Shut Up and Build

On the importance of showing, not telling

Nathan Graber-Lipperman
4 min readMay 19, 2021

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Starting April 6, for the next 30 days, I’m writing a brief essay every day and posting it to my Medium account in an effort to get off social media and focus on doing something good for me, both personally and professionally. To read my last essay, click here.

Like anyone who fancies themselves an “entrepreneur,” I have a lot of ideas.

From a business — aka money-making — perspective, some of them make a ton of sense. From an ideological perspective, some of them match my beliefs and values, things I want to enact into the world and influence what I believe to be positive change. And from a creative perspective, some of them appeal to my intrinsic desire to constantly be making things, whether it be with handheld tools, through a camera lens, or on a computer screen.

Yet there’s only so much time in a given day, and only so much elbow grease you can put into different ideas before spreading yourself too thin. Therefore, the white whale I fervently chased in the fall of 2019 was Coffeehouse, a Tinder-like platform dedicated to building community and connection through “pickup” conversations.

I arrived at this grand idea by conducting user interviews and deducing a problem: People (specifically, looking at Gen Zers) do not feel like they have the space or time necessary to engage in authentic and good-faith dialogue. I observed some of the pitfalls of our increasingly-online world — social isolation, depression, bad actors harvesting data — and decided I wanted to dive head first into this space by designing something that could actually connect people in a healthy manner. To top it all of, the idea checked all three of my boxes: it had business potential, it upheld my values, and it required a lot of creativity.

The problem was, at the time I really began testing my hypotheses, I was too burnt out to tackle such a vast theory, all the while lacking the confidence I once held in my vision. I would waffle in my conviction that the problem I had identified was real; past that, however, I fell into the simple trap of talking about my idea too much.

This makes sense given my proclivity for storytelling. Yet in the past, telling stories was building my product, as I yearned to…

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Nathan Graber-Lipperman

building worlds in the creator economy @ powderbluemedia.com 🌏🏗️