The Gold List - A journal written by David Sherry

Rational Vs. Irrational

Rational Vs. Irrational 

February 10, 2017


The customer buys based on a rational decision.

— If I buy a coffee, I get energy.

The customer buys based on an irrational decision.

— I spend $3 extra on this coffee because I like the atmosphere in the store, it makes me feel smart.

The customer refers based on a rational decision. 

— If I share I get a $30 credit to anyone I sign up. 

The customer refers based on an irrational decision

— If I’m the first to know about this brand, I’m unique in my friend group.

The customer leaves based on a rational reason.

— I no longer can afford this expense in my budget.

The customer leaves based on an irrational reason.

— Something about this brand feels out of line with my values.

If we confuse when our customer is being rational with when they’re being irrational, our story won’t connect. 

The trick is understanding when to use which, so that the story we tell resonates at the right time, and with the right emotion. 

And, if it's you that's the customer, are you using the optimal part of your brain for the decision at hand? 

David Sherry
The Democratization of Products

The Democratization of Products

February 9, 2017

The democratization or our products is here.

It’s been brewing ever since manufacturing was outsourced and specialized and since aggregation sites like product hunt pulled together everything in one location. Word travels fast. 

Done something incredibly interesting lately? Expect to see it elsewhere in the ether soon. 

Look at your Instagram feed… how often are you seeing something that truly catches your eye? That really can’t be passed up? Lately, it’s all more of the same, plants, overhead coffee shots, hiking photos. We stay safe and post what others post. OR what we think people want to see. We push the genre… only slightly. 

I’m not saying I’m excluded from this group, all I’m saying is we’re more synched up on the culture than ever before. And most of your ideas will no longer remain that special. 

And if you build something of value, something new…. it get’s ripped off immediately. 

This 24 year-old beats Kickstarter’s to market.

All it takes is some guts, some phone calls to China, and an eye for what’s picking up traction and you can rip anything that’s produced, rebrand it, throw ads up and take advantage of the innovator’s success.

Can you protect yourself? 

No, and worrying about the knock-offs is time wasted… 

Anyways, the first mover still typically garners 10x the profits and brand awareness.

The Fidget Cube raised $6 Million whereas the knock-off only brings in a few hundred k.

People want the originals. Not the knock off’s. Would you rather meet up with Bob Barker or Drew Carey? Would you even care that much to take a meeting with Warren Buffet or the 2nd most prominent HedgeFund you haven’t heard of? 

The originals will be remembered, but we will also move on from them unless they continue to do something that’s scarce. 

You build something, ship, take a risk. If it hits, you’ll be rewarded greatly.

This is competition. It’s business. It forces you to win on what’s actually hard to create.

We all have a leg up thanks to those that come before us.

We all follow frameworks and take hints and gather inspiration. Artist’s who build value use frameworks but add their own flare. They remix and tweak the mold, rare would it be that something totally new is created.

Can we be so arrogant to think that we can own an idea? That it’s “our art” ?— when we all stand on the backs of artists from all of history until now? 

But people still get upset by this. Somebody taking your idea? Innovate! 

Are we mad that 2 different fashion brands both make can Blue Jeans? Or that two car companies both make vehicles that essentially take you from point A to point B?

Instagram copied Snapchat. And now Instagram just hit its fastest monthly growth ever.

And Facebook took hints from Myspace..

When our ideas are democratized, we’re forced to do what’s risky. And innovators do what’s hard.

This is how you build value. Do something that’s really freaking hard. When a product becomes democratized it’s no longer difficult to create, thus the value drops. Prices go down. 

Compete elsewhere or reinvent.

Making the first iPhone was incredibly hard. Making the 8th iPhone is no longer “hard.” There’s just not much room left to go with it. The parts are all made at the same manufacturer as every other phone.

The product is made by dozens of other companies. 

Brand awareness and attention, that’s hard.

A global supply chain, that’s hard.

And eventually, the category will be reinvented. This is what Apple did well. They defined a new product category. 

That’s what’s needed today. Once it’s been democratized innovate again, or get left behind. 

So if you’re just now starting a blog, ask yourself what’s actually hard about this?

And if you’re posting photos of your cat hoping it will catch on… what are you doing that’s hard? 

You figure out “what’s hard” in your line of business and you overcome it. It’s the only way to succeed.

Doing what else is readily available in the market and you won't get heard. Do what others can't do, and you can charge for your value. 

There are no easy rides to success.

That’s Art. It’s hard. The Beatles played over 600 shows before they were signed. 

That’s business, it’s hard. Apple started in a garage in 1976. Keeping at it this long is hard.

Don’t be surprised that you’re forced to keep going instead of resting at the top of the mountain. 

We must reinvent, again and again.

David Sherry
The Next Adventure.

The Next Adventure. 

February 8, 2017


The world is ready for you. 

The next adventure is the one that we make for ourselves. 

There are itches out there waiting to be scratched. And how we choose our work determines how well, and how likely we are to scratch them. It’s never been a better time to be an artist.

On this adventure, I believe we can have amazing experiences in our work that are rewarding in an entirely different way than was previously possible.

We’re not here to own more things. We are here to reach our highest capacity and see the fruits of being stretched into new territories. Fruits that look like meeting and working with our heroes, speaking at the conference when we thought we’d be in the audience, writing the book we didn’t think we had in us. More than money, we seek access to feelings and spaces that cannot be bought. Opportunities that arise serendipitously out of our work that couldn’t have been imagined. Our work grants us new relationships (and a relationship to the masses behind our cause).

Work not as a paycheck, but instead a method of building a larger life-path where trusted partners who support your growth and lifestyle.

We’re in a time where there is massive opportunity in what sort of work we choose to do, massive change in our work habits and relationships, and massive opportunity in the lifestyle we are able to create.

And so we must all be artists because we need to pursue work that can’t be done by automation, efficiency, and scale. We need to pull back a bit on the aspect of “measurement” in some areas, so that we can make art that changes peoples hearts and minds. We need to work in smart groups structured sustainably for these changes.

We have access to tools and communities that will enable this more than ever before. Tools that will help us shape a new lifestyle. Ease of travel and communication, ease of collaboration and remote work. This ever-growing web of tools will help us track, manage, ideate, and unleash new communities and complex webs of work and art that will be the new invisible edifice, replacing the skyscraper.

In your new adventure, shake off the notion of working for a company. The reality is we all manage ourselves, and we join with others who align with who we want to serve and in the larger path of our careers. We’ll weave into alignment with companies for a time. We’ll adapt our strategies with our team based on desire, based on community feedback, based on our capacity to be generous and based on art that we dream up to share with the world.

We’re moving away from a static world of corporations, to one that’s based on the fluidity of teams and co-conspirators. Companies will expand and contract based on skill-sets necessary for current initiatives. The best leaders are organizers, and the best collaborators are specialists. These fluctuations in our teams can open the door for the artist and freelancer. Someone to step in and make art and connection.

This is very different than what we’ve seen before, wherein companies grow to support a large infrastructure and team. With benefits and roles that slowly evolve or that have ladders to climb within. Instead, it’s the small group, the diverse culture, the rallying force, who takes a swing and attracts a community that will delight their audience which stands most poised to find fulfillment and inertia in their work.

This is because we’ve finally tapped into the crowd, and the crowd is leverage. To build the crowd you need to see them not as a tool, but as a group we serve and build trust with. And in return, this trust translates to goodwill, which, like any good friend, can be activated in times of need.

Our work is built on relationships. And like any relationship, it means that our product, our project, our brand or service, will always be in flux. In your relationships, with you community and your co-workers, you’ll make mistakes, you’ll make your community happy, you’ll disappoint. And they will keep you on your toes but also support you when you fall.

Our work is to reimagine.

We have a lot of unlearning to do
, and we’re in the midst of the flux that is happening. Tools of automation will only further accelerate this change. Some of it will be natural, we are built to create relationships, we just forgot how. We forgot what it’s like to meet all of our neighbors and be part of a dynamic group. We forgot how to express ourselves into the medium we work with. We forgot how to vulnerably share with our communities. We can bring these forgotten skills back into our work.

To continually adapt our service to our community. To continue to be generous, we often have to change how we serve. Get used to your work changing every year. The thing that won't change, however, is this; The scarcest resource is trust and attention.

You gain this through generosity, from being tuned into the community, and from naturally sharing our art from a place of humanity.

So when you embark, start with generosity. Start with building trust.

And knowing this in advance, we must build our teams in a way that facilitate these relationships. To create a unit that is fluid, and leverages a community to both achieve new levels for themselves. The organizers and the specialists.

This is an adventure that won’t be easy.

The value we provide will come from something we’ve got deep inside of us but has been mostly squashed out. To share our gifts we’ve been repressing for fear of the critic. But it’s exactly that natural art you have inside that will get you farther now.

If we can get through this shift in our work, I believe we’ll find something of quality on the other side. Something that we’re lucky to be able to have as an option. Something only possible thanks to the very automation that is disrupting our current work. 

The next adventure happens by choosing to be on an adventure…

So I’m asking you to begin.

Because like any good adventure, once you embark, that’s when all of the magic begins to happen.

David Sherry
How To Get More Referrals.

How to ask for a referral 

February 7, 2017

If you freelance or run a small business, your business probably runs on referrals. It’s the quickest way to build your income stream, and the easiest way to secure new work. 

And it’s really quite simple. 

There’s just two steps.

First, add so much value to the client that they feel like they are getting an incredible deal working with them. You’ve made a meaningful impact. You’ve built a strong sense of connection with them. And you’ve given more than you’ve received. 

Basically, they loved the work you did. 

Second, just ask for a referral. 

Here's a basic outline for what you should say when making the ask: 

“________ (name)

Are you able to pay forward how I’ve been helping you, so that I can help others?

By now, you know the work I do. 

Since the last time we met…Do you know 3 people who could benefit from the relationship we have?


(your name) 


If you’ve over-delivered, and they love the relationship you both have, they will say yes. 

If they do not, repeat step 1 until step 2 works. 

It’s surprising how uncommon this is.

David Sherry
Notes from the Seth Godin Q&A in New York City.

Attention in the last scarce resource.
And everything is trying to take it from you, so if choose to engage in something, it should be worth it. That's why we trust companies that keep their promises. I gave you my attention, now are you going to follow through with your end of the bargain? *side note: be smart about how you ask for other people's time.
Ask: will people miss you if you're gone?

We all got agency, but lost reassurance. 
Reassurance is futile because you always want more. 
If you're not committed no tactics will help you. So shop for Commitment, for hard work, not for methods.
You can always just go out and create your own show. If you're a politician, you can just go create your own debate. You don't need any permission to just do something anymore. We're lucky enough to be able to do this. Create something where people CHOOSE to show up and listen, instead of yelling it at them. 


There are demographics and then there are psychographics. Demographics are like age, and gender but that doesn't really help you or tell you much about your audience. Psychographics are what people believe. The internet helps us find the right psychographic to serve.

David Sherry
New Rules, November.


We’re all playing a game, but some people are still playing with the old rules.
Here are some rules for the modern artist:

The medium matters less than ever. The distribution matters more than ever.

Risks are your friend, but they feel like your enemy.

Don’t be scared of the big players in your market. Fear theones with less resources, less structure, and less to lose.

Proactive > Protective.

Overhead can be your death. The opposite of overhead is a rare co-conspirator that bring diverse value to the table. 

Expensive equipment is an error of quality attribution. 

What you consume influences what you create, so consume wisely.

You’re in a bubble unless you actively break out of it.

Don’t be surprised if making money is at odds with what is working to garner attention.

Meet your audience where they are, sometimes that means in person.
Keep your ear to the ground.

Master yourself, then master communication.

David Sherry
Are We Lonely, Together?


Better intention means understanding the purpose behind the messages we send.

For most, It feels clear that current tech has NOT helped grow impactful connection. Warmth. Community.

Or a sense of place and purpose.


It’s no wonder that we still have nostalgia for mail. That packages and letters are still ways we show some meaningful connection. 

I feel confident in tech's opportunity to massively help in the community and companionship business, but we’re currently not placing focus on improving these type of metrics. Instead, data is collected for better ad revenue rather than for ensuring its users are feeling more loved and cherished by their peers.

We're to blame, too. We’re using the tools often in ways of emptiness instead of full-hearted and welcoming. We often seek to follow or stir up controversy and to be self-seeking.

I suppose we have always had the tools to promote connection within our communities (whether digital or in-person). 

But what’s the point of status if you have no connection? When you're wealthy in a castle, all alone…


So I'm curious to hear:

What was the most meaningful tech related communication you’ve received in the last month? 

Work/TechnologyDavid Sherry
On Getting in "Reps."

If you want to improve in any area, you know you need to get in “reps,” (AKA repetitions).

But where almost everyone falls short is this; What mechanism do you have to get in those reps?

The hardest part of a habit is actually, well, forcing yourself to do it. And we know this is true. We know how to workout, yet we hire trainers and teachers because they force us to do it.

We know it’s hard because we play all types of tricks on ourselves to get up and go with a habit. Or to avoid it. We put money on the line, place bets, create deterrents for failing to practice. We rationalize. We gain momentum. We fall off the habit wagon.

Have you built a structure that supports or enforces you practicing the habit?

One of the single most important things you can do for yourself is to spend time one the structure of the system that supports your habit, vs. spending time trying to force yourself through sheer will to practice it.

And that takes learning how you operate. And it takes taking a different type of action, that puts you in a position to succeed and grow.

A couple examples of structures that support a habit:

  • Signing up for a yearlong toastmasters club where you public speak every month

  • Finding a few customers to pay you for a recurring job (that includes practicing your habit)

  • Getting 5 friends and yourself to sign up for a half marathon

Spend more time on getting the right mechanism for you, and you’ll find the habit comes in easy.

Quick aside: There are two types of reps.

There are reps you do to strengthen a very specific muscle (this could be lifting just one area of your body). To target a weakness and strengthen it individually so the whole performs better. 

Then its’ the real thing.there’s reps where you pretend

This is putting yourself in as close of a situation as you possibly can to the real thing, and working out everything at once. For example, you could gather 15 friends for dinner and then practice your TED talk in front of a screen before you actually speak at TED.

After some time with your habit, you can look to split it into these two types for more impactful growth.

As always, how can I help? Hit me back or Tweet me if you want to chat startups, branding, communities…

LifestyleDavid Sherry
A quick life hack for finding your way.

What do you do in times of uncertainty? How do you find some level headed perspective? How do you create the lifestyle you're after?

I wanted to share a quick life hack that I’ve done unconsciously for about the past 10 years. 

Growing up, I always somehow gravitated towards the kids that were older than myself. Half of my high school friends were in the grade above me. I think sometimes people forgot I wasn’t in their grade. Like how I couldn’t go to prom. And, in college, I gravitated towards the seniors. And then towards the entrepreneurs who were years into their career.

One of my biggest “life-hacks” is pretty simple; Find solid friends, who you want to model after, that are (5–10+years) older than you. Even one or two can make a major difference.

I can’t stress this enough. If people have a life that you want an element of yourself, you can learn invaluable life perspectives from them.

If you're seeing the short term, they will help you see the long run. 

I’ve had INCREDIBLE learning from some of these people. 

I’ve asked dumb questions. I’m like a kid. 

I’ve talked to them about divorce. About being fired. About being successful. 

You can ask them all types of things that we honestly don’t really talk about.

“What happened with your divorce?”

“What mistakes did you make early in your career?”

“What will you never do again?”

“How do you know someone is “the one?”

Life is tough, but other people have been carving out their own way on the path ahead of you, and you don’t have to wander around blind. 

If you’re feeling lost, maybe some perspective from a fellow human further on the journey will help guide you back.

LifeDavid Sherry
Halloween at the New Beverly Cinema

Seems I’m going to the movies less and less these days. Why go when Netflix has better shows and you can watch from bed?

I used to go alone, it was a fun way to really relax for a bit and get lost in the theater. Funny thing is, once you start going to the movies by yourself, you start to see all these other people there alone too. It’s kinda like seeing someone drive your same car, you give them a wave because you’re on the same page, somehow. 

My girlfriend Patty was dying to see some classic horror films in the theater for Halloween, so we booked tickets for the New Beverly Cinema, owned by Quentin Tarantino.

This was the 3rd of 3 nights of Halloween festivities. On Friday night we went up to Joshua Tree to return to this small biker bar, Pappy and Harriet’s, to see the creepy creeps — A band dressed as all white gorillas playing punk music. This bar has gotten famous as of late as major LA acts occasionally come through to play it for fun. Paul McCartney was their last week, unannounced!

It was a mixed crowd of Joshua Tree locals and those up from LA to get away from the city. And everyone was in costume. Halloween is agnostic to age and seems to put everyone on the same ground. I took a few photos on my polaroid of some of the costume winners; a guy and his wife dressed up as the twins from the shining, and an older couple dressed up like John Travolta and Uma Thurman from Pulp Fiction. They were even dancing in the corner in the style of the famous dancing scene from the movie.

The creeps were followed by “White Rabbit,” a band dressed as nuns dancing in part lingerie with a lead singer who looked and acted like Lady Gaga.

Night two was your typical Halloween. A bar crawl through Santa Monica in which you saw many people dressed as emojis or navy men and women in short skirts. Like any major holiday, half of your night is waiting in line.

But our third evening was an old-fashioned Halloween evening. The Tarantino theater in West Hollywood is an experience from the past. And we did a date night to the movies for Rob Zombie’s “Halloween” double feature. 

The theater has been there since the late 1920’s and Tarantino is keeping everything just for the art of it. He grew up going to the theater with his parents as a kid, and before he bought the theater, he would just pay the owner the $5,000 rent per month just to keep him in business. Now that he owns it, the schedule is all classic movies, and everything has to be on film. Even the trailers are classic trailers and themed appropriately for the movie.

“As long as I’m alive, and as long as I’m rich, the New Beverly will be there, showing double features in 35mm” — Q. Tarantino
They keep the prices artificially cheap there. A kosher hot dog was only $2.50. We got a popcorn and two sodas. A host for the movies came out to greet you and prep you for the movie. No spinning popcorn intro’s or ads. Most everyone there seemed like a movie buff.

And that’s why Tarantino paid for it.

For us all to have this more simple experience to appreciate the way things were when we grew up. To preserve what he sees as the essence of cinema. 

Where does this motive live in a capitalist society? To prop up a dying theater simply to keep this feeling he had growing up alive. To keep to old customs. To enjoy movies from a simpler time?

I’m not saying it will last, but does everything have to change all of the time?

Do we get to benefit from the narrative of our lives to have no consistency?

Movies are a religion to some. To gather, to quote the verses from famous scenes. To lose yourself in the experience and forget about your problems. To reach for a higher calling and dream about being a star. 

Tarantino is building the life he dreamed of when he was watching cinema as a kid. And sometimes that includes holding on to the past just a little longer.

Stories, LifeDavid Sherry