4am Club

I’ve come full circle and have learned to fully embrace one of my worst (unintentional) habits.

I’ve come full circle and have learned to fully embrace one of my worst (unintentional) habits. It’s the reason I’m writing this newsletter right now.

But before we get there, some context is needed…

Ever since the very first phone call to my would-be cofounder, Ben, pitching him on the idea… my vision for what beehiiv could one day ultimately become has been crystal clear.

I knew this could be a multi-billion dollar business.

This vision of a beautiful user interface, intertwined with a plethora of features and capabilities, all just working flawlessly in sync. It’s like a masterpiece in my mind. Something we’re slowly navigating closer and closer to, and it excites me beyond words.

It’s been two years since we launched, and I think we’re about 15% of the way there.

My role has primarily been product-focused, which I often describe as one massive complex puzzle of initiatives and trade-offs. Just an endless pursuit of blocking and tackling.

But as everyone knows, there’s no true playbook for building a startup. I’ll save all the cliche analogies like “building the plane as you fly it” … but the truth is I don’t even know what I’m doing half the time.

Sure there are inputs: user feedback, competitive analysis, usage data, etc.

But at the end of the day, we’re just making some educated guesses as to what we should prioritize, hoping that it moves the needle and gets us one step closer to this “masterpiece”.

At any given time we’re building a handful of new features in parallel, launching new growth campaigns, and optimizing other processes. There are so many distinct pieces of this puzzle being built at once it’s dizzying.

But every so often I feel like I transcend into a 10,000-foot view of the business and can see a few of these pieces falling perfectly into place. It’s so damn hard to build a startup. And when you begin to see these things fall into place exactly as you had hoped, it results in some combination of overwhelming excitement, awe, and surrealism that’s hard to describe.

Which leads me to my worst habit — without fail, I wake up at 4am once every few weeks, mind racing at 100mph, oozing with genuine excitement, and can never fall back asleep.

Straight up, the best way I can describe it is like that scene from The Queen’s Gambit when Beth is playing chess on the ceiling.

I’m just visualizing how feature A is going to unblock feature B, which allows us to market to users of competitor X with marketing campaign Y, in anticipation of launching feature C, etc.

I value health, wellness, sleep, and fitness more than anything. When I’d wake up at 4am and I knew I was going through one of these episodes, I used to be overrun with stress and anxiety. I knew it meant a night of little sleep, followed by a terrible morning workout and a day of fatigue and irritability. I would fight it, and try to flush all of my excitement and thoughts away as quickly as possible.

But I’ve learned to love it. I call it the 4am club.

Now that it’s happened 20+ times I’ve actually observed that my thoughts, ideas, and observations are so crystal clear. I have no obligation to be anywhere else, working, or anything. They’re just raw thoughts shot up to the surface of my consciousness — something my brain couldn’t possibly keep in any longer, causing me to wake up in the middle of the night feeling like I just drank 7 cups of espresso.

Some of my best ideas for marketing campaigns, new features, prioritization, and others have come between 4am and 7am. Now I let the thoughts come and jot down notes next to my bed.

I’m actually so fucking appreciative that I do something I love so much, that it genuinely wakes me up with excitement in the middle of the night. And I know I’m not alone.

I feel like there are so many people out there pursuing their passions, working on side projects, and building the business of their dreams — it keeps them up at night. Those are the people I want to build this newsletter, community, and ecosystem for.

I was living in Medellin in early November when I had one of these episodes that for the first time actually transcended beyond beehiiv. I found myself so deep in thought over my life plan, the next five to ten years and beyond, and how all the puzzle pieces of my life were falling into place.

I love this Steve Jobs quote…

You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something - your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

Steve Jobs

For the first time in this weird half-asleep dream-like state, I could see all the dots starting to come together, and even extrapolate them into the future.

Where I think this all leads is probably best saved for another post, but one takeaway I had was I wanted to write more and share my experiences and learnings. Which led me to want to launch a newsletter.

There I was in bed at 4am mapping out my next 10 years, working backwards, all the way down to each little detail of the design of this newsletter you're reading right now.

While most future issues will be more startup-focused, I thought it was only right to kick this off with the origin story of how we got here.

This is for everyone pursuing something that they’re passionate about, whatever it is. Welcome to the 4am club.

Credit: @lucasgabriel.design

It’s missing a second monitor, but straight up dream desk energy. Kill me and wake me up when I can work here.

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