Isaac Morehouse and Entrepreneurship as a Libertarian Tactic

One of the most life changing conversations I ever had, was with a man named Isaac Morehouse. He runs a company called Praxis, which offers young professionals an apprenticeship at a startup. Included in the program is an online bootcamp filled with resources for becoming as productive and skilled as possible. Isaac has some really interesting ideas about the world. Most intriguing to me, has been his thoughts on using entrepreneurship as a sort of tool for social and political change. He gives a lecture about his life journey leading up to starting Praxis. He frames it as a story of discovering tactics for changing the world. He started his journey as many others do, seeking to help people directly through tactics like missionary work. He began to seek out longer lasting and larger scale solutions to the world’s problems. He moved into politics, only to find it as cartoonish-ly evil and inefficient as our movies make it look. He joined organizations to spread education and books. This too was a disappointment. He found that his impact was much smaller than me hoped. Eventually Isaac had a realization. He noticed that political change was a lagging indicator of social trends. He noticed that policy and politicians moved slower than culture. He noticed that attempting to change the world through a top down approach, using education and political action, was only looking at part of the picture. His great discovery, was an often overlooked strategy for political change. The tactic of entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurship drives cultural change from the button up. It starts with people’s wants and desires, appealing to them through the creation of value. Consider the need for liberating the taxi market. Anyone who’s ridden in a taxi, understands that the system could be better. They might not understand how things like taxi medallions limit competition and thus cause bad quality service. They might not understand how taxi companies build unions and lobby local governments for favor. However anyone can certainly understand that taxis need improvement. Instead of trying to explain to them the economics of the situation, or inspire them go and out and protest, there is the entrepreneurial tactic. All one need to do is invest in something like Uber and suddenly the incentives are in place for problems to be solved. This doesn’t mean Uber is a perfect company by any means. Simply that Uber illustrates how building a business and creating value for customers helps solve major problems.
This sort of principle can be applied on a much large scale for political change. Such a tactic could be applied to systems like the federal reserve. One might know that having centralized banks controlling interest rates can cause problems.  This can inspire a desire to protest for End The Fed, campaign for Ron Paul for even throw a damn brick through the Fed’s windows. However, like the taxi question, there are more profitable ways to solve this problem. Through innovations like cryptocurrencies, we change the incentives for how governments handle the monetary supply. Consumers have more than one option for doing commerce. If The Fed wants to not be eaten up by its competitors, they have to make the USD better and better.
This insight of entrepreneurship as a political tactic, seems to be a major trend in contemporary libertarian philosophy and the broader movement. Younger libertarians have lost interest in student activist organizations and traditional party politics. Libertarianism has always hat tipped the entrepreneur and understood her impact in the economy. However, thinkers like Isaac Morehouse are making entrepreneurship the center focus of libertarian thought. Teaching us that it can be used to make liberty happen here and now.
Freedom may only be a few good business ideas a way. Those who want to change the world would benefit from learning that.

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How to Get Companies to Use Your Designs

 

Today I want to discuss how designers can get businesses to use their work. Though my experience is running a t-shirt company, I think what I’m about to say has wider application for designers in all fields. I’m going to dissect three messages I’ve received from artists with offers to use their work. None of these are perfect and the first one is absolutely terrible. 

Let’s start with the worst:

message1

So this fella sends me a message asking if I’m interested in his shirt design. The wording is pretty vague.I have no idea if he already has a design created or if he’s just throwing around an idea and wants to get feedback. There’s also nothing to give me any indication of his design quality. This message creates a lot of work for me. I have to ask further for further details that should have been given. 

Message2

This message is a little better. It’s a step up from the first one by offering some samples of his work  and shows that he’s already done designs in my field (cryptocurrencies like Ethereum) . This keeps me from having to ask too many questions as I can gauge his limitations and strengths by looking at the portfolio. He also offers a bit more of a specific offer. However I get a lot of message like this from designers. It’s important to look for opportunity but this message does little to help him stand out. Why should I choose him over any other free lancer I could find online? There is no attempt to build any sort of relationship or give me value. 

Message3

This message gets even closer to the ideal. The designer just straight up sends me some work I could use. I’m prompted to respond, especially given that these designs very usable. It’s completely eliminates any guess work on my end and even saves me the trouble of having to come up with a design idea to commission. This designer has my attention by offering me something with clear value. The context of this specific conversation made the lack of written out value proposition okay. The designer established a relationship with me by having a conversation on a different topic. If you don’t already have an in to a conversation with the business you may want to include a message along with the designs you send in.

If you want businesses to use your designs, do everything you can to minimize the work on their end. Some sort of combination of the second and thirds messages is going to be the way to go. Send them samples of your work, send them designs ideas, and even potentially go as far as sending a free design. Good luck!

Lessons From a Failed T-shirt Store

Before my success with Ethereum Clothing I had a failed T-shirt store, Stateless Apparel (aka SA). It was a side project I took up during my time with the Praxis program. Inspired by my interest in freedom and Libertarian Philosophy, I decided I could find a way to help spread ideas through design. Lots of fun but it was definitely a failed project. An extremely educational failure at that. Here’s what I’ve learned about running a t-shirt store.
1) Avoid acquiring inventory before making sales.

The most expensive mistake I made with SA was printing a couple boxes of shirts before I had any sales. Several years later I still have shirts sitting in my closet. This was an amateur mistake especially in the e-commerce clothing market. Now I know that printing as I get orders is the best way to do it. With Ethereumclothing.com I outsource my printing and shipping to the company Printful. It helps me keep my upfront costs low while freeing up my time to grow the business.

2) Keep website costs low.

Though not as costly as the product problem, I definitely lost some money with my web hosting. Before establishing my revenue I committed to a monthly payment of over $25 on Shopify. Now this isn’t a big cost, but for a first time entrepreneur it was a mistake. With the right combination of WordPress and web hosting systems I was able to get the monthly hosting cost down to under $10. I love Shopify, mind you. I actually currently run my site on it. If you kind of know what you’re doing, you’ll what to use it. I have an affiliate link you can check out. For a first timer though, it’s worth looking at your other options.

3) Start with several designs.

When I was running AS I only had two designs. They were pretty decent looking, but having such an empty site made my store unprofessional. Also if I had more designs I could have made a lot more sales. With my new site and all future projects I’ve decided to start with at least 5 designs.

4) Learn to do the designs yourself when possible.

Both of the designs were outsourced to a friend of mine. Great work! However the designs weren’t too complicated and I could easily recreate them now with my current design skills. I also overpaid. Unfamiliar with the market I offered much higher than I should have. My friend even gave me a discount, likely feeling the commissioned work wasn’t worth the cost. I also missed out on a great opportunity to learn a skill. I currently design most of the work at Ethereumclothing.com and will likely continue to sharpen that ability with further projects.

Failure is a necessary part of the growth process. Though it was unfortunate to lose time and money, I’m glad I had the courage to give it try.

Harvey J is Everything I Love About Entrepreneurship

So there’s this man on the internet. No he’s not a man. He’s a fucking legend. A living meme come to save humanity from our dry corporate existence through drunken rapping and alcohol infused cooking tips.
This god of branding and social media is Harvey J, hennessy enthusiast and internet super star. He’s known best for a series of cooking with henny videos where he basically just pours bottles of hennessy all over his meals and shouts “WE LIT”. It’s charming, it’s hilarious but primarily it inspires the fuck of me.

Harvey has tapped into the essence of what I love about entrepreneurship. The creative freedom to live whatever lifestyle you want however you want. I don’t know how Harvey J is offline but I would bet he likes to drink as much as I like to smoke and now he’s made a career out of his passion for pleasure. I mean he was over 700,000 likes on Facebook and half of his content is just him drinking on camera, truly inspirational!

Thank you for being such a badass Harvey J. Because of you I know Hennything is possible!

Thoughts from a tolerance break

It’s been a little over a week since I last smoked pot. I’m on what you could call a tolerance break, letting my brain readjust to sobriety so that it’s easier to get high when I get back to it. A tolerance break is always a great time to reflect on my drug use so here’s some thoughts before I return to the Devil’s Lettuce.

It’s great that cannabis is so easy to quit

I smoked pretty much daily up until last week when I stopped. It really says great things about this drug that you be a frequent user like me and have little trouble cutting cold turkey. If I had been doing coke everyday for a few weeks I’d probably be finding some excuse to sell my PlayStation for another line at this point. That isn’t to say cannabis isn’t addictive in some sense. Anything fun is addictive. But it’s addictive to the same degree as a good TV show or a fun book, you wanna do it again not because you’re compelled but simply because it’s a habit and it’s super fun.

I’m not more or less productive without weed

There’s this unfortunate stigma around smoking pot, that it makes you brain dead and unproductive. Though it’s true sometimes while high I’d rather melt into the couch with a plate of tacos than get any work done it’s not really a universal smoking experience. When stoned I often find myself energized to do creative work. Some of my best art was a result of THC igniting the creative spark in my brain. My tolerance break hasn’t really affected my productivity overall. I read less and I’m doing less spray paint art but I’m still kicking ass the same way I was while smoking daily. It’s important to pay attention to how individual strains change my work habits (I’m not gonna go for a jog on a 90% indica) but for the most part, I believe weed has little noticeable effect on my ability to get shit done.

I do sleep better without it

Probably the only real noticeable side effect of not smoking is my sleeping patterns. When I smoked daily, especially when I had more indica than sativa, I’d pretty much always take a nap halfway through my day. This would totally mess up my sleeping schedule. Making me wake up at 6am some morning and 1pm others. An important thing to pay attention to and keeping this in mind maybe I’ll learn to only smoke at night or only buy sativa.

Nothing new

Overall, haven’t learned much that I didn’t already know. It’s nice to take a break and reflect, it reminds me that contrary to the propaganda smoking doesn’t make me a junkie. Sobriety is it’s own type of adventure and it’s just another possible perspective to see my day from. Looking forward to getting high at a lower cost now that my tolerance is back down.