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What a Month! It's Ben (April 2023) — New Gig(!)

Published 10 months ago • 9 min read

I sure have a lot to fill you in on! Over the past month, I parted ways with BizLove, took the GMAT, and started a new gig. So without further ado, let’s jump into it all!

Parting Ways with BizLove

Two months ago, I signed on to work at BizLove — a small consultancy focused on change management and strategic positioning. Unfortunately, the firm had a couple of projects fall through / get reduced in scope, and so economically it didn’t make sense to keep me on payroll when there wasn’t impending client work for me to do.

Despite the short stint, I had a pleasant experience! I met some great people. I enjoyed the structure and routine that the work brought to my days. And it was cool to explore a new company and contribute to the development of its commercial offerings.

Most importantly, I gained a lot more clarity over what I’m looking for out of my future work experiences. Here are some of my learnings and takeaways:

My energy pulls me toward ways of working — I thought I wanted to do general change management work, but I’ve realized that was a bit too broad. Specifically, it’s the internal nuts and bolts of how organizations get work done and how people experience work that I really care about. Helping an organization through times of change doesn't interest me nearly as much as ideating and implementing better ways for people to communicate and collaborate within their work environments.

I struggle with remote, non-asynchronous ways of working — I don’t have the best Zoom etiquette or attention span on group calls where I’m not an active participant (it’s something I’m working on, but it doesn’t come easy to me). When it comes to future opportunities, working within in-person or asynchronous-first remote teams would likely allow me to thrive more and be happier during my work days.

I don’t want to spend my days creating PowerPoint presentations — That means traditional consulting is probably not a fit for me moving forward. But there are some boutique “ways of working” consultancies that are not PowerPoint-heavy that I still think would suit me well in the future.

I do really enjoy the camaraderie of working on a team — After spending my last year largely working on solo projects, working on a team was a breath of fresh air. I found myself energized by chatting and collaborating with my teammates during the workday, and I could imagine that getting amplified further had I been working with the team in person.

I actually do want a job that I obsess over — In my January newsletter I wrote the following when listing out reasons why I felt like BizLove was a good fit for me:

I want to work a job that I care about. But right now, I don’t want a job that I have to care TOO much about. I want a job that I like and can thrive at, but also one that just feels like…a job, rather than an obsession, lifestyle, or calling (in the way I felt about Zcruit).

Well, then I worked a job that felt like just a job and I’ve got to say…I didn’t love it. It didn’t feel energizing or fulfilling, and it made it hard not to hit snooze on the alarm clock in the morning.

And so when I reflect on that, I’ve realized that I genuinely do want a job that lights me up, even though that might come at the expense of the balance I’ve created with everything else in my life.

There’s an internal struggle that I feel between yearning for stability and balance versus pursuing my passions in spite of that stability and balance. After letting the pendulum swing too far to one end, it’s time now to keep experimenting to find that sweet spot — this time by diving into work that fires me up.

Which leads me to…

My New Job with The Meat Mafia

I joined The Mafia! The Meat Mafia, that is.

A year and a half ago, my friends Harry and Brett launched pseudonymous Twitter handles under the names CarniClemenza and MrSollozzo, called themselves The Meat Mafia, and began creating content around the carnivore diet, health, and wellness. Fast forward to now and two of them have a combined 115,000 Twitter followers and have released over 170 episodes of The Meat Mafia Podcast featuring Adrian Grenier, Mark Sisson, and other big-name guests in the health and wellness space.

Now, I’m joining on to help with all things operations with the goal of growing this into a dominant brand within the health and wellness landscape.

I believe that the next wave of resonant businesses is going to come from the creator economy. It’s harder than ever to capture peoples’ attention, and so those that do so in authentic ways are going to have a plethora of opportunities in front of them. 10 years ago, it was Google, Facebook, and Uber that were the exciting, cool, and fun companies to work at, and I can see Mr. Beast, Dude Perfect, and other creator brands being that 10 years from now — and having 1,000+ person operations to boot.

Over the past six months, I’ve had several conversations with friends in the creator economy world (shoutout to Mateo and Nate in particular) who have been incredibly generous with their advice and connections. And after exploring this interest further, I came away with conviction that I’d love to be an operator for a creator brand. And The Meat Mafia was both the most logical and exciting path for me to do so.

Harry and I both moved to Austin and left our jobs at about the same time. So early on in my Austin days, Harry and I would work out of coffee shops from time-to-time — him working on Twitter threads and me working on blog posts or my t-shirt side project. I’ve seen the brand since its genesis and have watched it grow and grow and grow.

Part of the excitement about The Meat Mafia comes from just having the opportunity to work with Harry and Brett. They’re great guys that I trust and enjoy spending time with. Working in person with them is going to be a blast.

Beyond that, I see big potential here. Harry and Brett are fantastic creators. They’re charming, passionate, and charismatic guys. And they have a natural chemistry together that’s hard to find.

I also see a lane that this can continue to grow into. To become a Barstool-esque brand for health and wellness.

And, I get to have a pretty cool and unique role. The Meat Mafia is a startup, but the founders are busy spending their time creating content. That means that there’s room for me to step in and wear the operational hat. To take a big-picture view and focus on growing the business while they work on growing the brand. This business is doing legit revenue numbers as is…and it doesn’t even have a website yet! There are so many opportunities for me to jump in and provide value while doing fun and meaningful work that can really move the needle.

So yeah, I’m pretty fricking stoked about this opportunity. And Grandma, I’m so sorry if none of this made any sense to you at all. Jobs in the 2020s are really really weird.

I Also Took the GMAT

Twice, actually.

I first took the GMAT (the business school entrance exam) during my week in between jobs, but I didn’t nail it. So I signed up again, put in a little more studying, and ten days later hit my targeted score.

Last year, I wrote a blog post titled Kicking Off a Self-Directed Master’s Program about how I was going to spend 2022 experimenting with various projects and activities in lieu of getting a formal MBA. Well, it’s safe to say, my thoughts on the matter have evolved a bit.

I realized a lot of my hesitancy toward an MBA stemmed from the identity I had adopted around being a founder and entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs don’t tend to think too highly of MBA folk. After all, those are the guys and girls that give us overly confident bad advice about how we should run our businesses. They’re the people that wind up “ruining” our businesses after we eventually exit them. And we certainly wouldn’t hire MBA grads as employees. What value would they actually provide us? They’re thinkers or “strategists” rather than doers. And any value they would provide compared with their salary expectations is certainly misaligned. Furthermore, are you really going to spend $150,000+ on a piece of paper when you could instead get way better business experience by investing that money into starting your own venture? Those are some of the talking points that I internalized over my years of being a startup founder and from interacting with my startup founder friends.

But now, I’m starting to think that an MBA might actually make sense for me for several reasons.

With Zcruit, I realized that I both enjoyed and think I’m kind of good at running a business. In the future, my options to run a business are going to come down to: starting a business, buying a business, or getting selected to run a business. I’m not quite sure I have the stomach or interest in starting or buying a business in the future. And ultimately, I feel like I’m more likely to get tapped to run a business if I have a fancy MBA to my name.

I think the MBA credential is still one that’s respected in society. That is referenced about people and helps open doors and provide opportunities. Very few, if any, people I know that got MBAs themselves regret the decision to do so.

Beyond that, getting an MBA seems like a great time! And the network of peers and alums that I would have in my corner would likely be beneficial toward any path I take for the next 30+ years of my career. MBA classes sound largely interesting and enjoyable. And I like the idea of entering school with a targeted destination in mind (“I want to do X in Y field”) while still having two years to deviate and explore in an environment conducive to doing so.

I’m not 100% (or even 60%) certain I’m going to go the MBA route. It will depend on what schools I get into. And if I’m having a blast with the work I’m doing a year or so from now, then I’d probably rather keep rolling with that than hang it up to go back to school.

But there also feels like a rapidly approaching expiration date age-wise for when it makes sense for me to do this. It kind of feels like it’s now or never. And with that being the case, it’s something that I’m excited to explore!

Overall, it feels really good to get the GMAT off my plate. After four months of consistent studying, it’s calming to now have that in the rearview mirror. Applying to schools will be another beast in its own right, but it’s certainly nice to get one major hurdle out of the way.

General Life Updates

Also in April, I…

  • Played in a 200+ team beer pong tournament! While my partner Luke and I got bounced in the first round, we did beat our friends and the eventual champs (pictured below) in warmups 😊
  • Saw Grady Spencer — a Fort Worth country artist — twice in concert (alright once was on March 31, but it was post the last newsletter going out, so I’m counting it). He was fantastically fun live 🤠
  • Popped back to Chicago to celebrate both Passover and my Dad’s birthday 🥳
  • Saw Ben Schwartz and Friends perform an improv set as a part of the Moontower comedy festival 🎭
  • Went to a live taping of the My First Million podcast 🎙️
  • Staffed KetoCon with Harry, Brett, and The Meat Mafia crew. This upcoming week we’re launching our beef beef-based protein powder brand, Noble, so we had a booth at the event to start spreading the news 🥩
  • Had friends come visit from New York City and North Carolina and popped over to a couple of barbecues organized by friends in Austin 😊

Next month…

  • I’m going to Brazil with my parents! If anyone has recommendations for Rio de Janeiro, I’d love to hear them! 🇧🇷

Monthly Favorites

🎵 Song: Biking by Frank Ocean featuring Jay Z & Tyler, The Creator — This song ain’t particularly new (released in 2017) but man is it smooth. Frank Ocean has to have one of the best pound-for-pound discographies out there. Only two albums and a handful of singles and this doesn’t even crack his top 10 songs on Spotify 🫡

📝 Article: My Dad's Friendship With Charles Barkley by Shirley Wang — A throwback from 2018, and one of my all-time favorite pieces of content. In it, the reporter talks about her dad — an immigrant cat litter chemist from Iowa — and his genuine friendship with basketball star Charles Barkley. This link has the story in both written and audio form, but I highly recommend giving it the 15-minute listen 😊

📦 Product: VAE Energy Spray — The first company I angel invested in just brought its product to market! And after getting my hands on the VAE Energy Spray, I can definitively say that the team knocked it out of the park. Three sprays of VAE has the caffeine equivalency of one cup of coffee. It has no sugar, no calories, and no crash. After watching the team's journey unfold over the past year, I’m stoked to see VAE launched and in the market. Now, time for growth! 🚀


Thanks for reading! As always, if anything I shared resonated with you, I’d love for you to shoot me a reply 😊

Til Next Month,

Ben

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