#Doubleduty and Use of Suspense in Nonfiction


I don’t believe in multitasking; I believe in tasks that do double-duty. Multitasking is like slightly injuring one bird with five stones. Double-duty is killing two birds with one stone.

Double-duty is probably one of the big reasons I’ve stuck with cycling for so long. Exercise + transportation = 2 (birds). Bike = 1 (stone).

# Doubleduty all day every day.

Double-duty is why I’m speeding through the book Profit First by Mike Michalowicz after I had avoided coming anywhere near this book for the past three years. Despite the fact that no less than 12 small business owners recommended it to me over that time.

All kinds of blocks stopped me from taking their advice. “I’m just a freelancer,” I would tell myself. “That sounds like a thing you need if you have employees.”

Well finally, I started it. I am hurling Profit First at my flapping business-finance disorganization.


But, as soon as I saw the title for chapter 1, I realized I could use Profit First to send a second birdie to an early grave. (Sheesh. Apologies to birds everywhere.)

So what was that second birdie? What was it I saw in chapter 1? I saw the answer to the question, “Why have a dozen entrepreneurs recommended this book to me in three years? Why is it so popular?

I’m talking about the real answer here. You might answer the book is clear or useful or that the method works, and that’s why it’s got such great word of mouth.

Those things—clear, useful, effective—are probably all true! But, many people have written clear, useful, effective books for organizing business finances (and personal finances). And I notice people don’t pass around those other books as much.

Therefore, clear, useful, and effective are NOT the reasons people recommend Profit First so often to each other.

You wanna know the real answer? You do?




The answer is SUSPENSE.

Michalowicz doesn’t start the book with Chapter 2, the chapter wherein he explains what the Profit First method is and how he discovered and developed it.

He starts with chapter 1: “Your Business is an Out-of-Control Cash-Eating Monster.” That is literally the title of chapter 1. You know why? Because that title (and the whole chapter) causes questions to well up in the reader. Such as:

IS IT? Oh shit!

Why didn’t I know that?

I actually feel like I’m doing OK financially. I check my bank balance every day and it seems… Wait. He’s saying constantly checking your bank balance every day is useless to determining your business’s overall financial health. Oh shit!

And finally: Well, if I shouldn’t be doing that stuff, then what do I do instead??

Bingo. Checkmate. YAHTZEE.

Now, he’s gotten you to care. You really care about finding out the answers to these questions. As you roll into chapter 2, you’re reading about this method not just to ***acquire information (zzzzzz)***, but to close an open loop in your brain. To relieve yourself of the suspense of not knowing the answers.

Yes, the answers themselves have to be clear, useful, and effective. But the way they’re revealed—that’s STRUCTURE.


Which brings me back to that second birdie: I have realized that Profit First is not just helpful for me personally, it is also my Ur-example of the difference structure can make to a nonfiction, non-memoir book.

If you thought suspense was only for crime novels and Dan Brown? Start thinking again.

I’m going to finish reading Profit First. Then I’m going to write a teardown of the whole book. Not a critique but a teardown. (Look it up.)

Helping me + Helping You = 2 (birds). Reading this book = 1 (stone).

Let’s do it!

– Maggie

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