The Future Is Not Yet Decided

Nine years ago, I took a course to get my email list off the ground. One of the assignments was to try and get featured in front of other people’s audience. How? You message the makers of the tools you’re already using, show them how you’ve used their software in a successful or unique way, and offer to do a write-up about it for their fans.

One of the people I messaged was Noah Kagan. I had been using one of his tools, SumoMe, to get people to opt in to my newsletter via banners, popups, etc. When I showed him my total opt-ins and conversion rate, he congratulated me and asked whether I had sent the email in hopes of them promoting us.

Knowing that Noah and the creator of my course were friends, I somehow figured he was clued in to the exercise, and I responded with something to the effect of, “Yeah, obviously!” Worse, I did it in such a crude way that I hurt his feelings. A day later, I got a message from the course creator. “Dude! What the fuck? How would you feel if someone said that to you?”

I’ll never forget that moment. I still get chills just thinking about it. I’m a sensitive guy and usually pretty in tune with other people’s emotions. That’s one reason why I became a writer. It still shocks me how my emotional radar could have been so on the fritz. I guess I was riding the high of success a little too early. As a result, I put my foot in my mouth in a massive way.

I apologized to both of them, and I sent Noah a gift card to his favorite taco place, Tacodeli in Austin. I never heard back from “my boss” in the course, but Noah eventually replied: “It’s all good.” It wasn’t exactly the kind of closure you’d hope for, but it was the best I could get in that moment. So I took it, and that was that. I knew those two bridges were likely burned forever, but oh well. You live, and you learn.

About a year later, I ended up writing a guest post for Noah’s company. I don’t remember the details of how it came about, but I don’t think I was in touch with him directly. At the very least, it was reassuring that he didn’t hold enough of a grudge against me to nip any collaboration in the bud.

Fast-forward eight more years, and I recognize a familiar name on the roster of books to be published in 2024: Noah Kagan. His first book with a major publisher, Million Dollar Weekend was a title I knew I had to summarize for Four Minute Books.

Recently, I had been making an effort to be fast in publishing new titles quickly, and while summarizing a book on a Tuesday (which is the most common release day) to release the post on a Wednesday (my publishing day) is certainly possible, it’s far from ideal. The solution? You ask for an advance copy. Given each summary gets promoted to 100,000+ email subscribers, it’s a good amount of free press, so technically, it’s a win-win. But not every author wants their book summarized and, more importantly, not every author is someone you insulted badly, even if it happened almost a decade ago.

I “beat my inner swine dog,” as we say in Germany, and sent Noah a brief email explaining what I was doing and whether he’d like to have his book summarized. His one-line response? “Bro let’s do it!” He gave me an advance copy and completely trusted me to deliver. I hope I did. I’m happy with the summary I wrote, and he liked it. I published it one day after the book’s release, and it even made it onto our Youtube channel just a few days later. May it sell plenty of books while already helping readers start their businesses!

No matter what you think, believe, or how you feel in the moment: The future is not yet decided. You never know how one of your countless life paths will play out years from now. What looks like a massive rock blocking the way may actually be a park bench, offering you to sit and take a break for ten years. Then, the road might open up again all on its own. What feels like an ended relationship is actually one that just needs some distance. And what seems like terrible luck today may turn into good fortune tomorrow.

The future is the future because it’s filled with infinite possibility at any given time. That’s hard to comprehend but important not to neglect. Tomorrow is not set in stone until tomorrow has happened — and since you never know, you might as well always stay open to it.