You have to be the story people share

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And not the forgotten, incomplete book that some one left mid way

We are all beginning a new chapter everyday in life. Something new is being created every day in life and you are potentially doing something unusual and worht being heard and shared every day.

And I mean that. 

All of us have the potential to be master story tellers and creators of destiny. The sad part however is very few of us are working on it

Every morning when I get up, there are multiple reasons for me to not get cracking on what is potentially the most difficult thing to do. Whether it is getting up to exercise early winter mornings or getting up and getting back to work – which I know will take time to get me the rewards I am hoping for

And there are enough and more reasons for me to ‘not do’ any of these and straight on take the simpler route –  Sleep till late, get on to do something easy and lazy ,maybe nothing at all. Take up a high paying job and getting to the more secure things. More assured realities

There is no harm in taking the secure route. After all, a man with empty stomach is only as worthwhile as Titanic with a hole crumbled by the Iceberg 😉 But that is a discussion for another day!

Being secure is about getting the fundamental right and not screwing up on the basics. And I am a firm believer of the fact that for a grand story to be told, a brilliant plot to be conjured up – there have to be some basics that are fitting all in place

While there will be times when things will work out absolutely miraculous – out of the blue – but those are for the people who hit the Bull’s Eye Spot On (More often than not without even knowing about that)

In most of our cases, let me assume there will be failures.

There will be setbacks. There will be challenges. AND. There will be enough and more compelling reasons to give up and ‘move on’. 

There will be a strong lurking motivation to find a ‘secure spot’

Even Sheldon had a strong affinity for his Spot and only His Spot!

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However, I have learnt in the past few weeks of strenuous and completely consuming urges that its the most ‘reasonable’ thing to give in to these ‘Demons of Secure Spots’

And there is very limited, if any, reason to go on with the madness of being the story you want people to share and be known for who you are and what you did. And not be forgotten for what you rather not do!

Building a startup is not very easy. It is probably one of the most consuming process to be engaged in. As I said there is enough and more reason to not do things that make life more difficult. And there is absolutely no reason for me (with a rather well-in-shape) physique to subject myself to the extreme pain of early morning exercises.

However, I also learnt that nothing in life is more satisfying than to be able to go to sleep every night knowing

Today is one more day That I controlled my destiny

Today is one more day That I was obsessed with who i want to be

Today is one more day when I faced the very basic challenges of survival in the face

Today is one more day when I stepped an inch closer to being a wee bit of an inspiration for someone

And I wish to be that inspiration for someone, for myself till the time I have the last bit of energy left in me. Because that is what I want to be known for.

I want to be known as the chapter that was once written. Not as the chapter that was meant to be written

And my learnings are not my reflections, they are rather learnings of an entrepreneur who has learnt the hard truth from multiple people (all better than I) the hard and the difficult way

So go on. If I can. So can you and much better than I

Be the story you want to share. Be the creator people want to own

Be the Chapter people want to read. 

You are meant to be. You will have to find the Hard Way amidst the challenges. Because thats what Life and Adventure is all about

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This post is written by Arpita Chakraborty, straight from her laptop – sharing learnings and experiences of working across startups for years now. She is a social media geek and loves to question things at GetEchoed. Tweet to her about anything @arpitaambition

We love inactivity and you should too!

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It is the best life hack

Working on any project / venture or anything — requires patience and perseverance. There is a greater possibility that your current assignment is taking a toll on your productivity. You are grappling with deliverables and milestone completion. You are probably juggling priorities and shuffling roles. Maybe ignoring somethings and making sense of the mesh of information and dissonance between action and reuslts.

Setting goals is tempting; at times even liberating. Persevering on them is the difficult part and that is where we love ‘inactivity’. Or as one can put; we like ‘spurts of inactivity’.

Being passionately consumed in endeavors of today is something that the enthusiast and achiever in us understand immediately. The challenge is however that the enthusiast is often consumed in its own hunger and devoured in its own heat

Yes, there are adequate benefits of mental and physical inactivity — the times when you have had it all, would rather take it light and prefer to have a cooling off time than scratch your head any longer on the problem at hand. Periods of inactivity interspersed during your productive hours are one of the best hacks to increase emotional well being and your daily productivity.

Some of the most brilliant discoveries and breakthroughs have happened in periods of inactivity.

Letting our brain to run wild without the mental schemata operating in given directions is when the best juices of inactivity is relished. Epiphanies are the outcomes of such moments. Yet, even if there are no epiphanies, the phenomena of giving everything a stop and giving yourself the space to breathe is probably the best thing that you can do to yourself.

With your nerves calmed and you at peace with yourself is probably the best means to be most sure of your actions and yourself. Self esteem and courage have new peaks when you know they are outcomes of your belief and not blindhead passion.

Passion can be as encouraging as limiting; its all a matter of perspective.

When working on a difficult problem or targeting a long to-do list or even working on a rather challenging milestone, give yourself a period of inactivity. And ensure to have no subtle expectations of achievements or realizations during these hours. Might as well just think absolutely nothing through these moments when you decide to be inactive. While it’s obvious to think of the potential opportunity cost of having time-off without tangible benefits, considering the opportunity cost of a potential burn out or fall out or utter blunders in absence of inactivity is rather more threatening.

There are typically limited chances at succeeding because success is non reliable with lack of precedence. Failure can be tamed, pre empted and with time we understand the demons.

One of the best ways to pre empt failures is to be cognizant of personal challenges and know our limitations. Being inactive definitely means being mentally silent and probably for a while even emotionally inactive, being non-reactive to situation and problems around. Inactivity essentially is being at peace with the situation and restoring our mental and emotional faculties to gear up for a greater stretch going forward.

Why we love inactivity you may ask?

We at GetEchoed, love the concept of cooling off every now and then and more often. Some of the most pressing decisions, cofounder challenges and solutions to non-scalable problems have emerged when we have consciously or unconsciously become inactive. We however started with no plans of being inactive. Today, however we are consciously inactive for some time every second day.

Inactivity is chaotic.

Inactivity is creative.

Inactivity helps unlock potential.

Inactivity helps you be at peace with yourself.

Inactivity reminds you of your priorities.

Too much work and little chaos hurts the average Joe

Become inactive when you are eating. Become inactive when you are watching a movie. Become inactive when you are driving. Become inactive when you are just doing nothing

Become inactive and remind yourself there is a reason to the larger scheme of things

What are your hacks for bringing the beauty back to life? Had some fun with your moments of inactivity? Drop in a comment, we are all ears!

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This post is written by Arpita Chakraborty, straight from her laptop – sharing learnings and experiences of working across startups for years now. She is a social media geek and loves to question things at GetEchoed. Tweet to her about anything @arpitaambition

Hustling is a mindset. It is your company DNA

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You don’t need ‘a hustler’ in your startup

Why you ask?

I say this because ‘hustler’ is not a role. For a successful startup — hustling up is the DNA in every role; at every level. You do not need a particular person or particular people / roles in the entire system to manage things and ‘get the work done’.

Hustling is a mindset. It is not a role.

Hustlers to a startup are what managers are to a corporate firm

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Worse yet, if they are like corporate middle managers! 😉

Scumbags. Without a point of view. Non directional. Hands off. Useless articulation. And supposedly — “capable at getting things done”.

There is a fundamental problem with one person solely responsible for getting things done in a startup. More so when it is the first few years of the startup venture when you are figuring things out and building things up. You don’t need some ‘one’ doing the hustling around for everything.

If you have a business person doing all the ad-hoc work, ‘visioning’, building relationships ‘only’ and / or motivating team members. Then I assure you its not a great startup DNA. Even when you have scaled up in your operations and your execution; its important that you build hustling in an essential mindset

Hustling is a mindset. Just as growth is a mindset.

Every one in the co founding team most importantly needs to hustle around — in everything possible.

  • Your technical co founder / coders / developers need to hustle about pushing the next feature at the earliest possible. Figure out the open source hacks as early as possible instead of reinventing the wheel everytime. If you are an engineering startup; you need coders who can think through solutions and challenges before committing timelines and delegating tasks.
  • Your designing team needs to understand your development cycle and iterate with the rest of the team at the earliest and as consistently as possible. Provide better design illustrations and be brilliant at askign questions
  • You need people to execute your marketing / branding / communications effort in the most strategic manner and using the most efficient tools. Discover and develop hacks to maximize efficiency. Build talent in the team on the go to be able to optimize efficiencies.
  • You need everyone across teams to be exceedingly willing and able to spot opportunities — for excellence, for growth, for better execution.

Hustling is about building a culture of execution excellence where your team members are always willing and proactive to figure out innovative ways of building a win-win situation.

At GetEchoed, our consistent understanding has always been that every person has something executable, something hands on to take care of. Hiring the right talent, connecting with the relevant people in the industry, investing the adequate quantum of time to develop talent and motivating is as much the job of the coder for any and all technical aspects of the startup as is the expectation from the person who does the marketing and then the person who does design. We do not have a person who is solely ‘a hustler’. Everyone is hustling in whatever they do. Each person is responsible for execution excellence in whatever they are doing.

Build a company DNA where everyone is more than responsible and accountable for excellent results. No one is responsible for getting the results done — as the sole parameter / expectation.

Gone are the days of the manager. Now is the time of the leader. A leader with inclusion. A leader who is hands on. A leader who listens. A leaders who hustles.

What have been your experience (s) around hustling for your startup / venture / company? Share your thoughts in the comments below and it will be a pleasure to exchange thoughts!

 

This post is written by Arpita Chakraborty, straight from her laptop – sharing learnings and experiences of working across startups for years now. She is a social media geek and loves to question things at GetEchoed. Tweet to her about anything @arpitaambition

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Arpita Chakraborty, Co founder @GetEchoed

How we got 500 signups in 48 hours – Design Thinking!

Cracking a social-ish user generated content on a website is a precarious zone to get into. Critical yet, when people are already face deluge of products day in and day out. Top it with the fact that a great product only has so much acceptance unless your target users start believing in the product.

Now there are different ways to get them to buy into the product – marketing, distributionn channel sales, word of mouth and so. But this post is not about all of that. We are sharing our experience of how we built a product lean and fast – launched it soon – less than 5 weeks of product development – were reasonably embarrased with the first version, received some quick feedback and iterated

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As Reid Hoffman classically puts it – “If you are not embarassed with the first version of your product, you have launched late”. In the real life context – take it to be very late!

We realized early on that our users faced difficulty in migrating through the product and hence weren’t able to gather meaning, understand the product philosophy in entirety. We realized that the major challenge was our “information design“. While obvioulsy, going through the lean product methodology we worked on rapid deployment cycles and minimalistic core features. Cracking the right design with ‘minimalistic design’ and ‘maximum context’ to the end user was the objective.

We had our share of learning and challenges  from spending a major chunk of cash (which is always a constraint for bootstrapper) to picking up seemingly-beautiful design templates around the web, the results were never what we desired. We eventually applied our hacks and some tips that we realized while driving the mindset – that the product needs to walk-the-talk and behave as a friend and needs to be empathetic to the end user.

Delving straight to some of our learnings:

1) Assess your technical capabilities: Yes,the smoother it sounds, the rougher it gets if you put down your barins with some really kickass self-evaluation. This goes for you or the ‘hacker’ of your team. Though the foundation lies on a robust coding structure, it is very important to have a perspective about the flow of your product. Though there are numerous tools available online, I would strongly vouch for plain paer and pen. Freeze the structure and make it sure your other team members understand the flow. There is no better joy than all of the team members agreeing and understanding a rough sketch on paper

2) Talk in examples: I respect and value examples. You might not be able to reproduce your thoughts on online psd tools but if you can break down every component and show similar behaviours across multiple sites, that’s definitely an achievement. For example if there is a particular colour effect you want on your site, search through net and show it to your coder. You will be amazed what results in can drive. Of course, there lies a subtle difference between inspiration and copying, I will leave it to you guys to remove the blockade & march further

3) Break into smaller pieces: A bird’s eye view never reveals the complexities of the design till the time you start building it. So how would you tackle the hurdles that do not surface while sketching your thoughts? Divide the elements on the page into two components:

1. Static base or background
2. Dynamic effects/responses from the page:
3. User input interaction design.
So what this will provide you, is a granular level understanding of the layout & functioning. Each step will have multiple threads of texture, color, box dimensions, symmetry of borders, & many more, Exhaustive it is! Indeed! But what’s better than sweating over creating a master-piece
4) Deploy in short-regular intervals. Now this might lead you into a heated argument with with your development team. Thet might want to push everything after it has been built, but you seriously need to refrain form that. In particular when your site is up since few weeks. Your users want to have a better experience everytime they log in. So after you have your patches figured out, make a Deployment Break-up Sheet(DBS) and start pushing whatever you have built. What this gives you is:

1. Scope for iteration
2. avoiding scrapping a huge amount of work(if it needs to & this happens frequently)
3. Enough time to full-proof your concepts & fuse in ideas if necessary
5)Filter out unnecessary suggestions: All of us have friends & acquaintences that would be giving their feedback with the design. Now if you start listening to everything & trying to incoporate, it would be a mess for sure. I would suggest to follow the ratio of 2:3. it says, while taking suggestions, include 2 suggestions from peopel who are into the field of designing & take the rest from people who represnt the sample of your user base. Pick out the common points, discuss among your team & then build. Once done with that, repeat the process. Amazingly you will find, you have just taken 1-2 iterations the results are notches higher.
Well, that’s it for now. This is what we have learnt & incorporated in www.getechoed.com. Have a look & let us know your thoughts. Always attentive to your feedback!
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This post is written by Kumar Dipanshu, Co founder at GetEchoed. He handles product design, being the creative think tank and being resolute about his opinions! He loves poetry and mountains. Tweet to discuss anything with him @kdipanshu.