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Posted March 15, 2022

Sean Ring

By Sean Ring

Iteration After a Violent Government Intervention

  • Russian writers are leaving SubscribeStar and Patreon.
  • Thanks to sanctions, the writers cant get paid on those platforms anymore.
  • Of course, theyve figured out a solution already.

Its a glorious Tuesday morning here in the Philippines.

I hope the sun shines on you brightly this morning.

Ive been shaking my head at the stupidity of the sanctions the West has imposed on Russia.

Like a testosterone-filled teenage jock whos just dumped his girlfriend, the West doesnt think Russia will survive this.

Its lunacy to think Russia is going to starve.

Theyre going to adjust by iteration.

Ive got anecdotal evidence thats already underway, as there are too many options these days for getting paid.

Will there be immediate disruptions to Russian enterprise?

Sure.

Finding solutions will cost time and money.

But once theyre found, Russian companies will have essentially de-risked themselves from the arbitrary Western banking system.

And like Ive said many times before, the only people wholl get hurt by these idiotic sanctions, in the long run, are Westerners.

Let me start by going back in time to a lovely metropolis way up north.

Moscow, 2008

When I was a single man living in London, teaching the banking grads every summer, my hand was the first to go up when a foreign assignment came up.

I loved the travel, and I got to teach in San Francisco, New York, Dublin, Paris, Abu Dhabi, and Moscow.

Once I got to Asia, I expanded that list to include all the fantastic eastern hemisphere cities like Tokyo, Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, and Melbourne.

I even got to Lagos and Abuja in Nigeria for a couple of trips.

Pretty wicked stuff.

Most of my colleagues werent interested in making the trips.

Some disliked travel; some had families they didnt want to leave for a week or two at a time.

Me?

I was always up for it.

I got to teach in Moscow four times between 2007 and 2008, before the world was about to learn what Lehman really meant.

My favorite watering hole in Moscow was at the top of the Swissotel at a bar called CityScape.

It was the highest bar in Moscow at the time, and it boasted a panoramic view of the city.

I loved looking out at the Seven Sisters, a group of skyscrapers built in the best Stalinist style.

And my bartender was a gentleman of particular taste.

Inevitably, his name was Vladimir, and he taught me the proper way to make a martini.

Now, if you want the best martini in the world, youre probably going to have to rush to the store to get the last bottles of Russian vodka.

Most like Russian Standard vodka, but my favorite is Imperia Standard vodka.

Youll never look at vodka the same way after drinking this martini.

Ingredients:

Imperia Standard Vodka

Noilly Prat vermouth

Lemon peel

Ice

First, put ice cubes in your martini glass to chill it.

Then fill your mixing glass with ice.

If youve got a proper American bottle top (the one with the hole in it), this next step will be more straightforward.

Pour a twelve-count (or three shots) of Imperia over ice. Then add one drop of Noilly Prat vermouth.

To get one drop, hold your finger over the hole of the bottle top, and let the drop fall out.

Do NOT rinse the martini glass out with the vermouth. Youve got ice in right now, and anyway it makes the drink too sweet. Youll fall over after a few, trust me.

Then take your stirring spoon and gently stir the mixture. Real. Slow.

Do NOT shake the martini. When Ian Fleming wrote James Bond, he wanted Bond to be imperfect. The shaken martini is a faux pas, not a sign of sophistication.

Then, dump the ice out of your now chilled martini glass.

Strain your stirred mixture into the martini glass.

If youve measured correctly and have the right-sized martini glass, you should fill the glass perfectly.

Finally, garnish with a lemon peel.

(Olives go better with gin.)

Et voila!

Youve got the cleanest, simplest, and best cocktail on earth in your hand.

Funny that. An American-designed cocktail with Russian and French ingredients. Numero Uno.

I ran up an $800 bar tab with my buddy on the martinis and caviar one night in that bar.

Vladimir was impressed with my American-born liver.

Iteration

The vodka, seafood, and diamond ban will cost Russia a grand total of $1 billion.

I dont mean to be sarcastic, but most Americans think Absolut and Grey Goose taste good.

My God!

So those exporters will feel a bit of pain, but its more like Dr. Evils pain than world-ending pain.

And thats where iteration comes in.

My good friend and mentor, Hunter Hastings, runs the Economics For Business podcast.

Its a treasure trove of excellent business advice. And its free!

Hunters recent podcast with Rory Sutherland, the Vice-Chairman of Ogilvy UK, is unmissable.

I had the honor of being on Hunters podcast a few years ago, when we talked about iteration.

The key point I made was entrepreneurs learn that theyre wrong every day.

Every fork can be re-taken.

Every initiative can be improved.

Every left turn can be re-thought as a right turn.

Keep iterating.

And thats what every Russian entrepreneur with international exposure is doing right now.

One particular writer I subscribe to proved to me its quite easy to do.

Club Orlov

I discovered Dmitry Orlov on Russia Insider a few years ago, and would read his stuff from time to time.

I didnt realize he had a subscription-based writing business until a month ago.

But when I found Club Orlov, I immediately subscribed via SubscribeStar, a platform similar to Patreon.

I never liked Patreon, especially when they started deplatforming writers I follow.

But any centralized platform is a risk these days.

(Is substack next?)

Anyway, via Club Orlov, Dmitry sent out a message saying he was leaving both Patreon and SubscribeStar because he cant get his USD revenue into Russian banks, thanks to the sanctions.

So what did this smart writer/entrepreneur do?

He left detailed instructions on how to cancel my SubscribeStar subscription and resubscribe via Boosty, a platform I never heard of before.

And so I did.

Boosty took my credit card just fine, and now I have access to the new Club Orlov.

Sanctions evaded.

Yes, it was *that* simple.

Wrap Up

If a St. Petersburg-based writer can change directions on a dime, you can bet bigger organizations will figure it out sooner or later.

And with China, Iran, and India not playing Washingtons game, theres going to be much more of this.

I know its only one anecdote.

But if hes doing this, so are many others.

So lets hope Washington/London/Berlin wake up.

The only people who these sanctions will hurt are their own people.

In the meantime, get on the Economics For Business podcast, try some Club Orlov, and buy some real vodka while you still can!

Until tomorrow.

All the best,

Sean

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