Define your top 5 values

Watch your content strategy fall into place

Things got away from me during the Thanksgiving break as I expected…

It’s not easy to get through what you plan to do because life always has other ideas in store.

Shortly afterward, I had something very personal come up that I needed to face.

I’m still going through it right now, and it will likely overshadow the rest of the year (the few weeks that are left) and perhaps into in the next year as well.

Maybe someday, I’ll have enough courage to share that with the world, but for now, let’s just say that my usual jolly outlook on life is being sorely tested…and my entire existence up to this point requires some reflection.

Anyway, onto today’s exercise…defining what exactly I’m going to write about in the coming year.

Staring off into space…my favorite pasttime.

What you talking about, Willis?

“Project” is a powerful term in that it can be used as a noun and a verb…just emphasizing the right syllable changes it.

Thanks to Kieran Drew’s “Magnetic Content Masterclass”, I’ve managed to anchor down the 5 values that surround my core theme of “Presence” in life at all levels.


If you didn’t already know, I’m a huge fan of his, and I’d highly encourage you to check out his “High Impact Writing” course if you are interested in getting a solid handle on writing posts as a springboard into this arena (and yes, that’s an affiliate link, and it’s one I stand behind).


If you’re wondering what I’m referring to, it’s Taylor Pearson’s guide to identifying your core values that starts with a long list of things to winnow down to the top five.

Grab the exercise here for your own edification (not an affiliate link or anything, just a goody to share).

Here are the ones that resonated with me and are anchored around my core:

  1. Agency

  2. Gratitude

  3. Connection

  4. Persistence

  5. Self-development

Without all the writing I’ve done up to this point, I wouldn’t have breezed through this exercise with the speed at which I did (15 minutes was recommended, but it took me more like 5).

If you haven’t been thinking and writing regularly, I’d suggest taking your time on this…maybe a few days to reflect on it after the initial list to let it sink in (especially if you’re in the family and career stages of life).

So yeah, technically I’m cheating in this day’s effort since I stumbled upon this exercise to put everything into perspective. In many ways, I’ve touched on all of these over the issues of this newsletter as I mined through my mind.

In the coming year, I’ll expand on these…

Here’s what each of the five mean to me.

Your values are the gems of your soul.

Blow it up

AGENCY - the choice in how to live and act and to enable others to do the same

Win or lose, it’s all me. I’ve always wanted to do things in my own time and way (and I’ve passed this on to my kids…which is humbling as a parent).

It might not be the best.

It might not be the fastest.

It sure as all heck isn’t the cleanest approach…

But this is exactly why my skills have stuck with me throughout my life.

GRATITUDE - appreciation and thankfulness for the positives in me, others around me, and existence in general

This is pure mindset. Gary Vaynerchuk comes to mind as the evangelist for this and was the first one that I learned this from.

It doesn’t matter how hard or difficult or challenging life is, I know as an Asian American with a PhD that I have an incredibly privileged life…

I have the fortunate position of having been born in the right place at the right time to witness the rise of the internet, the smartphone, social media, AI, and the content creator economy.

Sure, family life is challenging.

Sure, I’m going through some things right now.

Sure, my financial situation could be better if I hadn’t made some questionable choices.

But I know that I have support from friends, family, and colleagues across the world if I need to ask for help.

There are multitudes that can’t say this.

I’m grateful every single day for this life.

CONNECTION - full engagement with all my being and striving to be present with all interactions; be it a person, a place, an object, or an idea (AKA a noun)…

I only recently discovered that this is what has made me come so far in my life.

I’m not perfect in this regard (no one is), but I do my best to be fully engaged with whatever I’m doing.

The flow state is challenging to drop into, but this is one of the key side effects of having the presence value.

I’m lucky I grew up with the rise of the internet. I got the chance to cultivate some of benefits of having focus before I was subjected to all the trappings of social media and the attention economy.

By the way, it’s not that our attention spans are decreasing. It’s that our options have exponentially increased, and our ability to filter them is completely overwhelmed with what technology offers up so readily. Instant gratification is the norm that we are simply not biologically prepared to handle.

I’ve made my peace with this reality.

I’m here to reclaim my mind.

PERSISTANCE - consistent and disciplined action in the face of challenges

This is a double-edged sword for me.

Even in the face of certain failure or collapse, I followed through to the end and went down fighting.

  • sparring matches in Tae Kwon Do as a kid

  • my high school relationship when I went to college

  • even when I knew I was getting scammed by someone

It didn’t matter if it was a lost cause to others, I had a feeling that the possibility of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat were always non-zero.

It’s how I:

  • have 7 degrees

  • wrote over 18000 posts

  • made over 200 YouTube videos

  • oversaw fight choreography in several theater productions

  • performed in a dance showcase through a fever of 101 degrees Fahrenheit

I’ve lost some battles…

I’ve won many more…

Because I never gave up until somebody had to drag me off the stage.

SELF-DEVELOPMENT - improving knowledge, skills, character in all ways mentally, emotionally, and spiritually

In case you hadn’t noticed, I have a tendency to aspire to every Asian stereotype…

I’ve failed to do so after 40 years of trying, but it has lead to some rather interesting side-effects:

  • martial artist

  • test engineer

  • terrible driver

  • former musician

  • fantasy and science fiction nerd

I’ve had the privilege of learning from some of the most amazing and talented people across science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics…a STEAM background purely by accident.

I’m an aspiring polymath…but I know my IQ isn’t high enough to quality as a world-class one (that’s superhero territory right there).

But I’m doing my best, and that’s what I’m going to keep sharing.

So there it is…my top 5 values that my content will center around in 2024.

Most of it was already sprinkled throughout my writing, but the clarity of knowing it’s what I’m about now in context of presence is truly satisfying.

Now…the final part of today’s reflection.

The Delivery Vehicle

If you’re not aware of Money X, it’s a place where people literally will throw knowledge at you.

Giveaways and posts are packed with book and course recommendations, swipe files from the top creators in the writing space, and guides and ideas on how to get the most or provide the most about your experiences and wisdom.

I hoarded so many…and didn’t have any time to go through them in detail.

So next year, they’ll act as the reference and source material for me to draw from to provide my perspective on my values:

  • short form - X posts, shorts

  • medium form - this newsletter

  • long form - YT videos, book, articles

I’ve been having a series of breakthroughs in how I see the content creation landscape, and given Elon’s latest outburst in an interview with Andrew Sorkin, it’s not exactly good to go “all in” on one platform as much as it used to.

You may disagree vehemently with what I’m saying, but here it is:

It’s not one piece for each platform that powers your presence…

It’s one voice across all platforms that will.

Dan Koe, Gary Vee, and so many other big players in social media are examples of this.

Yes, you need to have an anchor in one social media platform. You need to have a solid understanding of how one of them works.

Everything else is just theme and variation at the algorithmic level.

If I am to stay true to this project, I know I’m going to be sharing my content across multiple platforms.

I certainly won’t be engaging at all levels in each of them, but my presence is essential to distribution of my ideas and my values.

Next year is only the beginning.

You gotta lay the groundwork somewhere.

So this is my content strategy in the coming year.

If only it looked nice and could be put on display…right?

Project presence

I’m rather glad that I didn’t try to slam through this process in seven consecutive days.

Day 4 was about putting together a content strategy:

  • selecting your top 5 values

  • fleshing out exactly how each one resonates

  • outlining the content and platforms to deliver them

Having this brainstorming session after talking with a few others along the way has only made it more clear.

Day 5 will be where I take these values and delivery methods and break them down from the year to the day.

I have no clue how sustainability is going to play in to this planning. I might have to make adjustments to what I’ve done so far in this process.

However, this entire month is open for me to refine and adjust before I execute.

This is why this process is so important.


P.S. How has your own content creation journey been so far? What topics and values have you found yourself sharing repeatedly?