1. The 2nd Degree Impact
It’s easy to get excited about an additional $10M run rate from a bucket test. However, it’s detrimental to just launch a new product without considering the second degree impact — you can completely trash the business.
A second degree impact can be about the market dynamics, competitive advantage/disadvantage, or the long-term effect on your brand. It can be a risk or an opportunity. The problem is — it is usually very hard to measure, so in many cases, you will need to rely on some deductive reasoning to make a call.
However, building products that have a neutral to positive second degree impact is critically important — this is what helps you set the right direction for your business.
2. You can’t perfectly measure the experience
In Q3, I was testing a few variations of a new product — one had a line of description that made perfect sense and the other had a line that made no sense at all and it’s ugly. However, when we looked at the metrics for these two variations, we found that their numbers are very comparable — same level of revenue gains and same level of user experience improvements.
If you were to run an A/B test on how Apple packs its motherboards — one that is beautifully organized and the other that looks like a mess, but they both work the same — you can probably have found that their sales are pretty much the same.
So, does it mean that we can just launch a product that has a line of description that made no sense at all because it doesn’t matter anyway? Of course not! But why not?
Because it impacts the overall experience when engaging with the product. Maybe only 1% of the people would notice the mess. But the fact is — when people notice it, they will most probably frown. And why would you want to make something that brings people displeasure?
3. To Differentiate or To Copy?
Yes, Google has spent billions of dollars to get it right — why not just copy Google first and then start differentiating the product? Oh wait, but right after we launch the copycat product, Google made another huge leap forward. What do we do now? Let’s copy Google again? When do we stop?
What I have learned is that there are 2 situations when one must stop copying:
- You are the clear #2 in the market
- You are a single-feature app and so is your lead competitor.
Also, as a product manager, what fun is there if you are just copying?
In the Corporate World
4. Be Collaborative
No one is perfect. Non-perfect people make non-perfect decisions. And chances are if you are in the corporate world, your product needs other people’s product to work. And it’s always easy to call out other people’s flaws and get frustrated. Consequently, you will just make everyone frustrated.
What I have learned is to grow with everyone around you, and work with them to achieve a win-win. Even if people make a mistake or ignore your advice, don’t turn critical. Ultimately, that’s what will help you get what you want to achieve.
5. Build Your Support Network Early
You need support to get things done. You can’t fly solo and hope that if you do the right thing, people will be on your side.
You need everyone involved — senior management, key peers (i.e., dev managers), and key individual contributors (lead engineer, architect).
The sooner you can build a minimal viable support network, the sooner you can start launching your product.
It all starts with the relationship.
6. Three Key Criteria for Real Estate Investing
I learned real estate investing the hard way. But luckily, here’s what I have picked up for my next game — the 3 criteria to assess:
1. Unemployment Rate
If people are not working, they can’t afford to rent your place and they can’t afford to be in the city; i.e., lots of people will move out, and lots of trouble will exist in the city.
2. Wealth Level
What’s the average salary in this area? What’s the range? What’s the distribution? This will help you determine how much downpayment you will need to make.
The last thing you want to do is to have an upside down mortgage; i.e., your monthly load is more than your rent income.
Here are a few things to consider —
- What are the major industries in this area? How are the industries looking for the next 10 years? (i.e., Internet vs. Auto industry)
- What’s the 10-year trend of this area? (i.e., pricing, etc.)
- What’s the vacancy rate?
- Immigration attractiveness?
- How’s this country doing overall? Any political issues?
This is just a partial list. Go through all the macroeconomic analysis before you buy into this area.
As a result, I don’t think I will be investing in Canada anymore.
7. Invest in What You Know
If you don’t’ know real estate, and if you invest in it, chances are — you will pay the tuition for it.
I have paid mine for investing in real estate without really knowing anything about it.
Tech is what I know, so I will be investing more in tech, and less about currency, such as Bitcoins.
Invest in what you know.
8. Always Have a BATNA
Don’t enter any type of situations without at least 2-3 options/alternatives.
Your second best option needs to be as good as your first option. You should feel completely happy about walking away from your first option.
If your second best option is not yet as good as your first, then you will need to make it so. Otherwise, you need to get yourself out of the deal instead of forcing it through and hope for the best — most likely, it will turn out to be the worst for you.
9. Due Diligence is a Must
Doing due diligence on someone with whom you are going to trust your life is a must no matter how trustworthy he/she seems.
I believe there are plenty of good people out there, but there are also plenty of sketchy people out there as well.
I have met quite a few sketchy people in 2013. And in 2014, I need to make a goal to turn down at least 80% of the deals based on my due diligence.
10. Don’t Let Others Make Decisions for You
When people give you an ultimatum, a deadline, or any hierarchical pressure to force you into a decision, don’t give in. Because you will always regret.
When they force you, that means they are desperate to get what they want. Chances are that they have not considered any bit for you at all. So, if you give in, you will surely feel miserable after.
Some decisions would live with you for 10 minutes, some for 1 year, and some will live with you forever. So, make your decisions wisely.