Reddit faked it until they made it

Also: video backgrounds, gratitude attacks

:::Issue #12. Why are you receiving this? You’re friends with Cam Houser. This is where I share atypical stories of creativity, entrepreneurship, and the ups and downs of Actionworks:::

🎟Welcome Jim, Sharon, Patrice, D, Monserrat, Michael, Angela, JC  🎟

Greetings, Rulebreakers!

What I’ve been up to:

🎸 Remembering Eddie Van Halen. RIP. Eddie redefined what it meant to play guitar.
🎥 Settling on a name for my upcoming course on creating video. I’m going with Minimum Viable Video.
🚀 Speaking at the Startup Chica event held by Latinitas. I never tire of teaching
startups to young people—you can never teach this stuff too early.
🤝 Running another edition of Enter the 36 Strangers: Instant Community Building Online.
🌶️ Infusing tequila, part 5: Habanero. Ai yai yai! Fuerte!

Fake it ‘til you make it: Reddit Edition

Launching a social site epitomizes the chicken-and-the-egg problem. How do you attract users if users are what you need to attract other users?

Reddit, the 4th largest website in the world, acquired users by faking it.

Reddit founders Steve Huffman and Alexis O’Hanian impersonated hundreds of users in the early days to make the site more welcoming, i.e., more populated and less of a ghost town.

They also faked users to set the tone. By posting high-quality content from dummy accounts, real users would understand what type of content performed well on the site.

Ironic, isn’t it?

Fake users allowed them to stay true to their vision for Reddit.

Will this practice be used in the future?

I think so, but that won’t be where the innovation happens.

My hope for the next wave of innovation in social is that we (users of social sites) have AI-assisted virtual bots that test out platforms and manage our activity for us. Much like how you can be a small-time solopreneur these days and still have a virtual assistant.

Some Background on Backgrounds

Quick takeaways from last week’s workshop:

  1. Your background will affect your skin tone lighting. Find a background that works for you. Don’t know what works for you? Keep making and posting videos. Over time, viewers and your gut will tell you.

  1. Be personal. One way to think about being a creator is to make content that no one else could make. The same goes for your background. Each of the items behind me has a unique story.

  1. Your background conveys tone and mood—note the minimalist, composed aesthetic below gives you a sense of her style and voice without hearing a word.

The recording of last week’s workshop’s on backgrounds is here.

Workshop on Wednesday

In this week’s workshop, we’ll explore some of the ways organizations approach video: why and how to use video in teams.

I’ll be covering:

  • How some companies use video internally and externally

  • What video accomplishes that Zoom, slack, and email cannot

  • Video tools such as, Loom, Sendspark, and more

Sign up for this week’s workshop:

Sign up for this week's session here

How do you say thank you in the Zoom era?

With a gratitude attack, of course.

I came up with the idea for the gratitude attack after Cam Doody, founder of Bellhops, shared a tactic they use to convince talented engineers to accept hiring offers. He promised me not to tell anyone, so I’ll just say that I took an approach they did offline and translated it to online :)

Jesse gives a concise summary of a gratitude attack here:

Instructions on how to run one of your own:

See you in gallery view,

P.S. Why is video such a powerful medium? Why is now the time to learn it? In this email course, I review those factors:

Twitter: @cahouser
For professional grade virtual courses and workshops, email

Just for fun: slow motion bird footage from my balcony to your inbox…

Animated GIF