Osmosis Weekly #0005: Back Spasms, Cake, & Pop Squad

• 7 min read

Hey Osmotics,

Inside today's Osmosis Weekly...

  • Featured Rabbit Hole: Excuses, Excuses...
  • Growth Hacks: One Weird Trick for 100% Open Rate
  • Dumb Things to Share: Amazon Dating Site?

I'm running behind on my summary of Breakthrough Advertising (1966). To my paying Osmosis+ members, there should be no excuses. I'm sorry. But I'll offer four excuses anyway.

  1. As one of the most influential books on my own career and life, I've found summarizing Breakthrough Advertising to be difficult. Every sentence is a gem. It's an incredibly dense book. Stealing from a DJ who worked on Shirley Bassey's Remix Album, it's like I'm doing "plastic surgery on a perfect body."
  2. I really want to do this summary justice and add extra usefulness to it (like a good remix). One of the things I've sketched out is... what I'm dubbing the "BASS Matrix" (sounds like an EDM subgenre). BASS stands for Buyer Awareness/Sophistication State. As you may know... Breakthrough Advertising is quite possibly the only copywriting book that talks about awareness and sophistication. It's high-level marketing psychology. So I'm creating a diagram to help understand this concept at an even-higher-level.
  3. I discovered carrd.co on Tuesday. (This might be my unforgivable excuse.) But hear me out... For only $19/year. Yes, year... you can throw up ten one-page hosted websites with the  easiest, simplest, most amazingly user-friendly web-app in history. I transferred all three of my personal websites over. Take a look at the new www.colinchung.com. It looks great and it only took twenty minutes once I figured out what I wanted to say. Please, I beg you, if you're fooling around with Wordpress when all you really need is a one-page website, use carrd.co instead. You can use it for landing pages, opt-in pages, profile pages or even sales pages.
  4. It's been a while since I've felt as empowered and inspired to make stuff as carrd.co... and given my obsessive-compulsive nature... I spent hours playing with it. Hours... where I craned my neck forward, and didn't move at all. You can imagine what happens next... to a forty-year-old man whose job is already sedentary. I got back spasms that took me out from Thursday night until yesterday morning. On Saturday, I caved and bought a box of Robax... and promptly got high on methocarbomal. 💊💊

Quick Addendum to Last Week

Got some quick feedback from readers on last week's issue of Osmosis Weekly.

In summary? It was a bit of a downer... with no good CTA. I can agree with that. And funnily enough, that very afternoon, one of my intellectual heroes, Venkatash Rao, published his latest issue of Breaking Smart on artificial intelligence... but more specifically on how Magnus Carlsen may very well be a product of A.I. training. (Thank you to Osmosis member Jen A. for forwarding it as well.)

Here's the short of it: Before Magnus Carlsen's generation, if you wanted to get great at chess, you had to play with other humans, preferably grandmasters. What that means is you're learning from ONE smart person with their biases, experience, and foibles. You can jump from one grandmaster to another... but you're ultimately learning from one human at a time.

Carlsen (and his generation) grew up playing computer chess. An artificial intelligence trained by multiple grandmasters and on top of that, optimized by machine learning.

That's what I was trying to get at near the end of last week's rabbit hole. There are going to be super-positive effects to A.I. in our lives as a means of improving our craft... whether it be chess, writing, painting, designing, or whatever. A.I. can train us to do things no other humans can.

It's like those ancient Eastern folktales where the protagonist prays to their ancestors and the souls of all their entire family line flood into their body, blitzkrieging them with the potent wisdom of generations.

That's kinda what A.I.-supported training can be! Generations of accumulated knowledge all packed into one piece of software feeding you the best moves, best strategies, best ideas.

Software like CopyAI, Copy Shark, and Copysmith don't scare me. They're basically powerful tools. That's it. You still need an experienced copywriter to wield it. To input data-points like subjects, themes and tone... and then reframe the argument, massage it and clean it up later.

What's more – Many of us are already using a primitive version of AI-supported training. If you have a smartwatch and you're tracking your exercise and sleep... you're already starting to collect data for yourself. And eventually, one day, the software will help you optimize your diet, workouts, and when you should get out of your fucking chair for a break so you don't get back spasm for four days and can't work. (Sorry/Not Sorry.) But here's an idea: a Fitbit that warns me and then electrocutes me when I don't stand up from my desk. I'd pay for that.

So here's my CTA: start thinking how AI can improve your work process. Somebody somewhere is probably already creating it for your specific industry. And if not, sounds like a great startup to fund and/or build.

You can read Venkatash Rao's article here.

There. Sunshine, lollipops and rainbows. Ya happy now?


I need to focus on the summary of Breakthrough Advertising. Osmosis was, is and forever will be a book summary service. This newsletter is just an excuse for me to share my rabbit holes and curated resources I find during the week.

With that said – the growth hacks I found for this issue are still pretty cool. And under "Dumb Things", I share what could quite possibly my favorite sci-fi short story of all time. Keep reading. +

Growth Hacks Worth Checking Out...

This week: What gets you 100% open rates, where to find new audiences, and why you don't have to pick "one thing"...

Eight Marketing Mental Models

George Mack shared his eight best "ways of thinking" about marketing in this Tweet Thread. Here are my favorite three:

  • Contrast Is A Drug. Rolls Royce stopped exhibiting at car shows. They started exhibiting at private aircraft shows. "If you've been looking at jets all afternoon, a £300,000 car is an impulse buy. It's like putting the sweets next to the counter." - Rory Sutherland, Vice Chairman of Ogilvy Group
  • Marketing Channel with 100% Open Rate? "Your unboxing experience is the only marketing channel with a 100% open rate." - Taylor Holiday, Common Thread Collective
  • Everyone Will Become a Publisher Now. "Brands will develop publishing as a core competency, and publishers will develop retail operations as a core competency." - Web Smith, 2PM Letters

Where to Find New Audiences

If you're like me, you're always looking for new places to grow your audience. I came across a few things this week that might be of use to you...

  • Who Sponsors Stuff. A directory of newsletters and brands that sponsor them.
  • Podmatch. A "matching service" for speakers and podcasters.
  • Outreach Spot. A scraped, cleaned and ranked list of blogs that accept guest posts.
  • Swapstack. Another directory of newsletters and brands.
  • Sponsorgap. Ditto.

Can't Seem to Find Your "One True Thing"?

Everyone tells you to figure out what your "one thing" is and be known for it. Emilie Wapnick, founder of Puttylike, disagrees. Some people have multiple interests and passions... and it's OK if they don't pick just "one thing". Those people are called   "multipotentialites", and Emilie says they can have it all. Here's her TED talk.

Dumb Things to Share With Loved Ones

Because you ran out of things to say to each other 20 years ago...

  • Pop Squad (2006) by Paolo Bacigalupi. I still remember the first time I read this short story in the Oct/Nov issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction. After I stopped reeling from the punch to my brain... I immediately reread it. I have since reread, studied and broken down Pop Squad at least ten more times. Pop Squad is the kind of fiction I aspire to one day. So imagine my surprise... when I saw "Pop Squad" show up as one of the animated shorts in Love, Death & Robots (LDR) on Netflix. Since I've committed all nine scenes of the short story to memory, I picked up on each and every single change made in the adaptation. I liked it. The LDR version moves faster and made the ending more action-oriented... which is a necessary sacrifice for the visual medium... but it still turned out well and gave me good chills. If you want a window into my mind and the kind of questions I like to ask... especially how technology affects socioeconomics and our morality as human beings... you can read this devastatingly good short story in Bacigalupi's collection: Pump Six & Other Stories and/or watch the Netflix adaptation in Love, Death & Robots (S2, E3).

  • Taking a joke too far. (submitted by Osmosis member, Ian C.) I'm an "Elder Millennial" (b. 1981)... so sometimes, I don't get the younger Millennials's sense of humor. (And you can forget about my Zoomer kids. I don't understand them at all.) Anyway... Ian sent me this joke/parody/wtf thing called Amazon Dating? It's funny... I guess? Is it a social commentary on today's dating scene? Can somebody at least ten years younger than me explain this?

  • Shadowology. I dunno, this art form looks a little shady.

Coming Soon(ish)...

Book summaries go through seven stages at Osmosis: Reading, Raw Notes, First Draft, Editor Review, Revisions, Gif Hunting, and Publishing. Here's a status report of what's in the queue...
  • Breakthrough Advertising (1966) by Eugene Schwartz : 50% First Draft
  • Trusted Advisor (1998) by David H. Maister : 0% Raw Notes
  • The Hard Things About Hard Things (2014) by Ben Horowitz : 50% Read

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