The energy flywheel

In the last year, I’ve understood that the most important thing that I need to ensure for myself is picking problems, projects and places that give me excitement and energy.

Because, when I don’t feel excited about a problem space, I don’t feel like exploring. When I don’t explore, I’m really not learning anything new.

When I’m not learning anything new, I’m barely acquiring any surprising insights.

When I don’t have insights or energy, I have nothing to give to my team members – to inspire them or help them get excited about the work we’re doing together. I don’t even have anything for myself, to fuel my own drive in the first place.

So, I’ve come to the conclusion that the most basic thing about work for me is finding projects that fire up my energy – things that I naturally feel excited about.

Because everything else cascades from there.

Truly eco-friendly packaging for food delivery

Through this series, I’m writing down some ideas I want to pursue when I am more than just financially independent.

I can work on them now, but I don’t think I have the risk-taking abilities that many entrepreneurs have, yet. I don’t have any expertise in these specific domains, so there’s a lot I need to learn to be comfortable enough to take decisions or build teams in these spaces before I pursue the ideas listed below.

Despite all that, I’m sometimes too excited about these ideas. So, I just wanted to put them out in the world and see what people think. So, here we go.

My first idea is around building and launching a truly eco-friendly food packaging material for food (especially, Indian food).

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The abbreviation disease

Before you start reading, I want to mention that this isn’t an attack against anyone specifically. This is a behaviour I’ve noticed in teams I’ve worked with over the years. I couldn’t find a better analogy to express this idea.

The abbreviation disease leads people to use unclear short forms to convey something that can very well be expressed using simple terms. While there is a higher chance for people in bigger teams to be infected by this disease, this condition may also be observed in teams of all sizes.

If you’ve ever had someone in your organization constantly use abbreviations while speaking but the folks listening clearly don’t understand what the abbreviations mean, you can be sure that you’ve seen someone affected by this disease.

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On writing

Write so well that someone doesn’t need to send you a message on Slack to fill the gaps in what you actually wrote about.

Write so well that even someone who barely knows anything about the topic in question can understand everything they need to know while they read your document, one pager or what not.

Write like your writing doesn’t put off someone who already has a fair bit of expertise in the topic, even though you’re trying to make things simple enough for someone new.

Write so clearly that your words continue to make sense even after you die, and there’s no need to wake you up from your grave to truly understand something you wrote.

Getting readers to say “hell yeah” when they land on your web page

As a product marketer, when you write content for your website, don’t you want your readers to say “hell, yeah” instead of closing their tabs and moving on? Don’t you want them to feel like you read their mind, sign up and try your product?

How do you write copy that truly moves your readers to take action?

Often, people will tell you that you need to get into the shoes of the person who landed on your site. They’ll tell you you need to ’empathize’ with them. They’ll say you’ll need to talk about the problem statement so that your readers just ‘get it’.

But for someone who is getting started with copywriting, ‘getting into the shoes’ or ’empathizing with visitors’ barely means anything. These concepts are alien to folks who are just getting started.

As copywriters, we often end up opening Google Docs, writing sentences, looking at them over and over again. And after a couple of days of self-loathing, we finally push the work we’re often not happy about, on our sites. We’ve all done this before  -  I’m guilty of it too.

But what comes out of this process is forgettable copy. You know what it leads to  –  poor signups, poor conversions, and whatnot.

In this post, I want to talk about how I got over this habit and learned to write better copy. I want to unpack how you can actually go about empathizing with your users so that empathizing becomes more than just a jargon everyone throws around at you. This is certainly not rocket science  -  I’ve done this only by naturally studying what the best web pages I’ve seen have done in the past with words.

Imagine I’m building a product that any home baker across the world can use. I can write this headline and description introducing it on the homepage of Goodcookie, my product:

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Increase feature adoption in your SaaS product: seven ideas

Everywhere else on the internet, you’ll find marketers talking about ideas (drip emails, etc.) that drive conversions for entire products. Here, I’m going to lay out specific tactics you can use to increase feature adoption in your SaaS product.

When you ship something useful in a SaaS product, the work is barely over – it’s just getting started. In the months and weeks that follow, you need to learn what’s working, unlearn your assumptions, and find repeatable methods to consistently increase the adoption for the feature you just built. In this post, I’ll talk about how we used our product and website to drive user adoption for the help widget, something we recently worked on.

You can take these methods and replicate them for anything you’re building in your SaaS product to get your users to adopt them (assuming what you’ve built is useful.)

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Business software is so good now, that it’s competing with consumer software

For a long time, business software was clunky. Consumer software continued to radically innovate on user experience, staying ahead of the curve.

Palm to iPhone. Styluses to capacitive touch. Taxis to Ubers. Torrents to Netflix. MP3s to Spotify, etc. We’ve lived through this story of how innovation in consumer software radically improved our lives in the last decade.

At one point, business software had no choice but to stop being clunky and terrible to use, because nobody wanted to walk into work to use shitty software. And as teams got more power to pick the software they wanted, business software had no choice but to be simple enough for anyone to try and buy.

If a business application wasn’t easy to use, people just abandoned it and start trialing something else. Apps that had the best user experience started winning more often at work than the ones that didn’t.

Everyone called this trend ‘consumerization of business software/IT’. Dropbox, Google Drive, Docs and Sheets, etc led this era. But despite all efforts by business apps to keep things simple, consumer software continued to set the gold standard in user experience. Business software just followed the direction already set by consumer software products.

However, I think the scene is changing.

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Fighting outdated tribal knowledge in sales and support teams

When businesses start out, support and sales teams (like any other team) are closely knit. The teams are small and most folks know the ins and outs of the product being sold. Everyone stays on top of new product updates by playing with the latest features, reading documentation or just being quizzed in the hallway by another team member.

When these team members work together, they create knowledge that’s shared within their tribe. They know what works really well in the product and what doesn’t, what pitch to use when on a sales call and what’s the best solution to provide when a certain problem is reported by customers. Even if someone doesn’t know the direct answer, they’d most certainly know an expert in the tribe who can help them out.

This is tribal knowledge. In most companies, tribal knowledge is not written down. It’s created every day. People acquire tribal knowledge by working together, talking about problems, sharing insights and know-how when solving those problems together.

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