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The struggle is real

The other day Lindsey (my wife and best friend) and I were driving somewhere, and I told her about a conversation I recently had with a few friends about business, entrepreneurship, and captaining your own ship.

Positivity is my common default, but I also feel that I try to be forward facing about the pain points that create stress, tension, and anxiety in me.

I now realize I might just gloss over them.

In short, Lindsey said I should share more of those pain points. She basically intimated that I make the struggle sound good and that I should let a few more eyes and ears come into contact with the process of negotiating doubt.

To that end… I’m in a really tense place these days as I wait to hear about a deal for IPMM that would be a huge win for various reasons. Managing my own expectations while putting all the work in can spin me up sometimes.

As good as I feel about things, feelings don’t put food on the table or pay bills, so I had better be turning them all into momentum.

Some days I’m down and some days I’m flush, but between loving the process of doing the work and learning, I’m able to feel good most of the time.

Even so, the struggle is real, and there are certainly moments when I wonder what the fuck I’m doing.

No wish will achieve my goals for me, so I better combine all this doubt, optimism, grit, limbo, hustle, seeking, service, and delight … and do this.

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Screw it up

“Scream it, screech it, yell it, screw it up, whatever, but do it.”

– Alicia Keyes

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Thank you + cleaning house

Hey everyone!

I want to take this opportunity to thank you for being a part of these ideas. For those of you who read these writings regularly, it really means a lot to me. I wanted you to know that.

I also want to thank the folks who check it out once in a while, and the people who have barely opened it at all, lol.

That said, I want to get into the annual habit of cleaning up this list. The last thing I want to do is be a nuisance, and I like the idea of an engaged readership and only sending these writings to people who want them.

I don’t want to be part of junk in your inbox.

Because of that, I’m going to unsubscribe any email addresses that have opened these less than 20% of the time. Email inboxes can get out of hand without me adding to the problem, so I’m gonna tidy up and make sure that these questions, ideas, strategies, and reflections aren’t adding to the noise.

I’m glad you’re a part of this, and please feel free to respond if any of these pieces are particularly valuable, helpful, or fun for you. I’d love to hear why.

Thanks again for joining me.

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Side 21, Track 103

A body of work is a timeline that amasses ideas turned into reality.

It’s composed of many points on a line. Thinking about it as a mosaic works too. In either case, we have a lot coming together to create the whole.

The thing about Side 21, Track 103 is that it’s just another point on the line. It has a great guitar riff, thoughtful lyrics, and Questlove‘s iconic piccolo snare, but the weight we give it is about us, how it lands, and what we hear.

The Roots released 102 songs first. What they created throughout those tracks made 103 what it came to be.

When it comes to ourselves, we should forgive the songs we’re critical of, celebrate the hit singles, and think about how the next track we make can most benefit from who we’ve been.

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Democracy of tools

Don’t let people tell you that democracy of tools is a bad thing.

More people having access to the resources that allow them to create is unequivocally good. This applies to agriculture, websites, and everything in between. Whether a machine supplants a plow or Squarespace supplants coding, anyone who says that democracy of tools is a bad thing is merely protecting what they perceive as their real estate.

They don’t want more of us to be able to make things with better, more democratic tools, because it erodes their status & price point.

Don’t get salty that a 12 year old with an internet connection in Bangladesh can build his own website, celebrate the next flattening of the earth through access.

More access means we’re closer to better solutions, and that fact should help us all continue to learn and diversify our skills.

The future is decidedly against protectionism. Deride the future at your own peril.

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In the way of good

In looking back, revelations that have improved the way I work were always the result of having tested something inferior before that.

Rarely do we jump into the game (whatever game it is) and hit a crescendo from the outset. People who can do that are the .0001 percent, and we should probably be more forgiving with ourselves when it comes finding better, more efficient ways of doing the work we do.

Good is how we get closer to perfect, and we won’t know what should be tweaked unless we run experiments. Impact, productivity, and enjoyment are the direct result of solving, launching, & iterating.

Let’s not be overly precious about the things we’re building.

Let’s not let perfect get in the way of good… because perfect isn’t the goal. Better, is.

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Half of our population lives in 146 counties

It’s incredible how much social dynamics help to create perceptions of reality. And social dynamics are informed by everything from coincidence to geography.

In Europe at present, everyone lives way too close to one another to build up false and irrational views of their neighbors. Sure there are slums outside Paris and stark divisions between ethnic groups in countries like Spain or Greece, but in the United States, half of our population lives in 146 counties tightly clustered together around America’s largest cities.

Those numbers prove that the red state v blue state divide is much starker than we might have ever realized.

It shows us that half of all U.S. citizens almost never experience people outside their racial, ethnic, or cultural perspective, and when we do, it’s rarely socially.

I’ve always thought that access to different people, places, & experiences was the most direct route to understanding.

This information makes that undeniable.


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Pole position (a reminder)

The one thing in which we have utter pole position is being ourselves. No one else is Evan La Ruffa, just like no one else is you.

So why not fully embrace our greatest differentiator?

As someone managing a nonprofit & working on various other projects, there are always a lot of variables.

Things changing shape and size, shooting star projects that end quickly, waiting for approvals or funding, artists to wrangle, and all sorts of varying timelines, quantities, & plans.

Within that, I often experience utter confidence and extreme doubt. Sometimes in the same day.

The question at the top of this piece isn’t about an open platitude, it’s about processing the day to day in a way that hopefully yields insight and camaraderie for all of us.

Managing the uncertainty is about knowing that betting on ourselves makes a lot more sense when we’re showing our true colors & thinking strategically.

Pole position + working smarter = what’s up.

(a reminder)

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