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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Nobody but yourself

To be nobody-but-yourself - in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else - means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.
- EE Cummings 

The products we ship, the content we produce are an extension of us. When we are fighting our hardest to be ourselves, the fight to let our product be no other but itself is often sidelined. 

It is easy to succumb to conformity, to make yourself and your products clones of ones already out there, and many succumb to it. It is much harder to chase and achieve non-conformity, to be a trendsetter until you and your products are the ones that others are now trying to clone. 

(Hat-tip to Chris Guillebeau)

Friday, August 22, 2014

Welcome to the real world

The real world here is what a majority of the people believe in, where a majority of the things happen as expected and predicted, where there are accepted paths to success and accepted ways of going about things. Anything that doesn't fit into this plan, anyone who dares to dream of doing things a different way is an outlier. And when such actions lead to failure, 'Welcome to the real world' is a ready response.

Majority of the people are risk averse. Hence, the proverbial real world is a risk averse place where things happen as expected, where people walk in the footsteps of several others before them, too afraid to deviate from the plan, too afraid to take a risk.

This doesn't mean that the real world is all hunky-dory. There are many untoward things that can and do happen. But that is all part of the plan and expected. If you walk alone in the middle of the night and get mugged, you still hear a 'Welcome to the real world'.

The Joker (in The Dark Knight):
If tomorrow I tell the press that a gang banger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because its all part of the plan. But when I say that one, little old mayor will die, then everyone loses their minds!
Introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos.
You don't have to upset the established order the way The Joker did. But that doesn't mean you have to be resigned to the majority version of the 'real world' either.

You're not here to be a part of the real world.

You're here to change it.

Monday, August 18, 2014


Will this be accepted by my customers?
Will my readers like this?
Will this be considered good enough?

Insecurity is inherent in all of us.

The best bet is to look at your art along with the others. To join the tribe. To laugh and cry and be inspired with them. To realise that what you do is personal. Not to you solely, but to your tribe.

Shipping your art is not for yourself. It is to serve your tribe.

Where then is room for insecurity?

Friday, August 15, 2014

Psst! Listen!

Statistics suggest that when customers complain, business owners and managers ought to get excited about it. The complaining customer represents a huge opportunity for more business.
- Zig Ziglar 

When somebody complains about your product, remember that they care enough to do so. They are willing to give you another chance if you can ensure they do not face the problem they are facing, again. They appreciate some of the things you are doing and are confident you will work on those other areas and raise your game to a level which they will appreciate.

When faced with an issue, an unsatisfactory experience, they might as well stop using your product and start using a competitor's. And many do. But some choose to complain instead. So keep your ears peeled and listen. Listen to the complaints. 

That is the best indicator of who represents your opportunities.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Sizzle and the Steak

Every successful product has an excellent core set of features (the steak) and sales and marketing efforts to get these features noticed (the sizzle).

If you're building a product, you need to decide who is in the driver's seat. The one who is responsible for creating the steak or the one who is responsible for creating the sizzle. Both have what it takes to achieve their targets, but they seldom have the same targets.

The one who is responsible for creating the steak is passionate about shipping the best product out to customers, to constantly work to introduce features that the customers might not realise they need, to strive for better usability, better performance.

The one who is responsible for creating the sizzle is passionate about getting the attention of as many people as possible, in as little time as possible, to sell the product to anyone willing to open their wallet, to drive up the top-line and the bottom-line.

Either can drive your product. But if you want to build a sustainable business, to build a tribe of customers, you must realize that the sizzle fizzes out fairly quickly and it is the steak that is left exposed.

(Hat tip to @dendrobates)