Apr, 2016

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

THE BIG IDEA: We, as individuals and organizations, operate by habit; learn how to engineer good habits; learn how to identify keystone habits that shape many other habits


  1. Habits emerge because the brain is looking for ways to save effort.
  2. The habit loop is: cue => routine => reward.
  3. Craving for the reward is what powers the habit loop (eg. Febreze, Pepsodent.)
  4. To change a bad habit, first understand the cues and the true rewards that power the habit.  Then keep the cue but change the routine (eg. Tony Dungy, AA.) Also, change is more likely if done with a group.
  5. Changing a keystone habit will start a chain reaction that can change many other habits (eg. Alcoa, Michael Phelps.)
  6. Willpower can become a habit when you choose a certain behavior ahead of time, and then follow the routine at the appropriate time (eg. Starbucks.)
  7. Even destructive habits can be transformed by leaders who know how to seize the opportunity offered by a a crisis (eg. Rhode Island Hospital, London Underground.)
  8. To market a new habit, you must understand how to make the novel seem familiar.  Carefully insert new habits alongside old habits (eg. Target, Outkast, organ meats, YMCA.)
  9. A social movement starts because  of the social habits of friendship and the strong ties between close acquaintances.  It grows because of the habits of a community and the weak ties that hold neighborhoods and clans together. And it endures because a movement’s leaders give participants new habits that create a fresh sense of identity and a feeling of ownership (eg. Rosa Park, Rick Warren.)
  10. Although habits are hardwired, people have the power to rewire their brains (eg. William James, compulsive gambling.)
  11. To change a habit, 1) identify the routine in order to insert a new routine, 2) experiment with different rewards in order to determine the underlying craving, 3) isolate the cues by writing down what happens when the craving hits, 4) have a plan.   The plan will use the existing cues, insert a new routine, and link it to the true underlying reward/craving.

Traction by Gabriel Weinberg

The Big Idea: concentrate your efforts on the core traction channel that really matters; learn how to quickly identify your core traction channel because it will change as your startup grows


  1. One traction channel will always dominate.
  2. Predicting which traction channel will work for you is nearly impossible, so always test and let the data tell you.
  3. Spend 50% of your time building the product/service and 50% building a traction channel
  4. Early on, do things that don’t scale
  5. Testing channels your competitors are ignoring is a great way to acquire customers cheaply.
  6. Define your traction goals clearly and ignore marketing efforts not on the critical path to achieving those traction goals.
  7. The Nineteen Traction Channels
    1. Targeting blogs
      1. try small blogs first
      2. see Noah Kagan and Mint
    2. Publicity
      1. Help a Reporter Out (HARO)
      2. target smaller outlets first
      3. craft a good narrative
    3. Unconventional PR
      1. PR stunts require creativity and willingness to keep trying
      2. Customer appreciation (handwritten notes) is more sustainable and systematic
    4. Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
      1. use ads to test changes to your product or service
    5. Social and Display Ads (Facebook, Youtube, Twitter)
      1. social ads are more focused on brand awareness than conversions
    6. Offline Ads
      1. radio ads, magazine ads, and local tv ads can be cheap
      2. remnant advertising can be an amazing bargain
      3. use coupon codes or landing pages to track effectiveness
    7. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
      1. fat-head vs long-tail
      2. SEO = getting lots of links
      3. infographics, slideshows, images, and original content drive link-building
    8. Content Marketing
      1. hard to build but can a huge payoff (size and speed of customer growth)
      2. in-depth posts and infographics work the best
    9. Email Marketing
      1. one of the most effective channels of all
      2. make emails as personalized as possible (name, interests, content)
      3. retarget leads through email
      4. use email for friend referrals
      5. A/B test everything in your email campaigns
    10. Viral Marketing
      1. K = i x conversion (i = invites per user)
      2. Any K > 1 will result in exponential growth; Any K > 0.5 will help you grow considerably.
      3. A/B test everything
      4. Sign up for the most viral services and understand their strategies
      5. Think deeply about building virality into the product instead of just adding a FB like button
    11. Engineering as Marketing
      1. build tools, widgets, and microsites that your customers find valuable
    12. Business Development
      1. build partnerships with complementary companies to expand your market, acquire/license IP, jointly develop a product, or secure key inputs
      2. understand your partner’s needs
      3. get a warm introduction
    13. Sales
      1. best for entreprise and expensive products
    14. Affiliate Programs
      1. best for low-price, e-commerce, digital information
      2. existing affiliate platforms are expensive but have large audiences
      3. building your own affiliate network is a possibility if you have a large customer base
    15. Existing Platforms
      1. Includes app stores, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Snapchat
      2. Find out where your customers are and how they use the platform
      3. Get to the platform as early as possible
    16. Trade Shows
      1. great for meetings, landing big sales, building partnerships, or making announcements
      2. clear goals and preparations are key
    17. Offline Events
      1. organize conferences, parties, and meetups to attract and retain customers
    18. Speaking Engagements
      1. start small
      2. remember that event organizers are looking for speakers
    19. Community Building
      1. you need to have a mission that customers want to buy into if you want to build an awesome community
      2. pay attention to keeping quality high as you scale