In being a Product Manager and a writer, one of the most important things I have in common is the way I look at the audience - the audience for the products I ship as well as the audience for the things I write.
The audience is not faceless.
When I create something for a faceless audience, the effect is visible in the metrics. The adoption of the features is not great or the minutes read is not great. And my own enthusiasm for creating the thing is not great.
The motivation is so much higher when we know who we are making our art for. Because then, we know exactly what the audience needs and we create a solution that is precisely tailored to that audience.
And when we do this, we will be fitting the round peg in the round hole and not making a square peg when the hole is round.
When I'm building products, I'm always thinking about the problem that I'm solving for the user - not a generic user that can be any one among the hundred million users, but a user with very specific characteristics that highlight the presence of a problem very clearly.
And when I'm writing, I usually write for myself (and occasionally for others). When I say I write for myself, I don't mean that I write because it makes me feel good and I enjoy the process. Which I do. But that's not all there is to it.
I write for myself in the sense that everything I write here is the advice I would give myself for the situations I'm in. And in extension, to the people that are in a situation similar to me.
So, if someone comes up to me and tells me what I write makes no sense (which happens from time to time) or when someone unsubscribes from my weekly mails, that is perfectly fine. I know who I'm creating my art for and it is not those people.
When we're creating something without knowing who we are creating it for, it is a clear sign that what we want is the fittings that come with creating that thing - be it the recognition for being an author, or the brag rights for being an entrepreneur, or the fame and glory that comes with being a singer or an actor.
And this is usually an indicator of the failure to come.
Yes, there are people who set out to do things for the glory and the fame and the money and the brag rights and actually achieve it, but these are what we call in the world of data science, as false positives. And a false positive is not something to be looked up to and something that we model our efforts on.
A false positive should be taken with a pinch of salt.
Knowing who we're making our art for doesn't guarantee success, however. It is only the first step.
But at least it puts us on the right track.