The Struggle Is Real

The Growth Report #28

Happy Friday!

It’s almost September. In four months Christmas is already over. 🤯

The good news? There are still 17 Growth Reports to be enjoyed this year.

Let’s start things off with a little quote this week:

“The easy choice in the moment almost always makes the future harder. The hard choice almost always makes the future easier. Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life.” — Jerzy Gregorek

…and now…drumroll… 🥁🥁🥁:

Today's Topics

📈 Career Growth:
Choosing What To Work On

⚒️ Tools of the Trade:
Educational Resources and Inspiration for Marketers

⛑️ Reflections from the Trenches:
The Struggle Is Real (and what you can learn from it)

📈 Career Growth

Choosing What To Work On

I wanted to write on the topic of project prioritization for ages, because I think it's one of the fundamental things to get right in a career. That day has not come yet :-)

BUT, I just stumbled across a post from the folks at Reforge and while short, it summarizes a super important point. Let's go.

How To Choose A Project

Especially a bit further into our careers we are able to choose what projects we'd like to work on (within the boundaries of our job description at least). But HOW do we choose? Some people choose projects based on if they are easiest, the most fun, the most creative, the most technically difficult, etc.

However, if you'd like to optimize for your career trajectory and learning, we might have to look at the whole thing a bit differently. Let's have a look at the graph below.

On the Y axis you got "Impact" from low to high. This one should be pretty self-explanatory. You only want to work on projects that have an impact, why work on the ones that don't?

The X axis is less obvious. The first inclination would be to choose the high popularity projects, right? But let's assume you go for the unpopular, hard, and messy projects. This does a couple of things for you:

  • You learn more, because the bigger the challenge, well the more you need to use your brain.

  • Messy projects mean you really need to dig deep to understand and untangle the issue at hand. You become an instant expert on the topic within your organization.

  • As Brian Balfour puts it, you become "the leader and savior, because you are tackling something no one else wanted to touch and everyone wants these types of people on their team".

So whether you are working on a product internally or in an agency for external clients, if you constantly choose the high impact, low popularity projects it won't take very long until everyone in the company knows you. And they will seek you out for the most interesting opportunities going forward. I wish someone told me that 10 years ago!

Three examples for high impact, low popularity projects include:

  • Any kind of high complexity migration to a new system (e.g. CRM, Marketing Automation etc.).

  • Reforge names the marketing discipline of Monetization, because there is a perceived high risk and the pretty much every department in the company is involved.

  • Setting up and implementing automations, processes and SOPs to increase operational efficiencies (i.e. saving costs and resources).

🛠️ Tools of the Trade:

Educational Resources and Inspiration for Marketers

Marketing Education

Why Figma Wins - Renowned investor Kevin Kwok gives detailed analysis on why the design tool Figma is growing so fast (I love you Figma!). He outlines the underlying growth mechanisms they use across Product, Marketing and Sales. A masterclass!

What is good retention? - Twenty of the most experienced growth practitioners got interviewed and asked what they consider "good retention rates" across five industries / business models. Great for benchmarking your own retention figures!

Email Onboarding Teardown of Buffer - This is a complete teardown of Buffers onboarding emails. It analyzes the psychology behind the six emails that come in right after one signs up.

⛑️ Reflections From the Trenches

The Struggle Is Real
(and what you can learn from it)

Somewhat naturally, but without realizing it, I retracted from social life a little due to the ongoing pandemic.

Then I Went Back Out There

So when I did realize it a month or two ago, I consciously took a sizable chunk of time out the past weeks to meet people for coffee, lunch, and beers, or just calling them up to check-in how they're doing.

Maybe it's because I've enjoyed too much time in my cozy home office, but I got hit with a pervasive feeling that there is a strong underlying current of ongoing struggle seeping through peoples lives right now. It's not necessarily obvious either. It took me a couple of weeks to put my finger on it.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the conversations, there was a noticeable heaviness and nervousness to them. They revolved around the ongoing uncertainty, things that don't work out, and plans that fell through. And it's only natural, isn't it? For many people 2020 has not exactly been a walk in the park.

The Struggle

Our routines have changed (hello home office, hello home schooling, hello face masks), our usual outlets are gone (bye concerts, bye social events, bye travel plans) and many people have had their lives seriously disrupted with the death of a loved one, loosing their job or the sudden crumbling of a business venture.

While we can cope (or even thrive) with some of those for a while, if they pile on and sustain over a longer period of time, they will put a toll (even if not conscious) on our wellbeing. See, our bodies and brains don't really like change. They don't really like uncertainty either. And now imagine what happens if our brains have to deal with all that while being in an echo chamber, with the media, loved ones and colleagues (understandably) telling you about all the struggles and problems out there. But maybe it's not all bad?

The Lesson

A situation like the one we are all facing together right now is a great leveler. With no real agenda, it ruthlessly, but neutrally unearths all the inefficiencies of the systems we hinge our lives on. So whether it's our insecurities, our struggling relationships, our stalling career or our (non-existent) finances. All that shit is stress tested right now. BUT:

I strongly believe that we can choose to look at every tough situation either from the perspective of the victim, or the perspective of the student.

If we choose the victim, we have conceded. We are giving forces outside of our control the power to pull us down. But if we are the student, we study, reflect upon, and acknowledge what is happening. We look for the lessons to be learned. And lucky enough, there is a lesson to be learned in every struggle that we face. And to get good answers, we need to ask the hard questions:

  • What decisions have I made to be in this situation?

  • What did I do (or not do!) that led me here?

  • What can I do differently now (or next time)?

  • What can I let go of?

I am writing these lines not to point out the obvious and paint a picture of impending doom, but to send out a little reminder to have patience with ourselves and the people in our lives. We can acknowledge and allow the frustration to bubble up and maybe we find an important lesson hidden in the margins.

Okay, enough projecting for today. I love you all, take care 😘

See you next week,