Thinking in Bets

Thinking in Bets

I'm definitely overthinking my second newsletter article. Which is
ironic because one of my favorite mantras is "don't overthink it". :)

Usually we overthink stuff so ding-dang hard when really we just need to put something out there and try. At least I do. Do you? As my favorite podcaster Noah Kagan encourages just take action or better "Now Not How".

So let's talk about another favorite; bets. I woke up this morning and happened to turn on the TV. Sex in the City was on and it was the episode when Carrie Bradshaw and her girlfriend entourage go
to Atlantic City. So the topic of bets seems fitting.

Here's what I think about bets. Every choice you make is a bet. Some are good bets. Some are bad, but obviously we want to
make the good bets. So stack the deck in your favor.

What's a good bet in creating early stage products? A good bet for me is based on a variety and combination of factors. How much research you've done, what you know about your target customer, how deeply you understand their big problems that need solving, what they value, the current trends, the market etc. And then there's how viable is the solution? How soon can you get it in a early
customer hands so you can get learnings and iterate?

But my most favorite way to test "making a bet" is to ask myself and/or the team "would you spend your own money on it? If this
was your company, would you spend $1000 of your own money?
$10,000? $50,000?

Because that's what you're saying as a product manager... this bet is so good we believe because of X, Y, or Z that we will get a return on it or with this effort we will get learnings from it to inform our next
best steps. Aka: Ship to learn.

There's some great books about bets.

Thinking in Bets by Annie Duke, a former Hall of Fame poker player
titles it perfectly.

Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas come from Small discoveries
by Peter Sims.

That all said, apparently, the word bet or bets has been triggering to some folks in
my past. I was surprised by that. Love to hear your thoughts. But that said, it's software what we do. It can change. And we can
change it and ship it fast. Another founder I admire told me this.
Makes sense.

Early in my career, I didn't realize how much money/effort/time I was spending on something that would have a low return. I was just doing my job and thought my designs had "to be right". I've since changed my thinking completely on that. Again, probably from the books I read, and also from being in do or die situations with startups, where we only have a certain amount of runway (weeks to
months funding) to work with to prove our next step.

Two other podcasts that I absolutely love and and talk about are Noah Kagan Presents and My First Million by Sam Parr, founder of
Thr Hustle. If you're not already listening to these podcasts on your
0-1 journey, I highly recommend you do.

So I'm going to bet that this article is good enough for #2 and I'lI ship it to learn more. More about what you want. And more about
what I want to write about.

I have some other terms I find myself saying to teams all the time. I just love these.

  • Churn and burn - Ie, Just Start
  • 1000 ways to skin a cat - Ie, Don't Fall in Love with Your Solution
  • Just move the ball forward - Bias for Action
  • Learn by doing - Cal Poly SLO motto

Tell me if you want to know more about
these fun beauties. For the curious, I'm going to spend the next week helping a
company get to the next step in their journey. Unblocking and
"unstucking" them and then thinking in best bets.

Let's do this!

Ps. Love to hear from you. Drop me a line. Thoughts?
Comments? Suggestions? Chocolates?

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