Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

152: The Truth Behind Finding Luck: Interview with Brett Kelly

People start writing for all kinds of reasons. Fame, fortune, boredom, or another hobby they’ll quit in three weeks. But sometimes, a person writes for something more.

152: The Truth Behind Finding Luck: Interview with Brett Kelly

They write for freedom.

Most of us want freedom from something. Our past, a bad habit, a toxic relationship, a dull day job, or even the distractions we let keep us from writing.

Our guest this week on The Portfolio Life, was living somewhat comfortably, but wanted freedom from debt. Over the years he’d developed close relationships with a small circle of friends who ended up being quite influential.

He knew Chris Guillebeau before The Art of Non-Conformity was published by Penguin. He knew Leo Babauta when Zen Habits was on a blogspot domain. Our guest saw his friends writing online and creating digital resources for their audiences and wanted to do the same.

So, Brett Kelly took one of his favorite productivity tools and wrote a robust user guide called Evernote Essentials. With the blessing of Evernote, the support of his friends, and the attention of people like Michael Hyatt, Brett has sold nearly 80,000 copies of Evernote Essentials.

Listen in as we discuss how Brett launched with a list of 400 people, losing track of how many tattoos he has, and how the CEO of Evernote personally recruited him.

Listen to the podcast

To listen to the show, click the player below (If you’re reading this via email, please click here).

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Show highlights

In this episode, Brett and I discuss:

  • Debt freedom as a motivator to create
  • Paying attention to market trends
  • Not getting sued by Evernote
  • Broadening creative horizons and diversifying personal brand
  • The awkwardness of explaining what you do as a creative to people who care, but don’t “get” it
  • The ambiguity of calling yourself a writer
  • How running a business around your writing is like fixing a plane mid-flight
  • Accidentally building a cadre of friends who ended up being very influential
  • Distilling complexity into something digestible for the masses

Quotes and takeaways

  • Sometimes humility isn’t very helpful when people are looking to you for answers.
  • Be helpful. Be encouraging.
  • “People who had more than I had, gave to me. That’s why I’m here.” –Brett Kelly
  • The medium of creation effects the final outcome.

Resources

Click here to download a free PDF of the complete interview transcript.

What is your favorite app to write in? What is your “superpower” or the theme of your work? Share in the comments

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

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  • I think writing is freedom too. It’s like you can buy a research paper instead of write this by yourself. I mean, this way is escaping you from depression and frustration. When i write something, i forget about all the problems. I’m sinking to the world about I’m writing, and trying to live my hero life.