To make a difference, you have to write

Another “Friday Night Writes” post, as requested by Brian Reese.

Many people are afraid of writing.  The thought conjures up bad memories of school assignments and term papers.  But if you want to make a difference you have to write.

Brian asked me what I thought of his philosophy, which is, “Writing equals thinking, which drives understanding and focuses actionable ideas.”

I agree; writing is a powerful tool for thinking.  Writing forces you to fill in the gaps in your thinking because it makes those gaps impossible to ignore (at least for the intellectually rigorous and honest–never underestimate the ability for people to fool themselves when it’s convenient).

But the power of writing is even greater.  Brian focused on the internal impact.  I’d argue that the external impact is even greater.  Writing is uniquely privileged on the Internet; it’s searchable, it’s permanently archived, and it’s easily shared and consumed.

A ho hum blog post of mine reaches a couple hundred people.  A popular blog post could reach thousands, or in rare cases, tens of thousands.  For example, my “Founder Non-Admissions” slide deck has been viewed 32,000 times.

In contrast, I might get the chance to meet with 5-10 entrepreneurs per week.  By reaching several thousand people per week with my writing, I expand my influence by several orders of magnitude.  The influence of a single blog post is far less, but not that much less.  My writing definitely makes a greater difference than my speaking or my meetings.

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