The Gold List - A journal written by David Sherry

The New Gold List

Ever felt out of the loop in a recent conversation with friends or family because you didn't know about some new movie, app, musician or brand?


Well, it's not your fault.

Today's media and culture are in a war between the niche and the mainstream. The accelerating rate of new media and products being shared means mass markets have splintered into infinite niches, making it incredibly difficult to be clued into "what's popular." This makes it equally different if YOU are or have a brand that you'd like to gain traction. The competition is high and the consumers are behind this wall of noise.


So we've got two problems:


The first problem is we seek to cut through the clutter for the interesting and the valuable. After all, with all this new choice, we'd like to use it to our advantage by sifting through to finding only the valuable. Tuning into only the interesting (to us). Finding the gold. 

Sure, there are tons of sites and resources that provide great answers or recommendations to what to watch or buy or read this weekend.  


Basically we're always out of the loop.


But that brings us to our 2nd problem:

We've lost an understanding for the context.


Hiding underneath brands and ideas that are gaining traction and support is a deeper context for understanding where our demand is going.  What are the qualities or attributes that make something stick out among the noise? Can we use pattern recognition to forecast trends in the market? What is it about the stand-out ideas that is making them stand out?

These two questions are what I aim to answer with The Gold List.


Basically we lack clarity for what works or doesn't work in today's changing landscape.


I believe that sifting through the clutter and relaying relevant, outstanding media and ideas is absolutely necessary for entrepreneurs and creators to play at their highest level in today's landscape. 


I'm looking forward to sharing these Gold Links along side commentary and analysis in the years ahead!




Example Topics and Brands covered:


1.(Gold) Do you know Chapo Trap House? They bring in $64,000 in donations every month for their podcast. Why?


2. (topicPositioning and Polarization. 


3. (Gold) Do you know The Blaze, who put out subversive music and films like Territory (Currently has over 3M views, my favorite video of the year, 2nd to HUMBLE).  How?


4. (topic) Creating Tension.


5. (Gold) Have you heard of Medi Club - An event series where hundreds of young hip NY city dwellers gather to meditate and talk about current events and issues? Who's behind this?


6. (Topic) Rational Vs. Irrational.



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Where Does Customer Love Come From?

Where Does Customer Love Come From?

After 4 years of working on Death to the Stock Photo and building an audience from scratch, I think I’ve distilled the “how” for how you create fans and community who love you and your brand.

It’s really simple but so many get it wrong.

Customer ️love happens after you’ve shared your art or gift with them, not before. 

So until you’ve given your audience your gift (putting out your daring ideas, generously sharing your learnings, developing them as people, connecting them to others… the list goes on), don’t expect them to share back with enthusiasm and connection.

Instead of asking for a response or a like or a comment, share more gifts. The love comes after. 

David Sherry
Bow Down. Be Humble.

Quality Still Reigns

Quality is back, if it ever left.

After all the mantras about MVPS, market interaction, “Authenticity”, and putting out product as much as possible, Kendrick Lamar flipped the table on me.

He dropped his latest album along side some music videos he's slowly releasing, and now I'm seeing that the world has made its return to quality...

And I'm blown away by the talent.


And I’m not well versed in the music space but there are not many out there who are taking things to the next level. Creating the new paradigm. Our taste level just raised. He's daring everyone to do better. So it's hard not to watch. But back to the topic of quality. Is it that there is simply too much great work out their too pay attention to your MVP or your project in the making?

How do you get started in a market without fundraising and experience? 

This is tough to swallow because it makes the moat between starting out and getting your chops good enough to stand out feel like it's getting bigger. Experience still pays. Casey Neistat looks like an amateur but he put 10 years in as a film maker and drops a video every day. 


Gear is irrelevant. We all have the same tools. But the people who know how to use them, who show off their style and expertise with craftsmanship, heart, and context... They win. 

So before you start something, ask yourself if you're down to put in the time and work necessary. Depending on your situation, that could mean 2 years if you work every day and 5-7 if it's part time.

Curate your eye. Learn the rules of the arena. Can you name the top 10 people in your space and the 10 who you're currently competitive with? Not to copy them, you’ve got to carve your own path. But to know where you sit at the table in relation to them. 


To quote Seth Godin:
"If you want to truly be great, you're going to have to do things most people couldn't imagine. That's what makes it great, after all. The scarcity of it."


So when we see people at the top, bow down, be humble. 


Quality still reigns. 




Lil Dicky Pillow Talk deserves a shout here. He spent 700k to make this video.

P.P.S. Counter Argument, check out Stormzy for a counter example. Here's a video of him with 54 million views on a shitty camera on the street. He also has a video rapping with his mom. Play off the quality of video with bare bones / stripped down.

David Sherry
The Best Argument for Spirituality

The Best Argument for Spirituality

I’ve gotten two solid pieces of advice recently from an older mentor of mine. Someone 60+ who’s experienced much of what I haven’t.

The first thing he told me was to “Lighten up.”

Ha, fair enough. I’m aware enough to know that I see things as high stakes in my life. I want them to go well and sometimes I confuse comedic reactions for a lack of caring. 

And if there’s one thing that I can at least feel good about, it's knowing that I CARE A LOT. 

I think it’s an advantage. I just care more than most people. If anything I’m doing looks effortless it’s because I’ve struggled for more than I’d like to admit on practicing to make it look easy.

But it’s also a detriment. If you care too much you begin putting pressure on things and it sucks out the joy, which is precisely why we need comedic relief. 

So sometimes the answer to is to care less.

And sometimes the answer is to care more. 

But you need a balance. 

The 2nd bit of advice was a plea for me to be open to some type of spirituality in my life.

I’m not a religious person. I grew up Jewish but I never was Barmitzvahed and I typically feel a bit awkward or out of place in religious circles. 

But I thought he gave me great advice.  

Here’s what he said (paraphrased).

In your life, you want to make the most of every situation, find the beauty, feel strong emotions, really get the juice out of life. 

And there’s many ways to do this, from love, to gratitude, to doing great work, and to exercise etc.

But there’s another tool that you can use in this path to a full life, which is spirituality.

Not religion, you can ignore any form of structured religion that’s out there. 

80% of what they do is sort of silly rituals that avoid the real juice that they can provide. 

Or there’s dogma that totally skews the purpose of it in the first place.

But when you find some spirituality in your life, it can ground you. It can make you feel more safe and feel less fear. It helps you hear more of your own intuition and feel a comfort wherever you are.

So it’s simply another tool in the toolbox of life. 

You can use it or not use it, but some of my most rich experiences were because I chose to allow moments to feel spiritual. To feel the magic of coincidences. To allow for energy to move me in the moment.

Maybe it’s a placebo, maybe elements are true, but, you should give it a try and just see.

So that’s what I’m trying to do. 

Lighten up. And become open to more spirituality in my life.

Both have been going well, I might add.  

David Sherry


Are hard to decide on.

And are even harder to keep.

But life gets so much easier when you give yourself a structured way to think about any given opportunity or path.

When your priorities help you set your to do list. 

When you make a decision and stick with it. 

The more filters for decision making we create, the better our ability to relieve ourselves from the fatigue that comes with making a decision, or following through with a decision.

Because that’s part of our anxiety. We’re anxious because there’s an open loop that’s bothering us, and we only remove that anxiety when things feel under our control. When a decision is made.

Pema Chodron calls this “trying to add concrete to our lives.”

We try and add concrete to things. We try and add cement too gain control.  And when earthquakes hit we quickly turn to pouring more and more cement because stability and control are what makes us feel safe.

But nothing is stable. Everything is in flux. 

And we have to learn to be comfortable here because it’s only changing more quickly. We don’t have the ability to make things concrete.

Everything is in flux. 

So create priorities for yourself. 

Create a value system for what integrity is in your life. 

Create filters for how your make decisions.

Not so you can gain full control, but so you can reduce the mental fatigue of open looping decisions. So you can step back and allow the earth to move and shake and know where you are and where you’re going. So you have a direction without only 1 single road to follow.

Everyone can create what this looks like to them. 

But for me, at the very least, I create some type of high level pyramid. 

The first being my general priorities.


  1. My relationship with myself and my own identity
  2. My family, my close relationships.
  3. My work.
  4. My friendships/community as a whole.

Then under those you can select priorities and values within each of the groups and so on.

If you can’t pick what’s most important in your life, you’ll get swept up by whatever wave is hitting you at the time and follow it until another one comes along. 

Adding cement won’t help.

But adding guidelines to your direction will keep you unshakable. 

David Sherry
What Makes Good Writing?

What Makes Good Writing?

The goal is to say things that other people want to express for themselves, but haven’t been able to.

So you’ve got to become a master of awareness and clarity for how YOU are feeling. 

You need to listen to yourself very acutely and then process that in your writing process into a feeling or situation. 

When someone reads that, and you’ve expressed a situation or feeling the reader has felt but has yet to express, they can say “YES this is me, this is describing how I’ve felt for so long, this speaks to me.”

Ditto for building relationships or leading people.

You want to help someone verbalize their hopes and dreams and fears and sentiments. And if you can do that, you’re one step closer to giving them the tools to analyze where they are and what they should do next.

This is the service writers provide. 

Because most of us can’t keep quiet enough to listen to ourselves. 

Most of us can’t hear our inner voice with a clear precision that helps us make positive progress. 

So we turn to writers to turn us on, shine a light on the human experience, and give us a sense we’re not alone.

Good writing starts with good listening. 

David Sherry
Falling in love with...

Falling in love with...

March 22, 2017

There’s no “pump up” music needed.

No putting 30 reminders and filling a moleskin with intentions. 

No wondering about progress. 

There’s a pretty simple way to excel in any field or improve in any habit or skill. When you fall in love with something, progress is effortless. 
Well, you’ll put in a lot of effort. But it just won’t feel like it.

I’m in love with a TON of things. 

But there are a few things I’m in love with that have helped my life dramatically.

  1. I love health and fitness. 

I’ve on purpose, without need, met with two different doctors in the last month. 

They were so smart! 
They told me amazing things about the human body. 
I felt like I was paying them to teach me as much as make me better. 

It’s fun to learn about diet and fitness. I love it.

2. I’m in love with feeling good. 

I just want to feel amazing all of the time. It’s silly to say out loud, but I’ve fallen in love with my life feeling like an 8/10 even if external circumstances are changing. 

I don’t have this all of the time but I love the feeling. It seems like it’s happening more and more.

3. I’m in love with people.

They’re so interesting! This might sound weird to say, but you only get one brain. 

Asking questions, listening, poking and prodding, seeing what other people think.. it’s like have thousands of extra brains. They’re out their experiencing things and they can share them with you. How amazing is that?

People aren’t rational.

People don’t do what you expect.

People create INCREDIBLE things. 

I love them. 

  1. Most importantly… I love to grow. 

There’s something exciting about an insight. Or having that feeling that things are trending upwards. Or realizing you might be capable of something bigger than you thought was possible.

I love to grow… therefore I grow.
I love diet and fitness…therefore I’m (mostly) good with my diet and fitness.
I love people, therefore I think some people love me.

And I love to feel great, so lately I’ve been feeling great.

What we focus on, we feel.

What we force or grasp for, we lose and don’t attain.

What we love, we experience and enjoy. 

David Sherry
The Easiest Place to Overdeliver.

The Easiest Place to Overdeliver. 

March 14, 2017

Make a list of every boring or average interaction, element, or piece of your brand experience (for your customers). 

Now, +1 each item, meaning, add an additional amazing element to each of those items. 

Today, your product being above average is a given. 

So it's obvious to say, but the easiest places to overdeliver...

Are the places where you're not expected to.

David Sherry
The Scary Blank Space

The Scary Blank Space

March 8, 2017

Every time an author finishes a best-selling novel, they face a problem.

The last book was a success. It's complete.

And months go by... soo... what's next?

This blank space happens to everyone. It happens when we decide to switch careers, switch majors, sell a company or begin a new phase.

And living in that space between can be excruciating. You can feel directionless. 

It's no wonder it creates this huge stress. Something is literally missing in their life. The book they were just writing! The purpose they had. The bigger the previous success, the scarier the new blank space is when it opens up.

But maybe we can look at it like a kid on Christmas Eve. This space is painful, but it's also right before the lightning strikes. It's the sweet spot. It's pure potential energy, not yet being directed.

So be on the lookout. You've been here before.
And the inspiration will always come back if you seek it.

Picturing it as a dark hole that you spiral into is much less fun.
And it's probably a sure way that you'll stay there longer.  

David Sherry
A Suit Makes a Statement.

A Suit Makes a Statement.

March 7th, 2017

That’s why people wear one.

If you're in a job interview, a suit says, “I will fit in and follow the rules." And, "I’m a serious candidate.”

If you’re at a funeral, it says, “I’m showing the deceased and the family my respect.” 

If you’re on a date, it says, “I want to look like a leader." OR, "I’m a douche who’s overcompensating.”

If you’re at the beach, it says, “What the heck is that guy doing?"

So, really, it’s not only the suit that matters. 

But the CONTEXT within which the suit is worn.

We intuitively know this, sure. 

But what other “suits" are there in your life? 

And how often are you confusing the context with what you’re choosing to say?

David Sherry