More To That

A timeless new year ⏳

Published 4 months ago • 4 min read

Hey friends,

In a little over a week, we’ll be approaching the coastline of 2024. As we ease into the new year, I hope you’re taking some time to wind down and enjoy the slower moments of life. Rest is when you cease to tie your self-worth to the value you produce, and these next few days are an opportunity to embody that reminder.

With that said, this will be the final newsletter of the year, as I already have a lot in store when January arrives. There’s a big post on the nature of inspiration that I’m putting the final touches on, along with other pieces that I’m excited to share. I feel so grateful that I get to share the results of my curiosity with you, and look forward to continue doing so in the new year.

Speaking of which, I wanted to share a short reflection I wrote last December that’s just as pertinent today.

Around this time, we start setting goals that we want to hit for the upcoming year, and do this in an attempt to better position our future selves. While this may seem helpful, I feel that this practice encourages a form of rigidity that doesn’t result in the growth we seek.

This argument will require some unpacking, and today’s reflection is here to do just that. So when you’re ready, let’s dive right in:

A Timeless New Year

Books I’ve Been Enjoying

Book Recommendations for the Holidays — In this patron-only audio episode, I discuss 6 books that are worthy candidates for your attention over the holiday season. I go over 3 works of fiction and 3 works of non-fiction, all of which either left me in awe or gave me so much to think about.

As you know, my interests are quite varied, and you will see that reflected in these recommendations. For example, one is a collection of short stories on the afterlife, another is a collection of beautiful talks on knowing yourself, and another is a memoir of a young man who overcame the turmoils of the foster care system.

The common theme is that they are all fantastic, and are great books to cozy up with over the holidays. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

A Thought I’ve Been Pondering

Over the past few years, I’ve managed to build More To That into what I call an integrity-first business. It’s one thing to make money from your creative endeavor, but it’s a whole other thing to do it in a way that aligns with your values. The latter is what interests me more.

Here are 10 principles to keep in mind when building an integrity-first business:

  • Create for yourself, but do it so well that people pay attention.
  • The purpose of money is to free your attention to do what you really want to do. Therefore, you don’t need a ton of it because lavishness isn’t what you’re after; creative freedom is.
  • Make decisions using a long time horizon. Short-term payoffs aren’t worth long-term deficits on your reputation.
  • Use social media in a way where you don’t become a slave to the algorithm. Remember that you don’t serve the tools; the tools serve you.
  • If there’s one metric to focus on, it’s email subscribers. Everything else is vanity.
  • Create products that are so good that people want to sell it for you. Rely less on marketing to generate sales, and more on creating value for your biggest fans.
  • Curiosity is your greatest asset, so find ways to continue nurturing it, even if it doesn’t yield any monetary value. Read books that have nothing to do with business, go on walks without listening to podcasts, hop on a random phone call with no objectives in mind. These are the things that will keep your creativity alive.
  • Rest is important because it gives you moments where everything feels okay and undisturbed. By regularly feeling this way, you won’t make impulsive decisions that compromise your integrity.
  • Be open to other people’s advice, but discount it according to your values. For example, if you’re listening to a marketer’s take on writing great copy, take in what feels natural to incorporate, and discard anything that feels manipulative. Advice never needs to be taken wholesale.
  • The goal isn’t to get more customers; it’s to find the few people you want to go deeper with. The work you put out for free acts as a beacon for the people that will eventually pay you for it. The more mindful you are about the work you publish, the more mindful of a person you’ll encounter when you have a product to offer.

Each of these principles could be a post in itself, but I’ll keep it to here for now. With that said, if you’re interested in hearing more about what it means to build an integrity-first business, hit reply and let me know. Maybe I’ll do a deeper dive on the topic if there's enough interest =).

A Brief Parting Question

What’s a memory from this past year that you’ll likely feel nostalgia for?

Here’s mine: Over the summer, my wife, daughter, and I went to Korea for two months to spend time with my parents. In the evenings, we would go to my parents’ place to have dinner together (with my brother too), and afterward, I’d drive us back to our Airbnb that was about 15 minutes away.

That drive back is a strong candidate for nostalgia. I remember being so content driving my wife and daughter back, viewing the beautiful lakeside park along the highway and feeling full from being in the presence of my family. The combination of these emotions was so visceral that during one of these drives, I told myself that I’d feel nostalgic for it one day. Well, as it turns out, that day arrived much sooner than I thought.

What about you?

As always, hit reply to share any thoughts, to respond to the parting question, or to simply say hello. I love hearing from you.

Thanks for reading, and feel free to share this email with anyone who might enjoy it. Have a great rest of your week, and enjoy the rest of 2023!

-Lawrence Yeo

P.S. Thanks to all the wonderful people that support the blog on Patreon! It means so much. If you’d like to support More To That and get access to book recommendations, exclusive AMAs, offline posts, and other reflections, join as a patron today.

P.P.S. If you want to treat yourself to a learning experience over the holidays, check out The Examined Writer. It's 3 hours of self-paced material, all designed to elevate your writing practice.

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More To That

by Lawrence Yeo

Illustrated stories on the human condition.

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