Nobody likes sporks. Is your product a bad mashup?

The spork is a creative invention. The only problem: Nobody likes using sporks.

Sure, they’re convenient, but they’re not as good as normal forks. And they’re too scratchy to be a spoon.

Even if a spork functioned perfectly, the experience feels like a compromise.

You might see your idea as a creative mash-up, but your customer sees an underwhelming product that tries to do too much. If you’re promising convenience, make sure your customer prioritizes that enough to choose your product.

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Inception is real. Here’s how to plant your ideas.

In the movie Inception, the characters debate whether it’s possible to plant ideas in people’s heads.

Can you make them think YOUR idea was THEIR idea to begin with? 🤔

LOL. Anyone who has ever worked in an office knows the answer is YES.

Inception is 80% of what “leadership without authority” is. Lao Tzu said it best: “A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.”

All those times your manager agreed to your idea because they thought it was their idea? That was inception.

Now that we agree inception is real, be mindful of the ideas you’re planting. Why? Because the issues you shine attention on will influence what your audience thinks about. And ultimately, whether they agree to your idea.

What you spend time on gets aggrandized--which means you might accidentally turn a non-issue into an issue.

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Start right before you get eaten by the bear: Why you should cut out backstory

I’ve been in 30 minute meetings where 25 minutes was spent on backstory. Long, winding explanation--all in the name of "giving context." I've been guilty of it myself.

This is a losing situation for both sides: If you’re giving so much backstory, it’s less time for you to get advice or feedback. If you’re listening to the backstory, you probably already zoned out.

Cut back on as much backstory as possible. You’d be surprised how little you need to dive into a conversation.

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Stop A/B testing everything: Only run experiments that inform your future actions

There's a lot of hype about data-driven marketing. But almost everyone forgets to mention an important downside: overhead.

I've run hundreds of growth and marketing experiments over the years, both formally and informally. In hindsight, some experiments were literally not worth my time.

Why? Setting up an experiment requires you to define what you want to test, clean the data, track results, troubleshoot... Each of these steps take effort to set up. If you leap in head first, you might spend hours setting up an experiment with little payoff. By prioritizing what to experiment, you can skip useless experiments altogether, conserve your energy, and focus on experiments that will lead to meaningful leaps forward.

Before you A/B test, ask yourself:

“What will I do with this information?”

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How to win a job negotiation before it starts

Everything is a negotiation. Deciding what to have for dinner, what to watch on Netflix, who should do each part of the project… All of this is negotiating, and you do it every day. Negotiating is simply positioning your ideas to try to get the outcome you hope for.

Here’s the thing nobody tells you: The negotiation starts way before you walk into the room. By the time you are in the room with the person, they already have an idea of how much you’re worth. You already have an existing dynamic--and they are anchored on this. Given need every possible tailwind, here are things to keep in mind for your next negotiation.

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What to say when you’re caught off guard

You might get blind-sided by a project detail you are not prepared to talk about. Moments like this can make you look bad and make others doubt you.

That’s why I’m a big fan of having go-to phrases you can use in 80% of situations when you’re surprised. The benefit is you won’t have to scramble in the moment. You can relax because you know what to say, which allows you to be more present. Plus, it's an elegant way to buy yourself time.

Here what to say:

“I’m coming out of another meeting, so I'll need some time to context switch and make sure I give this the attention it deserves. Let’s set up a meeting for later this week so we can carve out time and go deep on this issue. How does that sound?”

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Why A-players make assertions

Early in my career, I worked with some of the smartest people at the Gap headquarters in San Francisco. I was bright-eyed and excited to be there, so I’d spend time after work putting together “trend boards” about styles that were trending in the market.

“I’m seeing a lot of high-end designers using plaid.”

“Leggings sales have been steadily going up while pants sales stayed constant.”

“A lot brands are beginning to offer activewear this year.”

I would pat myself on the back when I pointed out an insight. I thought everyone else would pat me on the back too.

This wasn’t the case.

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How to sharpen your mental models over time

One day, Seth was making lunch at the office for the team. Guess what was on the menu? Scallops. I haven't liked scallops since I was a kid.

I said, "That looks great! I'm not a huge fan of scallops. I'll pass, thank you."

I've responded that way dozens of times over the years. It was habitual at that point to say no to scallops.

He said, "Really? Give them a try. They're fresh caught from a boutique grocer in Chelsea Market and they are delicious. Just cut a tiny piece and see if you like it. If you don't, I'm sure Alex or Willie will eat it."

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How to get an enthusiastic yes: A framework and exercise

You and I rarely have enough leverage to get something done all by ourselves.

I know, I know. Sometimes, it would be a lot easier if you could use your sheer willpower to push things through. (Believe me, I’ve tried.) But the reality is, we live in an interconnected world and we need other people's cooperation to make change happen.

Having cooperation and support from stakeholders is a game-changer. It means more momentum for your project. More confidence and speed. More energy spent doing great work you're proud of. And a lot less worrying.

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