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Vanity Metrics

Mustafa Sultan
Mustafa Sultan
Hello friends,
I’ve been making my podcast for 6 months. Here’s how it’s performed.

Weekly Plays since March
Weekly Plays since March
Now at 400 plays every week‼️
Some Context
The Dip
Launching something is really exciting. All your friends listen and you get lots of nice messages.
Then, life moves on and people stop caring (the dip).
At the bottom of the dip, I was getting 13 listens/week. That sucked.
Seth Godin (someone I really admire) wrote a book on this. I recommend not buying the book — it’s a total cash grab and could have been summed up in a blog post.
Seth’s message? Decide whether the dip is a sign that you should quit or double down on your efforts.
There’s no shame in quitting, in fact, it’s encouraged.
Quit or be exceptional. Average is for losers.
Quitting lets you pivot to something you’d be better at.
Celebrities 🎭
Getting ‘celebrities’ like Ali Abdaal and Eric Topol on is really cool. Predictably, plays go through the roof.
But then they drop back down a few weeks later. They’re a bit like pouring petrol on a campfire. The effect is short-lived.
The Future 🤖
I’ve worked out that I have, give-or-take, a 6-month attention span. Around now is when I start getting bored and look for a new project.
Ali Abdaal challenged anyone with a creative project, to post every week for 2 years. Consistency is 👑, apparently.
I’ve been following his advice, and 6 months in — I’m shocked at how well it’s worked. Growth has been nearly linear.
On Excel, you can graph your current growth and use it to project future growth—
Orange: current plays. Blue dotted line: projected growth over 2 years (if linear)
Orange: current plays. Blue dotted line: projected growth over 2 years (if linear)
Do Plays Matter?
I don’t know.
I think in every field, there are vanity metrics.
In podcasting/YouTubing there are plays, in fitness there’s the infamous: “how much do you bench, bro?”, in academia there’s your number of publications.
Caring abut these too much is unproductive. They’re surrogate endpoints, an attempt at representing something vast with one number.
In Medicine, surrogate endpoints include blood cholesterol. Simvastatin is good at reducing cholesterol (the surrogate endpoint) without any evidence that it reduces death, for example.
Making it Sustainable 🌳
My new challenge — how do I make this sustainable? How can I make this into a 10-year project vs a 6-month one?
I’ve committed to posting weekly for two years. So that’ll take me to episode #100. But what to do after?
Number #1: I don’t think posting weekly is sustainable over 10 years. It’s a lot of work. The only way it could manageable is to hire an editor.
I think I’ll drop down to posting once fortnightly after episode #100.
Number #2: At this stage, batching becomes an interesting weapon. It means doing lots of the same type of activity together (in a batch) to turbocharge productivity.
So I could record two interviews on a Sunday morning, send them to an editor and have enough content for a month. One morning a month would be very sustainable 🤔
Long Term Goals for the Podcast 🥅
  • Be able to speak to my favourite authors, Matt Hancock, Elon Musk etc.
  • Build the podcast into a serendipity vehicle for other interests
  • Make enough income from side projects that a full-time job is optional
#030 AI Too Smart for Clinical Trials: SPIRIT-AI and CONSORT-AI — Professor Alastair Deniston and Dr Xiao Liu
All the best,
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Mustafa Sultan
Mustafa Sultan @mustafasultan

Thoughts on healthcare, human optimisation and productivity. A little taste of what I'm thinking and reading about.

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