Ryan Holiday

Author of Ego is the Enemy

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON June 28, 2016

Discussion

Ryan Holiday@ryanholiday · Author, Ego is the Enemy
Hi, I'm Ryan Holiday, author (Trust Me I'm Lying, Growth Hacker Marketing, The Obstacle is the Way, Ego is the Enemy), college dropout, former director of marketing at American Apparel and owner of goats. I'm an advisor to startups like Beme, 15five, Vinyl Me Please and have invested in a couple others like Palantir and MeUndies. Happy to answer your questions here--Product Hunt has been very good to me over the last couple years--and chat about whatever you guys like.
COSTAS ANDRIOPOULOS@candriopoulos · https://medium.com/strictly-curious
Dear Ryan, thank you for taking our questions today. What kind of tools do you use to research topics that you write about or startups to invest in?
Ryan Holiday@ryanholiday · Author, Ego is the Enemy
@candriopoulos Research is really a matter of these activities: Reading widely. Watching widely (movies, documentaries, shows). Experiencing life (doing interesting things). Meeting widely (exposing yourself to interesting people). And then writing it all down/recording this information. You can live the most interesting life in the world, or have the smartest friends, but if you're not storing these experiences somewhere, they will be lost. Here's the system I use--given to me by Robert Greene--http://ryanholiday.net/the-notec...
Mark Davies@mrmarkdavies · @MrMarkDavies
@ryanholiday @candriopoulos you could also try @wakelet for organising digital content! https://wakelet.com/
Ryan Holiday@ryanholiday · Author, Ego is the Enemy
@mrmarkdavies @candriopoulos @wakelet I disagree. Take your digital content and make it analog. Don't just put things into the giant black hole of your computer.
lorrynth@lorrynth · lorrynth
Adnan Sabanovic@adnanxteam · Web Developer, Thinker, Creator
Hi Ryan Thank you for your time! Can you please tell me about the process of validating new business ideas (in this case new products / features). What are the key steps that take you from an idea to going live? What is your main metric during that process? Thanks!
Ryan Holiday@ryanholiday · Author, Ego is the Enemy
@adnanxteam The metric is always going to depend. Sometimes it's going to be email addresses (sign ups), other times it might just be votes in a survey. With my books, I use something harder to measure but still very essential: How does it play in dinner conversation? I'm looking to see if it can sustain a vigorous discussion with smart people. I look for the same when I write articles that might be leading to a book idea. Do people whose opinions I respect--who themselves have big audiences--share or interact with the content? The tea leaves are going to be different with each project.
Mark Davies@mrmarkdavies · @MrMarkDavies
What do you see emerging around meditation & brain optimisation/ hacking other than flow states that could effect the masses?
Sergio Claudio@sergioclaudio · Creative + Strategy + Innovation
Thanks for sharing so many great insights in your @tferriss interview. In your career as a strategist, what types of challenges have you found inspiring, and what kind of challenges (or obstacles) have become 'noise' or 'fools errands'?
Adam Muller@muller_adam · Co-founder ADHD Collective, MullerCast
What are the most common circumstances and/or situations that reveal the ego?
Ryan Holiday@ryanholiday · Author, Ego is the Enemy
@muller_adam Extreme success or extreme adversity. As Robert Caro says, power doesn't corrupt--it REVEALS. Same with failure--when we are at rock bottom--that's when we see who we really as are well.
Adam Muller@muller_adam · Co-founder ADHD Collective, MullerCast
@ryanholiday Hmm, that Robert Caro quote is powerful. Really helpful. Thanks @ryanholiday, you rock.
Mark Davies@mrmarkdavies · @MrMarkDavies
How can stoicism be applied to society more to help increase innovators & entrepreneurs solve big problems?
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
Hey Ryan! Still making my way through the latest podcast with @tferriss :) Couple questions for you! - If you had to swap lives with a tech CEO/Founder for a month, who would it be and why? - Why goats? (and what are the weirdest animals you own - mini donkey sounds pretty interesting! - got a pic of them?!)
Ryan Holiday@ryanholiday · Author, Ego is the Enemy
@bentossell @tferriss Because goats are the best. They are sweet, low maintenance and hilarious. I mean what other animal head butts trees for fun? What other animal is personally offended if another animal (or human) has manage to find a perch slightly higher than theirs? They're just really fun pets.
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
@ryanholiday I can't fault your logic so re my first question - a goat farm ceo?
Eric Schrenker@ericschrenker · Product Manager, Sumo
Hi Ryan. I absolutely love your reading recommendation emails. I recently launched my own monthly newsletter on product development, entrepreneurship, and innovation. These are topics I love and know a great deal about. I've pushed it to my network and added a link to it everywhere that's relevant (bios on social media, in my email signature, etc.). I'm also starting to develop relevant blog content to support it. Do you have any advice to ensure I see continuous growth in subscriptions over the long run? Thank you!
Ryan Holiday@ryanholiday · Author, Ego is the Enemy
@ericschrenker Stay at it. Here is a chart showing the growth of my newsletter: As you can see, it was almost four years before it really began to accelerate rapidly. That's what it took to develop a loyal audience and to build an addiction that people were willing to spread to others.
neeharika sinha@neeeharika · Google, Threadchannel
Hello Ryan! How do you find startups you want to invest in? Most effective growth strategy for a mobile app to increase user base? Whats your favorite organic growth strategy?
dave radparvar@daverad · Co-Founder, Holstee
A lot of the benefits of mindfulness, stoicism, and the philosophies you help introduce people to through your writing are really important, and I believe, genuinely help people live happier and healthier lives - but they are not urgent or top of mind for most people. How can people in the mindfulness and wellness space better communicate the pain points of not living an intentional or reflective life?
Ryan Holiday@ryanholiday · Author, Ego is the Enemy
@daverad I think they forget that most people are not interested in theoretical concepts. Personally, I love philosophy both practically and for its own sake. But I realize that that is a minority position. So if I want to discuss philosophy, I have to find the context in which the audience is willing to engage. That means going to them where they have problems (and where philosophy may offer real, practical solutions). Some of the critics of The Obstacle is the Way in the Stoic community completely miss this. They're made that I don't discuss "virtue" for instance. Well, most of the population--especially the ones who are dealing with some crisis or issue--are not waking up thinking, "Man, today I would sure love a lecture about virtue." Rather they think: "I have all these problems and I don't know what the fuck to do about them." So that's where I try to communicate. I think there is a lesson here for startup founders too. It's not about what YOU like about a given industry or technology. It's about what users want. I think that's one of the mistakes we're going to see with VR and driverless cars. Your average person is not begging for their car to be replaced by a robot. So you have to figure out where the primary problem/opportunity is. Start there, and then grow. Once I've hooked people on Stoicism as a solution to their problems and helped make a difference in their lives--then I can talk about all the other stuff it offers.
dave radparvar@daverad · Co-Founder, Holstee
@ryanholiday really helpful and makes sense. thanks ryan!
Stuart Sim@stusim · Student
I found a lot of parts to this book great and have put a few of these quotes over on my Instagram acc https://www.instagram.com/ozzybo... but the one I really couldn't agree with you more on is when you say, "Your potential, the absolute best you’re capable of—that’s the metric to measure yourself against". However, in practicality I think that is something very hard to do when you are living with a core value such as humility. Do you have any tips on how to figure out what the best version of you is without letting the ego take hold, or do you just accept that every now and then you will push the envelope too hard and trust that you have a solid foundation of humility to get you back into balance?
Florian Wedowski@florianwedowski · Growth & Filmmaker | Container Door
Yo Ryan, How did you end up being Director of Marketing at AA at age 20 (I believe)? And how does your way of doing marketing now differ to what you were doing at AA pre-Growth Hacker Marketing? Cheers Florian
Ryan Holiday@ryanholiday · Author, Ego is the Enemy
@florianwedowski I was working for Robert Greene and Robert was on the board of directors. He recommended me to come in and advise Dov on some marketing/digital stuff they were working on. I did that and then he asked if I wanted to work there as a strategist. A year or so in, one of my projects was organizing/consolidating the marketing efforts which were spread across the different departments and not run super well. I did that and just sort of came into the role of director of marketing. It wasn't as if I was hired to do that or even officially given the position one day. It developed over time. That's something people miss about opportunities. They don't always seem like one at the time. One has to be content to MAKE them into something. All you need a little bit of daylight to make a big move.
Florian Wedowski@florianwedowski · Growth & Filmmaker | Container Door
@ryanholiday NICE! thanks mate :)
Koji Kanao@twelvejapan · Web/iPhoneApp dev/legal tech startup
Hi Ryan, thank you for your time! We're a very early stage startup and building an MVP. My question for you is: what kind of things should I care about while we're building the MVP? Thanks!
Ryan Holiday@ryanholiday · Author, Ego is the Enemy
@twelvejapan 1) Is this something people actually want? 2) Is this something much much better than other products out there? (as opposed to having some marginal feature improvement that only matters to you) 3) Do you have a realistic plan for how you plan to draw attention to it ("We'll put it on Product Hunt" is not enough).
Koji Kanao@twelvejapan · Web/iPhoneApp dev/legal tech startup
@ryanholiday thanks!
Michael Bilderbach@mbilderbach · Product Designer
What insight about life have you acquired, that seems obvious to you, but might not be obvious to everyone else? Perhaps something outside of the stoicism philosophies.
Ryan Holiday@ryanholiday · Author, Ego is the Enemy
@mbilderbach That almost everything is much more complicated and much more simple than you tend to think. If you can remember this, it not only makes you more empathetic but less prone to thinking you know more than other people.
Jonny Miller@jonnym1ller · Cofounder @Maptia
Big fan of your writing and reading recommendations… also loved your recent DO Lecture, especially the story about Edison and how when his $10m factory filled with chemicals was burning (giving off pretty lights) he shouted to his family and workers with ‘Come quick, you’ll never see a fire like this’. That really struck a chord. I feel like a handful of people are able to look back on devastating events and view them as opportunities to learn and grow – but it’s a rare that anyone can take this future perspective & experience the gratitude in the chaotic moment itself. This is all my long-winded way of asking, when the world feels like it’s crashing down all around you, are you able to find that perspective, and if so do you have any tips for us endlessly fallible humans?
Sarim Haq@sarim_haq · AI Whisperer
Respected Ryan, While smoking my pipe and sipping on my tea, I thought to myself: "Wait listing for beta: is that a good or a bad strategy when you don't have any traction at all?" Can you answer this question and put me out of my intellectual misery? Yours Truly, Sarim
Ryan Holiday@ryanholiday · Author, Ego is the Enemy
@sarim_haq I find that most companies who start with beta wait lists have not bothered to ask: Why the fuck would any wait in line for a product they've never heard of, that they're not even sure works?" Sure, some companies are so awesome and the proposition is so amazing that it works (Mailbox, Gmail, etc). But most companies are not that. On the contrary, you basically need to be be BEGGING people to try your stuff.
Sarim Haq@sarim_haq · AI Whisperer
@ryanholiday Accept my gratitude for your answer. I have read and reread your book "Growth Hacker Marketing" and found it extremely handy. I carry it around with me all the time.
Theoharis Dimarhos@theo_dimarhos · Marketing+Biz Dev at AngelouEconomics
Hi Ryan! If you were to design a marketing conference/event of your own, what 3 new things might you introduce that other events do wrong?
Ryan Holiday@ryanholiday · Author, Ego is the Enemy
@theo_dimarhos Select group of people. Great location. Assigned seating at all events/meals/keynotes (and this seating would change throughout the course of the event to force introductions)
Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
I love your decision to make reading a priority and not let time or money prevent you from doing so. 1) Up to how many books do you read per month? 2) Do you employ any speed reading techniques?
Ryan Holiday@ryanholiday · Author, Ego is the Enemy
@tomstocklein It depends (I know I've said that a lot in this interview). Right now I am in the middle of a 3 volume set on Winston Churchill. Each book is close to 1,000 pages. If that's the only book I finish this month, I won't consider that a failure. Other months might be tons of smaller books. I can say clearly that I do not speed read and I think most of the techniques are bullshit. http://thoughtcatalog.com/ryan-h... I get a lot of reading done because I make time for reading. Honestly, that's the only way.
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
What is "growth hacking"? And what is the most common misconception about it?