The right way to build your ideas

🌲 Achieving dreams that scare you

🌲 Welcome to Passive Profits! The mission here is to help current & aspiring founders win back time & freedom by productizing your expertise into offers you build once and sell forever.

Read time: 12 mins

Hey founder 👋🏼

Today, I’m taking a break from the how-to style playbooks, to share a personal story with you.

I bet it sparks something in you to take action…

📌 Read till the end to learn about the June 2024 cohort of the Passive Income Bootcamp

A few weeks ago, I gave my 13 and 15-year-old sons a project to work on. By the end of the school year their goal is to create a brand that has 300 followers.

The brand could be a:

  • social medial account

  • YouTube channel

  • newsletter

  • podcast

  • store

Or something similar.

My older son, Jason, took immediate action.

Move fast and break things

A few months earlier, Jason had become curious about the stock market. He definitely didn’t get that from me…

Whatever I invest in, inevitably goes belly up. Also, I spent two years working in NYC as a Product Strategist to help traders build a real-time trading platform. Worst job of my life. Anywho…

Jason jumped in by creating a TikTok account that provides practical trading tips to Forex traders. He also sprinkles in motivational posts.

As of today, he has 30 followers. He’s published 20 posts (or do you call them TikToks?!), which means he’s posted ~.8 posts per day. That’s better than my cadence on LinkedIn!

One of his posts has 1,996 views. Another post has 109 likes, and 5 people favorited it.

One person commented, “U actually got useful shit” 😂 🤣

For someone three weeks in, he’s killing it. Not because he hit 10k followers overnight (that’s never the real story). Because he found a topic he’s passionate about, and which other people care about, too.

My younger son, Brody? He’s had the opposite experience so far.

Stuck trying to find the right thing

Brody has been flustered from the start.

On the same night I shared the project with the boys, I was out at a networking event. My phone rang. It was Brody.

Right away, I could hear the frustration in his voice. “What’s up, kiddo?” I asked.

I assumed he’d tell me something about school being stupid or not shooting the ball well at basketball practice. Instead, he was agonizing over his business idea.

I cut him off, “Brod, WOW! I’m just impressed that you’re spending the time to really think about an idea that feels right for you. Good for you, buddy.”

I did that because I know how easy it is for all of us, especially a 13-year-old, to panic about having it all figured out right away. Especially when we compare ourselves to our big brother/sister — whether an actual sibling, or a metaphorical big bro we admire.

I gave him a few examples he could look into that I know he’s passionate about: basketball, dogs, snowboarding.

Then I reassured him that there’s no pressure to get it right. That he should spend time thinking about what interests him, to write down ideas, pay attention to experiences that energize him, and just keep at it.

A couple days later, he texted me some sketches he had worked up:

Copyright Brody Melone - Don’t be stealing his logos! 😅

His idea was to start an online store selling clothing with his custom-designed basketball branding. Watch out Nike.

While just a sketch, he was proud of his work.

But then came the dip that Brody, and all of us face — taking action on our ideas.

Big dreams should scare you

A couple weeks passed. One day after school, I asked Brody how his basketball idea was coming along. His face dropped, “I don’t think I want to do that.”

When I asked why, he shared, “Because it’s gonna take a long time to get followers, and they may not even want to buy the clothes.”

My first thought was how much Brody’s doubts and fears echoed the same I have — even 15 years into being an entrepreneur.

I’m guessing they’re similar to feelings you’ve experienced, too?

Even at 13, Brody’s aware of the work it takes to build an audience. Like many kids his age, he spends time posting and consuming content on platforms like YouTube, TikTok, and SnapChat.

As a parent, there’s a lot I don’t like about kids’ overuse of social media. But with the right mentoring, they can learn lots about attracting an audience and building a business.

From what Brody has gleaned so far, he knows how difficult it is to stand out from the crowd. He worries that he’ll invest all of his time building his basketball brand, only to have nobody take notice.

Stop for a second and consider the reasons you don’t act on your ideas:

  • Fear of putting yourself out there?

  • Fear of choosing the wrong idea?

  • Fear of wasting your time?

  • Fear of discomfort?

  • Fear of rejection?

It’s innocent when a 13-year-old has these fears. As an adult, we’re ashamed to feel them.

Why, though? These are natural, legitimate fears. They’re what make us human.

As they say:

If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

I let Brody finish sharing, then I asked him: “Do you know what the most valuable thing is in the business world?”

“What?” he asked.

“Trust.” I told him.

Then I asked, “Are there people in the world that make and sell clothes?”

“Yeah…” he cautiously answered.

“And if I help you figure out how to put your logo on t-shirts and sell them, would you be able to?” I asked.

“I guess.” he responded.

I explained, “Well, since you know it’s possible to make clothes and sell them, let’s not focus on making money right now. Instead, let’s focus on getting people to take an interest in you and your work. Because, Brod, if you spend the next three months creating something that other people care about enough to engage with, it means you’ve earned their trust. And once people trust you, they’ll buy from you.”

Is there a right way to build your ideas?

I shared this story because of the lessons you can take come from my boys’ mindset and approach with their project.

Jason and Brody represent the two primary personas we find in founder-creators.

The Jasons of the world throw themselves into action, figuring things out on the fly. They minimize upfront planning and strategy. They build their parachute on the way down.

In contrast, the Brodys of the world are deep, methodical thinkers. They tread carefully; especially at first. Sometimes the pace is painstakingly slow. Sometimes there is no pace because they’re frozen in analysis — committing 100% of their resources to learning and de-risking.

I’m willing to bet that the majority of the Passive Profit’ers reading along today operate more like Brody. Because, as time has passed, you’ve accumulated ideas that have been shrugged off and shot down.

The cuts heal but the scars remain. With each successive idea you set our sights on, you’re a bit more cautious to share it with the world.

You teach ourselves to stew. To think. To fester for weeks, months… sometimes years, until the right moment appears. But sometimes, you find yourself waiting indefinitely.

It’s important to think. To research. To plan. But sometimes, as my Dad says, you need to shit or get off the pot. To summon the Jason in you. To get started, build momentum, and see yourself doing the thing you feared.

But of course, the grass is never really greener…

The move fast and break things approach that Jason is wired for, also tends to produce lots of throwaway work. If he’s not prepared to experiment and iterate, the early rejections will swallow him up and spit him out. But if he can sustain, and treats his initial attempts as prototypes to learn from, he’ll be off to the races.

So whose approach is better? Jason’s or Brody’s?

The right way to build

When I launched New Haircut, I operated like Jason. Without any awareness or audience, I launched a business, built a brand, hired people, and hustled my ass off to sell work.

There was no vision, no business plan, and no clear problem we were solving. We chased all sorts of work to keep the lights on.

We built the plane as we were flying it.

Somehow, we were able to land clients and grow. But 14 years later, I realized I never stopped to consider if I was building the right plane — the plane I wanted to be on.

As we went through dips (there were many) I’d study passive income strategies. But not until 2019 — 9 years into operating New Haircut — did I take action by productizing my first toolkits. A few months into it, I retreated for safety. I put the low-cost toolkits on the back-burner in place of my high-ticket, premium services.

I reverted to chasing money.

I wanted to productize. I dreamed of the day I didn’t have to sell my hours for dollars. Instead, I hid behind an imaginary lack of time.

But, like the infamous question goes:

What would you make time for, if you knew you could not fail?

Time was never the issue. It was the fear of committing to something new and unproven.

Today, with Passive Profits, I’m channeling Jason and Brody.

I’m spending time upfront to explore the problems I’m passionate about solving. I’m generating tons of content about those problems and giving it away — here and on LinkedIn.

I’m having lots of conversations with my audience, and refining along the way.

I’m pairing down my deep dive content into bite-sized modules and actionable formats.

But as tempting as it would be to LAUNCH » MONETIZE » SCALE, I’m being patient. I’m building without asking.

I’m thinking, planning, and researching like Brody.

I’m creating, giving, and iterating like Jason.

These two cycles feed one another in endless loops.

That way, whatever I launch will be products you helped me build. Products that serve your unmet needs. Products that you’ve already said yes to.

That’s how we both win. That’s the right way to build.

What do YOU need to act?

Committing to exciting opportunities that may not work is the eternal struggle of Founder-Creators.

I write these emails to light you up. To bring forward steps, stories, and systems you’ll use to free you from trading your time for money. To create offers you build once and sell forever. But what if you’re stuck, like Brody?

Launch your first passive income product

Founder-creator corner

🌲 Matt Pocock leveraged his accrued TypeScript knowledge to make an online course, without any prior experience. He shared his entire creator journey - PACKED with lessons.

📈 Chenell Basilio’s Growth in Reverse is my all-time favorite newsletter. I just caught up on her deep dive on Alex Garcia, which was jam-packed with tips.

✍️ Frustrated nobody sees your LinkedIn content? Use the insights from the 2024 Algorithm Insights Report to grow on LinkedIn.

🪴 Passive Profits community

Howdy to Carlos, Theo, Matt, Renee, and 18 more founder-creators who joined us this week. Our little community has grown to 207. Another record setting growth week!

🎯 Help me hit my goal of 1,000 subscribers by Feb 29

Jay Melone
Founder, Passive Profits
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