Think Like an Owner

2018 Annual Letter to Readers and Listeners

Dear Readers and Listeners,

I love reading annual letters written by fund managers, CEOs, investment firms, foundations, and even some blogs like Farnam Street. As a fun goal for myself, I’ve decided to start writing annual (and possibly quarterly) letters for the Think Like an Owner project to reflect on the growth of the podcast, discussion around the micro private equity market, and my personal learning. It forces me to put words to my thoughts, values, and opinions on the project in a way that brings added clarity. Additionally, it provides written reflections I can look back on (hopefully with pride!).

I find that a visual representation of performance is an excellent way to kick off an annual letter, and I’m excited to begin tracking Think Like an Owner’s progress each year. Below is my first annual summary of performance:

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While I recognize these numbers may seem low, it’s important to note that this data reflects only one month in 2018. And in November last year, all these numbers would have been zero! The first episode of the podcast and the website were both released in early December and had barely a month to make a ripple in the finance community. Despite 2018’s limited data, I am proud of the progress the project has made thus far! These are just some of the data points I’m interested in tracking; if you as a reader or listener have suggestions on what you would like to see tracked or recommendations on tracking progress, please reach out. I’m always looking to refine and iterate. 

I only had one podcast episode recorded when I released my conversation with Trish Higgins. I’ve heard and read advice on starting a podcast and most say to build up a bank of podcast episodes before releasing them. I took the opposite approach and made a bet that if I released the episode, showed what I wanted to do, and proved that I was serious and could do it, the next guest would be easier to reach and connect with. Thankfully, this bet turned out in my favor and I give a lot of thanks to folks on Twitter who were so generous in spreading the word and paving the way to new relationships and connections. 

I’d wanted to start this project for quite a while leading up to December (I talk more in-depth about starting the project here if you’re interested) and its growth is anything but a concern for me. When I remember that this all didn’t exist even three months ago from the time I write this, these numbers are impressive to me. I have no doubt that 2019 will bring with it a whole host of new listeners, guests, challenges, and opportunities. 

Think Like an Owner’s Purpose

There are actually two purposes of Think Like an Owner. First, to accelerate my own personal learning in micro private equity and permanent capital and sharing those conversations and bits of knowledge with you. Second, to create a community of like-minded professionals interested in the space where new ideas and connections can be shared and created. Both of these purposes will take time, and neither will be a finished project - each will evolve and grow on its own. I have open arms for any and all who are interested in joining. 

Notes and Promises on Housekeeping

I’d like to share my take on a few podcast and website details that are important to me and explain my reasoning behind them. 

First, episode frequency. I have great admiration and respect for Patrick O'Shaughnessy and Ted Seides (among others), who can each produce incredibly high-quality conversations on a weekly basis. Eventually, I would love to publish an episode once a week. However, based on my current commitments and upcoming college graduation, my goal is to release one conversation a month. 

Second, my plans for content. While content creation was limited in 2018, I envision a significantly more productive 2019. I want to find a balance between producing a consistent volume and quality of content and I believe the sweet spot is in the middle, following the same train of thought as episode frequency. I will not be happy producing tons of content that is weak and without meaning. I will only produce content that I would want to read or listen to myself. With this being said, a reasonable goal of one written article a month seems fair to me, with time being the true decision maker on fairness.

Finally, a few promises. I will never have a pop-up asking you to sign up for my email list or newsletter. I know marketing statistics are in favor of pop-ups such as these and they are popular in today’s blogosphere, but personally, they’re not my cup of tea! I prefer allowing my readers to take some time to get to know me, the site, and the podcast before sharing an email address with me, at their discretion.

I will also never have ads on my website. Ads on websites tend to distract from the actual content on the site and pull the reader’s attention in all different ways. When you’re on thinklikeowners.com, I want you to be able to enjoy reading and learning about the project without your attention being dragged away by a poorly targeted ad. 

Ultimately, I hope this letter is conveying that I intend for my focus to be quality over quantity, especially when it comes to content and subscribers.

Transcripts

Speaking of promises, I will always make sure to publish the written transcript of all my podcast conversations. I do this for a few reasons. First, I don’t know how everyone prefers to enjoy these conversations. Perhaps some really enjoy podcasts, but others may prefer to read the conversation. Furthermore, transcripts make these conversations accessible to those who may have partial or total hearing impairments. Finally, since I’m offering the podcast conversation for free, it felt wrong to hold back or sell the written version of something I offer at no cost. To accommodate all of these groups, the podcast transcripts will always be available for free.

As I seek a transcription service to complete this task for me, I am currently transcribing the episodes on my own. This takes quite a bit of work and time, but as the process improves I hope to release transcripts within two weeks of publishing the conversation. Upon finding a business or individual to assist me with episode transcription, I anticipate a much faster turnaround in the future.

The Guests I’m Looking For

The types of guests I’m hoping to have conversations with are working in, focused on, or learning about micro private equity and permanent capital. These guests may take the form of business professionals, investors, CEOs, fund managers, entrepreneurs, owners, and even other students. I’m not focused on finding one type of guest in particular, but rather on finding the most interesting, smart, and thoughtful professionals in this space. 

Initially, I thought this scope would find a small number of potential guests, but the more I explore, reach out, and learn, the larger this group becomes. I feel confident about upcoming episodes and believe this will give me enough breathing room to find the best guests possible. If you fall into this category, please reach out because I’d love to chat. 

Personal Growth

Starting this project has been the best decision, professionally, I’ve ever made. The podcast has paved the way to conversations I never would have had otherwise and is opening some unique doors and opportunities. For instance, Jamie Catherwood’s FinTwit event in Washington, D.C. is something I never would have heard about if not for the podcast, the reaching out that comes with it, and the kindness and generosity of professionals in the field. I cannot wait to go to this year’s event and I hope to see you there! 

The podcast has also been a great way to connect with old friends and colleagues and share what I’ve been up to with them. I’ve already been able to build a small community around the project, populated with various friends, advisors, and mentors. Their help and advice has been extraordinary. 

Improvements in 2019

Among other things I want to improve on in 2019, the two biggest ones are releasing podcast transcripts sooner, and establishing a more consistent release schedule. Transcripts take time to work on, but new tools I’ve recently discovered should allow me to release transcripts much sooner than previously possible, making this goal more achievable.

In terms of a release schedule, I intend to consistently release episodes at a certain time each month so listeners can count on an episode with more regularity. I’ve decided to aim to release new episodes on the first Friday of each month, and will assess my progress after the first few months of 2019. Like everything else about this project and letter, I’m always open to feedback and to hear your thoughts. Please feel free to share any advice you may have around my goals for consistency. 

Thank you for sharing your time by reading this letter and following my podcast project. I’m beyond excited to see what comes of it all in 2019 and I look forward to writing to you again next year.


Alex Bridgeman