#012 The Curtain Pulled Back

Common Discourse Weekly Briefing

I think creative fields are so attractive because of the amount of wonder they project into the world. The final product is never a reflection of the the mess going on behind the curtain.

It’s the reason How I Built This is still one of the most popular podcasts even though they’re telling the same story over and over again.

I’m not sure what people assume MOUTHWASH is from the outside. I’ve heard some people say that they thought we were a team of 20 people, and others think that we’ve been around for at least 5 years, but the truth is different.

It’s still the same small team, at just over a year old, with a big vision in mind.

It’s still us packing up and moving our own boxes, trying to bargain with property owners for small offices in LA, and asking people to trust us with our ideas.

It always looks bigger and badder from the outside. But on the inside, we’re probably a lot more like you than we are different.

— Alex

Ideas from me:


Desire is an agreement you make with yourself that says you’ll be unhappy until you get that very thing. I supposed that can be either liberating or convicting depending on who’s reading.


My Twitter bio used to say “I’m trying and sometimes doing” for the longest time until I realized how much it was affecting the posture I had towards life. I wanted so badly for people to know that I wasn’t trying too hard. I cared about that even more than being good at whatever was in front of me.

Remove the word “try” from your vocabulary. Trying induces the kind of behavior that leads to failure.


Routines can be important for productivity, but can also easily turn into monotonous auto-pilot. Take different routes to encourage novel experiences, heightened observation, and disrupt habitual behavior.

Quote from somebody else:

“How you decide when something is done—the internal voice or the thematic goal. If it's not about the theme, then it's about the instinct, I guess. Not to make it into a binary, but I think for me I'm, like, "Okay, well, does this look good yet?" If it doesn't, then that means I have to keep picking at it. If it does, then I can stop. Usually I have to sleep on it before I can make that decision.”

Crystal Zapata

Links Worth Sharing:

  1. 💫 Billie Eilish on NPR Tiny Desk

  2. 🛋 IKEA Furniture Catalogs dating all the way back to 1950

  3. ✍️ A thread of very simple visual learning concepts

  4. 🌿 Rains SS21 Virtual Lookbook

  5. 🏢 Emily Barker’s Built to Scale

Thanks For Reading ✨

My name is Alex Tan and this is my newsletter. I created MOUTHWASH and MOUTHWASH Studio with my friends. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram if you’d like.

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