David speaks with Kevon Cheung, an author and content creator.
Kevon runs a course, Build in Public Mastery, to help entrepreneurs show their work publicly to build up their brand and superfan base.
He wrote a book, Find Joy in Chaos, to help entrepreneurs build their online presence so opportunities and connections come to them.
They talked about:
📝 The hardest things to write
🚫 How to stop being an amateur
🗣️ Building in public
👨👦 Managing life as a new dad
📚 How writing a book boosts credibility
💬 Building an online community
🏋️♀️ Overcoming obstacles when building in public
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📹 Watch on Youtube
👤 Connect with Kevon:
YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/c/MeetKevon
📄 Show notes:
0:00 | Intro
01:55 | The hardest things to write
05:34 | How to stop being an amateur
10:10 | Building in public
16:52 | Managing life as a new dad
23:06 | How writing a book boosts credibility
28:43 | Building an online community
34:26 | Overcoming obstacles when building in public
🗣 Mentioned in the show:
Jordan Peterson | https://www.jordanbpeterson.com/
Roam research | https://roamresearch.com/
Building Public Definitive Guide | https://meetkevon.gumroad.com/l/buildinginpublic
Find Joy in Chaos | https://amzn.to/3YbXd7T
Mike Cardona | https://mikecardona.bio.link/
Seth Godin | https://seths.blog/
👨🏾💻 About David Elikwu:
David Elikwu FRSA is a serial entrepreneur, strategist, and writer. David is the founder of The Knowledge, a platform helping people think deeper and work smarter.
🌐 Website: https://www.davidelikwu.com
📽️ Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/davidelikwu
📸 Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/delikwu/
🕺 TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@delikwu
🎙️ Podcast: http://plnk.to/theknowledge
📖 EBook: https://delikwu.gumroad.com/l/manual
My Online Course
🖥️ Career Hyperdrive: https://maven.com/theknowledge/career-hyperdrive
Career Hyperdrive is a live, cohort-based course that helps people find their competitive advantage, gain clarity around their goals and build a future-proof set of mental frameworks so they can live an extraordinary life doing work they love.
📩 Newsletter: https://theknowledge.io
The Knowledge is a weekly newsletter for people who want to get more out of life. It's full of insights from psychology, philosophy, productivity, and business, all designed to help you think deeper and work smarter.
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[00:00:00] Kevon Cheung: When I've decided, hey, I have enough knowledge now let me just build the building public guide in public. These people who got help from me, They would be the first group of people who jump in to help me read the first few chapters, help me retweet it when I launch. So, yeah, all in all is okay if you have no one in your early circle.
[00:00:19] Kevon Cheung: The secret is just find the community and just pluck yourself in and don't really try to promote anything because you should have nothing to promote at that point. But just keep learning, keep helping and let people recognize you that way and then start your first project by giving it back to them. I believe in giving it back to them for free if it's absolutely early days for you.
[00:00:48] David Elikwu: This week I'm sharing part of my conversation with Kevon Cheung. Now, Kevon and I are good friends. He has built an incredible platform over the years, having gone from building startups to now building a platform that helps business owners and creators to build their personal profiles and their businesses through the concept of building in public.
[00:01:08] David Elikwu: So you're going to hear us breaking down what this concept of building in public is, how you can use it to build your profile and build your credibility.
[00:01:15] David Elikwu: We talk about writing and how writing helps you to build clarity, but also helps you to build credibility. And finally, Kevon shared some of his journey writing his book as well, which I think has been read by thousands and thousands of people.
[00:01:30] David Elikwu: So, this was a great episode, you can get the full show notes, transcript and read my newsletter at theknowledge.io. And you can find Kevon on Twitter @MeetKevon.
[00:01:41] David Elikwu: If you love this episode, please do share it with a friend and don't forget to leave a review, particularly if you're listening on Apple podcasts, because it helps us tremendously to reach other people just like you.
[00:01:55] David Elikwu: I have definitely found a really interesting balance that, some of the most personal things that I've written are the hardest things for me to write simply just because of, you might have emotions that are connected to those things, you are kind of opening yourself up and baring yourself to the world, and so it's not something you always want to do. But strangely enough, some of those times, even when it might be innocuous, it might not be, you know, I'm writing this piece to be some hard-hitting emotional, that's not the point at all. I'm just mentioning something from my life. But very often when I do that, I get the most responses back of people being like, oh my gosh, I've had this exact same situation. This really resonated with me because of such and such a thing. So how do you find that balance of the extent to which you want to share and the extent to which that then becomes useful for other people?
[00:02:43] Kevon Cheung: Yeah, I have so much to say about this. I have like three, four points in my mind right now, but I probably wouldn't remember all of them. So I'm just gonna speak whatever I remember. It is true that I am pretty vulnerable, I'm pretty open and my students or people in the audience would ask me like, Kevon, how do you become so open? I don't know, I think it is how you grow up, the environment, the people around you and possibly just not caring about what people think so much. In my cohort, I do use this example that when I was 13, okay, going back to my teenager years, I was playing football. I'm a huge football fan, Manchester United, and then there's a voice from the sideline. It's like, Hey, if you're so slow, you shouldn't play football. I heard that and I never touched football ever again, never played another time.
[00:03:37] Kevon Cheung: I think a lot of us let other voices affect our decisions. They decide for us, they control our life. But maybe because of this incident or related incident around my teenage year, I started to build up this confidence that, just be who you are and if they don't like who you are, they're not gonna come close to you. But the benefit of that is that the people who love who you are will be so excited near you.
[00:04:05] Kevon Cheung: So I really don't know how to get people to be more open. But in my scope of building in public, I do see that a lot of people are just having a lot of internal fear. It's not really that they're not open about stuff, it's just they're always thinking what if, what if, what if there's critics? What if I share all my revenue and someone would copy my idea or steal all my customers? It's all the what if. So, one way to tackle it is that, you just basically expect the critics to be here. You put up a tweet, you're like, ahhh, people are gonna say mean things about this. So that's how I show up. And then 90% of the time, if you're around amazing people, like if you have David in your circle, these things don't happen. So I think over time you're like, oh, the what ifs are not that important. So you just get better at that.
[00:05:00] Kevon Cheung: But the other thing is I'm not very competitive. I think people are afraid to be open because they're super competitive. Like, these are my ideas, I'm just gonna launch this course and make five figures. Other people cannot do the same. I I have this mindset that, hey, once I share my numbers, huh, you know that there's people interested in the building public cohort. If you wanna run one, that's fine, because you will attract your people. I will attract my people. We can all do this together. That's how I think about business and life right now.
[00:05:35] David Elikwu: One thing that I want to ask, and this is maybe slightly personal to an extent, but I'm curious about how you find the balance between, once you start putting yourself out there, you are effectively creating a representation of yourself, right? Digitally. And so people will come to you expecting that person. And this is not just online, it's also offline. It's pretty much you know, as we go throughout life it's the how people see you versus how you see yourself or your internal self. But I think particularly once you take the step of putting yourself out there a lot more publicly, then people start to get a much clearer picture of, I mean, it might not necessarily be the real you, but at least the you that you present. And those two might be very close to each other. How you are in real life and how you are online.
[00:06:19] David Elikwu: But what I'm curious about is there's a concept of like Flanderization. I wrote about it in a recent newsletter, not super recent, but it was sometime last year, and I was talking about, I used Jordan Peterson as an example, and there's plenty of other examples where someone starts off in one place and they share a lot of things and there are certain bits of what they share that resonate with people. And the more they curate what they share based on the things that resonate, you can become almost a cartoonified version, the most extreme version of all the same things that you originally shared. It's like in some sense you haven't moved a long distance from where you started, but because you are incentivized by your audience to show more and more of that side of thing or, or talk about that kind of thing. Then that in a sense moves you away from where you started and you can kind of start to become a different person. So that's one side of it and maybe you have some thoughts on that.
[00:07:16] David Elikwu: The other side of it that I also find personally for myself is the flip side where there are times where you might feel more vulnerable or you might feel, let's say, you know, at times I've struggled with like anxiety or other things. Because there is a perception of you as someone who is competent or as someone who can do a certain thing, then it almost doubles the anxiety or the internal feeling where what is the extent to which you have to perform based on how you're expected to perform versus being allowed to be vulnerable, allowed to say, actually, hey, I can't do something. I'm being able to admit that either you are wrong about something or you can't do something. How do you find that balance? So I think there's two extents that I've just explained. One is living up to the expectations that you set for yourself and then on the other side it is, you live up almost too much to the expectations to the extent that it starts to change who you are or who you present yourself as because you are engineering what you share for audience capture.
[00:08:19] Kevon Cheung: Hmm, Let's answer the first one about, you are being led by the audience to a place where you might not original set up to be. This is a tough one, when I look at the guests on your show, like Josh Spector, Paul and then who else? Thomas. When I look at these guys or girls, I don't see that they are being shaped by their audience. There's a reason why they become such a great voice online. It's because they still have their stand. Like I am who I am in certain part of life or business or personality. And even though I serve people, but I'm not gonna change that. I think this is important because I made a lot of those choices as well. For example, writing threads on Twitter is the ultimate growth driver. We all know that because, you know, people just love to retweet those threads. But to me, I'm like, do I really want to become one of them? Do I really want to talk about the top 10 tools to empower my business? No. maybe one or two tweets, but I don't want to be putting out threads like over and over again. And then the other one is memes. Probably, you have seen some memes guy who are growing so fast. And at some point I asked myself, do I want to start doing memes?
[00:09:34] Kevon Cheung: And in my book, find Joy in chaos, I actually talk about this, like, these are the choices that you make. And I said, well, memes are fun, but I don't want to be a funny guy, I want to be a knowledgeable person. So no, memes are not for me. So I think as you grow, as you listen to the feedback from your audience, you need to be clear what is the feedback to create things to serve them. And what are the things that you need to like, hold your grounds? Take your stand. And again, looking at all your guests, they take their stand. So that's part one. I forgot about part two.
[00:10:11] David Elikwu: So, part two is then having to live up to the expectations or the bar that you set. So, giving one example, I remember towards the start of when I first started writing my newsletter, so it started with, I just sent an email to a few friends and I still hadn't figured exactly this newsletter was gonna be about. If you go back and look at my first 10 newsletter, every single one them is about something completely different. But I'm sharing what I'm learning, I'm sharing from a place of interest, but I do remember, so it started growing and suddenly you have a few hundred people that are subscribed and people are actually opening it, people are reading it every time you send it and people are starting to respond and people are starting to be interested in the thing that you share. And then I remember this is also during the pandemic, so there's some times where you know, your mental health isn't as good and you're going through a lot of other stuff.
[00:10:57] David Elikwu: But there were times where I don't necessarily feel like writing or I feel a particular way, but because this audience is now expecting a particular thing, you have to almost perform that and you feel as though you don't get to be as vulnerable as you could be, or take the breaks that maybe you would want.
[00:11:16] David Elikwu: And so there's an interesting balance there, even as I was just saying that I thought of another Seth Godin quote where he says, he talk about, actually, Steven Presfield and Seth Godin both talk about the idea of turning pro. And Seth Godin talks about this idea that you have to decide to stop being an amateur and you have to start being a professional. And one of the things that he says is that, being a professional means you don't always get to be authentic. Sometimes you have to perform and sometimes, you know, you don't want a teacher or a doctor, you don't want to know when they're having a bad day and they are falling behind on their rant and they're almost on the brink of divorce. You don't want to know that your doctor is going through all of that when you are about to have surgery, right? What you want in that moment is their full professional self, and you just want them to show up as, as the doctor that you expecting and be the best version of themself. But I think that there's also a flip side of that.
[00:12:10] David Elikwu: Where you see tons of creators that burn out and you see loads of people that, because there's this expectation, I'm gonna publish weekly, I'm gonna do this thing. There's so many people that will send you emails. I remember during this time I was talking about, I stopped sending emails for maybe a few weeks and people will email you and say, where's this thing? Where are the emails that I'm expecting? What's going on? Are you okay? All of this stuff, people I've never met. And so I think there's that interesting balance. So this, is the question to you, like to what extent do you have to be a professional about what it is that you do and what it is that you publish? And to what extent can you allow yourself to still have that sense of flexibility and vulnerability?
[00:12:50] Kevon Cheung: The first thing I wanna say is I guess I'm quite lucky. I was never a professional. Like I was not a professional lawyer in a corporate. I've never been in corporate. So in that world, I guess from watching movies or hearing from friends is that you do have to show up like professional. You have to fake it right all the time. But because I never have experience in that, that helped me a little bit. But I think when you think about this creator journey, this space, we are not doing surgeries, we are not handling court cases, we are teaching people. So I don't think it's at the same level as like a doctor or lawyer, or investment banker. And that means you have a lot more space to be yourself.
[00:13:37] Kevon Cheung: I think a lot of people are afraid to be vulnerable. Maybe because have the corporate experience, but also because, they don't understand how attracting people works. For example, if you're trying so hard to be professional, you attract a lot of people, like your threads might go like thousands of likes. A lot of people would come in and say, I want your thing, I want your thing, and maybe they would even buy it. But I think these people would not stick around for too long. Like they would probably behave you like 20 bucks and they never talk about you, they never refer you to other people, but in a different sense, when you're being vulnerable, when you're being open, Hey guys, I really have a tough time in the last three weeks, that's why I couldn't write the newsletter. But it depends if it's free or paid, like, if it's paid, maybe you can do something to make it up. If it's free then you just kind of explain and people would be okay. When you do that, I see something magics happening in my community, which is, I got so close with the few people who actually understand my situation. And these are the people who become your customers, but not just that they would advocate for your thing. They would go out and say, Kevon is a, is a go-to person for this. You should read his book, you should take his course. I think this is the thing that people don't see. They always want more people to come into their world, they always want the big numbers, but to me, I think I was growing pretty steadily in the last two years because I was just like staying really small and cozy and tight.
[00:15:13] Kevon Cheung: But speaking of vulnerability, I keep telling my students this, like my niche, my topic is building in public. I shouldn't be vulnerable in saying that, Hey guys, I feel like a loser in building in public, I actually don't know how to teach it. I don't want to say that because that's destroying my credibility in what I talk. But when I talk about, Hey guys, I didn't really know how to manage my time. Now that I'm a new dad, or I don't know how to handle my company finances, I don't know how sponsorship works. These are the things outside of your niche. And I think if you can be vulnerable and open in those spaces, it has two benefits. It draws people closer to you to have conversations, but you're still the expert in what you're supposed to be the expert in. So yeah, I hope these few pointers help the people who are listening to this.
[00:16:52] David Elikwu: Yeah. I love that. I think there's two really interesting parts that you brought up. One is, even as you're speaking it, a really tangible experience that I had came to mind. So we both run courses, on a course that I was running, I think this is a few cohorts ago. It was, I don't remember, it might have been last year or the year before, but I was in the middle of teaching this course cohort and at one point my dad was in a car accident, and this was, it was the day before his birthday. I think I'd just seen him the day before. It was just a completely, it just threw me off completely. I was like, oh my gosh. Obviously I had to go spend some time with my family and I had to cancel the next session that we had. But then going beyond that, there's also this feeling of, do I cancel the whole thing or do I have to put myself on the hook? And I can cancel one session, but maybe I have to come back and maybe I have to do the rest. And this goes back to this idea of being a professional, not necessarily in terms of your job, but putting yourself on the hook to do the thing that you said you were going to do. And having a balance between making the space for your personal life and doing the things that you have to do, but then also then having to show up for what you've sold to people, right? You've taken thousands of pounds from people, there's also the expectation of what you have to deliver and what people now expect.
[00:18:09] David Elikwu: And I think you touched on this idea that, one solution to that is staying small. You could stay small forever and only have an audience of five people, and you will never disappoint them because they will always understand. But once you have like thousands of people or a much bigger audience that you are curating for or selling to, people have already bought something or people are already expecting something, then it can be harder to pivot.
[00:18:32] David Elikwu: And then I think the other side of it, which is also interesting and connected in a way. You mentioned the word credibility, and I find this a really interesting word from a lot of different angles. And one of them I was thinking about this morning, I was thinking about the fact that a year ago, so right now when people talk about the future of technology, they're talking about AI. AI is the future of tech, everyone wants to get into AI. Loads of people overnight are starting AI newsletters, AI businesses, all of this stuff, their whole brand, their whole personality is about AI.
[00:19:01] David Elikwu: A year ago, some of these same people were telling me that, cartoon monkeys were the future. And NFTs and all of this was the future of technology and the whole brand, everything was about that. And that is the other interesting aspect of it. How do you think about this idea of building and maintaining credibility when on one hand there is nothing necessarily wrong with starting a new project or getting interested in something new and wanting to become an expert in the next new thing, right? There's people that one day, a new tool comes out. They're an expert in Roam research, which is a tool, they're an expert in Notion, which is a tool, they're an expert in whatever it is that something you could use to create a business in some sense.
[00:19:43] David Elikwu: But I think the issue is, and I was saying this, I was tweeting like this earlier. If you actually had conviction about crypto or NFTs, this is the perfect time to have your laser eyes and to have your NFT picture. This is the perfect time to be doing all of those things. But I don't see anyone doing that, and so this is what makes me start thinking like, is it that you are bullish about this thing or is it mimetic? And is it the idea that, okay, because people are interested in it, so I will do this thing.
[00:20:12] David Elikwu: So how do you escape from that and how do you find, this is a multi-part question, but how do you find something that you can be interested in, that you can be credible about because you care enough about that thing, you are willing to stick with it when it's difficult and you're not just doing it because it is easy or convenient or popular at the time. But then on the flip side, if you're doing something that no one cares about, then it doesn't matter if you're credible about that thing because no one cares about it, and you are never gonna be successful in a sense. So how do you find that balance or how do you think about that? Particularly because you teach a course for people that want to make things and people that want to share things. So I'm interested to know what you say to them or how you help them to think about those things.
[00:20:55] Kevon Cheung: Yeah, this is the toughest question in business. Like on one hand it's about what's in here, on the other hand, it's about what people want. I don't think there's, there's a secret formula to find that. But as you can tell from this conversation, I think, the first question we all need to ask ourselves is like, is this what you really want?
[00:21:16] Kevon Cheung: When I decided to focus on building in public, the key reason is because it is my life principle. So I can totally see myself like talking about this for 20 years if people are interested, right? So I satisfy my own desire to do that. This is very important because when you talk about the monkeys, NFT, AI. I'm sure out of the hundred people who are talking about it now, 99 of them are not serious about them. They're just doing it for the rush or for traffic. So that's part of it, like there's no fast track. People just need to reflect and be honest with themselves. But the other side is, that is the entrepreneur of you. Like how smart can you be to get traction to your work? I like that our conversation has been like, you don't find your niche. You kind of write and express and then do projects, and then when people come to you, you have traction and you have a niche because people acknowledge that. So, this comes from experience. Like, building in public, I was very strategic. I spotted that the market wants it and no one was doing it, so the gap was what I was going after.
[00:22:28] Kevon Cheung: To summarize this, two things that we need to keep watching, which is, keep asking yourself honest question and don't, don't, don't go for shiny objects. You can tell I'm a pretty, my student call me the Zen master. I don't do things because I have a rush to do it. I just kind of sit there and let it sit for like two weeks. If I'm still interested, then I do it. So I'm kind of slow in that perspective. But then the other question is like, what is the smallest thing you can build to get traction? Because with traction you have confidence, you have your niche, that's when you keep going at it. But yeah, anyway, tough question.
[00:23:07] David Elikwu: No worries. So in your professional life now as a creator, I think there's two things that you need to balance, and I'd love to know how you find balancing those two things. So one is your, I guess your curiosity or your creativity. This is what you consume, where you spend your time online, where you mentioned being part of Jay Clouse's program and so how do you curate what you consume in a meaningful way that allows you to then output, but then also how do you structure your output? How do you structure your days and how do you structure your time? Because I think there's a follow up part of that question, which is having a family now, you know, you mentioned when you first started doing your YouTube videos about being a parent, you weren't a parent, you weren't even married, but now you are, you're married, you have a family, you are gonna have two kids very soon. How does that shape how you approach your, work and also how you think about the future and how you think about what you're trying to build?
[00:24:02] Kevon Cheung: Thanks for saying the last part because at first I was having some difficulty coming up with my answer, but once you talk about, like my family, it was very clear to me how I should respond to this. Like, it is very challenging for people who have many, many interests because it's just distraction. Even when I get known for something, you really need to like put in the hours and keep talking about it, be focused. So I was lucky that I'm quite focused, but let's take my family as a topic.
[00:24:33] Kevon Cheung: You know that I have an interest in talking about family stuff because of the YouTube channel. So it has always been a question to me that should we start another business? Should we start another YouTube channel talking about how we raised our two girls? That would be really interesting. But then I ask myself like, do I really have the time to manage two? Probably not. Do I really wanna keep having my daughter's face on the internet? I don't mind, but I don't want to use them as the objects of the content or the products. If I really were to do it, I would totally not blend into what I have and start a separate project and just keep it like two different tracks. Because the thing is that the audience are probably very different.
[00:25:19] Kevon Cheung: So I think a lot of creators, when they think about like, oh, personal interests and stay focused. The hard thing is I think they're trying to show everything in the same channel. Like, oh, I love football, so I want to talk about football on Twitter. I love my family, let me talk about family on Twitter. I love building in public, let me talk about that. But it doesn't work like that. I think people get overwhelmed, people think you're losing your focus and they don't get as much value, then they bounce. So to me, one way to tackle this is probably just have very clear idea of what to share, where, like for me, Twitter is entrepreneurship, business, building in public. Occasionally, I tell my students, you're allowed to share three topics of your personal life repeatedly. So for me, it's family. For someone, maybe it's boxing, for someone, might be running, for someone might be healthy food. Once you have that three, you can bring it up once in a while, but don't talk about other random things in your life.
[00:26:20] Kevon Cheung: So that's the rule. And then I use Instagram, I don't really talk about work there. I just find it really weird. So Instagram is like, just my dad's life and occasionally I'll take a photo of us on podcasts and I'll share it, but not really to drive audience or customer. I think having that clarity of like, which track for what people helps you kind of stay focused while having multiple interests.
[00:26:46] Kevon Cheung: And shall we talk about managing life as a new dad? I think it is tough. Like when you look at all these people growing fast on the internet, you start asking yourself questions like, oh, did I miss out because I have a family? Why can't I grow as fast as them? Why my output level is not as high as them? But the other thing is when you have time constrained, you really be more mindful of how you spend your time. So I don't work on like, random projects. Everything is like, hmm, I think this is connected well to what I have now. So I'm gonna test it out, get some traction, and then launch it. Each pieces in the puzzle is like carefully placed on it. That's how I think about running a business as a new parent. But in terms of like structuring my days or my weeks, it comes with practice. Like it has been two years. When kids are napping, you should really treasure that hour or hour and a half time. You don't want to go into writing mode because it's kind of short. So it's good for doing your weekly planning or maybe writing tweets or maybe outlining your newsletter so you get good at like, categorize these tasks.
[00:28:02] Kevon Cheung: But I think at the end of the day, it's also about sacrifices. A lot of my local friends, they still go out, even as a parent, they still maybe spend two week nights outside. My wife and I don't. We chose our family as the party, so every two or three weeks we go out once. So now my time is really on my work and my family, so I sacrificed the other things. Even my personal exercise. I think that's a choice that we all have to make. If you have a young family, you cannot have it all. But yeah, that helps tremendously because I don't have distractions.
[00:28:44] David Elikwu: Awesome. I love that. So let's talk about your book. There's two parts of this as well because the precursor to writing the book was, I think maybe building the community that you had. And I don't know if you sat about creating a community intentionally, but you have built one through the work that you share online and you've built this community of people. And so when you have this, this idea, this thing that you want to share, you've already been sharing. And so now you have a book that you are sharing with your close community and then also with a wider community of everyone else that this book could be useful for. So I'd love to know, what was the process of, where did the book idea come from, and then what was the process of, I guess writing it and then sharing it?
[00:29:23] Kevon Cheung: Yeah, let's talk about credibility, because the whole reason to write the book is to boost my credibility. I'll be honest with you and I know that it's so easy for people to write e-books. Like you can write it yourself, you can hire someone to write it for you, it doesn't matter. But a lot of people have it, but I think, well, I don't have it here with me. If you have a paper back, it is different, even though it's not that hard to do a paper back. But, you know, it tells people that you are more serious than the e-book author, because you're, you don't mind leaving something substantial in people's life and you cannot reverse it. So it is about credibility, but the other thing is, I was already answering a lot of the same questions over and over again in the community. In the community, I mean like mostly Twitter or a newsletter or private conversations.
[00:30:12] Kevon Cheung: So I think a lot of people they don't understand about writing a book, which is writing a book is actually just structuring what you're already answering on a day-to-day basis. Well at least for me, from my perspective, it is not so much to write something totally new and hope that it would explode your growth, it doesn't work like that for me. But if you already answer these people day to day, when you have a book, it's so easy to just go to all the old and new people and say, well, I can answer your question now, but if you want more, you can basically just take in this like framework where I get help from like 60 people to write it. So it should probably have your answers. If people are thinking of writing a book when they're listening to this, I hope that they might take a step back and start just helping the community first, because it will make your book so easy to write and so easy to launch.
[00:31:11] David Elikwu: Okay, that makes a lot of sense. So how do you find the community, if you haven't, if you haven't started yet, if you are, let's say someone is at a place where, there's one position where you've already been writing online for a while, or you've already been sharing stuff online for a while, and so there's already a bunch of people that are waiting to hear what you have to say, or there are already people that are asking you the questions that you can answer, and so you can structure your answers in that way. How about if you have not yet started that process, do you think you should still just put that aside? How do you just start, you probably talk about this in your course, building in public.
[00:31:44] David Elikwu: How do you start from the beginning where right now I'm not sharing anything at all. What does someone do? How do you start making some online friends? How do you start building a small community around an idea that you care about?
[00:31:55] Kevon Cheung: So for that, I have to bring you back to my day one, not day one, maybe week four, as I was writing those eight articles, because when I started out, I wasn't talking about building in public. I wasn't known as an expert in that. So how did I become that?
[00:32:13] Kevon Cheung: The project that really made me one of the Building public guys was my Building Public Definitive Guide, which is free, 10,000 words for free. Everyone can read it, but as I said, I cannot just like come up with the idea and start writing the book, that would be, not the smart way to do it. Before that, I was actually on indiehackers.com well, not to my surprise, there's a group called Building in Public. So basically David, I was sitting in there every single day. I was reading every post taking notes, but not just that because I'm taking notes, I'm learning about the topic, I'm going back to the new posts and helping people out based on my latest knowledge. So of course, I don't write it in a way that I'm the expert. You guys should learn from me. I write it in a way that I have some experience learning this topic or from my previous failures, and I write it as a way to share with people a new perspective. So over time, as you help people out, people are like, who is this Kevon guy who's like replying to my foreign post And if you do it enough, and if you have a way to kind of connect them to a place like Twitter, I was lucky because these people are also on Twitter. So when I reply to them, I can connect with them on Twitter, right? So it creates a loop. And guess what? When I've decided, hey, I have enough knowledge now let me just build the building public guide in public. These people who got help from me, They would be the first group of people who jump in to help me read the first few chapters, help me retweet it when I launch. So, yeah, all in all is okay if you have no one in your early circle.
[00:34:00] Kevon Cheung: The secret is just find the community and just pluck yourself in and don't really try to promote anything because you should have nothing to promote at that point. But just keep learning, keep helping and let people recognize you that way and then start your first project by giving it back to them. I believe in giving it back to them for free if it's absolutely early days for you.
[00:34:26] David Elikwu: I love that. Where did the title of the book come from? Because I think that is also for people that don't know, if you think about a book that is about, let's say, building in public or growing on Twitter, Finding Joy in Chaos might not be the first title that you think of. So what shaped the creation of that title?
[00:34:44] Kevon Cheung: Thanks for pointing out my weakness, I'm just not very good at these things, like product naming. Not very good.
[00:34:51] Kevon Cheung: I have a Google sheet where I lock down different book names and use them as a reference, as a structure, and then I was like brainstorming different names. I think at the end I picked this name because it paints the right picture of what I'm trying to say. Like Twitter is really chaotic and I'm here to help you find joy and well somehow I kind of regret the title, but you can see that, the title represent my style. Like, it's not trying too hard, it's not too business. It's a little peaceful here and there. That's just who I am. So I guess in a way, when people pick up this book and take a photo with it, that is my brand. That is who Kevon is, and it is real. Even though I might not be searchable on Amazon because of the random title, but it was one of my first project. I think it was my second or third paid product, so I still have a lot of learning to do, so I'm like, okay, it's fine. Let's just keep moving forward.
[00:35:48] David Elikwu: Okay. Awesome. What's been the hardest part of this journey for you? As far back as you want to go, what has been the point has been the most difficult either in figuring out what to do next or how to navigate the next thing.
[00:36:03] David Elikwu: Because I think very often we can look at our lives, I think you even referenced this earlier, right? That in retrospect it seems like a linear path. All of these things seem like they make sense. Ahhh, I just did this and this and this, and that's how we all tell our stories. Because in retrospect, of course, why wouldn't I have done things this way? Why wouldn't things have gone that way? But actually very often in the moment, it might not feel like the next step is clear or how to overcome the next obstacle is clear. So what have been some of the obstacles that you have come across and how, if you have already overcome them, how did that go? And if you haven't yet overcome them, how are you planning to?
[00:36:40] Kevon Cheung: I think every creator has a super challenge in their journey, which is how to make money? I was online for 26 months now, and the first six months, $0, it was on purpose because I believe credibility is more important than, 500 bucks or a thousand bucks. But even so in my first year, like 2021, that was my first full year. I made 10K, 10K revenue. I think to a lot of people that's quite good because given I have no niche, I have no network, I have no friends in this space, I'm starting fresh. But again, from a business building perspective, it was like, it was kind of lovable if you tell entrepreneurs about this number.
[00:37:21] Kevon Cheung: So I think one of the biggest challenge is actually knowing how to make revenue. Because I was reflecting back to my first year. A lot of times I was just sitting here writing my book, trying to design my course, trying to run my course, and I wasn't really going out there and saying, Hey guys, I have this thing you can buy. And I realize it doesn't work like that. You cannot just like sit here and wait for people to come into your door. As an entrepreneur, you need to just actively present yourself in every corner of the streets. And some people would buy, some people would not. It doesn't matter. But you don't want to be hard selling, you need to talk about yourself.
[00:38:01] Kevon Cheung: So, funny story, like on Notion, I have this database called Revenue Now Strategy. So the first year I wasn't aware of any of this, but now second year and now actually third year, I think I got better in terms of like, oh, okay, I need to make some revenue this month. What kind of strategy can I use? Oh, I can take one of my digital product and give it like a half price to a selected group of people. Wow, I didn't know that, it's just like one email and you can make some revenue. A couple months ago I saw a friend, Mike Cardona, posted about, I'm looking for sponsors for my newsletter. 100 bucks or 150, but I have two slots. Anyone interested? And then like, people went in, bam, bam, bam. And then I tried it, the same thing. I got like seven slots filled out right away. So I was like, oh my God, it's just knowing what assets you have and finding the right place to put it out there and slip in that message is not like, it's not stealing, it's not hard selling, it's really just creating values. I think this is really the hardest thing, like up till today I'm still learning a lot, but now I have the database so that I can look at it and be like, okay, let's run something.
[00:39:19] David Elikwu: I love that. That's awesome. Wow. yeah, it's a really good point. Okay, going back to what you were talking about with your, your family, which is growing, about to grow even more right now, and just what you were talking about in terms of the amount of money you need to make revenue, all of those things. How has that changed how you approach your need to monetize the work that you do? And I think there's, there's two parts of this that I'm thinking of. One is for the sustainability of your family, wanting to make enough to provide for your family, all of that.
[00:39:49] David Elikwu: But the other part I'm interested in is there an extent to which, you talked about sacrifices earlier. Is there an extent to which it might stop you from experimenting with as many new things as you would like? Or as many things? Because I think before, if you didn't have kids, let's say I'm hypothesizing so you can correct me if I'm wrong, but it could be that you might have an idea, there might be something you want to pursue, you have no idea if it could make money, but you could still try it and you could still take your time and figure it out. Whereas now, maybe if you're in a position where you have two kids, you have a family, maybe you don't have as much room to just figure things out anymore. Or at least there is an impetus to at least have made enough a certain amount of money already. And so is there an extent to which you might be pushed to focus on. So actually going back to Seth Gordon references.
[00:40:38] David Elikwu: I don't want to talk about him, the whole podcast but he talks about this idea of being a hack, but not in the way that most people think of it. He talks about the origins of the word hack coming from like Hackney horses and all of that stuff. But the point being, you have a lot of, let's say singers actually going back to the reference you made, or a lot of performers where the band ends up becoming, instead of creating new work, they are just doing covers of their old work, right? Because they're just performing the same songs again and again and again. Because they know those are the songs people are gonna love. As a result, they don't get to explore and create new work, new work that might be different, new work that people might not love as much because they're creating the stuff that people like. And so there an extent to which the parallel of that for someone that now has kids, may be that you don't necessarily get to create new work and be as explorative as you would like because you have to create the covers that you already know, people that you already know people will like and you already know people will pay for.
[00:41:37] Kevon Cheung: Wow. Another tough question. Definitely, I mean, the pressure is there. You know, obviously I started this with a full-time commitment, like on day one, I'm already full-time on this because I've saved up. So I have some runway. But first year was quite chill because I was just telling myself like, you're in a new space, you're doing a new thing. And I really believe in this space, like it has a long way to go. Like even my real life friends and my mom, she would be like, wow, this Excel girl from the magazine making so much. And then I'll be like, yeah, I'm doing something similar. So I believe in this. So first year was chill in a sense that I have space to play around. So actually 10K revenue for me was, was a big yes. Like it was already a good year.
[00:42:25] Kevon Cheung: But I tweeted about this like getting into second year, oh my God, the pressure is up. Because you don't have room to slack anymore, you cannot say you're exploring like, second year you really should, you don't have a big progression. So second year I got to 47 K in revenue. It was another signal to tell me that, okay, Kevon, you're making good progress. Let's just keep going, you can hit six figure. But I think when you have a family, when you get into your second year, third year, I think, you no longer have room to play around. As in, you cannot suddenly say, I have interest in this NFT project, so I want to allocate like 10 hours a week to do that. I think some people can, like, some people are really good at just multitasking or delegating or just managing things. In my case, I cannot, like, I need to just focus on one thing. So with those like constraints and pressure, I think it actually helped me because since year two, like all the decision I make, it has to contribute to the growth.
[00:43:29] Kevon Cheung: The reason why I'm not writing another book right now is that, a book is actually not revenue generating. I think for most people, it's more like awareness, credibility, lead generation, right? A business card on steroid. So for me, a lot of people go like, Kevon, you should write a second book. You should write a book on building in public. But then in me, I'm like, hmm, I'm questioning myself. What's the benefit of writing a second book? Can I achieve it in other ways? Can I build like a small freebie in like a week other than writing a book for 10 months?
[00:44:01] Kevon Cheung: So I started challenge myself with this tough questions. And I think in a way it helped me to stay focused. So for example of course, my goal this year is to get a six figure. But then I need to start thinking like, cohort is something that I'm already doing. It's most of my revenue. I'm quite public about that. How can I find something that is relevant to that but can scale up my revenue? So to me, it's the coaching because I already help my students one-on-one. Some people need more help, that is like a natural next step for them. So I don't know how to explain that. But with constraints and pressure, you're forced to come up with like better decisions. But in a way I think it's actually a good thing.
[00:44:47] David Elikwu: Thank you so much for tuning in. Please do stay tuned for more. Don't forget to rate, review and subscribe. It really helps the podcast and follow me on Twitter feel free to shoot me any thoughts. See you next time.