Have you been intending to write a book for ages but constantly find that task at the bottom of your todo list? Or maybe you’ve made it further and have actually begun the process of writing but now find yourself with writer’s block and at a loss for how to move forward? Matt Rudnitsky has dedicated his life to helping others extract that book from their head and get it into print with the least amount of brain damage possible. In this interview Sean and Matt discuss his writing process, how he deals with haters, techniques for breaking writer’s block, a nasty travel snafu in Russia, how to sneak into the Super Bowl, fawning praise for Nasim Taleb and more. Enjoy!
0:02:01 Welcome and context
0:03:46 What was the RY Summercamp event in New York all about?
0:04:20 What holds back most of the people from writing their own books?
0:05:55 How is the process of courting a traditional publisher?
0:09:03 What led you to create your first book?
0:11:31 What other value did you get from writing that first book?
0:13:05 How you deal with haters?
0:17:26 How do you deal with writer’s block?
0:20:05 Are there any resources or courses for writing style that you might recommend?
0:21:26 What is your process like when working on a consulting arrangement?
0:23:26 What do you focus on when working with someone?
0:25:43 Can you talk about your latest book?
0:28:01 How many countries have you visited thus far?
0:30:04 Tell the story about your airline snafu in Russia
0:33:49 What is your opinion on speed reading?
0:34:40 What are some writers that you enjoy reading?
0:35:24 Who is your Andre Agazi of writing?
0:36:48 What is your morning routine like?
0:38:20 Who is Jim?
0:40:14 What is one book that profoundly affected you in some ways?
0:40:19 One person you’d love to have dinner with?
0:40:39 What is your favorite tool or hack that saves you time, money or headaches?
0:40:53 One piece of music or artist that is speaking to you lately?
0:41:17 What important truth do very few people agree with you on?
0:41:32 Do you believe that thoughts can exist without writing?
0:42:12 If you could go back in time, what would you tell your 20 year old self?
0:42:46 How can people get in touch with you?
RY Summercamp for Adults
Codenames for iOS
You Are an Author: So Write Your Book Already
Smart Sports Betting: How To Shift From Diehard Fan To Winning Gambler
Ticketless: How Sneaking Into The Super Bowl And Everything Else (Almost) Held My Life Together
Sneaking into Busch Stadium and an MLB Press Box
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
J. R. Moehringer
The Tender Bar: A Memoir
All right. Hey everybody. Welcome to the podcast. I’m your host Sean Tierney and I’m here today virtually with Matt Rudnitsky. Matt is founder of Word Shaman and Platypus Publishing where he helps entrepreneurs write unputdownable books that leave legacies. Matt is author of smart sports betting and “You are an author so write your effing book” available on Amazon, both with over a hundred combined reviews, 80% of which are four or five stars. He’s worked with Tucker Max’s company, “Book in a Box” now, scribe, media, sports grid and a number of other publications. He also recently edited and marketed ticketless, which is a book about a guy who sneaks into the Superbowl and Wimbleton and a bunch of other sporting events. And that book has been featured on ESPN radio, the daily beast, Yahoo sports, and a number of other major outlets. Lastly, Matt is author of the world famous “Rudbits” weekly newsletter, which I never failed to read. Sometimes it sits in my inbox for a few days, but I’m always savoring it when I do read it. And I am excited to have Matt on the show today because I traveled with him for a year on one of the very first Remote Year programs. So welcome Matt to the show.
Matt Rudnitsky (03:06):
Thank you Sean. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
Sean Tierney (03:09):
Absolutely, man. I’m so context for how we know each other. Yeah. Like I mentioned, we met on remote year we traveled, traveled together for a year. You are in, where, where are you at right now?
Matt Rudnitsky (03:19):
I’m in Austin, Texas, in the United States of America for a change. It’s a rare, rare thing for me.
Sean Tierney (03:26):
It’s a rare thing because you’ve been all over the map prior to that.
Matt Rudnitsky (03:28):
Yeah, no, it was just in a, just in Georgia, the country. So now I have to be clear like this is Texas, the one that you are thinking of, unlike whenever in the country and not the state
Sean Tierney (03:39):
Dope. And we just recently saw each other like a week ago in New York or Northern New York. It came back. Go for the I’ll let you describe what was that event all about?
Matt Rudnitsky (03:49):
Was an adult summer camp, which was I guess like 50%, just adults having fun, you know, partying and whatnot and 50% summer camp and like playing Dodge ball and people wanting to rip each other’s throats out playing Dodge ball got a little feisty.
Sean Tierney (04:06):
Yes. those were some pretty Epic games that we, that we had there. And I have a picture of our floor when we’re playing the Codenames game.
Matt Rudnitsky (04:14):
Ah, a mess on a blast at the same time.
Sean Tierney (04:19):
Totally. all right, well, so I wanted to again we’re going to talk a lot just about writing because you’re an author and a very talented one at that. But I wanted to ask you to start this off. You know, you’re constantly encouraging others to write a book. Like what is it that you think holds most people back from doing that?
Matt Rudnitsky (04:39):
There’s so many things. I think the, the first thing is just not understanding how easy it is. So like, I like to tell people that publishing a book is quite literally as easy as posting on Instagram. Like that’s not the hard part. The, getting it published, putting it on Amazon is super, super easy. Obviously the difficult part is writing something that people care about, writing something that’s worthwhile for you, the time it takes. So that’s the first step is just understanding that you can literally just log on to Amazon right now, create your author account and publish a book within probably 10 minutes, maybe even less if you know what to do. That’s the first thing. And then once people understand how easy it is to self-publish people obviously think that there’s a big stigma behind self-publishing for, for good reason because the average self published book is garbage. But it’s not garbage because it’s self published. It’s garbage because the person wrote garbage. Right? And there’s no reason you can’t write a book that’s as good as insert whatever your favorite book is here. Self-Published. Like it has nothing to do with the self publishing itself. It has to do with what you write about, how much effort you put into it. Do you edit it yourself? Do you hire someone? Do you crowdsource it to friends, et cetera, et cetera.
Sean Tierney (05:54):
Yeah. And I know that you’re more of a fan
Matt Rudnitsky (05:58):
Of the self publishing route. What do you see as being the real problem with like the typical corporate go, you know, court a publisher and have them handle it for you? What is the issue with that approach? So I, I will preface this by saying I think there is a very small percentage of people who should do it. I imagine 99% of people listening to this should not. And the reasons are, first it’s extremely hard to get accepted. Like it’s hard to get accurate statistics on this, but the one I’ve cited is that like 96% of authors seeking agents get rejected. So first you have to find an agent and 96% of the time it’s not going to work. Once you get an agent, you have to promise, I think it’s usually like 15% of your royalties to that agent. If you get accepted, you still might not get accepted.
Matt Rudnitsky (06:43):
You can have to spend probably a month or months writing a book proposal, which is like a 30 page document, which you could have been writing your book this whole time or blogging or something. Just to get accepted. And then once you get accepted, you’ll wind up forfeiting something like 80 to 90% of your royalty to the publisher. You’re expected to come in with a marketing plan, like that’s part of your book proposal and then execute pretty much all of it yourself. So it’s like you’re doing all the work, you get very, very few benefits. Like, yes, you get to work with their editor and their designer, but those are things you can do independently, usually for cheaper and often better. So they’re just a very, very few benefits and like so many hoops you have to jump through. They also take, you know, final creative control over it.
Matt Rudnitsky (07:26):
So they might kind of make your book more mainstream or kind of dumb it down a bit. There’s just so few advantages and so many, so much bullshit you have to deal with, basically. Yeah. Well. And so the only advantages that I can think of are, you know, maybe getting the advance for the people that are cashflow constraint that want the money up front, that the dude in the event you get selected. I guess you can take the advance and then maybe just the ego of saying that you’re published by some famous publisher, but I can’t really, there’s not many advantages that come to mind of going that route anymore. Yeah. The, the advance obviously like is nice. The average, again, the average person listening to this is going to get a really, really tiny advance. So actually the, so the first book I published with smart sports betting, so just kind of like a how to guide on, on sports betting for casual sports fans.
Matt Rudnitsky (08:20):
So it did really well self-published and this was before I knew like anything about self publishing. So I did this I guess in 2014, it’s like five, six years ago. Did really well. And then I got contacted by this like imprint of Simon and Schuster. Like I think that was like two years ago. So they offered me a deal and the advance, I was offered with $6,000 and it was $6,000 to do like basically a rewritten version of my book, like slightly expanded. So it would have competed with my other book. I was only getting $6,000. They told me they were going to do it on a quote fast timeline, which was a year, it’s going to take me a year of work to make
Sean Tierney (08:56):
Matt Rudnitsky (08:56):
And then I was going to make a, I think it was like 10% royalties on sales. So it was just like, it was absurd. Completely absurd.
Sean Tierney (09:03):
Yeah. Well, and your book has already done more than that. Like can you talk about, actually this is a perfect segue, so let’s talk about that book. Like what led you to create it and how has it done?
Matt Rudnitsky (09:12):
Okay. So I, my first real job and only real job, it wasn’t even really a real job, but as a full time job was as a sports blogger and like editor for this site called sports grid. So I basically had like a ton of freedom. It was the sports blog that reached like three to 4 million unique visitors a month. But it only had like four employees. So I basically just got to write about whatever I wanted as long as I was getting enough clicks. And I just realized the sports betting niche was very like underserved because it’s, it was technically illegal and now it’s semi legal in some places and just like very taboo. So I wound up writing about that a lot. And just realized how little people knew. And it’s like, it’s a very ripe environment for charlatans cause like there’s no regulation that people don’t know what they’re doing, so people get scammed all the time.
Matt Rudnitsky (10:04):
So I was like exposing scammers and people were all of a sudden like treating me as this like semi expert, even though, you know, I wasn’t getting rich betting on sports. And eventually I just realized like I had enough to say, like, I just have to write a book. I had no expectations. I mean, I figured, you know, maybe a few hundred people will read it, I’ll make a few hundred bucks. But it was really just like a thing I wanted to do. Got obsessed with self publishing, did all the research, realized it’s not that difficult and just kinda did it.
Sean Tierney (10:32):
Nice. And then what was the output of that? I know you, you’ve gotten quite a bit of royalties from it. How did that play out?
Matt Rudnitsky (10:38):
Yeah, so again, like had absolutely no idea what to expect. I built like a, I think it was like 46 person email list through sports grid, like absolutely nothing and just told those people about the book, asked for some feedback and stuff. And then in like the first month I made, I think it was, yeah, the first month I made it was like about $1,100 and royalty. So that’s not like sales. That is literally the amount that went in my account. And I was just like completely shocked. This thing I had no expectations for, I wasn’t even sure I could do it. Like all of a sudden it’s making me 1000 bucks a month. And this was while I was living in Prague and my apartment costs like 400 bucks a month. So I’m like, that was over two months rent, like basically paid for all my expenses. Just completely unexpected.
Sean Tierney (11:24):
Nice. So you’re throwing the Becker off, go back at that point and just like absolutely. Beyond, beyond the royalties that you’ve gotten from that, what other, like you said you’ve been contacted by so much Simon Schuster, like what other value has writing that book created for you?
Matt Rudnitsky (11:45):
So I didn’t have like any real interest in taking like the sports angle further. So I think there were a bunch of, I got whatever to go on a podcast to write for the site or whatever that I, I mostly turn those down or ignored them. Because I just got so obsessed with this self-publishing thing. And so the real benefits were, I mean obviously having a story to tell people I’m the Simon and Schuster offer and I guess beyond that it was just like having this book to point to when I started like preaching about self publishing. And the funny thing is like, I almost hate to say this, but like a lot of the benefits of writing a book will look like people will come to you and just be impressed that you wrote a book and they won’t even read it. It could be garbage. I mean I think it’s good, but like people are just impressed by the fact that you can hold a paperback book in your hand and be like, Oh this is mine.
Sean Tierney (12:37):
Yeah, I mean the, the books seems like the new business card in a way. Like people kind of throw their book around like the same way you toss it
Matt Rudnitsky (12:44):
Business card to someone. Exactly. It’s just like kind of a proof of expertise. So like if I wanted to be one of those like obnoxious sports betting charlatans, like I’m sure I could show up at events and be like, Oh, I wrote the best book ever and pay me lots of money. I didn’t want to do that. But I think I could have, if that was my personality.
Sean Tierney (13:06):
I want to ask you how you deal with criticism because I, I got about halfway through your other book and I wanted us to read some of these quotes because they’re hilarious. Like some of these are in all caps. So I’m just gonna read this like, dude, you blow at this, please just stop writing for the rest of your life. Really don’t ever write anything again. Your lack of ability legitimately makes me angry. Matt, you’re a waste of human flesh. Sad life. You live six exclamation points. Matt Riddick, Magnitsky likes penis in his pooper. And my favorite one, Matt is a Jew form Ukraine. Spelled wrong. Just like, so what, how do you deal with this type of hate and criticism and trolling?
Matt Rudnitsky (13:49):
Constantly. So, okay, so the first, first thing is I cherry picked those insults. So they’re in my book, you are an author, so write your effing book to show you the absolute worst you could possibly get. But this is like, so that was only when I was writing for the sports blog. So this is when probably, you know, a few hundred thousand people are reading by articles like every month and say, you know, 100,000 people are reading my articles about things that are semi charged, right? Like this team sucks, this team’s good, et cetera. That will upset people. Even given all of that, I would probably get a couple dozen like hate comments per month. So ever since I stopped writing about sports and if you don’t write about sports politics, something like super charged, you will get way, way, way, way fewer, like negative comments than you think.
Matt Rudnitsky (14:44):
That said, it’s still scary until you’re like out there publishing, cause you’re probably not going to believe me. You’re like, Oh, what? You know, I don’t have proof that people are going to care about what I have to say about this. Whatever. Say you’re writing about like sales or something like Abbott, I haven’t physically done this yet. Like there are these imaginary creatures in your head that disagree with everything you say, even though you’re an incredibly smart guy who’s going to have good things to say. And they’re really, there’s no way to get over it besides just like publishing constantly and realizing that it’s really not a big deal. It will hurt you the first few times and then you just realize that like, the people that care about this don’t matter, that these are the like 0.01% of people that are really vocal on the internet and just go around like clicking on things and being like, you suck. You suck. You’re the worst. You’re a Jew form Ukraine, which doesn’t even make any sense. I am Jewish and my family’s not from the Ukraine. I’m American. I don’t know what he was talking.
Sean Tierney (15:42):
It just seems like there’s always going to be haters and there’s always trolls. So, yeah, I just I tend to agree with you on that advice there. What about other challenges?
Matt Rudnitsky (15:52):
Just want to add one, sorry, one more thing is that the only way you will get like hate comments is if you’ve written something good. Like most people are afraid of, of getting negative comments at the beginning and it’s like, the truth is you’re more, you’re way more likely to just be ignored and your article or book just gets lost in the sea of millions of articles and books then to get a negative comment. If you do, that’s a sign that you’re reaching some people. And for every one negative comment there’s probably 500 people who either enjoyed it or like, Oh, that’s pretty good.
Sean Tierney (16:24):
Well, it’s funny. I know Edward Snowden just today released his book what’s it called? Whatever the book is. He just wrote a permanent record and he’s on the same day, had been sued by the department of justice for some kind of, you know, contractual thing that he breached and doing that. And he tweeted something to the effect of a lawsuit because the book is so truthful is a wonderful stamp of authenticity or something.
Matt Rudnitsky (16:52):
Yep. Yeah. Yeah. So you’re right. That’s a thing. One of our, like one of our mutual favorite authors and the same Toledo is talks about that like book, I think it’s like books or his quote. His books are antifragile like they gain strength from attacks. Like if you’re getting attacked, that’s a good sign. And the people that are going to side with the attackers are not your readers anyway. And there’s going to be someone else reading that article and be like, this person, what is this person talking about? Like they’re so wrong for going after this person. I’m going to buy this.
Sean Tierney (17:21):
Yeah. No, literally I went to Amazon as soon as I read that and I, I bought it on Kindle. I bought this note about the, actually it’s funny. What about the other challenges that you encounter? Things like writer’s block imposter syndrome. Like what, how, how do you deal with those?
Matt Rudnitsky (17:35):
I think for in terms of writer’s block there are like these, these two camps where like you have one side say writer’s block isn’t real because like, and there is some truth in it. Like I like what Seth Godin about it. He’s like, there’s no such thing as talker’s block. So why is there a such thing as writer’s block? It’s not, it’s not that you can’t write. Like if you were just to sit, sit in front of your word processor and be like, I’m going to write 500 crappy words on whatever is on my mind, you’ll have no trouble and you’ll probably write 50,000 words. But it still is real. Like there is a reason that people stare at the blank page or want to write and don’t start writing. And I think the, there are two big things. One big thing would be thinking that you have to write something perfect on your first draft.
Matt Rudnitsky (18:27):
And not understanding the concept of like a shitty first draft and knowing that if you were to speak to anyone, myself obviously included who has, who writes frequently, like our first scraps are really shitty. Like even if we’re talking J K rallying Michael Lewis, like whoever insert your favorite author here, like their first drafts are really, really bad. Like, do not try to write your first draft perfectly, try to write a shitty first draft and then turn that into something good. So that’d be the first thing. The other thing is like, counterintuitively, the more the more you write and the more you write down ideas, the more ideas you will have, which sounds really weird, but it’s like when I was forced to write, it’s usually like four or five things a day. As a sports blogger, I never had trouble coming up with ideas and I never had trouble publishing. And then once I didn’t have that job anymore like all of a sudden I had writer’s block just because I got out of the habit of doing it. It’s really just a habit. And the more you publish, the more you realize that like it’s not about your one piece of writing or your one idea. It’s just about the body of work and the habit of publishing and getting out there.
Sean Tierney (19:36):
Well, I would wholly agree with both of those stances. The, the, the write drunk edit sober, which is essentially the first point you made. And the at least this maps over to music from my experience in terms of like when you just keep putting stuff out there, no matter how bad it may feel, it creates like a vacuum that then invites other creativity. So I don’t know if that’s even just specific to writing. I think that’s kind of relevant to art and music as well. Definitely are there. So is there any like resource or R or specific course or exercise you recommend or is it just literally people need to just go right, like they need to just start writing?
Matt Rudnitsky (20:19):
I mean I think the most important thing is to write consistently. I mean I think it could certainly help to have an editor too. I mean you can work with me. I have coached people on this in the past. But it’s just literally whatever will get you to be writing things consistently. And before you do that, you have to like decide like, is this really something you want to pursue because it’s difficult. Anyone can do, like I believe that literally anyone is capable of doing it, but a lot of people I’m sure are very similar to like music. Like in the back of my mind, I like want to play guitar, I want to learn guitar, but I don’t, I don’t have any real reason to, I don’t have any urgency. I don’t have a goal with it. So there’s, that’s why I’ve never done it. So if you want to write like, why do you want it? Right. do you, is this something you really want to do for your entire life or is this like, I want to get my ideas out about this one little thing, like, decide why it is decide what’s stopping you and either commit to it fully or don’t. There’s no, there’s no shame in saying like, this is really hard. I don’t want to do it.
Sean Tierney (21:26):
So. Okay. Well, so this is a good also segue. So when you sit down with someone on a new consulting arrangement and what is your process, where do you guys start that you start with a goal first or what, how do you approach it?
Matt Rudnitsky (22:16):
Yeah, typically. So usually I’m working with people who want to write books, but it could just be someone that wants to start writing and yeah, the first thing is why do you want to do this? Because most people are not clear on why they want to do it. And there, there are plenty of good reasons and I like, I outlined them probably better than I will now in my book, so like, feel free to check that out. But are you doing it to make money if you’re doing it to make money on your book? That’s a horrible reason cause you probably won’t. Are you doing it to direct people to something else that will make you money consulting and online course, et cetera? That’s a much better reason. Are you doing it for your ego? That’s not a, honestly not a horrible reason.
Matt Rudnitsky (22:57):
If you’re aware of it upfront, like this is just something I want to do to like people who want to run a marathon. I want to do it to say I was able to do it. Nothing wrong with that. But you want to be upfront about it. If you say, I want to run a marathon to break a world record. But the real reason you’re doing is just to finish, like you’re going to be pretty disappointed when you totally don’t break a world record. Are you doing it to just become a better writer? Like nothing wrong with that either. Just being super clear about that upfront.
Sean Tierney (23:25):
Yup. Okay. So you start with the objective in mind first. And what is your process like when you sit down and work with someone though? Like what do you guys focus on? Cause I know you’re, you’re concerned not just about the writing of it but like distribution and things, you know, thinking down the road of how does this actually fit in the world.
Matt Rudnitsky (23:42):
Yeah. And it all, it all ties in with like super clear about your, your goals up front. Like once you know that, then you know the end goal and you can kind of connect the dots because it changes, it changes what you write about. It changes the type of book it is, it changes the marketing strategy, it changes, you know, is this going to be a hundred page book? There’s nothing wrong with writing a hundred page book if it’s something super specific and, or is this going to be, you know, a 500 page, three year long process. Like those are two totally different things. So basically the way I do it personally, if I’m coaching someone or consulting is I just, just like I would get them to do with the writing is to get them to word vomit. Like what are all of your ideas? What are all the possible reasons you want to do this? Get that all out on paper, get rid of the ones that aren’t that important. Prioritize and keep like trimming down and down and down until we get up like the essence of why they want to do this. And then what’s the best way to accomplish that?
Sean Tierney (24:38):
And then do you put that into any like a mind map or like Scrivener or any of the tools for organizing that stuff or what’s your process from there?
Matt Rudnitsky (24:48):
I’ve done it a million different ways. Like I don’t think the tools are that important. I definitely, I’ve never played around with Scribner. I’ve never like officially used it. I’ve used Trello to organize ideas. I’ve used mine maps. Like my last book, I did start out with a mind map. Sometimes they’ll just like word vomit things into a word document. It really like, doesn’t matter, just whatever works for me or that person. But yeah, the key is just getting it all out and then prioritizing and cutting the trimming the fight.
Sean Tierney (25:16):
So don’t fixate on the tool that can actually become like a, you know, an excuse for not moving forward basically is obsessing over what tool you’re going to use. [inaudible]
Matt Rudnitsky (25:25):
Yeah. And you know, once you start writing, I mean you should, you should have an idea, like if it’s something super research heavy, you should have some sort of basic strategy, whether it’s using Scrivener, Evernote or whatever. But there’s no right answer. Cool. And if it’s not research heavy, then I wouldn’t worry about it at all honestly.
Sean Tierney (25:43):
Can you talk about the most recent book that you helped with, which is the ticketless one. Cause I watched that video the other day. I’ll link to it in the show notes, but it’s, it’s this guy basically sneaking into a stadium to put his book in the hands of a sports writer.
Matt Rudnitsky (25:55):
Yeah. So that was, that was my little like marketing stunt idea. I’m not good at making videos, but I actually somehow cobbled that Trevor forgot to. So Trevor crosses the other great guy, incredible writer, forgot to put the video horizontal. You know, what are you going to do? So it’s a long story. We worked on that for like three, four years. So Trevor has snuck into, I think it’s like I wrote, I wrote it in the video, I think it’s like 37 different sporting events now. Something like that. Well over 30. And like major ones are talking super bowl, Wimbledon final the masters world series, blah blah blah.
Sean Tierney (26:38):
I have to have inevitably like incredible security. Those are all like really big events would imagine
Matt Rudnitsky (26:45):
Most of them do if you read them. I don’t want to spoil the book. Everyone should check out. Ticketless but yes, the Superbowl was crazy. The masters was crazy. He actually didn’t get in in Buenos Aires, Argentina. That was the craziest security. But the truth is a lot of, a lot of the stories were just him kind of blending in him, like spending a lot of time like traversing the stadium beforehand and like finding a little hole in the security setup. And one of the big things is that like the metal detectors or before the ticket takers. So like they check, they know that you don’t have, you know, anything dangerous before you, they even check your ticket. So like once you’re not a threat, like they’re less concerned about you getting it right. So he takes advantage of that and he’s done it in like 10 different ways. He’s like, he’s going to a place in like a garbage bin. He was sitting in the garbage man. He just says run past people. I made a fake ticket. I mean, I’ll let you read the book if you want.
Sean Tierney (27:46):
Well, the video, the video that I’ll link to, it’s, it’s him sneaking in and he films the whole thing that puts the phone on the thing, you know, goes through the metal detector and then you see him just basically like take off through the turnstile. It’s pretty, pretty ballsy. I want to shift gears and talk about travel because that’s how we first met each other. So you were living in Prague prior to remote year and obviously when you wrote the sports betting book and you’ve traveled to a number of countries since then, how many have you been to you at this point?
Matt Rudnitsky (28:17):
It’s like, it’s like 50 ish, I think. I’m like just over 50, but it depends. Like I went on some cruises with my parents when I was younger to these like islands that I don’t even remember. Yeah. That technically might count as country. So more or less 50.
Sean Tierney (28:30):
Cool. And like what, what does travel mean to you? Why, why do you keep traveling?
Matt Rudnitsky (28:38):
I think it’s meant different things at different points in my life. So like I grew up, you know, a sheltered white boy from the suburbs of New York where there’s just, there’s just nothing, no diversity of, and I might even just talking like race, but just no diversity of lifestyle or career or thoughts. Like everyone does the same thing. Everything’s so like perfect. And it just like felt like trapped in that. And I had traveled like a little bit with my parents, but never internationally. So it was just like the moment I had an opportunity to like get out of that bubble, I just like sprinted towards it and it was like wanting to soak in everything now that I’ve seen a lot of things. I think it’s more about like just having experiences with people like building relationships. Like the reason I did remote year and the reason, you know, we connected and became friends. Like it’s more about that, just like having these novel experiences with people then like me being super adventurous and new things. Yeah. Yeah.
Sean Tierney (29:43):
Cool. Well, Austin is one of the places that if I were going to settle in the U S and I’d say between that and San Diego would be the two places that I would consider love Austin.
Matt Rudnitsky (29:53):
Yeah, it’s, it’s awesome. [inaudible]
Sean Tierney (29:55):
You may have a, a wandering Portuguese nomad on your couch for South by Southwest Mexican. You are welcome to come. If we were still here, can you tell the story? This is one of the things that you submitted in the pre interview questions. The time I found my airline no longer existed as I was about to go to.
Matt Rudnitsky (30:16):
Oh, right. I forgot about that. So, okay. So that was, so I lived in Prague for a year. I came back and I lived in Boston for like 10 months or something like that. And then again got the travel itch. So I’d never been to Asia. I really wanted to go to Asia, found this flight deal that I was super proud of. I think it was like, I want to say it was, I think it was $180 from Boston to Beijing one way. So like probably the best deal I’ve ever gotten. And I was like bragging to everyone like, Oh, I know how to find flight deals. It’s amazing. And then, and I had a bunch of plans in Asia, was visiting my next door neighbor growing up, oddly enough, moved to Beijing. So I was visiting him there. I was going to go to like Thailand and Vietnam and all that stuff.
Matt Rudnitsky (31:02):
So I had a bunch of plans, really excited, show up with just a backpack, getting to the airport in Boston and like on the, on the subway or the Metro or whatever they call it, the T it said like this airline trans arrow, which was like some sketchy Russian airline I had never heard of is in, you know, terminal two or whatever. And then I looked it up on my phone and so it was in like terminal three. So this is like red flag number one. This is odd. Like, I don’t know why my ticket doesn’t tell me where to go. And there’s some discrepancies here, but whatever, it’s probably no big deal. If you go to terminal two, don’t see anything with trans air on. It’s like, all right, it’s probably just terminal three. There’s some confusion. Go to terminal three. I don’t see, I see one little like booth that like had like a faded out, like trans arrow sign and there’s no one there.
Matt Rudnitsky (31:52):
So I was like, this is weird looking on the flight board and I don’t like see it. And I see like another flight to Beijing, but the time was a little different. And I’m like, it didn’t say trans around like, is that my flight? I’m just very confused and I’m trying to ask like employees and they’re like, I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. There’s no desk to go to. I’m just like completely confused. Like I just have absolutely no idea what to do. Cause like I couldn’t find my ticket on my phone. Like it just couldn’t find anything. So eventually I went to the Aeroflot desk cause that’s another Russian airline. And in my head it’s just like, well these are the same things. Maybe they merged or something, I don’t know, like what could possibly be going wrong here? So basically just go up to the Aeroflot desk as if I’m flying their airline, hand them my passport and they’re like, what are you, why are you, you’re trying to nurture system at all. And I was like, Oh well it’s fine. This other Russian airline and I kinda just figured you guys had like merged or something. And they’re like, no, that airline went bankrupt like two months ago.
Matt Rudnitsky (32:54):
I guess what had happened is I bought this ticket, the airline went bankrupt and they never contacted me to tell me that there would be no flight. But oddly enough, this other Russian airline did have a flight to Beijing. That was like a similar time. It was like, I don’t know, 10 minutes after something, which is why I was confused. I thought maybe that was my flight, but it’s just a different one. And I basically just wound up having to buy a flight and I was freaking out cause I thought it was going to be like $5,000 or something. And it turned out it wasn’t that bad. I think it was like maybe like 400 bucks. It wasn’t like insane. So, you know, my hundred $80 flight deal didn’t really come through. I don’t even think I got my money back. But I got to Beijing and it was okay. And that was Beijing. It was amazing. But only because my friends lived there and spoke fluent Mandarin. Otherwise they would’ve been so lost. So confused.
Sean Tierney (33:48):
What about another shift of gears here. So we’ve talked about writing on the reading side of things like D, are you a believer in speed reading or what are your thoughts on, on whether that’s worth like a skill worth acquiring?
Matt Rudnitsky (34:02):
I’ve never invested in a time in learning it. It’s just, it’s like honestly just doesn’t like appeal to me that much especially. And part of that is because like when I read, I’m trying to absorb the writing and like become a better writer. I definitely understand why, like if you’re reading nonfiction with a specific intent to learn something, like I definitely think it could be valuable. I’ve just, I’ve never invested any time in it. I try to enjoy the reading experience and like really soak in the writing and the energy and how it’s changing and the, the flow of the sentences and whatever. But yeah, so it never been a thing for me personally, but I get why some people do it. Cool.
Sean Tierney (34:43):
On that topic, who do you like? I mean, not seem to lab. You mentioned we both have a mutual respect for him. Who else?
Matt Rudnitsky (34:51):
So, so, so many people. I mean, I could literally give like hundreds of book recommendations in terms of just like pure writing style. My favorites would probably be Kurt Vonnegut is like way top for nonfiction. I love Naseem to lab. Michael Lewis is like an incredible storyteller. It’s got like Charles Bukowski is crazy and hilarious and kind of obnoxious, but writes amazing novels, wrote amazing novels, rest in peace.
Sean Tierney (35:25):
What about, who is the Andre Agassi?
Matt Rudnitsky (35:28):
Yes. So one of my favorite books, it’s a quote, autobiography, but then you get to the end of the book and Andre Agassi’s like, Oh, I really want to, my co-writer who did a lot in the worst. This guy jr Moehringer, it’s like M O, E, H, R, I, N, G, E, R, I believe. Who has also written his own autobiography. It’s called the tender bar which is just like the autobiography of an ordinary dude who grew up going to a bar with, or basically was raised in a bar, like with his, I guess dad’s friends. And just like this ordinary story is so superbly written that like blew my mind. Have you read Shawnta rom? So you recommended that to me like many, many times. And every time I see you, I bump it up my Kindle list and I had not started it until I believe like three days ago. I actually started it and I’m about 60 pages through and loving it so far. I will, I wouldn’t get through this. I actually did start it and it’s great.
Sean Tierney (36:33):
Nope. Nope. Well we’ll need a comment maybe on the podcast when you finish it and we’ll, we’ll get hear your thoughts on that one. Cause that was one of my favorites.
Matt Rudnitsky (36:40):
Yeah. And like three years when I finished the 950, you know, I will, I will, I will finish it soon. I bet you within a month it’ll be, it’ll be done.
Sean Tierney (36:47):
Dope. let’s talk about your morning routine cause I know you’re a believer in morning routines. Can you just tell a little bit about what you do there?
Matt Rudnitsky (36:55):
Yeah. I have like experimented with, you know, every article and podcast that is talked about a morning routine and I think there are a million different useful ones depending on what you like. Currently now really all I do is get up like as early as possible. I’ve actually been trying to get up with the sunrise lately, which has worked sometimes. Start with like I use this app, it’s called state. It’s like a breathing exercise app. Do that for like, it’s like seven minute exercise, kind of like wake your brain up. And then some sort of meditation, which I’ve been doing Headspace recently, but I’ve tried a ton of other things. Like there’s brain.fm, there is insight timer, there’s different strategies in whatever. So those are really the only two things like doing right now. Then get my, get my coffee and try to write something as, as soon as read, then writes something as soon as possible. That’s like my like minimalist morning routine. I feel accomplished. I feel focused.
Sean Tierney (37:59):
And you write very first thing. Like, once you finish the routine, then you go right into writing or what, what’s like how do you transition and go right in
Matt Rudnitsky (38:07):
To almost always go to a coffee shop, get coffee, read for usually 15 to 30 minutes and then start writing like to like prime my brain with good, good writing. And then write on a,
Sean Tierney (38:20):
So I just have actually one last question. Who is Jim?
Matt Rudnitsky (38:24):
Oh, who is Jim? Well rest in peace shim. Okay. So I don’t know what I’m at Liberty to discuss that Jim. But basically the short version of the story is that my friends and I on remote your Mayday satirical newsletter. This, we got like a normal newsletter, like here’s what’s going on this week, this month, et cetera. And we just thought it’d be funny to make Securicor one, but we had just met everyone. So I wanted to do fuck, marry, kill. And I was like, I just met these people. I can’t kill anymore. Even figuratively. Like that’s just going to upset people. It’s not worth it. And we did it anonymously, so it’d be like, who wants to kill me? And this is weird. So there were two people that hadn’t been there the first month. This was the second month. It was like, okay, you know, fuck one marry one, that’s a positive thing. Okay, now I’m just going to make someone up to kill because they can kill a real person. So I just wrote killed Jim. But I think some people thought there was a gym and they just hadn’t met him yet. So he just kinda turned into this meme even though he wasn’t ever a real person. Maybe he is.
Sean Tierney (39:30):
I mean this spoof newsletter, if I can find it I’ll include it. Cause it was hilarious and I know you guys had to end up like apologizing for it. But like I think the vast majority of people just thought it was hilarious and that
Matt Rudnitsky (39:40):
You should just keep doing it, which is another good goes. We’ve circled back to my earlier point on like the, there’s going to be one or two vocal people that have a problem with something if you push your boundary. But like most people,
Sean Tierney (39:55):
Yeah. Cool. All right, well we’re going to go into the very last phase of this interview. This is what I call the breakdowns. Are you ready for the breakdown? I am ready for break down. Break down baby. Let’s break it down. All right. And I gotta do this and I know you’re going to hate this, but what is one book that has profoundly affected you or sculpted your thinking in some way?
Matt Rudnitsky (40:15):
Tash, tell me. I’m just going to say antifragile by it and it seemed to let cause that, yeah, probably
Sean Tierney (40:20):
Top five. Cool. What about one person you would love to take to dinner?
Matt Rudnitsky (40:24):
Okay. I’m not going to say because I just keep saying him. Who else will I say? Jim, I, I’ll say this. I really liked the same two labs work. I’m going to everyone. If you haven’t checked out step [inaudible]
Sean Tierney (40:40):
What about, what is one tool or hack that saves you time, money and headaches. Evernote. Cool. Use it myself. I’m, that’s literally what I’m staring at right now as I read these notes and talking to you. And so yeah, 100% agree there. A one piece of music or musical author that speaks to you?
Matt Rudnitsky (40:58):
So lately I’ve been listening to labyrinth a lot. L a, B, R, I. N, T, H like a British dude with an incredible soul,
Sean Tierney (41:07):
Not the David Bowie film of many years ago. Nope. Okay. All right. We’ll look at that one year is a difficult question. What important truth. Do very few people agree with you on
Matt Rudnitsky (41:24):
That writing is the writing publicly is the most valuable thing you can do for your life and career?
Sean Tierney (41:32):
Do you a, here’s a question
Matt Rudnitsky (41:34):
That you just made me think of. Do you believe that thought can exist independent of writing? Like words are decoupled from thought writing or, or like speech dislike? Well, no, clearly we can think and not right. So I guess it’s more like, is language intricately coupled with thought, with thought? I think that it’s a circular thing. Like thought shapes, language, language, shapes, thought. Yes, I do think, I think you, you know, you can think in pictures, thinking symbols. So yeah, I think it could exist, but they have the, you know, intermingled relationship.
Sean Tierney (42:13):
Okay, last question. What about if you had a time machine to go back to your 20 year old self, what is one piece of advice you would give your former self?
Matt Rudnitsky (42:21):
I’m never stopped publishing published. Way more.
Sean Tierney (42:25):
Publish more. You’ve already published a couple books. So you’re just saying up the volume shorter. Yeah. More shorter
Matt Rudnitsky (42:31):
Things. Like I’ve gone through little lapses of not publishing things regularly. And I think if you’re committed to this as a lifelong skill and thing in your career, like you need to do it more. And when I say you, I’m talking to myself.
Sean Tierney (42:46):
Cool man. Well, so where can I send people out? How do you want people to connect with you on social media? Or is there a site you want them to go to? Yeah. so if you just want to read
Matt Rudnitsky (42:55):
My writing, go to Rudd bits.com R U D B I T s.com. If you’re interested in working with me on book stuff, go to Platypus. Books.Com. and then if you want to check out my book on writing and writing books and whatnot I give the free copy to anyone that goes to Platypus. Books.Com/. Nomad. It should work. We’ll have
Sean Tierney (43:19):
Checked and it works, but it should work. All right. All right, free book. Matt man, as always, it’s a pleasure catching up. Thank you for being a guest on the show and best of luck in all the writing endeavors and whatever else you’re working on these days. All right. Thank you Sean. I appreciate it and thanks everyone for listening. Cheers.
|Blog or Personal Site|
|Links to anything you’ve written|
|The cliffsnotes of my book on self-publishing (8-min read) https://medium.com/go-remote/how-to-write-a-book-that-funds-a-year-of-world-travel-when-23-and-unemployed-289d7ab55334
My Tweet thread about writing “Mein Trump” (2-min read) https://twitter.com/Mattrud/status/1106622219835330560
Unpublished Draft, but pretty refined: Six Steps to Pulling Jobs out of Your Butt (~12 min read) https://medium.com/f-ck-the-real-world/six-steps-to-pulling-jobs-out-of-your-butt-f45f46cdd408
That should give you the gist, but if you wanna go deeper, I guess skim/read my book. https://www.amazon.com/You-Are-Author-Write-cking-ebook/dp/B01LWJVHX4
|Platypus Publishing (http://plat.pub)|
|What’s something noteworthy or an accomplishment we can cite?|
|I’ve made over $15,000 in royalties from self-publishing a book, with zero marketing or work since publication.|
|United States of America|
|Where in the world are you now?|
|Where were you living when you decided to start a nomadic life?|
|In which (if any) of these travel programs have you participated?|
|Which RY group were you with?|
|What were the initial set of circumstances or motive(s) that led you to experiment with a nomadic life?|
|When the sports blog I worked for refused to give me a raise to make an almost-livable-but-not-really ($35,000!) salary to live in NYC, I decided to teach English … somewhere. I just wanted to travel.
That led me to living for a year in Prague and starting to work remotely, online. Prague was my home base, but I did a ton of traveling. I then moved back to Boston but soon got the travel itch again. I was working fully remotely as a freelancer, when I found Remote Year. My only concern about being nomadic was not having a community, and Remote Year solved that problem. Ever since, I haven’t lived anywhere more than 3 months straight (mostly ~1 month each).
|Was there something specifically you were looking to gain or escape from that you’re willing/able to share?|
|What was it and did that play out as you were hoping?|
|I was looking to gain a community of people like me. I knew zero people that worked remotely or had the freedom to travel regularly. It was frustrating being the weird one that no one understood … but more so, not being able to share my experiences with a group. Traveling alone was life-changing for a little while, but grew stale. It’s tough to be friendly when you know your “friend” will be gone in a day, never to be seen again.|
|What did you do for income/work while traveling?|
|At first, I worked as a freelancer for Book in a Box (now Scribe Media) — interviewing people and turning the transcripts into books (kinda like ghostwriting, but a little different). I haven’t worked with them in about a year and a half, though.
Ever since, I’ve done a variety of jobs. Mostly writing-related, but not all.
Ghostwriting, copywriting, dropshipping (briefly), Amazon FBA sales (also briefly), book editing, writing coaching, marketing strategy/consulting (mostly for authors), passive income from my books.
|Did that situation change at all during the course of your travels?|
|Nothing specific, but I’ve had points of very steady/profitable work, and I’ve gone a couple of months with nothing.|
|Are you still doing the same work today as when you went nomadic?|
|Did you find it challenging to do your work from abroad?|
|What type of personal or business growth did you expect to experience and how did that turn out in actuality?|
|I expected to gain a community of likeminded, smart people … and that’s exactly what happened. I expected to become more confident, independent and less scared of the unknown … and those also happened. Not many surprises on that front, but universally positive.
I thought my business would be a little further along by now, but some projects went slower than expected (one project fell through entirely, and another has taken forever to be finalized … the book still isn’t published due to legal issues on the client’s end). I expected more to transition to teaching/online courses by now, but that is coming this year.
|What was the highest high-point and lowest low-point of your travels?|
|Highest Point: So many. The two that immediately come to mind are:
1) Sitting in a hostel with one of my best friends and hitting “publish” on my first book (pre-RY). Watching a couple of sales roll in, then going out to celebrate in Dubrovnik.
2) Dancing to “the song” by DJ Danko at Pool Party 1.0 in Prague.
Low Point: Also so many. The three that immediately come to mind are:
1) Moving in with my two best friends in Prague (after living there just a month), watching them find significant others and proceed to become reclusive couples. I went through a month or so of feeling VERY lonely. Completely alone.
2) The time I found out my airline no longer existed, as I was about to go to China.
3) The time my flight to Belgrade was canceled and we were put on a 5-hour Death Bus up the winding mountains along the Adriatic.
|Was there ever a point at which you gave serious consideration to quitting the nomadic journey?|
|What did you learn from your nomadic existence that was unintuitive or unexpected but obvious now in retrospect?|
|1) The vast majority of people are good.
2) The US is not the best country in the world, but it is great.
3) I prefer exploring a country or city deeper, rather than going to a new country/city just because I haven’t been there. Depth > novelty.
4) Life abroad is not that much different than life at home.
|Was it hard to re-integrate back into society after your travels?|
|What can you not “un-see” at this point?|
|1) My puke in the Belgicka elevator.
2) The neverending list of places I want to visit/people say I “must” visit.
3) The freedom of knowing you never have to be stuck in one geographical location.
|How and to what extent has your group kept in touch after the experience ended?|
|Not as much as I would have liked to, but everyone’s mobility leads to a solid amount of in-person meetups. I’ve seen a large portion of my group, even though I don’t talk to many people regularly. The bond still feels close, and I don’t worry about seeing people again.|
|How do you think you’ve changed as a person from the experience?|
|I’m much more open-minded, patient, confident and outgoing.|
|What would you say to someone considering taking a leap like this?|
|If you’re thinking about taking the leap, leap. You can always go back. It’s not life or death.|
|>How (if at all) has your idea of work changed from the experience?|
|It’s pretty much the same, but I’ve always had the nomad mentality. I believe in output over hours, freedom over “security,” and I don’t ever want to “retire.” I don’t believe in sitting in an office for hours a day, and I don’t even do that in coworking spaces.|
|What’s your best travel hack?|
|Yoga Tune-Up balls (like a lacrosse ball for self-massage, but much softer/grippier/more comfortable).|
|Is there a piece of gear you could you not live without at this point?|
|Please provide a link to this product|
|Any particular routines or rituals that kept you fit/healthy/sane throughout the year?|
|– Meditate 10 minutes minimum, at least 6 days a week (usually 15-20/7).
– Read for 30 mins before working.
– Make a list of my three most important tasks and do them right after.
– Fast for 24 hours when feeling crappy.
– Those are all non-negotiable … but everything else is negotiable.
|What resources (if any) did you use in preparing to go abroad?|
|My first time going abroad, I read EVERYTHING. I was terrified. I remember reading NomadicMatt.com and ExpertVagabond.com above all. I also loved “Vagabonding” by Rolf Potts. That book was probably my favorite resource.|
|If you were to do it again, what would you go back and tell your former self to do differently in order to get more out of the experience?|
|Conduct a book-writing workshop in every city I stay in for a month or more. That would help me feel like I’m making more of an impact, and foster some local relationships (I regret having so few international friends).|
|Any ideas for a product or service to solve a pain point for nomadic travelers you believe should exist?|
|Details your willing to share on this envisioned product or service:|
|Better short-term, furnished housing options (1 week-6 months). AirBnB is fine but way overpriced. Negotiation helps, but only sometimes. I know a few alternatives exist, but nothing I’ve used.|