Healthy product mindset is lazy, infectious, and viral.
I’ve got this deeply ingrained desire to make a massive impact on the world.
I don’t know where it came from or what feeds it, but it has shaped the way I see the world since high school.
I want to leave a lasting, meaningful legacy that has a positive impact on the future of billions of people.
Related - Startmate’s north star metric is “# lives changed”.
This is why instinctively, whatever I do or see my first thought is to - make it more efficient, effective, increase the magic, scale myself, not be the bottleneck, empower others, build a community - there are many names for it, often referred as “product mindset”.
Related - Startmate’s value is “Increase surface area for luck to strike//Give the community a job.”
What does Product Mindset mean to me?
The best explanation I heard is to create a product that allows for minimal marginal cost per new “user” whilst providing full value.
Minimal effort per additional unit with uncapped cumulative ROI.
But what kind of product do you create for the widest, deepest impact?
I split it into two elements.
Infection - 1st order effect = your surface area - who you can have an impact on
Virality - 2nd+ order effect - how your creation will keep spreading
My favorite Snowcrash (book) quote [Batko edited].
This Snow Crash thing — is it a virus, a drug, [a product] or a religion?”
Juanita shrugs. “What’s the difference?
With a product mindset, you can save time, but also have a bigger impact. You can design a process, system, or product for maximum initial impact with ongoing virality - word of mouth, product-led growth - there are many words for this.
Product Mindset Misconception
One of the most common rebuttals of scaling is that you turn an interaction into a cold-hearted process - it “loses its magic”.
I hate that notion.
Yes, an automated process doesn’t have a human sitting behind it.
That’s the feature, not the bug.
It doesn’t mean the process itself can’t be just as magical, if not even more magical if designed with care and foresight. It can be instantaneous, more accurate, provide additional info you couldn’t otherwise get, connect you with other people and unlock a whole spectrum of opportunities that a manual process wouldn’t be able to deliver.
Even if the assumption that productising means “less magic” is true, you get to spread the “magic” with hundreds and thousands of people. You end up with much more total “magic”. Whilst saving time that you can spend on creating the truly magical experiences.
Product Mindset doesn’t mean you have to create a product per se. But that you design processes and social and technical systems in a scaleable way.
So what can you do?
Here are some ideas to get you to think about what you can do.
1. Laziness - Reduced Effort
Step one is always going to be to build the system itself.
Build it - products - software, hardware, financial (ie fund)
Write it - blog post, article, email, monthly update
Record it - loom, video, TV, podcast
Establish it - company, society, group
Whenever I answer the same question three times, I write a blog post about it. Rather than having to explain the full concept in the future, I can give a short answer and forward the blogpost (= minimal marginal cost per additional unit).
Related - this might be why I’m writing this blogpost right now 😬
Building the above “products” isn’t going to help anyone without distribution.
You have to share the product (=infect) in your 1st order circle. Instead of having the same 1:1 interactions over and over again, you can share the same “product” with a wider audience with the same result. Another way I often talk about this is as “increasing your surface area for luck to strike”.
Small business group sharing - share your monthly company update with your Bads/Uglies with a small trusted group.
Small family group sharing - share your monthly life update with your closest family and friends.
Build in Public - regularly share updates and call-outs of help with your wider circle.
In my opinion, this is the most interesting part.
What can you do to get a long-tail of value, get a flywheel spinning or bring something to life that will generate value forever?
Build a community - give the community a job, a way to create value for each other and therefore for the community as a whole.
Form a cultural shift - an attitude shift like paying it forward, culture is the ultimate long-lasting system.
Explicit mechanisms to spread the word - like the share button below or a pretty graphic your audience would like to share. It can even be as simple as a catchphrase, song, or rhyme that makes an idea spread.
What have you created that will last?
You can apply a product mindset in your day-to-day all the way to the extreme. Here are some examples to stimulate some more applications from hardest to easiest.
Create a religion
Start a country
Build a city
Start a society
Build a community
Establish a company
Give your team more autonomy
Automate a process - Zapier
Record a video
Record a podcast
Write a blog post - a concept
Share what you do - a picture
Share what you think - an idea
Set up a Calendly
Template your email
What do you do over and over again that you could template?
What could you create now that will help you tomorrow and in a year’s time?
What have you created that will last for months or decades to come?
Something that will work for you and create value for you whilst you sleep.
Something that might even last after you’re gone.
PS: An Afterthought
People, companies, precincts, and business centers come and go.
But beliefs and cities last for centuries.
A city is the smallest unit where it is possible to generate sustained economic growth in the long term.
A city can be the ultimate product - minimal marginal cost per new citizen with increased value to the whole network.
But that’s a blog post for another day.
Now, go on.
Be kind to yourself.
Build something, and make some magic happen.