The Best of Morning Brew: Big Ideas From The Last 12,000 Tweets of Four Business Minds

Dear Everybody,

For months I’ve been fascinated by Morning Brew, and I decided to run an experiment.

First, the fascination:

  • Morning Brew is at the forefront of companies giving their employees the freedom to express themselves online and become personalities…in essence, companies are atomizing into whole companies of creators.

  • Morning Brew is also “an audience company.” Audience companies are in the business of giving customers exactly what they want and what they’ve been promised. It’s not dissimilar from Amazon’s “customer obsession,” but in Morning Brew’s case, it means empowering business leaders with engaging and accessible content (i.e. media as a core competency).

  • Right now, Morning Brew is in the process of transitioning from an email company to a media brand. Its core product is a morning email newsletter sent to 2.4 million subscribers to give them all the business news they need in five minutes. Beyond that flagship offering, Morning Brew also delivers a retail newsletter (Retail Brew), tech newsletter (Emerging Tech Brew), a marketing newsletter (Marketing Brew), a business podcast (Business Casual), and a recommendation newsletter (Sidekick).

Second, the experiment:

  • I had a gut feeling I could better understand the Morning Brew culture and worldview if I summarized the timelines of the company’s most active Twitter users. My goal was to reverse engineer the philosophy of the company and how its leaders thought about building a business and career in this new landscape.

  • This summary is the result of distilling the last 3,000 tweets from four timelines: CEO Alex Lieberman (60,000 words; 250 pages); COO Austin Rief (49,000 words; 150 pages); Daily Writer and Social Media Toby Howell (43,000 words; 150 pages); and Business Casual Host Kinsey Grant (54,000 words 150 pages). [Incidentally, Alex hosts an excellent daily podcast called Founders Journal, a backstage pass into building Morning Brew and his daily diary made public to the world.]

That’s 206,000 words, 12,000 tweets, and 700 pages distilled to 1,075 words and five pages, in three parts:

  1. Part One: Business Building

  2. Part Two: Building Yourself and Your Career

  3. Part Three: A Few Social Media Principles

Part One: Business Building

Never forget, no one has it easy…

  • Building a business is hard

  • Building a business is hard

  • Building a business is hard

The work is hard, but the formula is simple…

  • Hire great people

  • Work your ass off

  • Catch some lucky breaks

First things first, post truly great content…

  • Content that’s valuable

  • Content you’re proud of

  • Content that comes to life

  • Content that informs people

  • Content that’s differentiated

  • Content your customer fiends for

  • Content people give a shit about and want to share

  • Content so good your customers turn into your sellers

Focus relentlessly for years…

  • Show up

  • Put in time

  • Do unsexy work

  • Default to action

  • Be ready for the grind

  • Ask for nothing in return

  • Things take longer than you think they will. Always.

Prioritize consistency…

  • Bat for singles and doubles

  • Prove and reprove your value

  • Study, gain insights, and apply them

  • Small insights can have huge impact

  • If you want to be original, take unoriginal ideas and execute them flawlessly

Build an obsessive audience that gives a shit about you…

  • Earn attention

  • Force people to care

  • Hold their hands if necessary

  • Deliver content that connects

  • Serve people in a way that fuels their passion

  • Now that you have an audience, don’t fuck it up

Get your content in front of your specific customer…

  • Be tactical

  • Target a niche

  • Find relevant people

  • Make the niche so small it’s uncomfortable

Consume constantly (including your own product!)…

  • Eat content

  • Dream content

  • Breathe content

Hire the right people, but don’t rush it…

  • Know the job

  • Build a persona

  • Hunt for unicorns

Care about your people, and invest in them…

  • Enlist them in a shared vision

  • Empower them to see their greatness

  • Give them resources to be lifelong learners

  • Get out of their way

Empower all-stars…

  • Give them reign to be creators and personalities

  • Give them tools, training, and culture to make it happen

  • Give them clarity around mission, values, and direction

  • Put them in a position to succeed, and watch it pay off many times over

Build culture intentionally, and over-communicate…

  • Emphasize what's important

  • Don’t assume people have context

  • Make it easy to find out what your company does

  • Give adequate background before elaborating on the future

Document the journey, especially the early days…

  • Keep a detailed journal

  • Take pictures and videos

  • Reflect on what you’re building

  • Create an entrepreneurial time capsule

  • Showcase great and horrible experiences

  • Your future self will thank you

Build in public…

  • Increase vulnerability

  • Increase serendipity

  • Increase opportunity

  • Increase transparency

  • When context is missing, people assume the worst

Play the long game…

  • Leverage data to build trust

  • Give people more than just content

  • Build deep and direct relationships

  • Build assets that will be valuable in five years

Part Two: Building Yourself and Your Career

Get comfortable being uncomfortable…

  • Grow a thick skin

  • Show extreme resilience

  • Be proud of it

Increase luck surface area…

  • Survive

  • Persevere

  • Work your ass off

  • Create public work

  • Keep your head down

  • Don’t give up too early

Learn ravenously…

  • Absorb takeaways

  • Recognize patterns

  • Desire true feedback

  • Learn from smart people

  • Be a sponge to your own life experiences

Be curious in your personal and professional life…

  • Ask good questions

  • Seek true feedback

  • Acknowledge blind spots

  • Have the humility to be wrong

  • Feed your brain like an ever-expanding library

  • Learn every day through questioning and exploration

Think critically and challenge norms…

  • Challenge traditional tech teams

  • Challenge traditional growth strategies

  • Challenge traditional advertising opportunities

  • Challenge traditional ways of creating content

  • Approach everyday with an underdog mentality

Know your superpowers, and leverage them…

  • Lean into your competencies

  • Double down on your strengths

  • You’re great at some things and mediocre at the rest

  • (And that’s fine!)

Exercise empathy…

  • Do the right thing for others

  • Champion others’ franchises

  • Embrace others’ perspectives

Act with a purpose…

  • Be curious in action

  • Have empathy in action

  • Challenge norms in action

  • Do things with thoughtfulness and preparation

Embrace your inner nerd…

  • Bring others into your mind

  • Create a shared imagination

  • Engage others’ unique, original thoughts

Surround yourself with…

  • People who call you on your shit

  • People who challenge you to be better

  • People who challenge you to work harder

  • People who support you every step of the way

Find intellectual sparring partners…

  • People who don’t work with you

  • People invested in your success

  • People who aren’t afraid to push back

  • People who have complementary superpowers

Gain and sustain creative momentum…

  • Get outside perspectives

  • Do things unrelated to your business

  • Read things unrelated to your profession

  • Learn from experts about topics you would’ve never researched on your own

Will something massive into existence…

  • Take initiative

  • Access your creativity

  • Account for risks and rewards

  • Create sustained positive impact

  • Root your ideas in smart analysis

  • Take it upon yourself to learn something new

Prioritize your time…

  • List what you value

  • List what you need

  • List what drains you

  • List what makes you happy

Ask for help (and get good at it!)…

  • Ask…if you have questions

  • Ask…if the answer isn’t easy

  • Ask…if the price of being wrong is high

Share your insecurities…

  • Celebrate fuck ups

  • Flaunt your imperfections

  • Admit what you don't know

  • Admit when you’re wrong and change your mind

Learn (and change!) as you scale…

  • Find new people

  • Establish new processes

  • Incorporate new thinking

  • Fire yourself over and over

Sooner than you think, hire a coach…

  • Think more critically

  • Question your assumptions

  • Make hard decisions sooner

Reinvent and refocus yourself…

  • Plan every day

  • Read every day

  • Write every day

  • Reflect every day

  • Put out the fires every day

Be someone you would’ve looked up to when you were younger…

  • Have fun

  • Create a lot

  • Provide value

  • Be accessible

  • Be transparent

  • Make your own success

Above all, be a nice person…

  • Talk less

  • Be logical

  • Be likable

  • Smile and listen more

  • Don’t take yourself too seriously

  • Do things for authentic reasons

Finally, be an Easter egg in someone’s day…

  • Do small, remarkable, and unexpected things

  • Impact people in large, wonderful, and unexpected ways

Part Three: A Few Social Media Principles

Cure imposter syndrome…

  • Realize no one cares what you do

  • Realize everyone is figuring things out, including the people you admire

  • Realize things you think are obvious to other people aren’t obvious to other people

Always be borrowing…

  • Look for inspiration

  • Pull from everywhere

  • Condense, improve, and share

Create timely and evergreen content…

  • Use data

  • Find your target audience

  • Leverage it on every platform

  • Learn everything the audience wants

  • Own the value chain of that audience

Treat every post as an experiment, not a masterpiece…

  • Throw darts

  • Aim for the bulls-eye

  • Practice with intention

  • Ask if you’d like your content if you weren’t the one who posted it

Seize the moment — and the momentum…

  • Once you have lightning in a bottle, milk it for all its worth

  • Turn the heat up and keep it going

Never compromise your values…

  • Never get nasty

  • Never lose control

  • Never get personal

  • Never lead with malice

  • Always represent yourself well

Other than that, let it rip…

  • Share boldly

  • Present with confidence

  • Strip away perfectionism

  • Don't qualify your learnings

Thank you for reading!        

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