• make more small bets
  • decide quickly on reversible things
  • do things which still matter in 40 years


  • small amounts of value that create value over future and do it a lot over time

what should I build?

  • wrong question
  • who should i serve? who do i feel a calling to serve?


pick people

  • you are energized in talking to: find the people you dont get tired of talking to
  • whose problems are tractable
  • with money

charitable impulses
running a healthy impulses

pieces of the puzzle figured out. the first time you walk into a bank - three squirrels in a trenchcoat. that feeling never goes away.

you’re building a puzzle over time
there is no end state for your business, you are just snapping little pieces together.

it is never a bad time to talk to a customer or a prospect.
have high bandwidth conversations.

platform before product
build the things that will allow you to engage an audience and improve it over time

success path:

  • 3 friendcatchers: build something that solves problems for people. they will come with their problems to you.
  • 5 emails
  • 45 days of grinding it out. no great brand strategy. wake up, email, twitter, blog

friendcatchers: resonant, tractable, underserved

  • resonant: problem that promises to solve itself. ie not “solve global warming” but “salary negotiation for engineers” 500k/yr. it resonates. when audience sees that it exists, they say they knew they needed that. incentivizes promotion to friends. find things that push emotional buttons. not react vs vue - build pipeline.
  • underserved: fill holes in the internet. the 101 guide is done 100x. the 201 guide is not done. tech a+b together. nsqueue + websockets.

friendcatcher list

  • stick a fork in it and done guide to broad tightly scoped problem
  • calculator which replaces excel spreadsheet. there is almost no calculation too trivial for a program to replace excel. eg ab testing calculator
  • definitive curated list of resources. not listicles. josh kaufman personal mba - definitive list of business books.
  • cheatsheet. amy hoy ruby on rails cheatsheet.


  • not rocket science - put email thing on the bottom of blogpost
  • email literally everyone - companies cannot do this at scale. having 100-200 email subs. grind. email individually. I am unreasonably interested in this topic. grind until you get sick of it.

Evertyhin about email courses in one slide

  • make a promise with every subject line. keep it.
  • 75% education 25% sales. You need both.
  • frontload delivery. 3x in first week is fine.
  • after end of course, email 1x every 2-4 weeks.

checkpoints you want to reach in your business (you are not out of research phase until…)

  • 10 great conversations (25 for saas)
  • 500 emails
  • 10 commits to buy (in SaaS)

objective external indicia of progress

  • 10-40-100 hour work week. can only get 3 things done in a week.
  • main dish 50%
  • 2 other things 25% each
  • everything else is dessert.
  • one of those 3 is stuff u dont like but need to do
  • one is talking to customers

build the actual thing

  • it should be awesome.
  • the bar is very low. slightly above where you get sued by people.
  • it doesnt have to be the mona lisa

raise your hand if you identify as having impostor syndrome
whole room raises hands

abuse your advantages

  • this is what i do: you are going to be much better than almost all of humanity. builds trust.
  • be irrationally responsive to customers esp early
  • move fast and make things

charge more

  • help you attract the kind of people you want to serve
  • whgatever your number is right now, that number is too low.

stripe atlas is great

business advice

  • get a new credit account - 1 wk of your life back
  • business gmail /google apps account
  • accounts@alias
  • receipts@alias
  • password manager

medium term

  • find an accountant
  • peer group to talk shop. meet regularly
  • derisk your family life
    • retirement savings
    • insurance (term life and long term disability)

dont write blog posts

  • blog as 3m words
  • blog was a mistake
  • blog is a commitment going fwd
  • blog is one of the 3 dishes
  • dead blog is bad.
  • do small valuable things

narrative structures like heroes journey

  • works


  • steve jobs 99c - google 0
  • answer with a story
  • you cant compete with 100b warchest
  • dont do horizontal b2c - find a particular grp of cust with emotional resonance about a topic
  • prosumers: dnd gamers, semi pro figure skaters.

emailing your customers - talking to people who are saas

  • go to 50%

hello ladies

  • selling for people who arent themselves developers
  • thought that software for devs
  • theres not enough software for devs int he world
  • number of software devs is increasing 50% a year
  • thats fine
  • there are large mkts - whoa re underserved
  • they may not be best met by you
  • its really rough addressing those markets
  • women who are profesisonal empoyees at tech businessess
  • did a 180 over the years

permaculture talk:

  • what is your goal
  • what do you want to get out of your saas

didn’t do enough customer research

  1. observe and interact
  2. obtain a yield
  3. use small and slow solutions
  4. apply self regulation and accept feedback

dont build in secret

dont let competitors lead your innovation - learn from your customers. your custs have a lot to teach you.

design from patterns to details


founders learn from failure

  1. startup runway of almost certain death. measuring runway. 2009: launched after 11 months but didnt charge
    • chris chen social music startup - ideas focusing less and less on building social music apps - as he was out of money
    • 2 days to luanch a profitable product after 3 years of pivoting
    • max lytvyn of grammarly - less than 6mths: solid plan for how to get there. didnt know who was going to buy.
    • how did you know this was the right thing to do: by the time we were done, we’d prob be out of money
    • need to change the order: sell first
    • secret: buy helicopter
    • dont quit your job: plan while you still have a helicopter
  2. the el dorado of ideas
    • trello board to have ideas, obviously good ideas have people working on it
    • you need ideas for stuff all the way
    • building audience -> product idea -> launch -> new distro channels -> new features -> new cust segments
    • figure out the right levers to press
    • gold hunting analogy:
    • giant treasure chest is too obvious
    • digging shallow holes
    • dig deep holes
      • who are these people
      • where do they hagn out
      • what do they complain about
      • what makes them really excited
      • what do they buy
      • what do they never buy
      • who do they follow
      • etc
    • what if new idea?
      • dig another hole
    • where should you dig
      • amy hoy: stacking the bricks: qtns you should ask
      • where the money’s at
      • how much money is changing hands here
      • are the customers reachable
  3. theory of growth
    • one pivot point. yelp, airbnb, dropbox, hotmail. its a lie/not the whole story.
    • growth is a climbing wall: navigate saturated channels, previous wins, dead ends, bad ideas, new ideas
    • jason driscoff on IH story.
    • indie shuffle blog for 7 years since 2009
    • 2015 submithub in 2015 - 55k in mrr
    • “jason already had a successful blog”
    • hand tailored 1k emails to blogs. fb msg, soundcloud, email.
    • 8 months to get first dollar.
    • first step is the simplest. dont need a brilliant strategy.
    • its ok that you started small
    • now there are new steps easier to reach
    • keep climbing. nobody jumps straight to the top
    • plan your route - see what paths others took. look multiple steps ahead.
    • stay on track to your destination
    • the higher you climb, the more distracting your options. easy to climb sideways. vision helps you say no and keep climbing up.
  4. living room of vision
    • why do you have a vision
    • diamond hiding in the living room
    • founders who try everything and it eventually succeeds - why do they do this? they are “sure” it WILL work. try much harder.
    • shrug - no idea how much time to spend
    • “i quit”
    • IH vision: “inspire people to create internet businesses and to help these new founders succeed at a scale large neough to have a global impact”. never get bored of this.
    • create you rown landscapes and metaphors as you learn.
    • stairstep approach
    • sales safari