🤔 Nathan Baschez's thoughts on writing, business strategy, and the future of content
Tech Twitter's most industrious thinker has a lot to say
Yo! ✌️ I’m Brett! I am a Product Manager and former Cognitive Science researcher. Social Studies is a semi-weekly newsletter for people building great products for humans. It includes recaps of what happened on Tech Twitter every week plus deep analysis using frameworks from Psychology, Economics, and the other Social Sciences.
🤔 Who is Nathan Baschez?
Nathan Baschez is Tech Twitter’s most industrious thinker. What do I mean by that? In under two years, Nathan has amassed the beginnings of an incredible media empire in one of the most intellectually demanding categories - business strategy.
He is the cofounder of Everything, a newsletter bundle that includes some of the best writing on Substack - it’s currently sitting at #11 on Substack’s paid newsletters leaderboard. He’s also founder Type House, the Hype House for writing.
But his success didn’t happen over night. Nathan has been building media empires his whole career. He was part of the Product Hunt in the early days and lead product for both podcasting giant Gimlet media as well as Substack, the newsletter platform I’m using to send you this!
If you’re a writer, a founder, or an investor, Nathan Baschez is your guy. I’ve been an avid follower of Nathan’s work on Twitter for years. His success and wisdom as been a huge inspiration for me doubling down on this newsletter.
🤔 Q&A with Nathan
🤔 What gives you the most satisfaction in what you do?
It’s a tie between “the feeling of unlocking something important” and “the feeling of camaraderie.” Both are great, and depend on each other!
By “unlocking something important” I basically mean “solving big problems with new ideas.” It’s just a lot of fun to make progress by seeing things differently. You know the feeling when you’re on a walk or in the shower and something just hits you? I love that.
But ultimately it would all feel kind of empty without a team. There are few things more fulfilling than struggling towards an ambitious goal for a cause you believe in with people you love.
I know these are sort of platitudes, but they’re true! 😅
🤔What is one thing most people misunderstand about business strategy?
That it’s something only big companies need to do. In reality every company has a strategy: it’s just the activities you choose to perform.
If anything, choosing well is even more important for early stage businesses. New businesses are so fragile and easily impressionable. You have to be disciplined about where you’re going and why. And you have to balance that with the humility to recognize when you’re wrong.
I can’t imagine making those decisions without some guiding frameworks from the world of strategy.
🤔What would you say to someone just starting their career in tech today?
It’s hard to give advice like this in the abstract, because people are different. So I’ll target this statement at myself, 10 years ago when I was just getting started:
Trust your gut more.
🤔What would you say to someone deciding whether or not to start a newsletter?
Just do it! Start writing and don’t worry too much. Most people overthink it. It’s like the game “Battleship” — you gotta just lob stuff over the wall and see what works.
No amount of a priori reasoning will answer the questions you’re worried about. And it doesn’t matter if your first 100 posts are all terrible, so long as you keep posting. People don’t remember your early work, you become known gradually as you get better.
🤔What does the future hold for Everything?
More of the same! Our business is really simple: we want to work with high quality thinkers and writers, and publish the best business writing on the internet. If we do that, everything else will take care of itself.
🤔What does the future hold for written content in general?
We forget it, but reading is actually magical. It’s only going to keep growing. Sure, audio and video are nice, but if you want quality, precision thinking, nothing beats the written word. So there will always be a thriving market for writing.
🤔What have you been reading/watching/listening to lately? (newsletters welcome)?
Too much! There’s so much amazing stuff these days. Here are some particular favorites that I think are especially under appreciated:
Scuttleblurb — longform analysis of various public and private companies, from a value investing lens
Synthetic A Priori — a podcast by Ryan Singer (who does “product strategy” at Basecamp) that attempts to integrate ideas from design and philosophy (think: Christopher Alexander, Ronald Langacker, etc) to building new products.
Napkin Math — OK this might be cheating because it’s part of the Everything bundle, but seriously Napkin Math is amazing lately. In particular, I recommend his recent explainer on Costco’s Kirkland house brand.
🤔What does Twitter mean to you? Who are your favorite follows?
Twitter is the world’s group chat! It is both terrible and awe-inspiring. Here is a non-exhaustive list of some entertaining and informative tweeters: @SoniaBaschez, @sarthakgh, @TheAnnaGat, @visakanv, @itunpredictable, @noahchestnut, @freialobo.
🏆 Nathan’s best thoughts
Here’s Nathan’s most favorited tweet ever. While it has nothing to do with writing or strategy, it is emblematic of Nathan’s positive can-do attitude. Can’t code? Nathan believes in you!
✍️ On writing
Nathan is a writer. One of the very best. Naturally, it’s worth listening when he doles out writing tips on Twitter. Here are some of his best:
🗞 On newsletter bundles
Nathan is the cofounder of Evertything, the first newsletter bundle in the post-Substack world. Everything may be more of what’s to come in this space.
✌️ Other great tweets from Nathan
Also check out these threads!
Andrew Wilkinson @awilkinsonMost people think Joe Rogan just did the deal of a lifetime with Spotify. I think he got ripped off like a hapless farmer selling his oil rights for pennies on the dollar 🔥🛢️🔥💸💸💸 Here's why: https://t.co/EC1MjXnLjQ https://t.co/fAwt0iMymU
Remember to check out Nathan’s Everything bundle!