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David Perell

How to Build a Sane, Responsible Internet

In May of 2021, we were privileged to have as a guest David Perell, who founded online writing course Write of Passage. The cohort-based program teaches people to write online, share their ideas, and build an internet following.

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In May of 2021, we were privileged to have as a guest David Perell, who founded online writing course Write of Passage. The cohort-based program teaches people to write online, share their ideas, and build an internet following. I am inspired by David's mission to help others improve their lives and follow their passions using the internet, which can so often be a polarizing medium. During his episode, David shared with us that his course was made possible by a crazy good turn from another former guest of our podcast, economist and prolific writer Tyler Cowen. David was the recipient of an Emergent Ventures grant from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, a program run by Tyler.

Ripples of Generosity

When David talked about the positive impact the grant had on him, we decided to pay it forward by offering scholarships to the Write of Passage course. We asked CGT listeners and David's fans to apply, and we received more than a hundred excellent applications from around the world.

Three people received scholarships:

  • Kelli Jackson of Canberra, Australia, who wanted to share her quest of unicycling in East Asia,
  • Tommy Lee, a filmmaker from Toronto, who sought to leverage the internet as a serendipity vehicle, and
  • Mitchell Wilson of Washington state, who longed to explore his curiosities and share his unique knowledge.

In this episode, I talk with all three winners about how the program impacted them and what they learned from it. I also welcomed back David Perell to hear more on how he's working to make the internet a saner, more responsible and enriching place.

One Good Turn Leads to Another

I've often said that generosity is a virtuous circle - being a witness to good deeds can inspire others to do positive things as well and create far-reaching benefits. One of those benefits was realized when David told us that Tommy Lee, who was accepted as one of the over-100 scholarship applicants, was such a stand-out student that he became an alumni mentor - and has now joined the Write of Passage team. We offer our sincere congratulations to Tommy, and we can't wait to see what great things come from this opportunity.

FRANK BLAKE: I read faithfully David’s newsletters. And he recently put out his 200th, which is a pretty amazing accomplishment just in itself, and I will say, given the quality of the newsletters and how thoughtful they are. And the title of one of the pieces was “The Paradox of Abundance.” And he made some just terrific points about how we have an abundance of writing on the internet, yet it is so polarizing – and David, in your words, so emotionally jarring – that this is the paradox of abundance. And so I’d love to start, David, with you making a comment on that. Because in my view, your crazy good turn is trying to make the internet a saner, more responsible and enriching place. So, I’ll turn it over to you.

DAVID PERELL: Wow, an honor. Frank, just thank you for giving these scholarships. As you mentioned, that grant from Emergent Ventures just radically transformed my life. And I hope that it does the same for the people who you’re able to help. I think that when you’re getting started, it’s just, you lack self-belief, and you lack conviction that you’re somebody worth listening to. And when somebody of your stature hands out a sum of money, it’s not just about the money, it’s just about that belief. We went through so many scholarship applications, and ended up with these three winners. So, I just want to thank you for that.

As far as the paradox of abundance, I was speaking to a woman yesterday on a talk that I was giving and she asked me, “Hey, I’d like your advice.” And I said, “Okay, how can I help?” And she said, “Well, I’m the director of content at a company. And it’s my job to produce eight articles a week.”

FRANK BLAKE: Eight articles, wow.

DAVID PERELL: “Eight articles a week, and I’d like your help doing that.” And I think that that’s the frame that I’d like to set for this idea around the paradox of abundance. I think that way too much of the internet is trying to produce this content factory.

And what ends up happening in these markets of abundance is, and you see it with food, you see it where the number of Americans who are overweight and obese is the highest it’s ever been. But also, the number of Americans who just have these incredible bodies, who are able to take advantage of science and healthcare, and these state-of-the-art gyms, is higher.

And so what you end up having is when you have markets of abundance, and you see it with food, you go to the supermarket, there is so much food there. And there’s an element of personal responsibility to stay around the edges, to have the vegetables, and the fish and the healthy stuff, and to not go to the middle and get stuck with the Twinkies and the Kit-Kats.

I think it’s the same thing with the internet, where we have these gifts of abundance, and the people who are able to eat well are able to live incredibly healthy lives. And I think at the tails, we’re going to see people who are living longer and longer, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if maybe even the median person lives shorter. And so, I think that that is the paradox of abundance, that for the people who are able to have strong will, and to be discerning in what they consume, they have an enormous advantage. And I think it applies to information as much as it applies to food.

FRANK BLAKE: And so how does that, if at all, how does it then reflect through to Write of Passage and your online writing course?

DAVID PERELL: Yeah. I think that for Write of Passage, if you ask a chef and you say, “Hey, what can I do to cook better?” You go to a sushi restaurant, and so you’re talking to the head chef. And they’ll talk about sourcing, they’ll talk about how they need to find high quality fish that’s fresh, that is well fed, and that is going to make it to the table in a short amount of time, so that the fish just before it even enters the kitchen, is of high quality.

And that’s something that we talk a lot about in Write of Passage, that the quality of your output begins with the quality of your inputs. And once people start taking writing seriously, start taking their outputs seriously, they also begin taking their inputs more seriously. And that is the first step towards becoming a better writer, and becoming a better thinker. And honestly, just becoming a better human being.

FRANK BLAKE: And maybe just before we get into the three scholarship winners and talk a little with them, describe again the Write of Passage and how it works.

DAVID PERELL: It’s a five-week cohort-based experience, and we bring in anywhere between 250 and 400 people from around the world. I think the last cohort we had people from say, 33, 34 countries. And people write five articles in five weeks. We have a bunch of mentors, we have community stewards. And we have a team of roughly 25 people who help our students improve their writing, find people who they can connect with, on a deep intellectual and engaging level. And then it’s my job as the instructor to set the energy, set the tone, set the seriousness for the mission, and to also provide the canonical frameworks that everybody can use. And as a team, we orbit around those frameworks, that have every person work on their own writing individually, but hopefully leave with a small group of friends who they can have deep conversations with, and who they can write with week after week.

FRANK BLAKE: That’s fantastic. And just the international element of that is reflected on the folks here on the show. And maybe we’ll use that as a good segue for introductions, and we’ll start with Kelli Jackson, who I know is in Australia. So Kelli, how are you? And please, a little bit of a short summary of yourself.

KELLI JACKSON: Yeah, thank you. I just want to thank you, and David for the opportunity as well, to participate. It was really amazing. But my personal story is, I was an accountant for 20 years, and I had a bit of a life shock. I almost didn’t make it through life one year, and decided that I was going to ride a unicycle around the world. Except I couldn’t actually ride a unicycle, so I went and learned, and rode the length of two countries, became the first person in the world to unicycle in North Korea. And then took up a small community group that’s grown-

FRANK BLAKE: I’m sorry, Kelli. I just have to interrupt that summary to say, I think it occurs to a universe of no one other than yourself, that in some moment of epiphany in life, “I’m going to unicycle the length of a country.” Without knowing how to unicycle. Sorry to send us off on a tangent, but how did that come into your head?

KELLI JACKSON: It was an idea that I’d had for a long time, because I like bike riding, but everybody wants to ride a two wheel bike around the world. And I thought, how can I combine bike riding and travel, and just make it a little bit harder?

FRANK BLAKE: Which were the countries that you unicycled?

KELLI JACKSON: Taiwan and South Korea.


KELLI JACKSON: And I’m trying to do one country every year, but obviously COVID interrupted that. And on the way to becoming my adventurous self, I started looking after an outdoor group, a volunteer outdoor group. And so, I’ve been leading that for about four years as well.

FRANK BLAKE: And final question now, we’ll turn to Mitchell next. What prompted you to apply for the scholarship?

KELLI JACKSON: Well, I had this interesting story to tell, about unicycling and how I came to do it, and what I learned along the way, but I really didn’t know how to get it out. And it was Write of Passage that really started bringing some of that story out, and gave me a way forward about how to write about some of that.

FRANK BLAKE: Wow. All right, phenomenal. All right, Mitchell?

MITCHELL WILSON: Yeah. So, I’m here in Tennessee-

FRANK BLAKE: Tough to top unicycling in Korea.

MITCHELL WILSON: Yeah, I know. I definitely have tried unicycling, and it didn’t go too well. I got a couple scars to show. Yeah, so my story, I studied neuroscience in school, all about flow states. And then I went on coming from a small town at Tennessee, went on a grand adventure to Washington state, somewhere I had never have been, didn’t know anyone. Got into a lot of different frontier type industries like skydiving, psychedelic medicine and the cannabis industry. I like the idea of being a pioneer of sorts, and there’s not too many places you can do that nowadays. So, that’s kind of the goal.

Now I’m back here in Tennessee, after lots of grand adventures out West. And more focused on learning how to take all these different experiences, and turn them into different creative pieces, and more and more into the creator economy, as we all are.

So, I was following David’s content, came across it somehow. The Ultimate Guide that you wrote, David, just the way you phrase it. You can hear all these things all the time, but if someone says it in a certain way, it just clicks, and it just clicked with me. And I just had to learn more. Found your podcast, Frank, and then heard it mentioned on there about the scholarship. And I was like, you know what? I got to just fill my name in. Worst case, I don’t get it. I already don’t have it, so let’s just go for it.

FRANK BLAKE: Very good. Tommy?

TOMMY LEE: Hey Frank. Yeah. I just want to start off by saying thank you so much for having us on this, and for the scholarship as well. I’m a big fan of your show, and it’s an honor and a treat to be here, so it means a lot. But yeah, my story, I’m a filmmaker in Canada. I started off in doing stuff with music videos, and then as I was doing that, as someone who’s also a big podcast listener, it stood out to me that right now we’re kind of in this space where podcasts are this billion-dollar industry. There’s these amazing shows, like Crazy Good Turns, and all of our social platforms that we’re using are visual-based, rather than audio-based. And so, the audio’s kind of invisible to get on those.

And so, I had set out as an experiment, to make two podcast trailers. And I did that and I put those out there, and one of them was for an author I look up to called Derek Sivers. And he shared that, and that went out to his newsletter following. And I woke up one morning to emails from all around the world, of all these different people. And that was my first taste of what David talks about, as a serendipity vehicle. This idea of you make something, and you put it out there. And then rather than word of mouth, talking to individual people, that the opportunities come back towards you.

And so after that, I was just doing a series of different client projects that took me through different entrepreneurs and authors. And I made a show about sustainability in mining. And through all of those, I was so tunnel-vision focused on the project each time, that I stopped sort of putting my own stuff out at the same time, because those were always on a client’s page. And so, what really excited me about the scholarship was an opportunity to… I had taken a four year span where I just had no social media whatsoever. And I guess was just turned off to the idea of the internet as a whole, as a place of, oh, there’s not that much happening out there that isn’t just toxic arguments and stuff. And once I started to engage with David’s newsletter, and the stuff he was writing, the stuff he was talking about on his North Star podcast, I just really felt like I was hearing the signal that I wanted to hear, of optimism and what this should be like. And I leaned into that.

FRANK BLAKE: That’s terrific. So, I don’t want to put each of you on the spot, but I will, and then I want to turn to David. But putting you each on the spot, if you said, “Here’s a piece of advice, or something I think I learned in the process of the Write of Passage that’s going to stick with me,” what would that be? And I’ll make it freeform, whoever wants to jump in and answer first.

MITCHELL WILSON: I’ll go first. I think probably the thing that stuck with me the most is, David, you had the printer versus pixel method, I think is what it’s called. So often we try to make it perfect from the get-go, especially when we’re learning something brand new. And just knowing that it’s okay to do it really, really terribly at first, and then you can make it better. That was so comforting to know that I’m allowed to be terrible, as weird as that sounds.

KELLI JACKSON: Yeah. I really liked the concept of personal monopoly. Never heard of anything like that before, and I’ve had that unique experience. So, learning about just writing about your experiences, and thoughts, and ideas, and how you can develop that over time, is a really fascinating concept.

FRANK BLAKE: So, what is personal monopoly? Explain that, or maybe David will explain that a little bit. What is it?

KELLI JACKSON: So, once you start writing about your own experiences, and thoughts and beliefs, over time you come to monopolize, I guess, a particular topic or a couple of topics that are really quite unique. So, I guess you just continue on with your writing, and over time, you’ll find what that personal monopoly is, even if you haven’t unicycled in North Korea. You’ll have a set of unique experiences that will eventually come out of that creative work that you do.

DAVID PERELL: Yeah. The thing I would add to that is that on the internet, because we all have search technology, differentiation is free marketing. And so, if you can be somebody with a unique perspective and a unique way of thinking about things, and somebody who is one of a kind in some way. And it’s hard to find that thing, and that’s why we write. We write as cartographers, to basically make sense of the global map, and to orient our compass towards something unique. But once you have that, people can search you, and people can find you on social media platforms such as Twitter, or TikTok or LinkedIn, whatever it is. There’s an infinite number of personal monopolies. And what ends up happening, is you become the go-to person.

But what’s happened with the internet is it’s come with a gift, and it’s come with a curse. And the gift of the internet is a global customer base, if you’re running a business, or a global audience. You can now rather than reaching the people in your hometown, say your local barber shop, you can now reach the entire world as we do with Write of Passage. But the curse of the internet is competition. And what happened to blue collar jobs in the last 30 years in America, and a lot of the West where a lot of manufacturing jobs went to China, Vietnam, Taiwan, the same thing is going to happen to white collar jobs now, with countries like the Philippines and India.

And so, what’s happening is a lot of those people in these countries outside of the West are just phenomenally talented, and there’s a plane of competition that’s much bigger. And so, if you’re trying to stand out in the market, you need to be more differentiated. And often, being different is easier than being the best. And so, when we talk about building a personal monopoly, that’s what we’re driving at. How do we stand out to be one of a kind, so that we can take advantage of the gift while not being hurt by the curse?

FRANK BLAKE: Wow, fantastic. All right. Tommy, is there something that you’ll be thinking about five years from now? TOMMY LEE: Yeah. One thing that stood out to me a lot was the idea of writing from conversation. And I think, especially coming in with this idea of a personal monopoly, you’re like, “Oh, so I just have to be so myself, in my own silo, in my own lane.” And it’s like, actually, it’s the opposite of that. What you want is to be in discussion with all these fascinating, curious people. And through that discussion, you’re going to be able to refine the ideas that are even more uniquely you. Once we were in Write of Passage and you’re hopping into a breakout room with someone who could be from anywhere in the world, and from any background. They might be a psychedelics background, or they might be a unicycler.

You start to really get all these cool converging viewpoints, of this person’s in tech, and this person’s, I don’t know, a professional knitter or something. And it’s like, whoa, what do we align on, and where do we defer? And I guess, just starting to view writing as less of a solitary thing, of going into your dark room and banging away on the keyboard to, oh, I should just be in really great conversations, and making good notes about what we talk about that stands out. That was a really, just a much more fun and exciting version of writing.

FRANK BLAKE: So, another question to put the three of you on the spot: What was the hardest part? Because I think of writing honestly, and my sister is a novelist and I think it’s really hard work, really hard work. Being in business is simple compared to having a blank sheet of paper in front of you. So I’m just curious, what was the hardest part of going through the course? Kelli, again, I’ll start with you.

KELLI JACKSON: Well, one of the hard things for me was the 3 AM CrossFit sessions.

FRANK BLAKE: What was that?

KELLI JACKSON: We had sessions called CrossFit, CrossFit for writing, which were kind of super gym experiences for writers. But because of the timing difference, we started at 3:00 AM here in Australia, but I made them, and they were awesome. But probably I think one of the other difficulties was learning to get the feedback from people, and learning how to take the feedback and improve your writing. Because you’re not used to getting feedback where people say, “Oh no, that doesn’t make sense,” or, “I don’t really like that.” So yeah, it’s about learning to accept that feedback and use it to make you write better.

FRANK BLAKE: Mitchell? What was the hardest part for you?

MITCHELL WILSON: I think that it wasn’t even actually the course itself, because there’s the structure, and you just kind of carve out this time for this course, for those weeks. What was the hardest part is right after the course ended, keeping it going, and maintaining a habit of any sort. And it took me a couple weeks to get it dialed in, but now I have luckily someone I met in the course, we’re probably going to be lifelong friends. Now we meet five days a week, every morning at 6:00 AM. So it took a minute to figure that out, but that was probably the hardest part was like, all this great information, life-changing, and then it could totally fall off if you let it. But luckily, you meet all these people and then accountability kicks in, consistency kicks in.

FRANK BLAKE: I suspect, and David, you can comment on this, but I suspect that that’s a lot of what’s gained through the course, is what you get from your peers.

DAVID PERELL: Yeah, I think so. That’s one of the questions that I’m just obsessed with, is how can we take Write of Passage and get extremely high-quality, serious, intense, and ambitious people? And I want people to come into Write of Passage and say, “I’ve never seen a group of people who are like this.” And one of the things that concerns me about the modern world is I think that often, standards have gone down. And I think especially standards in online programs where people are paying to participate. And I think that there’s many different ways to have standards, there’s standards from a teacher and an instructor, where you can kick people out and where you yell at people. And I’m not interested in doing that.

What I’m interested in, is the kind of feeling that you get when you’re around great athletes or something. And they’re on the basketball court or they’re at the golf course, and there is a certain competitiveness and a certain cooperation. And everyone’s there, they’re taking it seriously, they’re enjoying themselves and they’re on a mission. And how to build that on the internet in a way where people don’t engage physically, is tricky. But what we have as a benefit is the ability to go, like I was saying earlier, to take the gift of the internet, which is the global recruitment pool, and attract those people. And if we can do that, I think we have something really special on our hands.

FRANK BLAKE: That’s excellent. Excellent. Tommy, what was the toughest part for you?

TOMMY LEE: You know, they do such an amazing job of creating all these different version… David has a really good analogy for it, the Write of Passage is like Coachella for writing. And I think that’s really true, in that there’s this main stage event of what the headliner is, but then at any given time there’s also, there’s mentor sessions where you can go into those, and you get these specific focuses of, maybe one person is very focused on newsletters versus social media, like how to use Twitter to grow your following. And so it’s just, there’s such an abundance of things that I would have loved to go to every single session. And it was, I guess, just figuring out, okay, for where I’m at right now in my journey with this, where can I put myself in and be able to give the most to this group, as well as to learn the most from this? And there was just a lot of really exciting stuff happening all at once.

FRANK BLAKE: Well, I assume David, that one of the things you do in running this is, that you intensely get feedback, that that’s part of the positive nature of an online course like this, is that you can get feedback in the way you can’t in other venues. Is that accurate or not?

DAVID PERELL: Yep. So that’s actually something that we didn’t do well for the first six or seven cohorts. The last cohort, every single piece of writing received a piece of feedback, and we want to continue to push the envelope on that. And so what we’re working on is having a, basically what we call a group of community stewards, who are trained editors. And I think that when I talk about editing, we often think of the teacher with the red pen. And that that person is saying, “There’s periods, and there’s commas, and there’s semi-colons-“

FRANK BLAKE: Don’t split that infinitive, yeah.

DAVID PERELL: Right. But what I’m talking about, and I think that what we’re going for in Write of Passage is something deeper. And these are these thought partners, who are working with you to actually get their hands dirty inside the wet clay of ideas, and to shape them into something beautiful with you.

FRANK BLAKE: Oh, that’s terrific. So, do you have a question for your three scholarship folks?

DAVID PERELL: What’s been a thing that you’ve been chewing on? Like that one idea, like a thread that you keep pulling on since you’ve left Write of Passage, that some combination of it started with an epiphany, but is now an open question for you?

MITCHELL WILSON: Similar to the writing from conversation, just pulling from your life. You don’t necessarily have to go out into the internet and go get everything, you already have a lot of things to talk about and to say, from your own experience. And so, just thinking about applying my perspective at scale, or just putting it out on the internet, which is the scale part, is a really interesting idea. And I actually got invited, this kind of relates, got invited to go volunteer at a natural burial site here in Tennessee. And my first thought was, this is just such juicy experience to turn into words, I got to put this on the internet. And so, that whole writing from conversation thing has changed everything. I’m like looking at all my life through a different lens of like, how do I write this so that not only is it in my memory and clear, my thinking around it, but also put it out there in a valuable way too?

TOMMY LEE: So, a thing that was emphasized in Write of Passage was the idea of making the first move. If you see someone who’s curiosity seems like it overlaps somewhere, that you should proactively reach out, say, “Hey, it sounds like we got a lot in common. It would be great to hop on a call.” Or you maybe give them feedback on their essay, and then you use to go up this ladder of familiarity with a person, start to build a relationship, a friendship online. And I guess the next, if that’s the map that you use in Write of Passage, and then you’re going out beyond the frontier with that, it’s like this idea of how when you’re on Twitter… Like, I didn’t have any social media presence really, when Write of Passage ended, and then I have started it up.

And it’s just been cool to think of this idea of what’s it like to be a neighbor on the internet? How do you start to cultivate that sense of a friendship from zero, with someone that you don’t don’t know, in a way that feels natural and authentic, and that just grows? And it’s that thing of getting used to, this person posted something and you write a comment here, and then maybe after a few of those you send a DM. And just starting to build that sense of familiarity, with maybe someone who… For me, for instance, I’m at like, I don’t know, 200 something, Twitter followers. So, someone who’s got a thousand they’re a bit further ahead in terms of where they’re at with their audience. But if you’re going about it in a conscious way, in terms of seeing where someone who’s got a lot of similar curiosities to you, where you might be able to start to build that conversation, I guess that’s a thing I’m exploring right now.

FRANK BLAKE: Very cool. The neighbor on the internet’s great, that’s very cool. Kelli?

KELLI JACKSON: I think for me, it’s about that writing from abundance concept. Most people doing this course, I think David would agree, we’re all fairly curious kind of people. And we probably tended to have interesting curious conversations before we came to Write of Passage, but having done Write of Passage, and thinking about how we could bring some of that curiosity into our writing. I tend to focus more now, when I’m having interesting conversations around, I would probably explore things a little bit more than maybe I would have previously, and just get into deeper and deeper, I guess, discussions with people. And then come back, and capture them in the information capture system. And there’s, now I have too many things that I can write about. But that whole concept of just that writing from abundance, I think just leads you more into curiosity and interesting discussions in your life.

FRANK BLAKE: I want to thank the three of you for applying and then appearing on the show, going through the program, obviously. But as I said at the start, I think what intrigues me here, and what I think is so important about what David is doing, is that the internet is an interestingly amazing tool, and an interestingly destructive tool. And so, it’s great to pull out and hear from the folks who are trying to make it positive. And that neighbor on the internet, find neighbors, find people you can help, find people you can tell stories to that make a difference. It’s hugely, hugely impactful. And congratulations, David, on what you’re doing.

I’m going to give David a chance to make some final comments. But before getting to that, everybody that I ask on the show, I ask, who has done a crazy good turn for you? Who’s the person, anybody, just a crazy good turn? Someone who’s done something that you remember, and that you wouldn’t mind giving a shout out on the podcast.

KELLI JACKSON: Crazy good turn was just a friend who was around for a challenging conversation at 2:30 AM one morning. And yeah, she helped me make it through a really tough year. So, I want to give a shout out to her, Carolyn.

FRANK BLAKE: Yeah, all right. And did Carolyn get you on the unicycle, or was that after the unicycle?

KELLI JACKSON: Carolyn actually bought me my first unicycle, and it sat in the back of the car for 10 years.

FRANK BLAKE: There you go. All right, Mitchell or Tommy? Crazy good turn.

MITCHELL WILSON: That’s a hard question, I feel like I’ll leave so many people out. But when it first came to mind that I haven’t thought of in a long time, that is a crazy good turn, is my former boss when I lived in Washington state. I pitched him an idea of a whole new position, remote position, first remote position in the company. And luckily he said yes, and that enabled so many trickling effects, like getting my own house and all this stuff about work, being with the family, all these things that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. And so, I’m going to shout out him, his name’s Eric.

FRANK BLAKE: All right. Well done, Eric. Very cool. And Tommy?

TOMMY LEE: Yeah. So, there’s so many people. The person who comes to mind is my Uncle Mike. There was about, I guess it was like a year after I graduated from film school, I had been working on a bunch of different projects and I was experiencing a lot of, actually, the silo thing that I was talking about earlier of trying to write in my own bubble. And I got a call from my Uncle Mike on a satellite phone. He works in mining exploration, and he was like, “Hey Tommy, I’m up in Yukon, up in the mountains here,” the line’s super crackly. He’s like, “I’m wondering if you want to come out here to do some exploration with me.”

And basically, I ended up going to the Yukon for about a couple months, and literally hand trenching silver with him in the mountains. And just talking about, we were literally on the side of mountain faces, taking rocks, splitting them open and looking inside if there was silver, on this very rich deposit full of… The head geologist had discovered, through looking at the old land records of this area. I had been in a tech startup before that, and just very in my head with thinking about how to change the way we do visual communication and all this. It was just so different in terms of a labor thing. And just being out in the fresh air, and being in a different space. And that chunk of time is something that I look back on all the time.

FRANK BLAKE: That’s very cool, very cool. So I asked David the last time last year, and that prompted the answer of Tyler Cowen. I don’t know if you have another person that you want to give, you get to give a second shout out if you want to.

DAVID PERELL: I visited Ireland about two weeks ago, and I had a friend who I spent a lot of time with in New York. He’s an Irish guy, and he gave me a phenomenal tour of Ireland. And I said I wanted to do one thing, and I wanted to go just outside of Galway on the west of Ireland and visit the hometown of my favorite poet, John O’Donoghue. And he sort of has these Celtic roots, Christian guy, and had this prose that I had just never seen in my life, just a quality. And so I went to his hometown, I went to the bookstore and I bought every single book that he’d ever written.

And I was reading it this morning, and it was just so moving, having been to his hometown to then read what I was seeing again. And I think so often in life, just having people who can just take you by the hand. And he spent four days showing me around Ireland for no reason, just around him feeling patriotic about his country, and wanting to share an experience with me. But just being in his hometown, and just whatever heart was in that place, I really hope it affects my writing and my work. Because he means a lot to me, and having a friend drive me clear across Ireland to go visit this hometown, was just a really beautiful experience.

FRANK BLAKE: That’s perfect. Thank you, David. Thank you for the writings that you put out there, so thought provoking, and for what you’re doing more generally with Write of Passage. And thank Kelli, and Mitchell and Tommy. It’s an interesting process for picking people out of a whole bunch of applications. And then this is the first time we’ve been face to face, and going, God, these people are great. This is awesome. So, I really appreciate your spending time here. I always also give every guest an opportunity to just tell listeners how to follow up with them if they are interested in following up. So I’ll start with David. How do people who have listened to this, and they go “Boy, I just need to know more about what’s going on with David Perell,” where do they go?

DAVID PERELL: Yeah. Just go to my website,, P-E-R-E-L-L, dot com. One R, two Ls. Or just search David Perell, 50 Days of Writing, and you’ll get a free 50 day email course on the mechanics of online writing. Focused on capturing ideas, putting ideas onto the page, and then getting your ideas distributed, so they’re actually read.

FRANK BLAKE: Fantastic. And Kelli, any place that if somebody wants to follow up, somebody who’s thinking about unicycling in Laos or something?

KELLI JACKSON: You can find me, I’ve got a website which is It’s number 1. Thank you.

FRANK BLAKE: All right, terrific. And Mitchell?

MITCHELL WILSON: Yeah. So my website,, Mitchell with two Ls.

FRANK BLAKE: Terrific. And Tommy?

TOMMY LEE: Yeah. So, my full name is Thomas Elliot Lee. So my website is So just Tom, the letter E, and then Lee, L-E-E, dot com.

FRANK BLAKE: All right. Fantastic. Well, thank you all again. And I know since Kelli’s in Australia, and Tommy’s in Canada, Mitchell’s here in the U.S., it proves out David’s point that this was a very international undertaking. And I appreciate all of you, because there’s some time zone stress that you all have to deal with as well. Thank you very much for participating.

DAVID PERELL: Thanks, Frank.

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