Insights from dinner with Josh

Grepsr is increasingly being used in the work place by Quid.

Business people that don’t know how to code use Grepsr to pull data.

There is increasing demand for DIFFs to identify thematic trends. Themes are extracted from articles through the use of NLTK.

The proliferation of machine learning libraries and the maturing of the semantic web is democratizing the access to insights.

The legalization of online sports betting has open a fertile ground for this trend towards democratization.

NBA basketball predictive modeling should be done at the players level instead of the team level as the data becomes too lossy.

The odds of sports books at the opening lines is to encourage even bets on both side. The odds of the closing lines is a weighted average of bets (signals) from the crowd.

Book summary: The essential Drucker

Management: make people capable of working together to respond to change in the environment through:

  • common goals
  • common values
  • the right structure
  • proper training and development

Reasons for failure

  • Not innovating
  • inability to manage innovation

The goal of any business is to create a customer. A business does so by producing generate products and services the community wants in exchange for profits to sustain continued operation.

The goal of marketing is to know understand and know the customer so well the product sells itself

The Purpose of a business is the change it wants to effect in the community

The Mission is what it wants to do to effect the change

The Objectives are key tasks it will execute upon to achieve the mission.

Types of innovation

  • Product innovation
  • Social innovation
  • Management innovation

Waste as little effort as possible on areas of low competence.

First figure out how you learn to figure out how you perform.

Number two person often fails in number one position because top spot requires a decision maker.

Effective people are perpetually working on time management.

The first rule of decision is one does not make a decision unless there is a disagreement.

Determine the right organization size to fit the requirements of the mission.

Insights from Klaren’s birthday

Conversations with Yi (EverString)

The forthcoming trend for engineering

Machine learning is increasingly becoming commoditized. DevOps becomes more important. Demand for specialized service where DevOps is encapsulated will further increase as demand for engineering tasks further outstrips engineering supplies.

On lead generation market

Companies in the lead generation space have need for scalable web crawlers. This helps offset the cost of retaining three in-house engineers.

Lead generation space has consolidated. There were priorly 120k such companies. There is 7k companies in operation. Majority of players are generating leads by scraping LinkedIn.

Consumer space require constant development of new features. Enterprise space requires service heavy. Enterprise space requires not just lead generation but entire channel marketing service suit (physical mail, online advertising, email marketing)

Lead gen hard to retain. The list becomes less valuable once it’s been used. 80% yearly churn is normal. One company reduces yearly churn to just 10% this by reducing second year subscription from USD800/yr to USD200/yr. further discount to USD100/yr if they don’t like. Recurring service is for grabbing fresh leads from same data source.

On Tele conference

Zoom’s product team compared with UberConference has developed a better understanding of the true conference needs of their users in various context. They have worked harder to ensure their product work seamlessly in identified scenarios. A typical example is the ability to join s conference bybthe press of a button on their mobile phone while driving instead of having to type the typical 4 pin digits.

Blitzscaling with Microsoft

  • At scale, making sure everyone knows and adheres to mission, vision and values is very important
  • Handling Technological disruption is easy, handling business model disruptions are hard as it requires slaughtering your current cash cow
  • Need to set some ground rules that are baked into the core to mitigate against negative societal impact when operating at scale.
  • Ask permission from investors to use a different set of leading indicator metric when exploring into new terrain to help show progress every quarter

Insights from lunch with Manish and Ketan

  • The tech industry is cyclical
    • Consumer Tech is going out of trendy and
    • enterprise is coming into trend
  • Look up for parallels, for example case studies for how the following company grew
    • New Relic
    • Rubrik
  • Co-founder discussions
    • 4 year vesting, 1 year cliff
    • Clarify edge cases like board seat, shares and voting rights in the event of death
    • Date first before marriage
      • need to test them on smaller scope to see if they can deliver (remunerate with profit sharing)
      • if they prove themselves overtime, start exploring larger scope where they can work together (consider with shares)
  • Team configuration
    • product development
      • product management
      • engineering
      • design
    • Enterprise sales
    • Finance – much later when sales is happening

Book summary: George Orwell’s 1984

George Orwell

Key take aways

  • To control a population first control the language and supported concepts. This helps frame and thus restrict the thoughts of its users.
  • The further up the hierarchy the increase the need to process contradictory ideas
  • In a totalitarian state, even harboring a thought with no corresponding action is considered a crime
  • The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function, F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Control over the past allows control of the future. Control of the present allows control of the past
  • Tiers of control and effects
    • Control body without the control mind will lead to martyr – Romans and the Christians
    • Control of body and superficial control of the mind leads to a brittle regime – Soviet Union
    • Control of body and absolute control of mind through history leads a long lasting regime – Missionaries and the catholic church.

Related Readings

Book summary: Your First 100

Your first 100

New Customer versus existing ones

  • New customer is 6 – 7 times harder to acquire than to keep one
  • probability of selling to new prospect 5-20% versus 60-70% existing customer
  • loyal customer worth 10X their first purchase

Customer and feelings

  • Loyal customer are buying into an experience they know they will get from your brand.
  • Profiles
    • readers
    • subscribers
    • buyers

Brand

  • What people say when you are not in the room, Jeff Bezos
  • It is tied to their sensory cues
  • Brand strategy is where you tell people how you want your brand to be perceived by your presentation of the different components
  • Your brand should be very targeted and not sell to everybody, only to those who will benefit the most from your offering. That is the basis of differentiation

Experience – components in a brand

  • product
  • website
  • delivery
  • customer service
  • payment

Touch points

  • Pre-touch point: someone mentioned you to them
  • premier first touch point: landing page
  • pivotal touch point: reading up more about your product on your website
    • category 1: no idea about the problem you are solving
    • category 2: aware of the problem
    • category 3: aware of problem, trust and love your content
    • category 4: ready to buy but have questions
    • category 5: made a purchase
  • prime touch point: onboarding & magic moment
  • post touch point: getting referrals

Content tilt

  • To focus on going deep and narrow in the content you create

Prospect behavior

  • 95% not ready but
  • 70% will eventually buy from you or your competitor
  • Only 3% are actively buying at anytime.

Related readings

  • What customers crave, Nicholas J Webb
  • Top of mind, John Hall
  • Lead generation for complex sale, Brain Carroll
  • Content Inc, Joe Pulizzi
  • Sticky Branding, Jeremy Miller

Book summary: Thinking in Bets

Thinking in Bets
Decision Theory Model

Overview

  • Good quality decisions do not always yield good outcomes
  • All decision makings in real life are made under uncertainty. All decisions are essentially bets about the future
  • Decisions made in Chess are not made under uncertainty because every single permutation can be pre-computed unlike Poker.
  • Most real life decisions are not zero-sum games

On outcomes

  • Real life outcomes are probabilistic
  • Outcomes are influenced primarily by the quality of our decision (skill) and luck
  • While the outcomes might not always be positive, having a process in place to constantly improve the quality of decision making will tilt the odds in our favor

Implications

  • Do not change strategy drastically just because a few hands did not turn out well in the short run
  • For each premise understand what the base rate is
  • Learn to be at peace with not knowing
  • Recognize the limits of our own knowledge
  • A great decision is a result of a good process. A good process attempts to accurately represent our own state of knowledge
  • Watching: It is free to learn from other people’s experience

Cognitive biases that impede good decision

  • Decisions are the outcomes of our beliefs
  • Hindsight bias impedes against quality decision making
  • Guard against black or white decision making
  • Availability bias means lagging any prior conflicting data, our default setting is to believe what we hear is true
  • Selective bias and consistency bias, means we are unwilling to change our mind despite contrary signals from the environment
  • Avoid attribution bias

Related Readings

  • Theory of Games and Economic Behavior, Jon Von Neumann
  • Ignorance: How it drives Science, Stuart Firestein
  • Stumbling on Happiness, Daniel Gilbert

Book Summary: Lost and Founder

Radical Candor/Transparency

It is hard but it works – needs to be tampered with empathy

On being product focused

  • Consulting is limited by time and people – not scalable
  • Effective Product-focused business
    • reach
    • scalability
  • Start with a product informed by your consulting – real life problems others face

Impediment to shifting focus

  • Too comfortable
  • not enough time
  • difficulty finding the right customers for the product

On being a founder

  • Great founders enable a vision
  • forget about being hands on most of the time
  • job scope changes every six months – for any road block encountered focus on sufficing the requirements instead of perfecting it
  • you rarely get to do what you love to do
  • be cognizant on when to lead and when not to – have the specialist do the job
  • Cultivate self awareness in strength and weakness – structure company to work around them
  • Attribute of founder is instilled with near-permanence in the organization while those of supporting team fluctuates
  • the hardest parts of the business is less a reflection about the business than about the person experiencing them
  • Build expertise before building network, build network before building company
  • Focus on and reward the behavior, let the outcome take care of itself

On Values

  • Authentic values force hard decisions – held to be more important than money
  • have real costs: Impede certain behavior and strategy
  • Values are discovered instead of set
  • Used as a yard stick for recruiting new members to the cause. Helps get pass the competence versus cultural fit dilemma

On recruiting

  • CTO should be those that should be oriented towards education instead of shielding you from the nitty gritty details (black box)
  • Use your value system as a yard stick
  • Hiring for diversity will make the mental model of the organization more holistic
  • Great managers / coaches might not be great individual contributors

On markets and pivots

  • Pivots Are expensive don’t make it a habit – only resort to this tactic when the original hypothesis is not longer valid
  • focus on the market and then find a field ignored by others because it appears unsexy. From there craft a solution
  • Err on the side of execution

On investors

  • Need to take money for the right reason
  • Investors interest will tend to get out of alignment overtime (return multiples and investment horizons)
  • 80 percent of returns are by 20 percent of investments
  • They need at least a 10X to break even in a position for all the other losing positions they took
  • They don’t bring much value to the table
  • follow up with CEOs they invested in to understand how they react in a shit storm
  • Can help provide information on salary ranges

Choosing a market

  • If you can keep your ego in check you can chase after smaller markets and don’t need VC money
  • Great ideas are born of mediocre ideas that become better by
    • time spent iterating
    • humility learning
    • surviving
  • look for searches that indicate problems
    • Google Adwords
    • Moz’s keyword Explorer

Knowing your customers

Defining your user base

  • Call 3 different types of users
  • Find out why they subscribed and stayed
  • Craft messaging toward this group of people

Discounts are a doubled edged sword – while they might attract signups, these folks tend to have a higher churn rate

Schedule regular interactions with your user so that you can understand their habits. It helps you get to an empathetic position with them.

On Products

  • Feature set needs to be coherent enough to be able to deliver value
  • Early adopters
    • have very different expectation as compared to early majority –
    • hence more forgiving
    • ok accepting MVP
  • Retention triumphs acquisition any day

Marketing

  • Optimize for acquisition loops that reinforces the UVP instead of linear acquisition channels

Focused Execution

  • Practice the discipline of focus.
  • Important to Focus and not waver around unnecessarily. Its a waste of resources
  • A very focused and simplified product offering will help users to more easily understand and adopt it
  • Helps keep teams lean as a by-product
    • ROA improves dramatically
    • helps avoid future layoffs
  • Focus on what will not change in the next 10 years

Related references

  • Lean Startup, Eric Ries
  • Sprint, Jake Knapp
  • Venture Deals, Brad Feld

Key take aways from Trust me I am lying

Trust me I am lying

The publication eco-system

  • Every content creator within the publication ecosystem is under immense pressure to produce content under the tightest deadline.
    • renumeration is based on number of articles per period time
    • eye balls are converted to advertising revenue
    • lots of copying happens
  • Media was once about protecting a new, on the web it is about building one
    • well defined scope matters
    • content that dives deep into its vertical matters
  • Headlines are the most important
  • Tools of the trade
    • lavish pictures
    • impostors, frauds and fake interviews
    • support for the underdog causes
    • anonymous sources
    • prominent coverage of high society and events
    • different age but same old tricks
  • On monetization
    • Advertising is the main driver of revenue
    • Subscription model focus on trusted source as opposed to advertising source
    • RSS got killed because it went against the interest of Advertisers
  • On the online medium
    • The demands of the medium forces the bloggers to act they way they are
    • Tim Berners Lee stacked new content on the top and the rest of the internet thus follows
    • Thus the need to constantly create new content

On Virality

  • The most powerful predictor of virality is how much anger an article evokes.
  • The most powerful predictor of what spreads online is anger
    • sensationalism
    • extremism
    • sex
    • scandal
    • hatred
  • Things must be negative but not too negative so as to incite action
  • Media needs to get you feeling negative so that you are more likely to share
  • Empty vessels are incline to snark so as to feel unjustifiably good about themselves

On reality

  • Chris Hedges
    • is complicated and boring
    • the masses are incapable and unwilling to handle its confusion
    • In an age of images, entertainment and instant emotional gratification, no one seeks honesty and gratification
  • Cognitive biases
    • we are bad at being sketical
      • availability biases
      • narrative fallacy
    • we are worst at correcting our wrong beliefs
      • social proofing
      • consistency biases
  • First decide what you are intending to do with the information you collected

Related readings