A Behind-The-Scenes Look At The Biggest Project I’ve Ever Done

Every couple years I do something most people call crazy. This might be my craziest idea yet.

by Jason Zook


9/22 UPDATE: The project is live! Project Galaxy = BuyMyFuture.com

I was sitting at my desk as the sun was rising. Coffee in hand, my face lit up by the screen of my laptop. This morning was as ordinary as most, until I started flipping through one of my notebooks.

At the top of one of the pages I had written: “I love creating, I don’t love selling. How do I fix this?”

That page was dated April 4, 2014. The morning I read it (probably for the first time since then) was July 1, 2015.

During those 453 days in between, my brain had been crunching all the numbers and scenarios. Trying to figure out ways to answer the simple question I wrote in one of my notebooks. And July 1 was the day my brain found the answer.

For the past three weeks leading up to starting this journal, I’ve been sculpting and shaping the “answer” into a viable business opportunity. I’ve been getting some feedback from my trust circle. I shared the idea with a few potential customers (three to be exact.) But I decided I didn’t want to keep going in complete secrecy.

Enter: this 60-day journal.

I’m writing this daily journal over the next 60 days to serve as a behind-the-scenes look of what I’m doing to launch my biggest project ever. A project that I’m keeping a secret until it launches on September 22.

To avoid constantly writing “secret project launching on September 22” let’s just refer to it as Project Galaxy.

This daily journal will share all my planning, strategy, pre-launch, and marketing tactics leading up to Project Galaxy. I also plan to include how I’m feeling and give an honest look at what goes into working on a big (nay, huge) project.

The first 20 entries are contained within this Medium story. The entries 21–60 are individual stories linked below (any missing numbers are Sundays when I took breaks from this project):

Day 0Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 5Day 6

Day 7Day 8Day 9Day 10Day 11 Day 12Day 13

Day 14Day 15Day 16Day 17Day 18Day 19

Day 20Day 21Day 22Day 23Day 24–31

Day 32Day 33Day 34Day 35Day 36Day 37

Day 39Day 40Day 41Day 42Day 43Day 44

Day 46Day 47Day 48Day 49Day 50Day 51

Day 53Day 54Day 55Day 56

Day 57Day 58Day 60

It should be noted: this journal is being exclusively written on Medium. If you want to be notified when I write updates, simply follow this Publication (click the link, then click the “Follow” button). I’ll be sending a weekly table of contents via Medium’s Letters feature. Oh, and if you’re enjoying this journal, feel free to hit the Recommend button (the little heart icon).

Day 0 exists because I wanted to catch you up on what I’ve been doing in the days leading up to this journal. Before I go through about three weeks of tactical stuff, I wanted to try to accurately recount my emotions on July 1:

“Holy shit, this might actually work. Wait, would people buy this? I think they would. Would they? Yes. No. Maybe? Has anyone ever done this? I can’t think of anyone. I like that. That’s also scary. Can this work?? Ugh, no one is awake in my house to share this with!”

That pretty much sums up what happened after I put down my coffee mug, flipped open my notebook, read the line from April 4, 2014, and *ding* the idea appeared for Project Galaxy.

Thank you Photo Booth app for capturing this moment in time for me.

I’d like to pretend I 100% believed in this idea from the start. I’d like to pretend it’s insanely original. But alas, I had my doubts early on, I continue to wrestle with a few, and nothing is truly original anymore. I mean, things are kind of original, but everything just seems like slight mutation from a group of other things. Anyway, I digress…

When my roommate Clay finally woke up, I caught him before he could even grab a cup of coffee or sit down at his desk. I think I said something silly like “Before you sit down, sit down. I’ve had an idea. It feels as big or bigger than IWearYourShirt, BuyMyLastName, etc.”

He sat down.

I began to explain Project Galaxy to him and I could see on his face he didn’t hate it. The words that came out of his mouth after I finished blabbering on were something to the effect of “I love this idea.”

After telling Clay, I shared Project Galaxy with my two other roommates (my girlfriend, Caroline, and Clay’s girlfriend, Julia.) I also shared it with my buddy Paul on Slack. The rest of that day was spent in a Google Doc that would serve as the planning document going forward.

In the days following, my excitement for Project Galaxy continued to increase. There were a lot of “What ifs?” and a few moments of second-guessing, but for the most part I couldn’t stop thinking about all the upsides and potential.

Usually when my level of excitement for a project holds strong for a few days, I know it’s an idea I need to pursue.

Right before July 4, I sent off a few emails to people I know and trust. I briefly explained Project Galaxy and asked them for two things: 1. Not to share the idea and 2. For any feedback they wanted to offer.

I wasn’t nervous to send these emails or for the impending feedback. There comes a certain point, for me anyways, where even the most negative of feedback or criticism can’t derail my drive to complete a project. Nonetheless, the feedback I received was overwhelmingly positive. There were some critical questions asked and a few ideas shared that were very helpful. Exactly what I was hoping for with those emails.

‘Twas time for the brain dump

My brain works in mysterious ways. At times, it’s a well-oiled machine. At other times, it’s a rusty old 1948 Chevy pickup truck.

I had started a Google Doc on July 1 for Project Galaxy, but it was fairly sparse. It included some very basic things: naming ideas, possible dates, the first email I wrote, and that was about it.

But on or around July 6, my brain was firing on all cylinders. I spent over an hour writing down thoughts, ideas, and specific next steps. Some of which included:

  • A pre-launch plan (this journal idea, jasonisuptosomething.com, and a few other things I’ll share below)
  • A list of payment processors to talk to
  • A list of things to be included in the delivery of the project
  • Answering the who/what/how/when/where of the project
  • A list of people I know that might help promote the project
  • Pricing notes and ideas
  • Thoughts on having partners for the project

Needless to say, I felt pretty good after this brain dump. Since creating this Google Doc, I look at it multiple times per day.

Writing emails helped me explain my own idea

It can be hard to articulate new ideas. Especially new ideas that are a bit out there. As of writing this journal entry, I’ve probably emailed 20 people about Project Galaxy. It seems that every 4–5 emails, I make structural changes and reword my explanation.

Writing and rewriting emails explaining this project has greatly helped me hone my elevator pitch. If I’m being honest, it’s still not quite there. But that’s okay, I have quite a bit of time to nail it.

If you’re wondering, yes, I did keep copies of each version of the email in my planning Google Doc. I’ll happily share those once the project is live.

Picking a name and buying a domain!

This is always one of the most fun aspects of a project for me. There were four names on my short list (after brainstorming with my roommates).

I’d like to pretend that I have some awesome process for testing names and picking the perfect one. But I don’t. And I personally don’t think the name of any project is that important.

In world where some of the most profitable companies that exist are named Google, Yahoo, and Zappos, it’s more important to pick a name that’s easy to remember and has a simple URL.

So I pulled the trigger on two domains. If you’re wondering, I use Google Domains for domain registration these days. I wasn’t sure which domain would be the winner, but this small $24 expense was a simple way for me to go one step further in committing to this project.

Talking to people on the (actual) phone

I’ve created and sold over 10 products in the past two years. Within that time, I haven’t picked up the phone to talk to anyone about those projects (especially not potential customers). I have tested the waters on a few projects by doing pre-launch purchase time windows and sending out surveys to my email list. But never have I talked to people on the phone.

So why pick up the phone on this project?

The first reason is that after sending the idea to 5–10 people via email, I realized that I couldn’t quite share my true emotions and excitement through words on a screen (even with emojis and lots of exclamation points!!!).

The second reason is that I had someone, a friend, respond to the email I sent them and tell me the project “didn’t excite them*” very much. That wasn’t a crushing point of feedback, but it did make me feel like they weren’t clearly understanding my excitement for this project.

And last but not least, I wanted to eat my own dog food (I think that’s right expression!?). I have entrepreneurs and business owners that ask me how to get people to buy their stuff and I always tell them to have actual conversations with their potential customers.

So I got on the phone with a few different people:

  • People who had purchased things from me before
  • People who I thought could partner up with me on this project
  • People who I wanted feedback from

All-in-all it was probably 10–12 phone calls. Not a ton. But enough to see a pattern in some of the questions, concerns, and thoughts they had. I wouldn’t say I was nervous on these calls, but I did fumble over my words a few times. I won’t go into the detail of all the calls, but there were two that had especially great takeaways:

From a person who’d purchased my stuff before and who I thought would be a perfect potential buyer: “I would buy this right now. Can I buy this right now? I want it.”

From a person who I knew fairly well that I thought might want to partner up: “I don’t think this project is a fit for my audience. I think it’s another one of your crazy ideas and I hope it works out for you. It could be super successful or it could totally fail.” (Not the most encouraging feedback, but this type of response is fuel for me to push even harder to have success.)

That catches you up to Day 1…

Heck of a long first entry, but I felt the backstory and work I’d done up to this point would be helpful.

As a reminder, each day for the next 60 days (leading up to September 22) I’ll include an update at the bottom of this article.

I hope you enjoy the daily look into Project Galaxy! I’m grateful to have you reading this and if you want to help spread the word, I certainly wouldn’t mind you sharing this Medium article or hitting the fun little Recommend button below.

Managing project excitement

Today I want to talk about the excitement of a new project. I’d be lying to you if I said I hadn’t thought about Project Galaxy 20 times per day, every day, since July 1. As I mentioned earlier, that’s a sign that a project is worth pursuing in my book.

While the excitement helps with project validation, it certainly doesn’t help with personal sanity!

The only thing I can compare my feelings to are when I had a crush in high school. If you’re like me, high school was quite a few years ago, but oh do I remember what it was like to have to deal with teenage infatuation. At times it felt like you’d never be able to escape it, even if you professed your undying love to the person you admired.

That’s kind of what each day has felt like over the past few weeks. Since this isn’t my first big project launch, I do have a bit of experience when it comes to managing my emotions. And I’m also fully aware that the finish line of a project like this is most often not the most exciting part; the journey to get there is.

The part of the process I’m in right now is what I like to call embracing the climb. Trying to enjoy every moment and every step in the process. Of course I want to get to September 22 as quickly as possible, but I also don’t want to miss out on enjoying all the tiny hurdles and small victories along the way. By taking time to appreciate the planning, strategy, and execution of the work I’m doing, it takes some of the pressure off of the finish line.

Setting low and high goals

Truthfully, I’ve been thinking about my goals for Project Galaxy since the beginning, but today I’m going to announce them publicly (which of course makes them feel way more real):

My low goal: 100 purchases

My high goal: 1,000 purchases

I’ll issue a reminder after writing those numbers: This project is big. And I’m not just saying that to build hype or buzz. I mean in the grand scheme of my life, this project is big (this will become very clear soon).

I believe setting goals like these are important for a few reasons:

  1. Setting a low and high goal helps me manage expectations. Of course I want to hit my high goal, but I’ve learned it’s important to set a low goal that still gives a feeling of accomplishment. If you only have one goal and you don’t hit it, a project can easily feel like a failure.
  2. The high goal gives me something to strive for. Do I know if it’s achievable? Nope. Am I going to do everything in my power to try to make it happen? You betcha!
  3. People always ask what my goals are with projects like this. So now I’ll have them at my disposal.

One last thing I want to mention today: As someone who’s built an audience over the years, I strongly believe my low goal is very achievable.

I’ve learned to become very realistic with my goals. I’ve also learned a lot about my audience over the past few years. I have the perfect size audience to support my entrepreneurial endeavors. And I’m totally okay with that. Which is why, to try to hit my high goal, I’ll be focusing a lot of my time over the next few weeks on partners for Project Galaxy. More on that in a separate journal entry.

Time to enjoy my (now) cold coffee and get to work!

The entrepreneur, in his natural habitat. White earbuds, lack of sleep, and cold coffee.

Why I’m doing this project

I hope I clearly explained why I’m doing this journal. I guess I should probably explain why I’m doing this project?

Hmm… How do I clearly explain this without giving away the project? Hah.

Let me first share the three things that are the driving force for Project Galaxy:

  1. I want to help people take more action in their lives and businesses
  2. I want to help people effectively (and uniquely) sell their products or services
  3. I want to help people think more creatively

It can be hard to draw your line in the sand, especially with a big project that you want to do well. Actually, let me rephrase that and be way more honest:

It’s scary to pare a project down to something very focused, because it can feel limited in its potential.

However, if I’ve learned anything during my entrepreneurial adventures over the past 8 years, it’s that focus is good. Being specific about what you are doing is good. And better yet, acknowledging who your work is for (and how it helps them) is vitally important.

There are people who create things for everyone. I believe Medium is that type of project. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc are too. Project Galaxy is not the “next” any one of these. I am 100% not creating a new social network or app.

I’m doing this project because I want to help a specific group of people. People that fit into the three items I listed above. I want to build a deeper connection with the people I align with and get laser-focused on delivering as much value to them as I possibly can.

Customer avatars (ugh)

I hate describing customer avatars. I don’t know why exactly. It’s not that I’m not smart enough to accurately describe my ideal customer. It’s not that I don’t like brainstorming and thinking about who these people are. There’s just something about the exercise of making up this pretend potential customer that I really don’t enjoy.

Maybe that person is a 35-year old male, who wears Warby Parker glasses, does freelance design, and enjoys Jeni’s Ice Cream? I don’t know.

Maybe I’ll revisit this in a later entry as I get further along in the planning stages of this project. Ugh, I’m frustrated just thinking about the customer avatar exercise. However, I do want ice cream now…

Vague project is a little vague

I hope some of what you just read helped answer the question of “why” I’m doing this project. I realize things are still a bit vague, but c’mon, they have to be for a few more weeks.

You can look forward to learning a lot more about this project as we get closer to September 22. In fact, today I decided that I’ll reveal the price for the project exactly one week out. So, there’s something to look forward to on Day 53!

This week’s calendar

Before wrapping up today’s entry, I wanted to share what my calendar looked like this week. I promise I’m not doing this to show how important I am because I have a very busy calendar. In fact, it’s kind of the opposite. My calendar is (intentionally) NEVER this full. As entrepreneurs, we have the luxury to not work all hours of the day. I learned this the hard way over the years. But sometimes you have to hunker down and put in the work.

One thing I want to touch on are the 15 minute phone meetings. This is the first project I’ve ever gotten on the phone with my potential customers and talked to them about the project I’m building. I’m not going to lie, it’s uncomfortable.

All of my projects over the years have been shared with people, but almost exclusively over email and through short surveys. I could always control the conversation that way and stay in my comfort zone. These short calls have obliterated my comfort zone, but in a good way!

As I talk to folks, specifically a small handful of people who’ve purchased things from me before, I’m honing my pitch for Project Galaxy. Each time I describe the project to a new person, it’s helping me get better at crafting the story and message behind it.

Here’s how these calls have been going:

  • There’s a little bit of the standard “hello, how are you…” chit chat for a few minutes
  • I ask this person if they’re okay keeping the conversation 100% confidential
  • Then I dive into my 3–4 minute pitch about Project Galaxy
  • Then I wait for their reaction (which is extremely awkward if it takes them a minute, haha)
  • Then I let them tell me what parts of the project they don’t understand, need more information on, or that doesn’t jive well with them

I’ve done about 10 of these calls so far. I’ll be doing a total of 20–30 of them. One of the best points of feedback I’ve received on these calls is: “Jason, this project is crazy, but feels like something you would do.” And that’s a victory to me. That’s exactly what I’m hoping for. Well, that and that people say, “Yes, I would buy!” But I’m not forcing that issue during these exploratory calls.

Would you be up for a 15 minute call?

I’d be very interested in talking to a few people who are completely outside my bubble of customers and contacts.

If you’re reading this journal entry, don’t know me very well, but would be interested in chatting about Project Galaxy, send me an email. Please include your full name, Twitter handle, and a little about yourself in your email.

I can’t guarantee I’ll be taking a lot of additional phone calls (mostly for the sanity of my calendar). But if I can squeeze a few in over the next week or two, I’d like to keep honing my pitch and getting feedback.

Alright, that’s it for today. If you’re enjoying this journal, feel free to hit the Recommend button below and share it on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for reading!

Sundays are going to be slightly slower days around this journal. From 2009–2013 when I was running IWearYourShirt full-time, I rarely had a Sunday off. I’d be willing to bet I had less than than 10 Sundays off in those five years (no exaggeration).

As entrepreneurs we tend to learn lessons the hard way. With that being said, I just wanted to prepare you for the slowness that will be some of the weekend entries in this journal. I’m forcing myself to not sit at my desk or look at my phone all day (even though I have a huge project going on). Instead I’ll be spending time outside, reading books, going on hikes, doing things to give my brain some rest!

I used to hype up “the hustle” just as much as the next guy. But now I’m a fan of hyping balance. Work hard when I need to, but also don’t over-extend myself.

I will give you leave you with something fun, since this update is shorter than others:

My girlfriend Caroline working on the initial branding for Project Galaxy with lots of kale!

Well, this is the second time I’m writing this entry. Last night while putting the finishing touches on the 1,000+ word entry [I’d already written] I somehow managed to lose a battle of copy + paste. Ugh. Anyhoo, let’s get into version two of Day 4!

Let’s look at some numbers

As this is a Monday entry, I thought it could be fun to share the metrics behind this journal at the beginning of each week. So often we only get to read a project’s recap or the final metrics (which I’m guilty of sharing before), but rarely do we get to see things from the beginning. Let’s go ahead and change that with this journal.

I’ll be the first person to admit that I don’t particularly care for metrics. That doesn’t mean I don’t want more people to read this journal (or visit my website, etc), that just means that I don’t measure the success or failure of my projects based on a few charts and graphs. Do I think these things can be incredibly valuable at times? Absolutely. But for the “success” of this journal? Not so much. I’m just sharing because I enjoy being transparent.

I will admit that I am extremely happy to have had over 600 people read this journal in the first three days! That truly does mean the world to me.

Medium’s story referrers are a bit more interesting in my eyes. I like being able to see where the majority of people are coming from and how much reach something like this journal will continue to get (organically) through Medium. Or will Medium traffic die down and the rest of the readers come from social media and my efforts. Time will tell for sure!

If these metrics are interesting to you, I’d love a little feedback (just highlight this text, click the “+” icon, and leave a little note for me).

What does the Project Galaxy marketing plan look like?

This is actually the bulk of what I wanted to write about in this entry.

Marketing plans, much like revenue projections, change dramatically throughout the course of a project. I always like to have a basic plan, but I never etch it in stone because I know things will shift, change, go wrong, and be completely out of my control (to a certain extent).

With that being said, here are the areas where I’m focusing my marketing efforts (#1 being of highest importance) for Project Galaxy:

  1. My existing audience
  2. Influential people I’m connected with
  3. People I want to partner with
  4. This 60-day journal
  5. Podcast interviews
  6. Press and media

Let’s dive a little deeper with each of these, knowing full well that other opportunities may come up and some of these may crash and burn (hopefully not this journal or my existing audience/customers!).

My existing audience

These folks are the most important people when it comes to this project. I do love you as well, reader of Medium who probably doesn’t know me, but I care very deeply about this subset of people (my existing audience). Without these individuals, I wouldn’t be able to live the life I live and do the things I do. And when I talk about my audience, I’m specifically talking about three groups of people:

1. My email subscribers
2. My previous/existing customers
3. People that follow me on social media

My email subscribers…

These awesome humans subscribe to a weekly email (called The Action Army) that I send out each Monday. That email includes some form of content that aims to help them take more action in their lives or businesses. Starting August 24 I’ll be including a callout at the bottom of each week’s email that links to this journal and to jasonisuptosomething.com. As September 22 gets closer, the callout in each week’s email will get a bit bigger until the final two emails before launch. On September 14 I’m going to clue my email subscribers in a bit more on the project and on September 21 they’ll get all the details one day early (hey, it pays to be a subscriber!).

My previous/existing customers…

If there was a tug-of-war battle between these people and my email subscribers, I’m not sure who would win. Most people would immediately say their previous customers would win, but I haven’t done a good job of separating previous marketing efforts to these folks. That’s going to change with this project. I’m going to save the actual details of how I’m going to be interacting with these 800+ people for another journal entry. I don’t mean to leave you hanging, but I have one idea in mind that deserves its own space and explanation.

People that follow me on social media…

Truthfully, this group of people is low on the marketing totem pole for me. Not because I don’t value the connections I have on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. I really really do. It’s just that I’ve seen firsthand how difficult it can be to breakthrough all the noise in activity feeds. You can share the most compelling content, offer, whatever, and if a barrage of babies are born that same day, your marketing efforts get buried. So yes, I will be posting updates via social media (maybe you even saw a link to this journal via Twitter or Facebook), but it is not a top priority for me because I can’t control social media platforms and my reach on them.

Influential people I’m connected with + People I want to partner with

I hate to do this to you, but I’m saving these two groups of people for two separate journal entries. Maybe one. I don’t know yet. What I do know is that I have a specific process for doing influencer outreach. I also haven’t done many partnerships before, so I think that process and content will be interesting to share in its own journal entry.

This 60-day journal

It should be very clear what my intentions are with this journal. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit nervous to be clicking the “Edit” button each day and worrying one click of the mouse (or bad copy + paste) could ruin a ton of content. But alas, no risk, no reward right?

I do hope this journal brings other entrepreneurs and business owners value when they are thinking about projects of their own. This isn’t just a marketing exercise for me and I hope that sentiment is received as you read each day’s update.

Oh, and I have thought about different ways to organize this journal. I’ve probably spent too much time thinking about it and agonizing if I’m doing it the right way, or the way that makes the most sense. At a certain point in every project you have to realize things won’t be perfect. Just pick a direction and run with it. But know, I do deliberate on it and wonder if reversing the order of these posts would read better, or doing separate posts, or… Crap! See? I went down the mental rabbit hole. Let’s just keep going!

Podcast interviews

My strategy for podcast interviews is also worthy of its own entry. But don’t fret, I’m actually writing about my podcast interview strategy tomorrow! Hopefully it’s worth the wait. I’ve put a lot of thought and energy into this part of the marketing strategy already. More tomorrow.

Press and media

I have a love/hate relationships with press and media. I’ve been very fortunate over the years to have my various projects featured in some of the biggest media outlets out there. But alas, once the social proof wears off and the next Kardashian does something stupid, most media appearances and press mentions amount to zero dollars in my bank account. Listen, I know money isn’t everything, but it is my intention to make money with Project Galaxy, so I’m trying to spend my time as wisely (and in the right marketing places) as possible.

The image below is the best way I can visually explain why press and media are lowest on my marketing importance scale:

Level of trust represented by circle size

When it comes to making purchases, trust is incredibly important. As I’ve so elegantly drawn for you, the press and media trust circle is very small. For what I’ll be selling with Project Galaxy, trust is going to be an important factor in a potential customer’s purchase decision. My efforts are better spent on people I’m connected with and have built trust with. If someone reads about me on a random press outlet, there’s barely any trust whatsoever.

With all that being said, I do have a friend who reached out and offered to help with the press and media part of this project. If we end up moving forward together, I believe that relationship will be worth its own journal entry (including recordings of the conversations we have, plans, tactics, etc).

All the little things we don’t see

There are probably 20 other things that will help aid the marketing efforts of this project. That’s kind of why I’m doing this journal though. As I stumble upon new ideas, new things, new people, I want to share the journey. While my marketing plan may not have you all hot and bothered with it’s sexiness and cool-factor, it’s the plan I have right now and the one I feel good about. We’ll see what changes over the next few weeks.

I’m getting back to work! Thanks for reading this journal and don’t forget to hit the Recommend button if you’re enjoying it (or share it on Twitter or Facebook).

Today let’s dive a little deeper on one of the marketing strategies I have for this project: Podcast Interviews.

Why podcast interviews?

I strongly believe podcasting is on a huge upswing right now. I wish I had time to dig in to some analytics from smarter people about podcasting as an industry, but alas, I’m busy working on this project. Which by the way, is just a little tip if you’re starting your own project: Don’t get stuck in analysis paralysis. You can absolutely over-research and avoid doing actual work by filling it with consumption.

It’s no secret that podcasters typically have listeners. Those listeners are people that I’d like to share Project Galaxy with.

I also know the value of being able to tell my story with my voice (and not just my writing). If you’re a complete stranger reading this journal, you may not read into my emotion and tone. But if you were to listen to me talk to someone on a podcast about this project, there would be no doubt in your mind about my level of excitement and enthusiasm.

How have I reached out to podcasters?

Like many other parts of this project, I’ve created a spreadsheet. The photo shown below was actually a spreadsheet created by my friend (and roommate) Clay Hebert. Clay had already done some homework in building a list of podcasters he knew and is helping make the appropriate introductions for me. A warm introduction goes a long way!

You’ll notice sections of this spreadsheet are color-coded. The green section is people Clay is going to make introductions to. The yellow section is people I already know and don’t need an introduction to. And the red section was people that were on the list, but that aren’t a good fit for me and this project. You’ll also notice the breakdown of action steps with this list of people, so we can see where things are in the intro/recording/etc process.

Here’s another spreadsheet image that shows a separate list of podcasters and interview status:

I do want to apologize for all the blurring out on these images. I’d love to be able to be fully transparent with who I’m talking to, but I don’t think that’s fair to those people.

Don’t be afraid to bust out a spreadsheet or two. I find it a very valuable way to keep track of conversations that are happening on email, Twitter, Facebook, Slack, and other random places. It also helps me stay focused on the action items I need to take for this specific task in the Project Galaxy marketing journey.

My podcast interview caveat

Because this project is a secret until September 22, I’m having to ask podcast hosts to hold our interviews until after the project launches. It would obviously do me no good to have interviews about this project go live before the project itself goes live. This has definitely been an interesting line to walk with people. Some people are totally okay with it, but others I feel bad asking because they’re busy people who have well-established shows. That’s not to say I don’t treat new and established podcasters differently, that just means you have to approach each differently.

How do I navigate the tricky task of asking them to hold my show? Very simply. I just ask. Here’s the exact line of text I’ve been writing in a few emails: “I do have one small favor to ask with our interview. Could we please hold it for release until September 22 or shortly thereafter? This project has a time window of two weeks and that would be hugely helpful for me! If that’s a deal-breaker I totally understand.”

I’ll admit it’s also a bit weird to record interviews with people months in advance of release, talking about a project that isn’t even completely finished. Sometimes I feel like I’m a fortune teller, looking into my own crystal ball. But most times I’m just shooting from the hip and doing my best to stick to the elevator pitch I’ve honed over the past few weeks.

To give you some numbers

As of writing this journal I’m currently in talks with 27 podcasters. I have recorded interviews with 4 of them already. I have scheduled interviews with 15 of them. And the remaining 8 I’m trading emails back and forth with to see if my project is a good fit for their show and if we can schedule things out with my caveat.

For what it’s worth, almost all 27 of the podcasters have been extremely accommodating with my ask of not releasing our interview early. This has been a huge sigh of relief for me as I felt quite uncomfortable asking people for this favor (especially to people who I don’t know all that well).

Oh, and of the 27 podcasters, I’ve been personally introduced to 20 of them. This is very intentional. I wanted to make the podcast interview and scheduling process as easy as possible for myself (a warm introduction will definitely do that). Some of those introductions have come from good friends and others came from a post I put up on Facebook a few weeks ago:

For the 7 podcasters that I haven’t been introduced to, I simply opened up iTunes, went to the Business category and scrolled through the Top 100 podcasts. From there I picked shows where I knew the hosts and could reach out to them personally. I should actually go back through other categories on iTunes and look for podcasters that I know or could get introductions to. Yay, more work!

Another thought that just came to mind while writing this journal entry is to search the word “podcast” in my email inbox. I know I’ve been approached by people and had a scheduling conflict or timing just didn’t work out. Even more work, wahoo!

My podcast interview goal

My goal is to have 40 podcast interviews recorded and queued up for the September 22 launch week. Why 40? Honestly, no reason. The number was originally 30 and then I was overwhelmed with recommendations from my Facebook post and decided to raise my goal.

It should be noted that I’m not just pitching Project Galaxy on these interviews. In fact, Project Galaxy has been a very small part of the interviews I’ve done and will probably continue that way.

I’ve learned my lesson that people don’t want to just be advertised to. They want value. They want to learn from your experience. They want to hear something new and different.

With each interview I’m doing my best to relate to the audience of each individual podcast I’m being interviewed on. This means spending time listening to a few episodes of each show, learning more about their audience on my own (or by asking the host), or seeing how these podcasters interact on social media.

Are you a podcaster or know one?

I’m not afraid to ask for things. So if anyone reading this is the host of an awesome podcast that you think I would be a good fit for, I’d love to meet you. If you’re friends with a podcast host that might find sharing my story interesting for their audience, I’d love to meet them too. Feel free to shoot me an email to start those conversations (and thank you in advance!).

And now a little bit of balance…

I’ve touched on this in other entries, but I’m not sitting at my computer all day, slogging away on this project. In previous years I would have been, but I’ve learned that balance is more important than hustle. Hustle is great, but without balance, hustle only leads you to burnout.

Today I took a trip to IKEA to finally buy a standing desk. I invested in the motorized one since we have four people in our house and I’m the only one who’s 6’5. The extra cost for the desk was well worth it to be able to hit a button and have the desk go up and down on its own!

Look Mom, I installed IKEA furniture with no wounds and made my very own GIF!

I took another break from sitting at my computer to go on a hike with my roommates. While the hour and a half we spent climbing dusty trails around a beautiful lake might seem like a waste of time to some, I find it incredibly important. I tend to do my best thinking when I’m out in nature, away from technology, and just letting my mind wander. Plus, it’s good to get some vitamin D and work off some (stress) energy.

A visual definition of seeking balance (with friends!) :)

Whatever project you’re working on, big or small, build in time to take breaks. It might feel like a waste of time, but I guarantee you it’s absolutely worth it.

There are moments in every project when you stumble upon new ideas and thoughts. Today was one of those days.

Project Galaxy Pre-Purchases

I’ve had nearly 20 phone calls with people who’ve purchased other products from me in the past. One of the questions I’ve been asking these folks, once I’ve shared the details of the idea, is “would you buy?”

Now, I realize this is a loaded question. For one thing, they’re on a call with me. So of course they don’t want things to get awkward if they say “NO!” But almost everyone has shared their excitement for the project and said they would be interested in purchasing. That feels really great.

But unfortunately feeling great doesn’t take their wallet out of their pocket and actually make a purchase.

So what I decided today is that I would go back to these folks and offer them the opportunity to pre-purchase Project Galaxy a week before it’s publicly available. There are a few reasons why I think this is a good idea:

  1. I can see if people who were really excited about the idea and said they’d purchase will actually purchase.
  2. I can test the purchasing and onboarding experience of Project Galaxy before it goes live to the public.
  3. I can get feedback from a handle of actual paying customers. A week will give me plenty of time to make any tweaks or adjustments.

One other thing I thought about doing to further incentivize people to pre-purchase would be to offer 1-on-1 time with me. This is not something I’m going to offer all purchasers of Project Galaxy because it is something that’s very hard to scale. But for 10–20 people, I could totally make it happen. Plus I feel like it’s a solid value-add since they’ve all said they enjoyed the short calls we’ve had.

Maybe you want to think about pre-purchasers for your next project? Some food for thought!

That’s it for today :)

One of the most important tools for this project: Trello

I got introduced to Trello about a year ago, and it’s one of my favorite project management tools. It works by creating Boards and Cards, and easily let’s you collaborate with other people.

For an endeavor the size of Project Galaxy, it’s critical for me to keep my to-do list(s) organized and to be able to lay out all my thoughts in an actionable manner.

Here’s what the Trello board for Project Galaxy looks like as of today:

I didn’t start with Trello. As I mentioned in previous entries, I have a Google Doc that I’ve used for a brain dump. There’s actually a step before that which involves writing down initial thoughts and ideas on paper. For me, physically writing down my thoughts seems to solidify them even further (that’s probably because I barely write anything by hand anymore).

Once I’ve outgrown a Google Doc, which typically means I’m finding it hard to navigate, it takes too long to find a thought I wrote down, or that I have tasks that have multiple steps, I move to Trello.

One of my favorite features of Trello is the ability to set Due Dates. My calendar can become a mess (as seen in Day 2), so this is a nice additional reminder for me. It’s not shown in the photo above, but I also start a new list (that’s what the vertical rows are called) called DOING RIGHT NOW! No seriously, that’s what I name it. This list is a daily log of the specific items I need to be focusing on, otherwise I’d get overwhelmed looking at 16 different lists (how many I currently have).

If you’re feeling like it’s a struggle to get tasks completed, your to-do lists are piling up, or you just want to try a new way of getting work done, I’d highly recommend giving Trello a shot. Oh, and it’s free! Weeeee!


Thank you!

I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you to those of who you are reading this journal. If you’ve ever created anything (of any kind), there are moments where you constantly guess and second-guess yourself if people are going to care. The fact that so many of you are recommending this journal on Medium, sharing it, and sending me emails about it means a ton.

So thank you very much and here’s to week one!

Doing things a bit differently with today’s journal entry. I’ve mentioned that I’ve been getting on the phone with previous customers, people in my audience, and complete strangers. Well today you get to hear some sound bytes from those calls.

I’ll let the audio speak for itself and hope you enjoy it…

(Music by qole)

I want to give a huge shout out to everyone I’ve had calls with so far. I also want to thank the complete strangers who were willing to jump on Skype with someone they stumbled across on Medium. The conversations have been really helpful for Project Galaxy, but have also been challenging (in a good way!). It’s not easy to share ideas with complete strangers and it’s even more difficult when you’re trying to keep a project a secret.

If you enjoyed the audio journal entry, let me know. Leave me a note or response to this article. Your feedback, even as a casual reader, is really helpful.

Now, time to get back to work!

Where the magic happened for the audio journal.

The beginning of the design process

This is, by far, one of my favorite aspects of any project. Actually, that’s not true. The process isn’t my favorite part, the outcome of having a fun logo and unique branding is!

The first impression you get when you land on a website is huge. I don’t think first impressions are the absolute most important thing, but they certainly matter when you’re trying to sell something. The first impression for Project Galaxy has an additional layer of complexity because it’s most likely something that’s never been done before (at least not that I’ve come across). While that might scare some people, it actually excites me to have a completely blank canvas.

I’m fortunate to have picked a life partner who has an incredible eye for design. I come from a design background, but really all that means is that I can piddle around in Photoshop and make things look decent. My girlfriend Caroline used to do design work for clients, but now only uses her talents for her community. It took quite a bit of negotiating and cajoling, but after multiple conversations (and tactics of persuasion) I was able to convince her to tackle the Project Galaxy design work. So what does that entail?

  • The logo and branding (which you’ll see some of below)
  • The website design
  • The UX design of the purchase and onboarding process
  • The customer dashboard
  • And a handful of odds and ends

Back when Caroline had design clients, she created some specific processes that they would go through at the start of a project. I don’t do well with conventional processes, but we did have multiple meetings where I sucked it up and answered some hard-hitting questions (mostly about customer avatars, ugh again).

Photo cred @margaretannk

Through these meetings Caroline was able to pull thoughts and ideas out of my brain for what I was hoping Project Galaxy would look like. She cobbled these thoughts and ideas together into five tone words that would guide the look and feel of the design. Truthfully, I think the only words I used were “cool” and “bold.” The first not being helpful at all, but the second we both agreed on. From then on, I pretty much just stayed out of the way.

The Mood Board

I’d never heard of a mood board before watching Caroline work through a few of them with her previous clients. I remember when I first saw one I thought to myself:

“but what does a photo of a pair of shoes have to do with a website that has nothing to do with shoes?”

Thoughts like that are why I’m always willing to outsource my weaknesses.

Caroline set me up with a Pinterest board and told me to “pin a bunch of stuff that you like based on our five tone words.” I didn’t pin everything shown below, but I did pick a few helpful items!

Once a bunch of images were added to this board, Caroline took some time to pick and choose the ones that felt right to her, ones that felt right for the project based on the tone words. If it was left up to me, I’d probably have picked photos of shoes only, out of sarcastic spite (so helpful, I know). What came out of this process was the finished mood board for Project Galaxy.

See the shoes! Told you!

The Brand Board

Once the mood board was okay’d (not that I was going to argue her choices anyway), Caroline moved into working on the brand elements: Logo mark, fonts, colors, and graphic elements.

This process is a fun one to watch. There are lots of logo sketches (mostly just shapes drawn on paper). There are too many font options to choose from. But that’s why Caroline took the helm here. In a matter of a few hours she’d nailed the logo mark and picked a handful of fonts that looked really sharp. Is “sharp” a good tone word??

Here’s a look at the finished brand board minus revealing the actual name of the project and the logo mark:

Blurry logo is blurry.

Once the brand board is done the rest of the design process can start taking shape. We’re currently working on the website design and I’m over-the-moon happy with it. Does “over-the-moon” happy convey excitement? I don’t know what the kids are saying these days.

Anyway, as we get closer to the September 22 launch day, I’ll be revealing more design stuff. I’m very thankful to have such a talented person at my disposal. THANK YOU, CAROLINE!

It’s another Sunday and if you read Day 3's entry, then you know most Sunday entries will be short and sweet. Even though there is plenty of work to be done, I’m forcing myself to take time off from this project (and my other work). Continuing to enjoy this project and all the work that goes along with it is very important to me.

So with that, I’m off to continuing reading the book Ready Player One and enjoy a relaxing day by the pool. Oh, and I can’t wait to play some Exploding Kittens today too!

Where are my fellow Exploding Kittens fans??

Have an awesome Sunday everyone!

It’s a Monday on this journal and before we get to the meat of this entry, let’s take a look at the stats for this story on Medium:

As I mentioned last Monday, I’m not too concerned with the analytics behind this journal. Obviously if everyone stopped reading tomorrow I would care, but I don’t let that nice bar chart and group of numbers dictate any of my choices. I am happy over 1,000 people have read this and 10% of those folks have recommended it. That feels good (more on support below)!

And here’s the referrers page. One difference you’ll see here is that I added a link to this journal on my personal site JasonDoesStuff.com mid-week last week (you can see it in the nav pop-out and in the bottom left footer). It’s nice to see those callouts are generating interest.

Okay, now onto today’s thoughts…

Today I want to talk about the three most important things I think any project needs to succeed. I should preface this by saying I’m not including mention of “the idea” itself because that’s something you need before you even start a project. Make sense? Cool. Let’s roll.

Support

First and foremost, no project is ever done alone. Ever.

Interestingly enough for Project Galaxy, I’ve received helpful advice and support from people I didn’t even expect. This type of support tends to happen when you’re willing to work on a project out in the open. Had I never created this journal and only ever promoted jasonisuptosomething.com, the level of support would have been totally different.

Now when I say support, I’m talking about two things:

Moral Support

This is encouragement from friends and family. It’s the initial push you need to take a leap when an idea pops into your head.

There are times in every project when you want to flip over a table, yell swear words, and call it quits.

We’ve all been there! I haven’t quite yet been there with this project, but I also haven’t started the technical aspects of this project either (where most table-flipping urges occur).

I promise you that I’m not begging for your notes, comments, tweets, emails, etc. I just want those of you reading this to know that your moral support means a lot to me. When I get a few words of kindness or motivation, it’s like spraying lighter fluid on a fire.

Moral support also shows up in a simple “yes” from people I’ve reached out to who I want to partner up with on Project Galaxy. More on that in a later journal entry.

Tactical Support

I don’t mean guns and kevlar vests. I mean the folks who posit ideas and thoughts that focus on making this project as great as it can be.

Out of nowhere I had someone offer to hop on a call and brainstorm with me. That was awesome. But even more awesome is that person whipped up an entire Google Doc with their own ideas and actionable questions.

The people who’ve reached out to do phone calls with me about this project have also offered tactical support. I only expected to get their reactions about the project on those calls, I never expected a bunch of helpful tips and thoughts to make the project better.

Tactical support also includes design and technical assistance. As mentioned yesterday, my girlfriend is doing all the design and branding. For the development work on this project, I’ll have a few people supporting the project with their expertise.

I’m also fortunate to have really smart people around me. But notice I didn’t say lucky. I’m very intentional with who I surround myself with and who I’ve shared this project with. The relationships I’ve built over the years are coming in very handy with the planning of this project.

Effort

Having effort to put toward working on a big project only happens because of sacrifice.

There were plenty, and I mean plenty, of other things on my calendar before Project Galaxy showed up on July 1. But because I made the decision that this project was more important, I removed and tabled a bunch of other work. Some of those sacrifices meant taking easy money* off the table.

*When I say easy money, I simply mean marketing and promoting project that I’d already created with plans I already had in place.

The other sacrifices that allow for additional effort, are those made in my day-to-day life. As my schedule fills up each week with to-dos, calls, meetings, etc, I have to be okay with less free time and less time with friends. For me this is an easy decision to make. I simply want to work on this project more than I want to have free time. That’s an easy sacrifice for me to make, because if this project does well, it could afford me a lot of additional free time in the future.

Effort is either something you’re willing to fight for or that you already have at your disposal. I have both. And the only reason I have both is because I can’t stop thinking about this project and because I see it as something of great value. That drives me out of bed every morning and fuels me to work long hours each day.

Patience

This is by far the hardest thing to have when working on a project. You want everything done faster. You want everything done perfectly. You want to be standing at the finish line, hoisting your giant trophy of success.

But alas, there are many bumps in the road. There are many hurdles to attempt to leap over, but inevitably trip over awkwardly and scramble to get up after. There are so many little things that pop up that require patience to get through.

I don’t have a secret potion I take each morning that gives me extra patience. I have experience, which has taught me patience. Recently I read the book The Obstacle is the Way, which was extremely well-timed and a book I’d highly recommend. When you realize that the bumps and hurdles can actually be vital to reaching milestones, you learn to look at them in entirely new ways. Changing that perspective unlocks a bunch of patience points (hey, I said potion earlier, so I stuck with the gaming metaphor).

Patience also comes with a good support group. If you have people around you who’ve had experience building things of their own, their words can be incredibly helpful in a time of crisis.


Oh, and as a bonus fourth item, every successful project needs a mascot.

The official Project Galaxy mascot: Plaxico.

This is Plaxico. His daily butt-scratching meetings are very helpful for Project Galaxy.

Hustle is an overused word

We’re bordering on hustle porn at this point. How many hours can you work? How much harder can you work than everyone else? How many hours can you work without taking a break?

That stuff used to matter to me. I always wanted to be the hardest worker. I wanted to be looked at as someone who hustled their ass off and lived the hustle lifestyle.

But you know what? Too much hustle isn’t a good thing. And as much as the popular folks on the Internet would like you to believe, hustle doesn’t always put money in your bank account, make you feel like a good person, or bring other people value.

What I’ve learned in life about hustle is that, like success, you have to define what it means to you.

There are certain times in this project when I am hustling. Some of these journal entries have come after a long day of calls and strategy sessions. I put in a little extra effort to get them done (hustle), because they bring me (and I hope you) value. But then there are times when I’m not working on this project and I’m intentionally taking a break (not hustling). Could I be putting in 10–20 extra hours of work each week? Sure. But would it burn me out in the process and lead to resenting this project and not enjoying as many moments of it as possible? Yes, it absolutely would.

I guess the point I want to make is that I believe in the hustle, but I also believe in balancing out the hustle. Listening to your mind and body. Taking breaks. Enjoying life. Realizing that you don’t have to work every hour of every day just because some people think that’s a cool thing to do.

Take a moment to define what hustle means to you, then hustle that way.

What if this doesn’t work?
What if people hate this project?
What if people hate me because of this project?
What if no one purchases and all this work was for nothing?
What if people don’t get what I’m trying to do and it completely fails?
What if I decided to quit doing this tomorrow, would my reputation be tarnished?
What if I’m spending all this time on something people aren’t interested in and I lose money in the process?

These are just a few of the questions that swirl around my head on a day-to-day basis. But I guess the difference for me is that I don’t let the what if? questions consume me. I don’t let them dictate my decisions. I acknowledge that they are merely questions my brain is conjuring up because we all have instinctual desires to fit in and avoid failure.

Many people have asked me over the years how I continue to do bold and crazy projects. My simple answer is, and I mentioned this in an earlier journal entry: I want to do these projects more than I am afraid to them.

Of course I’m afraid to work on what I’m saying is the biggest project I’ve ever done. Of course I have self-defeating thoughts.

But I won’t let fear stand in my way. Especially fear that has zero validation (this project doesn’t even exist yet, you silly brain!).

I wrote an article awhile back about fear. Feel free to read that if you want to know more of my thoughts on how I deal with this topic.

And now I’m going to go ponder this thought: What if this project is wildly successful?

The second audio journal entry!

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m having fun mixing up the written entries with these audio entries. A couple of the questions I asked this week’s group of Project Galaxy callers:

  • Any guesses at what Project Galaxy is?
  • What concerns you about Project Galaxy (once they knew what it was)?
  • What other things would you like to see in Project Galaxy?
Music by qole

More calls?

I’d love to speak with a few more entrepreneurs about Project Galaxy. If you’re interested in hearing about this project, don’t mind being recorded, and are willing to keep your lips sealed about it, shoot me an email.

Thanks for reading folks! Two weeks down and about six to go!

“I don’t think is a good idea. Have you really thought about this?”
“Hmmm… Yeah, I mean, I wouldn’t do this, but then again, I didn’t think you could sell your last name so what do I know?”
“I’m not too interested in this idea. Do you think it will actually work?”

The words of other people, even people you call friends, can make a huge (and sometimes devastating) impact. These three quotes are statements from people I would call friends that I’ve shared the details of Project Galaxy with.

Instead of just telling you that I’m going to use their words as motivation (mostly to prove them wrong, which I am), I also want to break down how I’m not letting their feedback affect me.

“I don’t think is a good idea. Have you really thought about this?”

This is a friend I’ve know for 8 years. That’s pretty much my entire time as an entrepreneur. But this friend is also very conservative. He runs a business that isn’t risky, that isn’t outside the proverbial box, and I have to take that into consideration whenever I share my ideas with him. If my idea is big and crazy, why should I put value in the opinion of someone who doesn’t ever take chances with their business? I shouldn’t.

“Hmmm… Yeah, I mean, I wouldn’t do this, but then again, I didn’t think you could sell your last name so what do I know?”

Hey, at least this friend was honest. And when I take a step back and look at the type of business they run, it’s again, not risky or crazy. So while I appreciate the feedback of my friends and am curious to know what they think of my ideas, I can’t let their fears become my fears. I have to understand that something like Project Galaxy would scare the heck out of them, but then again, so have most of my other projects.

“I’m not too interested in this idea. Do you think it will actually work?”

This person was probably the only person that their feedback honestly surprised me. While they haven’t done any crazy projects, they are well known and I respect the way they run their business. I’d by lying to you if I said that this person’s feedback didn’t hurt my feelings a little bit. Because I do respect this person and I thought they would really like my idea.

But then I remembered something important: No business idea is for everyone. No project is going to appeal to all audiences. And if you’re trying to do a big and crazy project, you have to accept the fact that some people simply aren’t going to come on board with it.

The first two comments rolled off my back fairly quickly. I assessed where the feedback was coming from and reminded myself that I have to take it with a grain of salt. My third friend’s comment stuck with me for a bit longer (a few days actually).

Get feedback from the right people

I’ve done over 25 phone calls with existing customers of my other products. Every single one of them has gotten excited about Project Galaxy when they learned what it was. 18 of those folks said they would buy right now.

If 100% of my potential customers like the idea and 75% said they would buy right now, isn’t that feedback more important than that of a friend who has doubts about my project? I’ll answer that for you: YES!

And there’s the rub

You have to make sure you’re talking to the right people and getting feedback from the right sources. At this point I’m no longer in need of feedback from friends on the idea of Project Galaxy itself (although I may take some feedback on purchasing and onboarding… maybe).

At this point I should only be spending time talking to potential customers and listening to all of their questions, thoughts, concerns.

My friends aren’t my target customer for this project. So while I appreciate their thoughts and concerns, I simply can’t let them dictate my decision making at this point.

If you run a business of your own or are starting your own project, be careful with who you get feedback from. I’ve previously written about feedback in depth here.

Onward we go!

Today I’m just going to share a sneak peek of the website layout for Project Galaxy. This will be a shorter entry than normal, but sharing the design of the site feels like a big update for this project:

Thank you Photoshop blur filter…

Achieving balance

I spent most of the day yesterday offline. I watched two movies on Netflix (Snowpiercer and Star Trek: Into Darkness) and started reading Hugh Howey’s book Wool. Movies are a great way for me to turn my brain off and stop thinking about all my to-do lists and the overwhelm that can come with a big project. I’ve found fiction books can help do the same thing.

I felt bad for lounging around all day yesterday and ended up going on a hike with my girlfriend Caroline. Most hikes we talk the entire time, but for this hour-long hike we were both fairly quiet. I think it was some very needed time outdoors and we just enjoyed the scenery and amazing southern California weather.

What I like to call “Jason trying to fly.” Spoiler alert: I didn’t fly.

I want to leave you with a video I’ve probably watched 30 times over the years. I watched it earlier this week to help overcome my own feelings of self-doubt. Enjoy:

Monday Medium Stats

This is a Monday entry which means it’s time to share the stats behind this article. As I’ve stated before, I’m not particularly concerned with analytics. Here’s a perfect illustration of why:

If you saw last Monday’s update, you’ll notice that the number of “Reads” has only increased by 200ish. I’m fairly certain that Medium measures a “Read” by someone scrolling from top to bottom in a story. This story now has a 50-minute read time with nearly 10,000 words. I knew going into this journal that it would be more of a day-to-day read, not necessarily a start-to-finish read (like most Medium stories), so this “Reads” stat isn’t very important anymore.

I am happy there there have been an additional 1,000 views to this journal since last week. Especially because I only tweet each day’s entry update once and that’s essentially it for my promotion of this journal. Hey, I’m trying to launch a big project here!

Here are the traffic referrers as well:

So why keep sharing the weekly stats update?

To be honest, I’m not sure. Originally I did it because I wanted to show the beginning analytics of a project. I wanted to bring the Project Galaxy readers along with me on the journey and pull back as many curtains as possible.


Do you want to keep seeing Monday Medium Stats?

Building a plan to under promise and over deliver

Project Galaxy is over a month away and hasn’t made a single dollar yet. However, that hasn’t stopped me from planning ways to surprise and delight people who purchase this project when it launches.

I enjoy buying something and getting a little something extra. Don’t you? I know that your answer is yes, so if I know this, why wouldn’t I build that into this project?

I’m not waiting until the week before this project launches to start thinking about the cherry on top. Instead, I’m planning for the cherry delivery early on. In fact, I’m actually planning three under promise and over deliver items with this project (as explained by three different parts of a delicious ice cream sundae below — yay metaphors!).

Note: Yes, I do understand that by telling you I’m planning to add in some extra goodies with this project that it won’t be much of a surprise. But I’m also banking on the fact that not everyone who buys will have read this journal, or even if they have, will remember this entry from 40+ days prior.

The whipped creme

The first part of over delivery plan is something immediate. When someone makes a purchase, I want to deliver what they were promised, but then have something additional that they get sent immediately to their inboxes. Truth be told, I’m actually repackaging up content I’ve already created, but putting a unique twist on it that will be a nice bonus for Project Galaxy buyers. No extra cost on my end, but a nice bit of extra value.

The chocolate sauce

The second part of the over delivery plan will happen about two months after project launch. It won’t be something that buyers get right away, but it will be something they will get notified of and can look forward to.

The cherry on top

The third part of the over delivery plan is something I’m really excited about. It’s a physical item that will be mailed to each buyer and it will have a nice personal touch to it. I’ve been in talks with a few friends who create really unique physical products and I can’t wait to have this little bonus show up on people’s doorsteps.

I don’t think enough companies plan to surprise and delight their customers. I want to go out of my way to make sure the people who invest in Project Galaxy feel taken care of, and then some!

Food for thought: How can you surprise your future or existing customers? What cherry on top can you build into your post-purchase-process?

Yesterday I didn’t accomplish anything on my to-do list

I had great intentions. I had a list. I had a bunch of things I was going to get done. But alas, none of them got done.

So what happened?

The first thing that happened was that one of my to-do list items was too big. It was simply titled “reach out to partners.” This is a rookie mistake when it comes to writing out to-dos. You simply can’t write one big ass to-do item. It will never get done. I consider myself a very efficient to-do-er and I broke my own rule. I spent more time than I’d like to admit staring at a list of partner names, trying to compose an email, only to abandon the task at hand and do something else that felt more accomplishable.

Crap.

The second thing was that I put focus-intensive work right after a podcast interview. I make this mistake more often that I’d like and it seems I rarely learn from it. Like most people, I expend a ton of energy when I do any type of interview. I pour my heart into it. Well, once I’m done I’m usually tired and have trouble focusing. This is the worst time to have a focus-intensive task. So that didn’t get done.

Double crap.

And last but not least, a good friend called me in the middle of the day. We hadn’t chatted in months and I didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to catch up with him. An hour later the rest of the day’s schedule was shot. I simply couldn’t get back into my routine or muster the energy to do the to-dos I’d planned.

Crap³.

I called the day a wash, right? Gave up?

Not so much. Actually, I intentionally stopped working on anything Project Galaxy related for most of the day. I wanted to give my mind a break. And instead of returning to my previously written to-dos, I tackled a few other items that were a bit more fun and rewarding.

One of those items was working on the copy for the Project Galaxy website. I’ll write more about where that copy came from in Thursday’s audio journal update with a special guest. This was a fun task too. Not only because it was something I could work on side-by-side with my girlfriend Caroline, but also because it was a task that felt rewarding.

Progress, weeeeeee!

The other thing I did was reached out to a few previous customers of other projects I’ve done to ask for testimonials. Every project website needs some good social proof. I’ll write more about why and how I’m doing this in a later entry, but this was another task that was easy to complete and felt like a small victory.

Tiny fist pump, woot!

Don’t let the train fall completely off the tracks

On days like yesterday I like to do my best to understand that the train is derailing, but instead of letting it crash and burn, it simply hops to a completely separate track and goes in an entirely different direction.

As long as you don’t give up, there’s always progress to be made.

It might feel like I didn’t accomplish my tasks or goals, but as long as I got something done, it was a worthwhile day.

A visual depiction of yesterday.

Let’s start this entry the right way… with a celebratory animated GIF for being 1/3 of the way to Project Galaxy’s launch on September 22!

Now to today’s thoughts…

At what point do you just go with your gut?

I’ve reached an interesting point in Project Galaxy. One where I feel like I’ve had copious amounts of feedback. Feedback from potential customers. Feedback from friends. Feedback from people I look up to. While talking to a friend yesterday he asked me: “Hey, do you want any extra feedback on anything?”

This question was interesting for me to answer. On one hand, I didn’t want to make my friend feel bad by saying no. I trust him. I think his thoughts and opinions would be worthwhile. But on the other hand, I’m feeling like I’ve reached peak feedback.

I ended up politely declining his offer for additional feedback.

For a few moments I felt quite uncomfortable. But then I realized that at a certain point in every project, the creator of that project must listen to their gut. And this was that moment for me. It had absolutely nothing to do with my friend.

Having never done a project where I’ve spent this much time in the validation and feedback stages, I’m in very foreign territory. How do I know if I’ve actually received enough feedback? Have I gathered enough data to make decisions about this project? Am I one or two phone calls away from finding some amazing nugget (or gem) of information that I would hate to miss out on?

You could say I’ve hit the quarter-life crisis of this project. Things are going well and I’m extremely excited, but there are just a few nagging thoughts that won’t quite go away yet.

All that being said, I strongly believe I’ve received enough feedback and now it’s my job to pour my uniqueness and my creativity into Project Galaxy. Anyone can copy the success of other people, but that doesn’t guarantee success. I’m not interested in copying anyone with this project. In fact, I’d rather put this idea out into the world in the exact way I want to do it, because that will feel most aligned with me and my values.

Truthfully, I’m feeling very ambivalent about this journal entry, but I decided to share it anyway. There won’t always be sunshine and rainbows around every corner. That’s one of the main reasons I wanted to do this journal in the first place. So I’m eating my own dog food (gross) on this one and putting this out into the world.

Moving to a new daily entry format. Read Day 21 here. Days 22 and on can be found in the links at the top of this story.