Tag “approach”

Know your focus ★

For the past three years I’ve worked with and for various product and SaaS teams. They were from different industries. But all of them had one common problem—bad focus.

I can’t count how many times I’ve seen small teams and products initially aimed at a certain audience transformed in the minds of their founders into humongous, rigid structures. Simply because founders lost their focus.

I can’t count how many times I’ve heard these words: “We need to get attention of everyone on our product. Our product should be universal. Our goal is to corner the market and beat those big guys!”

Really? I believe your starting plan was to create a better user experience for a certain segment of the market, rather than corner it. But appetite comes with eating. This rising appetite blinds people and makes them lose the way.

Knowing your focus and saying no to other things is the most important lesson I’ve ever learned.

The lack of focus erodes ability to flex and accomplish your initial goals. In 99% of the cases the focus shifts to money, and here’s why.

Startups are hungry and it’s a good thing. Business should stay hungry. Hunger keeps the mind clear and the focus precise. However, you have to control your hunger and not let it become a starvation. Have a bite once in a while. Starving businesses lose their focus easily.

It’s not long before they start eating anything that comes their way, just to beat this sick feeling at the pit of a stomach. Side projects, little opportunities to make some money on the side, new feature that your customers want to see, a darn dark theme, or a mobile app. That’s how it always starts. The end is never that fun though.

You probably wouldn’t like the idea of feeding your body with crap like chips and coke. To stay healthy, efficient and strong you have to eat proteins, slow carbons, greens, and drink a lot of water, not soda. The same goes for business. You should be cautious about what you’re feeding your product with. The businesses feed with ideas, hypothesis and guesses you take. Take one and go with it. Don’t squander.

Control your hunger and know your focus. Otherwise you’ll end up creating a product that has no market, no demand, and no unfair advantage. All of that is simply because of a bad focus.

Ten takeaways from “It Doesn’t Have To Be Crazy At Work”

The first book I read this year, and it was good. Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson managed to balance the brevity and depth of their thoughts and keep their vision clear.

Instead of bringing new ideology or another corporate bullshit standard, they offer common sense as a universal tool—like a Swiss knife—to make decisions and handle chaos in any situation.

Their book is an easy-to-digest and ready-to-go manual for those who finally want to make a change at work and feel good about it rather than stressed, anxious, and humiliated.

Here are my ten takeaways from it:

  1. Bury the hustle, go with calm. Calm is meetings as a last resort. Calm is asynchronous first, real-time second.
  2. No goals. Goals are fake. Nearly all of them are artificial targets set for the sake of setting targets.
  3. Deliver updates in six-week cycles, no sprints. Fix a deadline and budget, flex the scope.
  4. Do good work. Most of the time it’s enough to stand out.
  5. Less is more. Stop chasing many and much, choose just one target, and aim.
  6. Protect your focus. Depth, not breadth, is where mastery is often found.
  7. Productivity is a myth. Filling every moment with something to do is all it’s about these days. Dump it.
  8. No public calendars. Time is the most valuable thing we have. We don’t have the right to decide how our teammates should spend it. We may think it’s a meeting, they consider it’d better be an email.
  9. No all-nigters and 80-hours weeks. Sleep, eat, and rest enough. In the long run, work is not more important than sleep.
  10. Hire only those who fit your mindset. No rock stars and fancy titles would do if you don’t feel right about the person applying for a position.

I came to most of these ideas while running my design studio. It was good to see that an ocean away there’s a company run by similar ideas and principles.

Check out the book at 37signals' website →

Note-taking is the key to consistent writing

Let me share two principles that help me write consistently and be abundant: write everything down and keep it simple. Let’s look at them closer.

Write everything down. It’s a fundamental principle of my writing process. I guess nothing gave such a boost to my writing as building a habit of taking notes. There are three reasons for doing that:

  1. Taking notes frees up the space for new ideas in your head. Since I’d begun writing down all the ideas that crossed my mind, the more new thoughts started coming in. My wife often observe me rushing to my desk from the bed to write down the idea that arose in my head before sleep.
  2. Writing ideas down helps to structure the knowledge and experience you’ve gained. Writing and deconstructing things I’ve learned was the easiest way to understand them much deeper and turn them into simple but efficient management principles. No video or audio can do so. Writing is the only creative process that implies analysis.
  3. Writing is the fastest and cheapest way to share your knowledge with others. Videos and podcasts require many additional skills and postproduction, while writing doesn’t take much time and energy to convey a message. Also reading is a natural way to get the idea, while a video or a podcast doesn’t allow you to skip a part of it without losing the context or some important details.

Keep it simple. I’m talking about note-taking, of course. I know that some of you may have a tendency to hunt for a new super powerful all-in-one perfect application that would empower you to start taking notes. I’ve been down that road. That’s a self-deception.

Dump this idea. Don’t wait for the perfect tool. It won’t make a difference to the world, but your writing may.

You already have a note app on your phone. It already has hashtags, folders, headings, bullet points, etc. You don’t need a list of unique features to make a grocery list, same goes for ideas. All you need is to start writing them down.

The simpler your note-taking process is, the better. I use standard Notes by Apple to jot down my thoughts. It’s enough to capture the idea that came to me and make the first draft so I could forget about it and move on. Any app that has autosave, folders, hashtags, and cloud sync will work.

This is how my note-taking system looks like

To sum up:

  • Write down all ideas that cross your mind
  • Take notes so you could forget and get back later to edit them
  • Keep your note-taking system simple
  • Use a standard app that is aimed at getting the job done
  • Use hashtags for topics and folders for projects

The next time you’re going to write something on social media, open you notes, pick one topic and simply edit this. No need to write from scratch anymore, you will always have a list of ideas to go with.