Something very interesting about Cole:
- Writing Entrepreneur | 100M+ Views.
- Bestselling author of "The art and business of online writing"
- He writes about Data-Driven Online Writing & Category Design
- Co-creator Ship 30 for 30 writing challenge
These bullet points are just a tip of the iceberg. From my pure observation and listening his workshops and podcasts I was blown away by his level of thinking and frameworks that he is using.
I wanted to know him a bit more and learn from.
And so I asked:
When I listen you speak you are very clear in articulating your mind. Is it an innate talent or developed skill? If a skill how you developed it?
My mom is a terrific speaker so I picked the "innate talent" part up from her. But I think innate talent only accounts for a small portion of any skill. The rest has to be practiced, nurtured, and developed.
For example, when I look back at my writing from 10 years ago, or 5 years ago, or even 3, 2, or 1 years ago, I can see refinement and an evolution of clarity. If you're practicing intentionally, you get better over time.
If you look retrospectively is there a subconscious behavioural pattern that drove the most progress in your life?
And what was a pattern that was holding you back from more progress?
Just commitment. That's really it. The discipline and desire to show up every day and push yourself. For example, I'm writing this after a home workout I really didn't wanted to do ("I'm tired"), but I knew that if I wanted to keep making progress in getting back in shape, then I needed to push through that short-term feeling. And this morning, I really didn't want to write or work on anything on my To Do list (I had a nice, long, relaxing weekend and I wanted to just keep doing that), but I knew if I didn't push myself through that short-term feeling, then the "I just want to relax" mentality would continue into tomorrow, and the next day, and so on.
Patterns that have held me back are the opposite of this. Whenever I have stagnated in growth, it's almost always because I stopped pushing through those short-term feelings of "I don't want to do this. I'm tired. I'd rather not."
When you wrote, wrote and wrote stuff online but did not see results what was going on in your mind in those moments?
Most people give up when something doesn't immediately work.
If it's something intrinsically interesting to me, my reaction is very different. I don't get discouraged. I get curious. I like to understand why things work or don't work, so instead of getting discouraged I just get more motivated to figure out why something isn't working—which is what happened when I first started writing on Quora. My first handful of answers (for the first few months, actually) didn't really go anywhere. So I got curious. I studied the people who were succeeding on the platform. I tried to reverse-engineer how they had written high-performing content/viral answers. I even reached out to some of them asking for help (a few replied and gave me some early feedback). And I kept at it.
If you wouldn't be able to write what would you do instead as good as your current writing and why?
Writing has only recently become my "main thing."
When I was a teenager, my main thing was gaming—and I wrote about gaming on the side.
When I was in my early 20s, my main thing was bodybuilding—and I wrote about bodybuilding on the side.
When I was in my mid 20s, my main thing was advertising and marketing—and I wrote about advertising and marketing on the side.
When I was in my late 20s, my main thing was entrepreneurship—and I wrote about entrepreneurship on the side.
It really wasn't until my late 20s when I started my ghostwriting company that writing became my main thing, 24/7. But as the company grew, my writing time went down and my startup-founder-time went up. Then, when I scaled the company back in 2019, writing became my main focus again.
That's a longwinded way of saying: I have no idea haha. Something might enter my life that I want to do more than writing. But for the time being, and the foreseeable future, writing takes up 100% of my focus.
What experiences has shaped your character mostly and why?
Probably the same experiences that shape most people: moments of rejection and inadequacy mixed with moments of validation and achievement. I think you need both. For example, I was never any good at school growing up. I had very average grades. But for some reason I was a really good writer and reader. I inherently understood how language worked and I enjoyed playing with words. So it was both the validation one or two teachers gave me early on that made me want to invest more time into playing with language, AND the rejection I experienced by other teachers, peers, etc., for being so terrible at other subjects like math and science, that gave me the confidence to explore writing and language.
- One of your Tweets was hard to ignore. You retweeted Bilal tweet and mentioned that this is your mindset 24/7 365 days.
Can you elaborate more on this?
I don't do anything half-heartedly. Everything I do, even if I don't do it professionally, on some level I want to be good enough to be proficient and competitive at the thing. I can't turn that part of me off. So 24/7, 365, means I am constantly learning, constantly pushing myself, constantly progressing forward in some way.
What uncomfortable experiences you are planing to take and why?
I'm a writer. Every time I sit down to write something, it's uncomfortable. (You have no idea how something is going to end up when you start.) But that's also the fun of it too.
Name 3 skills of highest ROI.
- Being able to think clearly
- Being able to articulate/write those thoughts clearly
- Being able to reflect on your thoughts and anticipate future decisions accordingly.
In your view what books might be more in demand in the next 10 years?
Self-publishing has unlocked tons of writers, which is exciting. But it has also meant more and more people are treating books as "business cards," which I personally think are a waste of everyone's time.
Books that will be in demand 10 years from now are the same books that were in demand 10 years ago, and 100 years ago, and 1,000 years ago: books that answer people's questions, explore new categories of thought and subject matter, and bring new perspectives to pressing issues.
What is your favourite book ?
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov or Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth
Favourite Twitter account?
Elon Musk, obv.
Insights I took away for myself from Cole:
- Writing helps to refine your thinking
- Keep yourself constantly learning, constantly pushing myself, constantly progressing forward in some way 24/7, 365.
- Just commit and show up.
- Find what is intrinsically interesting for you
- Don't do things half-heartedly even if you are tired.
- When things don't work get curious why they don't work instead of getting discouraged.
- Being able to think clearly and articulate your mind is a skill of high ROI
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