The superior companion

If you fall in love with an outcome, you will never notice that the world around you is moving, that the context is ever changing, and that the outcome, in the end, does not provide that sense of reward you had anticipated.

If instead you fall in love with the journey, you are in the present, here and now. You see the changes, you notice the details, you are awake and ready, you have a place to fall back to when the unexpected becomes reality.

The journey is just a superior companion.

Surprising

There are so many variables in any open position, in any grant available, in any reward you might be pursuing, that it is actually more surprising when you succeed than when you fail.

And by the way, neither success nor failure is a reliable measure of your worth.

The sooner you get used to it, the more you can focus on building your own measure.

No, thanks

What is valuable to your audience?

We design experiences with our own benefit in mind, trying to make life easier for us, adding an additional step so that we don’t have to do some more work.

And the burden of all this, of course, is on the user. Who has options and kindly says, no thanks.

Elaborate

The Flickr for videos.

A Netflix for video games.

The Airbnb for parking.

It’s a great way to describe what your product does, but do you and your team understand what that means? What are the characteristics of the original that you believe you have? What will ensure that you will still be in that same game in the future? Or is it a trick to cheat your stakeholders into believing you will get to a similar valuation?

It is a useful exercise to clarify what you mean by taking this useful shortcut. It brings your team together and creates alignment throughout the company. It gives you milestones to look forward to and a manifesto customers can buy into.

Start with:

  • What features matter to the original and to us alike.
  • What parts of both stories are common and what are not.
  • How do we ensure we continue on the same path.

Exactly the same

It’s not enough that you make your story clear for yourself. You also have to make it clear for those you serve.

Most companies have a clear idea of why they are in business, of the problem they solve, of the new world they want to build. But then they stop there. They fail to put in the work that is necessary to spread the word, to tie goals into their vision, to buy others into their perspective. And that’s why most companies feel like they are exactly the same.

Differentiation also means leveraging that unique story and making it relatable. If you don’t understand this, you are in a perfect competition.

If you’re innovating in a nascent market, the push for recognition of your product category needs to be a major chunk of your go-to-market strategy.

Stewart Butterfield, From 0 to $1B