tag:dheer.co,2013:/posts Dheer Gupta 2021-03-26T13:29:49Z tag:dheer.co,2013:Post/1539266 2020-05-04T16:10:16Z 2021-03-26T13:29:49Z The Study of One

In the last decade or so, in business, consulting, and life, I've used a tool that I fondly and often refer to as the study of one.

The concept is quite simple, find a problem that you're trying to solve and see if you can find one subject whom you know and understand, who might've encountered this in their everyday life. Did it work for them? If not, could it work for other people like them? And vice versa if it did.

My favorite subject is myself. But, it's often my friends and peers. I always get consent. Mind you, I'll never undertake a study of one if conducting the study harms someone (other than myself) mentally, physically, financially, etc.

What are some ways I've used this technique you ask or how could you:

  1. To see if an email marketing message works on decision-makers: find some you know, ask them to check their email, and see if they received something like it and if it worked for them.
  2. Keeping on the email thread, a few years ago, I was trying to come up with a strategy for increasing deal sizes. At some point, I noticed that most external sales emails that I eventually responded to were threaded. In that, I had received one or more follow-ups or responses before I answered. Threaded emails remain my foundational email strategy to get responses.
  3. Almost all of my writing is a study of one on myself.

Have you used something similar? If it intrigues you, how would you use it?


My best guess is that I R&D'd it from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N_of_1_trial

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tag:dheer.co,2013:Post/1539262 2020-05-04T15:12:46Z 2020-05-04T15:15:27Z Version Zero

I recently re-discovered a note that I wrote to myself in Oct 2014. It reads:

I welcome change, and I am constantly controlling what I change.
What version are we even at now? I think we're always v0.

In the years that followed, I have looked at this note and wondered what I might've meant and whether I should've bothered adding more to it.

Not as much lately.

Maybe what I was getting at was with the changes I'm making and the innate defaults that I'm reconfiguring, perhaps I'm not so much an incremental version of myself, but I'm rather a fork.

Or maybe, I wasn't talking about myself at all. But, rather about capitalism and commerce. I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about these as well.

Perhaps, what I meant was that each time we change strategies or pivot, so to speak, we're creating a fork. It may seem incremental, but companies like people have innate defaults too. We're also, in the end, just a collection of like-minded people. I wonder if every change in strategy is just a fork too.

Not all forks are good. I recently found myself on a fork that I didn't quite like. It wasn't easy to spot it, nor will it be easy to go back to a previous v0.

I think we're just at a new-old version zero.


p.s.

1. The fact is, I haven't really kept a log of the changes I have made to myself over the years. The closest I can come to are these notes. Perhaps much like in programming, the drive to document and comment is lower if one feels nobody else is gonna read it.

Code gets read more often than we expect it to be, more time will be spent reading it than was spent writing it. My code has evolved since this revelation, my notes too shall.

2. I'm really tempted to name this note "Fork You!". It tickles my fancy. What do you think?

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tag:dheer.co,2013:Post/1539274 2020-05-03T15:55:06Z 2020-05-03T15:56:43Z Notes to the world

Sometime in my mid-teens I read that each individual has about 50,000 - 100,000 thoughts a day and that something like 98% of these are the same as the ones we had the day before.

This sent me down a journey of figuring out how I could reduce the clutter. I figured a bunch of these had to be unconscious – things that are prerequisites to survival – like breathing. But a rest had to be more random, like feelings and other musings, there had to be something I could do about those.

The outcome, I started writing notes to my future self. These were mostly rants – things that I hypothesized, things that I thought I didn't want to do anything about just. As putting it on paper, helped me not think about the next day, or the day after that.

Every now and then I go back to these ramblings, there's wisdom in there I didn't know I had, decisions I made without knowing that I was...things that has helped me navigate issues that I didn't face until decades later.

My favorite note thus far, is one that I wrote on paper napkins – still barely hanging on to my teens – in a coffee shop after my 6th or 12th double espresso. Based on how my heart was racing I thought the end was nigh, and I poured my ramblings into a multi-napkin monologue.

But somewhere in there, there was this singular thought:

Do I do the things I dislike about other people?
Do I want to change that thing about myself, or am I going to get over it?

Those questions have helped me be better through the years.

Which brings me to today. I don't know if I'll always have my notes, I have done a terrible job digitizing them.

As I grow older I also realize that time as a resource for me is depleting fast, I don't know if I will have the time to pass on my ramblings to my friends or kin. I don't know if others might need to read them too. Writing ought to be more eternal.

So as on now, I've decided that this and future notes to myself – will be public.

Hello World!

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tag:dheer.co,2013:Post/1539123 2014-10-14T12:00:00Z 2020-05-03T04:18:25Z Timing

You may have heard that an idea is only as good as its execution. The statement in all its brilliance is somewhat flawed.

Well executed ideas are time and again observed to fall short on gaining traction, even when demand exists. This is something I have personally experienced with projects that my clients have worked on, my own projects and out in the wild.

At times similar execution worked well in the past for others, more often similar execution on similar ideas worked brilliantly shortly after. An umpteen number of rationalization usually en shew, most involve: executing differently, pivoting early, high burn rates etc.

Until the effects of incorrect Timing have been considered none of these may be entirely correct nor incorrect for that matter.

Timing can fall under a number of topics depending on the situation.

tl;dr; The timing of when an idea is executed is just as/or more important than the execution itself. It is possible to be too early, early, on time, fashionably late or too late. Each can make or break the idea and its execution.

Predicting timing is tricky and is an exercise that gets easier with time and experience. It’s an important exercise as outcome’s of not considering timing have unpredictable outcomes.

State of Technology

If the success of the idea depends on technology available from other sources at the time, the question worth asking is “are we really there yet?”. Explained with examples:

  • In 2001 Bill Gates believed that in 5 years tablets would be the most popular form of PC’s. He was too early to execute, the technology wasn’t quite there yet.
  • In 2006 James Cameron explained that he waited nearly a decade to make Avatar because the technology was not advanced enough to execute his vision for the movie.

Market Perception

This one is a little tough to explain, can vary dramatically depending on the situation and usually pertains more to the message and words used to convey the idea. Simply put at times the market is simply not ready to accept that there may be a need for the solution that is being offered. The question “is the market is ready for what we have to say” is definitely worth an ask.

Examples:

  • Airbnb was able to get a much needed boost during the Democratic National Convention – a message and move that gave them a lot of coverage from the news media
  • Diaspora clearly got the timing right on this one. There were numerous people before them that wanted to create a facebook alternative. But they were able to pick the ideal time to ask for funding for a privacy conscious platform at the peak of the backlash against facebook privacy concerns
  • The ones that get the message timing wrong are too many to single out. A great case study for examples would be observing some of the greatest economists of the recent past, the best of them show gloom and doom when people are euphoric and gloat when there is blood on the streets.

Risk Management and Feasibility

Timing is very often an internal constraint. Executing an idea or a part of it too early can cause high burn rates and deplete resources significantly. Often this is done with due to overestimating demand and just as often out of fear of loosing out.

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tag:dheer.co,2013:Post/1539122 2014-09-13T12:00:00Z 2020-05-03T14:20:14Z How to lose the right way

There is a great beauty in being creative within the constraints of circumstances. Its not always possible to avoid losses in business, but there can be guidelines that we follow to not fall prey to losses that are easy to avoid. Subsequently the benefit of avoiding easy losses gives us the opportunity to only lose in situations where there is a greater chance of learning valuable lessons. These lessons far outweigh the costs of learning from them.

The term loss here is used somewhat loosely. It could be a loss of time, effort, customers, traction and money to name a few.

So without further ado, I present to you guidelines that help us lose the right way:

Don't start with a Hail Mary Pass

I often see individuals and businesses attempt an all or nothing move before giving other viable strategies a fair try - in most cases there are strategies available that would have been simpler to plan, cheaper to execute and have a higher probability of success. Unfortunately, too many people with little to no knowledge of risk management have convinced people that high risks have to be taken to get high rewards.

There are times when a Hail Mary pass is just what you need, but always eliminate all other possibilities before.

Always know what you can lose

Knowing what you can lose trumps knowing what you can gain on any day of the week and even more on Thursday and Friday.

Analyzing and fully understanding the risks of a particular strategy or investment is not the same as negative thinking. At best it'll make you a good risk manager and at its worst you'd be considered cautiously optimistic.

That doesn't mean that what you can win is not important. I have personally found the best way to execute on this is by knowing the relevant batting average and minimum risk-reward ratios.

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tag:dheer.co,2013:Post/1539254 2014-04-29T12:00:00Z 2020-05-03T16:27:34Z Innate Default What's an innate default anyways?

I believe individuals have constantly evolving default reasoning setting. It stems from the experiences and thoughts – conscious or otherwise. This is the lens we view our world from – at least I do – I believe this default helps me make sense of things in a pinch – what I am referring to when I talk about "a gut feeling".

There is a lot of things that comprise this default that I cannot control, like the socioeconomic conditions that I was born into, or the laws that govern nations and in-turn me. But there are other parts that I can control.

Things like choosing my tribe, the conscious choice about the news and essays that I read, and how I choose to react to it all.

I like living in the future. Is my innate default futuristic enough?
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tag:dheer.co,2013:Post/1539120 2013-08-19T12:00:00Z 2020-05-03T14:20:45Z Investing lessons learned from a floor trader

Ever wondered why your business idea or someone else's failed to get traction, even though you did things the same or better as people that followed or those who came before? People will tell you that the execution may have been lacking, they may be somewhat right or even a 100% correct, but chances are there was something else that went wrong.

What may have gone wrong is that you were missing the knowledge of one missing ingredient, without which the notion that "an idea is only as good as it execution" in all it's brilliance is flawed.

tl;dr: The timing of when an idea is executed is just as/or more important than the execution itself. It is possible to be too early, early, on time, fashionably late or too late. Each can make or break the idea and its execution.

In 2007, I did a relatively short stint on a trading floor focused on financial and technology equities. We were working with a well tested strategies, the (risk-)managers stressed the importance of discipline aka good execution.

Even though the success rate depended on the market timing, which is unpredictable; When paired with good downside protection/risk management the strategies were in a sense considered infallible. So far, the flaws with the notion that "idea was is good as the execution" were not yet clear, because even though (market) timing mattered it was not the deciding factor.

The success of the philosophy on the trading floor led me to use in various aspects of my life and work. It greatly helped my work helping businesses embrace the web. This is where the patterns surrounding the 'timing aspect' started showing up.

The flaws with the notion that an idea is as good as its execution are not evident when there isn't a possibility to breaking the bank.

Simply put, in life the importance of the execution is not quite as simple as it was at the trading desk; In trading much like a baseball batting average, the disciplined execution of a trading(speculation) strategy was designed to aim for a .300 win average (30 percent ) to be excellent. A .100 win average (10 percent) was enough to break-even.

At 10 percent lower than break even point, you exhaust your capital. On the trading desk this was the cost of doing  business, the risks in life and business are not always as black and white.

Disclaimer 1: While predicting the timing is already tricky, what's trickier is the outcome of not timing well.

There is always the possibility that you may not get another chance to execute the same strategy. If another party is involved an idea executed too early may make them vary of trying it again when the time is right.

Even when you get the timing right, it's possible for someone or something to sweep in before you and steal your glory.

Disclaimer 2: It's tough to deliberately have perfect timing.

Disclaimer 3: You will fail; often.

If you get a chance to make similar decisions again in similar circumstances you may fare better.

If you haven't done "it" before reach out to people who have]]>