How to use it and what to do if you don’t have any customers yet

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Photo by Victor He on Unsplash

I don’t think there is anyone in the startup world or the wider business world who will argue with the statement that you should focus on building what your customers want.

But how many people know what that really means and how you should actually go about doing it?

With the rise of Design Thinking and Lean Startup methodologies that now dominate the thinking in startups and big corporations alike, putting users and their problems at the heart of everything you do is a generally accepted concept.

But from my experience, there are a lot of people out there who think this automatically comes from post-it notes, brainstorming, creating user personas and other things that on their own equate to nothing more than innovation theater.

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Photo by Alden Skeie on Unsplash

Food delivery services are now about as ubiquitous as can be, whether it is Doordash, Grubhub, Uber Eats, Deliveroo — there are lots of flashy apps that are happy to send their gig-economy drivers to deliver your food from a local restaurant.

Similar to Uber, Lyft and any number of copycats, there is seemingly no end of new entrants who can come in and compete for your delivery dollars. But as Netflix discovered when it comes to streaming, the real secret isn’t in the distribution, but rather in offering something unique that no one else has.

For Netflix, this meant moving from distributing other people’s content to producing their own original shows like “House of Cards” or “The Crown”. In food delivery, we might be finally starting to see this Netflix moment play out, but it isn’t happening in Silicon Valley, it’s happening in Boise. …

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Photo by Xavi Moll on Unsplash

With the election now just under 3 weeks away, it is easy to get caught up in the national race between President Trump and Former Vice-President Biden.

But to really understand what is going on across America, you have to look a little deeper.

If you dig into some of the great reporting from local newspapers on Congressional races, you can get a better idea of the issues that are being debated in communities around the country.

And one thing that really stands out is how the politics of those candidates that have endorsed Trumpism stand out against pragmatists, usually Democrats, but also sometimes moderate candidates in their own party. …

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Photo by Claire Anderson on Unsplash

The Senate confirmation hearings of Judge Amy Coney Barrett are bringing focus on the Supreme Court and the judiciary system like never before.

With the prospect of a 6th Supreme Court Justice appointment coming from Republicans, clearly there are reasons for Democrats to feel uneasy. More broadly, over the past four years it is difficult to escape the narrative that President Trump is reshaping the broader judicial system in his favor.

For example this article from the New York Times leads off with the line:

“President Trump’s imprint on the nation’s appeals courts has been swift and historic. He has named judges with records on a range of issues important to Republicans — and to his re-election.” …

Five lessons from small businesses around the country

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Photo by Natalie Grainger on Unsplash

There is no shortage of stories that start the same: 2020 was supposed to be the year that your business really took off, finally launched, or paid back that mortgage.

But in reality, we know what happened. From March to June, 3.3 million businesses across the US had to shut at least temporarily. Many of them never opened back up.

There are programs in place at the federal and local level that have tried to alleviate the pain and one can argue whether politicians are doing enough, but the simple truth is that many small business owners are simply on their own to navigate through the crisis.

Here’s how schools around the country are doing it

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Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

There are not many topics these days that can unite people from California to Tennessee — but getting kids back to school is something that finds supporters across geographies and political parties.

“Every day beyond the one that the state says is permissible to return is too late.” says an op-ed in Berkeley, California.

Do it for the disadvantaged students without the same digital access and supplementary learning opportunities as wealthier students. Do it for the youngest students and do it for the parents, of which 75% of the Berkeley school district were in favor of resuming some in-person classes.

Parents across the country in Tennessee could agree with that as they staged an impromptu protest at a recent school board meeting in Williamson County.

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Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Over the last 20 years we have been slowly chipping away at everything local. Now is the time to stand up and defend what we have left and rebuild what we’ve lost.

The Coronavirus pandemic has exposed many of the vulnerabilities that we have exposed ourselves to in the pursuit of globalization. In making our world a more globally connected place, we have paid a price at the local level that we have either been unaware of or not impacted enough to care.

That means that local jobs selling and repairing electronic appliances were sacrificed as long as the price for TV’s made somewhere else were so cheap that I could afford not only a much better one, but I could throw it away and get a new one as soon as something went wrong with it. …

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Photo by Cam Adams on Unsplash

A few months back I penned a story about what it feels like to walk away from a successful career in finance with nothing else lined up. No job, no big plans to go back to school — just start by not going to work and see what happens from there.

I’ve gotten a lot of questions since that post, asking how I’m doing now and what I’m up to.

At first, my responses were along the lines of:

I’m really enjoying how things are going, but it is a bit of an adjustment.

But now 10 months later, I tell anyone who…

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Photo by Peter Lewicki on Unsplash

Since I just recently passed one year of writing consistently on Medium and around the same time I hit my first big goal of 500 followers, I thought this was a good time to take a look back and share some of the things that I’ve learned along the way.

No, this isn’t an article about how to build an audience overnight or how to hack your way to success.

For me, the keys to finding some success writing have been all about finding your niche to write about and getting yourself in the writing groove over and over again, even you don’t always feel like it.

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Photo by Ranit Chakraborty on Unsplash

I remember when I started my first real banking job almost 10 years ago. One third of the office got laid off within the first month.

And this was not some fly by night operation, this was one of the largest banks in the world.

Sure, this was a unique period in time as the years immediately following the financial crisis were a time of great instability, especially for the major banks. But still, it’s a tough environment to start your career in.

Thankfully, times are not quite as tough now for everyone who is just graduating and starting their career, but something has changed and there is no going back. …


Greg Dickens

recovering banker | building digital products for local communities at

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