Ideas From David Perell

10 Jul, 2020 | People Notes, Writing, Learning


He uses Twitter to share ideas and get quick feedback (in a similar way to Erik Torenberg).

His personal business plan is all related and connected. By finding a centrepoint (writing), he has been able to build adjacent and related things more effectively.


Agassi became a tennis champion, but he hated it. His dad was too disciplined. The same is true of school. For many, school doesn’t give children agency to explore their own interests at their own pace. Part of the problem is a rat-race for credentialism. People are fighting at places for top colleges which used to mean something. This created a trickle down effect. Teachers now teach to win at exams. Students now feel pressure to kill assessments and become anxious, which some people medicate. Medicating them makes it worse, suppressing their instincts. And you see a similar reaction in adults. They become disenchanted with work week (office jobs from 9-6pm) and then go out drinking on the weekend to compensate ~ “Success shouldn’t be synonymous with how good you are at forcing yourself to do what you don’t want to do” ~ People don’t exercise, they’re on anti-depressants, dissatisfied. Conventional wisdom says if we give people freedom, they will doss around and do nothing. But what if it’s the opposite? When we discipline people against their will, there are negative repercussions. That’s the price. People want to be productive members of society. Purpose triumphs over empty pleasure  (The Price of Discipline).

On Writing

Writing online is uniquely powerful. It gives you leverage as your work can be shared infinitely. It attracts people to your ideas, like a personal microphone. The five steps: write evergreen content, publish quality ideas, be specific, listen to feedback and re-package existing work (David Perrell - The Ultimate Guide to Writing Online.

Rules for writing: get to the point, remove un-needed words, keep vocab simple, remove clichés, surprise the reader, then add rhythm (Twitter, May 2019).

On Reading

An easy way to improve reading retention - spend an hour discussing it with friends after. Effectively a book club with your mates (Twitter, May 2019).

Reading is a cheat code.  What you choose to read improves your learning. So, how to choose books? His 5 heuristics: Favour old than new. Trust recommendations (but not too much, focus on people you admire of trust). Read a wide range, diverse books. Read hard books (that you in 20 years would be proud of) and favour biographies over self help (How to Choose Books).

On Learning

Become a learning athlete. Create a “learning plan” (like a training plan) with a new skill committed every 3 months (quarter). Set goals for weeks and months. For example, rather than saying “I want to learn how to draw,” I focused on the end goal: “moving forward, all the charts, graphs, and images on my website will be hand-drawn.” Make sure to reflect at the end of each sprint. Pick skills that build on top of your existing ones, in order to create a personal network effect (Learn Like an Athlete).

The internet has increased access to all information and benefits those who are able to learn. So what is the best way to learn on the internet? First, recognise different mediums (audio vs text) suit different stages of learning. Sounds is filled with emotion and is quicker, better for new topics, like dipping your toe in the water. Text is explicit and complex, better for going deeper. (How to Learn on The Internet).

On Business

Job fairs are dead. The internet is the best place to find a job. It’s also the best place to grow a business. His method: Build an audience, Build a product, Scale the solution. How to build an audience? Find a niche topic you’re interested in, then write about it. As you write about it, other similar thinkers will join. Then write for them. You’ll attract this group of people. Then you can learn from them their challenges and problems. Second, find problems for those people, ideally one you also have, and create a solution for it. Third, scale with software and contractors (Audience-First Businesses).

He’s trying and launching new things: courses, angel investing, Bootstrappers collective. He works on audience-first products that all feed into each other, like a personal flywheel. Twitter connects to writing connects to email connects to book connect to courses and so on (My Business Model).

On Twitter

The key to growing your audience on Twitter is the 5 P’s: Playful, Personal - share hard earned wisdom, Positive, Peculiar - one of a kind or Prolific - tweet a lot (Twitter, May 2020).

How to write a good tweet? Compression - make the tweet as concise as possible. No spam - no hashtags. Simplicity - people browser twitter, they don’t read it. So you need to be catchy in the first sentence, then add context later. Novelty - surprise the reader with a new or interesting idea. The way to become better at Twitter, is to follow the best tweeters. Hence, curate your feed. So, who to follow? People > Publications. Avoid Twitter’s recommended accounts. Find one person you like, then follow who they follow (similar to following an index in a book). Scroll the likes of people who you follow and like. Then, who to unfollow? Spammers. Stressors… and more (How To Crush It on Twitter).

On Education

He has a number of interesting takes on education: teachers should be entertainers, learning should be social (Twitter, Jan 2020). Teaching will become a well paid super job (like influencers) and have large budgets (Twitter, Feb 2020). The internet is better at teaching technical knowledge than humanities knowledge (Twitter, Feb 2020). Including ideas specifically for children (Twitter, Jan 2020, Twitter, Mar 2020).

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