Discover more from The ContraMind Code
The ContraMind Code
Welcome to The ContraMind Code.
The ContraMind Code provides you with a system of principles, signals, and ideas to aid you in your pursuit of excellence.
The Newsletter shares the source code through quick snapshots for a systems thinking approach to be the best in what you do.
The Code helps you reboot and reimagine your thinking by learning from the best and enables you to draw a blueprint on what it takes to get extraordinary things done. Please share your valuable thoughts and comments and start a conversation.
Take a journey to www.contraminds.com. Listen and watch some great minds talking to us about their journey of discovery of what went into making them craftsmen of their profession to drive peak performance.
How To Fast-Track Your Career As An Engineer
While it is written in the context of a job or a career at a FAANG(Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix & Google), this applies to any job, be it a large or a small organisation.
Here are the top takeaways:
The article reiterates this: ' Having more impact will grow your career faster than years of experience can.’
Therefore, what is impact?
Reducing Cost - Making things cheaper; doing more with less.
Increasing Revenue - Improving product quality, contributing to user growth, or creating new revenue streams.
The tips they give you to create impact is quite the opposite of what one hears typically or is advised:
Run Towards The Fire: It’s natural to want to avoid unsolved problems, but these problems are opportunities for growth.
Solving Unsolved Problems: Junior levels solve well-scoped tasks, while senior levels drive resolution for unclear problem areas without any task-level guidance. This can propel your career.
Read the entire article here.
Growth Vs Efficiency - Can You Have Both?
In this a16z Podcast, there is an excellent discussion around some of the questions that have always accompanied marketing spending:
How can we achieve a balance between efficiency, profitability, and growth?
Which channels are still relevant, and how can they be effectively mastered?
This is a conversation between Gina Gotthilf of Latitud, renowned for her impressive tenure as the VP of Growth at Duolingo; Kieran Flanagan, a long-time SVP of Marketing at HubSpot; and Bryan Kim, Consumer Partner at a16z.
Here are some thoughts from the conversation:
People will want to talk to people. Community will become important.
We have to be OK with doing things that are not measurable! Over-indexing measurements to every marketing dollar deployed forces marketers to a safe middle, making everything mundane and lacking creativity.
However, this has to be balanced with the sponsor of this marketing investment to relay the value of these immeasurables.
People need repetition to notice something; this rule cannot go away with the proliferation of tech in the advertising industry.
The fundamental rules of marketing are not going to change and have to be kept in mind:
What makes people tick?
What do people care about?
How do we reach one person or one media or one channel in a lot more efficient way possible?
What are the moments in your product that people care about?
Finding new ways of impacting people that are cheaper yet effective.
One question you should ask yourself is - ‘How many people consistently show up, again and again, to buy your product or use it? Can you deliver the product value again and again to these customers?’
Product-led growth is the only sustainable metric for marketing, and understanding your product's moat is crucial.
AI tends to commoditise things. Therefore, AI looks more like a retention play than an acquisition play for marketing.
It is harder to break through and get discovered in the app stores. Distribution is the single biggest problem for marketing.
If you are a consumer marketer specifically for new tech products - the only mantra to follow is ‘Get the lightning to keep hitting’!
Understand the importance of artificial deadlines and experimentation.
Use AI in marketing to leverage automation and save time. Don’t give up on the real world, human emotions and feelings.
Creativity is the bedrock of great marketing despite the tech tsunami hitting it.
Work-Life Balance: A Myth
Sreevatsa Subramonian is a senior advocate of the Karnataka High Court in India. He is a Josephite who passed out of The St Josephs College of Arts and Science in 1973, went on to do law, enrolled as a lawyer in 1976 and started an independent practice on 1st April 1977.
Sreevatsa has some fantastic counter-viewpoints on work-life balance, and these are worth thinking about:
As a practising advocate, Sreevatsa emphatically mentions that he is convinced that there is nothing called work-life balance but a joke being played on people’s ‘perception of reality’ and their emotions.
In 1977, he got this advice just out of college when he wanted to take up the profession as a litigator - ‘ Being a litigator is 100 hours a week of work, but try to balance your family and work harmoniously.’
‘Sunday off’ was not an option for him as he started his career as a litigator! He followed a punishing work schedule of 9 am to 11 pm!
When he married, he realised his work schedule would no longer work. He sliced away 3 hours of the evening and started working from 6 am instead while giving time to his wife in the evening as she had to start her work from 7 am every day!
‘When work is life, and life is work’, there is a perfect balance! He quotes this from the famous Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh.
Sreevatsa also talks about the concept of ‘Word Semantics’, which affects your mind. Words and sentences appeal to you, tend to manipulate your perception of reality and appeal to or alter your values and beliefs.
He concludes we must convince ourselves that ‘Work and Life’ are not adversaries. They are, in fact, complementary to each other.
Click on the above video to listen to this talk.
Importance of Immeasurability
Listening to the a16z podcast on achieving growth and efficiency in marketing was interesting. A couple of comments in that conversations left an indelible mark in our minds:
‘Getting comfortable to do things that are immeasurable.’
Creativity is a competitive edge in the age of AI.
Putting this in context, this is the technology industry talking about ‘immeasurability’, which is usually stuck up on metrics and indices to measure ROI on every investment or initiative. When it comes to human behaviour, not all that is measurable and trending up as indices work. Sometimes, emotions, feelings and resulting actions or behaviours are not measurable.
It is first essential to sense and observe the immeasurables in a cohort to successfully identify triggers that could be working to change or drive an intended behaviour.
Let’s take the movie industry, for instance. Some companies like Scriptbook and Cinelytics claim to give predictions of the success of a script. But, interestingly, there are several parameters outside the script that makes a box-office success - it could be the casting, the storytelling, special effects, music etc. etc. Great movies are made with deep observation of the culture, society and what emotions move people. Whether this can be captured within an AI prediction algorithm is a moot question. However, the answer lies in the last part of the conversation that creativity is the bedrock, which is difficult to replace, especially when playing with human emotions and feelings.
Learning to subtly observe the immeasurable is a crucial skill that will make a big difference in the commoditised AI Era. Here are some examples:
If you are building a product, look at the struggles people undergo with a product and its usage. These are often not expressed, but cues must be picked up. Uber, Amazon, and Tesla understood the customer pain that existing product companies did not observe sufficiently.
Immeasurability plays a huge difference when dealing with people. What is often unspoken impacts a project and quality rather than what people argue or say. This may not fall into a measurable metric. Look for signs like poor prototyping, lack of attention to detail after a long debriefing, delays, not coming on time, too many leave requests etc.
When you want to change an attitude or purchase behaviour, you must learn and appreciate immeasurability. Not all creative ideas will work, and not all standard templated methods will yield results to change behaviour. The need to observe subtle changes in behaviour, beliefs and values plays an important role, as some metrics may not capture these little changes.
Being creative and taking risks is a necessity to embrace immeasurability. In the initial stages, the results may not be visible or metrics to measure may need to be clarified as it has not been done or tried before. Hence, great creativity and immeasurability are closely correlated. It is also a way of assessing whether the idea you are embarking on is creative or not. The need to experiment and understand the social ecosystems, beliefs, habits and values is critical.
Striking a balance between measurability and immeasurability moves minds and generates innovative ideas.
Some of the lessons we learnt from this week’s mission:
If you don’t understand the meaning and value of ‘impact’ in your work, your career growth will likely get stunted.
Growth and Efficiency in marketing need a fair spread of ‘experimentation’, ‘immeasurability’ and ‘creativity’ to move the needle on both these parameters.
Work and life are not adversaries. You have to learn to live with both harmoniously.