Building a Personal Monopoly

Building a Personal Monopoly

How to combine competence, curiosity, and character to create a category of one:


1/ Competence

If we want anyone to spend their time, attention, or money on anything of ours, we must first be competent.

Lots of people are competent, so there's lots of competition here.

Let's say this is "school teachers."

Competence, Curiosity, Character


2/ Competence + Curiosity

If we add curiosity to the mix, competition starts to thin.

This separates the generalist practitioners from the irrationally passionate.

Let's say this is "school teachers who are curious about learning innovation"

Competition and Competence


3/ Competence + Curiosity + Character

Now combinatorics put us in a category of one territory.

Let's say this is "school teachers who are curious about learning innovation, building a gamified school inspired by SpaceX's Ad Astra." (Check out Synthesis:

Competence + Curiosity + Character


4/ Making it Tangible

All this is great until it comes to communicating it to the rest of the world.

Which is why bad packaging kills amazing ideas.

Writing, design, marketing — our job here is to lose as little as possible in translation from the intangible to the tangible.

Curiosity, Competence and Character vs Competition


5/ Basic Economics

We can use a very simple idea here, the "content" that makes contact with the market falls somewhere on this spectrum:

Commodity (could've been made by anyone)

Luxury (could only have been made by you)

Making it Tangible


6/ Supply & Demand

If we follow the logic from there, the demand for generic content is weak.

With "luxury" content, you control the market and you increase demand to the extent you can combine your competence, curiosity, and character & communicate them without packet loss.

Packaging your work as a luxury good


7/ How to Build a Personal Monopoly

All of the above is summarized from a 90-minute webinar I did with David Perell.

You can watch it here.

Leverage is as much about where you are standing as how much force you are applying.

If you are building something, it is far more useful to focus on the work you are doing to produce the result than the result itself.

The constraint we apply to package our idea determines their reach & resonance. "Make 1 decision to eliminate 1,000 decisions."

Labor is generally a more interchangeable resource than vision.

To help understand this idea, consider the contrast between the two concepts ancient Greeks used to think about time.

It should be relatively simple to identify when we aren't accumulating net new experience, but in practice, it doesn't seem to be.

Language is an incredible tool. It makes it possible for us to externalize what we think and communicate it to others.