The Kaizen Newsletter #50 (16/06/2020) - Thriving on competition

Thoughts on competition, on TikTok, on email (Hey), and on managing your time

Last Friday was a rollercoaster of emotions.

The project (titled Not Available) that I started with my brother a few weeks ago almost fell in the water.

Here's why.

While browsing Twitter, I saw that KP, a Twitter user that I follow and who’s the founder of getcuppa.io, just launched a landing page for letterdrop.io, which he announced as an app that curates newsletter issues and will act as the "product hunt for newsletters".

Why does this matter?

Well, the project that we’re working on is based on newsletters. We realized that there was no current website solving for the problem "I am currently following X number of newsletters, please recommend me other newsletters that I may enjoy" and we wanted to be the ones to create it.

For the past few weeks, there has been a surge in demand for newsletter recommendations so we decided to accelerate our timeline and ship something ASAP because we knew if we waited too long, someone else would jump on the opportunity and make it before us.

And well that's exactly what happened - kinda.

The moment I saw this announcement, my heart dropped and got really pissed and angry that we weren't able to be first movers. I immediately sent a text to my brother.

Which translates to:

"It's over."

"Someone just launched it today"

"Fuck" - Well don’t really need to translate this eh?

This was clearly in the heat of the moment, but after hopping on a call with my bro, we were able to calm down a bit.

We realized that although our idea was very similar, the job-to-be-done by both products were different. We also are planning features that would allow us to differentiate ourselves from what _kp was doing.

While he was trying to launch the "producthunt for newsletters" we are going for the "yourstack for newsletters".

But if KP thought of the idea and launched a landing page, it also meant that others were also trying to do something similar.

And this created an urgency where we also had to launch something QUICK.

Even though my heart was pumping, I realized that I was all smiling and grinning.

The feeling I had at that moment was exactly the type of feeling I had right before an important hockey game.

That feeling was the feeling of competition. The feeling of our team vs theirs.

I've always said that I'm a very competitive person, and I actually went to thank KP for launching his landing page. It's definitely a scary situation to be in, but I know it's actually the best thing that happened to my building career (which hasn't even started yet lol).

Thanks to him, I now have this fire burning inside that is just waiting to be thrown out.

The whole weekend, my mind was constantly running and thinking about how we can make our product even better, when should we launch it and what would our MVP look like.

We finally decided on the name of our product, justreads. Updates will be coming in in the next couple of weeks, so if you are interested in following us for more updates, feel free to subscribe to our dedicated email newsletter and on Twitter.

As my friend, Alex Trinh would say, LFG!

Now, on to the newsletter.


🤔 Thoughts

📱Thoughts on TikTok

If ever you wanted to know how TikTok could potentially be bigger than Youtube, then I’d definitely recommend you watch this video. Here are some of my thoughts.

From my perspective, what really makes TikTok different from any other platform is the “For You” page.

Unlike your FB or Instagram feed, the “For You” page is mixed with videos of people that you follow, the most popular videos, random videos that the algorithm believes you would like and even videos from total newbies (that have < 100 views).

The combination of this + the fact that videos are so short (around 15 seconds) makes it really easy for you to tell yourself "just another one" and continue scrolling for hours and hours after.

What’s also really good with TikTok is that the barrier to entry is super low (especially if you compare it to Youtube). Since there are many different challenges on the app, it makes it really easy for a normal person (like me) to just hop on the platform and copy a popular challenge and post a video. You don’t even need to be creative to start posting and getting views.

Because it’s so easy to both consume and create, TikTok has a lot going for it. I still think Youtube is a better platform, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see TikTok taking over in a few years. Even David Dobrik, one of Youtube’s biggest stars constantly talks about how much he loves TikToks and actually has more followers on TikTok (18.4M) than subscribers on Youtube (14.5M).

✉️ Thoughts on Email

Gmail got released 16 years ago (in 2014), but since then there has been barely any innovation on how we use email.

Superhuman made it nicer and faster but didn't really change the way that we used email.

But the founders of Basecamp just released their own email platform, Hey, and it seems really different. They really built a new way of thinking about how to use email and I'm super excited to try it out.

I'd definitely recommend watching the video (if you don't have 30 min, just watch it at 2x speed to see all the features), but here are some of my favourite features from the walkthrough.

  • Focus & Reply - You can concentrate on only replying to emails instead of always being brought back to your inbox each time.

  • Search attachments - This is probably one of my favourite features. There are so many times where I try to find a specific file sent by someone and have to go through pages and pages of email until I find it. With Hey, all your attachments go into one place and you can easily filter them to find it.

  • Human Interaction - One thing I hate with the default Gmail setting is how Gmail controls which email goes into which inbox. You don’t really know if an email will go to your main inbox or your social inbox or even in your spam. But with Hey, you actually get to decide where things should actually go.

From a product perspective, it really shows the amount of work they put into building HEY and I have no doubt that this will be popular for users that can afford it (it's priced at 15$/month).

⏳Thoughts on Time

Because of how our calendar is structured, we often think in 30 min or 1h chunks of time.

What happens is that whenever we finish a task ahead of time (ex: it takes us 42 min instead of the hour that we scheduled), most often than not we will use those 18 minutes efficiently. We're most likely using those 18 minutes to browse around social media than actually being productive.

To combat this, Ali Abdaal thinks in 15-min chunks instead. That way, if ever you finish something at 2:42PM, you can take a 3 min break to go to the bathroom, grab water and then use those 15 remaining minutes to check-off something in your "to-do" list like paying your credit card, writing a few words, or sending an email.

🐦 Tweets

  • This is so cool. Just a small gesture like this could totally make someone's day.

  • I've always struggled with this, so it's a good reminder to myself to do the things you say you will do.

  • This company ships all of these books to new PMs before starting at the company. Pretty interesting list.

  • Great reminder to always get your 7+ hours of sleep. It really DOES make a difference in my productivity.

🙏 Shoutout

  • Shoutout to my new friend Nuno. Had a great chat with him on mentorship, design, life and leadership on Monday. Thanks to Micah for the indirect intro 💪.


👋 End Note

If you want to know what I'm up to now, you can check it on my website here.

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