Episode 008

Escaping the ‘perfect’ trap: How to get your idea out there, fast with Sarah Doody

Learn how Sarah validated the concept behind her UX course in just 2 hours and sold out every seat before she prepared a single lesson – just by listening to the needs of her audience.

In this episode, we cover:

Are you able to ship fast and get your ideas out there? Or do you get stuck in the ‘perfectionism’ trap?

In today’s episode, Sarah is going to share how she launched a brand-new User Experience course and watched it take off, before she even prepared a single lesson.

It’s a great story of how to validate a concept before even putting pen to paper by listening to your potential customers, and how to enlist your early users into creating an even more successful final product.

You’ll get to hear from Sarah about:

  • How losing a $5,000 a month client forced her to throw her perfectionism and impostor syndrome out the window and just launch with a concept that was ‘good enough’
  • How she knew she was onto to something big just by sending out a single Google form
  • How she sold out an 85-seat workshop with just 2 hours worth of work (and had to shut down registration early)
  • The one survey question she asks that always results in the most valuable responses
  • The need for authenticity and vulnerability in communications with customers
  • How obsessing over the people you want to help is a must if you really want to understand them

She also talks about the power of giving to give instead of giving to get, and the value that comes from nurturing relationships directly with your early customers.

I had a great time talking with Sarah, and I hope you learn from her as much as I did.

Show notes
  • [00:02:18] Sarah’s newsletter, The UX Notebook
  • [00:02:35] Why Sarah started The UX Notebook
  • [00:03:39] Sarah’s hobby as a marathoner
  • [00:05:08] The definition of UX
  • [00:07:29] How Sarah’s first UX course, the UX Portfolio Program, got started
  • [00:09:32] What it’s like to lose a $5000 per month client
  • [00:14:00] How Sarah started testing her portfolio program idea
  • [00:17:28] How to get started finding an audience for your product when you don’t have a big email list
  • [00:18:53] The differences between Sarah’s portfolio program and other projects she’d tried in the past
  • [00:21:35] Advice for people dealing with imposter syndrome
  • [00:24:39] The importance of getting feedback from early adopters of your project
  • [00:26:54] How Sarah set the price for her beta program
  • [00:31:27] The type of feedback Sarah ended up getting from her beta users
  • [00:34:30] How Sarah’s portfolio program helped users
  • [00:35:41] What types of survey questions to ask after a purchase
  • [00:38:41] Sarah’s reasons for adopting a people-first approach
  • [00:42:24] Resources that Sarah recommends
Transcript

[00:00:33] Louis: Hey, it’s Louis Grenier here and today, I am talking with Sarah Doody. Sarah is a user experience designer with over 14 years of experience in the field. Sarah is going to share how she launched a brand new user experience course and what she thought of before she even prepared a single lesson.

It’s a great story of how to validate a concept before even putting pen to paper by listening to your potential customers and how to unleash to your early users into creating an even more successful final product.

You get to hear from Sarah about how losing a $5000 a month client taught her to throw perfectionism and impostor syndrome out of the window and just launch with a concept that was just good enough. How she knew she was onto something big, just by sending out a single Google Form survey, how she sold out an 85-seat workshop with just two hours worth of work, and how to shut down registration early.

The one survey question she asks that always results in the most valuable responses, the need for authenticity and vulnerability in communications with customers, and how obsessing about other people you want to help is a must if you really want to understand them.

She also talks about the power of giving to give instead of giving to get, and the value that comes from nurturing relationships directly with the early customers. I really had a great time talking with Sarah, and I hope you learn from her as much as I did.

Today, we are talking with Sarah Doody who is a UX expert. She has 14 years of experience in the field and she is the author of UX Notebook newsletter. I believe there are 13,000 designers in this newsletter?

[00:02:27] Sarah: Yeah, we're actually up to 14,100.

[00:02:32] Louis: That's quite impressive for a newsletter. How long have you been doing this for actually?

[00:02:37] Sarah: The newsletter started four years ago and I mainly started it because I was kind of tired of answering the same questions over and over, so I thought it would just be a great way to kind of shed some things I'm learning and tips and ideas and things with the people that kept emailing to ask.

[00:02:56] Louis: How are you getting questions before that? What was the usual medium?

[00:03:00] Sarah: People would often email me as well as Twitter. I have been growing an audience over there, and so I was just getting so many mentions and direct messages and I couldn't keep up with all the places where people were communicating with me.

[00:03:16] Louis: You had to find a way to scale that while still giving value to people, right?

[00:03:20] Sarah: Exactly. It's definitely overwhelming when you have people contact you in all these places, but the questions they ask are so valuable because it's like doing user research without even asking to do it, I didn't want to lose those insights that were coming from all the questions.

[00:03:38] Louis: Yeah, that make sense. Something I picked up in your bio and looking into you a bit in more detail is that you're a marathoner, right?

[00:03:47] Sarah: Yes.

[00:03:48] Louis: What is your record, time-wise?

[00:03:51] Sarah: My record is 3 hours 51 minutes and 9 seconds, I believe. That was in Toronto, Canada.

[00:03:58] Louis: For someone who barely can run 5K without being out of breath, it's fairly impressive, I've never tried. I should.

[00:04:09] Sarah: It's a lot of fun. I was not a runner growing up at all, but I used to live in Portland, Oregon where Nike's headquarters are and it seems like everyone is a runner, so I kind of picked it up out there.

[00:04:22] Louis: So, today we're going to go through a very interesting story of yours, a story that I believe is quite authentic, vulnerable, and even practical, so that people, if you are listening to this podcast right now, you will be able to get some practical advice and actionable advice that you will be able to implement in your business, whether you're a freelancer, a consultant, startup founder, marketer, designer, believe it, it would work with anyone. It's truly a story about putting people first.

So, you were in tough financial situation after losing your client, you had to replace the money you were getting from these clients, instead of over-thinking it, you went quick and dirty and launched something, right?

[00:05:01] Sarah: Exactly.

[00:05:01] Louis: Before going into this story in more detail, I just want to define a few things because I mentioned you are a UX expert, but many listeners might not know what UX means. Could you perhaps just define quickly what UX mean to you for people who are not familiar with it?

[00:05:20] Sarah: User experience, I will say this, it means a lot of things to a lot of people, and if you Google the definition, you'll get tons of conflicting answers and opinions and things like that.

Whenever anyone asks me I say, "You know, my goal is really to make things user friendly." Make the experiences that you have on a daily basis easy and not frustrating, whether that is going through the checkout of an airline booking site or purchasing something online or signing up for health insurance, whatever that is, we want that to be as easy as possible, so you're not wasting time in your life trying to use a poorly-designed website or product or something.

In terms of what I do in user experience, there is many different roles or skills if you will, I am more on the research side of things, I look to understanding people's problems. How are they going about booking a flight right now? What are the problems they are encountering? Then using that research to come up with the improved way to do that, so what I call the experience design and that involves user flows, wireframes, prototypes, and things like that. I wouldn't say that I'm a visual designer. I don't make pixel perfect things. I leave that to the experts.

[00:06:48] Louis: That make sense and I think people will get a better understanding what UX mean, at least to you. It's funny because I don't want to get into that because we could talk about it for hours, but I really think that marketing, UX, design, all of that is based on the same thing, it's really based on understanding people so well that you can design the right experience for them.

So even though you specialize in certain areas I think, I'm a marketer myself, and I think we're doing the same, just different tools.

You have this program called UX Portfolio Program and at the minute you have around 300 students enrolling in it, and you help a lot of UX designers to get interviews and job offers.

It sounds like a success story from this point of view right now. It seems like you are able to sell a program that you've designed once to multiple people, you're able to scale that, you don't have to spend time with every single one of them, and you can generate a lot of value for yourself and for us. But this isn't how it started, right? Can you take us back to May 2017 what happened then?

[00:08:10] Sarah: Back in May, I had lost a large retainer client which means one of these clients was paying me a monthly fee. For reasons that don't matter, that relationship ended up just going away, the client kind of just ran out of money. That left me in a little bit of a problem because I had put a lot of eggs in one basket, if you will, and I realized, "How am I going to replace this income?"

I had already been teaching another online course, but in the back of my mind, I thought, I want to do something related to user experience portfolios because my inbox was filling up with emails from people asking me to help them with UX portfolios, on my Twitter as well.

I literally used to spend about two hours every Friday afternoon emailing feedback back to people and then I thought, "Why am I doing this for free?" But also, "If this many people are asking me for this type of advice, there must be something there."

That led me down the path of starting to prototype this user experience portfolio program that you just talked about a few minutes ago.

[00:09:30] Louis: Let me take you back a bit because I'm interested in the original situation. You don't have to give me the amount of money that you lost, but what was the proportion of this retainer over your full income approximately?

[00:09:47] Sarah: It's just easier to tell you the amount. So it's a $5000 a month retainer, which is huge. I'd always been thinking, "I need to diversify, I need to have more of a pipeline," things like that, but in hindsight, I wasn't doing that. Honestly, I got comfortable.

This situation really put me into that place of "do or die," because I think a lot of times, we have these ideas but we don't act on them because we're comfortable, "Do we really need it? Is it going to pay off?" We're not sure. But in this case, this is kind of the thing that pushed me over the ledge and made me at least see what happened with this idea.

[00:100:36] Louis: When this client told you that it was over, that they have no money to pay you off or whatever other reasons, was it just overnight? You weren’t expecting it.

[00:100:47] Sarah: I had a hunch for about four weeks or so and some of the signs were less and less communication. It wasn't like a fight or anything, they just literally ran out of money and that often happens, but they weren't good at communicating that. The problem was, it was a very quick departure, so I didn't have a head's up, to then think to myself, "Oh, my goodness, how am I going to replace $5 000 per month of a client?"

[00:11:24] Louis: How did it make you feel when, overnight you lost those $5000 a month?

[00:11:30] Sarah: It was definitely concerning but also, to be honest, this will sound crazy, but I was almost relieved because I had been telling myself for months that I wanted to figure out how to step away, but I couldn't figure that out yet.

I wanted to step away because I really thought there was something in the world of online UX education that I really needed to pursue, because I was seeing all these signs, like the success of the previous course I did, my inbox filling up with more and more questions all around the topic of portfolios and things, probably some blog posts or tweets I've done that were getting a lot of visibility. Yes, I was freaking out, but also I thought, "Okay, this is what I kind of wanted. Now I have to make this other thing happen."

[00:12:37] Louis: What does freaking out in the world of Sarah Doody look like?

[00:13:04] Sarah: Freaking out meant, I quickly pulled up financial documents, trying to go back to old emails I probably should have followed up on, or thinking about which past clients maybe I could reach out to.

I kind of just started evaluating all the different things I could do to kind of be a financial bridge until this portfolio program proved itself to be a sustainable revenue line. The timing was very crazy because also I was getting ready to go over to Europe for three weeks to speak at conferences. I knew I did not have time really to take on a new client or do a lot, trying to work over in Europe on this brand new project that just doesn't seem like a good setup at all.

[00:14:01] Louis: What did you do?

[00:14:02] Sarah: I decided to myself, I need to test this idea that I had for a program that would help user experience designers design their portfolio, which seems bizarre because it seems very ironic.

The problem with creative people, especially I think is that, we are often our own worst clients, we are too critical, we get stuck in the weeds of everything. After I thought about it, I realized, "This isn't just because we are creative, it's because it's our "product.'" We're just like startup founders who all of a sudden, we are stuck in the weeds and have spent a month trying to make a decision about something or not launching the first version of their product because it's not perfect.

I thought to myself, "What can I do to test this idea? What does success look like for a successful test?" To me, it meant trying to get a ton of email addresses to show me the people who are interested, and maybe even have those people pay me in order to come to the first version of this program.

[00:15:23] Louis: What was the program, first version of it in your head? What would it be? Would it be a video style course over a few hours? What could it be?

[00:15:33] Sarah: The first version of the course was a 90-minute workshop that I taught live. I've done this before, probably 18 months in advance for another idea I had. That model works really well because what I did was, I didn't even write up a curriculum, I didn't know what people would exactly learn in those 90 minutes. All I knew is that there was a topic and some other topics that we would touch on based on the emails I was receiving from people asking me all these questions.

The first thing I did was let people know I was doing this 90-minute workshop. I put a link in my weekly newsletter just floating the idea and saying, "If you are interested in this, go over here and fill out this Google Form."

That was cool because it let me collect emails without worrying about a landing page or getting stuck on the design of it or anything. It was just an ugly Google Form and also, it had some questions, probably five or six, but just by sending the newsletter and putting that link, I checked the answers a few days after and 400 people had responded in great detail. They were writing paragraph-long answers telling me all their problems with their UX portfolios, their careers, the interviewing process, and things like that.

Once I saw those 400 answers, it was just a no-brainer that this had to move forward because the market was demanding it.

[00:17:27] Louis: Not everyone has the luxury or should I say, have put so much work into building a list of people who are interested in what you have to say like you've done. How would you advise companies or other people to do this exact same exercise, but without this huge email list that you have? Do you have any tips for them?

[000:25:19] Sarah: The first thing you should not do is send it to your friends and family or post it on Facebook or something like that. The reason is that you're wasting your time and their time because more than likely, they are not your audience.

If I had just put a link to that on my Facebook or sent a text message or something, it would have been a waste of time. You have to think to yourself, if you don't have a big newsletter, where do these people exist that might be interested in that?

They exist in tons of online groups, whether that's LinkedIn groups, Facebook groups, in-person things. If you're doing some running product, see if you can help your local running club newsletter drop a link in their newsletter or something, but it does not take very long to go find these people online, thanks to Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups et cetera.

[000:26:24] Louis: Something that we haven't mentioned yet is that this isn't necessarily something you're used to create something that quick and ask for feedback that fast and move on to start something quite quickly. You had the habit of maybe over thinking things a bit when it came to creating a product or even not starting at all. What was the difference between this project and the ones you might have tried to start before that?

[00:19:19] Sarah: In the past, I'd done another online course about user research, and I did do a little workshop to test the idea and it went well. But then it was probably a good year before I came out with the final version of it, and the problem was, I was perfecting everything.

I spent an embarrassing amount of time like debating what the slides should look like and re-recording lessons and things like that or working on the landing page and the sales page for the course and all these things.

I thought to myself, that took way too long and I don't want to do that, but also I felt like I wasn't doing a good job at taking the advice that I am constantly giving all of the clients I work with.

Some people are good at taking their own advice, but for whatever reason, I'm my own worst client. I really had to flip a mental switch and remind myself daily, "Keep going. It's good enough. No one else is going to worry. No one else is going to know there was three other versions of that landing page." It was a daily reminder and I think the other thing that was helpful to me is that, I was seeing so many other people kind of spread this message of good enough and even though I spread that message, I just had to keep hearing it from other people.

[00:200:57] Louis: I think every single person working in a business, even as a consultant or freelancer felt what you just felt right now. It's incredibly difficult I believe to take distance out of your own work whether like in your role in a company as a consultant, and as you said, you need to treat yourself as a client in your client base.

What would be your advice then to those people feeling this huge imposter syndrome or this huge urge to make everything perfect until it is perfect.

[00:21:47] Sarah: I would say that, frankly, you're just wasting your time and you're wasting a lot of mental and emotional energy because you are spending eight hours or eight weeks, eight days debating about your landing page or whatever it is that feature you're working on, and you're doing it, more than likely, based off your own assumptions and all the other ideas in your head.

You just need to get it out there and see what the numbers and the people and the market tell you. Chances are, your version of perfect is completely fine in the eyes of everyone else because they haven't seen the seven other versions or heard the reasons why you think this is one better than that.

It's hard, I will be the first to admit that, but once you get into the habit of this, it's easier and easier like when you press publish, when you hit send, when you re-launch that code, it gets easier every time. When it's in front of the people, you will have the data or the feedback to make those decisions a lot faster and a lot smarter.

[00:23:12] Louis: Going back to the purpose of this show, the Humans Strike Back and why we're doing it is about helping people succeed by putting people first, what you just said I believe is important for two reasons.

One, to put yourself first and understand that it's impossible to create something that is perfect even if you spend hours, days, weeks, months, years creating it. But, two, the value. You wouldn’t believe how willing people are to give you feedback as a company or as a freelancer or a consultant.

When they follow you, when they trust you, they want to spend time helping you out and giving you their piece of mind.

Hotjar is in that many times over. The last time was with Humans Strike Back. We mentioned just before starting the recording of this podcast, you mentioned the Why behind the movement, which is a simple Google Doc, but we actually asked our community that we started to create what they thought about it.

We had 30-40 people commenting on the document and crowdsourcing it for us and they are doing that for free not because you're taking advantage of them, but because this is what a relationship looks like. This is what trust looks like. This is why putting people first allows you to create this bond of people and that's what we believe leads to success.

[00:24:39] Sarah: I really like that point you made because one of the things that I always advise companies that are maybe just getting ready to let the world they exist or get their first version of their product out there or just put up that landing page. I always say to them, "You need to make sure that you're nurturing those people who are giving you their email address, because once you build this almost like little inner circle or tribe of people, that feel like they are co-creating something with you. They're going to be so forgiving, too, and they're going to be your greatest advocates as well."

When I did the first version of this workshop, I had a group of 85 people that knew it was the first version, knew they got an amazing deal on the price and were happy to give me tons of feedback, and still I get emails from them, we're all in a Facebook group together, all of the 300 and however many students and the feedback there is tremendous.

Don’t discount the power of the ability to build trust by launching sooner because if you just come out with your product on a silver platter, it's almost a little egotistical or it could be perceived that way, so I love that point.

[00:26:12] Louis: It's getting more and more difficult to launch something and get it noticed, right? I mean it's getting easier for anyone to create these great products and services and launch it on a product center or anywhere else.

We believe at Hotjar, the way to really stand out and truly create this bond, this relationship, this trust is by starting very early to, as you said as well, how good people co-create things with you, to give you feedback and to contribute. This is the only way, I believe, to create a tribe and to grow with your customer and with your user not against them or not because of them. This relationship is so important to us and thanks for mentioning it on your side as well.

Going back to the story, you said 400 people originally expressed interest and then you set up a landing page with a payment form and the course was $39, right?

[00:27:06] Sarah: $39, actually it was going to be $29, but my mom said, "That seems cheap," not that she has any context of this pricing, so I raised it $10.

[00:27:17] Louis: This is the only time where you should listen to your mom. Let's do a quick math though because 85 people paid and originally 400 expressed interest, if I do that correctly, it's almost 30% of people who expressed interest and actually ended up buying. Which is a huge proportion for anyone familiar with conversion rates for this type of products.

[00:27:45] Sarah: Normally you expect at least from what I've heard, you always project based on about 2% purchase conversion, so 30%, amazing.

I didn't have the data on how long people had been on my newsletter, but I think part of it was that they were asked if they were interested, they went to a Google Form, so it was almost like they were applying to be in this beta program. I framed it that way, I said, "This is a beta program, fill out this survey." I definitely didn't call it an application.

I was emailing them back and I said, "Wow, 400 people of you did this survey. I'm going to go ahead with this. If you're interested, you can sign up and be a part of the first group of people. This is as low as it will ever be priced and you'll always get the updated versions because this is only the first time we're doing it."

It ended up $3300 in sales, I think, which is pretty good for the first time. But the great thing about that was that I had not spent more than two hours creating any of the curriculum.

If zero people had given me money, then I just wouldn't have done it. Or, if even five people had given me money, I would have refunded them all and said, "Sorry, we're not doing this." Plus, I had not wasted any time building any curriculum until I saw that.

After I saw that 20 people had purchased it, I thought, "Okay, we'll keep doing this," but I actually ended up shutting the registration down because I didn't want more than 85 because I really wanted to be able to give people one-on-one attention in this Facebook group I made.

[00:29:41] Louis: Talk me through the moment where you created this email list of 400 people who were interested and send them this link to this landing page with a payment form. How did you feel when you sent this email and you started to get those first sales in? What was the feeling there?

[00:300:01] Sarah: It was exciting because seeing those first payment emails come in, I thought, "Okay, maybe we're on to something." But once I saw how quickly they were coming in after I sent the first email, I knew that there was a lot of interest. I could tell people were clicking the link and purchasing immediately. It's not as though they were spending three days deciding if they should purchase this or not. The speed at which they were purchasing showed that they were really hungry for this.

I left the registration open for maybe seven to 10 days, that way I could keep emailing people and say, "Hey, like the workshop is now in, four days three days, if you want in blah, blah, blah." I think those emails also helped kind of some stragglers come along, especially as I was able to say, "Wow, now we're up to 40 people, 50 people," to have some social proof there, even though I never taught it before.

[00:31:11] Louis: I see what you did there. So, 80-something people ended up purchasing the first version. The spirit of this show and the purpose of this show, as I said is to help people succeed by putting people first, so we're telling your story and you definitely showcasing how getting feedback, how co-creating things with people, how taking things slowly and building better programs and being vulnerable with people works.

But you also had very good feedback from people and you actually helped others to make their life easier. What type of feedback did you get after running this first workshop?

[00:31:52] Sarah: After that first workshop, I sent everyone a survey asking them what did they think? What could we do better? One of the insights was that people said, "That was great, I wish it was multiple weeks long." You could check in with me and hold me accountable, and I could do this at a little bit of a slower pace because it was just a firehose of information in 90 minutes.

That was good feedback and at that point I already knew, "Okay, we're going to move forward with this and keep seeing how big we can grow it."

I would say, probably within five weeks after doing that first one, I started to get testimonials back. Some of the testimonials were, "Oh, my gosh. I have an interview," "Oh, I have a second interview." One person ended up getting two job offers and then had to decide which job to take within five weeks of doing the program, just the first version.

Once I started getting testimonials like that, which I had never imagined. I had hoped this would be helpful to people, but I don't think I had put it together in my mind, the impact that this program could have on people's lives, like getting a full-time job is a big deal. I don't think I had really wrapped my head around that.

Now that I get emails like that pretty frequently, it's definitely not something that I ever imagined I'd be doing as a part of my business, but those emails are so rewarding. I just could never imagine this is part of what I do.

[00:33:56] Louis: It's great to think beyond just the sale and the landing page and the payment form and the product. When you sell a good product or a good service, it has a genuine impact on people's lives and as you said, getting a full-time job could mean a lot of things for people. It could mean financial security for them and their family, it could mean a lot of different things.

At the end of the day, it's not about selling a workshop, it's really about making other people's life easier, better and making them progress in their own life as well as yours.

[00:34:30] Sarah: I think another thing that I've realized, and I will say throughout my experience teaching this program, but also through my experience being a student in other programs whether that's a marathon training group, a little business program I'm a part of, one of the things I've realized is that, yes, the outcome is amazing whether it's running a marathon or getting hired or whatever it is.

The thing that people really value is how it changes them as a person. An example would be with this portfolio program, I received a couple of emails that said like, "Wow, this really helped me become more confident in my skills to get over impostor syndrome," or, "Finally complete this project, my portfolio, that I've been working on for years, two years, because I was never disciplined enough." It's cool to hear about these other skills that people are developing and character traits that will carry on with them beyond just, "Oh, I got a job," which is still cool.

[00:35:38] Louis: What would be maybe the top three questions you'd recommend people to use when it comes to sending surveys after a purchase experience has happened?

[00:35:59] Sarah: Questions I like to ask after a workshop I run or a class like this, one of them is, "Before taking user experience portfolio formula, the biggest challenges I faced were, or the thing that was holding me back was."

Get them to answer the before, but I word it in a way that's very personal, "So before taking user experience portfolio formula, I struggled to..." Just by asking it in that state, it gets them to respond in a more human way and then I ask, "After taking user experience portfolio formula, I..." and let them fill in the blanks. It's kind of an adlib style.

Another thing would be, I always try and evaluate the materials and the content, something along the lines of, "The module that was most beneficial," or, "The module where I learned the most," or, "The module where I wish you had spent more time..." just to give me a sense of what areas might need a little more coverage.

I always have a last question which is just open ended, "Is there anything else you would like to tell me?" Sometimes those are where you get four paragraphs long of this amazing content that you would never have got if it was just a Net Promoter Score.

[00:37:31] Louis: A Net Promoter Score is a score between zero and 10 that asks, "How likely are you to recommend this product or service to a friend or a colleague?" The thing you just mentioned there is a golden advice and something that we do as well in Hotjar every time we send a survey. Always the last question that we add is, "Is there anything you'd like to add? Please be 100% honest. We love feedback."

As you said, usually what seems to happen is people go through the questions, they answer them with details, but the last one seems to be the one where they thought about a few things on a few questions before and they basically dump every thought they have left in the last question.

If you have to pick up one tip today is this one. When you send survey, when you ask a feedback, always have this open-ended question at the end and just let them talk to you, let them be 100% honest, let them be direct, detailed. Give a chance for them to tell you what they are truly thinking.

[00:38:33] Sarah: Exactly.

[00:38:35] Louis: Thank you so much for being authentic and vulnerable today, Sarah, in telling your story. A lot of people who might be listening are on the fence about embracing this people first approach. What would you tell them to understand that this is the only sustainable way to succeed in the long term?

[00:39:00] Sarah: I think that if you try and put dollar signs first and you let that be your "Why," it's going to come through in everything you do. Whether it's the social media you're doing, the way you're writing your emails, the tone of your videos, people can really pick up on that.

I think when you focus on the money and maybe it's a bad month, that's going to kind of be really disappointing for you. Whereas, if you focus on the people and you can see the progress that they're making in their lives, that's really rewarding.

You just have to remember the value that there is in building trust with people relationships and realizing that in order to have a profitable product, you, 99% of the time, need to solve a problem for people. You can't understand that problem until you become obsessed with those people. You need to spend some time obsessing over them whether that's having conversations with them like I did for free, responding to people's questions about portfolios and doing free portfolio reviews and all these things. I did that for months, until I started to pursue the product.

After that first test, I taught that workshop still 90 minutes, I taught it in July, August, September, maybe October and it wasn't until I'd done it four times that I took a step back, spent time to expand the curriculum, put it all kind of on-demand to improve the customer experience and user experience of it. But I kept doing it, this very manual way, for months to show myself that it was sustained interest, not kind of a fluke in the summertime when people were curious about portfolios.

[00:41:26] Louis: Before we started to record this episode, you said something that was quite nice and I think it's a good summary of this episode. You said, "It's not about giving to get, it's about giving to give." I feel this is it.

If you give to expect to get something in return, it's unlikely that you will be successful in the future, it's quite difficult to sustain if you have bad month or anything. But if you just give to give, if you apply the law of reciprocity, which is really about you give something to people such as something for free – advice, answering emails as you said. What you get back is so much more valuable – it's trust, it's a relationship – I believe that's the basis of what business should all be about and relationships in general.

Last question for you Sarah, if you had to pick one resource to help our listeners succeed by putting people first, what would it be? It could be a book, a podcast, a video, a conference.

[00:42:37] Sarah: One resource is really hard because there are so many, but one that maybe people have heard before is the Why TED Talk by Simon Sinek. It's all about how people don't care what you do, they care why you do it. It goes back to that idea of authenticity and people being able to spot in authenticity a mile away or spot the give that really has a hook on the other end of it. That's a good one just in terms of getting your mindset around the value of figuring out your "Why" and putting people first.

More practically, I think in order to become obsessed with people and things, you need to get smart about doing research. One is, I have a list of 35 questions that you could ask during a research interview. You could pare this down and put them into a Google Form or if you're getting coffee with someone that might be your customer, you could choose some of these, but I'll send you over a link to that and anything else that pops into my head as I'm probably thinking about this later today.

[00:43:57] Louis: Yes, we'll add that to the show notes as usual. People will be able to find our episode at hotjar.com/humans. Sarah, once again thank you so much for the time.

[00:44:10] Sarah: Thank you. It was great to chat with you.

 

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