individuals, including death threats and violence, due to some of the content he shares.
  • 00:45:00 In this section, the speakers discuss the challenges of dealing with negativity and trolls online. While some advice says to ignore the negative comments and not let them bother you, the speakers point out that this is easier said than done. Even though there are instances where being accessible online is essential to building a community, there is a limit to how much negativity one can handle. The speakers also caution that being rational and engaging with trolls is generally a waste of time and is not likely to change anyone's mind. They also discuss the challenges of transitioning from being super accessible to building a personal enterprise.
  • 00:50:00 In this section, the speakers discuss the process of launching new products every year while still running a business. They note that when launching a new product, it's important to pay attention to what your audience needs and to get it right. They also discuss how to transition from a personal brand to a personal enterprise, focusing on the economics of it all. As the audience grows, it's necessary to sell bigger ticket items to keep the economics working. Paul and the other speaker also touch on the importance of building a sustainable business model, which includes knowing when to sell, end, or get someone else to run certain projects. They also briefly discuss the decision to ditch certain aspects of their online presence, such as email lists, and keeping others, such as Twitter accounts.
  • 00:55:00 In this section, Paul Jarvis speaks about his decision to get rid of his website and personal brand, and the unintended consequences of doing so. Although he didn't feel comfortable sharing personal details, he realized that people were signing up for his platform after listening to his interviews. Additionally, tech support requests started pouring in after he got rid of his website, and he had to repeatedly remind people not to contact Fathom support to speak with him personally. Nonetheless, he still does podcasts and interviews, but he makes sure that he's not making it about himself or building his personal brand. Instead, he prefers building an idea around an audience rather than a person.

01:00:00 - 01:05:00

In this video, Paul Jarvis talks about personal enterprise and personal brands, and how personal enterprise should be focused on making money. He advises creators to build a brand with the intention of making money from the community they are creating, and highlights how building a business isn't necessarily linked to being popular. Additionally, Paul suggests turning off all email tracking to build an email database without tracking users' activities, and introduces occasional click tracking once a year to shrink the list by half. The conversation ends lightheartedly with a discussion about tracking pixels in newsletters and how to avoid being tracked by advertisers.

  • 01:00:00 In this section, Paul Jarvis discusses the difference between personal enterprise and personal branding. He believes they are just words, but to him, enterprise means making money, while brand doesn't necessarily translate into income. He advises creators to build a brand with the intention of making money from the community they are creating and fostering. He adds that some of the richest people he knows are behind the scenes building websites, doing various projects, and have vast personal enterprises. Therefore, it's not necessary to be popular to build a business. Moreover, when it comes to building an email list without tracking users' activities, he suggests turning off all tracking for each email and introducing occasional click tracking once a year to shrink the list by half.
  • 01:05:00 In this section, the conversation takes a lighthearted turn as they discuss the use of tracking pixels in newsletters and cold emails. Paul Jarvis jokes about using a proxy to make it seem like he's in a different country to avoid being tracked by advertisers. They also touch on the irony of not wanting a legacy, yet having one anyway. The hosts then wrap up the episode and thank Paul for his time.

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