Writing → Product

A high school English teacher of mine once said about writing that you must deeply understand your audience. The reader owes you nothing; it’s up to you as the author to keep your readers engaged. Each sentence must connect the previous idea to the next. Whether it’s the first line, closing paragraph, or your core thesis, every word counts.

This economy of language is as much a science as it is art. The most successful writers have a strong metaphorical grasp of the pen, developed through daily practice, love of language, and sense of purpose. They’re intimately familiar with the rhetorical triangle — a classical framework for written communication that emphasizes the Audience, Writer, and Context.

How do you want your audience to feel as they experience your message? How do you establish trust and mutual respect with your reader? Why is your message worth my time? These are the questions that skilled writers ask before they ever put the pen to paper.

The best writers go even deeper: Where is my reader when they’re reading? How are they feeling as they experience my content? What other things were they doing? What else was competing for their attention? What are they feeling at this exact moment? What pain are they experiencing? What are their aspirations? How can I help? Can I put a smile on their face? Can I make them laugh? Is it appropriate to make them laugh? How can I get closer to my reader?

The best writers are read because they empathize with their readers and value their time.

Just as the writer repeatedly earns her readers’ attention through empathy and authenticity, the businesses that stay closest to the customer always win.

The best Product teams focus on their customers, study their behavior, and identify opportunities to improve their lives. They create delightful experiences that make us better at our jobs, enrich our relationships, and inspire us to be our best selves. They help us stay healthy, give us purpose and community, and are respectful of our time. They build the products that we can’t live without.

These products are not born in a vacuum — they’re the result of obsessing over the customer and ruthlessly interrogating our hypotheses. They’re built by people who care. Those who push for high standards and aim to create a culture of respect and trust. They come from humility and lack of ego. From the curious learners who put the customer at the center of everything they do. From those with a bias for action. Those who listen and ask great questions.

What’s the problem we’re solving?
Who are the actors involved?
What other tools are they using?
What hacks do they employ?
Is there anyone on the team who looks like our customer?
Can we really empathize?
Do we have a healthy diversity of perspectives to approach this challenge from all angles?
Can we simplify this?
How can we ship this today?
Is this really the problem, or is that just a symptom of something deeper?
How do we get this in the hands of more people?
How can we study their routine without invading privacy or biasing results?
How can we measure that?
Are we measuring what matters?
Can we build a prototype to de-risk that? Is this fast enough?
Can we make this faster?
How might we improve this workflow?
What are our objectives and measurable, time-bound results?
What does good look like?
What does delight look like?
How can we 10x that?
Can we talk to more users before making a decision?
Are they motivated by something we haven’t observed?
What is THE most impactful thing we can do to make our users’ lives better right now?

Great products follow from great teams who care deeply about people and their problems.


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