The Shippers is an interview series featuring #ship30for30 alum who have completed at least one cohort and published at least 26/30 days during it. You’ll meet a new creator, hear how Ship 30 impacted the way they create online, and what they took away from the experience.
If this interview helps you decide to jump aboard a Ship 30 for 30 cohort please consider signing up with this link as it helps me cover the (admittedly small) cost of putting these together.
Introduce yourself and the main topics of your writing
Tim: A little rapport before the episode started, but we’re gonna have to do our rapport building right on the fly. Okay.
Michael: Let’s build some rapport.
Tim: Let’s do it. <laugh> okay. So can you introduce yourself and talk a little bit about the main topics you’re writing about online?
Michael: Yeah, everyone, my name is Michael McGill. I’ve been writing online maybe for a couple years now. Uh, since I joined the ship 30 for 30 programs and the topics I write about online are predominantly professional development and stoicism. So a little bit of two different topics that intersect a little bit, but you know, two things I pretty past.
Tim: And do you, do you mean you weren’t really writing online at all before ship 30?
Michael: Well, I was, I was writing online, but I was an extremely slow methodical writer. So I started a blog, um, maybe about four years ago or so. And you know, in the space of that blog, that blog’s lifetime, you know, by the time I joined chip 30, I, that blog had probably been around for about a year and I had like a handful of posts on it. So I was, uh, kind of a very slow methodical writer that kind of just wrote into the void of my blog. Nobody read my stuff anyhow,
Tim: Still about stoicism and its professional development type stuff.
Michael: I mean, I’d say early on in my, early on, it was really, at that point, it was really more about it. Leadership development early on in my writing was more focused on it.
Tim: Yeah. And like writing from the PR of somebody who has to develop people or writing for their perspective of somebody who is like trying to develop or a bit of both or what,
Tim: Yeah. Yeah. Maybe not super technical, but you could safely say that when the doc came out, we were like, no, we’ve seen this before. Right.
Michael: <laugh> yeah, definitely not on the technical side of things more again on that kind of personal development, but professional development, but geared for its pros.
Tim: Yeah. Cool. And how’d you get into stoicism?
Michael: Yeah. I mean, stoicism is something that, you know, would just, fortunately, uh, I kind of stumbled on through the book, called the obstacles the way by Ryan ho. Um, and I’m a, I’m a reader and you know, I’m somewhere along the line. I must have heard about this book or it looked interesting to me and, uh, I read it and it was my introduction to stoicism, and I kind of went down the rabbit hole from there and kind of found I had a stoicism shaved hole that, uh, you know, the philosophy just really suited me. And, uh, I, I just fell in love with it. And even to this day, I mean, I don’t know about seven, eight years later, I’m still reading STOs of books. I’ve just finished, uh, just finished rereading meditations by Marcus Aus. It’s just, it’s just something, again that really suits me and, and brings a lot of strength, peace, and happiness into my life.
Tim: Yeah. What is it that you think, uh, Mark Ellis wrote that book? How long ago?
Michael: Oh gosh, yeah. 2000 years ago. I mean, you know, the early kind of couple hundreds ad, um, yeah. You know, a couple of thousand years ago,
Tim: What do you think about the irrelevant of those ideas from way back then in 2022? Why do you think it is, and why do you think it still works?
Michael: I think a lot about the philosophy of stoicism. And so even if you even, you know, predecessors of Marcus, not from a Roman emperor standpoint, but from stoic philosophers, you know, epicTetus and Seneca and, and their writings are, uh, just really eminently, uh, very practical, um, as you know the system is a very practical philosophy about being accepting about being objective, about being unselfish. And, you know, I think those kinds of problems that the Stoics were solving all that time ago are problems that we still face today, where we have a hard time, um, being objective about the things that happened to us, accepting the things that happened to us, you know, kind of the oldest problems of, of humankind. You know, the Stoics were talking about 2000 years ago and, you know, the advice that they were giving about how to manage your emotions and how to live a, a, how to live a life well-lived, it’s just, it’s practical advice that still applies to us today. And the challenges that we face are maybe unique to the challenges people face 2000 years ago, just from technology, or maybe just things change, but at the core of it, it’s still, we’re, we’re humans with human, emotional reactions to things and can just help us kind of manage those emotions and maybe keep ’em between the lines a little bit.
What was it that got you over the line joining ship30for30?
Tim: So how did you manage to find your ship 30 for 30?
Michael: So again, it’s almost a little bit, uh, you know, like finding stoicism, I don’t know, I guess serendipity or whatever you wanna call it. I mean, I had, uh, when the pandemic, uh, hit, I, I started working from home. I still work from home now, as a result of the pandemic. Um, but I kind of had found my way onto Twitter and you know, this guy, Dicky Bush, I mean, I just had recently started to follow him, I think. And he, I was, I was part of the original cohort of ship 30. Yeah. He put out this random tweet, uh, you know, would you be interested in, in, in writing these atomic essays and if it goes back to kind of that problem I had earlier that I was trying to write online, but I was extremely undisciplined, um, at it. And when, you know, Dicky sends his tweet out, would anyone be interested in joining this, you know, atomic topic, essay, writing challenge, you know, write an essay 250 words every day for 30 days.
Michael: And it was just like, yeah, this is what the doctor ordered. Like, this is exactly what I need. I was looking for ways to become a more disciplined writer. So as soon as Dicky sent that tweet out, I jumped in, and said, yeah. I said, yeah, it would be interesting. And so I was in the first cohort. And so I actually was in the first four cohorts. I re-upped three. So, uh, yeah, I just, I, I think I was just at the right place, at the right time and happened to follow him at the right time. And he sent that tweet out and I was like, yes, it’s exactly what I need to kind of solve my writing problem of being a slow undisciplined writer.
Tim: So you hitch your wagon to the horse that is ship 30 for 30,
Michael: If you will. I mean, it, it really, I mean, look, obviously, uh, Dicky has created something special with ship 30, you know, I’m happy that I was, was kind of part of the original cohort, the original few cohorts for cohorts. So, uh, yeah, yeah. It was a great experience.
Tim: It’s funny to think that the first ship 30 cohort might be somebody’s Woodstock. Eh,
Michael: You know, it could be, I think, you know, it, if you’ve been through the ship 30 experience, like I’ve mentioned that to a few other people in other interviews and talking to other people and everything, and kind of the same reaction, like, oh, wow. You were in the first cohort of ship 30. Yeah. It’s a little bit of a, I was, I was there, man. I was there when it all started. I was there. I was there when that first tweet went out, would you be interested, in, in taking place or taking part in a topic writing challenge? And I was like, yeah, I would. That sounds really cool.
What was the technique, tip, framework, hack, or whatever that helped you the most?
Tim: So what about the course, the offerings to teaching and stuff like that? Have you found the most impactful? Was there something, something in particular that you embraced at <affirmative> that made a big impact on how you write?
Michael: Uh, you know, it’s, it’s probably pretty unsexy, but just to, to be consistent, you know, when I would write blog posts before I’m like writing these 3000 words, like mini-novel blog posts, you know, uh, and I, I just, I think I made it, I made it bigger and harder maybe than it needed to be. I think I needed that, that atomic essay mindset to kind of flip, kind of flip the script a little bit to say, all right, let me, me, instead of, you know, putting these monumental writings out there, let me start with these small kinds of bursts of writing. And then that just really makes the whole process more manageable. So I think if anything was just, I, I don’t think I even had the idea in my head that I could just write a 250 or 300 word saying this wasn’t enough space in my mind to get my point out. But, you know, I think I learned that kind of almost like what Twitter will do a little bit. You like to distill the concept down into a much smaller piece of writing, put it out there, see if it gets a reaction or if it gets good feedback and if it does okay, then maybe I can build upon that. So I think just the concept of writing smaller pieces was probably the, um, the biggest kind of, you know, enlightenment for me in the process. I
Tim: Heard people mention the idea that you’d write something small first and then build on it. If it gets some traction, have you actually done that? Like, have you actually taken some kind of smaller things and then when they got good feedback or responses kind of elaborated on them?
Michael: Yeah. I think with the, uh, you know, definitely with the stoicism writing that I’ve done, you know, I’ll, I’ll kind of test out an idea, see if it resonates if I get good. Yeah. And you kind of, you can progress through that, you know, all the way from tweet to say, meet like a, a blog or an article you might write on medium to flesh it out a little bit. And if it gets some good feedback there, then like, okay, this can be a building block then, um, to put into an ebook, you can kind of, you can kind of take a progression thereof getting feedback. So yeah, I would say everything that I’ve gotten to the point I’ve written a, a, a couple eBooks and, you know, I would say everything kind of started with either kind of tweet or atomic essay say, okay, this resonates, okay, let’s build upon it.
If you were to start from the beginning again knowing what you know now, what would you do differently?
Tim: If you could go back to that first, uh, first cohort, knowing with its four cohorts of experience that you have, uh, what would you do differently?
Michael: What would I do differently? Um, I think I would’ve, you know, maybe established a little bit more of a disciplined time to do my writing. You know, I would sometimes find myself kind of catching myself at the tail end of the day, like, okay, I gotta hurry up, and get this done. Um, you know, maybe kind of been a little more disciplined with my approach, like, okay, I’m going to do this at this time of the day and stick with it. I mean, in the end, it was a great experience. Um, and you know, it, it were, you know, I think just maybe the process of it, you know, just making sure you have a, a more of a fixed schedule of when you plan on doing it, not getting caught like, oh, crap, it’s, you know, eight o’clock and I, I still gotta get something out to honor my commitment yeah. To ship an essay every day.
Tim: Cause I feel like that’s just a recipe for those posts that are like, that is just like, I didn’t know what to write. So here’s me rambling for like two. Oh
Michael: Yeah, yeah, yeah. You’ll, you’ll see a lot of that. Definitely, in ship 30 of like here I am, I’m just writing 200 words. I Words,
Tim: Here’s a word and here is another word and another one and another one.
Michael: Right, right.
What reasons would you tell someone not to do ship30?
Tim: Is there any reason you tell somebody not to do a shift, dirty cohort?
Michael: I mean, you know, it’s different, you know, I guess I’ll say this, and the first four, four cohorts, the price of it was a little bit like, okay, what the hell, I’ll give it a shot. Um, you know, you know, to keep kind of, we startup, you know, he’s built it up and, you know, to a fair price I think is, is, is, you know, the program’s worth. Um, you know, but you know, now it’s, you know, what, around 500
Michael: You know, I think you just think you would just, unless you’re really committed, wanting to learn how to write well, I mean, not, you’re gonna commit yourself long term to writing, you know, becoming a writer or whatever, but, you know, obviously, make sure you’re committed to the process and you’re ready to, um, you know, commit yourself to do it for 30 days. So, I mean, if you’re not, if you’re not ready to go all-in and give it a shot, uh, and give it a legitimate shot, you know, then you might, you might not wanna make that commitment. But, um, look, I think it’s an incredible program. I owe, I owe a lot to it. A lot of what, how, and what I’ve become as an online creator was spawned from going through that ship for 30 experiences. I, I, I couldn’t recommend it enough to anybody who wants to start writing, but I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t do it unless you wanted, you really wanted to start writing and you
What are some unexpected benefits you’ve seen from your participation in the program?
Tim: Give, talk a little bit more about what you said, what you owe or you owe so much of the course, as far as what you become as an online creator. Talk about it. Like, what are some of the benefits that you’ve seen, especially the unexpected ones?
Michael: Yeah. I mean, well look, I, I would say one the most unexpected benefit that I did not expect going in and why I think what really makes cohort course cohort-based courses special is just friendships and relationships that I built from going through that. I’m, I’m still part of, a DM group on Twitter of a kind of, you know, ship 30 for 30 alumni. We’re all good friends. We all support each other’s content. We all joke around and have fun with each other. So I would say the unexpected thing. I had no idea going into it. I think it would honestly, other than, I mean, unless if you consider college to be cohort-based outta the original cause you’re with this group of people learning this thing together, um, going, oh, guess that’s what high school or college or anything might be like, but it was my first online, you know, cohort-based course experience.
Michael: So I was going into it too, to become a more disciplined writer. I had no idea that I would come out of it with friendships so that I would say is the most unexpected part of it. Um, but the benefits, you know, I mean, again, I was this guy who had a handful of long boring blog posts and, you know, I have a newsletter, you know, I’ve, I’ve, I’ve as I mentioned earlier, I’ve written eBooks and a lot of those eBooks were kind of, the building blocks were ship 30 for 30 essays. Um, so, you know, I’ve, I’ve, I’ve been able to become a creator that I create products that people are willing to pay for. And I’d say probably the biggest thing. And once, I don’t know, I think it becomes degrees of kind of one thing kind of creates the next thing.
Michael: So kind of an evolutionary pathway I’ve gone on that is I’ve started my own cohort-based course for stoicism called practical STO, uh, called practical stoicism to help people kind of, instead of going through the seven, eight-year journey, like I have to learn the benefits of stoicism, but in a 30-day cohort-based course, along with other like-minded people, you can learn stoicism and really practical techniques that start benefiting from stoicism in your life. So that is again, that’s just to be a, it just was an evolutionary path from writing essays to writing a newsletter to writing eBooks, to saying, oh, let me give a cohort-based course of my own a shot. So just kind of this really bunch of interesting stuff kind of came from that experience.
Tim: Yeah. Well, my last, um, question was going to be, you know, if you wanted to plug yourself, what would you ask people to check out? And I suspect maybe that your stoicism course was, uh, would’ve been the thing to plug. So you, you can plug more, or you can kind of give, uh, leave us with a stoic thought for the day. Something, something that, uh, maybe somebody who, who hasn’t been very exposed to those ideas might, might be something for them that you want.
Michael: Yeah. And actually, that’s funny because I will, uh, I post a stoic thought of the day, every day on, on my timeline. Um, you know, and it’s just something I’ve almost been doing from the beginning of, of being on Twitter and I still do it today. It’s just something almost as part of my own stoic practice to post, uh, thoughts of the day and, and, uh, uh, you know, I would say, yeah, again, if there’s anything I would plug, it would be my stoicism course. The website is practical stoicism course.com. Um, just something I really love doing. And I’m, I’m passionate about, I just wrapped up the second cohort this last Saturday. Mm-hmm, <affirmative>, I’m just like I’m on cloud nine after each session. I just absolutely love doing it. Um, so if anybody’s interested in learning stoicism, I would love for you to be part of that.
Michael: Uh, and the stoic thought of the day I’m, I’m looking over at my other monitor on my timeline, what I posted, refreshing my memory, but it was a quote from epic Titus that says, uh, it is time to really live, to fully inhabit the situation you happen to be in. Now, you are not some disinterested bystander, participate, exert yourself, and just a great reminder from epic Titus and maybe even we’ll tie it back to ship 30. And what I said earlier, if you’re gonna do it, it’s your best to go all in. And you know, I think epi, Titus, uh, you know, kind of that quote gives us a powerful reminder of that.
Tim: Ma what a way to wrap up the interview. I, I can’t add anything more except to say thank you so much for your time. And talking to me about all that stuff was really interesting. Thanks, Michael.
Michael: Yeah, Tim, thank you.
Tim: All right. I’m gonna hit the start button.