Personal infrastructure is just what it sounds like: “…the fundamental tools, services and systems serving an individual… necessary for that individual’s function (Wikipedia).
There are easy and hard infrastructure things. The wiki examples range from owning a cell phone as enabling you to make calls to spending years cultivating a skill to apply it. Back to that in a moment.
A few months ago I was talking to a super legit data scientist – book author, hundreds of articles, research, some keynotes, a decent Twitter following, lots of credibility, and as a result, lots of online business potential. We’ll call them Jo.
Jo’s a natural: no trouble communicating, strong opinions, good mix of technical know-how and thought leadership, and one of the neatest approaches to blogging – basically, whenever she feels like she has to say something, she writes a post so she can stop thinking about it.
Ten years of posts created under that kind of pressure = content quality.
We screen shared, I pulled up a couple of tools, and determined she could be building an email list at a pace of 10 subscribers a day just from existing traffic, that, once monetized would be worth anywhere from $2.00 to $150 per email a year.
The response? “It’s good to know I have options.”
I get some variation of this response a lot, but I’m still always aghast.
It’s like cultivating communication skills over a lifetime and not getting around to buying a phone.
I’m not an exception here.
I’m doing this right now – I’m at almost 200 posts. I haven’t organized a one of them. My homepage, signup offer, initial email sequence, content – poorly handled in favor of as-low-as-possible friction approach to developing thinking through posting.
I’m reminded of the mechanic with the broken down car trope.
For established experts though, it feels different to me.
You have no problem doing what, to me, looks like the ongoing hard thing. Meanwhile the comparatively simple one-off parts of building out personal infrastructure go on the back burner. The back burner is where those tasks live, effectively never being done.
It’s as if the more successful you become, somehow, the less personal infrastructure (PI) you need to seize ballooning opportunity.
As if we’re blinded by opportunity privilege.
Right now, Jo thinks she has options – and she does – but opportunity is time-bound and options depreciate. The one time setup cost of a decent email subscription service pales in comparison to the lost future value of having that PI working for you daily.
How much do you lose? I wrote a whole long hypothetical modeling thing about it, but I won’t subject you to that.
I’m a lot more interested in the why. This struck me from a recent Kevin Kelly post:
Separate the processes of creation from improving. You can’t write and edit, or sculpt and polish, or make and analyze at the same time. If you do, the editor stops the creator. While you invent, don’t select. While you sketch, don’t inspect. While you write the first draft, don’t reflect. At the start, the creator mind must be unleashed from judgement.From Kevin Kelly’s 68 life lessons for his 68th birthday.
I liked this a lot. For you, though, you have no problem blocking time for writing, inventing, making.
It’s just the other part – revising, editing, polishing – those are a completely different thing altogether. The fear is these detract or distract from the inventing.
The real question, then, is how do you do the personal infrastructure things in a way that makes it even easier for you to do the creating things?
Need help with the digital parts of improving your personal infrastructure?
I’m designing a content audit with ongoing recommendations process just for this purpose. If interested, hit reply and let’s talk.