I went from zero marketing knowledge to being a professional digital marketer for a major company in nine months—and you can too

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Photo by Lukas Blazek on Unsplash

One day, at the start of my senior fall semester of college, I realized that I lacked any valuable skills. The startup I had been working on had folded, and the experience showed me that I knew nothing about marketing (among many other things), and so I decided that I’d try to get good at that at least before graduating.

Over the next few months, I spent most of my time learning everything that I could about digital marketing. Three months in, Justin Mares and I started Programming for Marketers. Four months in, I landed an internship with Zapier on their content team. …


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My interest in entrepreneurship originally started as an interest in passive income.

I was in college and read The 4-Hour Workweek and decided that getting paid passively sounded a lot more fun than wearing a suit and going in to PWC every day.

But I didn’t have a good understanding of what passive income really was at the time, and I think most articles and guides to “making passive income” neglect to talk about it in a more honest light.

I’m much less invested in building up my passive income than I was before (for reasons I discuss here), but I still bring in a few thousand dollars a month most months in ways we could reasonably call “passive.” …


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During college, I spent around 2,000 hours playing DOTA 2.

If you’re unfamiliar with the game… there’s no concise way to explain it. Maybe go watch the finals of the last major competition to get an idea.

The gist is that it’s one of the most complex multiplayer games online, and is one of the biggest competitive esports in the world. Developing even a basic competency in the game requires knowing the ins and outs of 115 different characters. Compare that to the 6 in chess, or the 1 in FortNite.

DOTA 2 was always uniquely addicting to me. The community around it and having friends to play with was part of that obsession, but a bigger part was the way the game challenges you. …


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I’ve always struggled with sticking to a budget and felt guilty about it. Maybe you have too. With the popularity of budgeting books, blogs, podcasts, and condescending Medium articles, it feels like everyone is maintaining a perfectly balanced budget but me.

I know they’re not, but that’s how it feels.

At some point in the last year, though, I realized budgeting is a huge waste of time and energy. Here I’m going to try to explain why, and what you might focus on instead.

The Limits of Budgeting

Let’s say you’re making $45,000 a year. To keep the numbers clean we’ll say you take home $36k after taxes, so $3k a month, and you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck. …


Each year I revamp how I’m setting and tracking my goals, and each year the system gets a little better.

Last year, I was using some combination of Asana for the first half of the year, and then added in a Google Sheet as outlined in my productivity article.

Even with the Google Sheet, the system seemed a little haphazard. It wasn’t easy to track the relationships between my Annual, Monthly, and Weekly goals. And the arbitrary 3 goals per day felt forced at times.

What I’ve been wanting is a way to track my Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Quarterly and Annual goals in one place, with good visibility on what each daily goal is supporting at the macro level. …


Making and maintaining friends after college is hard.

For many, their employer becomes their new “dorm,” with all of the gossip, politicking, romancing, and drama that they miss from their college years.

But if you don’t work a normal job, say by being a freelancer, working at a small startup, or being on a remote team, you don’t even have the water cooler to fall back on. You’ll have your friends from college, and might meet some people at WeWork, but meeting new people and maintaining connection with the people you’ve met is challenging.

Social media promised to deliver a more connected world, but instead we got a firehose of outrage and privacy violations that’d make a stalker squirm. And besides, seeing what someone is doing on Instagram is not the same as staying in touch with them. It’s a passive process, devoid of any real connection, that fills the terrifyingly empty moments between activities or while pooping. …


This was the first full year I’ve had a full time “job” taking the majority of my mental energy, instead of my work on this site.

I didn’t read quite as much as I have in years past, partially from my other work and from the long pause on Made You Think, but I still read some great mind-changing books and articles I’d strongly recommend you check out over the holidays or in 2019.

Here they are in no particular order.

The Best Books I Read in 2018

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The Elephant in the Brain by Robin Hanson and Kevin Simler

Get the book. Made You Think episode. Read my notes.

“We, human beings, are a species that’s not only capable of acting on hidden motives — we’re designed to do it. Our brains are built to act in our self-interest while at the same time trying hard not to appear selfish in front of other people.”


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Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, created a productivity paradigm shift with his discussion of “Goals vs. Systems” from his blog and How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big:

“Goal oriented people exist in a constant state of failure or waiting for the goal. Systems people win every day just by sticking to their systems. The systems focused people tend to perform better and be happier.”

The general idea is great. Systems allow you to create repeatable processes to move in the direction you want to go in. …


Until a few weeks ago, I had never taken responsibility for eating meat.

Pre-civilization, you only ate meat in one situation: when you, or a member of your tribe, killed an animal.

Today meat is a commodity. You can have meat at every meal without having to think about where it came from. You could consume hundreds of animals over the course of your life (as I suspect many readers have, chickens are small) without ever having to take an animal’s life.

This never bugged me until a year ago. I was listening to a podcast interview and the guest got on the subject of hunting and made an argument something like…


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I don’t like @GaryVee.

I say @GaryVee because I don’t know Gary Vaynerchuk personally. He could be delightful and entirely unlike his online persona. But his Internet character is doing harm to would-be entrepreneurs.

Go watch a typical post from GaryVee if you’re not familiar with him:

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bo6sFAjA0Uy/

There are two messages being sent. The first, the obvious one, is “Entrepreneurship is hard, work hard and you can succeed.” Nothing new or wrong with this.

The issue is the second layer, the message underneath much of what GaryVee broadcasts: struggling is good.

You should be working long hours, failing for ten years, starting a side hustle to fund your side hustle. You shouldn’t be comfortable because comfort is death, or worse, mediocrity. I mean shit, he even suggests feeling suicidal is normal. Notably absent is the step where you get to start with a $3,000,000 wine business (1). …

About

Nat Eliason

Founder of Growth Machine, writer on all things interesting at www.nateliason.com, and co-host of the“Made You Think” podcast.

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