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Why You Should Schedule Fewer Meetings In 2017 (And How To Make Sure Of It)

Hours

Time is a terrible thing to waste. 

Yet each and every year, companies, brain pickers and managers around the world suck time from others.  A study conducted by the Harvard Business School and the London School of Economics found that  executives spend upwards of 18 hours per week – a third of their working week – in meetings.

That’s a lot of time.

But what’s scary is that they found this: 25-50% of meeting time considered wasted.

But if time is so valuable – Why do we waste it?

Let me paint the picture for you:

You’re heads down working and suddenly an invite hits your calendar. It’s for a meeting that is going to be held in 1 hour and the invite suggests that it will only take up 60 minutes of your day.

But the truth is:

1) The meeting isn’t going to start on time (or end on time).
2) You’re not going to get any value from the meeting.
3) You’ll have a new task at the end of the meeting.

After a three hours of completely being focused on a major project and being close to the finish line, you’ve been summoned like a Genie. Someone has rubbed the bottle and it’s your job to appear and then grant their wishes.

It’s this experience that brings me to today’s blog post.

Before you send a meeting request, determine whether it’s truly necessary.

That “30 minute chat” could be disrupting your colleagues schedule at a time in which they’re focused on something important to them or the entire organization. Realize that just because they have empty space in their calendar doesn’t mean they’re actually free to chat. And understand that if you invite more than one person, it’s not just an hour meeting.

Let’s say you’re going to schedule a meeting that lasts one hour, and you invite ten people to attend. That’s actually a ten-hour meeting, not a one-hour meeting. You’re trading ten hours of productivity for one hour of meeting time.Rework

But it’s only a few minutes, it’s not going to ruin their day!

Schedule

The impact of a meeting request can be even more disruptive depending on whether you’re scheduling time with someone who works on a manager schedule or a maker’s schedule.

What’s the difference?

Paul Graham defines the manager’s schedule as the traditional appointment approach; the days are cut into one-hour intervals and you can block off several hours for a single task if needed, but by default, it’s broken up by the hour. An hour to do expenses, an hour to do one-on-ones, an hour to update the roadmap and an hour to handle customer support.

The maker’s schedule is a bit different.

Makers prefer to use time in units of half-a-days as they tend to be writers, coders, designers and are constraint by the reality that you can’t create something meaningful in an hour increment. For a manager, a meeting is nothing more than a an extra spoke in the wheel but for a maker, that meeting can result in throw off your entire day.

Put yourself in their shoes for a second…

Imagine you wake up knowing that you have a task that is going to take 5 hours to complete and are fired up to make it happen when you get to work. You take off your coat, grab your coffee, put in your headphones and after two hours of complete flow and productivity – you get a notification summoning you to a meeting in 40 minutes.

It would impact your morale.
It would impact the quality of your work.
And it would impact your perspective of the individual who is interrupting your flow.

Remember this before you send your next invite. Because while it might be just a meeting to you, it could be what leads your colleague to spending an extra hour or two away from their kids school play, an anniversary or even just dinner their family. Whatever it is – understand that it’s possible that you’re taking time away from them that could be spent elsewhere.

So ask yourself these three questions:

1) Would an email suffice or is a face to face meeting necessary?

Most meetings tend fall into one of these four categories: (1) Information Gathering (2) Relationship Building (3) Idea Generation and (4) Decision Making. If you’re looking to simply gather information, ask yourself if an email would do the trick or maybe read that memo sent around the office last week. The other three categories may require a meeting but often times, a decision can be made over email by simply sharing the right information clearly and in the right format.

2) Do you have a clear and specific goal for the meeting?

If you’re going to have a meeting, have an objective behind it. What are you trying to accomplish during this meeting? Are you trying to plan your growth strategy for the upcoming year? Are you trying develop a new process for internal decision making? It’s much more efficient to understand this before the meeting and ensure that everyone else is also aware of what you’re looking to accomplish. Include the specifics in the invite so it’s obvious to everyone around the table what’s going to be discussed.

3) Is this meeting for you or is this meeting for them?

Before you take the time to schedule this invite – understand who is going to benefit most from it. Are you going to be gathering information that you need to move your project forward or will you be providing insights that will help them? If the meeting is all about you, then ensure that you’re not just simply looking for validation on a thought or your next steps.

I don’t hate meetings.

I just hate when time is wasted.

Meetings can work but you have to understand the objectives behind them. Don’t rely on others in your company to value your time. You have to value it first. So the next time someone asks you to meet, don’t be afraid to ask for an agenda and a clear objective. Hold them responsible and ensure that you’re reciprocating that respect by practicing what you preach.

 


How To Curate Content So Good It Will Make Luke Cage Yell Sweet Christmas

lukecage

If you want to build a following (fast) content creation or content curation is the best marketing approach around.

The challenge for doing either one is time.

It takes time to create great content. It takes time to curate great content.

As a result, we’re seeing a world filled with marketers and content creators writing content that is mediocre at best. We’re also seeing newsletters and Twitter accounts filled with content that is being shared by everyone else.

So….

What can you do to ensure that you’re not stuck in the trap of mediocrity?

Create & curate content that will make your audience say: 

sweetchristmas

SWEET CHRISTMAS!

For content creation, this means creating 10x content—content that’s 10 times better than what everyone else is producing. (Check out that link if you’re interested in learning how to create 10x content.)

Right now I’m going to focus on content curation, or pushing content produced by other sources.

For “Sweet Christmas!”-worthy content curation, you’re aspiring to find content that…

  1. …makes your audience want to read all the way through. You don’t want them to exit halfway through an article because it’s a snorefest. You want the information to be valuable.
  2. …is either new or is relevant to something happening right now in the industry or the media. If you’re sharing an article from last year, it should still be relevant today.
  3. …is a summary of something your audience doesn’t have time to read. No one feels like they have enough time to do everything they want to do. Curating content that saves your audience time is a great way to earn a few brownie points.
  4. …is focused around one core topic, theme or subject. Don’t be scattered.

In this blog post, I’ll share some of the ways you can uncover this content.

Let’s get started.

(more…)


5 Psychology Studies That Will Help Growth Hackers Achieve Real Results

psychologystudies

Growth hacking is widely misunderstood and commonly referred to as simply glorified marketing. Some professionals have gone as far to suggest that growth hacking is BS while others have proclaimed that growth hacking is one of the most important shifts in thinking for marketers since the rise of social media.

After spending time studying the habits of some of the best, I’m not as quick to draw the line in the sand and state that growth hacking is a load of crock. In fact, I’m a believer that the idea of growth hacking and a marketer’s ability to leverage the growth skillset is a differentiator for marketers looking to have a sustainable career in the future.

While marketing and growth hacking might be different by definition, they share one thing in common – driving results. And one of those results more times than not tends to be linked to a marketer’s ability to influence the behavior of humans As distribution and communications channels continue to be reinvented, it’s those that understand how people behave online that will have the power to influence where they end up.

Growth hackers have a unique knowledge of product development, distribution, and the talent to unlock technology-based opportunities for growth that often go beyond traditional expectations. The best growth hackers think like a marketer as it relates to influence but obsess over the idea of driving user growth. And the best marketers of our time lean on psychology to help them influence and convert prospects into paying customers.

In both roles, human psychology plays a big part in achieving success.

If you don’t understand how people think, customers’ react and what drives attention – you’re likely to fail as a marketer and a growth hacker.

Here are five psychology studies that expose key insights to help growth hackers achieve real results:

1. Regan’s Reciprocity Experiment

Let’s begin with the simple concept of reciprocity. I give something to you and you feel obligated to return the favor. Marketers have been using the idea of reciprocity to influence human behavior or years.

In 1971, Professor Dennis Regan at Cornell University demonstrated the power of reciprocity in an experiment where subject were asked to rate the quality of chosen paintings as part of an experiment on “art appreciation.” In the experiment, subjects were asked to rate paintings with a partner. Unknown to the subjects, their partner, Joe, was in fact the research assistant.

In each exercise, Joe would behave the exact same, including leaving the room for a brief period of time and returning a little while later. For some, he would bring back a soft drink. For others, he would return with nothing.

At the end of the exercise, Joe asked the subjects to do him a favor and purchase raffle tickets from him for a quarter each. The subjects who had received a soda were far more likely to purchase tickets, even though the tickets were far more expensive than the value of the soda.

Growth Hacking Takeaway

The concept of reciprocity is just as important for growth hacking as it is in marketing.

You can do this easily by developing product features that your clients want and using distribution channels that your clients expect, such as social media. Without a value offering, how do you expect to successfully move users through the growth funnel from visitors to active members?

You must first give something of value in order to receive something in return. One reciprocity tactic that works well for growth is the idea of providing a “value add” whenever a user signs up or registers for your product. Once you’ve provided this value, the customer will feel connected and potentially fall into a similar situation as the subjects in the Regan Reciprocity Experiment.

For example, if a user signs up for the free plan associated with your business; take this as an opportunity to provide value they didn’t expect in the form of an eBook or an extra seven-day trial of your product. Communicate this surprise value add either through email or directly on your website when they sign up.

2. Freedman and Fraser’s Compliance Experiment

foot-in-the-door-psychology

(Via Persuasion & Influence)

Many years of psychological research demonstrates that when people are asked to make a small commitment first, they are more likely to comply with a larger request down the road. In psychology, this is called cognitive dissonance.

Once a person has committed to something it becomes part of who they are, how they see themselves, and how they want others to see them too.

In 1966, Jonathan L. Freedman and Scott C. Fraser conducted one of the first studies that effectively demonstrated the foot-in-the-door method. In this study, researchers contacted California housewives by telephone to ask them to answer questions about the household products they use. Three days later, the researchers called back. This time they asked the same housewives if they could send a number of men to the house for two hours to manually take account of the cleaning products in the home. The women who initially agreed to the smaller request were more than 2x as likely to agree to this larger request.

Growth Hacking Takeaway:

When developing growth hacking strategies for your business, think about the customer lifecycle. Consider the moments within the customers’ lifecycle such as considering and develop a content marketing strategy that will deliver requests in the form of emails or call to actions at the end of blog posts. The more frequently a customer opens your emails, downloads your content or goes along with your request, the more likely they are to comply with a larger request like sharing your content & inviting their friends.

3. Kahneman’s Framing Experiment

The framing effect is a good example of cognitive bias. It says that people will react to a situation differently depending on whether they perceive the situation to be a loss or a gain.

Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky are attributed with discovering the existence of many cognitive biases in the 1970s and 1980s. In one experiment, Tverksy and Kahneman asked two different groups of participants to choose between two treatments for 600 people infected with a deadly disease.

In Group 1, participants were told that with Treatment A, “200 people will be saved.” With Treatment B, there was “a one-third probability of saving all 600 lives, and a two-thirds probability of saving no one.” The majority of participants chose Treatment A because it was guaranteed to save lives.

In Group 2, participants were told that with Treatment A, “400 people will die.” And with Treatment B, there was “a one-third probability that no one will die, and a two-thirds probability that 600 people will die.” This time, the results were opposite. The majority of participants chose Treatment B.

In both experiments participants were presented with the same outcomes, the only thing that changed was the way in which the outcomes were framed.

Growth Hacking Takeaway:

The way your frame your information influences how people will react to it.

Growth hackers will have more success when context is considered and you’re strategic in the language used in your content and messaging. How you frame your product needs to be a key consideration during all aspects of growing your business, from development, to design, to marketing.

An example of this in the wild is the approach LinkedIn takes to onboard their users. During the sign up stage, it’s essentially forced on you to fill out your profile, upload your photo, share your skills, insert your experience and upload or invite your contacts to LinkedIn with the hope of having a 100% completed profile. The growth hacking insight is found in the act of forcing invites before giving a user the 100% completion screen.

Framing at its finest.

4. Kahneman, Knetsch, and Thaler’s Loss Aversion Experiment

kahneman-knetsch-and-thalers-loss-aversion-experiment

Loss aversion is another commonly referenced cognitive bias in marketing. Essentially, people tend to feel the negative effects of loss more strongly than they feel the positive effects of equivalent gains.

For example, if you won $500 in a community raffle, you’d be pretty happy. But if instead you lost $500 in a community raffle the level of sadness you’d feel would be more intense than the happiness you’d feel on the flip side.

According to Daniel Kahneman, and his colleagues Jack L. Knetsch and Richard H. Thaler, loss aversion can be applied even on small-value goods. In their 1990 experiment on loss aversion, they randomly assigned participants to either a “buyer” or “seller” group. Sellers were each given a mug. Buyers were given nothing. Later, participants were asked to trade with each other. The researchers found that the sellers required significantly more money to part with their mugs (around $7) than the buyers were willing to pay to acquire them (around $3).

Growth Hacking Takeaway

Growth hackers, using their unique knowledge of product and distribution, can use creative technology-based tactics to alleviate a customer’s aversion to either parting with their money, switching to your product, or both.

Loss aversion can be achieved by offering risk-free trials, rebates, and pricing products strategically; avoiding additional surcharges, usage fees, and other additional low-cost expectations. Again, it comes back to your responsibility to ensuring the user experience is positive, demonstrating value for your product, and meeting customer expectations.

An example of this is Crate, rather than forcing users to give a credit card immediately to start automating content curation – they offer a free plan with the option to upgrade later. Dissolve their fear of what they might lose by first understanding what those losses might be and creating a product that alleviates those fears from the start.

5. Asch’s Conformity Experiment

basic-human-needs

Humans are social beings.

We aim to fit in and want to be liked. Psychologists call this conformity.

In a famous 1951 experiment, Solomon Asch showed that group pressure can influence people to make the wrong decision even if the right decision is obvious.  Asch had college students participate in a “perceptual” task along with a group of other students, who were actually hired actors.

The participants were shown a card with a line on it, followed by a card with three lines on it, labeled A, B, or C. The college students were asked to say aloud which of the three lines matched the length of the first line that had been shown.

In each of Asch’s experiments he instructed the actors to give the wrong answer. The result? A large percentage of participants followed the majority and chose the wrong answer. Only when one acted as a “dissenter” and gave the right answer did the power of the majority influence weaken.

The Takeaway

Growth hackers can use the idea of conformity to their advantage.

Conformity is one of the oldest growth hacking tricks in the book. If people see other people using a product, they are more likely to also consider the product and adopt. For example, when Fab.com was first released in the wild, it was evident in their ability to spark users to send invites with the hope of earning early access that they figured out the right formula. Users from all over the world were sharing Fab.com links and on the hunt for invites.

Identify key influencers and industry leaders and get them to use your product. Encourage them to tell their network about the value in your product and take their advice and critiques and make adjustments and improvements as needed.

The more authority you can attach to your product the more likely you are to achieve growth from the start.

Conclusion

No matter if you’re looking to acquire users for B2C industries or B2B industries, the fact that you’re speaking to humans cannot be ignored. As such, the study of human behavior and psychology must be understood to truly recognize the opportunities that exist for converting strangers into customers.

Growth hacks that leverage human insight and psychological triggers are those that can result in significant result. The studies we’ve discussed are just the tip of the iceberg as it relates to the other psychological influences that can help a growth hacker go from developing a mediocre idea to developing a great one.