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Josh Branchaud
Josh Branchaud

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Into the Flywheel

Bill James is likely a name you've never heard before. Back in the 1970s no one had heard his name before. Yet today he is considered one of the fathers of modern baseball statistics. How did he go from being a no-name baseball enthusiast to someone who has had a considerable influence on the entire sport?

Bill James was fascinated by baseball statistics that seemingly no one else was talking about. He went beyond tracking these statistics to writing and publishing a series of books. These books were filled with statistics and his own analysis of them. A few people started purchasing these books. He had found a niche, really an ultra-niche. He let his passion carry him and he continued publishing. His audience grew and soon he was part of a broader conversation about baseball.

Write for yourself, and you’ll write for the close friends you didn’t know you had.

He went from outsider to insider. He had created for himself a flywheel. A virtuous cycle of ideas and interesting conversation with interesting people.

write about what you’re interested in, meet people you’d find interesting, discover your next topic, continue. The end result is that you subject your intellectual development to a sort of intelligent design instead of random evolution: you’ll tend to go where the next insights are.

Forget what everyone else is talking about. Find the thing that really catches your interest. Start pursuing it. Write about it. Put yourself out there and see who gets drawn in. The conversation you're starting will create an ultra-niche. Maybe it will stay small, maybe it will grow. Either way, you'll be in the middle of what interests you most. You'll gain insights, find new interests, and catch friends.



I first heard about Bill James in the book Moneyball by Michael Lewis. It provides a fun peek into the world of baseball. Give it a read.

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