Why I'm Killing My 12 Projects in 12 Months (and Saving the World One Essay at a Time)
Hi y'all, it's been a minute since I wrote my last update.
This post is an important one for me so I wanted to share it with as many of y'all as possible. Thanks for sticking with me and especially for clicking on this clickbaity headline (the end justifies the means... or something like that) 😅
- Why I'm stopping my 12 Projects in 12 Months
- How the Ukraine War has led me to research Climate Tech
- How I'm planning to get people excited about Climate Tech through writing
Let's do this 🎬
💀 Killing My 12 Projects in 12 Months Journey
I'll talk you through my thinking in a chronological manner:
Why Did I Do 12 Projects in 12 Months?
End of last year, I committed to spending 2022 working on various projects. I called it 12 projects in 12 months because I didn't want to be constrained to work on "startup projects" only.
The goal: Experiment, learn and ideally find a project that "sticks".
How Did It Go?
I shipped 16 projects in 5 months.
I'm happy about the result.
Here's a screenshot of my idea bank in Notion 👇
If you want to sample only three projects, here are my favorite three:
- Ukraina Guide: A curated list of resources for refugees of the Ukraine War. Transport opportunities, visa information, humanitarian aid, etc. → all sorted by destination.
- The Stromberg Mindset: An essay about Germany's geopolitical delusion. It combines learnings from systems thinking and my extensive reading about European geopolitics in the context of the Ukraine War.
- Bier Dilettanten Podcast: While training to become a certified Beer Sommelier, my friend Tim had the brilliant idea to document our journey via a podcast. Now we are 16 episodes deep and are recording on a weekly basis. We talk about beer, history, and random excursions.
What Did I Learn?
- I can't predict what I will find interesting → it's tough to pre-plan all projects in advance
- It helped me to have an open mind and an open schedule to lean into timely "opportunities" that come up (e.g. reacting to Ukraine War; building info products to cater to questions from friends).
- Never in a million years could I have predicted where I would end up (explained in the next chapter) after 12 projects in 12 months
It was a fun experiment and I can highly recommend it if you have the time and resources to do it.
Why Am I Stopping Now?
I found something that has this rare overlap of purpose, impact, and opportunity.
Let me explain 👇
How Did I Get Here: My Journey from Indie Hacking to Climate Tech ... and Everything in Between
February 24, 2022. There's a before and there's an after.
I was born in the Soviet Union. My mom is ethnically Russian. My dad is from Latvia. We fled the Yugoslavian Civil War in 1992.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine hit on a very personal level.
This is the first time in my life that I went through the six stages of grief:
- Denial: On that Thursday, my girlfriend woke up before me and broke the news: "Russia invaded Ukraine." ... Fuck, it can't be true. I start reading the news.
- Anger: Calling my mom, I hear her crying on the phone. Memories of the past (fleeing the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia) and foresight of the suffering are too much to handle. I catch myself feeling hot in my upper body, my head, and in my arms. I'm trembling of anger.
- Bargaining: What can we do? Should my girlfriend and I leave the European continent? Is it actually less bad than it seems. I can't make sense of this mess.
- Depression: I'm sitting by myself at the dinner table. I'm crying and my ribs hurt. It can't be that a motherfucker like Putin is willing to inflict so much pain. For what?! I'm asking: "what for?" // My girlfriend comes into the room and I ask her to leave. It's too much.
- Acceptance: Self-talk: "What now, Art? What now? Are you gonna sit here in safety and cry while people are losing their lives in Ukraine or are you going to do something about it? What can you do? What can you do to help?"
- Meaning: Fuck it. I was born for this moment. This is the first time in my life that I am feeling a purpose.
Not sure if this is the best format to share it but here you go.
After the Trigger: Raising Awareness → Documenting Visa Rules → Diving Into Security Policy
In the context of this war, it felt meaningless to work on indie hacking projects.
Then this progression followed:
- I shared our story to raise awareness and hopefully sensitize a few people to be kind to refugees
- We hosted a friend's Ukrainian family in our Berlin apartment and I donated some money to a family still in Ukraine
- I put together a resource website for refugees to maneuver bureaucracies in the EU
... and then I stepped into the world of Security Policy
I became addicted to intelligence updates:
- Military updates from the theater of war
- Geo-political moves from the US; EU; Russia; China and its impact on the situation
- Public discourse about EU's/Germany's support (or lack thereof) for Ukraine
I wrote a starter piece about Systems Thinking in Times of Crisis to discuss Path Dependence for policy decisions, Eco-Structures when trying to find leverage points, and Communication Loops to understand Russia's weak spot.
This led to more thinking and more writing. To be completely honest, I'm currently ashamed as a German taxpayer. The current government around Kanzler Scholz is dragging its feet on many issues (embargo on Russian energy imports; weapons deliveries to Ukraine; Ukraine's EU membership application). I wrote an analysis as to why I believe Germany is geopolitically inactive. I call it the Stromberg Mindset.
From Security Policy to Energy Policy
- Germany needs Russian energy to keep the lights on.
- Because it needs energy imports from Russia it can't apply the same pressure on Russia as other countries.
- Germany's import dependence is a result of its energy policy ("Ostpolitik" + "Wandel durch Handel").
Suddenly it clicked in my head.
Energy Policy = Security Policy
Mistakes in Germany's energy policy are a risk to Europe's security. This is big.
Energy Policy is important.
If you want to get a glimpse of what happens when energy is suddenly turned off, then go read the books Lights Out or Sandworm. In short: it gets really bad.
From Energy Policy to Climate Tech
To understand energy policy I started learning about the economics and politics of international energy.
One of my main takeaways is that renewable energy is good for security policy since renewables are a domestic fuel (i.e. you produce the energy within the borders of your own country and you are independent from energy imports).
So I started reading about renewables and the world of climate tech... and oh my oh my, did I just open Pandoras Box.
The world of climate tech is amazing for a variety of reasons:
- Problem: The climate crisis is the biggest challenge of our generation. The stakes are the survival of our civilization.
- Urgency: The window of opportunity to make a course correction is this decade from today until 2030. If we don't make it happen in the next 8 years it's game over.
- Opportunity: The size of the energy transition market is in the trillions (yes, capital T trillions). The opportunity in climate tech makes amazon.com look like a lemonade stand. Also, there is a macro trend that demand for electricity is going up (urbanization; electrification of everything; etc.) and currently, there is not enough "clean" supply. It is a supply-constrained market. If you are a macro-economist or an entrepreneur this fact alone will make your mouth water.
- Security: Climate tech has a positive impact on global security for a variety of reasons. (1) Renewables reduce import dependence and the possibility of energy-based extortion [look at Russia-Germany right now], (2) fossil fuel-rich countries foster autocratic leadership [look at Russia, Saudia Arabia, the Emirates, Venezuela, etc.].
- Talent: All the people I've met so far in the climate tech world are incredibly smart and well-intentioned. A great combination. Also, because the market size is sooooo big, everyone is willing to share and make sure we all get ahead.
I conclude: I found an area that has this rare overlap of purpose, impact, and opportunity.
So what exactly is my plan now? 👇
Delphi Zero: Saving the World... One Essay at a Time
Climate Tech is a trip - in a positive kind of way.
I shared my initial memo in this tweet:
But let's break it down a little more.
What Can *I* Do In Climate Tech?
With my past experience as a startup founder, it would be natural to think about starting a business in climate tech but...
The technical complexity in climate tech would ideally require a more technical founder profile than my business/ops generalist profile. Never say never, but I think starting a climate tech business does not play to my strengths.
Well... what then are my strengths?
Currently, I think it's a combination of the following:
- Learning: Ability to 80/20 the living Christ out of any area
- Synthesis: Break down the most important bits and bobs
- Writing: Communicate those bits and bobs in a way that people understand and get excited about it
I should write about climate tech.
A Case for Hope: Sticks vs. Carrots 🥕
Yes, the world is going down the gutter but at the same time, there are amazing things happening.
Why not focus on what we can control and have fun along the way?
I'm cautiously optimistic about the future and this is the lens through which I want to introduce people to the wonders of climate tech.
My conceptual idea: Future Mythology
Mythology is used by civilizations to create shared cultural codes (common language; common values; common narratives).
Our Net Zero Future is an age of abundance. Thinking of second- and third-order effects of a net-zero world, makes it look like something out of a sci-fi novel.
Less of "20 Solar Trends to Watch in 2022" and more of "Solar: How We Stole Fire From the Gods".
This is the visual mood that I will translate into words:
My New Baby: Delphi Zero - The Narrative for the Non-Scientific Crowd
I will write these essays on my new site: delphizero.com
This is how I explained my motivation:
-- START --
Delphi Zero is born out of personal frustration.
The climate crisis is the biggest challenge of our generation, yet we are doing too little too slow. PhDs and engineers are pulling their weight but we need all hands on deck.
A while ago, I jumped into the climate tech rabbit hole 🕳
🦾 Technology: Solutions that are indistinguishable from magic.
🍋 Opportunity: A market that makes amazon.com look like a lemonade stand.
🙌 Community: Smart and well-intentioned people trying to unf*ck the planet.
Count me in. I want to play my part.
But what’s missing is an easy on-ramp for the curious but non-scientific crowd. The typical literature looks something like this:
“The Working Group II contribution to the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report assesses the impacts of climate change, looking at ecosystems, biodiversity, and human communities at global and regional levels.” - IPCC Report 2022
Yup, me neither 🙄
That’s why Delphi Zero was born: To inspire more people to participate in the boldest odyssey of our time: Our Journey to Net Zero
Let’s go, we have a looong way ahead 🙌
-- END --
If you like what I'm writing here, you will certainly enjoy these essays about climate tech. Join me and 50 curious readers👇
First Essay: Prologue
The first essay - a prologue - is in the making and I want your input.
It's supposed to set the scene for upcoming essays.
If you have questions, feedback, ideas, etc., I'd love to hear them.
Going Forward: artlapinsch.com vs. Delphi Zero
If you have read until here, then I love you. We are 2,222 words deep and you're still reading. Amazing 😍
All the climate tech goodies will live on delphizero.com and I will continue to write about personal projects on artlapinsch.com.
- How to Become a Beer Sommelier → Like Batman Begins but for Beer Sommeliers.
- My Business Model for Delphi Zero → Explaining how I'm building Delphi Zero.
Friends, thanks for sticking with me. I really really appreciate it.
Stay happy, stay healthy,
ps: as always, I'd love to hear from you. Get in touch with me and let me know what's new on your end 🙌