12 lessons learned owning a bookstore during a pandemic, how writing builds leverage, and how to disrupt any industry

Building Blocks: Actionable insights to build an Intentional Life

Hey everybody,

Here’s another batch of actionable insights to start your week off right, so you can be more intentional with how you live, work, and create.

Let’s get started.

Insight 1: 12 lessons owning a bookstore

Ryan Holiday is a best-selling author (and one of my favorites) famous for his series on Stoicism, including The Obstacle is the Way. Two years ago, he decided to venture into new territory by opening a brick-and-mortar bookstore in a small town in Texas.

Then the pandemic happened, putting his Stoic philosophy to the test.

“If you think starting a business—doing anything—is going to be easy, that it’s going to be straightforward, that it’s going to be clean…you’re fooling yourself.”

Check out this video where he shares his insights, including being patient, iterating as you go, the power of experimentation, why revenue is an incomplete metric for success, developing a reputation, and other lessons learned since opening his shop.

Insight 2: Writing builds leverage

Entrepreneurs are increasingly moving toward becoming better writers and storytellers to craft their brand narrative and position themselves as the go-to authority in their niche.

Or as David Perell says,

“Writing online is the fastest way to accelerate your career.

​It’s the best way to learn faster, build your resume, and find peers and collaborators who can create job and business opportunities for you.

​Content builds on itself. It multiplies and compounds.”

David published a fantastic article, The Ultimate Guide to Writing Online, that goes through the frameworks he uses to teach people to leverage their knowledge through writing online.

Writing online has transformed my life, personally and professionally. I took David’s 5-week cohort-based course, Write of Passage, last year. It’s been one of the best investments I’ve made. Since then, my writing has leveled up considerably, I’ve met inspiring people, and attracted incredible opportunities I never would have had access to had I never started writing online.

The next cohort starts March 2nd, and enrollment is scheduled to open February 7th.

I’m thrilled to announce I’ll be returning as a Mentor, meaning I’ll be running my own weekly group within the course.

If you want to check it out, here’s the website for Write of Passage. It’s not an affiliate link. I legitimately love Write of Passage and David’s mission to help people build leverage through content—which is why I applied to be a Mentor, so I could contribute more to the WOP community.

And if you decide to sign up, I hope to see you in my Mentor Group!

Insight 3: Everything is disruptable

What’s an industry you don’t think can be disrupted?

In a previous issue, I talked about companies disrupting the funeral industry (that hasn’t changed much since the Civil War).

Earlier this week, I came across one of Mark Cuban’s latest ventures focused on disrupting the (American) pharmaceutical industry.

The Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company has a simple mission: to make prescriptions more affordable and focus on pricing transparency. They charge, as their name suggests, the cost of the medication, plus a 15% markup, plus nominal pharmacy fulfillment fees. This allows them to bring a medication you’d normally pay $500 for all the way down to $33.

Beyond the fact this is an amazing opportunity for tons of Americans who struggle to afford basic medications to function, it represents how you can look at any industry, even ones that appear to have a monopoly, and find a way to disrupt it.

Necessity is the mother of invention. If you want to build an impactful business, one strategy is to look at entrenched industries that desperately need to change, then find a way to make it happen instead of accepting the status quo.

Question for the Week

What is the highest leverage action you can take this week?

Insights in Action

One of the best ways to clarify your thinking is to write it out.

So if you want to develop your thinking on this question or start applying insights from today’s newsletter, send a tweet to @CoreyWilksPsyD with your thoughts and put #BuildingBlocks at the end so I can find it.

Not ready to “think in public” yet? No problem. You can also reply to this email if you want to share your thoughts with me.

Until next time—memento mori,

Corey Wilks, Psy.D.

Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Executive Coach


Check out the cohort-based course I’m building here.