Manufacturing byproducts

“Whenever you make something, you always make something else. You can’t just make one thing.” -Jason Fried

Back when I saw the Jason Fried talk for the first time, this is what stuck out the most: the fact that basically whenever we do one thing, we simultaneously do something else or get into something else.

For example…

  • Blogging got me unto Twitter.
  • Going to a friend’s Bible study turned into a blog about my friend’s church.
  • Playing guitar got me into the worship band, which latter turned into eight years of playing drums for church.
  • Building out my own websites taught me how to build them for clients.
  • Tutoring my sister helped me realize I could teach English in Korea.
  • Adding a Philosophy class turned into a second B. A. degree.
  • Taking an extra class one semester gave me the confidence to take a bunch of extra classes over the next semesters, graduate early, and then help other students do the same thing.
  • Learning how to make friends quickly gave me the experience to write an ebook about how to do it on purpose.

Those are just a few of my examples that come to mind.

Okay, so byproducts are cool. One thing leads to another. Look for how you can parlay what you’re doing now into something else you can do. Great.

Now, let’s take it a step further. You can manufacture byproducts. Some are pure serendipity, that’s true, but not all of them. Not all of them have to be random.

For instance, Tim Ferriss said that when he wrote his book, The 4-Hour Body, which is a #1 New York Times Best-Seller, he started by figuring out how to market it, how to sell it. He thought, What would be cool on the back cover? What would be awesome in the index? And then he wrote the content so he could honestly include those crazy claims on the cover and in the index.

It’s reverse engineering, and that’s what I’m talking about doing with byproducts. Instead of flailing wildly about, shooting randomly all over the place just hoping to land some amazing byproducts, what if we thought of the byproducts first?

Why not start with the ending and write to it?