What marriage teaches you about product development.

Today I was brought to a fascinating realization.  Finding your soul mate is very similar to creating a great product.  How?  Well, it’s a little known secret that finding your ideal partner is actually a process of understanding and developing yourself to the point that you can recognize your ideal match.

Take an average singles scene where unfortunately the shiny, sexy exterior is what motivates a lot of unfortunate people to base their dating choices on.  Now don’t get me wrong, like any new website, oops I mean person, you need some initial attraction to peak your interest but if it’s no good under the hood then your relationship won’t last.  So too with a web product.  You might be able to get people onto the site to poke around a little but unless you are offering users real value don’t expect them to come back and you certainly shouldn’t expect to achieve any viral reach.

This analogy can really be applied to anyone who is into self-development of any kind. Thinking back to the product managers I know I realized that like me, they are always the ones with the self-help books lying around.  We’re always trying to find the most impactful places to make improvements.  We’re always asking the questions like, How can this be more efficient? What would make this experience better? etc…

So here is something I’ve learnt in recent years after getting married and moving back to Toronto to focus my efforts as a social and viral web business developer.  No matter what area of your life you are trying to improve, whether it’s your attitude, your marriage, or your website, focusing on purpose and and values will always offer the best results.

The Opportunity for Niche Social Networks

Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are the places you go to shout pretty much anything to anyone who will listen, or for most users the place to hear what anyone has to say at any given time.  It’s the place to browse and see what is going on with everyone in your world.

Google+ has entered the game with a simple and fun way to categorize your feed of ever faster moving information by which ever circle you are filtering through at that moment, but it is still there to connect you to the whole world just like Facebook.

The pace at which information is flying by your eyes is dizzying and the more connections you have the faster it goes.  The unfortunate result is that that the faster is goes, the less impact your posts have on the world.  So if everyone is posting on all three, which one you choose to use becomes a preference of features.  No wonder it took a Google to create a third competitor…

Recently I was consulting a Toronto based social network startup called Keek.com as their Director of Product Management.  They want to “be like twitter, only better”.  Their belief is that if people like sending short messages to each other why not send short video messages instead.  So they’ve created a pretty sweet product and they’re betting millions that people will use keek.com when they want to communicate socially with video.  Are they really going to do that better than Facebook, Twitter or Google+ who already allow you to do so fairly easily?  We’ll see.  I’m not putting my money on it because when it comes to creating a product with the same purpose of Facebook, you’re not going to win by features alone.

Then enters Linkedin who has similar features to Facebook but exists for a very different purpose.  People go to Linkedin to connect and network socially, but have you ever gotten an update from a Linkedin connection about how angry someone is with Blair from Gossip Girl?  Probably not and chances are you never will.  Why?  Because it’s the ultimate “work people” circle.  People go there with their game face on trying to project the most professional, successful and valuable appearance they can.  This is their place to be seen for their professional successes and to find new or better professional opportunities.  It’s purpose is to be an online job fair or networking event and it does it fairly well.

Focused social networks are the opportunity today.  If you can create a place for people to gather around a specific purpose that can’t be met on the major networks, and offer users a way to connect and share in a custom way then you just may have the next big success story.

Hiring 101

My mind has recently been blown by Dave Ramsey, yet again, for the 100th time.  I was reading his newest book titled “Enterleadership” which is a practical guide for managing a business.

His approach, like always, is extreme but it just makes so much sense to me, who is coming from a company that uses the exact opposite approach, and pays dearly for it time and time again.

His strategy is to give a potential team-member 6 to 10 interviews over the span of 3 months before finally offering them a job.  When reading this initially I was like, “ya, thats just way too much” but when I considered that by the time I put someone through such a hiring process, and I still want them, and they still want the job, they are here to stay.  For good.

I mean honestly, do you really want to try someone out on the job?  Why?  When you can try them out at no cost to you before they even start.

And more importantly, why do employers try to cast a wide net when posting job descriptions and trying to collect resumes?  This really makes no sense at all.  When you put up a job posting you need to think about what your goal is.  Do you really want to get a large stack of resumes to toil over or would you prefer that the wrong people get enough information to take themselves out of the running.  Do you really want to interview a bunch of people who aren’t even in the ball park?  Of course not.  So make your job description really really clear and as long as you need to.  You should be trying to get as few resumes as possible, but from the right people who are really looking for the job you have to offer.

I just spent the entire day yesterday helping a fellow manager in his task of interviewing 30 candidates for a sales job.  Out of 30 there were only four that I would even consider giving a second interview.  So why did I have to waste my time with the other 26.  If the job description was written properly I would have interviewed only 4 people and could have gotten to the other more important things I had to do.

Do yourself a favour the next time you have a position to fill.  Start the process well before you are desperate to fill the position, and take enough time to weed out the people you don’t want. Hiring and replacing someone is far more costly then putting the proper care and attention into hiring the right person once.

And read Dave Ramsey’s book “Entreleadership” it’s awesome!

How to really lead a company.

So when listening to a podcast of Dave Ramsey’s Entreleadership series I heard about this amazing writer and speaker named Simon Sinek.

This guys has hit the nail on the head with his book titled “Start With Why”.

His main point is that the thing that differentiates great companies from all others is how they portray their reason for doing what they do.  Take a company like Apple for instance. Is it not clear that they love making products that are super sexy and fun to use?  Or that hey want to do it the absolute best way they can, which is different then everyone else doing it?  If you have ever walked into an Apple store, or used one of their products you would know that the answer is yes.  They exude an attitude of, “yeah, this is how we think it should be because this is what we think is the best way to do it”.  End of story and they don’t care about your opinion because they are so freaking confident that they have figured it out.

I really don’t know an average tech consumer who hasn’t loved their apple product or overall experience.  That’s not to say that I don’t know tech geeks who have other opinions on the subject but even they get it.

Well, according to Simon Sinek, this is because Steve Jobs refused to always bring his business back to “why” they were doing what they were doing.

So without further a due, check out this video to hear it from the horse’s mouth.



What does viral actually mean?





So what does viral actually mean? I get asked this question a lot.  Well to be honest it’s usually not asked directly but the blank, glossy eyed stare that comes over peoples faces when the topic comes up is enough for me to launch into my usual explanation.  Which is the following:

To me, viral product is one that gives people benefit when they share it with others. This could be an article that you share with someone because you think it’s really informative or really provocative, or it could be a product that is totally useless unless others also have it. A telephone, for example, is a viral product.  You don’t get much use out of it unless someone else has one.  Or, take facebook.  How great would facebook be if none of your friends were on it.

So some viral products are the content that gets shared, like a funny video about a shower gel, or it’s the means by which people actually share it, like twitter.