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Episode 10  |  14:09 min

10: The Things That Don't Scale

Episode 10  |  14:09 min  |  05.04.2016

10: The Things That Don't Scale

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This is a podcast episode titled, 10: The Things That Don't Scale. The summary for this episode is: If you liked this episode, we bet that you’ll love our blog content. blog.drift.com/#subscribe Subscribe to never miss a post & join the 20,000+ other pros committed to getting better every day. --- The key to scaling is to focus on the things that don’t scale. But how can you actually apply that to your business? How can you do the things that don’t scale? We dive into it on the latest episode of Seeking Wisdom (and why you can learn more by spending 20 minutes talking to customers than spending all day looking at dashboards and spreadsheets). Holler at us on Twitter: @dcancel, @davegerhardt, @seekingwisdomio
If you liked this episode, we bet that you’ll love our blog content. blog.drift.com/#subscribe Subscribe to never miss a post & join the 20,000+ other pros committed to getting better every day. --- The key to scaling is to focus on the things that don’t scale. But how can you actually apply that to your business? How can you do the things that don’t scale? We dive into it on the latest episode of Seeking Wisdom (and why you can learn more by spending 20 minutes talking to customers than spending all day looking at dashboards and spreadsheets). Holler at us on Twitter: @dcancel, @davegerhardt, @seekingwisdomio

Speaker 1: All of us already know everything we need to know to be successful.

Speaker 2: This is probably the most fired up I've seen you get about a particular crosstalk topic. Doing things that don't scale. This is like the startup mantra. It's the motto. Everybody's read Paul Graham's essay-

Speaker 1: Mm- hmm( affirmative).

Speaker 2: ...about doing things that don't scale, but a lot of people don't actually do it, or they say to you," But does this scale?"

Speaker 1: Exactly.

Speaker 2: This is your pet rock when it comes to startups.

Speaker 1: Super pet rock. Like you said, everyone knows, or everyone has read that by now, and everyone kind of knows it. But all of us already know everything we need to know to be successful. You know everything, right. If you want to be successful losing weight, you already know the secret. Eat less, exercise more. Everybody knows. Knowing-

Speaker 2: Or you can find it.

Speaker 1: Or you can find it. Yeah. But it's not even finding it I think now. Everyone kind of implicitly knows these things deep down, so it's not a knowing problem. It's a doing problem. It's an adherence problem. It's probably why there's so many books on building habits, right. Because it's like, how do you actually implement these?

Speaker 2: Right. Okay. So everybody knows that they have to do things that don't scale, and that's just like the thing.

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Speaker 2: But yet everybody's at their computers every day trying to find ways to growth- hack this.

Speaker 1: Yeah. Shortcuts.

Speaker 2: Or automate this.

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Speaker 2: Why does that happen?

Speaker 1: I think it's sexy. It's a mirage that everyone buys into, right. A lie, a mirage, a dream of just everyone wants to think that there's some 10x, 100x kind of secret formula that people know... that only a few people know that they don't know.

Speaker 2: Right.

Speaker 1: But that's not the case.

Speaker 2: Or okay, if you're starting a company, you might get your first 10 to 20 customers by doing the things that don't scale. But then one day you're going to do something, and then you're going to...

Speaker 1: It's a magic pill. You're going to take a magic pill, and it's going to be a 100x your business.

Speaker 2: Yeah.

Speaker 1: But it's never been that way. I think we all... it's easy. It's the Hollywood story. It's kind of the myths that we get sold every day about shortcuts, quick, overnight success, lottery tickets. It's all those things. It's why do we buy lottery tickets.

Speaker 2: Yeah.

Speaker 1: I think I was listening to something recently that someone said that if they were to show a 30- second clip for every person who lost in a lottery, it would take nine years to watch all the person in one single lottery drawing, not in all of them. One.

Speaker 2: Right.

Speaker 1: Right. So we don't hear all those stories. We hear the one story that went through. And the same thing on startups. And so people are looking for secrets, and then the secret, my secret is keep doing the things that don't scale.

Speaker 2: So you're saying it's basically like the things that don't scale those are the things that are actually going to help you scale.

Speaker 1: Yeah. That's the thing that I say all the time. The key to scaling is to focus on the things that don't scale, which kind of scrambles everyone's brains. Everyone wants to use a new tool. They want to use the more product managy they are or businessy they are. They want to use Trello, Spreadsheets, this, process, Frameworks, all those kinds of nonsense instead because they see the things that are one- on- one as being the things that don't scale. But building relationships and building a business is about building relationships with the customers or with the people that you work with and building relationships are one- to- one.

Speaker 2: Right. And the tool. So you mentioned people have this... they want to use all these tools and all these... and every Zapier thing you can think of.

Speaker 1: Mm-hmm(affirmative).

Speaker 2: And automate the whole process, which is great. We do a lot of that stuff, for sure.

Speaker 1: Or they wanted Tim Ferriss the world.

Speaker 2: They want a Tim Ferriss world for sure. The four- hour business, right.

Speaker 1: Yes.

Speaker 2: The four- hour IPO.

Speaker 1: Yes. Exactly.

Speaker 2: But your whole thing is that stuff just makes things super complicated sometimes where if you just said," Screw it, I'm going to throw out all my notes and all my Trello boards, and I'm going to call up 10 customers, and that's all I'm going to do this week."

Speaker 1: Mm- hmm(affirmative).

Speaker 2: What's going to happen?

Speaker 1: Yeah. I think that's the thing that gets me the most fired up about it. Is that it's not only a waste of time, a huge waste of time to focus on all these things that scale. But it's actually keeping you from getting the answer that you seek, right. The answer that you seek is not looking at some rearview mirror dashboard that has very little data in it, especially is if you're small. It's actually getting out there talking to customers, hearing them, talking to people on your team. One- on- one just listening to them. And that's the stuff that you need to get to. That's the secret stuff, right. That's the stuff that helps you scale. It's not dashboards and gauges and reports.

Speaker 2: But at the other misconception, it might be that the things that don't scale has to be some like your team found out some way to send some secret surprise package to some customer.

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Speaker 2: It really, I think the thing that a lot of people get screwed up is it just like, no. The things that they think don't scale are taking the time to reply to everyone that mentions you on Twitter.

Speaker 1: Totally. Be a fucking person, man.

Speaker 2: Reply to every person that reviews a podcast.

Speaker 1: Totally.

Speaker 2: Be a real human when you send email.

Speaker 1: Exactly. And then because everyone else is focused on that shit that scales supposedly.

Speaker 2: Yeah.

Speaker 1: You stand out even more, right, because they don't expect it.

Speaker 2: Yeah. one of the things you said from day one, you're like,"I don't want to see any highly designed marketing emails. Plain text is the way to go."

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Speaker 2: And every week, I get responses from people that are like," This sounds like a real person." I'm like," Yeah, it is a real person. I wrote this."

Speaker 1: Totally.

Speaker 2: Yeah.

Speaker 1: Totally. And we talk about it all the time at Drift here, is just we always go back and forth and say," One- on-one, one-on-one" because every win that we chalk up comes from this one- on- one thing that everyone looks at and say," They say that won't scale." We say," We're going to double down on one- on- one."

Speaker 2: Right. They say," It's not going to scale." We say," We'd rather talk to five customers than automate something that reaches a thousand people."

Speaker 1: Absolutely. You'll learn more in 20 minutes talking to customers one- on- one than you would looking at some weird dashboards that usually don't have enough sample to be significant. Two, probably the big things that you're missing are things that you probably can't even measure, right. Because there are probably things that are not even in your product, not even in your business today, so you can't even measure them.

Speaker 2: Well, the super data- driven. Well, we're all data- driven, okay. First of all, caveat.

Speaker 1: Sure.

Speaker 2: But somebody who's going to listen to this and say," Okay, but if you do the things that don't scale, how do we measure them?"

Speaker 1: Yeah. We measure them. We measure them one by one, right. We see the impact all the time. We're looking at the... I mean, we're data- driven so just as much as anyone else, but we have a priority, right. Which in our priority is being customer- driven comes before being data- driven.

Speaker 2: Right.

Speaker 1: The customer becomes before the data. The very last thing is being opinion- driven. And so we put the customer ahead of data, right. And we put data ahead of our own preferences and our own opinions.

Speaker 2: But it's the magic formula is using the customer feedback and then pairing that...

Speaker 1: Yes.

Speaker 2: ...with data.

Speaker 1: With data. Yep. And we'll measure that. And we measure everything that we can possibly measure. It's about priority, which ones you weighed more. And I will always weigh talking to customers directly, talking to people on the team directly over looking at a dashboard.

Speaker 2: Right. So if I told you," I didn't create any content in this week. I didn't run any campaigns this week. I just spent my entire week, and I've talked to 10 customers."

Speaker 1: Mm-hmm(affirmative).

Speaker 2: That would be a good week.

Speaker 1: Yeah. I'd say," What did you learn?" And if you say nothing, then it's a shitty week.

Speaker 2: Yeah. It's a shitty week crosstalk-

Speaker 1: ...learned of ton.

Speaker 2: Right.

Speaker 1: Then it was a great week.

Speaker 2: But I think there's a big... I think there's if you talk to 10 to 15 customers, you're going to get nuggets out of there. And then you go look at your data, and it's like," Damn, this is the same thing."

Speaker 1: Exactly. And then you're going to have context for the data that you're looking at, right.

Speaker 2: Yeah.

Speaker 1: You're not the customer, right. And so you don't have the context that the customer can give you when you're looking at your data.

Speaker 2: All right. So somebody is listening, and they don't know if they're doing things that don't scale or not.

Speaker 1: Mm-hmm(affirmative).

Speaker 2: How do you dig in, and how do you start doing that? What's the day one. We're going to start thinking about hand- to- hand combat.

Speaker 1: Yeah. I love that. Hand- to- hand combat is how I think about it. What did they have to do? They have to first audit themselves and say," How much time am I spending per week, per day, or as a team are we spending doing the one- on- one stuff?" First, are we talking to customers? How often are we doing that? How many people on the team are doing that?

Speaker 2: Mm-hmm(affirmative).

Speaker 1: And then from an internal team perspective, if you've you manage teams or lead teams, then you sit down and think," When was the last time I had a one- on- one with this person on my team, that person team? Are we having one- on- ones at least every two weeks as a team?" Everyone in the company, are they having their time to have one- on- one time. If not, reset. There's a problem. Get on that. If you're not talking to customers, ideally every day. Reset. Get on that.

Speaker 2: So this sounds easy to say," We're an early- stage company, people that are listening." But you've also applied this at thousand employee companies.

Speaker 1: Totally. And it's actually easier to me. It's easier than in a larger company than it is in a smaller company, right. One, we have a smaller customer base as a small company. We're more resource- strapped than a larger company is, right. And a larger company that has sustainable revenue that has more people and more resources. They can actually afford to spend more time talking to customers. And they have more customers to talk to than a small company.

Speaker 2: Right. Or you can basically do... you're talking to customers, but inaudible every cohort of customers that you want to talk crosstalk-

Speaker 1: Exactly. And that's what we do at a larger company is not only are we talking to customers. We're making sure we're talking to every cohort we can think of. We can talk to lots of prospective customers. And we'd have large amount of sample in prospective customers, former customers, current customers, big customers, small customers, customers in Japan, customers in Brazil, customers in the US. That stuff you can't do as a tiny little company.

Speaker 2: I think that, all right, let's... we'll finish with this. The number one thing, I think, based on a lot of stuff we've talked about that every company can do to do things that don't scale is have everybody do support.

Speaker 1: Yeah. Have everyone do you support. The next, if you lead a team and someone comes to you and says," We need a new process." And you say," Why do we need a new process?" And they say," Because I don't know what Sally's working on." Say," No, we don't need a new process. And we're not going to put in a new process because you don't know what Sally in the marketing department is working on." And they say," Well, what are we going to do?" And say," You go talk to Sally, and you need to solve that problem in a process and a new process. Even if it Sally's in a different time zone. She's across the world. Get on Skype, get on Slack, get on something, get on the phone and talk to her. And we're not going to create a process and, or hire people to create a process just because you can't communicate to people."

Speaker 2: Right. Or the same way it's worth your time. Manually looking at every single new lead that comes in, for example.

Speaker 1: Oh, yeah.

Speaker 2: Instead of thinking about automating that always.

Speaker 1: Totally. Don't rush to automate things. Wait until it was painfully obvious that you need to automate those things, and all the time when people rush to automate things, they automate the wrong things, right. It's just like because they don't even know what they should be automating.

Speaker 2: Or why don't people use being small to their advantage? Isn't that something... Aren't we sitting here one day and one day we're going to have, hopefully, thousands of employees and thousands of products-

Speaker 1: Definitely.

Speaker 2: ...and tools and-

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Speaker 2: ...crap. And we're going to be like," I wish I could go talk to this person."

Speaker 1: Exactly." I wish I could just go run and talk."

Speaker 2: Everybody wants to grow up so fast.

Speaker 1: Yeah, no, this is whether you're big or small. You can do stuff today to be talking to people one- on- one, doing the things that don't scale. Those are going to be your secrets. Those are the levers the scale. Focus on the things that don't scale. That's where you learn everything.

Speaker 2: Cool. So if you only take one thing from this, which is all we want you to do is take one thing from-

Speaker 1: Yeah. One nugget.

Speaker 2: ...one episode, right. It's that the things that don't scale are the things that are exactly going to be what helps you scale.

Speaker 1: Exactly. It's like most things. It's the contrarian thing always go contrarian, right. It's the things that feel to me like they don't scale. I'm going to double down on this and keep doubling down on them until they stop working. And that's when you know it's time to automate them when they stop working, right. And then the things that look like they're easy. Easy, win, easy way to scale, easy things never work, right. And so don't do those things.

Speaker 2: Easy things never work. That's true, right.

Speaker 1: That's true.

Speaker 2: All right. Well, thank you, everybody, for listening to another episode of Seeking Wisdom. Here's what we want you to do. If you agreed with us about doing the things that don't scale, leave us a five- star review on iTunes, right. If you didn't agree with us, then tell us.

Speaker 1: Exactly. Tell us.

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