10 Actions Points to build your Minimum Viable Product

Andrew Warner of Mixergy interviewed KISSMetrics CEO, Hiten Shah on his experience launching products and some action points on how to create a minimum viable product to test your ideas. 

Here are the 10 Actions Points by Hiten:

  1. First write down your assumptions.
  2. Then survey and interview potential customers.
  3. Look for patterns in their responses.
  4. Build your Minimum Viable Product.
  5. Don’t worry about the ghetto launch.
  6. Look for early adopters who would accept flaws.
  7. Get feedback on your launch.
  8. Pivot, if you need to.
  9. Don’t worry about the competition.
  10. Discover your mistakes early.

Go to this page to grab a copy of the PDF containing the entire interview. Trust me, it's worth your time.

Get a life, not a job

Everyone needs to read this manifesto by Paula Caligiuri. All of us need to start managing our careers instead of leaving everything to our bosses and companies. We need to build careers not just jobs.

“Working for a big name company” and “paying your dues” are lousy pieces of advice without understanding the strategic relevance of the role you occupy and the criticality of the skills you possess.

You can't rely on your employer to provide the job security you want. You have take matters into your own hands and plan your own career plan. Take ownership of that plan now to take control of your life.

Enterprise from Tom Peters

Found this manifesto over at ChangeThis about the real meaning of enterprise and organization. Tom describes an enterprise as:

Enterprise* (*at its best): An emotional, vital, innovative, joyful, creative, entrepreneurial endeavor that maximizes individuals’ growth and elicits maximum concerted human potential in the wholehearted service of others.

Organization exist to serve people and the bottom line is that people serve people. He also encourages businesses to adopt the Professional Service Firm Idea where your company or department offer a complete turn-key solution to your customers. Your company or department need to do work that is worth paying for.

There's also a section where he teaches us to not let our life be dictated by our competitors. Instead of reacting to what your competitors are doing, you should focus on creating solutions for your customers. In fact, he wants you to love your competitors in order to grow the industry.

We ... are the problem. They are ... not ... the problem. We have one source only of Excellence: Us.

If you are running a team, department or company, this is a must read. Even if you're not, you should still check it out.


Maybe it's the way Roger Federer swings his racquet or the concentration of Michael Schumacher while he's driving on the track. When you look at them doing what they do best, you can tell they are the masters of their art.

It resists definition, yet can be instantly recognized. - George Leonard on Mastery

Mastery isn't reserved to the talented few but to anyone who is willing to devote their life and have the determination to stick to it. It is not a destination or a goal but rather a journey of self-improvement.

Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master. For this reason mastery demands all of a person. - Albert Einstein

Before we start the journey to master our art, we must first know how mastery works. The 3 Laws of Mastery from Drive that might help us understand the true nature of mastery.

  1. Mastery is a Mindset - You need to tell yourself that anyone can do it. You should subscribe to the notion that intelligence is something malleable. The goal is to get better at something, not proving that you can do something. Learning should be your mindset in pursuing mastery.
  2. Mastery is Pain - The journey of mastery is a tough one. You need to have the determination to make it through. Mastery is a grind and a very tough one at that.
  3. Mastery is an Asymptote - Asymptote is a line that a curve approaches but never quite reaches. Mastery is something that you can get really close to but never be able to fully achieve. It is elusive and also the reason why many pursue it.

If you are still up for it, try applying the 5 keys to Mastery from George Leonard's Mastery.

  1. Surrender - You need to surrender to your passion. The journey is long and tough so why not make it more enjoyable. Follow your heart and be true to yourself.
  2. Practice - It is not about talent. It's about your determination, your devotion, your willingness to do the things you love on days that you don't feel like doing it. Don't give up.
  3. Instruction - Get a mentor or guide. Someone to teach you so you are doing the right things and not repeating the wrong things.
  4. Intentionality - Visualize the outcome you desire. Once you have the vision in your mind, it's easier to bring it to life. Every master is a master of vision.
  5. The Edge - Always challenge to out-do yourself. You have to keep pushing the edge of the box and believe that everything is possible.

This journey is not for the faint-hearted or the undetermined but definitely open to anyone who are willing to give their all to it. You may never achieve true mastery but the process itself is rewarding enough. After all, if it is easily attainable, why bother at all.

Seven Ways To Do More Great Work

In order to be indispensable, you have to do great work. Unless you are self-employed or work for a boss that understand this, it's pretty hard to have the time to get stuff that matters done. Most of the time, you'll be occupied with busywork. Luckily, Michael Bungay Stanier (founder of Box of Crayons) offer us 7 ways to stop us from doing the busywork and do more great work. He categorizes the work we do into 3 different types. Bad, Good and Great work. The key is to stop doing or reduce time spent on the bad and good work and focus on the great.

The brutal truth is that if everyone is happy, then you're probably not doing Great Work - Michael Bungay Stanier

Check out the manifesto here or download it to read it later.

Rework your business

The guys from 37signals just released their new book REWORK. I'm hoping to get my hands on one soon. It's a compilation of essays that give you great new insights on how you should run your business. A must read for every entrepreneur out there.

In the real world, you can't have over a dozen employees spread out across eight different cities over two continents. In the real world, you can't attract millions of customers without any salespeople or advertising. In the real world, you can't reveal your formula for success to the rest of the world. But we've done all those things and prospered. The real world isn't a place, it's an excuse. It's a justification for not trying. It has nothing to do with you. - Excerpt from REWORK

If you would like to know more about the book. check out the REWORK manifesto on Changethis.

How much will you pay?

If you run a business or do some gigs on the side, this is probably a question that you wish you could ask your client and get a honest response. Your customer will perceive the quality, value, demand, speed and other attributes of your product or service from the amount you charge them. Airlines charges a business traveler that needs to travel on the same day higher than a leisure traveler who booked his ticket 6 months ahead in time. Book publishers provide hardcovers and paperbacks to target different readers. Offering different pricing to different customers allows you to profit from those who are willing to pay more.

Restaurants will often list some high margin items on their menu to take advantage of anchoring. Not only will this convey the quality of the meal but also help make other items on menu look cheaper in comparison.

Freemium is another way to price your product. Web services like Flickr provide a free plan for the majority of users and a premium plan for those who need more features and disk space for their photos. You make money as long as the cost of each user is small enough that your paying customers is able to absorb it.

New companies and freelancers tend to charge less than the competition in order to strike the deal. This is not a long term strategy because if your only advantage over the competition is price, eventually someone will undercut you. You should strive to be the Apple of your industry, not the next Walmart.

If you are interested in knowing more about cost, price, margin and options you have in managing them, you should check out this free ebook, Fixed to Flexible from Todd Sattersen.

We are brainwashed!

Seth Godin says that everything, our education, society and corporations brainwashed us into compliant cogs that worship the status quo. His advice is that we do stuff that matters and break free from the norm. He wrote a manifesto on what you need to do to reinvent yourself. Pass this to all your friends, everyone must read this. He also just released his latest book, Linchpin. Can't wait for it to get here.

What really matters

One rainy afternoon, a certain ninja enlighten me with the art of Minimalism. A minimalist strives to live a simple, uncluttered and more sustainable lifestyle by reducing excess, removing distraction and focusing only on the most essentials. Minimalism is about simplifying your life and detaching yourself from unnecessary possessions. The one aspect of minimalism that attracts me is the focus on things that really matters. Once you eliminate all the distractions, wastes and excesses, you are giving yourself the chance to go after your dreams.

So, if you are trying to clock up that 10,000 hours, it might be wise to water down your life with a little minimalistic juice.

What matters now EBook

A while ago, Seth Godin posted about an ebook with ideas and insights from many influential individuals and great thinkers of our time. Here's an excerpt from his post.

Here are more than seventy big thinkers, each sharing an idea for you to think about as we head into the new year. From bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert to brilliant tech thinker Kevin Kelly, from publisher Tim O'Reilly to radio host Dave Ramsey, there are some important people riffing about important ideas here. The ebook includes Tom Peters, Fred Wilson, Jackie Huba and Jason Fried, along with Gina Trapani, Bill Taylor and Alan Webber.

It is so good and thought provoking that I just had share this to everyone. You can download it here or view it online on Scribd or wepapers.