Marketing is everywhere. Someone’s ad is targeted at you when you’re taking shit. Someone is trying to sell you their stuff right now while you’re reading this post. Brands have gone too far playing this marketing game. It stopped being funny. It has become more of a burden.
People are tired of marketing. Badly. Especially of the one that teaches how to live your life, treat your kids, or become a better version of yourself. They say, “You're imperfect. Do this and you’ll become that. Buy this thing and it’ll empower you to do those cool things.” All kind of bullshit like this is ubiquitous. It’s all over the place.
Brands keep selling magic pills when people know it’s a myth. Fuck them.
No surprise we’re so tired of marketing. No one likes to be taken for a fool. People have learned most of the marketing tricks they used to fall prey to. They don’t fall for them anymore. But most marketers are too short-sighted to see that. So they keep pushing.
People don’t want to be manipulated or be taken advantage of anymore. They seek respect, trust, and care. They look for help, support, and understanding. They have always been looking for those things, long before marketing was invented. People want to see they’re heard.
To put it simply, marketing is any communication between a brand and a customer. However, most of the time you don’t even know you’re a customer. Brands simply push something towards you without asking: an email, a message, a call, an advertisement.
You’re no longer taking an active part in this play. You’re an impersonal audience they sell to. You are to watch and choose between Y and N buttons. That’s your role when it comes to marketing today. No one give a shit what you need.
But marketing is not about selling by force. It’s about selling to the right people by fitting their needs and solving their problems the way they expect.
Marketing is not about bombarding people with calls and emails. It’s about talking to the right person as if it was a private meaningful conversation with a friend which is in need right now.
Marketing is not about deciding what is the best color for the CTA-button or if it should have an outline and a shadow. It’s about finding the right words and images to convey your message, to make others feel they belong.
Marketing is not about a bouncing popup-window that appears when you’ve just opened the website. It’s about letting people look through your page and make an informed decision on their own.
We need to remarket marketing. We need to have a clear and honest conversation with people we’d like to see as our customers and clients. That would be a great start.
Writers and designers are afraid of ChatGPT and other AI services popping up all over the place. They shouldn’t be. It won’t leave you out of work unless you do one thing: keep moving.
TV didn’t kill theater. The internet didn’t kill TV. Remote work didn’t kill offices. Those things changed the game, but didn’t kill prior technologies. They just kept going. Nobody likes change, but it’s not death.
AI is yet another tool to your arsenal. It won’t replace you, because it can’t feel and reflect. It runs algorithms designed by… humans. It was designed to replicate and repeat ideas invented by humans. And most of the work today can’t be trusted to AI. Not without a human supervision.
ChatGPT can write a good summary, give some ideas, and spur your imagination. But it can’t create new meanings. Humans exceed AI in innovation. And I don’t think AI will ever come any close to what we are capable of when it comes to creating new paradigms, concepts, and ideas.
Don’t panic. It’s a long-term run. A marathon, not a sprint. Keep your pace and stay in the game as long as you can by bringing new meanings and ideas to the people you serve. It never goes out of fashion.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
One of the biggest truths about life is that we don’t own most of the things we think belong to us. Sounds crazy, but keep reading, and you’ll get there.
The money in your bank account doesn’t belong to you. They belong to the bank. If tomorrow it goes bankrupt, you’ll have no money. The lease car you’re driving doesn’t belong to you. It belongs to a leasing company. The money you invested in stocks or real estate doesn’t belong to you. They belong to the company you’ve entrusted them to.
Neither cool things nor expensive toys you buy belong to you. They are simply tools that provide comfort for you and your family. But they don’t belong to you. They are not a part of you. Even the clothes you wear, and the food you eat don’t belong to you. Those are just things you buy with money.
Money is the biggest illusion of power and stability.
Politicians own your money, and they screw up every goddamn day. One poor decision of theirs and you have less money than you had last morning. Trying to be in control and believing you’re in control of the things you own is probably the biggest self-deception in the world. Don’t fall into this trap.
Your real possessions are the money you’ve already spent and the experiences and skills you’ve acquired with that money. Choose wisely, spend more easily, and get richer.
It’s been three days since my wife and I returned home from a short trip to Ufa, the capital city of Bashkortostan. It was our first trip together in six months, so we were expecting it like never before.
We did all we could to make this trip joyful and pleasant: booked a good four-star hotel, asked our friends to recommend us good restaurants and cafes, and made a list of places to visit and local food we should try. However, everything that could go wrong went wrong on that trip.
The mishaps started right after we arrived. We planned this short vacation a month ago to get to the concert of Pompeya, a Russian indie-rock band that sings in English. The organization was so bad that there was a cram. As the gig started, soon my wife and I were squeezed between two flows of people like rye in the windmill. So, we had to leave and listened the rest of the show from the distance.
For the next two days, bad luck followed us. Everywhere we went we encountered indifference from waiters and baristas, rudeness from people in the street, and prying eyes of random passersby. In all the restaurants we visited the food was unsavory or cooked in some weird way. For example, in one place we were served an Italian pizza with dill, and in other cafe—a waiter brought eggs Benedict that were watery.
The city of Ufa is a nice place from an urban perspective: there are many parks and green cozy alleys, breathtaking landscapes, lots of old merchant houses, and unique local wooden architecture. But we didn’t have a chance to enjoy the city, because we didn’t feel welcome there.
Even though I can’t say our trip was a pleasant experience, we accepted it and tried our best to enjoy it anyway. As soon as we realized things weren’t going the way we wanted, we made up our minds to accept anything that would happen and live every moment as is, not trying to control the consequences of our choices.
We can’t control the outcomes
The only two things you can control in life are your perception of events and your attitude to the impact they have on your life. You have the power to make conclusions and decisions you think are best for you. But you can’t control the outcomes.
You can design a great process, tweak your mind to the right tune, thoroughly manage your daily routine, and still get the wrong result. It’s insane, but it happens every day. And when it does, it’s crucial to focus on the next attempt rather than the outcome you are aiming for.
There’s no 100% working solution that will lead you to success. There are no magic pills. The previous experience that worked in the past can become a letdown or another pitfall in the present. The only reliable tactic is to keep trying and not be afraid of failure.
Failures always come with stress, and it’s a good thing. Stress kept our ancestors looking for a better place to settle. Stress and hunger kept them seeking an easier and more reliable way to get food—that's how livestock and crop production emerged.
Stress and failures are the essences of life, without them, we’d be extinct. So if you’re feeling stressed right now, that’s OK. You can’t completely remove stress from your life, but you can change your attitude toward it. Legitimize failures, let them be.
Babies are best at failing, and they don’t give a shit about it!
Think of a baby boy who learns to stand and walk. He doesn’t care if he falls a thousand times before he can stand holding onto the edge of his bed. He doesn’t give a shit! He keeps trying, and, in the end, he gets there. We are no different from them!
Another great example is people who run marathons. Marathoners don’t run a marathon on their first attempt. First, they run 1 km, then 2, someday they run 5. Then they run 10, 20, and only after years of training—a marathon. They don’t care much about failures, because it’s OK not to be capable of running 42 km from scratch.
Legitimizing failures is the healthiest way to handle stress. By changing your attitude to setbacks you can greatly reduce the amount of stress in life. This will release more time for new attempts and ideas, and allow you to see solutions that were unavailable to you before.
Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. The same goes for failures and stress.
Accept failure when it comes your way. Never think you’d fail, but also never regret it when you do. Go forward, do your best, and never look back. Then it’ll be easy for you to start over as if nothing bad happened at all. That’s the best way to master the game. Any game.
The hardest thing to do when you’re wrong is to accept that it’s only your fault and responsibility, but no one else’s. It’s incredibly difficult to admit when you’re wrong.
It takes a great courage to stand up and say, “Yeah, I failed. I am sorry for that. I was wrong.” Very few people are capable of taking such a step. If you can do that, you have reason to be proud of yourself.
The secret of happiness can be revealed with a simple thought. Life is always beautiful. No matter what shit may come and happen, life is good simply because being alive is better than being dead.
Our life is very erratic and inconsistent. You won’t have forever what you have now in your life. Someday it will end. All of it. And there will be nothing to enjoy, nothing to look at, and nothing to regret about.
Even though sometimes life puts us to the test it doesn’t make life less precious and amazing. To live is always good. Remember that both in the moments of joy and in the moments of grief.
The value of life is in life itself, not in how easy or hard this life is for you.