Write it down

Sometimes the answer is right in front of you.

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I’m currently writing this from Seville, Spain while on my first real vacation in what feels like years. The last vacation I can think of was Oktoberfest 2022, when beehiiv was a mere 10 employees and I’d come back from the beer tents and manually approve new users for an hour each night.

Translation: not much of a relaxing vacation.

Pretending to be a Real Betis fan in Sevilla

I find totally detaching from work to be incredibly challenging. It’s not due to a lack of trust — we have built a remarkable team and I’m no longer a blocker on most initiatives. But I’m genuinely having so much fun building this thing, and seeing our vision come to life is intoxicating.

That, and the thought of not opening my emails for 10 days is actually psychotic. I can’t tell if I admire or loathe people who can come back from PTO totally unfazed with 4,000 unread emails. Not for me.

But the truth is I needed a vacation, bad.

In just the past 4 weeks we…

  • Launched our 2 largest features of the quarter

  • Rolled out new plans and pricing

  • Raised a $33M Series B

  • Launched a successful community round

  • Onboarded 8 new hires

  • And dropped a few more features just for good measure

And to think of it, the past 2.5 years haven’t been all that different.

I’ve been operating at heightened levels of stress and anxiety for years. And while it might not the healthiest lifestyle, it’s also allowed me to push harder and further than I thought possible.

Over the years I’ve discovered a few different methods to cope and use the stress to my advantage. This one I owe to my friend Ben Teller 🫡.

Back in 2022 I spent all of July living in Mexico City (reason #583 remote work is superior). Ben and I shared an apartment for most of the month while working remotely.

It was just a few months after we tragically lost our CTO, Andrew Platkin. We were falling behind on core initiatives and falling short on promises to users. It was one of the most stressful months I can remember since launching beehiiv.

Ben would watch me throw myself into work day after day, fighting fire after fire. Even when we would go out on the weekends there was no amount of tacos and micheladas that could take my mind off work.

One day he looked at me and gave me the simplest bit of advice — just write it down.

“Write down the root cause of all your stressors and begin to tackle them one by one.”

Sounds so simple and unnecessary, but it worked. I don’t remember everything I wrote on that list, but there were two super impactful decisions that came from this exercise.

  1. Working way too much and spread way too thin. The team was mostly engineers at the time and I didn’t have anyone to help me with strategy and operations. Plus, just the amount of hours I was putting in wasn’t sustainable.

  1. Worried about our top users churning. These were the days where we were missing more features than we had. I’d wakeup each morning with emails from our top users complaining about features that we were weeks behind on delivering.

→ I asked all of our top users if they wanted to invest. I assumed that if they were shareholders and had a vested interest in our success, they’d be a bit more patient and less likely to churn.

I was way too burnt out to even acknowledge the reasons for my stress, I had just accepted them as the norm. All it took was writing them down to be able to tackle each of them like their own distinct solvable problem.

Fast forward to today and Preeya is now our COO and one of the best hires I’ve ever made. And all of our top users who invested have continued to grow successfully on the platform and have been remarkably supportive partners for us.

Sometimes the answers are right in front of you.

And so is this carafe of sangria ✌️.

If you enjoyed this post or know someone who may find it useful, please share it with them and encourage them to subscribe: mail.bigdeskenergy.com/p/write-down

Credit: Fernando De Caralt

Shoutout to Fernando for the reader submission. Probably the biggest background flex of all time, but I’d personally prefer to face the water 🤷‍♂️.

Reply with your own AI generated office and I’ll feature it in an upcoming issue.

Turn on, tune in, drop out. Click on any of the tracks below to get in a groove — each selected from the full Big Desk Energy playlist.

Some of my favorite content I found on the internet this week…

  • How New York’s social life went members only (GQ)

  • Viral thread of unserious movie moments (Twitter)

  • Roaring Kitty is back… and so is GameStop (Business Insider)

  • Last week I wrote a tribute to our first CTO and cofounder, Andrew Platkin (Big Desk Energy)

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Until next Tuesday 🕺🏽