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I've never tried this myself, but I've heard it works extremely well -- and in fact, I'd love for someone to try this and then post a comment on this blog (ideally w/ pics!) describing how it goes:
As I've written about in the past, I've learned with Armory about the importance of putting customers at the center of the company's focus.
If you're the founder of a B2C startup, here's a great way to interview prospective customers:
Ideally, you'll have something to show them -- say a prototype running on your laptop or your phone. The goal is to solicit very specific feedback from them based on something they can actually interact with.
Huge bonus if they'll let you record the interaction -- maybe you have a co-founder there with you who's recording each customer's reactions on their phone.
Even bigger bonus if you can get the customer to provide you with their contact information -- or even a credit card number -- after you've interacted with them.
Using this approach, you should be able to interview 10 or so customers an hour. In just one morning or afternoon doing this, you'll be able to get a bunch of feedback from your prospective audience.
Why does hearing from customers matter so much?
I recently listened to this great podcast  about the evolution of basketball which illustrated both the simplicity and challenge of strong product market fit. Basketball back in the 60s and 70s had gotten boring because tall players were dominating the game. There was a lot of debate about banning slam dunks (which the NBA did for a decade), about moving the basket height up or down, and even imposing height restrictions on players.
But the answer proved to be beautifully simple: The 3 point shot, which allows shorter players (like Steph Curry) to balance the game out and energize it with killer edge-of-your-seat shots.
The beautiful thing here is that nobody was thinking about the 3 point shot when they were all throwing opinions out about how to fix the game of basketball. In fact, it was a competing league, the ABA, which was created to experiment with new approaches to basketball, and tried a dozen new ideas -- most of which were terrible -- from which came the 3 point shot.
The simplicity of product market fit is that in hindsight, it's obvious. But it requires actual experimentation and a willingness to try what may seem like bad ideas -- and to fail -- in order to find it. And this is why actually interacting with customers, running experiments with those customers to get their feedback, and then iterating on that feedback is so important.
And this is also why it can feel like it's not important to interact with customers: Successful PMF is often achieved due to small, simple tweaks -- things that founders think they can do themselves. And indeed, sometimes they can. But just like everyone was focused on solving for basket height, or player height, but the solution was actually away from the basket, I find that as founders we become fixated on what's in front of us, and it's the customers, by sharing their pain and reacting to prototypes in front of them, that leads founders most quickly to strong product market fit.
 A note about the Overcast podcast app I used to share the link above: It's incredible and a highly recommended replacement to the default Apple Podcast app. It allows you to do things like:
I listen to podcasts at 2x speed + Overcast cuts out ded space, which gives me even more speed. This allows me to rip through podcasts.
Tons more. Here's an article about it. If you're a hardcore podcast listener like I am, upgrade your listening experience with it. And PS if the creator of the app reads this: Just wish you offered embed code for the shares, so I could've embedded the audio right into the blog above!
Also -- Happy to share some favorite podcasts if you tell me what you're interested in (just comment in the blog below). Please share your favorite podcasts too.
"Experience is what you get right after you need it." - James C. Wofford
Armory is the startup I've always wanted to create. I'm applying everything I've learned over the past fifteen years from previous startups.
Below are some of those startup lessons explained as a series of Matryoshka Russian stacking dolls, with the customer sitting at the center, encompassed by product, company and tribe.
Build The Product Around The Customer. This sounds obvious, and I thought I knew how to listen to customers, but I've never done it like this before, and now I see companies of all sizes missing opportunities to build value around their customers' needs.
When Isaac, Ben and I started Armory late last year, I found a lot has changed since starting my last startup, Socialize, in 2008. There's a suite of new tools available to instrument a startup that didn't exist eight years ago, including:
I haven't yet blogged much about Armory because we've been busy building. But if you'd like to learn more about the Software Revolution and how Armory is involved, head over to our Company Manifesto. I've also written a CEO Manifesto that describes the main jobs of a CEO in a startup (and the importance of creating a Tribe culture), and if you're interested in working at Armory, take a look at why life is awesome over here!
If you're generally interested in startups, head over to my "So You Want to Start A Company..." hackpad with my best tips on startups.
One of my best "get things done" tricks: is that I focus on the "last mile" of whatever I'm doing.
Here's a picture to illustrate what I mean:
Most of the work went into building I-40. But for the three houses in the circle above that live off of Lomaki Road, most of the value came from the last mile of service roads that were built to make the interstate accessible.
I see people spending a bulk of their time on the big parts of a project -- the equivalent of building I-40. But then they leave the service roads -- the details -- un-built, which means they never actually unlock that value.
It just blows my mind how little we know about our bodies and how to keep them healthy. Most people I talk to aren't happy with the state of their bodies. They either feel like they're too fat, or too skinny, or some other complex. And it's not just feelings -- many people, especially on the Western diet, are too fat. And in fact, are clinically obese but don't know it. That described me for a decade. I was literally on the verge of metabolic syndrome and didn't even know it. That's incredible: I was putting my self at double the risk of coronary disease, diabetes and a slew of other diseases and I didn't even realize it. I see that same benign neglect of the body in most people around me. There's a general dissatisfaction of their bodies, but very little action taken to improve it, and I think it's because most people are a combination of confused as to what the best path forward is, and reluctant to make big changes without being sure they're making the right ones.
So while I don't necessarily have answers, I can offer a plan to help you begin your journey to figure it out, and the good news is, it's a very simple plan and so easy to follow that I guarantee this will work for you like it has for me. (Or "Your money back!" so to speak) You just have to decide you want to try. Here it is, step by step.
Step 1 in DROdio's "Achieve Your Body Goals" Plan: Adjust Your Attitude (Seriously.)
The very first thing you have to do is decide to take control of your body's fate, and not to let yourself feel like a victim. You are not a passenger along for the ride. You are driving. You have to believe that you impact the outcome with your actions, because you can, and you will. I have. For over a decade I felt like a helpless passenger. As my metabolism slowed down, I'd continue to put on the pounds and couldn't figure out how to stop it. I started hating the scale; hating that I was becoming someone other than who I knew I really was. It wasn't until I took this first step that I was able to take control. You have to really want to do this.
When I turned 39 last year, I knew I was in trouble, and although I hadn't recognized quite how bad my health had gotten, I knew enough to realize I had to do something about it. On my 39th birthday I vowed that by 40, I would be back in the kind of shape I had been in a decade earlier, when I'd turned 30.
Today is my 40th birthday, and I've not only hit that goal, but surpassed it. I might be in the best shape I've ever been in. I'm in much better shape that I was when I turned 30. Possibly even better shape than I was when I turned 20, back in 1995. In this blog post I'm going to share how I did what I never thought I'd be able to do: Take control of my body and health for the first time in my life, which would require me to overcome my genetic predispositions and a tortured relationship with food.
The formula is equal parts motivation + relationship w/ food + relationship w/ exercise. So let's break it down in that way:
I'm about to take you down a deep rabbit hole, on a path that will challenge what you believe about nutrition and health. This is a journey of experimentation, and I encourage you to keep a very open mind, and in fact, I hope you decide to experiment with these themes yourself. I'm not a nutritionist or doctor, but I am very passionate about finding ways to optimize my body and health (especially as I age), which is why I've been doing intermittent fasting for the past five months -- and that experience has been life changing. I've gone from XL to medium sized shirts, from a 38 to 32 waist, and most importantly, from 34.7% body fat to 24.5% (and my goal is to get under 20%). Intermittent Fasting has put me in control of my body for the first time in my life.
And just when I felt that I was really starting to figure it all out, this rabbit hole opened up. And it's called ketosis.
In addition to intermittent fasting, I'm experimenting with ketosis through the end of 2015, which is triggered by eating a ketogenic diet comprised of 75% fat, 20% protein and 5% carbs. Yes, that's right -- in order to lose fat and become healthier, I'm going to eat mostly fat. The mind blowing counter-intuitiveness of that statement is why I'm writing this blog.
But before we can talk about this ketogenic approach to nutrition and health, we have to understand how the body uses two energy sources -- glucose and ketones -- and why, with your diet, you are probably only ever tapping into glucose (and how that may be making you unhealthier, especially as you age).
I wrote this post in August 2014 comparing Betterment to Wealthfront, so it's been about 15 months, and I thought it'd be a good time to check in on relative performance, as a buddy of mine recently wrote:
"I saw your post on betterment. I'm thinking of moving everything over to a roboinvestor. What's your thinking on betterment vs wealthfront, and whether you'd just dump everything on there?"
As I wrote in my original post, I put $5k into both Betterment and Wealthfrontto test them against each other. To date, both have under-performed the S&P 500 by a considerable margin. S&P is up 10% since August 2014. Betterment is down by 2% and Wealthfront is down by 5.4%. So, should I just have invested in the S&P 500? And as per my other previous blog, Show Me The Money: Six Strategies to Put Your Cash to Work, how should I re-allocate based on this new data? And what would I recommend to my buddy? Let's dig into the data a bit to come to a conclusion:
When I wrote my orginal post Show Me The Money: Six Strategies to Put Your Cash to Work, one of the strategies I included was leveraging General Electric's high-yield money market account for the cash you want to keep readily available (i.e., cash you might need to access in the next 3 to 12 months). But GE has shut that program down as an overall strategy shift away from its GE Capital business, and so I was left searching for an alternative. In this post I'll detail what corporate money market accounts are, how they work, how they differ from other types of savings or income generating accounts, and which the best alternative is. I'll also tell you what I ultimately ended up deciding to do, which was different than I expected.
Why you should care about this at all:
One of the mistakes I made in my 20s was not being curious enough about financial instruments, and how I could leverage them to reach my personal goals faster. I was so focused on building startups that I didn't pay enough attention to how to optimize my investments. I set out to change that in my 30s, and I've been blogging about it in the hopes that anyone else who isn't yet leveraging these tools can learn about and use them.
As with anything in life, from optimizing your health to optimizing your finances, you have to start with a goal. My family's financial goal is currently optimized for asset growth, with a secondary focus of passive income generation. Since we're still (relatively) young, we're willing to take aggressive stances on both. Here's how this breaks down for us:
It’s been 13 weeks since I wrote the in-depth post on my fasting experiment (read that first if you haven't already), which I originally only expected to try for 8 weeks. But the results have been so life changing that I’ve decided to continue doing it through at least the end of the year, and possibly indefinitely. Here’s what I’ve learned and experienced over the past couple of months, along with the pro-tips I recommend for others interested in trying it themselves, and answers to the questions I get most often.
The main thing I’ve learned in the past couple of months is that fasting is deeply misunderstood by people, including the reasons for doing it, the science and nutrition behind it, the actual experience of fasting, how it makes you feel, and how best to be supportive of someone in your life who’s giving it a try. Fasting just isn’t mainstream enough to make sense to people, and they often immediately respond with “I could never do that” (which is how I used to also feel before really diving into it).
From my fasting experience I’ve also become convinced that the obesity epidemic in America can be solved by integrating fasting elements into our culture. I don’t know if fasting will ever reach that level of cultural prominance, but I do now know with certainty that there’s a solution out there that works, and although fasting is a very individual thing, I’m convinced that it could be codified into an approach that could work for anyone. This also means that if you are unhappy with your current level of health, fasting is something you can do to fix it. It may not be the only thing you can do, but from experience I can tell you that it is absolutely an approach that will work. If you’re serious about trying to become healthy, fasting will work.