Pick a card

Any card. There are 52 possibilities and plenty of right answers. But there are plenty more wrong answers.

Those 52 cards are all ideas, and if you pick just one, your chances of picking well are slim. But luckily, you don’t have to pick just one. You can pick the 2 of diamonds, show the world, and get feedback.

“Red isn’t in this year.” “Two is too small a number.”

No problem because you have plenty of time to pick another.

7 of spades.

“Good number and color, but the shape isn’t quite right.”

It’s still early, draw again.

8 of clubs. Boom. That’s a good one.

When you wait a long time to ship a product, you’re losing opportunities to see if your card might be the one. You’re taking a giant risk that your one and only draw will be worth months of work. That sounds like a big gamble especially when there’s no limit on how many cards you can draw.

The only limit is how quickly you’re willing to move and how fast you can get feedback from the market. So pick another card, show your hand and try again.

The Power of Moments

What would it take to create a remarkable moment? Chip and Dan Heath argue it wouldn’t take much. Mainly just the conscious thought to recognize an opportunity.

Like the story of a little kid who brought in $13 and change to open a bank account. Rather than impose some rules about minimum balances, the teller recognized the moment as the day a young child opened their first account and said “Why don’t we round that up to $20 for you.”

That’s remarkable. That’s a moment that child will remember for many years to come. Is $7 a lot to create an amazing moment? Probably not to a bank for whom customer loyalty will lead to much more profit than $7.

But moments don’t need to cost money. It might take a simple hand written note, or the gift of attention. Remarkable moments are everywhere just waiting for you to come around and make them happen.

Teacher at heart

When I was 9, I sprained my ankle and couldn’t play basketball. Instead, I started teaching my friend.

When we think about finding our passion, we often think about having new experiences and stumbling upon passion. I think what we really need is to stumble upon insight. We need to think back to the moments where we felt alive. The moments where we felt useful.

I didn’t need more experiences to realize I was a teacher. I needed to spend more time reflecting.

I think passion is already in your life. It’s a thread running through your past experiences. There’s no need to waste energy jumping from experience to experience before you do the work of digging into your past threads. Listen to them. They’re there.

In response to a fear of failure

When you listen to users, iterate quickly and stay honest with yourself, it’s hard to fail.

Failing implies finality. Those who understand iteration know that each prototype is just a step along the way that leads to more learning.

Prioritize improvement over looking good. Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know.” Seek advice from those who know more than you. And most importantly, ship before it’s perfect.

Build fast. Build true. Be you.

The trickiness of growth

When you’re big you have leverage.

When you’re small you have agility.

The tricky part is finding leverage when you’re small and staying agile as you grow.

Big data vs small humans

Sometimes we hide in big data instead of making small impact.

One percent improvement might matter for a corporation’s bottom line, but does what does it feel like to a human? I don’t think it moves the needle much.

Looking at a huge survey isn’t going to lead to the human center insights we all need. Talk to people. Hear their voices. Make a small impact to start.

A cure for monotony

The human nature to become accustomed to any circumstance is a tragedy. It creates monotony where joy should reside.

An amazing new item becomes commonplace after you’ve used it for a few days. A rewarding role can become unexciting after a couple weeks. The luxuries of modern life so often fade from conscious awareness.

What cure is there for the inevitable slide back to boredom? One answer is variety. Changing your approach. Walking a different path. And while true that variety is the spice of life, any dish can be appreciated without added flavor with the right mindfulness. Another answer, and perhaps a more sustainable one, is presence.

Presence unlocks the magic in every moment. Unlike spice, it’s always available if we have the focus to summon it.

Finding the mapmaker

Someone already drew the map. It’d be silly to walk the whole coastline just to come up with your own rendition of an existing piece.

Instead, find the mapmaker, check their bias, and walk away with the information you need to make progress.

Built to scale

A bad product built to scale will never scale.

A great product not designed for scale, but optimized for user satisfaction, has a chance.

So go build great products.

Caring enough

If you care enough to set your ego aside and be wrong, you’re on the right track. If you’re willing to try something that might not work even if it might be humiliating, be proud of that.

Most people are hiding. They want to blend in. They don’t want to cause a stir. They don’t want to try something new even if it might drastically improve outcomes. It’s not worth the risk of failure.

But you’re different. You care enough to put yourself on the line for a bigger purpose. To run an experiment that world hasn’t seen before. To take a shot at changing the world. You are the kind of people we need.