The questions that bring me alive
Two creative containers with roots that go deep
In yesterday's piece, I shared one of my favorite homegrown concepts, Containers of Aliveness. It's a strategic alternative to "finding your niche," with an emphasis on freedom of exploration, creating work no one else but you could, and effectively becoming impossible to compete with, despite the world being flooded with ever more generic media. It's a strategy for people in pursuit of an effective true fan business, along with a life that feels rich with connection and meaning.
During this 100 day writing sprint, I'll be fleshing out this strategy more, because it's got all sorts of interesting contours. But for now, I figure the most powerful thing I can do is share how I've been implementing it myself. Because this isn't just some nice theory I cooked up in my brain. It's something I've been actively living, and which is beginning to yield fruit.
With that said, I have two containers that I'm pouring my work (and life) into. First, there's Ungated Media, which is about the pursuit of 1,000 true fans, and a revivification of culture and business and marketing on the internet. It's my primary focal point right now, and my main business. Then there's a newer container called Ungated Life, which is about my pursuit of self-renewal across all aspects of life. It's about breaking patterns of rigidity, both in myself and in the institutions I'm part of, so that we can become who we need to be to navigate a complex, evolving world and start unwinding the meta-crisis.
The boundaries of these containers are defined by the following questions, all of which I feel deep resonance with.
The questions behind Ungated Media
What would business and marketing look like if they were intrinsically enjoyable for creative people?
What would an online business look like if it contributed to maximal human flourishing, both for the creator and their customers?
How can I maximize the amount of aliveness in everything I do in my business, marketing, and creativity?
What's the correlation between following aliveness and creating true, lifelong fans?
How can I be the change I want to see in the worlds of digital media and indie creators?
How can I optimize my business and marketing around enough, instead of endless growth?
How can we make the pursuit of enough a cultural meme in the entrepreneurship world? How can we make that the default path for new entrepreneurs, instead of chasing endless growth?
How can we translate the practices of cultural and economic localism into an infinite digital world?
What does it mean to be a digital craftsman or artisan? How can we make that a cool and high status endeavor?
How can I optimize my creativity and marketing around aliveness, exploration, and authenticity, instead of chasing certainty and safety?
How can the businesses we build, the media we create, and the communities we cultivate, help us become who we need to be to navigate a complex, evolving world?
How can I create true fans of an evolving, holistic self, rather than true fans of a static, narrow aspect of myself?
What would marketing look like if it regenerated trust and goodwill instead of depleting them?
What would marketing look like if it was a healing force in the world?
What would marketing look like if it truly empowered people?
How can I create media, courses, and experiences that help people trust themselves and walk their own path, instead of always relying on Expert Authority?
How can I do creative work nobody else but me could? How can all of us do that?
What kind of culture would emerge if creative individuation and self-trust were the norm?
What would the internet look like if it brought out the best in humanity, instead of the worst?
What's the full creative and developmental potential of the internet? And how can we each contribute to realizing that potential?
How can I build an online community that I actually love being part of, and that feels essential to my wellbeing?
The questions behind Ungated Life
What does life look like when self-renewal is held as a core value?
What does it mean to be fully alive?
Who might I become if I let go of who I think I should be, and stop trying to control everything?
How can we regenerate trust in ourselves, in others, in institutions, and across ideological divides?
How can we, both as individuals and as a species, become who we need to be to confront the many wicked, systemic problems facing our world?
What's worth loving? And how can I align my daily actions and my life as a whole with that knowledge?
What's worth fearing? And how can I prevent that fear from poisoning the well of my psyche and soul?
How can I make it to my deathbed with as few regrets as possible?
How can I cultivate more aliveness and presence in every aspect of life, from relationships to movement to spirituality and beyond?
How can I cultivate more courage? How can we collectively cultivate courage?
What's the relationship between self-renewal, communal renewal, and societal renewal?
How can I cultivate a spiritual practice that roots me in the world and in community, despite being distrustful of organized religion?
A few final thoughts
As with everything, these questions are a work in progress. I'm always refining them, consolidating them, and adding new ones when they arise and feel resonant. Just as I grow as a person, so do the boundaries of my digital containers.
But even if these containers were static, I hope you get a sense of how expansive these questions are, and how much freedom they give me to explore and travel into new, unexpected intellectual territory. Hell, even just one of these questions could be the fuel for a lifetime of work, because they're all cross-disciplinary and rich with complexity and nuance. Niche strategy, especially the type that tells you to be an Expert™, doesn't really accomplish any of that lol.
The other thing I'd point out is that, despite the expansiveness, they still lead to online worlds that feel structurally sound and thematically cohesive. The tagline for Ungated Media is, "The missing instruction manual for 1,000 true fans." And the tagline for Ungated Life is "Regenerative philosophy for turbulent times." When you land in these worlds, you get an immediate sense that they're about something specific. And you can determine whether that specific thing resonates with you or not.
In other words, these are not just personal websites where some random internet guy writes about anything and everything in his life, with no thematic through-line. They are purpose-designed digital worlds that not only help me come alive and explore what matters to me, but to resonate with specific types of people who care about the same questions. They are designed, from first principles, to accelerate the pursuit of true fandom. Basically, the Containers of Aliveness approach gives you some of the same benefits of niching down, legibility and cohesiveness, without building a rigid and narrow prison for yourself. It's pretty dope. 😎
Rob's Daily Invitation
Ok, so The Frontier is my main membership, and it's the thing I'm going to talk about most in this section. But I know that many of the online homies are wary of memberships and subscriptions. I get it.
That's why last year I ran a two-part workshop called The UngatedOS. It covered my entire philosophy for breaking away from internet marketing bullshit, and iterating your way towards a business fueled by joy, connection, meaning. It’s the entire intellectual and emotional foundation for all of the work I’m doing these days.
The workshop is included in the membership, of course, but if you just want a taste of the core Ungated philosophy, that workshop is the best place to start, no subscription required.
Liking all your posts Rob. I love these questions… I am going to use these as a base to conquer up mine for my containers of aliveness. I’ve already started on this and I’m having fun. It feels so authentic and real… thank you Rob
Whew! What a fun run on the writing, every day. I can see you are enjoying every one of those articles, Feb. 6-11. Best part? You still have most of 100 days ahead.
Interdependence and cooperation--yes. Totally into that. That's a good north star.
My focus for the past year was building the member participation and member collaboration community I've always wanted for myself, but did not find anywhere else. I searched deeply and carefully for more than 5 years, just to make sure it wasn't out there and I was late to the community.
Reading these posts of yours continues to fuel the reflection and focus necessary to commit everything to the good of the community.