Author Archives: sandeepdotburman

10 music albums that weren’t invited at the 2017 Grammys

But still worth repeat listening and dare I say, even buying the albums.

Here are albums that I was happy to spend money on from the few that I sampled last year with a pick of my favorite song from the album.

  1. La La Land (OST) – It’s impossible not to go La La over this jazz infused broadway style songs and music that alternate between high energy dance numbers and beautiful soulful songs, without missing a beat on depth of lyrics or timeless melody.

  1. Cleopatra (Lumineer) – Worthy for a queen

  1. Beautiful Lies (Birdy) – And beautiful songs from a bird(y)

 

  1. Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (OST) – Ya ya.. Bollywood music is way too cool to even want to grace the Grammies, especillaiy the likes of Pritam, lest originality is questioned! But cant deny the fact that not loving the songs from ADHM is mighty mushkil

  1. Wildfire (Rachel Platten) – The Fight Song caught on like Wildfire and has definitely taken Rachel Platten to a ‘Better Place’

  1. Remember Us To Life (Regina Spektor) – Might not remember this album for life but I’ll keep coming back to this off and on whenever I feel like listening to some easy relaxing songs.

  1. This House Is For Sale (Bon Jovi) – “This house is not for sale, this house was built on higher ground.” I think so is this band that’s standing the test of time and entering their 4th decade of belting out great albums that definitely rock

  1. Here (Alicia Keys) – Powerful blend of personal and political songs

  1. Long Live The Angels (Emeli Sande) – And long live her songs and voice

  1. Sing Street (OST) – This is an ode to 80s music.. and it’s gonna make me smile till I’m 80

So what else got missed. Share some artists/albums that rocked you last year and you feel they deserve to get noticed.

10 truths of habit forming products

“Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits” – Mark Twain #MondayMorningWakeUpCall

truths_about_habit-forming_products

Businesses that create customer habits gain a significant competitive advantage. Habit-forming products change user behavior and create unprompted user engagement. The aim is to influence customers to use your product on their own, again and again, without relying on overt call to action such as ads or promotions. Case to point – Facebook, Instagram, Slack, Google, Amazon and a whole slew of new and emerging high tech companies

Here are 10 truths about habit-forming products mined from Nir Eyal’s Hooked for entrepreneurs building products to reform other people’s habits –

  1. A habit is when not doing an action causes a bit of pain (a kind of itch, a feeling that manifests within the mind and causes discomfort until it is satisfied). The habit-forming products we use are simply there to provide some sort of relief. Using a technology or product to scratch the itch provides faster satisfaction than ignoring it. Once we come to depend on a tool, nothing else will do.
  2. User habits are a competitive advantage. Products that change customer routines are less susceptible to attacks from other companies
  3. Products with higher user engagement also have the potential to grow faster than their rivals
  4. New behaviors have a short half-life, as our minds tend to revert to our old ways of thinking and doing
  5. John Gourville, a professor of marketing at Harvard Business School, claims that for new entrants to stand a chance, they can’t just be better, they must be nine times better. Why such a high bar? Because old habits die hard and new products or services need to offer dramatic improvements to shake users out of old routines.
  6. For new behaviors to really take hold, they must occur often. Frequent engagement with a product-especially over a short period of time-increases the likelihood of forming new routines
  7. How frequent is frequent enough?
    1. The answer is likely specific to each business and behavior… although higher the frequency, better it is
    2. A 2010 study found that some habits can be formed in a matter of weeks while others can take more than five months. The researchers also found that the complexity of the behavior and how important the habit was to the person greatly affected how quickly the routine was formed.
  8. Sometimes a behavior does not occur as frequently as flossing or Googling, but it still becomes a habit. For an infrequent action to become a habit, the user must perceive a high degree of utility, either from gaining pleasure or avoiding pain, the 2 key motivators in all species
  9. A company can begin to determine its product’s habit-forming potential by plotting two factors: frequency (how often the behavior occurs) and perceived utility (how useful and rewarding the behavior is in the user’s mind over alternative solutions)
    1. If either of these factors fall short and the behavior lies below the threshold, it is less likely that the desired behavior will become a habit
  10. Habit forming products often start as nice-to-haves, but once the habit is formed, they become must-haves

Habits keep users loyal. Gourville writes that products that require a high degree of behavior change are doomed to fail even if the benefits of using the new products are clear and substantial.

But all hope is not lost for entrepreneurs building products that have direct or dotted line relationships with habits!

The Hook Model created by Nir Eyal describes an experience designed to connect to the user’s problem to a solution frequently enough to form a habit. A summary on the model coming soon.

Vitamins vs Painkillers. And the winner is…

“Customers don’t know what they want until we’ve shown them” – Steve Jobs #MondayMorningWakeUpCall

Vitamins vs Painkillers

Whichever is solving a problem! It’s the one common aspect to all successful innovations. That may seem obvious, but understanding the kind of problem a new product solves can be a topic of much debate. As ignorant investors like to put it, “are you building a vitamin or a painkiller?”

The tricky part is that some of the problems may be latent to the customer. After all humans are awfully adept at adapting to circumstances. And when a new innovation significantly improves our lives we adapt to the new one (albeit post some prodding and nudging).

We were happy with lanterns… till the electric bulb came along

We were happy with horses…till cars came along

We were happy with radio…till television came along

We were happy with landlines…till mobile phones came along

We were happy with Blackberry…till iPhone came along

We were happy with shopping at the mall…till e-commerce came along

We were happy without social media… till Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat came along

On hindsight, some of these could be defined as painkillers, some as vitamins (nice-to-have). All of them did distinctly make life better (or did they J) in tangible ways. But like so many innovations, we did not know we needed them until they became a part of our everyday lives.

According to Nir Eyal, author of Hooked, habit forming products often start as (nice-to-have) vitamins, but once the habit is formed, they become must-haves (painkillers). That is, once we depend on the tool, nothing else will do.

Note: Not every business requires habitual user engagement. But if forming habits is a critical component to the success of your business, then what do you do? (More on that in a subsequent post)

Victory in Surrender

All that is in our control is to do our best. Trust the Universe to take care of the rest. #MondayMorningWakeUpCall

In a moment of desolate despair, Pi (from Life of Pi) looks up towards the sky and screams from the depths of his soul, “I’ve lost my family. I’ve lost everything. What more do you want? I surrender.”

Victory_in_surrender

In that moment, he lets go. He lets go of trying to control his destiny. But he doesn’t give up. He continues his daily survival routine of rowing, eating, feeding Richard Parker so that the tiger doesn’t feed on him, and he continues heading towards a directionless destination that he may never reach, one row at a time.

It did turn out to be a happy ending. Pi did survive and live to tell his extraordinary tale. Even though it’s fiction it’s a metaphor for reality.

Maybe there’s a #MondayMorningWakeUpCall maxim in the Life of Pi that’s also applicable in Life of Thy (and My)

All that is in our control is to do our best. Trust the Universe to take care of the rest.

Hint: Believe that we live in a friendly Universe (Einstein believed it)

How Ray Kroc (McDonalds owner) became an overnight success

Don’t desist to persist #MondayMorningWakeUpCall

I watched the movie ‘The Founder’ over the weekend. It’s the story of Ray Kroc, the person credited to making McDonalds an empire from a single store and ‘the most successful fast food operation in the world’.

Ray Kroc was a travelling salesman. He sold paper cups, pianos and milk-shake mixer machines door-to-door, till he chanced upon McDonalds at the age of… wait for it…wait for it…wait for it… 52!

There are a whole bunch of business lessons in the movie for entrepreneurs, founders and aliens alike but the one that probably is at the core and resonates throughout the movie (and his career) comes best from this dialogue at the end of the movie where he’s preparing for a speech.

Ray Kroc says: “I know what you’re thinking. How the heck does a fifty two year old, over the hill, milkshake machine salesman build a fast food empire with 1600 restaurants and an annual revenue of seven hundred million dollars?

One word: Persistence!”

It reminded me of a same same but different Steve Jobs quote, “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”

I think they might be bonding well in the after-life.