Daniel Vassallo

Best quotes by Daniel Vassallo

Building a portfolio of small bets. Quarter-time with Gumroad. Building userbase.com. Creator on dvassallo.gumroad.com. Ask me anything at daniel@hey.com.

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Instead of studying how Bezos made his billions, it's much more useful to learn how someone like you is making $10K/mo.


The idea that anything is possible if you work hard enough is unfortunately a very dangerous delusion. Life is more random than it seems, and favorable outcomes are more often attributable to making good bets rather than a good work ethic. Don’t sacrifice more than it’s worth.


My advice to first-time info product creators: 1. Start with a very small product. 2. Choose a topic you know well that will almost write itself. Avoid doing research. 3. Timebox production to 2 weeks. 4. Charge $10. 5. Promote it. All the lessons are in #5. Best of luck


If people pay $5 for a Starbucks, they will pay $5 to learn something from you. The main difference is that everyone knows about Starbucks but very few people know about you. That's what you need to work on. The opportunities will follow.


Working less than you possibly could is not laziness. Laziness is enduring an existence you dislike and never try to do anything about it.


If you sell a subscription for $10/mo, and you add just 1 net new customer per day... After 5 years: - you'd have collected $547K. - you'd be doing $18K/month in revenue. Failing fast isn't the only option. You can also try to succeed slowly.


If people pay $5 for a Starbucks, they will pay $5 to learn something from you. The problem is everyone knows about Starbucks, but very few people know you exist. If you manage to make yourself known, the opportunities will follow.


If you put 10,000 hours practicing the piano, you will almost certainly become a great pianist. If you put 10,000 hours into your business, it doesn’t necessarily translate to anything! The first kind has a predictable relationship to effort. The second kind doesn’t.


Life becomes much more pleasant once you start treating it as an adventure rather than a competition.


Worrying about “scaling” when building a new web app is like worrying about how you’d invest a billion dollars when you’re broke. Scalability doesn’t get you users. First have users, then worry about scalability. The order matters.


Forget about becoming something. Just do stuff. I don’t write to become a writer. I write when I feel like writing. If I called myself a writer, and I didn’t feel like writing for a long time, I’d be miserable. Defining yourself in labels makes you fragile, for little benefit.


Many people think they can succeed by making an amazing income, only to find out they have to endure a lifestyle they dislike. You can't be successful if you hate your life. Seems obvious, but unfortunately not widely understood.


Remember that you’re much more likely to improve your life by removing what you know you dislike rather than by pursuing what you think you’ll like. It doesn’t mean you should never do new things. But the odds of real improvement are much higher when done through elimination.


It’s possible for your income to drop 50% while your lifestyle improves 500%. Don’t forget what you’re really chasing when making tradeoffs.


Imagine enduring a miserable 30yr career (counting the days until your retirement), only to find retirement even more boring than your career. We like to think this is the low risk path, but that sounds pretty risky to me. You won't get a 2nd chance.


Don't build a product. Build a portfolio of small bets. Once you adopt this perspective, it becomes a lot easier to figure out what you should be doing (and not doing).


Everyone I know who worked in big tech for 15+ years is wealthy (multi-million net worth). If you want guaranteed wealth, learn to code and go work at one of the big five. But if you want to spend time with your kids without asking for permission, do what I'm doing.


If you want to break free from the clutches of full-time employment, you just need to find a way of making $275/day. - No need to change the world. - No need to conquer the competition. - No need to dominate the market. - No need to disrupt anything. Just make $275/day.


"I know a lot about X. How do I monetize my knowledge?" There are many ways, but I'm only familiar with one: Give away everything you know for free. Then wait for people to start asking you questions. It's the questions that tend to reveal the monetization opportunity.


To design a lifestyle based on your own preferences, you must learn how to defeat the sunk cost fallacy. No matter how much you've invested in your current path, you must be be willing to write it all off. Otherwise you'll likely get stuck enduring an existence you dislike.


If people want to buy your product because there's you behind it, you're in an uncontested market space. The competition becomes irrelevant. Nobody can copy you.


Life is much more likely to improve by removing what you know you dislike, rather than by adding what you think you want. Consider eliminating: - Clutter - Junk food - Commuting - Having a boss - Working a rigid 9-5 - Maintaining a big house - Being far away from family


A barbell strategy for working on your own things: 1. Find a low-stress gig that pays the bills and leaves you with some spare time & energy. 2. Use your spare time & energy to do whatever you want, w/o being beholden to anyone and w/o risking anything consequential.


Imagine thinking that having fun is a waste of time.


Career success in big tech is mostly attributable to timing. Being on the right project at the right time. And the most important skill is probably the ability to recognize a lucky situation and take advantage of it.


I see lots of money spent on temporary escapes from undesirable lifestyles. Few realize that making the escape permanent is a lot cheaper.


My idea of growth is to keep rearranging my life so that I'm doing fewer things I'd rather not be doing. I have no goals. Just anti-goals.


Our gut feeling is an AI that has been trained by millions of years of evolution. It would be extremely foolish to blindly ignore it.


You're either designing your own lifestyle or following one constructed by people wanting to get something from you.


A barbell strategy for starting an indie business: 1. Find a low-stress job that pays the bills and leaves you with some spare time & energy. 2. Use your spare time & energy to do whatever you want, without being beholden to anyone, and without risking anything consequential.


Everyone trying to be the best, or top 1%, or above average. Few trying to do what they like, regardless of what everyone else does. Competition is for chasing the preferences of others. For playing someone else’s game.


How do you avoid burnout? It’s quite straightforward: You sacrifice everything that leads to chronic burnout. You’ll likely make less money, get fewer opportunities, learn fewer things, dent your social status, retire later, etc. But at least you won’t hate your life.


If you manage to get 1 MILLION people to visit your website every day, you will average 11.5 visits per second. You can likely serve all that traffic from a default node server running on a $100/mo host. Scalability is an overrated property. Watch out what you give up for it.


Procrastination helps me avoid things that don’t give me energy. I doubt it’s a bug.


To be 100% free you have to be completely alone. No family, no friends, no community, no job, no customers, etc. That’s probably not what you want. A sense of belonging requires loyalty (a restriction of freedom). The most important thing is who you choose to be loyal to.


If you want to promote an idea, live it.


Hard work, works... but you know what's better? Realizing that a fraction of the effort gets you most of the results, and recognizing what fraction to focus on. Then you can use the remaining time to do whatever you want, w/o being beholden to anyone and w/o consequential risk.


Stop building habits and start building something. If the habits don't follow automatically, you don't really want it. And if you don't really want it, it won't last anyway.


Thinking about working for yourself? Forget about failing fast. Go for the low hanging fruit first. Then take more aggressive risks once your independence is sustainable. Why? Because this approach almost never fails.


Buying freedom is a matter of gradually reducing the things you’d rather not do. - living on someone else’s schedule - doing purposeless work - commuting in rush hour - having to justify your actions - being told what to do (or not to do) - working more than you want; etc


If you're pursuing income maximization, it's hard to beat the expected value of a career at a big co — trading your time for $200/hr, 40hrs/wk, 52wks/yr, for 30yrs. But an alternative is to only pursue satisfactory income, and then maximize your time doing whatever you want.


You get a huge advantage in life if you learn what you really like and dislike.


Lambda is a very poor substitute for EC2. But it still has a place. Instead of thinking of Lambda as a host for your applications, think of it as an extension for other AWS services.


Most important lesson I learned about entrepreneurship: You can’t predict the future. You can’t predict what will work. You can’t predict what will last. So the only viable strategy in all this uncertainty is to survive long enough to stumble on good opportunities.


If you manage to build a business that you can operate at a very low cost (including your time), you almost cannot fail. Worst case scenario is a slow success.


Procrastination is information. Use it to find what demotivates you, and try to arrange your life to do less of it.


If people want to buy your product because there's you behind it, you're in an uncontested market space with no competition. Nobody can copy you.


Comparing yourself to others is beneficial if it leads to inspiration rather than envy. Nothing that I’m doing is my own original idea. I simply saw others doing something, and asked myself: "Why not me?"


You don’t have to wait until you have a product to start promoting. You already have yourself. Promote yourself. Try to get people to follow you. I can assure you that getting followers is much easier than getting people to pay you.


It turns out that with extreme application of the 80/20 rule, you can discover, start, build, and run several business activities at the same time without even working full-time.

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