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Newsletters we love

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In today’s knowledge economy, perhaps trading your contact id and some level of personal data in exchange for the promise of a periodic value add is the ultimate form of trust-based transaction.

The best newsletters to subscribe to are well worth their weight in gold in such transactions. For the price of a name and email id, you get:

  • Regular access to quality thinking
  • Exposure to a wider community of thought leaders
  • Synthesis of knowledge, tips and tricks someone has spent time collating

In this edition of FreeFlowing, we are going to share five best newsletters we ourselves subscribe to and love reading. Hope you like them too!

Keep on reading till the end for a chance to win a surprise Diwali gift from us!

But before we start…

We get it. At some time or the other, we all have subscribed to popular newsletters on impulse, only to regret it later when our inbox overflows with unread emails.

Content overload is a real danger we face in the information age we live in. So follow these two simple rules to prevent becoming overwhelmed with subscriptions:

  1. Don’t overcommit – Signing up for a few good newsletters to learn more about your interest areas is a good thing; signing up for 15 different newsletters on a whim is not. The initial burst of enthusiasm will die away, and time and attention span constraints will soon force you to ignore the regular emails. Avoid that heartache – be very choosy about which newsletters you sign up for.
  2. Don’t be afraid to unsubscribe – It happens. Your tastes may change. When a newsletter stops being useful/interesting to you, even if it’s one of the best newsletters out there, don’t be afraid to pull the plug and unsubscribe. Free up your mental (and email) bandwidth.

The top five newsletters we love

1. The 3-2-1 Newsletter

Any newsletter read by over a million people each week must have something interesting about it. And the author, James Clear, the best-selling author of Atomic Habits, seems to know this, because each edition of the newsletter starts with the claim, “The most wisdom per word of any newsletter on the web.”

A lofty claim for sure, but the 3-2-1 newsletter lives up to it. It has a unique structure. Each edition consists of 3 ideas, 2 quotes, and 1 question to ponder over. The average word count is around 400, and each edition can be read in under 5 min.

The 3 ideas are usually James’ own, and deal with motivation, productivity, success mantras, and habit formation. The quotes are those of others and serve to add credibility and breadth to the content. Finally, the newsletter ends with a question that the reader is asked to consider. This question serves to engage the reader further, often staying in the mind even after he/she has finished reading the newsletter.

The newsletter’s succinct nature and snappy content make it easily readable on the go on mobile phones. Under every idea that’s under 280 characters, there will be a CTA to share it on Twitter, thus making the newsletter easily shareable.

2. Collaborative Fund newsletter

Morgan Housel is a partner at The Collaborative Fund and a former columnist at The Motley Fool and The Wall Street Journal. He is also the author of the best-seller The Psychology of Money, a book that examines the relationship humans have with money, and how they can manage it.

Morgan Housel is the owner of a unique talent stack (a term popularized by the Dilbert cartoon creator Scott Adams).

He is a master at giving shape to thoughts and desires that people intuitively understand but haven’t yet been able to articulate for themselves. So when people read what Morgan Housel writes, they immediately say to themselves, “Yes, that’s so true!” Housel manages to do this even in a category (finance and money management) that can so easily become dry and dull.

The newsletter, which is actually a series of blog posts written primarily by Morgan Housel, forms the blog of The Collaborative Fund. Morgan focuses on deconstructing timeless principles using the lens of human psychology.

3. No Mercy/No Malice

Each week, best-selling author and marketing professor Scott Galloway shares his take on business, technology and relationships in the digital economy through his newsletter, No Mercy/No Malice.

The title of the newsletter is interesting and very apt. Prof. Galloway is an outspoken individual who does not hide his thoughts or mince his words.

Jeff Zucker, the former president of CNN, had this to say about Prof. G, as the professor is widely known, “He’s one of those rare people who cut through. I don’t know if everything he says is right, but he says it in a damn interesting way.”

And that’s the attraction of No Mercy/No Malice. Scott Galloway leaves you in no ambiguity regarding his opinions and stance, and he supports them with data, often visualized in the form of charts using a custom font and type. In fact, charts are such an integral part of the newsletter that Scott Galloway’s team is bringing out a collection of these charts as a new book soon (titled: Adrift – 100 charts that reveal why America is on the brink of change).

The soul of this newsletter is how Prof. Galloway dissects the incumbent Goliaths in technology, politics and culture, addresses what’s broken, and offers his insightful solutions.

4. The Marginalian

A newsletter that’s slightly hard to pin down to a genre.

Written by Maria Popova, this newsletter has been going on consistently for the past 16 years. Let that number sink in for a bit.

This newsletter was called Brain Pickings until 2021. Each edition features essays from Popova about classic literature, philosophy, art, and science. All the essays are sharp and calls for deep reading and introspection.

And people seem to love it. In 2014, this newsletter boasted of 7mn monthly readers. The number can have only gone up in the last 8 years.

The Marginalian’s uniqueness lies in the fact that Maria synthesizes a vast amount of information from very different fields and parses them into insightful thoughts on a regular basis. Popova has dedicated her life to the exploration of the meaning of life, and it shows in the content of the newsletter. The articles are all of a timeless nature and thus remain as relevant today as they were a decade ago. This makes The Marginalian one of the best newsletters to read.

Give The Marginalian a read to see how Popova consistently manages to connect ideas that are not obvious and turn them into something extremely obvious – the hallmark of a great writer.

5. Lenny’s Newsletter

Billed the #1 Business newsletter on Substack, Lenny’s Newsletter is written by Lenny Rachitsky, who has nearly two decades of experience working in the startup industry. Among other things, he spent 7 years leading product teams at Airbnb.

Lenny’s newsletter is a weekly advice column about Product Management, Growth Strategy, Marketing and GTM, Careers, Scaling startups, and Growth Metrics.

For those who don’t know, Andrew Chen is a partner at Andreessen Horowitz, one of the early proponents of growth hacking in Silicon Valley, and author of the popular book The Cold Start Problem.

For startup founders and marketers, this newsletter is a strategy and tactics-rich document that provides great insights into entrepreneurship ranging from product launch to acquiring first customers and building retention. Lenny also translates the newsletter to real-life community building, building relationships in the industry and running a job board for PMs.

In Summary

Newsletters take the place of editorials these days, condensing the wisdom of the author for the benefit of the audience. As opposed to the algorithmic information pushed by 24-hour news channels and social media, the best newsletters provide consensual, considered information based on an agreement between the author and the audience.

Given the proliferation of popular newsletters these days, it can be difficult to select a few that appeal to you. We hope you really like our favourite ones mentioned above.

Tell us what your favourite newsletters are in the comments section. If we like your list, we will send you a surprise Diwali gift!

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5 Responses

  1. Excellent recommendations.

    In present times, climate change and sustainability have assumed crucial importance for the entire creation and business alike. I would, therefore, suggest good newsletter(s) on this important topic.

    With best wishes.

  2. Thanks for the share.

    Here are a few of my favourites, in no particular order:

    => Psyche
    => Everyone Hates Marketers
    => Ariyh
    => Product Gems
    => Dan Nelken
    => Tom Roach

  3. Can’t say I’m innocent of impulse subscribing. But, here are a few newsletter I enjoy:
    1. FS (Farnam Street) – Brain Food
    2. First 1000
    3. Sajith Pai’s Newsletter
    4. Finshots
    5. a2z of d2c by shopflo
    6. The Signal
    7. Young Money

    Hope you like them!

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