History of Growth Hacking

Quick timeline of Growth Hacking phenomena

2010

  • 2010 Dropbox growth lead Sean Ellis coined the term- find a growth hacker for your startup. http://www.startup-marketing.com/where-are-all-the-growth-hackers
  • 2010 Andrew Chen- to talk about Airbnb/Craigslist. The central idea was that a conventional, positioning/messaging driven marketing approach would not have allowed to build the features. Designing/building product+features that lead to customer acquisition. Some technical function.

2012

2013

2014

Also see:

 

Antimarketing

More links:

Antimarketing

Fred Wilson vs Marketing, 2011

http://avc.com/2011/02/marketing/

Marketing is for companies who have sucky products. If you build something that is amazing (think Flipboard or Instagram or Instapaper) people will adopt it because it is amazing. And you won’t have to do much marketing, at least at the start.

Seth Godin in the comments:

Ouch!

Marketing ≠ Advertising.

If you redo the post with Advertising throughout, I won’t argue much.

Marketing is the name we use to describe the promises a company makes, the story it tells, the authentic way it delivers on that promise.

This blog is an example. You’re an example. The blog is a medium for you to tell the USV and the Fred Wilson story. And you live it every day. That’s marketing.

I’m done now. Thanks for letting me clear that up.

Also see:

Jason Calancanis vs SEO, 2007

http://calacanis.com/2007/02/07/why-people-hate-seo-and-why-smo-is-bulls-t/

The SEO folks got really pissed off at me for saying “SEO is bulls@#t.” last year, but the truth is that 90% of the SEO market is made up of snake oil salesman. These are guys in really bad suits trying to get really naive people to sign long-term contracts. These clients typically make horrible products and don’t deserve traffic–that’s why they’re not getting it organically so they hire the slimebuckets to game the system for them.

Note: There are some whitehat SEO firms out there I know, but frankly the whitehat SEO companies are simply doing solid web design so I don’t consider them SEO at all. SEO is a tainted term and it means “gaming the system” to 90% of us.

Now, if you make great content, keep your page design clean, and stick with it you’re gonna do just fine in the rankings. Don’t smoke the SEO-crack… you’ll just wind up chasing your tail as digg and Google closes the tiny SEO loopholes and put your domain on the black list.

Sullivan: http://searchengineland.com/why-the-seo-folks-were-mad-at-you-jason-10475

Just Kidding

Lol so we should just stop appreciating comedy in general… (cos every joke/skit is inherently poking fun at some facet of society or life). Regressive liberalism at work here.

Comedy is great when it speaks truth to power; not so much when it tramples on the weak and disenfranchised

Doesn’t matter who it tramples on, it can always be construed as taking advantage of a certain situation which may victimise a certain group. Yes we give comedy more freedom when it makes fun of white people rather than when it stereotypes black people, but should it be so? The purpose of comedy is to give everyone equal footing and poke fun at people and scenarios of all backgrounds.

“It can always be construed as taking advantage of a certain situation which may victimise a certain group.”
 Yeah, absolutely. My point isn’t that victimization doesn’t happen, but that victimizing corporations, governments and power in general is relatively okay compared to victimizing the downtrodden. Great case study by Louis CK here
“Yes we give comedy more freedom when it makes fun of white people rather than when it stereotypes black people, but should it be so?”
Yes! Aamer Rahman explains why very eloquently (and humorously) in under 3 minutes.
“The purpose of comedy is to give everyone equal footing”
In principle this would be great if it were true. The challenge is that people have very different starting points, so “I make fun of everyone equally” does not equate to “I am fair to everyone”. I think Chris Rock had a great bit on that too, in an interview.

Link Roundup 001

Here are a list of good links I’ve encountered in the past few weeks:

Singapore

Vimeo The Lion City II – Majulah [04:42] – a beautiful video of the Singapore cityscape.

Straits Times: Singapore has picked the wrong target in its balance of powers strategy: Global Times commentary – An interesting opinion piece about the future of Singapore’s foreign policy amidst big picture changes – what will happen to us as China becomes more influential in the region? I’m not sure if the author is correct, but it’s worth thinking and talking about.

IPS-Nathan Lectures: Dealing with An Ambiguous World: Can Singapore Cope? A comprehensive lecture by Bilahari Kausikan, talking about the historical and global contexts that Singapore is a part of, and the challenges we’re going to face as a Nation-State moving forward. There are some interesting hints and insights in here– particularly about how other countries think about Singapore.

Mothership.sg: Police seize computers, phones of individuals implicated in alleged cooling-off day breaches – I’m not an expert, but there’s something about this that bothers me. I don’t feel it’s right for the Police to do what they’re doing here; it seems like it’s meant to have a chilling effect.

/r/singapore – A Rant on National Service from an NSF – some good stories from an NSF in the Singapore Civil Defence Force, talking about the difficult life-and-death cases they have to deal with.

Cafe Hopping: Four Weekends With My Mother-in-law – a blogpost by Jayne, who used to work in the office next to mine. I love how sincerely and passionately Jayne loves food, and almost anything she writes about it is just delicious to read. Enjoy.

I’m not sharing anything about Singlish because I think it’s not a big deal, and I’m not sharing anything about the Internet restrictions in the Civil Service because… I don’t know what’s going on there.

ReferralCandy: How We Manage – my team has put together a document about our management principles. It’s loosely influenced in parts by Ray Dalio’s Principles and Andy Grove’s High Output Management. We’re proud of it, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

USA

PBS News Hour: Obama answers a question about gun control. Obama is really good at what he does, and it’s worth paying attention to how he handles it. Also watch Charisma On Command’s video 5 Steps To Influence Like Obama. Also, Obama gave a speech in Hiroshima, which I thought was really thoughtful and articulate.

Bill Maher – The American Embargo [04:35] An entertaining video from Bill Maher about the frustrations of trying to change outdated systems incrementally.

“I know from personal experience that it is common practice for TV anchors to have substantial bonuses written into their contracts if they hit ratings marks. With this 2016 presidential soap opera, they are almost surely hitting those marks. So, we get all Trump, all the time.”

More

Medium: Find a Better Way – a really moving, rousing commencement speech by Jeff Huber, a Googler who lost his wife to cancer. Also read: A Protocol for Dying

NYT: Why You Will Marry The Wrong Person – a post by Alain de Botton, who has a history of writing really good pieces about taking a broader, more compassionate perspective on things. I think his point is that there are a lot of overwhelming expectations

Breaking Smart Newsletter: Ambiguity vs Uncertainty – I’ve always liked thinking about how creative work feels different in different contexts and under different constraints. Venkat really explores this well with his classic 2×2 graphs, distinguishing between ambiguity (do I know what I’m looking at?) and uncertainty (is there a clear answer?). Play happens when things are the right amount of ambiguous and the right amount of uncertain. Too much or too little of either and it gets boring, frustrating, etc.

Youtube: SpaceX – First-stage landing onboard camera of the Falcon 9 during the THAICOM 8 Mission [0:30] Watch magic happen.

Facebook – Dan Majesky talks about his and his wife’s experiences with miscarriage and trying to conceive. Heartfelt. Honest. Really good read. Makes me want to share more of myself with others, if and when it can be of service.

BBC: China bans ‘erotic’ banana-eating live streams I found this piece of news really entertaining. Basically young girls are eating bananas erotically for horny men to jerk off to, and presumably they must be getting good money for it.

work learnings

The following is a list of things that I personally learned. Work in progress.

One on ones. It’s very important to have regular 1-1 meetings with people you interface with, and to treat these meetings with a lot of respect. This is obviously true between a person and their manager, but it’s also true for any important relationship. I think spouses should have 1-1s with one another, and parents should have 1-1s with their kids. The point is to get in sync with one another, to be aligned on your shared interests and goals, to be sure that you’re seeing things the same way, to address disagreements outside of the context of an actual disagreement (which can get heated), and so on. Read: Ben Horowitz’s A Good Place To Work and One on One.

Figure out behaviors in advance. On my first day in office, my boss told me that he had a meeting. Turns out that the meeting was a one-on-one with his co-founder. At the time I thought that was a little odd, considering that they pretty much sat next to each other and were talking to one another all the time. But over the years I’ve realized that that’s exactly what you should do. If you start out without such rituals and practices, it’ll be a lot harder to implement them later on when you need them. Similarly, we started having all-hands meetings a little bit earlier than it seemed necessary (when the company was at about maybe 8-12 people), but that made having all-hands much more natural when we grew in size.

Carve out personal time for intense work. Early on I was really excited to have access to the company’s internal chat, to see what people were talking about at any given point in time. I was very eager to contribute in any way possible, and so I’d pay attention to any alert to see if there was something I could do to help someone else. On hindsight, it’s clear that the biggest contribution I could make to the team would be to do a better job at… my job. Deliver on what you promised first, and be someone that people can count on to get things done. Multi-tasking is pretty much a myth. Do one thing at a time and do it well. Fulfill your fundamental obligations first as well as you can, then you can have fun with the peripheral stuff. Batch your emails and IMs in between sessions of work.

Show your work, early. When I first joined, I was intimidated by how smart my colleagues were. So I was very perfectionist and wanted to work on things in isolation for as long as possible. This was my ego keeping me from doing what was best for myself and for my team. Sharing prototypes allows you to get valuable feedback early, and correct things earlier in the stage of production– which is cheaper. (Andrew Grove has a chapter on this in High Output Management.)

Train and motivate yourself. To do something, you need to be both willing and able to do it. So if you’re failing to do something, it’s either because you can’t do it (unable), or you don’t want to do it (unmotivated). If you lack ability, you’re either going to have to train up (set aside time to learn the skills necessary, do a course, get a coach or mentor, etc) or delegate it to somebody else

Be as clear and precise as possible in your communications and thinking. A tragically hilarious amount of time can be wasted because you didn’t clearly answer the question “what does DONE mean?” If you’re not precise about what you want, then you’re either not going to get it, or you’re going to waste a lot of energy delivering a lot more than what is actually required. Be especially precise about the steps and sub-steps involved in a given task, the amount of time you’re going to take to achieve those tasks, and your expected results for those tasks. Making those predictions allows you to better understand your own output and plan your time better.

Write down your processes – what exactly do you do every day, and why? I wish I learned this earlier, and I still don’t think I do this well enough. There’s always a more pressing task to be done. But this is the meta-task that helps you do everything else better. This is something worth reflecting on and updating on the weekends, or in an end-of-the-week review, stuff like that. A good way of thinking about it is– how would you explain to your successor what you do, what needs to be done, and so on? Why do you do things the way you do? This achieves several things – one, if you’re going to suddenly have to disappear, you’ll be able to literally pass this document on to your successor.

Stave off burnout; carve out time for yourself. Again, being a rookie I felt like I had to put in long hours. Nobody asked me to do this, but I was generally inefficient anyway – I would spend excessive time over-researching things.

Take care of your health. Some people have this stuff figured out great, but I wasn’t one of them. I was smoking, eating unhealthily (skipping breakfast was probably my biggest sin), sleeping late, not exercising at all. Your health is typically the #1 influencer of your mental state, and your mental state is typically the #1 influencer of the quality of your work. Ergo, if you want to do good work, take care of your health. (It coincidentally makes you feel less shitty about life in general, which is quite a benefit.)

Figure out email labels and keyboard shortcuts. You’ll save so much time, it’s totally worth it. Actually, figure out the keyboard shortcuts for everything that you do– your browser, your OS, everything. I use a tool called Spectacle that allows me to move stuff around really fast.

Get a second monitor. The more you can see on your screen, the better. You don’t necessarily need to fill it all up with stuff, but it’s nice to have a “workspace”, and an “off-workspace” where you can keep your IMs, or calendar, or email. In my fantasy setup, I’d have a separate monitor for each of those things. I mean hey, we’re visual creatures and we’re wired to be able to take in tonnes of visual info. We’re supposed to be good at hunting on the savanna. Why are we staring at relatively tiny screens? I anticipate that AR/VR is going to change this in a huge way.

Get a good mouse and mousepad. It never really occurred me to get a good mouse, and I went years without a mousepad because I thought hey, no big deal. And fine, it’s not a HUGE deal, but if you’re going to be scrolling and clicking day after week after month after year, it makes sense to have something that feels good. Maybe it’s partially psychological. Who cares? It’s a tiny investment and it feels great.

Reach out to other people doing similar things as you, and build relationships with them. In my case that means – people who do content marketing, people who manage freelance writers, people who do marketing for B2B SaaS firms, and so on. Find people who’ve done what you’ve done before, and buy them coffee and ask them about their experiences. I wish I did this sooner.

Talk to people in other teams in your organization. I was lucky with this one – I joined the company when we had about 6 people, so I got to know each new person as they joined, and I got a pretty decent understanding of how different functional roles come together as a cohesive whole. A company with teams that understand each other’s roles and challenges well can have a big advantage over a competitor that doesn’t. Lunch is a great time to do this. Ask other people what they’re working on, what they’re struggling with. Sometimes some of the best insights happen this way.

Ender’s Game

  • thoughts about ender’s game
    • all the characters are hyper-rational and have incredibly intellectual conversations
    • but they have a lot of heart, too
    • in the prequels… japanese zen tea ceremony type thing about the attraction between two characters
    • death of the colonel?
    • mazer rackham
    • colonel graff