Make Your Mark
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To define your personal purpose, start with these questions: How will the world be better off thanks to you having been on this earth? What are your unique gifts and superpowers? Who have you been when you’ve been at your best? Who must you fearlessly become?
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At the intersection of these four questions lies your personal purpose.
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FIREPROOFING YOUR IDEA WITH THE “WHY?” TEST Once you’ve identified the problem—a desire or need that a real person might actually have—then it’s time to go deeper. This is called the “why test.” Have you ever spent time with a two-year-old that keeps asking “Why?” no matter what response you give? It’s time to channel that two-year-old. Let’s travel back in time and imagine ourselves in the nineteenth-century equivalent of a hoodie, perhaps it’s a mid-length sack coat, which, according to Wikipedia, replaced the frock coat for less formal occasions. And, exciting news, we just invented the ...more
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you have to keep that “Why are we here?” question front and center at all times (put a banner on the wall if you must).
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IF WE DISAPPEARED, WHO WOULD MISS US? AND WHY?
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“It’s a question every company should ask itself,” Rauch says, because it brings into focus what makes you unique and valuable, while also clarifying who your core customers are and why they need you. If you can’t answer this question specifically (hint: “everybody” is not a good answer), you need to work on it.
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For better or worse, meaningful engagement—with products and services (especially the Internet kind)—occurs only when we’re pulled past the initial laziness and selfishness that accompanies any new experience. But what pulls us through? The hook.
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BE SURE TO HAVE A HOOK An effective hook appeals to short-term interests (aka our selfishness and impatience) but is connected to a long-term promise. When you see a prompt to “Sign Up in Seconds to Organize Your Life,” it’s a hook. The headlines we read in newspapers are hooks. Dating sites are full of hooks. Let’s take the process of purchasing a book as an example. Regardless of how well written and interesting it may be, the book is nothing but hundreds of pages of black-and-white words (or a digital file) until you actually commit to reading it. The hook, in this case, is the cover. The ...more
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The challenge is to create product experiences for two different mind-sets. In retail, what you display in your windows determines whether or not a customer will walk in. But the science of window dressing is entirely different from in-store merchandising and the actual quality of your products. In publishing, the cover of your book will determine whether or not people will pick it up, but the art of cover design is entirely different from the art of great writing. When you try to create both the cover and the book—or the window dressing and the product selection—with the same goals in mind, ...more
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build a meaningful experience and a relationship that lasts a lifetime. In other words, make decisions with the short-ter...
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KEY TAKEAWAYS – Building Your Product THE PROBLEM CONTAINS THE SOLUTION Don’t limit the shape of the solution too early in the product development process. Remove constraints, focus on the problem, and work from “first principles.” THINK SMALL Focus on making one great product that a small group of people truly want. Nail that first; then (and only then) think about expanding your offerings. FOCUS ON THE FIRST-TIMERS Hone your product by empathizing with the first-time user. Assume you have fifteen seconds or less to convince them it’s worth their time. GO EASY ON YOUR USER Try to use familiar ...more
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FAILURE IS INFORMATION Start experimenting with, and releasing, prototypes (or beta versions) as soon as possible. If you’re not iterating and failing, you’re not learning. WATCH IT IN THE WILD Put early versions of your product in the users’ hands as soon as possible. Then watch what they do, and refine based on your observations.
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the real question, which is not “Will they come?” but rather “Are you ready to serve?”
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Such is the power of a small group of remarkable people, an army of allies who are eager to support a cause. Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a Eurorail locomotive, and better than any paid advertising, an army of allies is the greatest asset you can cultivate.
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STEP 1: INVITE YOUR ARMY TO SERVE An army does not materialize out of nowhere or assemble on its own. The most important thing you can do to gain allies and attention is to produce good work. Take a stand—do something that matters! Next, make it clear that you welcome people to your mission. Give them something to believe in and a reason to care.
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Every day, start by asking yourself two questions: What am I making? Whom am I helping?
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STEP 2: IN TURN, SERVE YOUR ARMY
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“My marketing plan is strategic giving.” That person, Megan Hunt, meant it in the context of her work as a blogger and fashion designer—her primary strategy for growth was relying on other bloggers to spread the word, and she often sent out free product in hopes of endorsements. But the lesson goes far beyond packaging up product and not including an invoice.
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When you make the focus of your work what you can do for people instead of what they can do for you, you’re not only being a good person; you’re also building the loyalty of
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Make your expertise available to the community at regular intervals.
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Share your paid content with users for free on different channels.
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Reciprocity is a powerful practice. The more you give away, the stronger the bond you’ll create with your army of allies. Strive to continually increase the percentage of your work that you make available to everyone, even as you block off other areas of your work that are available for sale or hire. Then, when it’s finally
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time to ask for that sale, send that invoice, or request a higher fee, you’ll have a reservoir of goodwill to draw on.
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I’ve always thought that the hardest and most valuable thing in work is to get a group of smart people to work together toward a common goal.