A good product earns you customers and revenue. A great product earns you following and a fanbase.
Signs of a good product:
- Customers are writing reviews on review websites
- They’re interacting heavily on your forums
- Customers discover you through ads
- Customers are happy using your product
Signs of a great product:
- Customers are recording their ways of using your product and publishing on their blogs and YouTube accounts
- There’s a healthy community outside of your forums (Reddit, Facebook)
- Your product is being recommended to their friends
- Customers are excited, ecstatic and proud about using your product
Avoid certifications, if you can. They’re expensive and not always indicative of your knowledge on the topic
If it’s mandatory for a job
If your employer is paying for it
You have dispensable cash and need an insignificant trophy for your learning
If you really want to learn, try:
Go on YouTube and search for the topic
Read books that are recommended by great thinkers in that domain
Follow people who are doing what you want to learn
Certificates give you a false sense of accomplishment but that’s only short term.
#Learning is never finite, it should never feel “done”
Don’t brainstorm ideas over Zoom. Brainstorm asynchronously
Conference calls are the worst ways to recreate a conference room brainstorming session. As it is, only the loudest voices get heard
Those who try to contribute ideas and fail will comfortably put themselves on mute and start browsing the internet
Avoid Zoom brainstorming if you can, but if you really must do it - try these
1) Every speaks on round robin 2) Use the raise hand feature 3) Post ideas on chat
What is the alternative? Before I even get into tools, let’s start with a good old document.
1) Create a Google Doc 2) Share it with the stakeholders 3) Start documenting ideas 4) Create comment threads for specific ideas 5) Agree/Disagree/Vote on the doc 6) Get on a meeting to finalise
Writing down ideas gives everyone time to think it through, back it up with proof etc
Some tools that facilitate this - Miro, Whimsical. Have used them only briefly, cant vouch
Again, the tools will only work if you open up your mind to asynchronous communication
Do not default to a call/meeting
Get into the habit of writing beautiful documentation. It really helps. It’s foolproof. It’s future proof.
We cannot hope to thrive in a remote working env if we just act as if everyone’s just a conversation away
Organisations must actively discourage grunt work.
Don’t celebrate someone who stayed up all night/worked through the weekend on something that could’ve been automated or even avoided
Acknowledge their efforts, yes, but do not celebrate it. Look for ways to remove it from the system.
Celebrating grunt work gives employees a false sense of “hard work” and achievement. It might seem harmless at the beginning but it starts to breed a very bad culture. Once employees start associating to repetitive, monotonous and useless activities, they will not find ways to eliminate them from the system.
Grunt work is the enemy of an efficient system. Everyone must constantly be looking for ways to eliminate this from the system and celebrating it makes it difficult. Build that culture, instead. Reward elimination of toil, not the practice of it.
If your employees are pulling all nighters and sacrificing their weekends to get work done, it screams of inefficiency. Not something to be proud of and must be fixed immediately.
If you’re using them to describe your career, then you need to dig deeper to understand what you mean
“There is no growth” If you’re looking at growth from a promotion and hike POV, you’ll always be disappointed because there’s always one more ladder to climb. Inside your head, define what ‘growth’ really means and evaluate against those.
“It’s not challenging” No job or role is challenging in itself. So if you think some other company or role is going to give you a challenge, it may not. If you want challenges, you’ll have to stretch your boundaries right where you are.
“I’m not passionate about this” Passion is overrated, at workplace. Our first jobs are typically the ones we never imagined we’d be doing. But yet, here we are. For the first few years, just put your head down and work. If you do find your passion, devote some time to it as a side hustle.
These words gets thrown around very casually. They have become part of our workplace vocabulary but they may not be the accurate choice of words
- Recruiters scan resume, they don’t have time to read them
- Summary: 5 - 7 words
- Past experience: 3 key points under a role, 7 - 9 words in a point
- Awards, rewards & external validation
- Showcase yourd work (Portfolio, Blog, GitHub)
- Educational qualification: 1 line. Include in header if you can
- Significant certifications: Think twice before including that Udemy course
- A headshot
- Contact details
- Objective: Everyone knows you want to join a fast growing company that can accelerate your career growth
- Marks: No one cares
- Personal details
- Detailed explanations about all the projects you’ve worked on, save it for the phone call
- Words like “Excellent”, “Exceptional” & “Successful”. Use proof points, instead
Don’t worry about leaving out many details. Just look at the job description of the role and include only what’s relevant for the role (Use the same words from the job description, if you can)
The goal of a #resume is to make the recruiter curious enough to give you a call. It’s not for you to land the job.
Switching roles/teams early in your career is under-appreciated, sometimes even actively discouraged. If done for the right reasons, could be the best thing ever
DO consider switching teams when:
1) You know it’s not your calling You’ll just know. But give it 6 months to a year before you decide.
2) You’ve gained at least 60% mastery People on the team constantly ask you for your opinion. You’ve executed a major project.
3) It contributes to a long term goal eg. You want to be a divisional head 5 years from now. You’re currently in marketing and you want to switch to sales to master that skill
DON’T consider switching teams when:
1) You’re bored of the job You’ll risk your credibility. It’s also a sign of immaturity. No guarantee you won’t be bored of the next role
2) You’re attracted by a different role/team Common mistake. If the team change attraction is inbound (you saw their work/team and you want to be part of it), it’s never for the right reasons. Dig deeper
3) You know it’s your calling If you know this is what you want to do for the rest of your life, stick to it. Don’t switch teams because “I’ve bene doing this for a while”
The biggest benefit of switching is you fully understand a vertical. 10x better than reading a blog post about it.
- How to articulate your thoughts clearly
- How to influence through words
- How to document without ambiguity
- How to present your ideas clearly
- How to pick right fonts & colors (or avoid wrong ones)
- How to visualise concepts
- How does a business make money
- What are the revenue levers for a business
- Understanding business models
- How to communicate your ideas
- How to influence through speech
- How to speak with empathy
The not so common but useful things you can do before, during and after a meeting
Check the attendees calendar to see if they are coming from a meeting/have a meeting to go to. Plan accordingly.
Share an agenda, yes. But don’t reveal /everything/ you want to discuss ahead of time. Especially unconventional ideas. Set context in person.
If it’s a comfortable topic, walk up to the whiteboard and start writing down important discussion points.
If you’re too shy/scared to walk out of a meeting where you’re not needed, just open your laptop/notebook and start working on something else. No point in wasting mental energy
If you’re trying too hard to make a point and it gets shot down many times, let it go. You can always go back and send an email with more structured thoughts.
For important meetings, block 45 minutes of buffer time after the meeting. Multiple benefits. Hallway conversations, being the biggest one
Take personal notes as well, not just meeting notes. If you’re new to a company, take notes to understand each persons’ motivation, affinity towards ideas and philosophy/beliefs.
If you can type fast, send a neatly formatted meeting summary before everyone steps out of the room. This is a big flex. Sounds hard but isn’t.
Want to write but wondering “Who will read it?” You from 5 years ago will read it. Write for that person and many others like that.
The first thought that enters your mind when you want to share something online is “Well, is this even useful?”. To you, it isn’t but you’re not writing for yourself. It’s foolish to evaluate your own writing from the POV of “Is it useful?”. Well, it won’t look useful to you now because YOU WROTE IT!
Instead ask - “If I had read this 5 years ago, would I have found it useful?”
Don’t fall into these traps
“I know so little, how can I write?” You definitely know something that others don’t. That’s why you want to write. Share what you’ve learnt. Let others decide.
“None of my colleagues will find this useful” Then don’t write for them. Find people who want to get to where you are. Write for them.
“I’m not good at writing” Write like you text. Write like you send emails. Write like you talk. You don’t need a “social media voice”. Just use your voice.
Your first few posts may not be relevant to your immediate circle, hence low traction. I’d like to believe that if you keep writing consistently - your posts find its way to people who will find it valuable!
“How’s it going?” > “Is it done?” “I built on top of it” > “I made changes to it” “I noticed something” > “There’s a mistake” “Need more time?” > “Today was the deadline” “Need some help with it?” > “Gentle reminder” “Sharing this will lead to…” > “Don’t share this” “Was this intentional?” > “Did you proofread this?” “Take care of the situation” > “Clean up the mess” “This is not your best work” > “This can be better” “Need your help to unblock us” > “Bumping this up” “We were waiting for you” > “We started without you” “I need it before the board meeting” > “I need it today” “This activity is blocked” > “I’ve been waiting for a week” “Let me get you caught up” > “You missed the last meeting” “Are you adding the examples?” > “Where are the examples?”
You’re probably going to get the same response with either statement. But one of them leaves a better taste.
Companies should experiment with a ‘Personal Branding’ team who identify individuals with potential and amplify their brand. A lot more return on investment than fully investing on company brand. Here’s a simplified explanation.
People are more likely to trust people over brands. There are enough examples in the internet for people who have crafted personal brands and converted that into a successful revenue generating source (David Perell, Dave Gerhardt, Jack Butcher)
There might be at least 20 people in a 500 member who have the potential to create an audience for themselves but need help with it. But they need help.
Now, imagine if those 20 ppl build a modest 500 member audience each. That’s 10,000 people. The first thing you do when you discover someone online is to find out what they do for a living. That’s going to lead the audience to your company.
The conversion rates aren’t going to be super high but again, when has it ever been high? Attribution is also difficult but not impossible.
The trick is to never use this channel to sell or directly market your company.
Once you start using your personal brand to talk about your employer, you no longer have a personal brand. You have an extension of your employer’s brand
Here’s why everyone, especially leaders, should have open calendars. I benefited a lot from calendar stalking. It’s my favourite post-lunch activity to do and I’ve never been shy about admitting it
Stalking open calendars also help time your emails strategically. I usually send an email with an idea to solve a problem, right after they step out of a meeting discussing that same problem. Your chances of getting their attention are super high
Open calendars with a filled agenda shows the height of transparency. Protecting info about what you’re working on should be an exception, not the norm.
A leader’s open calendar is a wealth of information for everyone in the org. Their current priorities will be most accurately reflected in their calendar.
Open calendars are also an invitation for collaboration. You never know where your next collaboration opportunity is.
Open calendars also a great source of learning. If I look up to someone in the org, understanding how they’ve organised their day is valuable information.
Leaders should default to open calendars. Hide events that you don’t want people to see.
Of course, I haven’t been around enough to claim there are no downsides to this. Any downsides I’m blindsided to?
Are critical feedback conversations with your team uncomfortable? That’s probably because you haven’t appreciated them enough
An appreciation culture will earn you the right to give critical feedback as often as you want to because when delivered in tandem, it simply becomes ‘feedback’.
How do you foster an appreciation culture?
1) Appreciate small things, doesn’t cost much A good support reply, great blog title, brilliant choice of colors, useful comments in the code - these are small things that often go unappreciated.
2) Appreciate asynchronously Don’t wait till 1on1s to appreciate. Leave google doc comments, send short emails/texts, leave positive voice notes or maybe even social media replies.
3) DON’T appreciate mediocrity Appreciating culture doesn’t mean you appreciate for the sake of appreciation. It’s simply to foster a culture of appreciating things that are worthy but often ignored.
The moment you repeatedly appreciate a person for their positive behavior, critical feedback won’t seem out of place.
If you only single out their flaws everytime (even with good intentions), they tend to fixate on that. They think “Why does every conversation seem to be about what I can improve? Am I not doing anything right?”
If you really want to grow within an organisation, you have to continuously make yourself redundant.
Sounds very counter intuitive, doesn’t it?
Hoarding information, power, responsibility is sometimes an instinctive reaction. You don’t want to share that document, you don’t want to add someone to a meeting, you don’t want to discuss your idea until it’s done but if you don’t do that - you might be stuck forever in that loop, doing the same things over and over again.
Start letting go of things slowly once you’re comfortable. Newer things will start falling on your plate. Bigger things, maybe.
Always look for ways to make yourself redundant.
Are you the go-to person on your team? Train someone to be that person Building a super insightful report every week? Automate it Learnt a new skill that benefits the team? Teach everyone else Do a training every month? Train 5 other trainers Only you know how to resolve a specific bug? Document and share
This will ensure that there’s no dependancy on you and THAT gives you the space to keep expanding and growing!
Safe space is something you create, not talk about. If you’ve done your job right, there will be no need to say “This is a safe space”
An office can have varying degrees of psychological safety depending upon the leader. Managers/Team Leads are solely responsible for creating a safe space in their team.
Full Disclaimer - I’m no expert but I simply wanted to share things that I’ve observed. Diff perspectives, welcome.
Don’t: Ask “Why are you leaving early/taking the day off?” Call them to your desk, you go to theirs Ask them to re-share a link, find it yourself if you can Reschedule/cancel meetings that they’ve scheduled Say “That’s how things happen here”, give them a reason Joke around topics that someone’s uncomfortable with Ask “Why weren’t you at the desk?” Wait for them to ask for help, you offer Showoff your knowledge, no one enjoys learning from a know-it-all Cut off a conversation mid way, let them finish what they have to say
Do: Your share of grunt work for the team Check their communication preferences before calling/texting them Have silly conversations that both parties enjoy Invest time in getting to know your team
Most of these might seem small but that’s what it takes. Consistent, repeated small acts of positivity.
Posting on social media is easy, yet difficult. Very easy to get lost in metrics like likes, shares, comments and #trending’ posts. These are outcomes, not objectives.
Instead, focus on:
1) Value over Virality Virality is overrated. A stolen meme, inspired quote, frustrated rant or controversial opinions can all get you virality. Focus on providing value to the readers. Value can come from - new perspectives, collated information or simply making someone smile.
2) Consistency over Quality Well, don’t post awful content just for consistency, that’s not gonna help. Share valuable content at regular intervals. Don’t worry about perfect grammar, fancy words or groundbreaking thoughts. Just content that /someone/ might find useful. That’s all.
3) Actionable over Ambiguous “Never stop learning” - yes, all of us know it. We need to know HOW. Focus on sharing actionable tips over things that people already know.
4) Natural over Cliches Not everything need to be delivered through a poem, or a well designed Canva poster. Post content like how you would text someone.
5) Revisit over Innovate Don’t force yourself to think of new stuff everyday. Something you shared a month or two ago would’ve evolved in your own mind. Revisit that and reiterate.
Tech #marketing teams of the future should learn from the entertainment industry, not other marketing teams
Product launch video? Learn from someone who’s done a movie/game trailer
Podcast? Learn from a Radio Jockey who knows how to engage an audience with only their voice
Webinar/Conference talk? Learn from a theatre artist/standup comedian who can engage a crowd for 90 minutes
How-to product video? Learn from YouTubers with a million subscribers who teach how to dance online
Event? Learn from industry events like E3 Expo on how to throw a party, not just an event
Product demo video? Learn from a script writer on how to tell a compelling story for your product
You get the idea. The marketing teams that put on a show will be far more successful in the future
Idea inspired from Dave Gerhardt (ex Drift). He was the first one to focus on ‘putting on a show’
Structured learning (courses, workshops & guidebooks, not webinars, blogs, popular books or podcasts) is under-appreciated, even discouraged.
They’re expensive, require long term commitment and don’t enjoy the same attention as shorter content pieces (nothing against them).
Our education system does a really good job of associating a negative connotation to “learning”. It’s a rote learning method that doesn’t focus on applications or examples.
We also assume that we can “learn on the job” and even convince ourselves that it’s the best way. There are enough examples around us, as well.
Invest in the right classes, courses or books for
1) Curriculum driven learning A good curriculum neatly arranges the learning material so that one builds on top of the other. Accelerates your learning.
2) A proper intro to a topic, rather than plunging into it Imagine learning calculus without knowing basic math. You’ll eventually figure out basic math but wouldn’t it have been faster if you had known basic math?
3) You learn from the world When you learn on the job, your learnings are limited to those around you.
I also personally enjoy the exams at the end! ;)
There are many bad options out there, so do your research before picking the right ones.
Why aren’t enough people taking down notes? In meetings, at conferences or during a course? How do we expect to remember everything we consume?
It’s such a basic requirement for any job role but it’s so underappreciated and underrated that no one is incentivised to do it. This also contributes to meetings becoming useless.
1) Don’t fret the medium, just take notes “Damn, no laptop”, “Oh no, I forgot my favourite pen” are not excuses to skip taking notes. Find something, a pen, a whiteboard, your notes app.
2) Identifying key items take time Note taking is like any other skill, it takes practice. Your first few meeting notes might be too short or too long. Both are useless. Over time, you’ll master extracting only things that matter
3) Notes @ Courses & Conferences These mediums cram so much diverse knowledge into a short span of time. IMPOSSIBLE to retain without notes. So if you don’t have notes, that’s time wasted :)
4) Notes should be instantly shareable When asked to share notes, most ppl spend time cleaning it up. Don’t do that. Learn to take down notes with proper formatting, alignment etc.
5) Revisit notes randomly You’ll never know what new insights you’re going to gain out of it. Your own understanding of something might have evolved.
No one stole your idea, you were just too lazy to execute it
Yes, you’re brilliant for coming up with it. If you don’t see it through, it doesn’t help anything except make you feel good about it. There’s no real value in keeping things inside your head.
Get comfortable with the fact that someone else will eventually end up executing the same idea (Not “YOUR” idea, but the same idea) because they cared enough to do something about it.
Even when you come up with your own unique ideas, it’s necessary for you to lend your ideas to others for them to run with it. For the greater good. You may not have the time, or the skillsets to execute them. Be okay with it.
Don’t fall into the trap of “My idea, my rules.” You get so attached to an idea that you’re not able to appreciate the outcome when someone else executes it. At the end of the day, if an idea benefits the organisation that’s all that matters.
There are times where you’ll be required to completely let go o an idea for someone on your team to execute it. The best leaders are the ones who feed ideas to their team without them realising it. It takes an exceptional leader to feed an idea and stand back to see someone on the team run with it, like their own.
Very easy to say, I know 😀
The only true constraints are ethical, moral and legal. Everything else exists only inside your head!
“I don’t know enough to try for that role. I’m not ready yet” “I wish I had an MBA. They will only accept MBA grads” “I really want to learn that skill but that course/book is just too expensive” “I don’t know enough. I must learn A, B & C before asking for that opportunity” “I’ve never done it before, so let me not volunteer for this project” “The job description says 5+ years experience. I can’t apply!” “My colleagues won’t teach me! How can I grow?” “No one listens to my idea. How can I implement it?” “The HR didn’t call back. I’m not getting that opportunity” “I’m too young to be a conference speaker.”
Countless other reasons we tell ourselves to not do something.
Inexperienced? Write a convincing cover letter with a portfolio attached and see what happens Too expensive? Try emailing them and ask for a discount in exchange of a review No one’s teaching? Sign up for courses, learn it yourself No one’s listening to your idea? Hire/find a developer to build it HR didn’t call back? Find the hiring manager on Linkedin Too young to be a speaker? Apply for that speaking slot anyways
There is always a way. You’ll only see it if you break your imaginary constraint
Not a fan of “What if?” situations, especially when it comes to career decisions
Often times, you’re wondering what’s the right ‘next step’ for you. You think you’re being smart when you plan 10, 20 sometimes even 50 steps ahead. And you find enough reasons not to do something because “What if that company never takes off?”, “What if I lose my safety/security?”, “What if that role becomes irrelevant 5 years from now?”, “What if I move out of this role and I lose my advantage?”
Well, no one really planned for “What if there’s a global pandemic?” and yet here we are, living through these times
I believe in planning for the next 1 or 2 steps at the max compared to 50 steps. When you start planning too much into the future, you start adding imaginary variables and making strong assumptions which you are in no position to make.
I hate hypothetical conversations about the future. They’re an absolute waste of time when you don’t have enough information to draw conclusions. Even more harmful when you use that information to NOT do something you want to do.
Instead, focus on the immediate short term and let the long term play out eventually.
You need to have a long term #vision of what you want to be but not always a long term #plan of how you’re going to get there.
I like to think about #automation as a muscle. I call it a muscle because it’s not something you can learn but something you can train.
Key traits for those with the automation muscle
You will be very uncomfortable with monotonous tasks. Not just you doing it, but even when others on your team do it. It will kill you. You will want to stop everything you do to go automate it.
You will not rest until you bring everything down to minimal possible clicks (Sometimes, zero clicks). You’ll not understand why people are willingly spending time on things that can be completely eliminated.
You will not accept “That’s how we’ve always done it” for an answer. You will try to find out what constraints existed and understand if they still exist. If not, tweak things to remove manual effort.
You will not see things as “5 minutes per day” but as “21 hours a year”. You’ll find it completely justifiable to invest 5 hours to automate something that takes 5 minutes.
You will cringe when a manual process is introduced into an established system, creating a potential for failures.
Automation is not just in IT, it’s everywhere. While the actual solution might lie with IT, automation is for everyone to identify in their current roles. Build that muscle.
Have you ever looked at few social media posts and wondered “How did THIS manage to get so much engagement?” You’re not alone.
Your social media content reach is a function of BOTH your #content and #audience
1) What’s trivial/useless to you is useful to someone else Imagine a library. It has books for everything - right from basic arithmetic to advanced calculus. If you’re learning advanced calculus, you’ll simply walk past the basic arithmetic books. But then, you’re not the only person in the library. Our experiences shape what we know. Someone else wouldn’t gone through what you did and hence, it makes sense to share those learnings.
2) Wider your network, better chances of adding value When you start out, your network is limited to your immediate circle. Your peers. Whatever you share may not be useful, to them, hence engagement might be low. This will change once you build a wider network and start reaching beyond your 2nd degree connections. You’ll usually find a direct correlation between those with wider audience and solid engagement.
But there are exceptions. Few truly abysmal posts also get a lot of engagement and I honestly can’t figure out why 🤷🏽♂️
There’s a difference between quick decision making and reckless decision making
Quick decision makers
- considers necessary parameters
- consults necessary stakeholders
- owns up bad decisions, even with lack of time
- delays decision making, if it can cause harm
- thinks about communication while making a decision
Reckless decision makers
- considers parameters that come to mind first
- consults whoever is available
- blames a bad decision on lack of time
- goes ahead with a bad decision, citing a deadline
- communication is an after thought
Quick decision making is dependent on how quickly you’re able to process the different parameters and only consider the ones that are absolutely necessary for decision making. It’s almost like MVP of decision making.
Think like a purist, act like a realist
Purist - a person who insists on absolute adherence to traditional rules or structures Realist - a person who accepts a situation as it is and is prepared to deal with it accordingly
Why think like a purist? Structures, frameworks, philosophies and rulebooks exist for a reason. They’re proven. They work. Others have succeeded with it. A purist mindset will ensure you that you believe in them whole heartedly
Why NOT to act like a purist? You’ll soon find that purist mindset is a rarity. Others don’t really care. You’ll soon be frustrated if you try to implement as is. You’ll need to adapt & adopt to fit it contextually.
Why act like a realist? If you don’t account for reality, you won’t be successful in any workplace. Constraints, politics, unnecessary processes are all a pain but real. Account for them when you want to get something done
Why NOT to think like a realist? Considering real world constraints might slow you down. You might end up thinking “Anyways, I can’t apply this. Why bother learning?”. Yes, they exist but that shouldn’t stop you from consuming proven philosophies and frameworks.
Why I prefer posting on social media over writing a blog post
Most of my ideas/thoughts are either Twitter threads or long Linkedin posts. Here’s why
1) Easier to consume. Blog posts are at least one click away. Most of the time, I bookmark articles and never get to them. Social media posts can be consumed as you scroll through
2) Easier to publish. I don’t have to worry about editing, formatting, SEO, cover image. Nothing. Just write. Post. That’s all.
3) Better engagement. When was the last time you commented on a blog post? The things I share are based on my perspectives and therefore I’m very interested in hearing other perspectives. Social media is better to invite other people to the conversation
4) Harder to ramble I ramble. The word limit on these platforms forces me to write concisely and include only what’s necessary
5) Wider reach Social media platforms (Especially Linkedin) promote their own content over links from other platform
There are significant downsides to publishing ONLY on social media. Hard to recover older posts. Shorter life span for content. Cannot be discovered via Google.
I wish I could turn these all into full fledged blog posts but if I wait for that, then they would forever remain in my drafts 😃
“Whoa, you have 200 slides?” “What? You only have 20 slides?”
Both questions are equally worthless.
The quality of the presentation isn’t directly proportional to the number of slides. Don’t spend time in optimising the number of slides. Instead focus your time on:
1) Sketching the flow of your presentation Your presentation should only have a single thread and few (only few) branches coming out of it. Spend time on building out this flow, outside your presentation app
2) Sourcing high quality images for your presentation They might be photos from your phone, screenshots from a YouTube video, quality memes (my favorite) or even a hand drawn comic. Use that as an anchor while you speak
3) Choosing & practicing key moments Your presentation will have 2 or 3 key moments that the audience will take away. Don’t let them decide what that’s going to be, you own it. How you set up the slides and practice the narration up to those moments matter. Make it theatrical, but not too much
200 slide presentations aren’t boring 20 slide presentations aren’t invaluable
As always, exceptions apply.
Use mindmaps as a thinking tool if you’re struggling on a word document.
Most of us default to word documents or excel sheets when we want to ideate. (If you use notebooks, you’re already better than most of us)
These tools were never designed for capturing ideas, hence
- Your energy mostly goes into formatting and alignment
- You find the raw version too raw to share with anyone else
- There are too many ways to structure it (Bullet points, merged rows etc) and hence lacks a flow
Try mindmaps as an alternative. It’s perfect for those messy thoughts that need to be branched and grouped together. Mindmaps also minimise word usage, always good.
You can also easily share it with people by simply taking a photo of it and it’s instantly understood. There are tools (I personally enjoy Whimsical) but good old pen and paper would do!
Managers must take responsibility for the team members, not just the team deliverables
It’s obvious that a manager is responsible for the teams’ deliverables. They’re responsible for the outcomes, quality of the output and ensuring deadlines are met. But is that all they’re responsible for?
If you ask me, the team members are responsible for the deliverables. The manager should simply be responsible for the team members, their growth and morale. The deliverables will follow.
If you’re a manager, are these questions keeping you up at night?
Are my team members happy? Are they learning something new? Do they feel valued in the organisation? Do they feel like they’re growing? Am I giving them constant feedback? Am I coaching them? Am I having enough 1-on-1 conversations with them? Do they understand individual/team/company goals? Are they comfortable speaking up? Am I nudging them outside their comfort levels? Are they getting enough interaction opportunities outside the team? Are they excited about work? Do they have visibility into what I do? Are they good enough to replace me? Can I promote them and get out of the way?
If you’re worried about this, then the team will worry about the deliverables :)
In great teams, you’re rarely able to credit an individual for an idea. It belongs to the team.
It truly emerges from collective intelligence where everyone builds on top of each other. This is possible when different skilled individuals come at it with varied expertise, different perspectives but aligned on the same vision. And trust. Of course, trust.
In the end, the original thought is almost unrecognisable but the team is left with a great idea. It’s in these kind of teams that everyone’s equally motivated to see that idea through to success.
Don’t waste time fighting the hypothesis war, quickly find ways to validate.
We’ve all been through this. In a meeting, over an email, on a chat group. There’s a new idea and there’s back and forth on why the idea will work/won’t work.
As the conversation progresses, we start bringing in imaginary variables “Think about the motivation factor” “This is not even a top priority for the customer”
Sometimes the imagination gets out of hand “They don’t even use smartphones”
And muscles are being flexed “I’ve seen this so many times in my career”
The truth is, no one can really know. So many things are being assumed. Usually, the loudest voices and the powerful chairs have their way.
Hypothesis wars will leave you exhausted, sometimes even disappointed. Spend your energy in finding inexpensive ways to validate your idea.
- Run short, inexpensive experiments
- Ask your target audience
- Look for social proof on public forums
Go back with proof.
Ideas seldom fall under a binary bucket of “Will work”/”Won’t work”. It’s a function of many things like timing, execution quality and the target audience.
Of course, There will be ideas that are so obvious/so stupid that need to be instantly implemented/rejected. Don’t waste time experimenting there.
Don’t let your own high bar get in the way of execution
Having a high bar is GREAT! It means you have no tolerance for low quality, you don’t want to put out sub par work with your name on it and you won’t let things ship until YOU are happy with it.
That’s where the trouble is. Quality is subjective.
Imagine writing a blog post, finish it fully and scrapping it because you weren’t ‘happy’ with it. When you’re working for a business, what YOU think about your own work doesn’t matter. The actual results matter and the only way to find out is to ship, test and experiment.
Using your own judgement (or your close peers) to decide NOT to do something isn’t always ideal because you’re basing your judgement on your perception. For all you know, you hate what you’ve built but your target audience might love it! You’ll never know until it goes out. (Tried hard and failed to insert a Schrödinger’s cat reference here)
It doesn’t matter if you like something or not. It only matters if it brings the desired results. As long as it does, you’re okay. The only way to find out is by putting your work out there.
Have your high bar, no problem. Have it only for yourself! Don’t let that stop you from putting your work out there :)
Don’t exist on social media only as a broadcast channel for your employer
While amplifying that message may seem required, people will soon start tuning you out.
Take a stance, have an opinion. Be original. Disagree. Support other great ideas. Brainstorm. Crack a joke. Maybe, share a meme or comic (not too often). Talk outside your domain. Find new people. Rant, it’s okay sometimes. Ask questions. Share mistakes. Post draft articles.
There’s a lot more to do here
Building followers vs Gaining followers
- Goal is to increase number of followers
- Every post should reach x number of likes, comments
- Projecting only the strong side because want to be perceived as a ‘thought leader’
- Applying popular social media growth hacks to boost engagement
- Super focused on the voice, tone, content, grammar etc of the post
- Goal is to share valuable content
- Every post will not receive the same level of engagement but it’s still important to share
- Not just shares content but also asks question, talks about vulnerabilities
- Just genuinely sharing content without worrying about time of day, strategies etc
- Posting just like how you would talk and acknowledging that there will be mistakes
Don’t look at social media (especially Linkedin) as an alternate version of yourself where you have to project a more “professional” version of yourself. It’s simply an extension of your offline self.
If you have valuable things to say to a colleague, they’re valuable here too. If you don’t, then you probably won’t have anything valuable to say here.
Your goal here isn’t to build followers, it’s an outcome. Just keep saying valuable things you’ll gain them soon enough.
The biggest temptation for those who know a lot is to always share everything they know.
In meetings, over emails, during conversations, around the water cooler and sometimes even on social media ;)
Resist that temptation. Sense the room.
Check if people really want to listen to what you have to share. Just because it’s useful to them, don’t assume they want to listen
Ask Google before you ask your colleagues for help
It’s so easy, so easy, to just walk up to a colleague (or call them) and go “Can you help? I’m doing this for the 1st time.” While this may be perceived as “collaboration”, it really isn’t.
It’s simply eating up 1 more person’s work hours. Plus, this also makes 2 people accountable for a job where it really should’ve been just 1.
Exploring the internet on a new topic will also give you a lot more than just getting your job done. While exploring, you will also stumble upon different things that will give you newer perspectives
Here’s my journey when I start learning something new
1) Search for a basic terms like “How to write a blog”, “blog writing best practices”, “best blog examples”
2) Search for the same terms on YouTube and watch videos on 2x
3) Look at how competitors have done the same thing
4) Search for free/affordable courses on the topic
5) Find people who’ve created these content and follow them on Twitter/Linkedin
6) Take extensive notes with links to all the resources, becomes a guide for someone in the future
Once you get comfortable with the skill
7) Create content about it with your own perspectives and inputs
8) Talk about it on Linkedin ;)
Remote working is a conscious choice, both from the employer and the employee. That means, both parties are prepared and equipped to work remotely and manage remotely
What we’re undergoing right now is a knee jerk reaction to the fact that we CANNOT work in an office. Very different from remote working. This is at best work-from-home at scale
Most managers right now are thrown into this situation and they’ve only managed teams in offices before. The same rules don’t apply here.
It’s completely fine to accept the fact that we need time to reorient. It’s better than pretending to understand what remote working is. It’s not just working from home, it’s much more than that.