Don’t Sweat the Technique  

Starting lean is not about the finished product, rather getting a MVP(Minimal Viable Product) through a process. Testing, interviewing, re testing and pivoting where need be. 

We are not looking to put the most pristine product on the park from day one. Too many calories will be burnt sweating over this. We don’t know what our customers want. We need to ask them first!

There is one thing having an idea and there is another having customers that want to use or purchase our idea. Yes, there are things that we as consumers do not know we need or want yet. This could be the next Facebook(not that we need it), however this will be a rare scenario.

In the infant stages of either or, we want to gather as much feedback as possible, tinker, tweak, tweak again to get it right. If we reach our MVP and it is not wanted, then we can move on without exhausting all of our time and money.

An excerpt on FastCompany from Eric Ries, author of renowned book The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses.

“There’s a whole industry devoted to promulgating the myth that all an entrepreneur needs is perseverance, creative genius, and hard work. Ries learned the hard way this isn’t true. A few years later he joined another startup as chief technology officer, broke many tenets of business–they released a minimum viable product that was “terrible, full of bugs, crash-your-computer-yes-really stability problems,” which they charged for–and the result was IMVU, a social network that today has 40 million users who don avatars to interact in a virtual world and grosses almost $40 million in revenue.”

By default or not. This is where we learn. Get a minimal product to early adopters to slander it to bits so we can fix it, develop and tailor.

“Along the way he created a methodology for lean startups and in the book he tells it like it is. No, the vast majority of would-be entrepreneurs won’t morph into the incarnation of Mark Zuckerberg. Unlike in the 2010 movie The Social Network, if you launch a startup you will probably fail and often be miserable doing it, but if you learn from your mistakes and absorb his advice … you’ll still probably fail, but your odds of success dramatically increase.”

Silicon Valley has adopted this process for some time, in the tech startup world. 

We can now see its relevance for new product or service launches inside corporations, government, NFP’s, SME’s or as a start up on its own. The same principles apply. My colleague whom writes at Humanomics, puts it avidly here on the lean start ups adaptability,  Lean Start-up in the Government.

One important aspect of that is the approach to new things. This is where entrepreneurship and innovation is key for government. If we are serious about social innovation, we need to be serious about this. This is the big case for why a new approach.

The lean start up model pioneered by Steve Blank and Eric Ries is fundamental to the way entrepreneurship is now around the world. In my work in social innovation, lean start up principles have played a big role in changing the way work is done and in essence creating better outcomes.  This is the big case for why using this methodology to make this happen.

If we don’t know the answers to the barriers we face, best go to the source and get them. Talk to our potential market place about our assumptions and test. Anything else is guesswork. In affect, we can align methodologies used in Growth Hacking here also.

Work in our development stage strategically to solve uncertainty with the least pain as possible.

Start quick, fail fast. Go through the process(es) cost effective until we reach a finished product.

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Short Circuiting the System: 5 Human Examples

In a non arrogant way, short circuiting the system says:

“We don’t really give a sh*t what the ‘rule book’ says.”

This is the path of many what we see as successful leaders and business people today.

The way I view it, is a culmination of self-education, seeing the flaws in formality, looking at them not in arrogance, but compassionately. We can call it reverse engineered education.


Hearing the title of this post on a Tim Ferriss podcast with Glenn Beck, the destination was kicked off. I have to say this is one of the most profound interviews I have listened to. It is my personal opinion, yes, however, I highly, highly recommend it.

Tim widely known for his best seller The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (Expanded and Updated). You can hear him throughout the interview, (I am sure I wasn’t ‘hearing things’).. pausing, taking a measured gasp in astonishment with the responses he was hearing. If he wasn’t doing it, there were times when I was. Great interview. Enough said.


What we can learn from ‘short circuiting’. I took it upon myself to dive into five human examples, commonly known where this has occurred. There are many others we could use, some widely published, others not so. Some with lessor net worth, some with more. Many fit into this category. All in all the learning experiences can be paralleled.

We’ll start with where I stole the title of this post from..

Glenn Beck

Forbes slots this gentleman well into its top 100 at #39 of the worlds most powerful celebrities, with a modest net worth of $90 million.

He could barely afford one class at Yale when he decided at the age of thirty to head there and have a crack. This didn’t last too long.

Glenn carries a fascinating story. A man whom bucks the trend and has certainly lived with one foot on either side of the line. By listening to his story and diving a little deeper, it is clear there was a genuine non deliberateness in regards to monetary success.

‘Something weird inside of us tells us that we are not good enough’. Glenn’s self reflection and honesty as the founder of The Blaze, a breaking news platform initiated from his roots boasts millions and millions of unique views. It’s hard to believe this precluding statement with this under your belt. 

Tim completed the interview with reversing the processes. Giving Glenn the mic to ask one question. The question was..

“What role have you played in the dialogue of humanity?”

Quite powerful and Glenn leads on to ask, is it positive or negative?

A sticking point for me from listening to Glenn was:

“Agree on Principle”


Steve Jobs  Bill Gates

Thought it prudent to put these two opposites, or not so opposites together. Bill Gates a college drop out. Steve Jobs the same with his well documented issues with schooling.

Opposites or not what both these guys did was short-circuit the system and started things that nobody else could match. Gates slightly different to Jobs, one wanted to run the world the other more artisan. Leave that for you to decipher. 

Most of Steve Job’s opinion on this topic can be summed up in these 15 quotes published.

There are so many to go with here. I randomly chose these to publish in the body. You can click the link to read them all.

“[In school] I encountered authority of a different kind than I had ever encountered before, and I did not like it. And they really almost got me. They came close to really beating any curiosity out of me.” – Steve Jobs

“I’m a very big believer in equal opportunity as opposed to equal outcome. Equal opportunity to me, more than anything, means a great education. Maybe even more important than a great family life. We could make sure that every young child in this country got a great education. We fall far short of that.” – Steve Jobs

“I’d like the people teaching my kids to be good enough that they could get a job at the company I work for, making a hundred thousand dollars a year. Why should they work at a school for thirty-five to forty thousand dollars if they could get a job here at a hundred thousand dollars a year?” – Steve Jobs

“If I had never dropped in on that single calligraphy course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts.”[54]

Gates, possibly the most famous billionaire dropout. He was relieved from Maths class in high school to concentrate on computer programming. After enrolling at Harvard with no definitive study plan that fit with curriculum the mould he spent most of his time in computer rooms.

Gates made the decision to leave Harvard behind and found his own company, being Microsoft, with long-time friend Paul Allen. The company’s value is irrelevant but is common knowledge it is in the hundreds of billions.

Jobs:

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower”

Gates:

“Don’t compare yourself to anyone in this world. If you do so, you are insulting yourself”


James Altuchur

James is possibly one of the most vocal candidates in today’s society in regards to this topic. Somewhat with more of an aggressive approach. Not literally but lets revert back to the beginning here and call it compassion or passion. Here is a link that over arches many articles James has submitted on this.

James biography is extensive. Most famously known for stockpkr and now his self branded podcast, books, newsletters and blogging. He is on record to say that he gives permission for his children to leave school. Easier said than done, however that is how strongly he feels about this and his view on ways to educate and live the life you want. Making a difference along the way.

James’s details experiences and gives tools in these two best sellers, Choose Yourself! and The Choose Yourself Guide To Wealth. Powerful reads.

Sticking point for me from James:

“Let people see who you are”


 Peter Thiel

In 1998 Thiel co-founded PayPal, an online payments system, with Max Levchin. The company later merged with X.com, then headed by Elon Musk.

It is far better to have 50% of something than 100% of nothing as they say. Never truer words said in this case. One of the most, if not the most prolific joining of forces in the modern-day. 

Author of Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future, Peter’s book is a must read. Written pointedly in a relative way for all to understand. Watch this space for more on Peter’s book.

As far as formal education goes, Thiel studied 20th-century philosophy as an undergraduate at Stanford University. He received his B.A. in Philosophy from Stanford in 1989 and acquired a J.D. from Stanford Law School in 1992.[13]

 Peter’s answers here in an interview in line with our topic:

I think what’s very dangerous about college is the enormous amount of debts people are taking on [to finance their education]. What you’re learning and what it’s good for become much more common questions… It’s important that we answer these questions before we [get into debt].

Whilst Peter has formal education as you will find with most of these guys, to a certain extent anyway. They have strong opinions of the risk reward especially in the entrepreneurial space.

I think a lot of Millennials have been pushed to compete all their lives for these educational prizes and I think it’s important to somehow break from that and to think about what’s valuable, what’s important and to not always be defined against your peers, which I think has been set as a standard for the Millennial generation.

 Peter started the ‘Thiel Fellowship’. Something that sparked a national debate by encouraging young people to put learning before schooling.

One of many sticking points:

“Give members of your team one unique thing to do”


What do these people have in common?

They all short circuited the system. Some by extreme consciousness, others by default or following their own informal path.

They have or are all leaders and founders of multimillion/billion dollar companies. Most if it being out of curiosity and starting somewhat lean from the outset following their interests and beliefs.

The way I see it, is the eye was not always on the prize. Extreme sacrifices, simply concentrating on the present not knowing really what the outcome was going to be.

Most of the time was spent on exploring, pushing the limits in various ways. Not following or looking to be what the majority looked at positively in a social sense or succumbing to expectations and validation.

Resources that we have today, it would be extremely ignorant and doing an injustice to oneself not to explore this. An immense amount of tangible literature, learning tools and shall I say mentors whether physical or virtual can be drawn on. Priceless information and learning to enhance our lives.

On a personal note I feel it would be naive not to be aware of what we have available to us from an ‘informal’ nature. Perhaps as we are starting to see some of these so-called ‘informal’ teaching methods are infiltrating some of our most well know campuses as we speak.

Yes this is resonant for me from an early age however short circuiting the system for me is not about deliberately becoming a college drop out. That would be naive in itself, right? Everyone has different motivations and views. The answer well may lay in a hybrid version of both. Point being is to explore our options and open up to unleash our most productive learning and creativity.

A philosophical quote:

Meditations: A New Translation (Modern Library)


For a bit of fun we’ll finish this post with an exercise from Claudia’s Become An Idea Machine: Because Ideas Are The Currency Of The 21st Century and have idea sex, why not?!

I get this concept and other than being fun, there is a practical side to it. With each sticking point quote from our examples, we’ll come up with a closing one combining them all. Here is mine:

“Build uniqueness, don’t compare. Lead with who you are and agree in humanity”

Read. Write. Learn. Look beyond.

How to go Viral? (Especially if you have Writers Block)

How to write a post that goes viral? Especially when we have writers block. I don’t actually know the answer to the writer’s block part, but thought I would throw that in the title as it sounded good and may create some interest #virality. That being said we never know, as I am sure many seasoned writer’s and creators would testify their best work is put down after times of block.

Deep down most of us want our work or content to go viral. Experience that rare feeling of having thousands and thousands of people reading our work, thoughts and opinions.  Especially when it comes from a place of passion. Have our notifications(if we have them set) spiral out of control forcing our device into shutdown! Sounds like some serious fun!


The elusiveness of creating a viral post lead me to reflect back, yet again into Ryan’s(feel like I’m on a first name basis with him) latest book Growth Hacker Marketing. Clarifying virality(a made up tech word as spell check alerts me), viral loop and how the modern-day and our use of ‘hacking’ can eradicate the guess-work as touched on here Growth Hacker Marketing: Definition and Thoughts.

While I was driving to a haircut from work, this is what I came up with, it was easy! To write a post that goes viral, write a post about going viral, therefore wouldn’t everybody want to read this!?

With the right titles tags and categories in place it will get the traction and cohesion rate. With 500 million bloggers(at least) this post would be widely researched. Bingo, done! Wishful thinking. EDIT: I’ll let you know how we go with that. 😉

From here we will break down ‘virality’ and ‘viral loop’, along with some other thoughts along the way.


Andrew Chen puts it in ‘simple’ terms above. API stands for ‘Application Programming Interface’ a snap shot of the definition is as follows:

In computer programming, an application programming interface (API) is a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications. An API expresses a software component in terms of its operations, inputs, outputs, and underlying types. An API defines functionalities that are independent of their respective implementations, which allows definitions and implementations to vary without compromising each other. A good API makes it easier to develop a program by providing all the building blocks. A programmer then puts the blocks together.

We know that:

VIRAL GROWTH equals SUSTAINABLE GROWTH

‘Growth’ and ‘Sustainable’ being mentioned in the same paragraph, let alone sitting right next to each other in the same sentence makes us stand up. If it doesn’t, it should, and it would be wise to know how we can make this happen. It is certainly what every start-up thirsts for and most individuals and established organisations too. Jonah gives us all hope and I would say excitement.

TURN 1 INTO 2 AND 2 INTO 4— GOING VIRAL Virality isn’t luck. It’s not magic. And it’s not random. There’s a science behind why people talk and share. A recipe. A formula, even. —JONAH BERGER

I love this response from Growth Hackers when they are confronted with a question that goes something like this,  “Why isn’t my content going viral?”

The growth hacker has a response: Well, why should customers do that? Have you actually made it easy for them to spread your product? Is the product even worth talking about?

The crux of going viral is for our content to provoke the desire for people to share. It sounds simple however is more misunderstood than not, otherwise everyone would be doing it. If we are not doing this at the forefront then we will be challenged from the outset. The hacker’s job is to implement tools, and campaigns to enable all of this to happen. As detailed below, It’s all about the ‘K factor’. If our K factor is greater than one then our content has gone viral. This is what we are after.

Virality at its core is asking someone to spend their social capital recommending or linking or posting about you for free. But virality is not an accident. It is engineered. And it goes without saying why viral spread is critical to the growth hacker approach. Ideally, growth hackers look for a viral coefficient (or “K factor”) greater than one. The term “K factor” is typically used in medicine to describe the contagion of disease. In the start-up world, the viral coefficient measures the number of new users that each existing user is able to convert. If each new user is bringing in, on average, more than one user, then the K factor is greater than one and your start-up is going viral. A product or business or piece of content will go viral only if it provokes a desire in people to spread it. On top of that, a growth hacker must facilitate and encourage its spread by adding tools and campaigns that enable virality. All of which is to say a simple truth that we try to deny too often: if you want to go viral , virality must be baked into your product.

Holiday, Ryan (2013-09-05). Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising

Andrew Chen simplifies the viral loop as: “The steps a user goes through between entering the site to inviting the next set of new users”. He breaks this down into 4 parts.

  1. What’s your viral media?
  2. What’s your funnel design?
  3. What’s the viral hook in your product?
  4. What are the on ramps to your viral loops?

The full article can be read here What’s your viral loop? Understanding the engine of adoption. I’d suggest if you have a genuine interest in this field to follow Andrew at andrewchen.co.

More viral loopness:

viral loop (n.)—A viral loop is the process by which a person goes from seeing your product or service to using it and sharing it with others. For example, let’s say your friend gets an e-mail from his favorite product asking him to join a contest. He joins and shares it on Twitter because the product offers him another entry if he does. You see your friend’s tweet and click on it, entering the contest as well and sharing it with even more people. This is how viral loops become self-contained, self-fueling mechanisms of growth. Facebook newsfeeds and embeddable YouTube videos are all great examples of viral loops. virality (and viral coefficient) (n.)— Virality is the person-to-person spread of a product or an idea. Because growth hacking is about scalability —ideally you want your marketing efforts to bring in users, which then bring in more users— it often depends on viral techniques for growth.

Holiday, Ryan (2013-09-05). Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising

At this point I thought it be appropriate to embed You Tube’s top ten most viral videos of all time. Ironically the Gangnam style is at No.1 one(I had put my featured image in before this). What can we learn from these and what questions do we ask ourselves, how these pieces get the views? (If nothing else, have a laugh at looking at this compilation of videos that you have more than likely seen before)

One question that comes to mind when looking at these for me is:

How intentional were the creators of the content to actually go viral? It is fair to say that much content is not intentional. When looking at virality from a business perspective it is far different. Perhaps the lesson to be taken from this is not always to be so deliberate, it may nudge us a little closer to going viral. In the same breathe science is increasingly replacing the guess-work.

What we do have now is hacking where we can use tools, campaigns, ads and so on that can assist our content to create a loop. There are many tactics that can be engaged, using bit torrents, strategically place blurbs leading to main content pages, offering payment to early adopters, offering free space to storage driven business, even placing share options selectively. This all assists in collecting the crucial data to continue to create the loop.

We can’t expect to tag our content even if it has that ‘wow’ factor, pop it online and have it go viral. The internet is a big world with 2 point something billion people everyday using the web and this is growing. Content will get lost. Experimental Thought: It would be cool to dig up the best of the least viewed content from around the world and implement today’s hacking methods and see what traction we could get!

Can we hack our way to virality? The common answer is yes. With some fundamentals being ticked off along the way.

Many bloggers, artists and creators do not weave their craft to necessarily ‘go viral’. Although reward for their work would be rightfully satisfying, people have passions and many other reasons to do what they do. Some of the best content we read and have seen over time is far and away from going viral. I’m sure most would testify. On a personal note, I like seeing this and the place where it comes from.

As a start-up and or an established organisation, views, sign-ups, cohesion rate, virality and all those other key points is where the chase is at! Sustainable growth. New tools, more innovative concepts, smarter people continually hit our ‘streets’ everyday contributing to enabling this quest. 

Estella quotes virality from a visionary perspective: