Nathan Baschez: A Deep Dive on Business StrategyDaniel ScrivnerLast Updated: September 10, 2020
“If you have weak, scattered, or non-systematic observations about the market driving your decision making process, you can make some pretty bad decisions, even if you get all the strategy concepts right.” — Nathan Baschez
Nathan Baschez is one of the world’s leading thinkers, researchers, and writers on business strategy. He is the Co-Creator of Product Hunt, which secured $6.1 million in funding and earned the Crunchie Award of “Best New Startup of 2014.” He spent time at General Assembly and Substack before launching Hardbound, a visual storytelling platform. Nathan now spends his days analyzing businesses and sharing his findings in the newsletter Divinations, which is part of Everything, a paid newsletter bundle he’s building with Dan Shipper.
- 00:01:47 – Nathan’s early career, including co-creating Product Hunt
- 00:07:04 – Creating Hardbound
- 00:19:51 – Nonfiction books as a form of secondary education
- 00:22:12 – Learning from losses and changes at Hardbound and Substack
- 00:26:52 – How Nathan became interested in and focused on business strategy
- 00:31:30 – Applying business strategy to personal life
- 00:35:19 – Feedback loops in business growth
- 00:37:55 – Models for thinking about business strategy
- 00:49:40 – Nathan’s research and writing routines
- 00:58:05 – Mental models and frameworks Nathan refers to most when writing about a company or industry
- 00:59:49 – Advice for young people aspiring to be strategic leaders
Links from the Episode
- Connect with Nathan: Twitter | Podcast | LinkedIn
- Everything, a newsletter bundle on business strategy and productivity
- Ryan Hoover, co-founder of Product Hunt
- Dash by General Assembly, a course on coding basics
- Hacker News
- Tweet about the “Product Hunt mafia”
- Chris Messina, a top hunter on Product Hunt
- The Peter Principle
- betaworks, a New York City-based accelerator
- The New York Review of Books
- The Paris Review
- Master of Scale, a podcast hosted by Reid Hoffman
- Y Combinator
- Stratechery, technology and media strategy analysis by Ben Thompson
- Michael Porter
- Clay Christensen
- Feedback loops
- Finding Power
- The Flywheel Effect
- Charli D’Amelio
- Porter’s Five Forces
- Hunter S. Thompson’s daily routine
- Finding Power, a framework based on Clay Christensen’s “The Conservation of Modularity”
- Invisible Asymptotes
- Means of Creation, a talk show about the passion economy
- Building a Second Brain, a course by Tiago Forte
- Sourdough by Robin Sloan, creator of the Fish app
- A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
- 7 Powers: The Foundations of Business Strategy by Hamilton Helmer
- Why Figma Wins by Kevin Kwok
- So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport
- Aggregation Theory by Ben Thompson
- Talk Therapy by Li Jin
- The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
Business strategy, or as Nathan describes it, “the art of making decisions,” is of ultimate importance when launching and building a business. It’s important to understand the business landscape around you, much like how teams prepare in football—watching replays, knowing the coaches and players, and understanding the team’s strengths and weaknesses.
- “I think there are a lot of startup founders who don’t pay very much attention to the strategy frameworks. They have a pretty simple view of, ‘OK, cool. I just need to solve a problem.’… I think you have a greater chance of success if you understand: ‘OK, how is this going to work as it scales? What are the advantages we really have? What are the accumulating advantages we have?’… These are the kinds of things that are really important to pay attention to and to be searching for.”
- “Be more indulgent than you think you should be. I think people have a mindset of being really diligent where they’re like, ‘I need to do this, so I should do it…’ And you definitely need a lot of that—you need a lot of discipline… But at the same time, you need to balance it with, ‘This is a little different than what we were originally thinking, but this could be really good.’ Allow yourself to go there and maybe just give yourself permission to try it and think, ‘I’m just going to spend an hour on this, and we’ll see.’ That’s where all the good stuff comes from.”
- “Create your own stuff, because it’s a way to jump the line. It’s really hard when you’ve not created a lot of stuff of your own that’s become successful independently for people to look at you and want to take a bet on you. But if you’ve done that before, then people are like, ‘Oh, this person can make things that turn out to be really good, so I trust them.’ That’s a permissionless way to demonstrate you’re worthy of responsibility.”
On Outliers, Daniel Scrivner explores the tactics, routines, and habits of world-class performers working at the edge—in business, investing, entertainment, and more. In each episode, he decodes what they’ve mastered and what they’ve learned along the way. Start learning from the world’s best today.
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