Consumer to Creator

SumoCon 2016 with Noah Kagan (SumoMe), Nathan Barry (ConvertKit), Ankur Nagpal (Teachable), Justin Jackson (MegaMaker)

In September 2016, I attended SumoCon, the first conference that SumoMe ever hosted in Austin, Texas. The photo above with Noah Kagan (SumoMe), Nathan Barry (ConvertKit), Ankur Nagpal (Teachable), and Justin Jackson (MegaMaker), represents one of the happiest and most symbolic moments of my life.

This was my first time meeting all of these guys in person, but I had already been using their products for several years. Without their products and companies, I most likely never would have become a “creator”.

Justin Jackson was one of the first “digital entrepreneurs” who I started following online. He had successfully launched a number of digital products including his popular ‘Marketing for Developers’ book and a lot of his writing taught and inspired me to think about how to create and sell digital products.

When I started Product Manager HQ, I used Noah Kagan’s SumoMe product to significantly improve subscriber opt-in conversions on my website. These subscribers became the foundation of my weekly newsletter list (a list that I’ve been sending weekly newsletters to for the past 3 years).

All of these subscribers are managed through my e-mail provider, ConvertKit, a company founded by Nathan Barry. ConvertKit helps me manage my website’s drip sequences, subscriber lists, automations, and newsletter broadcasts to make sure that I’m always engaging with my loyal readers.

Lastly, my entire online course, One Week PM, is hosted and managed by Teachable, founded by Ankur Nagpal. Teachable allows my entire course to be self-serve, where students can enroll and login to view lectures anytime they want.

Without these guys, Product Manager HQ most likely would not have existed or reached the scale that it is today. Their products enabled me to become a “creator” and for that, I am eternally grateful.

We’re trained from a young age to consume. Part of this is a result of our legacy educational system borne from the Industrial Revolution:

Mass education was the ingenious machine constructed by industrialism to produce the kind of adults it needed. The problem was inordinately complex. How to pre-adapt children for a new world – a world of repetitive indoor toil, smoke, noise, machines, crowded living conditions, collective discipline, a world in which time was to be regulated not by the cycle of sun and moon, but by the factory whistle and the clock.

The solution was an educational system that, in its very structure, simulated this new world. This system did not emerge instantly. Even today it retains throw-back elements from pre-industrial society. Yet the whole idea of assembling masses of students (raw material) to be processed by teachers (workers) in a centrally located school (factory) was a stroke of industrial genius. The whole administrative hierarchy of education, as it grew up, followed the model of industrial bureaucracy. The very organization of knowledge into permanent disciplines was grounded on industrial assumptions. Children marched from place to place and sat in assigned stations. Bells rang to announce changes of time.

The inner life of the school thus became an anticipatory mirror, a perfect introduction to industrial society. The most criticized features of education today – the regimentation, lack of individualization, the rigid systems of seating, grouping, grading and marking, the authoritarian role of the teacher – are precisely those that made mass public education so effective an instrument of adaptation for its place and time.

Source: ‘Future Shock’ by Alvin Toffler

Despite this fact, we should all aspire to break this consumption mindset.

99% of the world will be perfectly satisfied spending the rest of their life consuming, but only the bold will dare make that leap towards becoming a creator.

Any chance I get, I’ll always stand with a hand outstretched at that border, ready to catch the hand of any individual who’s willing to make the jump.