Growth is not magic.

There’s been lots of hype lately about growth and growth hacking. I’ve even heard such nonsense as “we can turn on virality whenever we want to.” (Um, if it were that easy….. never mind.)

The truth about user acquisition is that while there are some fundamental principles at work, there is no substitute for having a valuable product and delivering it in a great user experience. This truth is both refreshing and stabilizing. It’s about the product, people.

Continue reading “Growth is not magic.”

The Best of London: Hipster Scene, Cheap Eats, Gourmet Coffee & Pubs

My husband Roy and I lived in London for 2+ years while I was on faculty at the London School of Economics and he worked at Shazam. We’ve been back in San Francisco for over a year now, but his Google Map of favorite places has lots of the best places to see and be seen in London, complete with descriptions (written from our Bay Area perspective). We always share it with friends going to visit and in the process we fell in love with Google Maps for quickly sharing our favorite places with friends going to visit London in a format that they can actually use.

Continue reading “The Best of London: Hipster Scene, Cheap Eats, Gourmet Coffee & Pubs”

How to do lean startup: Sharing user feedback & release notes with your team

At Britely we aim to follow a lean startup approach of talking to users before, during, and after building every part of our product. A common challenge in startups though is that everybody is so busy building that very few people actually “get out of the building” and talk to users. So how can you get your team on the same page?

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What is a Growth Hacker? Does your startup need a Growth Team?

You wanted to be there, you just didn’t know it. The Growth Hackers Conference was last week and it was awesome. The conference was way sold out and unlike most it was totally worth the investment! Thanks to the speakers for focusing on creating value for the user through the product – it’s not about spam or zombies or farm animals, it’s about creating value!

Thought I’d share my notes for all the growth teams at startups in NY, LA, London, and everywhere else who didn’t get to attend. Continue reading “What is a Growth Hacker? Does your startup need a Growth Team?”

I have a new job at Britely

I’m thrilled to announce my new position at an exciting Silicon Valley startup called Britely, where I am now Director of Growth & Creativity. We’re a well-funded, fast-moving new kind of user generated content site and app. I’m heading up content strategy, distribution, growth hacking, user acquisition, product marketing, and social media strategy… I love my job and the team here is top notch. My favorite part of my job is helping shape a super creative, positive culture of creators on britely.com.

Personal Idea Management: Nuts, Bolts and Apps

Hi Caneel,

In “How to Keep an Idea Log You Will Actually Use” you talked, in part, about rereading your archive of ideas every 3 months.  That is manageable, but I struggle with the revisiting of all the other information including: bookmarks, downloaded files, saved emails, hand written notes, etc.

I would very much like to know how you cope with the incredible amount of useful information at your fingertips.  How do you organize everything that you collect (in different forms)?  –Software Engineer

Hi Software Engineer,

I keep all of the data you’re talking about in simply structured (hardly tagged, mostly just thorough file names) folders on my hard drive.

I use Evernote for highly formatted reference materials I’ve captured (web pages, pdfs not associated with a project, etc), and Notational Velocity synced with my iPhone and iPad for reference notes to myself and reference lists (blog post ideas, books to read, cool companies, movies to see, etc.).
For big projects I keep a rich text running log of progress, steps taken, ideas, any thoughts or questions or concerns that pop into my mind, etc – and all entries are time and date stamped. I include visual screenshots of everything I’m talking about, and often links to the files.  I even timestamp my entries using a keyboard shortcut create using Smile Software’s TextExpander (I type “ttm” to get the current date and time, then follow it with a quick description of what I’m doing… it’s addictive!). For any one day working I would enter about four pages of notes, just to give you a sense of how stream of consciousness it all is.
I deal with everything as it comes and don’t revisit. My intuition guides my search for inspiration and ideas, my projects drive my search for everything else.
I believe in silence and randomness and fun, and I hate discipline and drudgery.  I have a million RSS feeds going into my Google reader and some into the Pulse iPhone app (also a reader), and I look at them when I am on the tube or hanging out with nothing else to do, but when I tried to keep “on top of everything” that came through my RSS feed, I noticed I was creating a lot less, “working” a lot more, and always felt like I had homework hanging over my head. Sort of like a drone.
So now I just do what I want and try to read books/long articles and write a lot. Most of us have too much electronic input these days anyway.

Current projects drive my search for new information and stimuli. I use Safari bookmarks for bookmarks but mostly for keyboard shortcutting the bookmarks menu (e.g., command-6 is “Bit.ly it”, command-7 just became “Pinterest it”, etc.) but I feel no need to revisit most things.
I hope some of this helps. Please write back in the comments and let me know where you’d like to challenge me on the above.  It’s a super nerdy but obsessively interesting topic.  –the Caneelian