I’m writing this on my iPhone while waiting for someone, so it’s bound to be brief. However, it’s been on my mind to share this thought for a while:
I believe that the degree to which people become successful depends largely on the combination of two ways in which they can be smart: one’s mind as a steering wheel versus one’s mind as an engine.
The engine component of your mind represents your ability to solve a problem or challenge that you put before yourself. The steering wheel component of your mind represents your ability to choose the problems or challenges that you DO put in front of yourself.
This explains, for example, why some people don’t seem as smart as others, but become more successful at work or in their other endeavors.
Perhaps someone choose relatively easy challenges that when accomplished would take them far. Stock market investing can be an example: you pick a good direction, Stock A, then you buy it and it goes up. That’s all about the steering wheel and very little about the engine.
An alternate example is engineering a very complicated device with very little market potential. Perhaps it takes a lot of intelligence to successfully engineer this, but the decision to engineer it was representative of bad steering.
Okay, my phone is ringing… Hope you enjoyed that!
One of the hardest things to do as a technology entrepreneur is to release your product when it’s first complete, but lacking all the extra features you think it needs.
As an entrepreneur, you’re likely a visionary and as such, you see your product as you’d like it to be in the future. You see all the bells and whistles. “Man, it needs that… it needs this… we can’t release it without that capability!” But guess what, you need to!
A handful of points here:
First, it’s important to start building a user base and to do that, you’ve got to get your product and brand out there. It’s likely going to be slow-going, so don’t waste any days when you could be accumulating users, who can become your very important brand followers.
Second, if you were smart, you built your product starting with its core feature - what your product does uniquely. If this is such an important thing, then it’s done! And people can use it…
Third, remember that YOU are the visionary and not your users. Thus, while you see what your product will/should look like in the future… with all those extra features… your users probably don’t. To them, your product is already going to have great features: it’s core feature (aka the solution to the big problem you’re solving) and they’re going to like it.
Fourth, adding features is both icing on the cake (see “Third”) and expected… and necessary to have an ongoing relationship with your customers. As Mark Zuckerberg’s character in The Social Network said: “Software is like fashion; it’s never ‘done’.” This is true. Your users will expect constant updates throughout the life cycle of your software. So if you release your software before all the bells and whistles are done, then you’ll have the normal and expected flow of new feature additions that both keep your product current and keep users engaged and excited.
Also: Each new feature release can generate news, emails/Tweets/Facebook posts that you (and eventually the Bloggers and press) can spread to engage existing users and collect new ones.
Fifth, you’ll ensure that you’ll be seen as the innovator. As smart and insightful as you are, there are six billion people on Earth and at least one of them is at least nearly as insightful. This means, someone else may be working on the same thing. If they are and they release before you, even with an inferior product and at a time when you could have released something better (even though not as complete as you want), they could get branded as the innovator, the first mover… and take the market instead of you!
Sixth, they’re always be something new to add that’s, “just around the corner.” In other words, you may think, “let’s wait two weeks when X is done.” Guess what, in two weeks, X will be done, but then Y will only be two weeks from X… pretty soon, weeks turn to months and you lose your opportunity!
While there are a lot of positives, sure - there are some negatives: You could have a crappy product that people don’t like. Your product could break. Etc., etc. But all of these negatives are things that you have to face anyway - and the sooner you face them, the better.
The sooner you face an aspect of your software that people don’t like, the sooner you can fix it (while the guys who don’t release don’t have the feedback to do so). The sooner you discover a bug, the sooner you can repair it (and the more endeared to you the early user who reported it to you and watched you fix it will be), etc.
And even if your product is total garbage, the sooner you can find out and move on to the next thing. (Okay, let’s hope that one doesn’t happen!)
Anyway, my message to you is: Release your product. If it runs and it solves the core problem you’ve identified and that problem needs solving and you can reach the people who need it solved, you’ll start building your business. And there’s no better time for that!
Terms really affect people. Thinking more about my most recent post, so many people are fooled because something is called (and given the pretty branding of) a “Circle” rather than a “List”.
I can just imagine the masses: “Oh, my God it’s revolutionary! There’s no way it can be like anything before it!!!” Well, it is and the problem is that you are just listening and not thinking. Google+ Circles are very similar to Facebook Lists.
So, who’s making the mistake here? Is it the people because they’re not thinking for themselves, or is it Facebook for not taking advantage of the fact that people don’t think for themselves?
Ironically, I think it makes sense for a company to leverage this fact about people - how easily they’re motivated by flashy things they hear in the media… and by positioning - and position your product appropriately.
Being on the business and marketing side of software projects, I’ve run up against this situation many times: Someone technical says, “No, it doesn’t matter what we call it… it is what it is.” Well guess what, here’s a life lesson that it does matter!
Why do I get the sense that people aren’t thinking for themselves? The media via Google continue to hype Google+ Circles as something revolutionary, something that will allow a level of control over your privacy unfathomable by Facebook.
Well… uh, do any of these people think to stop and look around at how Facebook works? With Facebook, you can create “lists” of friends and whenever posting information, you can choose which lists can view your content.
Unless *I’m* the one missing something, which I don’t think I am, then…. geez!
This NYT article’s statement is kind of ironic, given the fact below it:
“Plenty of major companies, including Google, Apple and Microsoft, are eager to gain access to the potentially lucrative trove of social data and other information that people share on these services. Facebook has long reaped the benefits of having access to such data, which helps it aim its advertisements more precisely.”
• In 2010, advertisers paid Google $29B. They paid Facebook $2B.
If social targeting of ads is so great, why does it result in $2B/$29B or only 6.8% of what Google achieves with its search ads?
Anyway, interesting article:
Zuckerberg Finds Fans on Google+
It’s good to be creative, even in this case, if it means playing with your food.
A trip to Starbucks… and an impromptu Starbucks cup photo shoot.
Is it good or bad? Does it cause teams to conflict and produce poorly, or does it cause them to produce only the best, winning ideas? I’m sure it varies. Something interesting to think about…
Just don’t get into a fight about it!
I’ve come to the hypothesis that there’s no such thing as “Right” or “Wrong”. Rather, there’s just people’s opinions and their abilities to enforce them.
For example, is it wrong to kill someone? Generally speaking, I think so. But think again: Governments kill people all the time and they’re usually justified for one reason or another. The Government kills people because they’re “bad guys”. But maybe the “bad guy” was just fighting for something he believed in and the government deemed his actions bad (the Government’s opinion) and had the massive resources to legally kill him (the Government’s ability to enforce its opinion). This has been true in wars for ages.
There are much less dramatic examples of “Right” versus “Wrong” and what makes various actions in various scenarios generally accepted as one or the other… and I’m not sure why I picked such a dark example, except perhaps that it’s often easier to explain phenomena at its extremes.
More casually, when thinking, “Is it right to do this?” or, “Is it right to do that?” I propose that it’s important to know that there’s a “Right” or “Wrong” according to one’s own opinion and belief systems, but also to keep in mind the nature and flexibility of the concepts overall. Basically, believe in yourself and your own opinions.
Now, just don’t go out killing people… that would be wrong!
If you’re like me, you’re faced with a large number of tasks. How do you decide which to do and in which order? I propose leveraging the following equation: TV=P(g)*V(g). That’s basically a reimplementation of the expected value function, but geared towards calculating the value of tasks. TV is the task value, P(g) is the probability of the task achieving a goal and V(g) is the value of that goal.
Using this equation, you can quickly calculate the TV, or Task Value of each of the several potential tasks at hand and then decide which to do and in which order. The idea being that you should do them in order of highest to lowest TV. (Tasks may have costs, too, such as the amount of your time and effort they take to complete, but we’ll forget about that for now.)
So if you can put time into something that has a nearly certain chance of producing $5, that would be a PV of 1* $5 = $5. If you also have a task that has a 50/50 shot of generating $100, that would be a PV of .5*$100 = $50. So this logic would suggest you do the second task first. (You may also want to consider timliness, i.e. if the window to do one task expires before the window to do another, but this analysis assumes comparison of tasks that all have the same time window.)
So there you have it. And since I probably won’t make any money from this blog, I’m off to another task!