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Weekly Review #32: Pitch anything, Airbnb growth hacking, and a better 5 year plan

Some more Competitive Edge learnings from Episode 21 on pitching anything:

  • Build a narrative before pitching features. If you start with features, it becomes all about price. But by weaving a story about the current industry and how you are different, it transcends that.
  • Make yourself the prize, and money a simple commodity used to buy you. It’s not a matter of simple money.
  • Fame, power, and money used to be ways to garner status – when selling you can gain status by structuring the conversation yourself instead of letting it process naturally.

and Episode 23 on staying positive as an entrepreneur:

  • Be honest with yourself about why you are doing things. The underlying motivation isn’t always what you think it is
  • Doing things for others will help you stay grounded and feel good about yourself

Andrew Chen’s article on Growth Hacking is two years old, but is as relevant as ever and a functional replacement for Ryan Holiday’s short Growth Hacker Marketing. It uses Airbnb for a case study of why this cadre is replacing the Mad Men style of marketing – they used code know how and shifty tactics to integrate Airbnb with Craigslist in ways so effective that they have been decried as devious. Chen note that not traditional marketer could have done this, and two years later, growth hackers are continuing to disrupt.

Grigory Kogan tells us ‘Sign Up’ buttons are boring and ineffective – replace them with a specific fun call to action!

James Clear looks like a clear candidate for placement in my Heroes tab, what with his clean site on habits and living more intentionally.

If Andrew Hyde started a company right now, he would:

  • Listen to the market and its needs, as well as yourself and what you’re passionate about. That intersection is gold.
  • Form a team before executing
  • Create an online structure and six month plan
  • Get feedback on your work thus far
  • Participate with your customers and ask them what else they want

David Kadavy hates traveling – instead he lives mini lives for 3 months at a time in cities he likes. Basically, that lets him get the pluses of traveling (seeing how you fit in the world) without the minuses (not being able to form lasting friendships or actually get to know a culture).

Derek Sivers asks us “not what you love, but what you hate not doing”. The answer to the latter is more insightful than the former.

Speaking of Sivers, he coauthored The China Startup Guide for entrepreneurs looking for business out East with Janet Lai Chang, who read most of the books on Derek Kaufman’s personal MBA list and says the following have been the most help to her:

  • SPIN Selling, Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, The Power of Full Engagement, Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High, 10 Days to Faster Reading, Bit Literacy, The Power of Less, All Marketers Are Liars: The Underground Classic That Explains How Marketing Really Works, Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers, The Secrets of Consulting: A Guide to Giving and Getting Advice Successfully

She also has a solid post on what she would tell her 18 year old self, especially with today having an overwhelming number of options:

  • Learn ONE valuable skill really well
  • Establish relationships with mentors slightly older than you
  • Build a routine for productivity at a work that covers expenses
  • Stay healthy, build an IRL social network, build side projects, and journal
  • Then, focus on a side project until it becomes your income

She also mentions the WRAP method for better decision making:

  • [W]iden options. Aim for 3-4 options per decision. Usually we get stuck at, “Should I do X, or not do X?”, which presents only 1 option essentially.
  • [R]eality test assumptions. Two methods: (a) Consult experts/people who’ve been there, and/or (b) Test-drive each option for a trial period to get first-hand knowledge. (e.g. When hiring freelancers, method (a) doesn’t work–you’ll only know who is good when you make each freelancer do, say, a 1-week paid trial project. A bad freelancer costs more than paying for the trial periods of 3-5 freelancers.)
  • [A]ttain emotional distance. Ask yourself, “If someone were to replace me in this role, what would they choose?”, and “How would I think about this option in 10 minutes vs. 10 months vs. 10 years?”
  • [P]repare for the worst, and best. Now, go forward with your chosen option. Set a “tripwire” time to evaluate whether your chosen option was a “success” or “failure. e.g. “3 months from now, this is a success if X and Y.” Have a plan B and second tripwire in case the choice was a failure e.g. “In 3 months, if X and Y are not achieved, I will implement my second best option”, and a success maximization plan in case the choice was a success “I need to have a backup server and lead capture system in case my site gets way more traffic than expected on launch week