I hope you had a great week. It's hot as hell today in LA, which makes it a reasonable excuse to rest. I've been working on my new website and some new content that I can't wait to share.
Have you watched Midnight Gospel? It's one of the most interesting (and trippy) Netflix shows I watched recently, and I really enjoyed this video essay about it from Wisecrack.
This week we talk about how reality is a remix, 5 ways to define your target audience, the booming newsletter ecosystem and the 5-Whys-Rule to determine the root of any problem.
🎬 A 7 minute film about how everything, including our reality, is a remix: you can repeatedly choose more and more extreme rabbit holes and fall deeper and deeper into an illusion you chose. If you like it, check out the entire series and the TED Talk by the author, filmmaker Kirby Ferguson.
📜 A historian imagines how a history textbook would describe 2020 so far (10 minute read).
📺 An ordinary commercial from 1997 to watch until the end.
📓 How Austin Kleon starts a notebook.
🎵 An infinite-esqe music video by Joya Mooi about facing up imperfections.
🖊 7 lessons for agency leaders committed to anti-racism.
📷 In self-portraits, 27 black photographers reflect themselves and America.
I'm trying something different on Instagram. I'm creating posts about thought-provoking ideas that inspire me throughout the week. This one came from the awesome blog More To That.
"Silence is often interpreted as the space that lives between what is spoken.
The moments of rest that punctuate a noisy world.
The reality, however, is that silence is the default state of the universe.
We only interpret it as something temporary because we have adapted to a world where noise has become the new normal.
When you find yourself embracing a moment of silence, remember that you are not taking a break from the world.
You are making a brief return to what actually is."
5 minutes | Josh Spector
A great article about the biggest struggle for every founder or creator. You created something people will love .. How do you know who are they?
Here are 5 actionable ways to hone in on your audience:
- Your Ideal Audience Is A Previous Version Of You.
Consider what your life was like in the recent (or not-so-recent) past and the challenges you faced that inspired your recent creations. Then go find people who are in a similar place now and feel confident your work will resonate with them.
- Play Demographic-Psychographic Matchmaker.
Most time your notion of who they are is too broad or vague to be of use to you. Your audience demographic is only half the ideal audience equation — you also need to identify your audience psychographic. While audience demographics refer to who a person is (age, gender, occupation, etc.), psychographics are based on a person’s emotions — what they value, believe, desire, fear, etc.
- What Pisses You Off?
This was my personal favorite. Turns out the people pissed about the same things will also be your ideal audience. Make a list of what angers you and consider how your creations may be a reaction (or solution) to those frustrations. Then consider who else may share similar frustration — those people are likely your ideal audience (or at least a part of it).
- Play Target Audience “Survivor”.
You may be hesitant to focus on a specific narrow audience (more on that in a second), but this exercise allows you to slowly dip your toes in the water. Rather than choose a single ideal audience, choose up to 12 of them. Then create different content designed to appeal to at least one of those audiences. At the end of each month, vote one of your ideal audiences “off the island” and abandon it as you move forward. By the end of the year you’ll be down to one last audience standing.
- Your Ideal Audience Isn’t Your ONLY Audience.
More of a mindset than an exercise, but I fully agree with it. While idenifying your audience, you’re going to hesitate because you don’t want to exclude anyone who may enjoy what you create. This is why you should reframe how you think about what an ideal audience actually is. Your ideal audience aren’t the ONLY people who will consume or purchase what you make, they’re the ones MOST LIKELY to do so.
How Newsletters Are Helping "Passion Economy" Creators Get Their Breakthrough In Today’s Highly Competitive World
6 minutes | Marie Dollé
One of the reasons I started this newsletter is that I've been deeply inspired by others creators who exposed me to ideas I've never heard of before.
Marie has been mapping the booming ecosystem of newsletter creators, powered by new tools like Substack, Ghost an Revue. The map is a work in progress available at this collaborative Google Doc.
- Community-building is at the heart of this movement.
What sets apart these new generation newsletters is that they are now more frequently associated with groups, chats, or community platforms. Creating content for and with your audience is exciting and crucial, especially when you realize that the community builder is the creator too. Like Marie, I think that all brands that create content will have to integrate this community approach into their future communication strategies.
- Organization will be key.
There's always a risk of newsletter overflow and this has to be avoided. As someone who regularly subscribes to new ones every week, I agree that without proper organization you are likely to get lost in an ocean of jumbled information. We are starting to see some solutions like RSS feed integrations, newsletter apps, or new mail clients like Hey.
- Newsletter discovery is an untapped business opportunity.
Due to their private nature, it's not easy to find good newsletters. This problem relates to another one: when you're a creator starting from scratch, you don't have an audience. We are seeing the rise of new platforms who aim to solve this problem, like Newsletter Stack, LetterDrop (not yet officially launched) and Letterlist.
6 minutes | Buffer
The 5 Whys technique was developed and fine-tuned within the Toyota Motor Corporation as a critical component of its problem-solving training.
Taiichi Ohno, the architect of the Toyota Production System in the 1950s, describes the method in his book Toyota Production System: Beyond Large-Scale Production as “the basis of Toyota’s scientific approach... by repeating why five times, the nature of the problem as well as its solution becomes clear.”
Suppose you’re a factory worker and a machine you’re responsible for stops working. When pressed for a reason, you answer there was an overload, and the fuse blew. You’re right in your assertion. The machine did overload, and the fuse was the reason. But after some self-interrogation, you realize that the root cause of the problem was not due to a blown fuse, but rather, a worn-out shaft. 
In life and work we assume problems are at the immediate effect of one, isolated cause. We might fail to work out or miss a project deadline due to what we assume to be tiredness and miscommunication. But in truth, the root cause (or causes) is often one we hadn’t considered. The Five Whys is a technique to help determine the root cause of a problem by asking the question “Why” five times.  An example of a problem might be: I didn’t work out when I woke up.
- Why? – I was tired. (First why)
- Why? – I went to bed late. (Second why)
- Why? – I was on my phone. (Third why)
- Why? – I was browsing Facebook. (Fourth why)
- Why? – I was bored. (Fifth why, a root cause)
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"Who the hell are you?"
I'm Gianluca, an Italian filmmaker based in Los Angeles. A while back you opted into my email list through my website Storyforma. I like to send out genuinely useful content about working and living as a creative in the digital age.
"I have a project in mind, are you available to chat?"
Of course. You can just reply to this email or schedule a call with me here.
"Is there a place to discuss this stuff and connect with other creators?"
I'm starting a Facebook group, feel free to join us: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ThroughTheNoise/