in Travel/Experience

Everything I learned at HustleCon 2014

I attended HustleCon 2014 this Friday, and it was some of the highest quality networking/conference learnings I’ve ever attended. My voice was dead and gone by the end of the day for so many chats. In the spirit of my SXSW 2014 article, here is all the notes and learnings I came away with, sorted by speaker.

Jess Lee, cofounder of Polyvore

  • Flinto helps you prototype faster
  • The team would handwrite love letters to power users and send them fashion items from their wish lists, engendering powerful loyalty
  • Write down the company culture- it begins unwritten but once it exists you must codify it to keep it alive
  • Easy blog articles are spotlighting top users

Rohin Dhar, founder of Pricenomics

  • At first they had really good SEO, but that meant that they weren’t their users, they were just Google users
  • Realized nobody cares about you on the Internet, way around this is to be interesting enough that they do care
  • Can do this but doing something you know authentically that nobody else does. Via anecdotes, or data created by company
  • Recipe for success is to bring information, have it be true, and make it interesting
  • One of their recurring successful titles is “X is bullshit”. Another is to tell a story through a chart
  • Notes that once you’re shared on FB, you’re the same as the New York Times. Nobody cares where they end up, they care if it’s interesting
  • “Anytime you put something out on the Internet, someone will know it better than you. So make sure you’re correct.”
  • You never know when something will take off. One time they had a study on Retailmenot and it exploded because the stock tanked and hedge fund managers wanted to know more about it

The founders of Chubbies shorts

  • They have a rule to never sell on social media, just to build brand and delight followers
  • Easy to do this if you encourage users to send you photos, then you can caption em and post em
  • “The content experience” is more than just a blog – ever touch point with the customer should be exceptional
  • Chubbies did this once by sending bubble gum to every customer who ordered on a random Tuesday, every order gets beer coozies, repeat shoppers get limited edition tank tops
  • You content becomes the brand, and once that’s shared, it becomes the model for user generated content.
  • They curate ChubbiesLabs, which are like mini Kickstarters, and test user interest in new designs.
  • Never outsource all of your customer service. Founders have their personal cell numbers on random boxes, in order to keep them involved with customer needs. Says they get hit on by older women sometimes.
  • “Imagine your brand as a person. Would you want to hang out with them?”
  • The best projects are funded because people empathize with the why of it, not what it actually is

Neville Medhora, bigwig at Appsumo

  • Introduced himself by making the audience help him sing ‘We Will Rock You’ – good energy
  • “Write your email copy knowing that most people check their email on the toilet.”
  • Got to be so into copywriting that he would look at SkyMall and try to make it better
  • The best copy follows the AIDA equation, first get their attention, then get em interested, then make em desire something, then give them a call to action
  • Gary Halpert – free copywriting courses
  • When you respond to a newsletter, Gmail will make future letters skip the Promotions inbox
  • Appsumo has a wordpress widget that lets you live AB test article headlines to see which is the most effective
  • “Good copy is like a woman’s skirt. It should be long enough to cover the essentials, but short enough to stay interesting”

Joel Gascoigne, founder of Buffer

  • Buffer’s salaries are completely open and visible at:
  • “If you want a hobby, build whatever comes to mind. If you want a business, validate that others want your idea too.”
  • Founder blog:
  • Buffer team is entirely distributed, with personnel around the world and only about 5 people at HQ. Says that if you want to do a distributed team, make every distributed or nobody- if you do it halfway, info isn’t spread equally due to office chatter.
  • Use Hipchat to stay in touch – say that that is the office more than anything else

Jordan Harbinger, founder of the Art of Charm

  • People skills will always trump technical skills no matter what. If you can’t make people believe in you, they won’t believe in your product
  • One way to hack first impressions is to double check your posture every time you walk through a door. Head up, chest out, shoulders back – it’ll make a difference
  • Another way is to take mental inventory of the color of your conversational partner’s eyes – you’ll connect better.

Hiten  Shah, founder of KISSmetrics, CrazyEgg, and general epitome of hustlage

  • The whole talk is online at:
  • Hiten can’t code or design, but he can outgoogle you in just about anything.
  • “Treat your employees as more than job titles and your customers asmore than dollar signs”
  • Book on how to learn anything: The first 20 hours by Josh Kaufman
  • – summarizes nonfiction books
  • Hiten doesn’t read, instead he listens to audiobooks at 3x speed. Better for him as he is auditory learner
  • Jef Bezo’s favorite book: The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt
  • Book on thinking better: The 5 elements of effective thinking by Edward Burger
  • All work conflict stems from personal insecurity, a desire for power and control(aka politics), or habitual victimhood
  • Incolor insights show your thought style through colored graphs
  • When Hiten wants to write an angry email, he’ll write it as a draft then reread it the next day. Then either don’t send it or rewrite it.
  • Book on questioning better: A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger
  • Two types of creators: pirates and explorers. The first steals market share, builds solutions, while the second finds new things, solve problems
  • Hiten stole the email list of a Ruby engineer group and emailed every single person on it to find an engineer

Gabriel Luna, founder at Upshift Ventures

  • To supercharge sales, he looked at the companies who bought the top 10% of sales, then went out and found other companies like them in order to attack them hard for 12 weeks.
  • For best success, focus on the customers with the most pervasive, urgent and costly need.
  • You should consistently perform analysis of the top ten and bottom ten of your customers.
  • Money kills the hustler spirit. Easier to take the easy way than the smart way when you have a budget.
  • Document everything you do mote than twice. A better playbook means faster growth. Iterate weekly.
  • Built recipes around the habits of your top salespeople
  • Let data drive decisions, not egos
  • Best salesmen were ‘sniping’ cash cows rather than ‘machine gunning’ many cold prospects

Mark Organ, founder of Influitive and Eloqua

  • Ancient Greek wrestler Milo of Croton carried a calf on his shoulders up a hill every day as it grew, until finally he could carry a bull. Think of your self development in the same way – tiny efforts every day
  • Half an hour with someone who knows what they’re doing can save you dozens of hours of grief
  • “Every hiring mistake I’ve ever made was on experience”
  • For class A people, learning and growth is more important than paycheck

Rick Marini, founder of Tickle, Superfan, and Branchout

  • Turned down 7 offers for acquisition until the price was his previously decided goal of 100 million
  • If you know what to do next, don’t get acquired. If you don’t, then getting acquired is probably a good idea
  • Selling your company isn’t like winning the super bowl – it’s a slow jubilation

Learnings from conversations with attendee-goers

  • turns websites into data tables
  • Matt Ellsworth’s blog on growth hacking
  • Keysmart is a swiss army knife for your keys
  • Recruitloop bills by the hour for recruiting
  • Evolutionary Biology books: Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters, Natural Selections
  • Elephants have a higher rate of homosexuality – one theory as to why is because they require more adults in the herd in oder to protect babies and you can’t encircle the babies with only a 2:1 ratio