How am I so busy?

Even though I’m working half days (doing contract work), I find myself almost working every hour of the day. I guess I’ve taken up too many hobbies over the last few weeks and I’m trying to level up as quickly as I can. I’m cranking out one or two renders every day, and I’m learning so much with each exploration. Here’s one that turned out pretty cool, and I think I’m going to start using this glass dispersion material more. It looks so good with a single light source on black.

I’ve got to find more time to keep creating more YouTube content as well. I’ve slowed down in that department a little, but there’s so much more for me to do. Either way, I’m having a ton of fun playing around. You can see more of my 3d work on dribbble.

Onward

We finally officially dissolved Input. I’m grateful to have been part of the journey, but I have to say that I’ll probably never ride anything like that again… at least for a little while.

Even as I start getting back to work on some contract work, I’m not sure how much I want to join a very early stage company pre-market fit. It’s just so hard… and times get even tougher when the chips are down.

All I can say is that I’m happy that I’m now finally able to look forward. During the last few weeks, I’ve been shooting a bunch of video for my YouTube channel, and most recently I’ve done a lot of 3d modeling and animation. At some point I’m going to have to get a more powerful machine to do some more crazy stuff. I can say that I’ve really been enjoying my time exploring new mediums and taking on some new projects.

I’ve got some good stuff brewing, but I wanted to get you up to speed. Here’s a donut that I learned how to create from scratch.

I’ll be posting these to my dribbble porfolio soon. Stay tuned for more tasty treats.

How to not find an Audience on YouTube

As I’ve created more videos, I’ve learned how NOT to find an audience on YouTube. The content that has performed the worst in terms of views are videos about myself (like vlogs). I think the reason is that no one in the world is searching for “Jeff Wong”. As fun as it is to document my life through video and share it with friends/family, that audience will not help the channel grow on YouTube.

The second kind of content that doesn’t do well are my hiking videos. Again, those are closer to vlogs, and they don’t offer any call to action or benefit to watching at the moment. I like doing them, but there’s nothing in them that people are searching for, in terms of education or entertainment. However, I joined a Maryland Facebook hiking group, and when I post my videos there, they tend to get a nice bump in traffic… but the growth usually flattens out after 200 views.

So far, the videos that have performed the best on my channel are related to reviewing Ciele Hats and talking about the Tonal. The Ciele Hats seem to continue to grow linearly (up and to the right) long after I post it. The funny thing is that I’ve spent the least time editing and putting those together. The Tonal videos seem to do fairly well too, but they require a little more editing and thinking. The reality is that most people probably don’t care to watch an average middle aged asian guy work out on the Tonal… so I’m going to need to bring more to the table than just that.

As for the Ciele hats, I may need to continue to do more reviews. And as part of it, I may order another couple hats. Hah! We’ll see what happens over the next few weeks as I experiment more. I’m also going to start posting some reviews about the Peloton equipment I have.

Until then, check out this hiking video I created recently. It’s totally docile, but it’s just for us to watch. It’s not designed to grow the channel—it’s purely to document the hike for myself.

Subtracting Twitter

Shutting down Input has enabled me to look at my career and next steps from a different light. I spent time on Twitter looking for business connections, news and new opinions on products… but I’ve found that it’s just a cesspool of people that are trying to grab attention by any means.

I don’t think it’s completely Twitter’s fault—it’s just a mirror of human behavior. At this point, I’ve moved the app from my phone into a dark corner where I probably won’t be checking it again. I guess Twitter was becoming a negative experience because it became closely tied to the work I did—fund raising, networking, staying at the bleeding edge of opinions and news.

I didn’t realize how much anxiety a product like Twitter could cause. At this point, it’s pretty old (as an app), and I’ve not only lost interest in it, I actually associate it with negativity and a network that I don’t care to keep up with. It’s probably why I’ve moved most of my writing and thoughts back to my blog.

There’s something nice about having a place to publish something without being judged. In fact, I removed all the comments and social features from my blog for a long time, and I prefer it this way. I still wish I could get fresh inspiration, but I’d like to filter out all the garbage.

Nah.

I don’t need to stress myself out with solving that problem either. For now, I’m just subtracting Twitter from the diet. It offers very little nutritional value and it leaves a terrible after taste.

A Slave to the Attention Economy

As I create more YouTube videos, I find myself looking at the analytics… trying to understand what people want to watch. Sometimes it’s a painful reality to see drop in views in a particular part of video—maybe it’s because they don’t care about my opinion or I’m getting boring. I found that most drops happen when I have longer shots of a landscape… which is a bummer, because that’s what I like the most.

But I think that I’m going to keep creating the content I want, rather than be a slave to the attention economy. I will certainly create content that will cater to YouTube, but I also want to continue making my own kind of videos to document my life. I think there’s more value in having videos to watch later on in life than having tons of people watch my videos.

In a world where every app is fighting for seconds of your attention, I think I need to be careful about playing into creating content that is only curated to grab attention. Yes, it’s important to retain viewers, but it’s more important to have a way to express myself and explore.

Here are some screenshots of a hike I did with Annie at Blackhill Regional Park a few weeks ago. The lighting is kind of crap because there was a ton of overcast,but we still really enjoyed it. We actually ended up finding a nice wild flower bed along the hike. Here are some stills pulled from the video:

Watch the video here.

Positive Energy Changes Everything

We’re almost done shutting down Input.com. In a conversation with one of the partners at Expa, he gave me some really good insight about how they build things. Many products that he and the other partners have built required timing and luck (in addition to many other things), but emphasized that their studio builds things differently.

As an example, Uber wouldn’t launch well today (with the current way things are with covid, etc)… but several years ago, it was a brilliant idea. The same thing goes with Twitter—the introduction of the iPhone and mobile devices enable twitter to be a mobile/social platform, and it may not have worked if it was launched a couple years earlier.

Expa builds things differently… it’s closer to making music. For some people, it’s frustrating because it’s hard to tie things to a metric or a process. Sometimes things work, and sometimes things fail. But ultimately, Garrett wants to build certain things and will be so persistent that it will come to life somehow. This is a very different approach—so much that it was the original reason why I was attracted to Expa many years ago.

They had a partners meeting recently, and I can tell you that I felt so much creative and positive energy coming from my conversations with one of the partners. As I shut down one thing, I feel so many other doors open. Not just for opportunity in terms of career, but as a person who wants to build and create things that should exist (because we simply believe they should). There is something special about that process, and there’s a gravity to it.

I’m not sure exactly what my next steps are, but I feel more free than I ever have with my work and life. More on this later. For now, I just wanted to remind you that positive energy is something you can’t fake… and it feels good to be around it.