My Fear of Irrelevancy

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Hey friends,

Something that’s been keeping me up at night recently is my fear of irrelevancy. Especially as a YouTuber. What if my content becomes irrelevant? Will people lose interest now that I’m not a doctor?

What if people just stop watching?

I don’t think YouTube as a platform will die. But it’s clear that a lot of channels have a shelf-life. Not many YouTubers are big now who were also big 10 years ago. Back when I was the scrappy YouTube underdog and focusing on medicine full-time, I didn’t need to worry about any of this, but now the stakes feel a bit higher.

With 2M+ subscribers and a five-year old channel, I’m kind of the incumbent, the one that new channels are trying to improve on and ‘disrupt’ (which feels kind of unreal). I also employ a whole team whose salaries depend on the channel doing well. So every day kind of feels like a struggle to stay relevant.

I decided to chat to one of my mentors about this. His name is Charles and he runs an agency called Ziggurat XYZ, representing a bunch of creatives and YouTubers like Gavin Free (from The Slow Mo Guys), James Hoffmann, and Alex Ainouz (Alex French Guy Cooking).

Charles made two fantastic points:

#1 - Everyone has some level of career risk

Almost all jobs - unless you're a doctor lol - come with some level of career risk. And I think that most people with a traditional job would see their situation as more fragile than mine: I don't have a boss who can fire me, or an important client that I can't afford to lose. So I reckon that most people hearing me chat about being irrelevant would roll their eyes and say "look you're going to be fine, you have 2M+ subs and you've built a solid business on top of it, stop worrying." Basically, some level of career risk is totally normal.

#2 - Value your skills

Most of us overvalue the tangible stuff we've built up during our career (50k job, 1M YouTube following), but undervalue the actual skills that got us there. The thought of losing our job or audience makes us panic. We think 'oh no, how will I ever get that level of achievement again?'

I'm really bad with this. I systematically underestimate the value of the skills I've developed, and let my inner monkey mind say "hey, you just got lucky. But if you started again from scratch, you'd never recreate the level of success you have now." 🐒

Actually though, with all the filming, scripting, and editing skills I've learned over the last five years - I definitely think I'd get close, and it might even be fun. Even if I wasn't aiming to be on social media, all of the skills I've gained doing YouTube - growing a business, managing a team, marketing, teaching - are very transferable to almost any industry. So in reality, I'm not dependent on the channel. My skills give me this huge safety net, which I should learn to appreciate more.


Although it’s still in the back of my mind, chatting with Charles helped reduce my anxiety about becoming irrelevant quite a bit.

So if like me, you’re worried about your career, remember that a) some risk is normal, and b) so long as you invest in your skills you’ll become a more valuable asset over time. The problem only comes when we rely on one job for too long, and stop challenging ourselves. That’s when the risk creeps in of becoming a 40-something-year-old who hasn’t upgraded their skills since they were 25.

The more skills you have, the more you’ll be able to adapt to career changes and quickly land on your feet.

I hope this was useful - have a great week!

Ali xx

🇵🇰 Travelling to Pakistan

Over the next two weeks I'll be travelling to Pakistan, and staying in Karachi. I'm always keen to do new stuff: if you'd like to meet up, or know about something cool we could do, let me know by replying to this email.

❤️ My Favourite Things

🎧 Audiobook -The Blocksize War by Jonathan Bier - Very niche but super interesting. It explains the history of Bitcoin from 2015-2017, and the big ‘war’ over whether Bitcoin blocks should contain 1MB or 8MB of data. Seems like a stupid question, but it turns out to have a bunch of important context and implications.

📚 Book -The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. A few friends said that this book changed their lives, so I’ve just started reading it. Holding off judgment for now, but I’m starting to understand a bit more what people mean when they say that they’re “spiritual”.

🎙️ Podcast - I Iistened to a great episode of Tribe of Mentors, where Tim Ferriss chats to Tim Urban (Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator) about writing online.

🎵 Song/Album - Loving the new Ed Sheeran album “=”, especially First Times and The Joker and the Queen.

🎥 Movie - I watched Dune in the cinema with some friends. Epic soundtrack as always from Hans Zimmer, and great story. I’ve just downloaded the audiobook, and started listening to it on the plane. It’s great so far, and actually has some background music in it which is good vibes.

✍️ Quote of the Week

"Excellence requires repetition. Even if you’ve got passion and purpose perfectly aligned and completely love what you do, what you do is often reduced to a daily checklist. This means a portion of peak performance is always sculpted out of Wallace’s hallmarks of adult life: boredom, routine, and petty frustration."

From The Art of Impossible by Steven Kottler. Resurfaced using Readwise.

🎬 Learn Video Editing For Free

People often ask me about the best resources for learning how to edit their YouTube videos. For a long time, my answer was to search for a bunch of YouTube tutorials and learn along the way but now I have my own course that I think can be a great starting point.

So, if you're a complete beginner who wants to learn video editing head over to Skillshare and take my Video Editing with Final Cut Pro X - From Beginner to YouTuber class. It's completely free to get started so you can learn how to edit your videos plus make use of other content that's on the platform with no obligations. Enjoy!

🎙 3 things I learned from Dr Grace Lordan

This week I chatted to Dr Grace Lordan, Associate Professor of Behavioural Science at LSE and author of ‘Think Big: Take Small Steps and Build the Future You Want’.

Here are some highlights from the conversation…

“As humans we love certainty so even if we’ve created for ourselves a goal we are moving towards and then we change our minds for the period we are doing it there is certainty.” [12:13] I’ve changed my opinion on the topic of goals in recent times. I used to think they were a bit pointless in that you’re almost signing up to a contract of unhappiness until you hit the goal. But actually having a goal doesn’t mean you’re wedded to it. And without having some kind of destination to aim for in the first place you’ll never set off on the journey. So if you feel like you’re at a crossroads, just pick something and start moving towards it. It’s much easier to change direction when you’re moving forward rather than when you’re stationary.

“If you’re engaged in tasks that you enjoy you’re going to be more successful” [5:41] Grace’s book introduces the concept of Me+ which looks to counteract our tendencies to focus on helping ourselves in the present day rather than investing in things to give ourselves a better future. You can identify your Me+ by thinking about how you really want to be earning your living (throwing out any setbacks of fear of failure or loss aversion) and what skills you need to get there. The key thing here isn’t to think about being a professional label, but instead to concentrate on the activities you want to be doing on a day-to-day basis. Because if you focus on being engaged in the ‘doing’ rather than fixating on ‘being’ it will ultimately lead to personal success and pay for a lifestyle of enjoyment.

“Every Sunday reflect on how the week previous went and look to see if there are new opportunities that you can be pivoting your goal for” [57:49] I first came across weekly review stuff when I read Getting Things Done by David Allen about 5 years ago - but I’ve done about 4 weekly reviews since then. Grace says that if you want to stick to the practice of weekly reviews you need to make it easy for yourself. It can just be a 10 minute thing you do on your phone at a time that wouldn’t be used for anything useful like during your commute or in my case when I’m sitting on the toilet scrolling twitter.

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