Search & Replace Episode S01E08: Madison Taskett

What if one experiment could mean the difference between leading an extraordinary life and being stuck in ‘the spiral of doom’? Madison Taskett is no mad scientist, but she isn’t afraid of a adding few small experiments to her personal life either. As a growth marketer at a technology company in Austin, Texas, she set out this year to answer one important question: How does one live an extraordinary life?  

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Announcer: [00:00:00] Support for the following podcast is provided by the user experience specialist at Johns and Taylor. More information follows this episode. 

Joe Taylor: [00:00:10] What if one experiment could mean the difference between leading an extraordinary life and being stuck in the spiral of doom? I'm Joe Taylor, Jr. This is Search and Replace.

Madison Taskett is no mad scientist, but she is a growth marketer at a technology company in Austin, Texas. And this year, she set out to answer one important question.

Madison Taskett: [00:00:36] I've always had this feeling my entire life that, like, we have one life and we want to make it really extraordinary. The question is, you know, how does one live an extraordinary life?

The people that I saw that were very successful were people like Gary Vaynerchuk who basically says, you know, just work hard all the time and never, ever stop. Then on something related with workouts, I would be like, okay, I want to get in bed shape of my life. That's a different way of being extraordinary.

So I would go on YouTube and see these Insta-models doing like 500 squats in ones sitting. So I said, okay, let's do this. And so I would just go all in on everything at once. I would start doing a hundred squats a day. I would start reading all these books on how to become an entrepreneur. I would just hustle myself, basically, into an early grave if I had kept doing it.

Joe Taylor: [00:01:32] So her attempts to lead an extraordinary life were backfiring, setting Madison up for what she calls the spiral of doom.

Madison Taskett: [00:01:39] What the spiral of doom is, for me at least, the harder that I worked the more I would burn myself out. The more I burned myself out, the less I would accomplish. Makes sense. The less I accomplished, the more I would see successful people and say, well they're doing it so I'm just clearly not working hard enough. So I'd worked even harder to compensate and it would just turn into this terrible spiral where I'd be working hard, getting even more burned out, getting even less done and then working even harder. And it would just spiral into this mess. I think it's really common, especially among people of our generation, that really want to make something of themselves and they wonder what's wrong with them because they're trying so hard and they're getting nowhere.

Joe Taylor: [00:02:25] So Madison keeps bouncing between these feelings of being stuck, then trying way too many things at once and getting even more frustrated. Then something changed.

Madison Taskett: [00:02:35] My awakening moment came at a time when a lot of us had awakening moments, about March of this year. COVID had hit and, I don't know about you, but I was laying on the couch and watching Netflix, learning all the different ways I could bake cinnamon rolls.

I was completely burned out. My life was not in order at all. I read a blog post by a girl named Steph Smith called 'Being Great is Just Being Good Repeatedly.' And it kind of lit something within my mind. All of us, even Gary V, can only do that small amount of hard work every single day. Now that seems kind of counterintuitive because we've seen him accomplish amazing things.

But the thing is we're starting at level one, Gary V's at level 10. Gary V did not just wake up one day and say, I'm going to go from level 1 to level 10 in one day. He said, I'm going to go from level one to level two.

Joe Taylor: [00:03:39] Madison realized that the process from her job could help her break out of that spiral.

Madison Taskett: [00:03:44] At my day job I am a growth marketer at Auth0 and, like any tech company, we run a ton of experiments to see what the smallest changes we can make, can make the biggest impacts. Why don't we do this for ourselves? We can look at ourselves like we would at a company and think, how can I grow myself in my career?

How can I grow myself in my finances, in my friendships, in my community. And what kind of experiments can I run to get me there?

Joe Taylor: [00:04:13] And there's one big takeaway from Madison's experience that can guide you toward the right kinds of experiments.

Madison Taskett: [00:04:18] There's a lot of differences for just starting off with experiments on yourself.

Keep it really simple. At the beginning of every month, I write a long-term goal and then I write a short-term goal for the month. So an example of that is in August, my long-term goal was to have the most interesting friends in all of Austin, Texas. I just moved here and I think it's a great long-term goal to aspire to that cannot be accomplished in a short amount of time.

From there, I come up with a short-term goal for the same month. So for August, my goal would then was to have five coffee meetings with potential high quality friends. I picked something that was very measurable. And then from there, I'll come up with a hypothesis to test that goal that I have. So hypothesis there would be, I think that if I reach out to one new person every single day, I can meet with five high quality people every month. And so then every single day I would try out my hypothesis. And then at the end of the month I would go back and I would look at my answers and see, okay, true or false. Did I hit that metric or not?

Then I'd write down what I learned and then make a prediction for the next month. So for people, I'd say just keep it really simple. The whole point is just to get you moving forward. I would just say that the number one thing that I learned this year is the most basic thing in the entire world, but you'd be surprised at how many, really smart really driven people don't fully realize it, which is that this, the key to being very successful is just to move forward one step at a time in the same direction, every single day. It's really that simple. Do that and, like, a year later you're going to have all of your competition beat.

Joe Taylor: [00:06:05] That's Austin, Texas marketer Madison Taskett.

One of Madison's long-term goals for this year was to write more consistently on her own website. And that's how we found out about her. She tells the story of visiting a workaholics anonymous meeting and her featured article about productivity with a title we can't say on the radio. You'll find links to her writing over at our website

Also in today's show notes if you don't even know what kinds of experiments to start adding to your daily routine Danny Forest has a list of 23 of them. Those links and more are all over on our website at

Search and Replace was produced by Nicole Hubbard with support from Christine Benton, Connie Evans, Amelia Lohmann, April Smith and executive producer Lori Taylor. Our theme music was composed by Alex Rufire. I'm Joe Taylor, Jr.

Announcer: [00:07:04] This has been a Podcast Taxi radio production. Support for Search and Replace is provided by Johns and Taylor, user experience specialists serving media and technology companies that want their websites to work. Learn more about how top performing businesses eliminate barriers between customers and their goals at

Joe Taylor Jr. has produced stories about media, technology, entertainment, and personal finance for over 25 years. His work has been featured on NPR, CNBC, Financial Times Television, and ABC News. After launching one of public radio's first successful digital platforms, Joe helped dozens of client companies launch or migrate their online content libraries. Today, Joe serves as a user experience consultant for a variety of Fortune 500 and Inc. 5000 businesses. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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