The Only Time Validating Really Matters

Day 27 of 31.

I’ve spent my whole life trying to “validate” myself.

Growing up as one of the few Chinese kids in an entirely working class Italian American neighborhood, I was always trying to be “more white, less Asian”. I remember purposely slacking in class to sway from the “nerdy asian” stereotype.

In my adult life, my job in sales was the epitome of validation. My self worth became based on the amount of awarded jobs I could get and the relationships that I could build from a cold email. I killed myself if an agency producer didn’t respond to me, or a job fell through, thinking, “What did I do wrong?”. Nothing about sales is ever consistent, and today, I still feel like I’m the worst person when it’s slow.

I never felt as if I…melded.

It wasn’t until I started traveling that I finally felt on the same wavelength as people. I visited nearly 20 countries in a span of 2 years, and I met people who got me within hours of meeting. There’s a very special bond between travelers, we are all tied because we have all opted to forgo the conventional to see the world. We are a breed that is extra curious, and open minded, and tends to believe the world is a beautiful place where we make up our own opportunities. It’s a bond that, even months, years after I’ve seen friends, I still feel as close to them when we speak, even if we had spent only a week together.

What I’ve learned from those life experiences, is that validating yourself isn’t wrong. It’s validating with the wrong people that really fucks shit up.

FIND THE RIGHT PEOPLE TO VALIDATE

Look for people’s behavior and not their opinions.

Validation #1: Survey friends, family and extended network.

PROS: My first test was to interview 100 of my friends, family and extended network. As I mentioned, I work in sales so I have a fair amount of people that I can reach out to, and I was very happy to say that a lot of people responded. They took the time to respond and I gleamed a lot of great insights from them.

CONS: It was a pretty homogenous network. Everyone was a millennial working in advertising with a college education from NYC. I’m still don’t have enough people validating my idea. In order for a REAL survey — I need to broaden this to at least more ages, locations and industries.

Validation #2: Survey complete strangers who are in the industry

TIP: I’ve learned that surveying is so important not only to figure out people’s opinions, but their behaviors. Exp: People may hate Tuna fish, but they are not looking for an app to warn them if there is Tuna in the room.

ACTION: I haven’t done this yet, but I am going to begin some broad questions on FB travel groups, Reddit, Quora and Facebook. My question will be simply — “Why do you want to travel like a local?” I’d like a broad question to simply confirm my first validation findings.

Most people already wanted to travel local because they were tired of luxe travel magazines and sites that featured lifestyles they couldn’t replicate. They also wanted to immerse themselves in the culture to learn from the locals. I found that though a lot of people wanted to understand locals, they didn’t necessarily want to pay for local guided activities.

So, my goal by asking “Why do you want to travel like a local” will hopefully tell me four things

  • That people actually do want to travel like a local
  • What traveling local means to them
  • How they travel like a local
  • How it makes them feel to travel like a local

Surveying the wrong demographic might give me the wrong information. I’m sure that if I were to survey my parents, they sure as hell would NEVER agree to traveling like a local.

“Why do I want to do that? I go on vacation to go away, I don’t want to talk to people. What a waste. Do you know when I was your age, I would go to the mountains to pick wood for the fires? That was our vacation. Your generation is so crazy these days. Did you eat yet?“ — actual quote from my dad

HOW TO FIND THE TARGET AUDIENCE

Think of all the people who took your first survey, or the strangers you have told your idea about, or simply think about 6 people you know who would 1000% use and pay for your product. Not because of you, but because of the product.

I wrote out PERSONA SUMMARIES for 6 potential users, 3 males, 3 females. I ended up modeling them after actual friends of mine, shaped by specific experiences they had told me from their travels.

Looking at those helped me piecemeal a greater idea for a larger audience. I then created target niches to reach out to.

For me, I want to start an online travel magazine. The most ideal audience for a destination specific web platform/online magazine would be..a traveler -that innately curious and passionate lover of the world.

The second audience might be a literary person. They may enjoy reading “The Atlantic” or “Time” and perusing book stores and has coffee table magazines. They may also enjoy writing, and might be interested in collaborating.

The third audience might be a scientific person who is intrigued and loves to satiate their curiosity. They may be into museums and enjoy shows like EARTH.

SURVEY

I’ll condense my survey (from the nearly 30 questions of my original one) to <10. With a larger group to reach out to, I think that less people will be interested in answering this. My new questions are shaped also, by the pivot I am thinking of taking and if people will still spark to this, and what their current behavior is for this now.

VALIDATING is the best part of this. Survey, but know that you can talk to people too. Bartenders, Uber drivers, shopkeepers will give you a basic idea BUT really try and find those markets that you know people will spark too. Find users in comment sections of blogs you might like, IG or reddit.

The best part really, is talking to people one on one. If you can chat and see what they think — you may find a new way of seeing things that you haven’t realized. Sometimes we can get cloaked by our goal we forget to see how others would actually view it.

Best of luck. If you haven’t already- do follow us on IG and FB.