Integrity
Write
Loading...
Sam Hickmann

Sam Hickmann

2 years ago

Improving collaboration with the Six Thinking Hats

Six Thinking Hats was written by Dr. Edward de Bono. "Six Thinking Hats" and parallel thinking allow groups to plan thinking processes in a detailed and cohesive way, improving collaboration.

Fundamental ideas

In order to develop strategies for thinking about specific issues, the method assumes that the human brain thinks in a variety of ways that can be intentionally challenged. De Bono identifies six brain-challenging directions. In each direction, the brain brings certain issues into conscious thought (e.g. gut instinct, pessimistic judgement, neutral facts). Some may find wearing hats unnatural, uncomfortable, or counterproductive.

The example of "mismatch" sensitivity is compelling. In the natural world, something out of the ordinary may be dangerous. This mode causes negative judgment and critical thinking.

Colored hats represent each direction. Putting on a colored hat symbolizes changing direction, either literally or metaphorically. De Bono first used this metaphor in his 1971 book "Lateral Thinking for Management" to describe a brainstorming framework. These metaphors allow more complete and elaborate thought separation. Six thinking hats indicate ideas' problems and solutions.

Similarly, his CoRT Thinking Programme introduced "The Five Stages of Thinking" method in 1973.

HATOVERVIEWTECHNIQUE
BLUE"The Big Picture" & ManagingCAF (Consider All Factors); FIP (First Important Priorities)
WHITE"Facts & Information"Information
RED"Feelings & Emotions"Emotions and Ego
BLACK"Negative"PMI (Plus, Minus, Interesting); Evaluation
YELLOW"Positive"PMI
GREEN"New Ideas"Concept Challenge; Yes, No, Po

Strategies and programs

After identifying the six thinking modes, programs can be created. These are groups of hats that encompass and structure the thinking process. Several of these are included in the materials for franchised six hats training, but they must often be adapted. Programs are often "emergent," meaning the group plans the first few hats and the facilitator decides what to do next.

The group agrees on how to think, then thinks, then evaluates the results and decides what to do next. Individuals or groups can use sequences (and indeed hats). Each hat is typically used for 2 minutes at a time, although an extended white hat session is common at the start of a process to get everyone on the same page. The red hat is recommended to be used for a very short period to get a visceral gut reaction – about 30 seconds, and in practice often takes the form of dot-voting.

ACTIVITYHAT SEQUENCE
Initial IdeasBlue, White, Green, Blue
Choosing between alternativesBlue, White, (Green), Yellow, Black, Red, Blue
Identifying SolutionsBlue, White, Black, Green, Blue
Quick FeedbackBlue, Black, Green, Blue
Strategic PlanningBlue, Yellow, Black, White, Blue, Green, Blue
Process ImprovementBlue, White, White (Other People's Views), Yellow, Black, Green, Red, Blue
Solving ProblemsBlue, White, Green, Red, Yellow, Black, Green, Blue
Performance ReviewBlue, Red, White, Yellow, Black, Green, Blue

Use

Speedo's swimsuit designers reportedly used the six thinking hats. "They used the "Six Thinking Hats" method to brainstorm, with a green hat for creative ideas and a black one for feasibility.

Typically, a project begins with extensive white hat research. Each hat is used for a few minutes at a time, except the red hat, which is limited to 30 seconds to ensure an instinctive gut reaction, not judgement. According to Malcolm Gladwell's "blink" theory, this pace improves thinking.

De Bono believed that the key to a successful Six Thinking Hats session was focusing the discussion on a particular approach. A meeting may be called to review and solve a problem. The Six Thinking Hats method can be used in sequence to explore the problem, develop a set of solutions, and choose a solution through critical examination.

Everyone may don the Blue hat to discuss the meeting's goals and objectives. The discussion may then shift to Red hat thinking to gather opinions and reactions. This phase may also be used to determine who will be affected by the problem and/or solutions. The discussion may then shift to the (Yellow then) Green hat to generate solutions and ideas. The discussion may move from White hat thinking to Black hat thinking to develop solution set criticisms.

Because everyone is focused on one approach at a time, the group is more collaborative than if one person is reacting emotionally (Red hat), another is trying to be objective (White hat), and another is critical of the points which emerge from the discussion (Black hat). The hats help people approach problems from different angles and highlight problem-solving flaws.

(Edited)

More on Leadership

Mike Tarullo

Mike Tarullo

1 year ago

Even In a Crazy Market, Hire the Best People: The "First Ten" Rules

The Pareto Principle is a way of life for First Ten people.

Hiring is difficult, but you shouldn't compromise on team members. Or it may suggest you need to look beyond years in a similar role/function.

Every hire should be someone we'd want as one of our first ten employees.

If you hire such people, your team will adapt, initiate, and problem-solve, and your company will grow. You'll stay nimble even as you scale, and you'll learn from your colleagues.

If you only hire for a specific role or someone who can execute the job, you'll become a cluster of optimizers, and talent will depart for a more fascinating company. A startup is continually changing, therefore you want individuals that embrace it.

As a leader, establishing ideal conditions for talent and having a real ideology should be high on your agenda. You can't eliminate attrition, nor would you want to, but you can hire people who will become your company's leaders.

In my last four jobs I was employee 2, 5, 3, and 5. So while this is all a bit self serving, you’re the one reading my writing — and I have some experience with who works out in the first ten!

First, we'll examine what they do well (and why they're beneficial for startups), then what they don't, and how to hire them.

First 10 are:

  • Business partners: Because it's their company, they take care of whatever has to be done and have ideas about how to do it. You can rely on them to always put the success of the firm first because it is their top priority (company success is strongly connected with success for early workers). This approach will eventually take someone to leadership positions.

  • High Speed Learners: They process knowledge quickly and can reach 80%+ competency in a new subject matter rather quickly. A growing business that is successful tries new things frequently. We have all lost a lot of money and time on employees who follow the wrong playbook or who wait for someone else within the company to take care of them.

  • Autodidacts learn by trial and error, osmosis, networking with others, applying first principles, and reading voraciously (articles, newsletters, books, and even social media). Although teaching is wonderful, you won't have time.

  • Self-scaling: They figure out a means to deal with issues and avoid doing the grunt labor over the long haul, increasing their leverage. Great people don't keep doing the same thing forever; as they expand, they use automation and delegation to fill in their lower branches. This is a crucial one; even though you'll still adore them, you'll have to manage their scope or help them learn how to scale on their own.

  • Free Range: You can direct them toward objectives rather than specific chores. Check-ins can be used to keep them generally on course without stifling invention instead of giving them precise instructions because doing so will obscure their light.

  • When people are inspired, they bring their own ideas about what a firm can be and become animated during discussions about how to get there.

  • Novelty Seeking: They look for business and personal growth chances. Give them fresh assignments and new directions to follow around once every three months.


Here’s what the First Ten types may not be:

  • Domain specialists. When you look at their resumes, you'll almost certainly think they're unqualified. Fortunately, a few strategically positioned experts may empower a number of First Ten types by serving on a leadership team or in advising capacities.

  • Balanced. These people become very invested, and they may be vulnerable to many types of stress. You may need to assist them in managing their own stress and coaching them through obstacles. If you are reading this and work at Banza, I apologize for not doing a better job of supporting this. I need to be better at it.

  • Able to handle micromanagement with ease. People who like to be in charge will suppress these people. Good decision-making should be delegated to competent individuals. Generally speaking, if you wish to scale.

Great startup team members have versatility, learning, innovation, and energy. When we hire for the function, not the person, we become dull and staid. Could this person go to another department if needed? Could they expand two levels in a few years?

First Ten qualities and experience level may have a weak inverse association. People with 20+ years of experience who had worked at larger organizations wanted to try something new and had a growth mentality. College graduates may want to be told what to do and how to accomplish it so they can stay in their lane and do what their management asks.

Does the First Ten archetype sound right for your org? Cool, let’s go hiring. How will you know when you’ve found one?

  • They exhibit adaptive excellence, excelling at a variety of unrelated tasks. It could be hobbies or professional talents. This suggests that they will succeed in the next several endeavors they pursue.

  • Successful risk-taking is doing something that wasn't certain to succeed, sometimes more than once, and making it do so. It's an attitude.

  • Rapid Rise: They regularly change roles and get promoted. However, they don't leave companies when the going gets tough. Look for promotions at every stop and at least one position with three or more years of experience.

You can ask them:

  • Tell me about a time when you started from scratch or achieved success. What occurred en route? You might request a variety of tales from various occupations or even aspects of life. They ought to be energized by this.

  • What new skills have you just acquired? It is not required to be work-related. They must be able to describe it and unintentionally become enthusiastic about it.

  • Tell me about a moment when you encountered a challenge and had to alter your strategy. The core of a startup is reinventing itself when faced with obstacles.

  • Tell me about a moment when you eliminated yourself from a position at work. They've demonstrated they can permanently solve one issue and develop into a new one, as stated above.

  • Why do you want to leave X position or Y duty? These people ought to be moving forward, not backward, all the time. Instead, they will discuss what they are looking forward to visiting your location.

  • Any questions? Due to their inherent curiosity and desire to learn new things, they should practically never run out of questions. You can really tell if they are sufficiently curious at this point.

People who see their success as being the same as the success of the organization are the best-case team members, in any market. They’ll grow and change with the company, and always try to prioritize what matters. You’ll find yourself more energized by your work because you’re surrounded by others who are as well. Happy teambuilding!

Solomon Ayanlakin

Solomon Ayanlakin

1 year ago

Metrics for product management and being a good leader

Never design a product without explicit metrics and tracking tools.

Imagine driving cross-country without a dashboard. How do you know your school zone speed? Low gas? Without a dashboard, you can't monitor your car. You can't improve what you don't measure, as Peter Drucker said. Product managers must constantly enhance their understanding of their users, how they use their product, and how to improve it for optimum value. Customers will only pay if they consistently acquire value from your product.

Product Management Metrics — Measuring the right metrics as a Product Leader by Solomon Ayanlakin

I’m Solomon Ayanlakin. I’m a product manager at CredPal, a financial business that offers credit cards and Buy Now Pay Later services. Before falling into product management (like most PMs lol), I self-trained as a data analyst, using Alex the Analyst's YouTube playlists and DannyMas' virtual data internship. This article aims to help product managers, owners, and CXOs understand product metrics, give a methodology for creating them, and execute product experiments to enhance them.

☝🏽Introduction

Product metrics assist companies track product performance from the user's perspective. Metrics help firms decide what to construct (feature priority), how to build it, and the outcome's success or failure. To give the best value to new and existing users, track product metrics.

Why should a product manager monitor metrics?

  • to assist your users in having a "aha" moment

  • To inform you of which features are frequently used by users and which are not

  • To assess the effectiveness of a product feature

  • To aid in enhancing client onboarding and retention

  • To assist you in identifying areas throughout the user journey where customers are satisfied or dissatisfied

  • to determine the percentage of returning users and determine the reasons for their return

📈 What Metrics Ought a Product Manager to Monitor?

What indicators should a product manager watch to monitor product health? The metrics to follow change based on the industry, business stage (early, growth, late), consumer needs, and company goals. A startup should focus more on conversion, activation, and active user engagement than revenue growth and retention. The company hasn't found product-market fit or discovered what features drive customer value.

Depending on your use case, company goals, or business stage, here are some important product metric buckets:

Popular Product Metric Buckets for Product Teams

All measurements shouldn't be used simultaneously. It depends on your business goals and what value means for your users, then selecting what metrics to track to see if they get it.

Some KPIs are more beneficial to track, independent of industry or customer type. To prevent recording vanity metrics, product managers must clearly specify the types of metrics they should track. Here's how to segment metrics:

  1. The North Star Metric, also known as the Focus Metric, is the indicator and aid in keeping track of the top value you provide to users.

  2. Primary/Level 1 Metrics: These metrics should either add to the north star metric or be used to determine whether it is moving in the appropriate direction. They are metrics that support the north star metric.

  3. These measures serve as leading indications for your north star and Level 2 metrics. You ought to have been aware of certain problems with your L2 measurements prior to the North star metric modifications.

North Star Metric

This is the key metric. A good north star metric measures customer value. It emphasizes your product's longevity. Many organizations fail to grow because they confuse north star measures with other indicators. A good focus metric should touch all company teams and be tracked forever. If a company gives its customers outstanding value, growth and success are inevitable. How do we measure this value?

A north star metric has these benefits:

  • Customer Obsession: It promotes a culture of customer value throughout the entire organization.

  • Consensus: Everyone can quickly understand where the business is at and can promptly make improvements, according to consensus.

  • Growth: It provides a tool to measure the company's long-term success. Do you think your company will last for a long time?

How can I pick a reliable North Star Metric?

Some fear a single metric. Ensure product leaders can objectively determine a north star metric. Your company's focus metric should meet certain conditions. Here are a few:

  1. A good focus metric should reflect value and, as such, should be closely related to the point at which customers obtain the desired value from your product. For instance, the quick delivery to your home is a value proposition of UberEats. The value received from a delivery would be a suitable focal metric to use. While counting orders is alluring, the quantity of successfully completed positive review orders would make a superior north star statistic. This is due to the fact that a client who placed an order but received a defective or erratic delivery is not benefiting from Uber Eats. By tracking core value gain, which is the number of purchases that resulted in satisfied customers, we are able to track not only the total number of orders placed during a specific time period but also the core value proposition.

  2. Focus metrics need to be quantifiable; they shouldn't only be feelings or states; they need to be actionable. A smart place to start is by counting how many times an activity has been completed.

  3. A great focus metric is one that can be measured within predetermined time limits; otherwise, you are not measuring at all. The company can improve that measure more quickly by having time-bound focus metrics. Measuring and accounting for progress over set time periods is the only method to determine whether or not you are moving in the right path. You can then evaluate your metrics for today and yesterday. It's generally not a good idea to use a year as a time frame. Ideally, depending on the nature of your organization and the measure you are focusing on, you want to take into account on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

  4. Everyone in the firm has the potential to affect it: A short glance at the well-known AAARRR funnel, also known as the Pirate Metrics, reveals that various teams inside the organization have an impact on the funnel. Ideally, the NSM should be impacted if changes are made to one portion of the funnel. Consider how the growth team in your firm is enhancing customer retention. This would have a good effect on the north star indicator because at this stage, a repeat client is probably being satisfied on a regular basis. Additionally, if the opposite were true and a client churned, it would have a negative effect on the focus metric.

  5. It ought to be connected to the business's long-term success: The direction of sustainability would be indicated by a good north star metric. A company's lifeblood is product demand and revenue, so it's critical that your NSM points in the direction of sustainability. If UberEats can effectively increase the monthly total of happy client orders, it will remain in operation indefinitely.

Many product teams make the mistake of focusing on revenue. When the bottom line is emphasized, a company's goal moves from giving value to extracting money from customers. A happy consumer will stay and pay for your service. Customer lifetime value always exceeds initial daily, monthly, or weekly revenue.

Great North Star Metrics Examples

Notable companies and their North star metrics

🥇 Basic/L1 Metrics:

The NSM is broad and focuses on providing value for users, while the primary metric is product/feature focused and utilized to drive the focus metric or signal its health. The primary statistic is team-specific, whereas the north star metric is company-wide. For UberEats' NSM, the marketing team may measure the amount of quality food vendors who sign up using email marketing. With quality vendors, more orders will be satisfied. Shorter feedback loops and unambiguous team assignments make L1 metrics more actionable and significant in the immediate term.

🥈 Supporting L2 metrics:

These are supporting metrics to the L1 and focus metrics. Location, demographics, or features are examples of L1 metrics. UberEats' supporting metrics might be the number of sales emails sent to food vendors, the number of opens, and the click-through rate. Secondary metrics are low-level and evident, and they relate into primary and north star measurements. UberEats needs a high email open rate to attract high-quality food vendors. L2 is a leading sign for L1.

Product Metrics for UberEats

Where can I find product metrics?

How can I measure in-app usage and activity now that I know what metrics to track? Enter product analytics. Product analytics tools evaluate and improve product management parameters that indicate a product's health from a user's perspective.

Various analytics tools on the market supply product insight. From page views and user flows through A/B testing, in-app walkthroughs, and surveys. Depending on your use case and necessity, you may combine tools to see how users engage with your product. Gainsight, MixPanel, Amplitude, Google Analytics, FullStory, Heap, and Pendo are product tools.

This article isn't sponsored and doesn't market product analytics tools. When choosing an analytics tool, consider the following:

  • Tools for tracking your Focus, L1, and L2 measurements

  • Pricing

  • Adaptations to include external data sources and other products

  • Usability and the interface

  • Scalability

  • Security

An investment in the appropriate tool pays off. To choose the correct metrics to track, you must first understand your business need and what value means to your users. Metrics and analytics are crucial for any tech product's growth. It shows how your business is doing and how to best serve users.

Caspar Mahoney

Caspar Mahoney

1 year ago

Changing Your Mindset From a Project to a Product

Product game mindsets? How do these vary from Project mindset?

1950s spawned the Iron Triangle. Project people everywhere know and live by it. In stakeholder meetings, it is used to stretch the timeframe, request additional money, or reduce scope.

Quality was added to this triangle as things matured.

Credit: Peter Morville — https://www.flickr.com/photos/morville/40648134582

Quality was intended to be transformative, but none of these principles addressed why we conduct projects.

Value and benefits are key.

Product value is quantified by ROI, revenue, profit, savings, or other metrics. For me, every project or product delivery is about value.

Most project managers, especially those schooled 5-10 years or more ago (thousands working in huge corporations worldwide), understand the world in terms of the iron triangle. What does that imply? They worry about:

a) enough time to get the thing done.

b) have enough resources (budget) to get the thing done.

c) have enough scope to fit within (a) and (b) >> note, they never have too little scope, not that I have ever seen! although, theoretically, this could happen.

Boom—iron triangle.

To make the triangle function, project managers will utilize formal governance (Steering) to move those things. Increase money, scope, or both if time is short. Lacking funds? Increase time, scope, or both.

In current product development, shifting each item considerably may not yield value/benefit.

Even terrible. This approach will fail because it deprioritizes Value/Benefit by focusing the major stakeholders (Steering participants) and delivery team(s) on Time, Scope, and Budget restrictions.

Pre-agile, this problem was terrible. IT projects failed wildly. History is here.

Value, or benefit, is central to the product method. Product managers spend most of their time planning value-delivery paths.

Product people consider risk, schedules, scope, and budget, but value comes first. Let me illustrate.

Imagine managing internal products in an enterprise. Your core customer team needs a rapid text record of a chat to fix a problem. The consumer wants a feature/features added to a product you're producing because they think it's the greatest spot.

Project-minded, I may say;

Ok, I have budget as this is an existing project, due to run for a year. This is a new requirement to add to the features we’re already building. I think I can keep the deadline, and include this scope, as it sounds related to the feature set we’re building to give the desired result”.

This attitude repeats Scope, Time, and Budget.

Since it meets those standards, a project manager will likely approve it. If they have a backlog, they may add it and start specking it out assuming it will be built.

Instead, think like a product;

What problem does this feature idea solve? Is that problem relevant to the product I am building? Can that problem be solved quicker/better via another route ? Is it the most valuable problem to solve now? Is the problem space aligned to our current or future strategy? or do I need to alter/update the strategy?

A product mindset allows you to focus on timing, resource/cost, feasibility, feature detail, and so on after answering the aforementioned questions.

The above oversimplifies because

Leadership in discovery

Photo by Meriç Dağlı on Unsplash

Project managers are facilitators of ideas. This is as far as they normally go in the ‘idea’ space.

Business Requirements collection in classic project delivery requires extensive upfront documentation.

Agile project delivery analyzes requirements iteratively.

However, the project manager is a facilitator/planner first and foremost, therefore topic knowledge is not expected.

I mean business domain, not technical domain (to confuse matters, it is true that in some instances, it can be both technical and business domains that are important for a single individual to master).

Product managers are domain experts. They will become one if they are training/new.

They lead discovery.

Product Manager-led discovery is much more than requirements gathering.

Requirements gathering involves a Business Analyst interviewing people and documenting their requests.

The project manager calculates what fits and what doesn't using their Iron Triangle (presumably in their head) and reports back to Steering.

If this requirements-gathering exercise failed to identify requirements, what would a project manager do? or bewildered by project requirements and scope?

They would tell Steering they need a Business SME or Business Lead assigning or more of their time.

Product discovery requires the Product Manager's subject knowledge and a new mindset.

How should a Product Manager handle confusing requirements?

Product Managers handle these challenges with their talents and tools. They use their own knowledge to fill in ambiguity, but they have the discipline to validate those assumptions.

To define the problem, they may perform qualitative or quantitative primary research.

They might discuss with UX and Engineering on a whiteboard and test assumptions or hypotheses.

Do Product Managers escalate confusing requirements to Steering/Senior leaders? They would fix that themselves.

Product managers raise unclear strategy and outcomes to senior stakeholders. Open talks, soft skills, and data help them do this. They rarely raise requirements since they have their own means of handling them without top stakeholder participation.

Discovery is greenfield, exploratory, research-based, and needs higher-order stakeholder management, user research, and UX expertise.

Product Managers also aid discovery. They lead discovery. They will not leave customer/user engagement to a Business Analyst. Administratively, a business analyst could aid. In fact, many product organizations discourage business analysts (rely on PM, UX, and engineer involvement with end-users instead).

The Product Manager must drive user interaction, research, ideation, and problem analysis, therefore a Product professional must be skilled and confident.

Creating vs. receiving and having an entrepreneurial attitude

Photo by Yannik Mika on Unsplash

Product novices and project managers focus on details rather than the big picture. Project managers prefer spreadsheets to strategy whiteboards and vision statements.

These folks ask their manager or senior stakeholders, "What should we do?"

They then elaborate (in Jira, in XLS, in Confluence or whatever).

They want that plan populated fast because it reduces uncertainty about what's going on and who's supposed to do what.

Skilled Product Managers don't only ask folks Should we?

They're suggesting this, or worse, Senior stakeholders, here are some options. After asking and researching, they determine what value this product adds, what problems it solves, and what behavior it changes.

Therefore, to move into Product, you need to broaden your view and have courage in your ability to discover ideas, find insightful pieces of information, and collate them to form a valuable plan of action. You are constantly defining RoI and building Business Cases, so much so that you no longer create documents called Business Cases, it is simply ingrained in your work through metrics, intelligence, and insights.

Product Management is not a free lunch.

Plateless.

Plates and food must be prepared.

In conclusion, Product Managers must make at least three mentality shifts:

  1. You put value first in all things. Time, money, and scope are not as important as knowing what is valuable.

  2. You have faith in the field and have the ability to direct the search. YYou facilitate, but you don’t just facilitate. You wouldn't want to limit your domain expertise in that manner.

  3. You develop concepts, strategies, and vision. You are not a waiter or an inbox where other people can post suggestions; you don't merely ask folks for opinion and record it. However, you excel at giving things that aren't clearly spoken or written down physical form.

You might also like

James White

James White

1 year ago

Ray Dalio suggests reading these three books in 2022.

An inspiring reading list

Wikimedia Commons

I'm no billionaire or hedge-fund manager. My bank account doesn't have millions. Ray Dalio's love of reading motivates me to think differently.

Here are some books recommended by Ray Dalio. Each influenced me. Hope they'll help you.

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

Page Count: 512
Rating on Goodreads: 4.39

My favorite nonfiction book.

Sapiens explores human evolution. It explains how Homo Sapiens developed from hunter-gatherers to a dominant species. Amazing!

Sapiens will teach you about human history. Yuval Noah Harari has a follow-up book on human evolution.

Goodreads

My favorite book quotes are:

  • The tendency for luxuries to turn into necessities and give rise to new obligations is one of history's few unbreakable laws.

  • Happiness is not dependent on material wealth, physical health, or even community. Instead, it depends on how closely subjective expectations and objective circumstances align.

  • The romantic comparison between today's industry, which obliterates the environment, and our forefathers, who coexisted well with nature, is unfounded. Homo sapiens held the record among all organisms for eradicating the most plant and animal species even before the Industrial Revolution. The unfortunate distinction of being the most lethal species in the history of life belongs to us.

The Power Of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Page Count: 375
Rating on Goodreads: 4.13

Great book: The Power Of Habit. It illustrates why habits are everything. The book explains how healthier habits can improve your life, career, and society.

The Power of Habit rocks. It's a great book on productivity. Its suggestions helped me build healthier behaviors (and drop bad ones).

Read ASAP!

Goodreads

My favorite book quotes are:

  • Change may not occur quickly or without difficulty. However, almost any behavior may be changed with enough time and effort.

  • People who exercise begin to eat better and produce more at work. They are less smokers and are more patient with friends and family. They claim to feel less anxious and use their credit cards less frequently. A fundamental habit that sparks broad change is exercise.

  • Habits are strong but also delicate. They may develop independently of our awareness or may be purposefully created. They frequently happen without our consent, but they can be altered by changing their constituent pieces. They have a much greater influence on how we live than we realize; in fact, they are so powerful that they cause our brains to adhere to them above all else, including common sense.

Tribe Of Mentors by Tim Ferriss

Page Count: 561
Rating on Goodreads: 4.06

Unusual book structure. It's worth reading if you want to learn from successful people.

The book is Q&A-style. Tim questions everyone. Each chapter features a different person's life-changing advice. In the book, Pressfield, Willink, Grylls, and Ravikant are interviewed.

Amazing!

Goodreads

My favorite book quotes are:

  • According to one's courage, life can either get smaller or bigger.

  • Don't engage in actions that you are aware are immoral. The reputation you have with yourself is all that constitutes self-esteem. Always be aware.

  • People mistakenly believe that focusing means accepting the task at hand. However, that is in no way what it represents. It entails rejecting the numerous other worthwhile suggestions that exist. You must choose wisely. Actually, I'm just as proud of the things we haven't accomplished as I am of what I have. Saying no to 1,000 things is what innovation is.

Michael Salim

Michael Salim

1 year ago

300 Signups, 1 Landing Page, 0 Products

I placed a link on HackerNews and got 300 signups in a week. This post explains what happened.

Product Concept

The product is DbSchemaLibrary. A library of Database Schema.

I'm not sure where this idea originated from. Very fast. Build fast, fail fast, test many ideas, and one will be a hit. I tried it. Let's try it anyway, even though it'll probably fail. I finished The Lean Startup book and wanted to use it.

Database job bores me. Important! I get drowsy working on it. Someone must do it. I remember this happening once. I needed examples at the time. Something similar to Recall (my other project) that I can copy — or at least use as a reference.

Frequently googled. Many tabs open. The results were useless. I raised my hand and agreed to construct the database myself.

It resurfaced. I decided to do something.

Due Diligence

Lean Startup emphasizes validated learning. Everything the startup does should result in learning. I may build something nobody wants otherwise. That's what happened to Recall.

So, I wrote a business plan document. This happens before I code. What am I solving? What is my proposed solution? What is the leap of faith between the problem and solution? Who would be my target audience?

My note:

Note of the exact problem and solutions I’m trying to solve

In my previous project, I did the opposite!

I wrote my expectations after reading the book's advice.

“Failure is a prerequisite to learning. The problem with the notion of shipping a product and then seeing what happens is that you are guaranteed to succeed — at seeing what happens.” — The Lean Startup book

These are successful metrics. If I don't reach them, I'll drop the idea and try another. I didn't understand numbers then. Below are guesses. But it’s a start!

Metrics I set before starting anything

I then wrote the project's What and Why. I'll use this everywhere. Before, I wrote a different pitch each time. I thought certain words would be better. I felt the audience might want something unusual.

Occasionally, this works. I'm unsure if it's a good idea. No stats, just my writing-time opinion. Writing every time is time-consuming and sometimes hazardous. Having a copy saved me duplication.

I can measure and learn from performance.

Copy of the product’s What and Why’s

Last, I identified communities that might demand the product. This became an exercise in creativity.

List of potential marketing channels

The MVP

So now it’s time to build.

A MVP can test my assumptions. Business may learn from it. Not low-quality. We should learn from the tiniest thing.

I like the example of how Dropbox did theirs. They assumed that if the product works, people will utilize it. How can this be tested without a quality product? They made a movie demonstrating the software's functionality. Who knows how much functionality existed?

So I tested my biggest assumption. Users want schema references. How can I test if users want to reference another schema? I'd love this. Recall taught me that wanting something doesn't mean others do.

I made an email-collection landing page. Describe it briefly. Reference library. Each email sender wants a reference. They're interested in the product. Few other reasons exist.

Header and footer were skipped. No name or logo. DbSchemaLibrary is a name I thought of after the fact. 5-minute logo. I expected a flop. Recall has no users after months of labor. What could happen to a 2-day project?

I didn't compromise learning validation. How many visitors sign up? To draw a conclusion, I must track these results.

Landing page

Posting Time

Now that the job is done, gauge interest. The next morning, I posted on all my channels. I didn't want to be spammy, therefore it required more time.

I made sure each channel had at least one fan of this product. I also answer people's inquiries in the channel.

My list stinks. Several channels wouldn't work. The product's target market isn't there. Posting there would waste our time. This taught me to create marketing channels depending on my persona.

Statistics! What actually happened

My favorite part! 23 channels received the link.

Results across the marketing channels

I stopped posting to Discord despite its high conversion rate. I eliminated some channels because they didn't fit. According to the numbers, some users like it. Most users think it's spam.

I was skeptical. And 12 people viewed it.

I didn't expect much attention on a startup subreddit. I'll likely examine Reddit further in the future. As I have enough info, I didn't post much. Time for the next validated learning

No comment. The post had few views, therefore the numbers are low.

The targeted people come next.

I'm a Toptal freelancer. There's a member-only Slack channel. Most people can't use this marketing channel, but you should! It's not as spectacular as discord's 27% conversion rate. But I think the users here are better.

I don’t really have a following anywhere so this isn’t something I can leverage.

The best yet. 10% is converted. With more data, I expect to attain a 10% conversion rate from other channels. Stable number.

This number required some work. Did you know that people use many different clients to read HN?

Unknowns

Untrackable views and signups abound. 1136 views and 135 signups are untraceable. It's 11%. I bet much of that came from Hackernews.

Overall Statistics

The 7-day signup-to-visit ratio was 17%. (Hourly data points)

Signup to Views percentageSignup to Views count

First-day percentages were lower, which is noteworthy. Initially, it was little above 10%. The HN post started getting views then.

Percentage of signups to views for the first 2 days

When traffic drops, the number reaches just around 20%. More individuals are interested in the connection. hn.algolia.com sent 2 visitors. This means people are searching and finding my post.

Percentage of signups after the initial traffic

Interesting discoveries

1. HN post struggled till the US woke up.

11am UTC. After an hour, it lost popularity. It seemed over. 7 signups converted 13%. Not amazing, but I would've thought ahead.

After 4pm UTC, traffic grew again. 4pm UTC is 9am PDT. US awakened. 10am PDT saw 512 views.

Signup to views count during the first few hours

2. The product was highlighted in a newsletter.

I found Revue references when gathering data. Newsletter platform. Someone posted the newsletter link. 37 views and 3 registrations.

3. HN numbers are extremely reliable

I don't have a time-lapse graph (yet). The statistics were constant all day.

  • 2717 views later 272 new users, or 10.1%

  • With 293 signups at 2856 views, 10.25%

  • At 306 signups at 2965 views, 10.32%

Learnings

1. My initial estimations were wildly inaccurate

I wrote 30% conversion. Reading some articles, looks like 10% is a good number to aim for.

2. Paying attention to what matters rather than vain metrics

The Lean Startup discourages vanity metrics. Feel-good metrics that don't measure growth or traction. Considering the proportion instead of the total visitors made me realize there was something here.

What’s next?

There are lots of work to do. Data aggregation, display, website development, marketing, legal issues. Fun! It's satisfying to solve an issue rather than investigate its cause.

In the meantime, I’ve already written the first project update in another post. Continue reading it if you’d like to know more about the project itself! Shifting from Quantity to Quality — DbSchemaLibrary

Benjamin Lin

Benjamin Lin

1 year ago

I sold my side project for $20,000: 6 lessons I learned

How I monetized and sold an abandoned side project for $20,000

Unfortunately, there was no real handshake as the sale was transacted entirely online

The Origin Story

I've always wanted to be an entrepreneur but never succeeded. I often had business ideas, made a landing page, and told my buddies. Never got customers.

In April 2021, I decided to try again with a new strategy. I noticed that I had trouble acquiring an initial set of customers, so I wanted to start by acquiring a product that had a small user base that I could grow.

I found a SaaS marketplace called MicroAcquire.com where you could buy and sell SaaS products. I liked Shareit.video, an online Loom-like screen recorder.

Shareit.video didn't generate revenue, but 50 people visited daily to record screencasts.

Purchasing a Failed Side Project

I eventually bought Shareit.video for $12,000 from its owner.

$12,000 was probably too much for a website without revenue or registered users.

I thought time was most important. I could have recreated the website, but it would take months. $12,000 would give me an organized code base and a working product with a few users to monetize.

You should always ask yourself the build vs buy decision when starting a new project

I considered buying a screen recording website and trying to grow it versus buying a new car or investing in crypto with the $12K.

Buying the website would make me a real entrepreneur, which I wanted more than anything.

Putting down so much money would force me to commit to the project and prevent me from quitting too soon.

A Year of Development

I rebranded the website to be called RecordJoy and worked on it with my cousin for about a year. Within a year, we made $5000 and had 3000 users.

We spent $3500 on ads, hosting, and software to run the business.

AppSumo promoted our $120 Life Time Deal in exchange for 30% of the revenue.

We put RecordJoy on maintenance mode after 6 months because we couldn't find a scalable user acquisition channel.

We improved SEO and redesigned our landing page, but nothing worked.

Growth flatlined, so we put the project on maintenance mode

Despite not being able to grow RecordJoy any further, I had already learned so much from working on the project so I was fine with putting it on maintenance mode. RecordJoy still made $500 a month, which was great lunch money.

Getting Taken Over

One of our customers emailed me asking for some feature requests and I replied that we weren’t going to add any more features in the near future. They asked if we'd sell.

We got on a call with the customer and I asked if he would be interested in buying RecordJoy for 15k. The customer wanted around $8k but would consider it.

Since we were negotiating with one buyer, we put RecordJoy on MicroAcquire to see if there were other offers.

Everything is negotiable, including how long the buyer can remain an exclusive buyer and what the payment schedule should be.

We quickly received 10+ offers. We got 18.5k. There was also about $1000 in AppSumo that we could not withdraw, so we agreed to transfer that over for $600 since about 40% of our sales on AppSumo usually end up being refunded.

Lessons Learned

First, create an acquisition channel

We couldn't discover a scalable acquisition route for RecordJoy. If I had to start another project, I'd develop a robust acquisition channel first. It might be LinkedIn, Medium, or YouTube.

Purchase Power of the Buyer Affects Acquisition Price

Some of the buyers we spoke to were individuals looking to buy side projects, as well as companies looking to launch a new product category. Individual buyers had less budgets than organizations.

Customers of AppSumo vary.

AppSumo customers value lifetime deals and low prices, which may not be a good way to build a business with recurring revenue. Designed for AppSumo users, your product may not connect with other users.

Try to increase acquisition trust

Acquisition often fails. The buyer can go cold feet, cease communicating, or run away with your stuff. Trusting the buyer ensures a smooth asset exchange. First acquisition meeting was unpleasant and price negotiation was tight. In later meetings, we spent the first few minutes trying to get to know the buyer’s motivations and background before jumping into the negotiation, which helped build trust.

Operating expenses can reduce your earnings.

Monitor operating costs. We were really happy when we withdrew the $5000 we made from AppSumo and Stripe until we realized that we had spent $3500 in operating fees. Spend money on software and consultants to help you understand what to build.

Don't overspend on advertising

We invested $1500 on Google Ads but made little money. For a side project, it’s better to focus on organic traffic from SEO rather than paid ads unless you know your ads are going to have a positive ROI.