This page is a dedicated resource for questions I’ve received and answered over the years.
Have a question for me? If it’s not already here, email me at kyle(at)sloww(dot)co.
- Solopreneurship Questions
- Lifelong Learning & Deeper Development Questions (Sloww Stage Support)
- Intentional Living Questions (Sloww Stage 1)
- Life Purpose Questions (Sloww Stage 2)
- Mental Mastery Questions (Sloww Stage 3)
- Spiritual Seeing Questions (Sloww Stage 4)
Ask Me Anything (AMA)
Questions that don’t fall into one of the Sloww stages below.
Q: Do you have any recommendations for how to make a little income when you first go out on your own? / What advice would you give to a recent solopreneur whose venture isn’t yet sustainable?
- A: First and foremost, you can still work another job to make money when you first get started (I used to call this “fund the fun”). When it comes to solopreneurship, I recommend finding meaning before money. In other words, focus on personal development before business development. You’ll be creating things for an audience of one (yourself) long before you grow a larger audience, so you must truly love what you do to stick with it for the long haul. The Ikigai 2.0 eBook outlines the process I personally used to do it and still recommend (monetization as an optional byproduct of meaning). I continued to work full-time for 2.5 years between my existential crisis (late 2015) and quitting my career to pursue solopreneurship (mid-2018), so I was able to build up an “entrepreneurial runway” to fund myself for a bit. Naval Ravikant (entrepreneur and angel investor) says it can take 7-10 years before an entrepreneur makes money (if at all). Some get luckier, and make money in 5 years. It will be 5 years for me this year, and I’m still not making a sustainable living yet. However, I didn’t worry about monetization at all for the first couple years, and I think online courses will be my primary monetization solution moving forward.
Q: Can you create a course with practices that help in handling and navigating uncertainty?
- A: The current plan for courses is to release one for each Sloww stage. So, the course launch plan is: 1) lifelong learning course, 2) intentional living course, 3) life purpose course, 4) mental mastery course, 5) timeless wisdom course, and then possibly a 6) solopreneurship course. Handling and navigating uncertainty may be covered in courses #2-5. For course launching timing, please see what I’m working on now.
Q: What have you found most useful to grow your newsletter?
- A: Simply consistency. I’m on Sloww Sunday newsletter #133 at the moment. The newsletter has organically grown to 10,000+ active subscribers (I delete cold subscribers after 3 months of inactivity). It’s just been organic growth over time, word of mouth, people forwarding it to friends/family, etc. I have a few areas on the site to sign up for the newsletter. I’ve never done any paid marketing to promote the newsletter anywhere, but I have been featured in other newsletters which usually gives a nice subscriber bump. I use ConvertKit and recommend it (affiliate link).
Q: Is social media a significant traffic source for you?
- A: Nope! This is one thing many people are surprised to hear. Less than 5% of Sloww’s total site traffic comes from all social media channels combined (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn). The vast majority is organic search (75%). The rest is email, referral traffic, direct traffic, etc.
Lifelong Learning & Deeper Development Questions (Sloww Stage Support)
These questions support all of the following stages.
Q: You’re one of the best out there at synthesising knowledge/wisdom. How do you go about applying that knowledge/wisdom in your life? And what have you found to be the highest-value practices?
- A: Everything I do is because of my existential crisis and realizing that “you can get all A’s and still flunk life” (Walker Percy). I had the job title, salary, house, car…but I was failing life itself with no purpose. So, my primary purpose of learning is for life. I’m not learning hard skills, sports, languages, etc. I’m quite literally learning how and why to live. To me, the learning and the living are one and the same—life is the testing ground and the actual living simultaneously. At this point, I truly feel that lifelong learning (or “horizontal development”) can be a catalyst for psychological development (or “vertical development”). Another term I recently learned for what I’m doing is transformative learning.
Q: Would you ever release your book summaries in an audio format (app or podcast or something like that)?
- A: I actually just purchased a nice microphone (Feb 2023) that I plan to initially use to: 1) record course videos and 2) have better audio as a podcast guest (I have no plans to release my own podcast). If I record other audio content, it would probably start with Premium content (no plans at the moment).
Intentional Living Questions (Sloww Stage 1)
For a comprehensive overview of this stage: Sloww Stage 1: How do I design a lighter life?
Life Purpose Questions (Sloww Stage 2)
For a comprehensive overview of this stage: Sloww Stage 2: How do I find a higher purpose?
Q: Was your existential crisis a once and done thing once you found your ikigai, or do some of those questions and doubts creep back up at times? If so, what are your strategies for moving through that “head trash”? (To use Charlie Gilkey’s term for doubt/rumination that has the potential to sabotage forward momentum on goals/projects.)
- A: My existential crisis was in late 2015, and the acute portion of the crisis lasted for about 6 weeks. Then, I spent the vast majority of my free time in 2016 (literally the entire year) on the search for purpose. It wasn’t until late 2016 (a year post-crisis) when some things started to click. I continued to work full-time in my marketing/advertising career until mid-2018 before quitting to pursue Sloww. My existential crisis was the spark that continues to fuel me to this day. I haven’t had another one, but I think that’s primarily because questioning, searching, and learning are now the norm in my life and I spend my days doing what I feel is the highest expression of my purpose.
Q: How do you stay motivated as a “one-human” endeavor? Is it purely your love of the craft (i.e. pursuing mastery at synthesis) or other factors as well? Do you feel energized/motivated 100% of the time? What do you do to stay inspired, or get re-inspired if motivation wanes?
- A: Inspiration and motivation have never been a problem for me or ever waned. I’ve always been intrinsically motivated in life (I’m lucky in the sense that extrinsic motivation like money has never been a primary motivator for me). I’m also lucky in countless other ways that I now am very much aware of since 🔒dissecting my own lottery of birth. Part of this could also be personality type, natural strengths, etc. My existential crisis was the spark that continues to fuel me to this day. If you find the thing you can’t not do (see the Ikigai 2.0 eBook), I’m not sure much additional inspiration/motivation is needed. That being said, of course there are days where things seem to flow more than others or I have more/less energy. But, I can’t imagine doing anything else and wish there was more time in the day and days in the week. I should clarify though that the craft/mastery of synthesis isn’t my primary motivator—instead, my primary motivator is learning to live.
Q: I’m overdue for a career change. My job is secure/comfortable but underwhelming to my mind and soul. I can afford to make a change (i.e. no debt, no kids, intentional lifestyle) but the excitement and ideas I once had for what else I might enjoy doing have dried up. I’m finding it difficult to reimagine/reinvent myself from such a self-contained, disengaged state. Although I’m (mostly) an introvert, I’m realizing its hard to stay inspired/motivated without and exchange of energy/ideas with other people– i.e. no real models/mentors in my vicinity to look up to, work friends to bounce ideas off, or teammates to help keep projects moving forward when my own motivation dips. Hence I’m wondering if/how you’ve navigated any similar issues as a solopreneur since you are also basically going it alone.)
- A: My existential crisis was in late 2015. I spent all of 2016 and part of 2017 deep-diving into self-discovery and life purpose. I didn’t quit my career until 2018 (2.5 years post-crisis). In those 2.5 years, I got promoted at work and bought a McMansion in the suburbs, but those were the most miserable years of my life. Why were my most miserable years after my existential crisis and not the crisis itself? Because the cognitive dissonance of everything I had learned in those couple years vs how I was still living had reached a boiling point. Something had to give, and the obvious solution was ending my purposeless career in marketing/advertising. However, before it was clear and obvious, I had my hesitations and actually applied for similar jobs. Then I realized it would just be the same thing at a different company and not a long-term solution. With your situation of no debt, no kids, and intentional lifestyle, you are in the best possible position to make a big change. People often reach out to me who have debt, kids, high annual expenses, want to quit work but not sacrifice their lifestyle, etc. Have you read the Ikigai 2.0 eBook and completed the workbook? It’s the approach I personally used to “find my thing,” and what I still recommend to everyone years later. When it comes to finding your thing, a key part is finding what you can’t not do (intentional double negative). Passion has become a dirty word in recent years, but I couldn’t disagree more. Passion is a key ingredient in purpose (the spark/fuel). I’m also introverted, but in terms of dialogue/discourse with others, I use Twitter as my primary source for that.
Mental Mastery Questions (Sloww Stage 3)
For a comprehensive overview of this stage: Sloww Stage 3: How do I build a better mind?
Q: Why don’t you think independent/free thinking exists?
- A: For a public version overview: Twitter thread. If you’re a Premium member: 🔒Stream of Consciousness: Is Free Thinking Even Possible?
Spiritual Seeing Questions (Sloww Stage 4)
For a comprehensive overview of this stage: Sloww Stage 4: How do I see beyond mind?
Q: What is faith, and how should it be applied?
- A: At the moment, I guess I’d describe “faith” as simply trusting that life knows what it’s doing. Conceptually, I find myself constantly asking, “Why?” When I inevitably reach the end of answers, it’s my reminder. Experientially, another approach beyond the mind is simply to surrender to what is. Life is always just happening. If the meaning of life is just to be alive, and if everyone’s experience is valid (no experience can be bad/wrong), and if everything in the universe is coherent (even incoherence), and if everything is just happening/unfolding…what could there possibly be to worry about? An excerpt that I love and think about often is: “If we pay attention, we will realize that every moment around us there is a world that we do not create—that’s been there for 13.8 billion years—and there are trillions of cells in your body that are doing what they’re supposed to do, all of nature, everything. And, you wake up and you realize, ‘I’m not doing any of this. I didn’t make my body, I didn’t make my mind think, I don’t make my heart beat, I don’t make my breath breathe—yet I have this notion that I have to make things happen. Yet, all throughout the universe things are happening everywhere, and I’m not doing them. So, why exactly am I the one that’s in charge of what’s unfolding in front of me?’ And, what you realize at some point, is that you’re not … That the moment in front of you that’s unfolding is no different than all the zillions of other moments that aren’t in front of you that are unfolding in accordance to the laws of nature, the laws of creation. So, you start to practice saying, ‘I don’t want to check inside of me first to see what I want and what I don’t want. I want to pay attention to what the universe is creating in front of me—just like it’s creating everywhere I’m not—and let me see how I can participate in that, be part of that, instead of interfering with it with my desires and my fears.’ That’s living from a place of surrender.” — Michael Singer