The Pleasure of Anticipation vs Acquisition


Hey friends,

A couple of quick things before we start:

  1. If you’re in or around London, you may like to come along to a talk + Q&A + hangout I’m hosting at the How To Academy on Monday 15th Jan (today)More details here.
  2. I’m hosting a free online Productivity Masterclass with my CEO coach Eric Partaker on Weds 17th Jan. We’re going to go through the most needle-moving principles and frameworks that I learned from Eric that have boosted my own productivity, and also helped grow my business in a relatively stress-free way. More details here.

Anyway, I have (what I think is) an interesting story to share this week, that has some sort of lesson in it – when I was in New York last week, I decided to take a trip to the Leica camera store to try out the M11. For context, this is a stupidly expensive $9,000 camera with lenses that cost like $5k. I’ve been watching videos about this camera on YouTube for a few months now, savouring the thought of maybe buying one. It’s expensive of course, I reason to myself, but that’s because it’s hand-crafted! It’s made with love! It’s a high quality tool that will last a lifetime! And the photos – photos are memories! I love the fact that I have high quality amazing photos of me and my friends from the past 8 years of my life – imagine how much better those memories would be if they were shot with a Leica M11 with a beautiful 35mm or 50mm lens… that’s surely worth it right? Surely?

And yeah sure, I’ve got lots of cameras already, including a Leica Q2… but none of them are as nice as a Leica M11… and my Q2 has a 28mm lens which is less good for portraits… and it would be a business expense, so it’s not really costing me $15k… plus I’ve just published my book and things have gone well with it, so I could get it as a gift for myself… and it’s not even that expensive tbh – we make more money from a single YouTube sponsorship than the cost of the camera and lens! Plus, I deserve to treat myself…

These are the thoughts that have been running through my mind for the past several months. My YouTube home page is totally filled with review videos, first impressions videos, comparison videos, lots of which are saying: “Yeah this camera is stupidly expensive but it’s totally worth it!”

So when I found myself in New York in early Jan for my Good Morning America appearance, I thought: “You know what, let’s go into the Leica store and see if they’ve got an M11 for me to try out”.

So I went to the store in Soho. I asked for the M11. They had it — complete with the fanciest 35mm and 50mm lenses. I took some photos. And realised… I don’t actually want this camera.

It was like all the anticipatory air that had been building up for months suddenly deflated. It’s just a camera. A fancy camera, sure. But tbh, the photos I can get with what I’ve already got (Sony A7c + Leica Q2) are just as good. Maybe a true professional would be able to tell the difference, but I certainly wouldn’t.

I walked out of the store with a spring in my step. I’d just saved $15k. But more importantly, I’d taken a step towards knowing myself a little better. I was proud of myself for not impulse-buying the camera when I thought I wanted it, but waiting instead to try it out to see if it sparked joy. And it didn’t. Not that it’s a bad camera of course, and there are lots of people on YouTube who seem to love it. But it didn’t spark that joy for me.

For me, this is a nice, tangible data point that the pleasure of anticipation is often greater than the pleasure of acquisition. I had a great time anticipating getting the Leica M11, watching all the videos, fantasising about the amazing photos I could take. But when I felt and touched the prospect of actually owning it, I realised the feeling was pretty empty.

I had a similar thing with a gaming PC – I’d dreamed for over a decade about one day owning an Alienware Gaming PC. So during lockdown, I decided to buy one. The anticipation during the few weeks it took to arrive was amazing – I was imagining how amazing my life would be when I finally had a beast of a PC to play video games on. Then it arrived. And I played games on it for a few weeks. And then I realised that video gaming just doesn’t add that much value to my life. It then gathered dust for 6 months before I gave it away to a friend.

My new mode of operation now, is that if I think I want something, (a) I’ll wait for a while to see if the craving passes. It often does. But if it doesn’t, I’ll do my best to try the thing before I buy it. I’ll try it out in the shop, borrow it from a friend, or even rent it for a couple of days. If it sparks joy, then great. If not, I’ve just saved a decent chunk of money.

As a side note, one of the purchases that’s added the most value to my life was my first proper camera – it was a $500 Sony A6000 that I bought around 2016. Throughout my final years of medical school, I took incredible photos of that camera of events, parties and general hangouts with friends. Now, 8 years on, those photos are showing up in my Apple Photos memories, and they’re so nice to look back on. Yes, phones take great photos these days, but they’re still not at the level of a “proper” camera. If you’ve been wondering whether you should invest in a proper camera to take pics of your friends and family, I can 100% vouch for that. Just don’t spend $15k on it 😅

Have a great week!

Ali xx

❤️ My Favourite Things this Week

  1. Email Newsletter – Other than Morning Brew, one of my favourite email newsletters is called RadReads. It’s a weekly email written by a lovely gentleman called Khe Hy who’s become a friend since we started enjoying each other’s work. Khe was making 7-figures a year on Wall Street, but walked away at 35 when clumps of his hair started falling out. RadReads is one of my favorite sources of insights on building a life you don’t need to take a vacation from – you might like to check it out 😊
  2. Interview – The Teams and Systems it Takes to Hit $10M+ In Your Creator Business​ – The title isn’t clickbait at all. This interview is one of the most criminally underrated things I’ve seen all year. It’s got “only” 213 views (as I write this) but it’s full of gold dust around building and growing businesses. If that’s your cup of tea, you’re going to want to listen.
  3. YouTube Channel – My friend Sahil Bloom (who you may know from Twitter) has just launched his YouTube channel! His first two ‘proper’ videos are bangers – one’s a roundup of 33 lessons he learned in 33 years, and another’s him reading a letter he wrote to himself 10 years ago (for the first time). He’s also doing a daily “Cold Wisdom” series where he shares some thoughts for 5 minutes while doing his cold plunge at 4:30am lol, which has become part of my daily video-watching schedule while I’m on the toilet. I think Sahil’s channel’s going to blow up in no time – y’all should check it out while he’s still young 🙂
  4. Book – The 12-Week Year – I blitzed through this in a couple of hours. The concept is what it says on the tin: Stop thinking of your goals in year-long cycles. Instead, think about the next 12 weeks, and focus all your efforts on what you can do within that time. I like the idea. Here’s a quote: “The 12 Week Year creates a new endgame date for you to assess your success (or lack thereof). The great thing about having a 12 Week Year is that the deadline is always near enough that you never lose sight of it. It provides a time horizon that is long enough to get things done, yet short enough to create a sense of urgency and a bias for action. It’s human nature that we behave differently when a deadline approaches. We procrastinate less, we reduce or eliminate avoidance activity, and we focus more on the things that matter.” Going to play around with this concept a little over the next few weeks. I’ll report back 🙂

🎬 My New Videos

🗝️ 6 Steps to Unlock Your Full Potential – In this video I’m sharing 6 of my favourite lessons from Lewis Howes amazing book The Greatness Mindset that I hope if you actually apply to your life, will bring some positive change. Enjoy x

✍️ Quote of the Week

“If we use busy as an excuse for not doing something what we are really, really saying is that it’s not a priority. Simply put: You don’t find the time to do something; you make the time to do things.”

From Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World by Tim Ferriss. Resurfaced using Readwise.

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