Sharpen Your Hook

Inspired by David Sacks

The Mini-Cooper took guts — you have to admire that team. They created something so different that you couldn’t help but have an opinion about it. You may love it or hate it, but you can’t ignore it.

“You don’t have to excel at everything. You only have to excel at a few things that are going to be memorable.” — Chip Heath

The path of uniqueness is beset on all sides with hard work and tough decisions, but the first step on the journey is to choose your wedge. The area you lean into so hard that other, seemingly important areas, become off-balanced, missing, orphaned. Yet, in our drive towards uniqueness, we must remember that product is not art — different alone isn’t enough, it must be a difference that matters. One that people care about.

“Better to attack the market with a single killer feature or use case than with big complicated plans that fail to gain adoption.” — David Sacks

We love big plans right? They are so comforting — distant and perfect. They are alluring, letting us answer ‘yes’ to every question. This lack of constraint is the eddy current that traps your product — the siren song drawing you towards the rocky shore. To get out, you must eventually choose a direction and put oar to water.

“Focus on sharpening your wedge into the market, rather than snowplowing it.” — David Sacks

It takes time and exploration, but once you’re onto something, you keep after it. Bear down on what’s working. Return again and again to the one experience early users fell in love with. The thing that initially made you the obvious choice. Continually refine the core experience instead of diluting it with novelty!

“Our most impactful work (especially right after p-m fit) was usually video quality, latency, reliability…exactly the stuff we were already best at and led the competition by the most at.” — Emmett Shear

Auger down again and again. Honing, polishing, concentrating. Extend the depth of what you’ve been hired to do and avoid chasing the mirage of the new.

“What’s the worst part of your product? Make that better. What’s the new worst part of your product? Make that better. What’s the new worst…” — Sahil Lavingia

New has a natural appeal, which is why we are in awe of people who spend decades on a single craft — we admire their dedication — we know the price they paid. As Tiger Woods heads to the range once again to work his fundamentals, we struggle to finish reading a single short article without ejecting to check twitter.

Deep work is rare work, and great products require this level of commitment. So hold fast to the core of your product, ignore the glittering lures, and know, as you wrestle with the smallest details, you’re in good company.

Find what matters, commit to it, and sharpen the hook.

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