By Leo Babauta
When I’m feeling down, I make a list of what’s contributing to the down-ness:
Didn’t get enough sleep
Overwhelmed by too much to do
Not exercising or eating well
Got in an argument with someone
Feeling uncertainty about something
So there might be five different factors contributing to a funk. That’s a lot of things to deal with at once, and so it can be depressing to think about all the things I need to fix in order to feel better.
I can’t fix everything at once, so I just start with one step. I meditate for a couple minutes.
Then I take on another step: I make a list of what I need to do. Pick a few I can do today. A few I can do tomorrow. Vow to focus on the first one on the list.
Another step: go for a walk, get my body moving.
Then another step: talk to the person I had an argument with, in a loving, compassionate way.
Suddenly, with these small steps, I’m starting to feel better.
I spend a little time with my son, playing with him, reading with him.
I take a nap.
I eat a healthy meal.
I meditate on my uncertainty, staying with it as long as I can, with compassion and friendliness.
I go to bed early, and try to get a good night’s sleep.
I focus on one small work task at a time.
And with each step, my mood improves. One step at a time, I help myself feel better.
These are small steps, taken one at a time, with as much presence as I can muster. And they make all the difference in the world.
Working on a startup? Have a 800 pound gorilla you’re trying to disrupt? That’s awesome. But here’s a tip: Don’t talk about disrupting them.
The first rule of disruption is: You do not talk about disruption.
Why is this so important? Why shouldn’t you declare to the world (and the tech press) that you’re going after the big kahuna? Doesn’t the media love a great David and Goliath story?
Here are my reasons. I’m going to keep this simple:
1. In just about all cases, to successfully disrupt a large incumbent, your best case scenario is that they completely ignore you and what you’re doing. This allows you to (quietly) build the thing you need to build without too much intervention.
Here’s the script: “Don’t mind us, we’re just over here working on something tiny. We’re not worth your time. You’re much better off focusing on your best customers and driving your profit margins up.” (This is pretty much the story that plays out in Clayton Christensen’s “Innovator’s Dilemma“, which if you haven’t read, stop what you’re doing and do that right now).
2. You want the incumbent to act “rationally”, because an emotionally fired-up incumbent will come try to crush you simply out of spite and ego. They may not succeed in crushing you — but in the process, they can certainly cause a lot of pain. And, responding to their actions will distract you from that whole disrupting thing you’re trying to do.
3. One of the keys to disruption — which usually happens from below is that your product/offering has to be inferior in some critical way. The fact that what you have doesn’t meet the needs of the existing customer-base is what makes it easier for the incumbent to ignore you. If you start talking about how you’re going to disrupt — you’re probably going to wind up trying to convince the world why your product is not really inferior but even better for customers than the existing, leading alternative. That sounds like a good thing — but it’s not, because you shouldn’t, in the beginning, be trying to create something that’s “better” than what exists. Chances are, if you do that, you’ll do something incremental and you take the incumbent on, on their home turf. Turns out, they’re really good at playing that game (there’s a good chance they invented the game). You should be working on something dramatically simpler, cheaper or lighter.
Don’t start out trying to build something better for the entrenched company’s existing customers. That’s not your goal — your goal is to create something “good enough” for customers the incumbent doesn’t care that much about. If their best customers wouldn’t laugh at the ludicrous lack of capability in what you’re building — you’re probably doing disruption wrong. Go back and read Innovator’s Dilemma (again).
OK, so when should you talk about this awesome disrupting you’re doing?
Ideally, in the past tense: Think: “We’ve disrupted…”, not “we are disrupting”. Next best choice? When the path is clear and the outcome is more or less inevitable.
Until then, be heads-down and quietly just do the work.
Aside from ensuring you don’t light them near curtains or any other potential fire hazard, there are proper ways to light candles. For example, you should trim your wick before each burn. Here’s why.
If you haven’t updated to macOS Sierra, you’re probably pretty annoyed by the giant banner that appears in the updates tab in the App Store. Thankfully, OS X Daily points out that you can get rid of it.
This is a guest post by Melanie Perkins, co-founder and CEO of Canva. We are launching Canva For Work that will help you and your team create original stunning visuals faster than ever. Register your interest to win free accounts.
I want to start with a question. A question which I think plagues a lot of startups. Should you listen to your users or not?
Most people would answer with a simple yes or no. On one side of the argument are people who believe you should test everything. They say you should trial Google AdWords and see if people click on your ad. If they don’t, you might not have a viable business. On the other side of the argument people point to Henry Ford’s great quote – “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
To grow Canva to 2.8 million users in 20 months, we did both. I’m going to share my experience about whether or not you should listen to your users. Above all, the timing for each is incredibly important.
#1 We didn’t ask our users what to build
When I was studying at university I was also teaching design programs. Students from many different faculties came to learn to design as part of their Professional Communications units. However, it took a very long time for them to the learn the basics of the programs and by the end of the semester they could hardly operate the tools let alone actually ‘communicate’ through their design.
I don’t believe you can ask your users what you should build. If I had asked these students (or professional designers) what they wanted, they would have asked for incremental improvements to the design software they were using and people who had no design experience certainly wouldn’t have even known that they would have the ability to design.
However, it was the particular insight I gained from watching people who knew nothing about design, trying to use the design tools that became the foundation for Canva. It became apparent that they were complex and tedious and beyond the scope of most people’s expertise. But being able to use the tools myself I knew the capabilities of using design tools to communicate and it became apparent that in the future that everyone would have these same capabilities and they would be a lot easier to use.
So, when finding the initial problem we wanted to solve – it was important to have a deep understanding of the problem, even though user surveys would have given little support to our mission. Paul Graham wrote an excellent article on a similar subject, explaining “The very best startup ideas tend to have three things in common: they’re something the founders themselves want, that they themselves can build, and that few others realize are worth doing.”
#2: We delayed our product launch by more than a year
After about a year of development we had the basic building blocks of our design platform built. So we decided it was time to do some usertesting and see how people actually used it.
It was extremely insightful. Users were scared to click much and when they did they wandered around aimlessly, struggled with a few things, created something that looked pretty average and then left feeling dejected. Not quite the fun journey we were hoping for users to experience.
It became quickly apparent that it was not just the tools themselves that were preventing people from creating great designs, but also people’s own belief that they can’t design.
We didn’t just need to create an easy-to-use graphic design program, we needed to empower people who weren’t graphic designers to believe they could design. During our initial user tests, the feedback was synonymous. “I’m not creative enough, it’s too hard.”
Furthermore, people using Canva for the first time inevitably didn’t have a ‘design need’, meaning that they had no reason to actually use Canva, so clicking around aimlessly was going to be a pretty uninspiring experience.
In order for Canva to take off – we had to get every person who came into our product to have a great experience in a couple of minutes. We needed to change their own self belief about their design abilities, we needed to give them design needs and we needed to make them feel happy and confident clicking around. We needed to get them to explore and play in Canva. No short order! So we spent months perfecting the onboarding experience paying particular attention to users’ emotional journey.
#3: We Optimised Our Onboarding Experience For Our User’s Emotional Journey
The goal behind our onboarding process was to debunk two key thoughts.
1. People thought it took too long to learn a new skill
Regardless of how simple and intuitive we made our design program, people had preconceived ideas (not wrongly so) that design programs were difficult to learn and use. Again, not a great time to listen to your users.
To address this concern, we created a short introductory animation – 23 seconds – to visualize the simple functionality of Canva. The animation actually uses Canva itself to point out where the tools are and how to use them in three simple steps.
2. People didn’t believe they had the talent or skills to design
Most people think they’re either “creative” or “non-creative”. I disagree. I believe there’s creativity in all of us, and with the right tools it can be unleashed.
In an ambitious bid to prove this belief wrong, we created a series of interactive challenge tasks. Our objective was to give people very simple challenges that would get increasingly complex, and for them to build their confidence with each step of the process. It was imperative users could experience small wins.
Our first challenge seemed simple enough – to change the color of a circle to your favorite color. We watched a user tester struggle for almost a full minute, he said “Can someone tell me how, cos I really don’t know, ummm… How am I going to change that? Am I missing something?” Eventually he figured out how to change the color of the circle and gave us a really interesting insight in the process.
It was difficult to spot the color picker when it was the color grey, when we changed it to red it was very obvious. This tiny tweak has saved hundreds of thousands of people from struggling with this step and boosted our user’s self-confidence in the process. Watch the two videos below and see the huge difference in the emotional reaction.
Caption: The first user test
Caption: The simple change that moulded our onboarding process
To give you another example, we added another ‘challenge’ which prompted users to place a hat on a monkey. Does this make for great design? Not necessarily. But it did convince people that Canva was easy to learn and that Canva was easy enough to explore.
We spent a considerable period of time trialling different variations of ‘challenges’ – three challenges, ten challenges, double barrelled challenges, simpler challenges, more difficult challenges. Each of the variations gave our users a different emotional experience.
The ending result was great, within a few minutes of using Canva people feel confident with their abilities, understand how Canva works and then spread the word.
#3: Established World Class Customer Service To Empower Our Users
Understanding your users’ emotional needs when you’re getting your startup off the ground is only the first step. If you abandon them after you launch, your efforts will have been wasted.
Canva’s customer support is an integral part of our platform. Our amazing team don’t just answer technical queries, they pick up where we left off: they empower our users to believe they can design.
What does this process look like? Our customer service team operates on the following pillars:
A 24-hour roster. Our users’ questions are a huge priority for Canva. A 24 hour roster ensures we can speak to our global community of users anywhere, at any time. By being online when our users are, we’re able to help during their working day. Obviously, when we were starting out 24-hour support would have been a stretch, however, responding in a timely manner when our users are most active has always been essential.
An average response rate of less than two hours. That brings us to speed. Getting back to people quickly is one of the best ways to provide great support. Our users know that they can contact us when they’re having an issue and we’ll do our best to help them out. This also means we can keep on top of the impact of any new features and keep a finger on the pulse of our community.
A daily customer happiness report. To ensure full transparency, each day a report is sent to our entire team with a summary of the day’s tickets. This ensures that our users are always front of mind at Canva, and the relevant team knows when there are particular issues that they should be aware of.
Regular workshops. Recently we flew our team based in Manila to our HQ in Sydney. We conducted intensive workshops with our team where everyone had to opportunity to see what kind of tickets our users were submitting. All new team members also complete the same exercise during their first week at Canva. Why? There’s no better way to inspire your team to build an amazing product than to put yourself in the shoes of the people using it.
After you launch, the conversations you have with your users should be as important as when you build your product.
This is the time to listen. In any case, the conversations your customer happiness team have with your users are critical to your success. Collate their feedback, listen to their suggestions, act quickly on any bugs or challenges they experience – quickly responding to your users and customer support team’s feedback is essential.
#4: Give Goodwill: Word of Mouth Trumps Any Marketing Tactic
I often get asked which tactics we used to propel Canva’s early stages of growth. My answer is always the same. We didn’t focus on engineering virality, SEO, SEM, content marketing or any other marketing.
We relied on the powerful momentum of word of mouth that was spurred by having a product that solved significant pain points for our users. Spending a year in development gave us the luxury of being able to deeply understand our user’s emotional needs, and build a product and solution that would cater for them.
Creating a product people would love wasn’t the only way we exerted our goodwill. When we launched our product, we created a series of free interactive design tutorials people could use to learn basic design skills. Despite strong advice to the contrary, we decided not to watermark user’s designs with our logo, we wanted our users to get so much value from Canva that they spread the word about it. Anything we believed would benefit our users, we did.
And it’s been one of the best decisions we made. Our community of 2.8 million users is proof of that.
I’m not saying go out and make decisions based on your gut – but always be willing to invest in projects or resources that might not immediately return direct revenue. If they create goodwill amongst your users, they’ll yield an incredible amount of value.
At the end of the day, your users are your most valuable asset.
Why Your User’s Emotions Are The Key To Exponential Product Growth
When you’re launching a startup it can often feel like you’re walking in pitch black guided only by flickers of light.
That’s how I felt while receiving advice on whether or not to listen to users that thought they would never be able to design. But what I learned while growing Canva to 2.8 million users is that exercising the discretion to do both is what good business is all about. My advice – do both, but remember timing is everything.
Henry Ford also said: If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” Include your users in your product journey – they’re the only other people who will care about your vision as much as you do.
Scoping out your ideal customers ahead of time and personalizing your outreach is at the core of an account-based marketing approach. Image via Shutterstock.
Just put the finishing touches on a new cold email campaign?
2009 called and wants its tactic back.
These cold email attempts are as generic, indistinguishable and therefore ignored as all of your competitors’ similarly cold, half-assed efforts.
It’s no wonder why CTRs and conversions look so… average.
Meanwhile, “unicorns” – the ones pulling in double-digit conversions — are playing a different game. They’re not A/B testing minutia, but are busy doing bigger, bolder things to get outsized returns.
Things like account-based marketing.
What is Account-Based Marketing?
Account-based marketing (ABM) identifies ideal prospects ahead of time.
So instead of your typical email blast to a massive list of (possibly) qualified companies, you’re flipping the script.
You’re doing all the qualification up-front, in hopes that working from a smaller list will allow you to do more personalized and time-intensive work to get a shot at each company’s business.
When done correctly, it can deliver plateau-breaking results, too. The team at Funnelholic, for example, increased their reply rates from 2-3% to 31%, and booked 15 new meetings after adopting an account-based marketing approach.
And at this year’s Call to Action Conference, Cara Harshman (formerly Content Marketing Manager at Optimizely) shared their early results with a similar approach, adapting Optimizely’s homepage dynamically based on one of 26 pre-determined audiences who might be visiting at any given time.
Like people from Microsoft:
While results were still early, they had seen already seen a 117%+ increase in users who start the account-create process.
This Optimizely example is a perfect illustration of how account-based marketing can (and should) differentiate from classically outbound methods. It’s outbound, in an inbound way; where you’re driving previously identified targets back and tracking results to nurture over time.
Why Account-Based Marketing?
Word of mouth is great. But you can’t do much to scale it.
Inbound is awesome. But incredibly time consuming.
That leaves outbound methods, which — when done correctly — can deliver one of the most scalable ways to grow a B2B or complex sales organization. Like, for instance, Salesforce.
Predictable Revenue outlines the outbound approach Aaron Ross used to add over $100 million in recurring revenue to Salesforce years ago, when they were still a small(ish) private company looking for a repeatable way to scale.
And they executed this impressively effective outbound strategy without a single cold call through account-based marketing.
Here’s how it worked.
Aaron and his team created lists of potential prospects based on specific criteria (like demographics, company size, industry, etc.).
They then reached out to prospects using plain-text referral email templates, free of fancy branding, images or other graphics. The objective was for their emails to appear friendly and personal in order to get a foot in the door, and eventually get in touch with the appropriate person at each company.
Nick Persico offers a great template for effective cold emails.
Then they split up the sales team to run these campaigns like an assembly line, with some people prospecting, others screening and some people focused on closing.
With such smashing results ($100 million in recurring revenue, remember?), it’s a wonder more companies aren’t using this approach. Fortunately, it’s never too late to start; here’s how to get started with an account-based marketing approach.
Step #1: Determine who you’re gonna target (and why)
The way you go after prospects can influence who you get. And each approach has its own PROS and CONS.
Referrals rely on sowing seeds, with long-term one-on-one nurturing to produce future results. They’re the best – right?! But they’re tough to scale or influence organically, with most of the work being done by past contacts at their leisure.
Inbound marketing casts a wide net, where you’re going after a huge group in hopes of catching a few good ones. Not only are conversion rates lower, but oftentimes you also naturally attract a lot of under-qualified people (who likely would never afford your services).
Outbound marketing prioritizes a few, high-value companies over the rest. In contrast, they use spears to target specific people within companies.
Account-based marketing takes the spear fishing to a whole other level, by combining sales tactics and marketing for an “always on” multi-touch campaign both on and offline. This type of approach is ideal for the big fish — the tuna, the sharks, the sturgeon.
And the first step in catching the big fish, is you gotta start building lists. Which takes research and LOTS of online creeping.
Purchased lists might be tempting, but to be honest, most are worthless. Anecdotally, we recently had a client force their purchased lists on us, and we found that at least 50% were bouncing and not even being delivered.
Besides, the whole point of account-based marketing is to focus specifically on WHO first, and then work backwards to the channel or tactic.
Qualify your prospects
Qualifying ahead of time can ultimately give you much better results (with less wasted effort and chasing to boot).
The whole point of account-based marketing is to focus specifically on WHO first, and then work backwards to the channel or tactic.
Start with a simple segmentation, focusing on either demographics and/or firmographics. For example:
Title: VP / Director of Marketing
Location: Southern California
Number of Employees: 50+
LinkedIn’s sales toolset gives you the ability to create prospecting lists like this. They’ll even dynamically update as new people join or amend their profiles.
Once you’ve generated a prospecting list, it’s time to start creeping.
The LinkedIn sales tool lets you follow specific prospects or people and stay up-to-date on what they’re up to.
LinkedIn also helps you identify prospects by another key consideration: purchasing occasion.
These are the pivotal moments, like position changes or new location openings, where someone might need your services. For example, a past client getting a new position.
Disqualify the rest
The fastest way I’ve learned to qualify someone is to try and disqualify them first. In other words, look for red flags that jump out at you.
An easy one: If there’s no agency or freelancer link on the bottom of a website (assuming this isn’t a massive enterprise), they’re not gonna buy your marketing services.
People view marketing as a cost or an investment. If someone doesn’t spend money on a professional website, there’s no way in hell they’re gonna give you a decent ad budget or creative allocation for new landing page conversion work either.
BuiltWith is another way to figure this out, since it will show you what a person’s website is running on. Plus, it will reveal what software might be installed, which is another great indicator.
Good omens include advertising or analytics scripts, as well as expensive or specialized software like CrazyEgg, Unbounce, HubSpot and more.
One recent prospect’s example showed good signs: Facebook advertising and CrazyEgg scripts.
Regardless of your personal feelings or bias towards a particular marketing automation platform, the fact that they’re already committing thousands of bucks a month to specialized software means (1) they’re used to spending money related to your services and (2) they’re sophisticated enough to have a cogent conversation around Cost Per Leads.
Internally, we’ve been keeping initial batches to around 30-40 people. ‘Cuz it’s about to get intense.
Step #2: Brainstorm and iterate on what you send
Cold emails and LinkedIn InMails are easy.
Which is why everyone does them. And ignores them.
When experimenting with our own account-based marketing techniques, we liked the juxtaposition of a digital company using a seemingly old-school tactic (like direct mail).
We wanted to break through the noise by doing something that stuck out; like a handwritten note with a semi-bulky package sent through the good ol’ U.S. Postal Service. Then only after the initial (physical, offline) ice breaker would we follow up via digital channels.
Unbelievably, there are some stats to back this up. According to a USPS study (not biased at all) 60% of direct mail recipients also visited the promoted website, with first-time shoppers being the most influenced.
Another example shows how one agency got a 25% response rate when using direct mail to reach companies doing $30 million+ annually.
My company’s first direct mail attempt can be seen below. The back resembled an unfinished game of Tetris, while the front featured some sarcastic copy (“We’re the missing piece”) and tracking details (which we’ll dive into shortly):
We worked with a local printing shop to come up with material and shape recommendations, printing out an initial batch that was eventually sent out with a handwritten note in a bubble-wrapped CD package (remember those?).
Based on some early success, we’re creating something similar for a client that focuses on a specific pain point one customer segment deals with (along with some examples of how our client has helped others overcome those hurdles). Here’s an early mockup:
The goal of these pieces isn’t to sell anything, but simply to get the recipient’s attention, to get on their radar and pique their interest. Eventually, we want them to go to a specific landing page, which will provide the context and persuasion.
Our examples are relatively primitive compared with one company who sent out empty iPad boxes to executives prior to a conference, telling them to swing by the company’s booth to pick it up. But it’s not to say they’re not effective… and best of all, low(er) budget.
Besides the custom route, there are also now solutions like Lob that you can hook into through APIs. The result, is that instead of manually going through this routine, you can scale direct mail. Their tool will fire off new pieces automatically without lifting a finger (or writing 40+ handwritten notes).
But enough of the outbound stuff. Let’s talk inbound.
Step #3: Set up proper tracking for offline campaign actions
There are two primary ways to track offline conversions from direct mail (without coupon-like codes): referring URLs and custom phone numbers.
We like to use a branded or memorable URL. For example, YourCompanyCampaign.com. If you’re good with UTM codes, you can simply 301 redirect this link to whatever your landing page URL will be and get the tracking data you need.
Pro tip: Your landing page copy and design should always match your direct outreach piece (a.k.a. message match). Fortunately, using Unbounce’s drag and drop builder, you can whip up a matching landing page and A/B test your messaging in no time. Plus, you don’t have to worry about finding a designer and developer on short notice.
If you’re less savvy with UTM codes, a simpler step might be to use Bitly as an intermediary.
And there are at least two ways to go deeper:
- Create different referring domains based on zip codes, customer segment and more to know exactly which subset of your list is performing best.
- If you’re targeting people from a specific database like with HubSpot (which already tracks email and IP address), you can track those website visits and catalyst moments exactly.
Custom phone numbers
Next, you can set-up custom phone numbers for this campaign. We use CallRail, which integrates nicely with other popular tools like Kissmetrics or HubSpot, providing insight into the caller’s web session data as well.
Keep in mind that an initial offline conversion is just the first step in a much longer process. New sales leads typically need between six and eight touches to generate the lead.
A week or two after sending this direct mail piece, you should be following up via email, LinkedIn and other channels, because more than half of customer interactions are multi-event, multi-device journeys.
You can even run retargeting or remarketing campaigns against these same people by creating a custom audience in Facebook for people who hit one page, and not another. For example, if people look at your Pricing page but don’t hit the Sign Up Confirmation one (so you know they thought about it, but didn’t pull the trigger for one reason or another).
Now you can follow up again and again and again, without actually — manually — following up.
The creative messaging for these retargeting campaigns can obviously be personalized too, because with a little help from inbound funnel segmentation, you should be able to differentiate one audience from another (based on which landing page they hit).
And you can even have a little fun with your friends…
A college friend sent me this text message at 11pm on a Saturday night.
And the Results…?
We’re barely scratching the surface of account-based marketing.
I can barely figure out how many stamps a simple letter takes, let alone how to send a custom package with handwritten note and more.
Yet the results speak for themselves.
After a day’s worth of work and a couple hundred bucks on material during our first attempt, we’ve already landed and completed a small project for a few thousand that’s led to more within the same company (in addition to a few other sales opportunities still in the works).
That doesn’t even include all the nice, personal responses we received. Yes, people are actually thanking us for sending them cold, ‘unwelcome’ messages.
Account-based marketing isn’t perfect, and requires a lot of trial and error like anything.
But it can also provide a compelling way to break through the noise; differentiating your company from the other thousands that are sending the same, crappy stock email templates that sometimes never work.
By Leo Babauta
The more I talk to people about their struggles, the more I realize that we all have some sense of dissatisfaction with ourselves.
I have it, and I’d be willing to bet everyone reading this does too. Consider some of the ways we’re dissatisfied with ourselves:
We constantly have a feeling that we should be better, doing more, more productive, more mindful, and so on.
We doubt ourselves when we have to speak in a group or in public, and feel that we’re not good enough to contribute.
We are unhappy with certain aspects of ourselves, like our bodies, the way our faces look, the way we procrastinate or get angry or lose patience as a partner or parent.
We think we need to improve.
This is a constant condition, and even if we get a compliment from someone, we find a way to undercut it in our minds because we think we’re not good enough for that compliment.
It affects our lives in so many ways: we might not be good at making friends, speaking in public or in a group, finding a partner, doing the work we’re passionate about, finding contentment with ourselves and our lives.
And we don’t like feeling this way, so we run. We find distraction, comfort in food or alcohol or drugs or shopping, lash out at other people when we’re feeling defensive about ourselves. It’s at the heart of nearly all of our problems.
So how do we deal with this underlying problem? The answer is profoundly simple, yet not easy.
Before I go into dealing with the problem, we should discuss something first — the idea that we need to be dissatisfied with ourselves to make life improvements.
Unhappiness with Self as a Motivator
I used to think, as many people do, that if we’re unhappy with ourselves, we’ll be driven to get better. And if we were all of a sudden content with ourselves, we’d stop doing anything.
I no longer believe this. I do think we’re often driven to make improvements because we’re dissatisfied with ourselves, and that’s not a bad thing. We have hope for something better.
When we are unhappy with ourselves, it’s hard to be happy when we do something good. We’re still dissatisfied. So doing something good, then, isn’t the reward it could be.
We have habits of running from this bad feeling about ourselves, so procrastination and distraction become the default mode, and this gets in the way of our efforts. In fact, we’ll never solve the problems of distraction and procrastination until we can learn to deal with this problem of unhappiness with self.
Unhappiness with self can get in the way of connecting with others (because we think we’re not good enough, and so can feel anxiety about meeting others). We can’t solve this, no matter how much we want to improve, until we address the underlying issue.
Even when we make an improvement, the feeling of dissatisfaction with self doesn’t go away. So we try to improve some more, and it still doesn’t go away. In my experience, it never does, until you’re ready to face it head on.
During this awesome period of self improvement driven by dissatisfaction, we don’t love ourselves. Which is a sad thing.
So is it possible to get things done and make improvements without dissatisfaction with self? I’ve discovered that the answer is a definite “yes.”
You can exercise and eat healthy not because you dislike your body and want to make it better … but because you love yourself and want to inspire your family. You can do work out of love for the people it will help. You can declutter, get out of debt, read more, and meditate not because you’re dissatisfied with yourself … but because you love yourself and others.
In fact, I would argue that you’re more likely to do all of those things if you love yourself, and less likely if you dislike yourself.
Dealing with Dissatisfaction
What can we do about our continual dissatisfaction with ourselves? How do we deal with self-doubt, feeling like we’re not good enough, unhappiness with certain parts of ourselves?
It turns out that these feelings are perfect opportunities — to learn about ourselves and how to be friends with ourselves.
- Each time we have these feelings, we can pause and just notice.
- Turn towards the feeling, seeing how it feels in your body. Be curious about how it feels, physically.
- Instead of running from this feeling, stay with it. Instead of rejecting it, try opening up to it and accepting it.
- Open yourself up to the pain of this feeling, and see it as a path to opening up your heart. In this way, getting in touch with the pain is a liberating act.
- See this difficult feeling as a sign of a good heart, soft and tender and loving. You wouldn’t care about being a good person, or a “good enough” person, if you didn’t have a good heart. There is a basic goodness beneath all of our difficulties, and we just need to stay and notice this goodness.
- Smile at yourself, and cultivate an unconditional friendliness to all that you see.
Now, I’m not claiming that this is an easy method, nor that it will cure our difficulties in one fell swoop. But it can start to form a trusting relationship with yourself, which can make an amazing difference.
I recommend that you practice this each time you notice self-criticism, self-doubt, unhappiness with yourself, harshness towards what you see in yourself. It only has to take a minute, as you face what you feel and stay with it, with unconditional friendliness.
If you really want to focus on this powerful change, reflect on it once a day by journaling at the end of the day, reviewing how you did and what you can do to remember to practice.
In the end, I think you’ll find that love is a more powerful motivator than unhappiness with yourself. And I hope you’ll find a friendship with yourself that will radiate out into your relationships with everyone else you know and meet.
By Leo Babauta
As I write this, I’m sitting in cloud-filled rainforest at a retreat in Ecuador, surrounded by the calls of thousands of tropical birds and creatures, dense lush greenery, and some of the most open-hearted human beings I’ve ever met.
Before I came here, I had some anxiety about meeting everyone, worried what they might think of me, worried that I would be awkward at talking to everyone or not fit in. This anxiety made me not want to come. That would have been a huge mistake.
I realized that I was telling myself a story about how bad I am at public speaking, at meeting new people, about how unworthy I am of others liking me. This story was not helpful, and was getting in the way of me doing something with the potential to be amazing. So I asked myself if it was definitely true, and the answer was, “I don’t know.”
That “I don’t know” scares me. I decided I had to look at the “I don’t know” in a different way — so I told myself instead, “I don’t know, and I would love to find out. Who knows what I’ll discover?”
This helped me to get on the plane, and then I was forced to meet an entire group of 24 strangers. And I could see them as 24 people who were potentially going to judge me … or I could see them as fellow human beings, who have aspirations and who struggle, who have love for others and frustration and anger, who want to be better people and who are disappointed in themselves that they are not, who want to make a difference in the world and feel guilty that they procrastinate, who are beautiful but who judge themselves, who are so different from me in many wonderful ways but who at their core have the same tender heart of humanity beating with strength and fragility, just like me.
I met them, and smiled. I felt the anxiety coming up again, but I turned with curiosity to them. I felt myself wanting to run away and be alone and comfortable, but I tried to find their aspirations and struggles.
I opened my heart to them, and they came in with kindness. And changed me. And made the effort of overcoming my fear and anxiety of being judged and failing completely worth the effort, a thousand times over.
Human connection is not so common in our age of connectivity. We see lots of people but find our little cucoons to hide in. We don’t realize we’re craving a deeper connection with others until we find it.
It’s hard to connect, because cultural norms get in the way — we’re supposed to talk about the weather and sports and the news, but not our deepest struggles. We’re supposed to say cool or witty things, but not share our greatest hopes for our lives or the person we want to become.
It’s hard, but human connection is one of the most powerful forces available to us. We don’t realize we thirst for it, but we do, and the thirst is deep. When I find real human connection, it nourishes my soul, changes me, moves me to tears. I can’t count how many times I’ve cried this week. My heart feels raw, in a way that opens it up to further connection.
So how do we connect, when it’s so hard? I’d like to share some thoughts:
Put yourself in a place with people with your interests. This retreat is filled with people trying to change their lives and interested in mindfulness. That’s such a rare thing, to be with a group of people like this, but we each made the intentional choice to come here. Find a group like that — at a small conference, a retreat, group meetings, a running club, a tech meetup, anything. Do some online searches for ideas, but say yes to at least one.
Overcome your resistance. I always find resistance to meeting up with people, and big resistance to coming to give a presentation and meeting with a bunch of strangers. The resistance can keep us from ever getting out of our comfort zones. Don’t let it. The benefit of connection is so much greater than the resistance that you should push through it.
Smile, and be curious. When you meet these scary strangers, open yourself up. Smile, ask them about themselves, try to find out more. People often appreciate a good listener, and questions can start a conversation and keep it going.
Share when you can. While listening is better than talking, I’ve found that when I can be vulnerable and share my fears and struggles, people feel they can do the same. This is when you make a real connection, getting below the surface. It takes a little skill to know when you can open up, and how much you can share — you don’t want to share your deepest secrets as soon as you meet, but you can slowly open up, as the other person does the same. Some people are not comfortable opening up, so don’t push it too deep or expect everyone to want to make this kind of connection, but be open to it.
Open your heart. These are other human beings in front of you — and they have tender hearts and pain and hope just like you do. Open your heart and see who you find in front of you and appreciate who you find. Be yourself, and trust that you are worthy of others’ love as well. Let others in. Give hugs.
Connect in groups and one-on-one. If you’re at a conference or in a big group of 20 or more people, it can be hard to really find connection. I much prefer one-on-one, so I’ll try to turn to someone and start a private conversation if they’re open to it, getting to know them better. I also value small group conversations, from three to six people, and think they can be great bonding experiences and a lot of fun.
Don’t hide in your phone. Many of us have the tendency these days to use our phones when we’re in crowded public spaces, but when you’re going somewhere (like a conference) that has a lot of people, it’s a big mistake to shut yourself off. Instead, seek interaction, even if you feel awkward about it. I like to start off with a simple question, or sometimes with a simple joke that diffuses the tension.
Practice makes you better and more comfortable at it. I’m certainly not the world’s best conversationalist, nor the most comfortable talking in a group. However, I’m better now than I have been in the past, because I’ve been purposefully practicing over the last decade or so. I still have a long way to go. But it’s amazing to see the progress I’ve made, and the more I do it, the less nervous I get.
Use each other to dive deeper and find clarity. If you can have good one-on-one conversations, or even small group talks, challenge each other to go deeper into your struggles and challenges, aspirations and life purposes. You’ll often find a lot of clarity in these talks.
Use each other for continued support. I often offer to give someone accountability if they say they’ve been struggling to deal with a habit. Or if we’re both struggling with something, we might try to support each other’s efforts to overcome the struggle in the near future.
Make an effort to keep in touch. If you make a real human connection, find a way to keep up the conversation, and even meet again in person if it’s possible. If it’s not possible, make a skype date so you can talk face-to-face.
I don’t pretend to have all the answers, nor to be any kind of expert. I still get nervous and awkward. But these ideas have helped me, and I hope they help you. Because simple connections with wonderful human beings have changed my life this week, and the power of the love from these connections has left me completely devastated.
9 years ago today, on June 9th 2006, HubSpot was officially started. I remember the day, because it was also the day I graduated. (I had promised myself I’d enjoy my 2 years in grad school without too much distraction, so deliberately picked graduation day as the official start-date for HubSpot.)
So far, we’ve had a pretty good run. HubSpot is now public [NYSE:HUBS] and still growing fast. More importantly (at least to me), I’m still having a great time.
Rather than bring out the party hats and cake, I thought I’d reflect a bit on some of the hard-won lessons we’ve learned across our 9 hear history in the hopes that it will be helpful to some of you. (Note: The below picture of a cake is from our 2nd birthday party. Now, we’d need a bigger cake)
Warning: Some parts of this article are a bit immodest. I usually try to avoid that, but sometimes I fail. Also, some parts of this article are a bit touchy-feely. The reason for that is that despite popular perception, I’m kind of touchy-feely sometimes.
On with the lessons and stories…
1. Don’t defer the hard co-founder questions for later. They only get harder.
Have the important conversation(s) with your co-founder early. Topics might include long-term goals, fund-raising, equity allocation, vesting, etc. I’ve written an entire article with some of the questions co-founders should ask each other. In our case, one of the reasons my relationship with Brian Halligan (co-founder/CEO of HubSpot) has worked out so well is that we talked through these things early and made sure we had agreement and alignment. One of the top reasons for startup failure is co-founder conflict. You can’t mitigate that risk completely, but you can reduce it significantly simply by some candid and direct conversations just as things are getting started.
Oh, and no, the best way to avoid co-founder conflict is not to not have any co-founders. I think that’s sub-optimal. Your odds of success go up if you have a co-founder.
2. An imperfect decision today is better than a perfect decision some day.
Some decisions will be impossiblly hard to make and you’ll debate them for months (and in our case years). Most decisions you’ll need to make in a startup are based on imprecise and incomplete data. Get used to it. Make the decision and move on. Sometimes, you’ll need to cycle back and “course-correct” decisions that are wrong and significant (the wrong, insignificant ones you should learn to ignore).
Let me give you an example of how not to do it. In the early years of HubSpot we were trying to make the (very hard) decision about whether to focus on the very small business market or the mid-market (larger businesses with 10-2,000 employees). We debated this one for years. There were good, strong arguments on both sides. We spent many days locked up in a conference room, promising ourselves we wouldn’t leave the room until we had made a decision. But, the decision still didn’t get made. We should have made the decision sooner, because regardless of which path we picked, we likely would have made it work.
3. Don’t be distracted by the “Press Release Hire”.
When building the early team, don’t get hung-up on how people look on “paper” (i.e. how experienced someone is). Brian (my co-founder) calls these kind of hires the “Press Release Hire”. Litmus test: Imagine you hired this person. Would you issue a press release to let the world know that you brought this awesome person on board? If so, you’re probably more focused on what they’ve done instead of what they will do for you. Don’t get me wrong, if you can get someone that’s a great fit and they’ve accomplished something in the past, and you think that’ll translate to doing great things at your company, go for it — and may the force be with you. But remember, that past successes at really big companies doesn’t guarantee future success at your company. The context is very different. Also don’t ignore talented future stars because they lack experience and nobody has heard of them. At HubSpot, in those early years, we were all relatively unqualified for the roles we were in. Some might argue I’m still unqualiifed for the role I’m in. But, we were hungry, willing to learn and most importantly — we cared.
4. If you don’t love your customers, you’re more likely to lose.
You better really love your customers. If not, pick a different idea or industry. Life is short. Startup success is both about solving a problem you care about and solving them for people you care about (or at least don’t hate). If you find yourself making fun of or disparaging your customers when they’re not around, something’s wrong. It’s not impossible to build a business this way (there are entire industries where it seems that every company hates their customers). It’s not impossible, but it’s harder — and less fun. On the flip side, there’s something immensely gratifying about genuinely helping people and caring. If you love your customers, several good things happen. One, they’ll know it, and will stay longer (yay,lifetime value!). They’ll refer other customers. You’ll be able to recruit and retain better people onto the team. So, overall, your odds of success go up.
5. Even micro-investments in culture can yield mega returns.
If you know me or know HubSpot, you probably know that we are obsessed with culture. As many people likely know HubSpot for it’s culture as it’s product (I could argue that the culture you create is part of the product). But, it wasn’t always that way. In our early years, we didn’t talk about culture much. We hadn’t documented it all. We just built a business that we wanted to work in. And, that was great. But the real return on culture happened when we started getting more deliberate about it. By writing it down. By debating it. By taking it apart, polishing the pieces and putting it back together. Iterating. Again. And again. And again. If you’re interested in learning more about how we think about people and culture at HubSpot, you should check out our Culture Code deck — embedded below for your convenience.
Now, I’m not suggesting you drop everything and go create a 128-slide treatise on culture for your company. But make some small investments. For starters, have some conversations about the who. What kind of people do you want on the team? Try to avoid platitudes. Make a list of attributes and traits that other companies avoid, but tend to work for you. And vice versa. Write this list down, even if it’s just a simple email to the team. Once you start writing your culture down, a couple of surprising things will happen: 1) You’ll realize you got parts of it wrong (because people will tell you). 2) You’ll increase the chances of hiring for “culture fit” without falling into the trap of toxic homogeneity where you just hire people like yourself under the guise of “culture fit”. Short rant on that topic: No company should be able to skip over candidates for lack of “culture fit” unless it has at least a minimal clue of what that culture is.
One of my regrets about culture at HubSpot is that we didn’t wake up to the value of diversity until much later in our evolution. And, though I’m in good company, that doesn’t make me feel that much better. If you’re just getting started, take my advice: Be mindful of diversity super-early and beware the homogenity traps.
6. Don’t just think bigger — think better.
Since time t=0, one of the decisions Brian and I made early on was that we were going to take our best shot at building a big, successful company. We specifically talked about not building a company that was “built to sell”. In fact, many of our early decisions and actions reduced our chances of being acquired. That was OK, because it’s not what we were after. Instead, we made sure that we pushed each other to think about scale. To keep thinking bigger.
Here’s my theory: Most big, spectacularly successful companies (which I hope HubSpot will become some day) did not get that way by accident. Rarely does an entrepreneur, wake up one morning, drink her morning coffee and exclaim: “Hey look! I accidentally built this super-successful company! Yay me!” Yes, that happens every now and then, but it’s super-rare. 99.9999% of the time, success is built through deliberately deciding to build something big — and then working super-hard, taking risks and persevering through the hard times.
But, what worked for us wasn’t just making the numbers go up and to the right. It was about thinking about every part of the business and trying to figure out what would make it better. Yes, we’re a software company, and I’m proud of our product team. But, it’s not just about the product. We try to be equally maniacal about making every part of the business better. Every. Single. Part.
Fun, inside story: We do NPS (Net Promoter Style) surveys on a crazy number of things. You might know NPS as a way to measure customer happiness. The standard two questions are: 1) On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend this product/service? 2) Why that score? Like many other companies, we’ve been sending NPS surveys to our customers regularly for years. But, unlike many other companies, we also send out NPS-style surveys to all of our employees every quarter. The question is slightly tweaked to: “On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend HubSpot as a place to work?”. We also do NPS for our alumni. We’re working on doing it for job candidates that interview with us (“How likely are you to recommend HubSpot as a place to interview?”). We’ve done it for our company meeting. After the meeting, we ask: “How likely are you to recommend this meeting?” (Learned lots of interesting things on that one). OK, so that might be a bit OCD. But in our experience, once you can start measuring something and getting qualitative feedback it’s much easier to make that thing better. No big revelation there, I think the business world has known that for years.
What was a revelation (at least to me) was how all the parts of a company are so inter-connected. It’s impossible to build something really great by just focusing on one part of the system. You need to simultaneously work on every part of the system — and make it better.
7. Don’t obsess over competitors. Obsess over customers.
I’ll confess. I’m likely more guilty of watching our competitors too closely than anyone at HubSpot. But, the good news is that though I watch them closely, I try not to follow them. Knowing what your competitors are up to is good. Doing what your competitors are up to is bad.
Take the calories you would have spent worrying about your competitors, and spend them on your customers. You’ll be better off (and will sleep better too).
8. Don’t minimize dilution, maximize impact.
This one might come off as controversial.
If you go out and raise outside funding, resist the temptation to worry too much about valuation (and minimizing dilution). In the grand scheme of things, as long as you’re getting a fair deal, marginal differences in dilution won’t matter. What will matter more is the degree to which you can have an impact (however you measure that). You’re probably going to be happier owning 5% of something great than 25% of something not-so-great.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that every company should go out and raise funding. I advise entrepreneurs (especially first-time founders) to defer fund-raising. The reason is that once you start raising funding, you’re often shifting your focus from solving customer problems to solving investor problems. You’re better off working on the former — because that makes the latter much easier.
In any case, if you’re going to raise funding, raise funding. Pick a great partner, get fair terms and don’t sweat the dilution too much.
One more thing: The other way you dilute is by sharing equity with your team. Here too, don’t worry too much about minimizing dilution, get the best people and try to maximize impact.
9. Don’t be satisfied with sales, seek LOVE.
This one might come off as a bit weird.
If you’re reading this, there’s a decent chance that you’re human. (If you’re a robot, and you actually understood this article so far, I submit to your kind’s superior intellect and ask that you forgive us humans our foibles). Anyways…let’s just assume you’re human. And, because you’re human, you probably seek love. It’s natural. We spend a fair amount of time and energy looking for love (hopefully in some of the right places). I’m going to posit to you that you need to carry that sentiment to your startup. I’m not talking about the crazy, desperate call at 3am kind of “love”, but the hope to find someone that “gets you” and “likes you for who you are and what you believe”.
Yes, I know that sounds a bit strange. But it’s not that strange. Chances are, there are some companies or brands that you love. All I’m saying is that as a startup, you need to seek that love.
Let me explain by telling you how we do this at HubSpot. Like most growing companies, we want to get people to buy from us and become customers. But, unlike most companies, for us, deep-down inside, that’s not enough. We don’t just want people to buy from us. We want people to love us. We want them to love what we love and respect what we do, even if they don’t buy from us. Even if they are unlikely to ever buy from us. Because what we believe is that the more people that love us, and want us to succeed, the more likely we are to do so.
Thanks for all the love and support over the years.
p.s. It usually feels weird to “sign” a blog article like a letter, but in this case, it felt right.
Doors play a vital role in offering complete security to our homes from the eyes of intruders. You will agree that whenever you have to go out from your home for few days you main concern is the security of your home and therefore you ask any of your neighbor or relative to stay at your home when you are away from home.
But every time it is not possible for them to co-operate with you especially in current scenario when every person is busy in his own engagements, and thus when it comes to installation of doors at home every person tries to install the strong doors in his house which could offer state of peace to his mind and he can happily enjoy the quality time with his family away from his house.
A Modern Outlook
Although having someone staying over is undoubtedly the best way to protect your house from burglars, but what will be your reaction if you have invested thousands of pounds in constructing a house for your family and when it came to installation of doors you went for conventional doors, despite ignoring the fact that they do not match to contemporary architecture of your house. In other words, having
In other words, having conventional styles of doors in a house that has modern outlook will look like well-dressed men enjoying his meal at a party with fingers. So, now the question which arises in mind of every person is that what he should do to retain the modern appearance of the house along with strong doors which not only carry a modern outlook but are also within his budget.
Relevance of Aluminium Doors
An answer to this question in simple words is Aluminium doors, which are blessed with versatile features like durability, reliability, and the most important feature, is eye-catching look. Going through all these features today these doors are highly preferred by all customers whether they business operators, shop owners, house owners or others.
In recent years aluminium doors have emerged as the perfect match of dynamic looks and security. Besides all these features an interesting feature of these doors which makes different others is that doors made from aluminium does not require any specific maintenance and can survive for long with simple care.
Maintenance of Aluminium Doors
So let us now focus on the factors during which it becomes necessary to pay attention towards the maintenance of these doors.
- An interesting feature of aluminium is that it does not require frequent cleaning and therefore when it comes to cleaning such doors you need not have to worry about cleaning them at least for six to seven months after you have cleaned them last. However, one thing which needs to be kept in concern is that cleaning of these doors also depends on their position.
- For instance, if live in a densely populated area of Hove and your aluminium door directly opens at the road side then there are chances huge chances of its spoiling due to pollution prevailing on the road. In such a situation you might have to clean them even at the span of three to four months.
- Cleaning of these doors is that quite simple, you just need to simply clean the surface of the door with regular water for removing any type of dirt or dust from it. Now take a swab the surface of the door with mild detergent and water and rub the surface. Before swabbing the surface of door make sure that it is properly wet and will not leave any kind of scratch on the surface. Once it is done once again flush the clean water on the surface for removing the residues of detergent and dry the door with a clean piece of cloth.
- As referred above although the best way to clean aluminium doors is with mild detergent and clean water but sometimes there are stubborn stains which are not difficult to clean and requires extra endeavor to remove them. To get rid of such stains it will better to use the mixture of water along with methylated spirits in the ratio of 9:1.
If you think that cleaning doors with turpentine will help in removal such stains, then you are going to commit a big mistake as your this decision might put you in huge trouble in from damage to your aluminium doors which are developed with powder coats or with some other type of eye-catching finish.
The post The Advantages Of Installing Aluminium Doors for Houses appeared first on Lifehack.