#019 Where Ten Thousand Can Take You

At the hundred and first blow it will split in two

I’m pretty neurotic about my email inbox and the tidying of it. I’m consistently trying to trim the fat and get rid of things that aren’t a straight line of communication to another human OR providing some sort of value in one way or another.

The only one I can’t get rid of is Chipotle’s newsletters. I get an email nearly every day with the subject line GUAC MODE ACTIVATED 🥑

I scroll straight to the bottom and unsubscribe every time. They keep coming back.

The first email in my MOUTHWASH inbox touched down over four years ago on January 28th, 2017. Since then there has been 9,668 emails. A lot of them are calendar invites, but many of them are real communication threads with real people (besides the Chipotle promotional).

I sorted by Oldest First this week and treaded through the timeline of everything that has happened since the beginning of it all.

I found things like us pitching people to write for a Medium publication, asking friends like Sam Elkins, Patrick Chin, and Carter Moore to talk with us on a podcast about their creative journeys, and sharing access to a Google Sheets where we were putting together budgets for our first print magazine.

The rabbit trail into my inbox got me curious about all time analytics on our communication channels from 4 years ago. I’ve really never looked at all of these in one sitting until now…

  • I have 9,668 emails in my inbox since January 2017.

  • We’ve sent 188,671 messages in Slack since January 2017.

  • We self-produced and published two print publications that have sold over 150 copies, combining the efforts of +30 photographers and +12 writers.

  • We’ve produced and released 33 episodes of a podcast that have been played over 41,000 times since June 2017.

  • We’ve written and published 28 interviews on our website that has garnered over 83,106 visits since we launched in November 2019.

  • Our team of three turned to a team of six going on seven in 1.5 years of operating as a full time project.

  • We have published or are working on over 20 websites. 🤯

  • We partnered with over 60 clients in 2020 alone.

When I think about how we’ve gotten this far, there’s only one real answer: We just kept showing up. We kept showing up when it got difficult, when people ghosted our pitches, and when we hit dead-ends.

Creative projects often get killed before any significant progress is made because we’re so quick to give up when long-term desired outcomes aren’t reached in the short-term.

There was a moment in time where MOUTHWASH was making things for an audience of zero.

There was another moment later down the road where everything that we had done up unto that point finally broke the straw on the camel’s back. All the work we had put in since the very beginning eventually led to a desired outcome. Every email, Slack message, podcast, and interview built a foundation that has added up to where we are now.

This quote lives rent free in my brain. It especially surfaces when I’m in the midst of problems that seem to have no end:

“When nothing seems to help, I go back and look at the stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it — but all that had gone before.”

— Jacob Riis

After 4 years, thousands of messages, and a lot of output later, you land somewhere. And it’s probably a lot further down the road in comparison to when you first started, as long as you keep hammering away at the rock.

— Alex

Ideas from me


Progress still counts no matter how fast or slow.


Limiting time on a problem-solving can help relieve frustration since there is always an end in sight.

Instead of throwing more time at a problem, encourage yourself to exert more energy over shorter amounts of time to get the job done.


Tall orders remain tall when we fear them and decrease in size as we work through them. By the time we’re in the midst of a problem, we’re usually focused enough to forget why it was daunting in the first place.

Anxiety settles when we find ways to take action.

Quote from somebody else

"A man who cannot climb a tree will boast of never having fallen out of one." —Ludwig Klages (1872)

Links worth sharing

⚡️ Same.Energy is a new kind of visual search engine tool.

📷 A well kept photographer directory

🗣 RT

✨ Perfectly Imperfect Newsletter is entertaining. The Discord is also super fun.

📈 My friend Andy is hiring a Growth Marketing Manager at Squarespace / Unfold

🎧 It’s annoying how much I love this podcast

🚙 Mercedez Benz official website in 1996

👀 Only-Fans.org

Thanks for another week!

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