Posts in Uncategorized
Why the "magic wand" question is useless

"If you could solve one thing about your business with a magic wand, what would it be?"

This question is usually asked in a list of other questions, so it seems harmless.

But let's take a look at the underlying assumption. The assumption is, "If this one thing were fixed, everything else would fall into place."

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UncategorizedWes Kao
A million drops in a bucket is a full bucket

Sometimes it feels like anything you could contribute would just be a drop in the bucket. Is it even worth doing? So we keep searching for the blockbuster hit, the home run, the thing that's going to change thousands or millions of people's minds. That'll really make a difference, that would obviously be worth doing.

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UncategorizedWes Kao
Speak up before the train crashes

I'm not good at holding my tongue when I sense that a train wreck might happen. If you've tried speaking up before, and no one listened, it's tempting to want to teach them a lesson.

Okay fine, well the train will crash. THEN they'll see why they should have listened to me all along...

You don't get to take the moral high ground there. If you sense that something might be wrong, speak up before it's too late.

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UncategorizedWes Kao
When customers take risks, you grow closer

Susie has always worn sensible lipstick. She stops in to pick up another tube, and you introduce her to a fire-engine red she never would have picked up herself.

Tom just got a smartphone and barely knows how to use it. With a few taps, your app lets him start a family chat thread his kids are eager to use. Now he's downloading emoji packs, customizing backgrounds, texting with friends abroad and in the US.

Jake is graduating from IKEA and is finally buying his first piece of forever furniture. He was intimidated to walk into your store, but you made him feel welcome, like he's the kind of person who could own an Eames chair.

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UncategorizedWes Kao
Zz plants: the beauty of low overhead

Indoor plants have a way of making a space feel like home. If you want to get a plant, the top question isn't "Where can I get a fiddle leaf fig to make my rental look like it belongs in Architectural Digest?" The first question is: how much effort do I want to commit to keep this plant alive?

Because a plant that's dead by next week doesn't do you any good.

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UncategorizedWes Kao
33% rule

When you're launching a thing, it's helpful to think about the process in three roughly equal parts. What's considered 'a thing'? I define a product or project as something that you're creating to put out into the world.

It could be a web product, website, app, zine, publication, course, poll, physical product, blog post, album, video, collection, survey, directory, event, book, and many other items.

You might be setting yourself up for disappointment if you think that one part of the launch process is 90% of the battle, but it's really only 33% of it.

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UncategorizedWes Kao
Proximity

Have you ever eaten something because it was in front of you? Those cookies that you don't even like. The mediocre pizza place that's downstairs from your apartment. The yoga studio that's on your home from work. Understanding how proximity affects you means being more aware of your decision-making habits. You might be on autopilot saying yes or no to things. Without even realizing that you're on autopilot--that's the worst part.

I've found that it's surprising how much proximity affects what we choose. 

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UncategorizedWes Kao
No one knows the right answer

Last week, I spoke at the 2015 Lean Startup Conference in San Francisco. My topic: if you are iterating and trying new things, your new normal is to feel a bit anxious all the time. Here's a blog post that's based on my talk. Originally posted on the Lean Startup Blog. Here are event photos on Flickr.

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The truth is that I was attracted to the lean movement because it felt safe. Lean is a relentless march toward the right answer, an evolving process where we go from safe to safest, from new to tested to successful. Sign me up.

It turns out, though, that I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Lean is in our blood

Running lean is a core part of our approach at the altMBA. We don’t even call it lean — we just call it normal.

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UncategorizedWes Kao
Comparisons heighten drama

Before-and-after comparisons tend to catch my eye in magazines or ads. I’ve been thinking recently, why are before-and-afters so alluring? What draws the viewer in? Why do brands use feature these photos?

In general, comparisons heighten drama, because they make the difference between two objects more apparent. Your mind skips over the part where the two items are similar, and will naturally focus on the point of difference. Comparisons direct your attention in an intentional way.

Before-and-afters are a specific type of comparisons, because it shows the same person/object over time.

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UncategorizedWes Kao
Say compliments out loud

Those of you who know me, know that I have many theories and philosophies on life. One of the philosophies is this: life is short, so you should trim the lukewarm parts and only leave room for the best.

Only eat food that you love, only do activities that you actually want to do, only buy things that delight you, and only hang out with people who you think are awesome.

Because of this filter, the people I spend any amount of time with, or attention on, are people who I think really highly of.

I realized, though, that many times I'm gushing about friends, acquaintances, distant heroes, or colleagues....in my head. I don't actually say some of it out loud. In my mind, I think I'm complimenting them all the time, but in reality they have no idea.

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UncategorizedWes Kao