The Evolution of a Passion Project: Psychedelic Grad 🎓

Mitchell Wilson

By 

Mitchell Wilson

Published 

Sep 20, 2022

The Evolution of a Passion Project: Psychedelic Grad 🎓

Over the last 24+ months, I've been building a niche community for up-and-coming psychedelic professionals and I wanted to share something with you.

Here are the 4 lessons for turning a passion project into massive leverage (that can be applied to any idea):

A few things since you're likely unfamiliar with Psychedelic Grad -

  • 800+ members
  • ~0% social media
  • 1 weekly newsletter
  • 1 niche-focused podcast called Curious to Serious
  • oh, and it's sponsored by MAPS
  • (more on the last two in a bit)

Okay, let's dive in 👇

Lesson 1: Start with a Small, Clear Idea

I was a part of a psychedelic grad student listserv for several years through undergrad and years since.

One night, while high, I was catching up on it and had the idea that I should try and replicate it.

For 3 reasons:

The people.

They were all college students or past college and interested in researching psychedelics.

And on top of that

The content.

It was a rare place to find psychedelic internships, university programs with open-minded professors, and a bulk of the latest research papers coming out.

But more importantly,

The opportunity.

Email listservs aren't optimal for the 2020s. I knew there had to be a better way to bring these people and this content together.

So I set out on a mission with limited tools, talent, or time.

After a few months, I learned something very important. 📝

Lesson 2: Get Others to Help

Since I was building this project on the side (around family life and a day job), I quickly realized that I was a bottleneck for the project's growth and development.

So I asked the community itself for help, but there was some trial & error even knowing what to ask for.

When you are finding people to volunteer time and energy to a passion project that doesn't pay,

You have to make sure:

  • the assigned responsibilities are sustainably small
  • the opportunity is worthwhile
  • you enjoy working with them

Let's unpack these real quick. 🧳

Assigned Responsibilities are Sustainably Small

If you overload one person with too much responsibility (working for free), it's not going to last long.

Dial it back so they're still able to help week after week, month after month, without getting burnt out or overwhelmed. (It's still meaningful for them)

The Opportunity is Worthwhile

Why should they join the team of this passion project?

What do they get out of it since it's not money?

For Psychedelic Grad (currently), it's about being more involved in the space & leverage to build your network.

There's another crucial piece though. 🧩

You Enjoy Working with Them

If you don't get along, why set yourself up for failure.

You have to enjoy communicating with one another + it needs to be effective.

Everyone is busy with their life, so the here & there chitchat needs to be potent.

Okay, now back to the lessons you came for. 🧠

Lesson 3: Don't Let Money Stand in the Way

When the passion project is free for users, the bottleneck becomes your spare income to keep it afloat and growing.

(At least until it's monetized in some way later down the road)

After a year of personal expenses out-of-pocket, I couldn't keep paying. I had to do something different. 🤞

So I Threw a Hail Mary

I reached out to the most well-known person in the whole psychedelic space: Rick Doblin of MAPS.

I asked for help and he graciously agreed to sponsor the whole project!

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And that's when the community project became even more interesting. 👀

We Launched a Podcast

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Curious to Serious is a show for better understanding how students & professionals navigated the path from being curious about psychedelics to wanting to dedicate their career to psychedelics.

(Hyper-focused on our tiny niche)

Plus, we wanted to start something else too. 🛠

Monthly Member Meetup

1x/mo community check-in where we facilitate connection & collaboration around points of interest.

Sometimes even a well-known guest speaker too.

(For example, we just had on Vilmarie Fraguada-Narloch, PsyD, Director of Drug Education at Students for Sensible Drug Policy.)

This leads me to the final lesson. 🏁

Lesson 4: Leverage

Why spend 1000+ hours, energy, and money?

What's the point?

For the relationships added to your network.

Ones that you otherwise would never meet without the project's credibility.

This works because when you spend the effort to build up a community project that means something to lots of people,

You have something to point towards. Something to prop up and say, "Look what we built from scratch."

And in my experience, people respect that.

Especially if you want to reach out to people many steps ahead of you.

Like people around the world at:

• the top of companies

• other project creators

• event planners

• podcasters

• educators

• government officials

Alright, I know that was a lot, so I'll summarize. 🔁

RECAP:

You'd be surprised the leverage possible when you dedicate nights & weekends for a couple of dozen months to something you care about.

• Start with a small, clear idea

• Get others to help

• Don't let money stand in the way

• Use this leverage to build relationships

You can apply these lessons to any niche passion project.

It's about building something meaningful you can point at for credibility.


Here's the PG site if you want to check it out 👇

psychedelicgrad.com

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