Tarzan Kay


May 24, 2024

to you

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disagreement vs psychological safety

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There is a whole world waiting outside the Walled Garden Of Online Business

Last year I tried to switch to Android.  As you can see, my hair is now gray.

Tarzan grabs her white-grey hair in one hand. She wears a black Kirkland Signature t-shirt that she thinks is so cool, and wears a brand new pair of black-and-white striped earrings from Indi City that have 5 moons waxing and waning, a full moon in the middle. Please send compliments.

The experiment lasted 9 days.

Hell hath no fury like an Apple user trying to transfer an image from an Android phone to their desktop computer.

Begrudgingly, I returned my $650 Pixel 7 to Best Buy and told the clerk, “I failed at Android.”

Back to the walled garden of Apple for me. 

But there’s another walled garden that I’m doing significantly better at breaking out of, and that’s online business. For years I felt stuck in an echo chamber of business advice. I’ve been doing this for 8+ years. I can recite the webinar slides from memory.

It’s been 4 years of reaching for a better way.

I paid many coaches and one really good therapist to help me find answers. Not to give me answers but to hold space while I sat in the discomfort of not knowing.

It's easy to find people who’ll tell you what to do, harder to find someone who can help you find your own way. This happens to be a skill that I have —>⚡Join Power before May 31 and get a 3-Hour Newsletter Intensive included in your enrollment fee. day.

I’d like to tell you, “I’ve found the way,” but the truth is I’ve found as many non-paths as I have paths.

There are so many ways of being in business that neither of us has ever imagined yet. There is a whole world out there of people who’ve never heard of Amy Porterfield or Stu McLaren or James Wedmore or Marie Forleo.

One thing that helped me break out of the bubble was ditching Instagram for LinkedIn. (You can follow me here.)

LinkedIn brought me many new connections in the newsletter growth space, which introduced me to new podcasts, people to partner with, never-miss-a-week newsletters, and eventually to The Newsletter Conference last week.

✍️ One key takeaway from The Newsletter Conference

I still can’t believe 400 people came to NYC to talk about newsletters.

I sat in the audience with the biggest grin on my face (email is the high-school boyfriend who still makes my pants wet after all this time), thinking to myself, “Good job, Tarzan. This is the best thing you could be doing for your future customers.”

One thing that struck me was the amount of healthy disagreement among panelists.

You don’t see much of that in the online business events hosted by celebrity entrepreneurs. Guest speaking opportunities usually go to affiliate partners since they translate to sales down the road. These events are more about indoctrination than education. They also establish important hierarchies that keep people striving to reach the proverbial “two comma club.”

The Newsletter Conference was nothing like that. It was refreshing to hear people disagreeing right from the stage instead of whispering their dissenting opinions later by the bar.

Healthy disagreement is an essential anti-cult practice that should be encouraged in your own communities.

I love when subscribers hit “reply” and take issue with something I’ve said. Good! Let’s disagree about stuff! Instead of swallowing ideas whole, let’s debate them. Let’s get so mad at each other that we need a cooling off period!

<< It’s healthy and normal to disagree.>>

Not everyone needs this reminder, but many of us do, particularly women and other marginalized genders.

For most of my life, disagreeing did not feel safe. Growing up among the Plymouth Brethren, any deviation from the “right” beliefs presented a threat to my psychological safety, even if I was not the one disagreeing. Disagreement meant arbitrary punishment and possibly even exile.

Part of my cult recovery work has been learning how to be in a relationship with people I don’t agree with and, even harder, people who don’t agree with me. I have to continuously remind myself that this is no longer the case, that it’s safe to disagree with people, and that I will not be exiled for doing so (unless I’m in a cult).

That’s still uncomfortable sometimes.

It helps to be around people who disagree in front of 400 people and can still share a beer after.

I want that to be me someday.

What about you?

Does disagreeing with figures of authority feel safe? Are you a safe place for debate? Do your subscribers and customers regularly offer critical feedback?

Every business needs that kind of feedback.

Every writer needs it too.

If you’re not getting it, it’s worth inviting in. Getting critical feedback is a good thing. It means people trust you enough and feel safe enough to risk being vulnerable with you.

…and it’s that kind of trust that (eventually) turns subscribers into brand evangelists.


line break with a paper airplane

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