The database stance

Early into my career, I worked as an apprentice with Ryan Leslie. He saw social media algorithms shrink organic reach, he observed how every tour he went on required a press run, and he decided there was a better way. In marketing, these practices are known as renting an audience.

He resolved to build direct connections with his fans by selling his next album through text messages, and he would manage them through a CRM app he developed, Superphone. This is known as owning an audience, though I think that framing is limited in its possibilities.

This is just as much a stance as it is an infrastructure. Imagine if you made that a practice in your life—to add your acquaintances via the social media of your industry (e.g., Instagram for design, LinkedIn for marketing, Twitter/X for tech, etc.)—and then nurture relationships there until it feels normal for you to ask someone for their phone number.

Or, at an event, you could hand around a clipboard for people at a next event for them to write their name, phone number, and email down.

The goal is to build a database of contacts—ideally something that can extend beyond your brain. Relationships are constrained to you, but a database is an asset—something tangible that you can use to create value for someone else, and that someone else would pay for.

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