About Beating Goliath

As customer service collapses across vital industries in America, you now need more help than ever to get what you’ve paid for.

Beating Goliath will report tirelessly on everything you need to know not to get left at the end of the line or the bottom of the pile.

> Are financial advisors steering you into bad investment decisions [LINK TK]?
> Does your health insurer decline claims it should pay [LINK TK]?
> Is the IRS messing up your taxes [LINK TK]?
> Have you struggled to get an appointment with the right kind of doctor [LINK TK]?
> Have you felt like you’re being pushed into making a bad medical decision [LINK TK]?
> When you need to talk to a banker, can you get one on the phone [LINK TK]?
> Has your former gym suddenly started charging you membership fees again months after you moved [LINK TK]?
> Are colleges charging you full tuition but not holding classes in person [LINK TK]?
> Have rental car companies denied you cars you’ve contracted to rent, and tried to extort you to solve problems they created [LINK TK]?

We’ll go into the belly of the beast, interviewing lawyers, bankers, doctors, nurses, hospital administrators, insurance representatives, and anyone else we can in the service of telling you what you need to know to get a fair deal. We aim to save time and money, and help you improve your customer service experiences, medical outcomes and quality of life.

Send questions, tips, and mail to bg@substi2ute.com.


I’m David Donadio. I own Iambic, a small marketing and communications firm that works primarily for businesses selling complex products and services to other businesses or governments. Before I hung out my own shingle, in my wasted youth, I spent years writing, editing and placing pieces in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and dozens of other publications.

Today, my colleagues and I have three primary projects. We’ll report out and write Beating Goliath. We’ll write another newsletter called Mastering Fortune, about unsung heroes, the often neurodivergent men, women and minorities who’ve turned their differences into strengths, and made pioneering advances in scientific and technical fields. These are the sorts of stories that interest us and make clear why clients should work with Iambic. And of course we’ll work for Iambic on everything from cybersecurity to quantum computing, and whatever else we can do better than big firms or less senior staffers in-house.


As a business owner and a regular joe, I’ve spent more time than I bargained for over the last decade fighting bureaucracies, and I’ve learned how you can do it.

No matter how spun up you may be, as individuals or small businesses, I’d encourage you not to get trigger happy on legal action. At the same time, you need to understand your rights, and how to protect them.

When I’ve had to, I’ve sued and won. When I haven’t had to, I’ve enjoyed better outcomes because I knew my rights, and how to assert them.

For starters, I’ve seen what it’s like trying to get treated for chronic health conditions in a system built for acute care. In 2012, I herniated a spinal disc and needed neurosurgery to get walking again. In 2015, my car was the first to be struck in a no-fault accident that piled up five cars, exacerbating my condition, and I had to sue an insurance company to recover the costs of keeping my spine in order. In 2019, I needed a second spinal surgery, and saw firsthand just how much more difficult it had become to navigate our healthcare system — how significant the care shortages, and how hard providers were now trying to railroad us into getting unnecessarily aggressive and ill-advised surgical approaches to maximize their profits.

In 2020, my business applied for PPP round 1 and 2 loans under the CARES Act. I had to speak to my bank no fewer than 27 times, over the course of 41 hours. I don’t ever want to do that again, but we’ll be more than happy to relate our experiences and do original reporting to help you get better customer service from financial institutions, because we like you and your money more than we like them and theirs.

In 2021, I won a settlement from the insurer of the driver at fault in the car accident I’d had in 2015. It took five years — don’t kid yourself it’ll be easy — and then my health insurance company placed a lien on it to recover as much as it could of its own expenses. Working with legal counsel, I squeezed out every dollar I could from the at-fault party’s auto insurer, and paid out as little as possible to my health insurer. I’ll write about how.


1) We’ll be funded by subscriptions, not advertisements or pageviews, which means we’re not out to win Pulitzers, and we won’t feed you sensationalist bullshit. You’ll get stories worthwhile enough to pay for, that can make your life easier.

2) We’ll charge $99/yr., and we aim to publish 2-4 well-baked reported features per month, and about 4 pieces per month of observation and analysis drawn from them, bringing you news you can use. That’s about $1 each for pieces that could save you hours, tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, and improve your medical outcomes and quality of life. We’re worth the money, and your payment will force us to keep it that way.

3) We’ll take requests. If you refer us 10 paying customers, we’ll get mercenary, and go deep on your particular headache.

4) We’ll also do pro bono work for subscribers both at random and by choice to promote the service.

5) If you’re seeing shady practices you think other people, customers, or patients need to know about, but would hesitate to speak out for fear of retribution, we’ll be glad to quote you under a pseudonym, or on background — so long as you can convince us that you’re for real, and help us corroborate your story.

6) WE ARE NOT DOCTORS, LAWYERS OR ACCOUNTANTS! WE ARE NOT QUALIFIED TO GIVE MEDICAL OPINIONS, LEGAL COUNSEL OR TAX PREPARATION SERVICES. We CAN, however, help you seek and make use of professional guidance in those fields more effectively than you otherwise could.

7) We cannot promise results. What we can promise is candor about our experiences, and the best reporting we can do in the service of helping you look out for yourself. We’ll talk about situations in which we sought advice from lawyers and accountants, and situations in which you might contemplate doing the same.

8) We can’t report on Iambic clients, but we don’t have to: We aren’t working for any hospital groups, insurance companies, or banks. In the past, we’ve worked for large financial institutions and healthcare interests, but we no longer do. They’ve long since hired internal writers, creatives and web developers, and most typically only contract out to big firms for work we wouldn’t want to do, so they no longer seek us out, and we don’t chase them.

9) We respect our contractual obligations. We also intend to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. If we become aware that a client has a contract or financial relationship with a target of our investigations, we’ll disclose the name of the client and the nature of our work for it, and if we’re not legally permitted to do so, we’ll caveat our work with an explicit note that we can’t say more about a specific thing.

10) What if one of these enormous companies sues us? It’s probably inevitable, isn’t it? That’s how they operate. We’ll fight as long and as hard as we can afford to, and report out as much as possible for your benefit while we do.

11) We don’t have a constipated style guide here, so expect more Matt Taibbi than Gray Lady. If someone says “fuck” — and believe me, they fucking will! — we’re not using asterisks or [expletives] in their place. If you want to watch people spouting Democratic or Republican talking points on TV, no one’s stopping you. This publication isn’t for the people in the stands, it’s for the players on the field — the adults working to get it done for themselves and their families.

12) There will be memes and movie references. You may not get all of them. And that’s too bad, but it’s okay.