Dharmesh Shah


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The Most Important Word When Building Your Personal Brand

By Dharmesh Shah on July 24, 2013

Do your colleagues have a choice word for you? If not, here's why you want them to…

Sometimes one word can make all the difference.describe the image

I was at a conference and a friend who runs a startup introduced me to one of his friends, who was looking for a new opportunity. “I’d like you to meet Joe,” he said. “He’s great.”

I’m sure Joe is talented. I’m sure Joe is skilled. I’m sure Joe is, in fact, great.

But I only remember Joe because of something that happened a few minutes later. Another friend introduced me to one of his product managers. “This is Michelle,” he said. “She’s relentless.”

In the dictionary, “great” means remarkable in degree or effectiveness. “Great” is a wonderful word, especially when used to describe someone… but like “awesome” and “outstanding,” “great” is used so often to describe people that it has lost much of its meaning. When just about everyone is great… no one is great. Great is no longer impactful or memorable.

When described as “great, however remarkable in degree or effectiveness he may be, Joe seems like – however unfairly – just one of many. He doesn't standout.

But “relentless” – who can forget relentless? Hear the word and you instantly think of someone so determined, so persevering, so persistent and tenacious that nothing, absolutely nothing, can stand in her way.

A “great” product manager you might forget. A “relentless product manager you remember for a long, long time.

Authentic Positioning Matters – Especially for Individuals

Many companies, as Al Ries describes in his classic marketing book Positioning, try to own a single word or phrase in the minds of customers. For Mercedes it’s “luxury.” For Volvo it's “safety”. At my company HubSpot it’s “inbound”.

The goal of positioning is to create an immediate and direct connection in the minds of consumers; that’s what branding is all about.

Individuals need to think about positioning, too. Where Tony Hsieh is concerned, that word is “culture.” Where Eric Ries is concerned it’s “lean.”

So imagine you ask a colleague or a boss or a customer for to pick one word that describes you and they aren’t allowed to use words like awesome, fantastic, great, terrific, etc. They have to pick a specific, non-generic word. What word would they choose?

The word they choose – for better or worse and, where you’re concerned, intentional or unintentional – is your positioning in the minds of the people you work with. That’s how they see you. That’s how they think of you.

That is how they remember you.

What is Your Most Important Word?

The cool thing is, you get to choose how people view you. As long as your actions constantly and consistently match your positioning, as long as you are intentional in thought and action, you can determine the immediate and direct connection people make when they see, hear, or think about you.

What one word best describes you? Better yet, what one word do you want to describe you?

Here are a few possibilities – in the right circumstances these are all wonderful qualities:

· Insightful

· Shrewd

· Ferocious (hopefully in a good way)

· Unflinching

· Indomitable

· Irreverent

· Scrupulous

· Relatable

· Determined

So, back to the original question: What is the one word that can transform your career? As you've probably guessed — it's different for everyone. But, if you can find yours, it can have a profound impact on your person brand, and hence your career.

A short, powerful exercise…

Make a list of the adjectives you want people to repeat after they meet you, talk to you, see or read about you... what do you want other people to think of when they think of you?

Make your list. Then boil it down to the one word you want to encapsulate you – and, in effect, your personal brand. (If you don’t, other people will definitely decide it for you.)

Decide how you want to be defined.

Now, share your one word in the comments below. If you can't quite get it down to just one word, that's OK (I'm an easy going guy) — pick 2 or 3 words. But, leave them in the comments. We're not going to hold you to it, but the simple act of writing them down and sharing them is super-helpful. And, it will help others come up with their words.

I'll kick things off with the words I'd like people to associate with me: creative.

Read, think, GO!

Leave your one (or two) words in the comments.

Topics: marketing
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31 Short Highlights From "Disciplined Entrepreneurship"

By Dharmesh Shah on July 23, 2013

As many of you may know, MIT is near and dear to my heart. As my co-founder, Brian Halligan likes to say, “HubSpot was born out of the loins of MIT”.  As such, I like to stay in touch and speak at MIT as often as I can.  Over the years, I've built up a relationship with many of the people there. The leader of the entrepreneurial efforts at MIT for the past four years has been my friend the energetic and successful entrepreneur himself, Bill Aulet. While my “geek center of gravity” style is different than Bill’s (“business center of gravity” but loves technology), I have come to really appreciate what he has been accomplishing at taking MIT’s entrepreneurial education/training efforts to a new level. Recently I got a pre-release copy of his book, “Disciplined Entrepreneurship: 24 Steps to a Successful Startup” and my appreciation was taken to a whole new level. There is an art and science to entrepreneurship in that there is a body of knowledge that can improve entrepreneurs’ odds of success significantly, and it definitely involves discipline.disciplined entrepreneurship small

While it would have been more appropriately titled “Disciplined Entrepreneurship: 24 Steps to getting the Product-Market fit right when launching your high growth new venture as a standalone or inside a large company but also relevant to existing entrepreneurs who want to revitalize their startups” I realize that would have been a bit too long so I accept the shorter version. It really is a breakthrough guide on how to launch new products for entrepreneurs in a systematic manner. It is very complementary to what is already out there by Eric Ries, Steve Blank, Alex Osterwalder while deftly incorporating classics such as Crossing the Chasm, Blue Ocean Strategy, Innovator’s Dilemma, Democratizing Innovation and many more – as well as (humbly) Inbound Marketing. It pulls many different elements together very nicely in what Bill appropriately calls a “toolbox approach”.

The book is not only an invaluable framework (make sure to order early & sign up to get the poster – it is super helpful and very complementary with the book) but also has many interesting insights. The following are thirty five short highlights from Bill with convenient tweetable links so you can let your friends know about this and spread the good word of disciplined entrepreneurship.

31 Tweetable Insights from “Disciplined Entrepreneurship: 24 Steps to a Successful Startup”:

1) Entrepreneurship Education Crisis: Demand soaring yet high quality supply does not scale; gap filled by storytelling [tweet]

2) To build scalable eship education, we need frameworks that are flexible yet rigorous; valuable yet not constraining [tweet]

3) Hypothesis testing is unquestionably great but the question is which hypotheses do you test & in what order [tweet]

4) 1st Law of Eship: The single necessary & sufficient condition for a business is a paying customer [tweet]

5) 2nd Law of Eship: WOM (Word of Mouth) is critical to success of a high growth startup [tweet]

6) 3rd Law of Eship: We are an attacker w/ dramatically less resources than the defender so have 2 b much more efficient [tweet]

7) 4th Law of Eship: We have to have the unit economics work in a reasonable period of time [tweet]

8) 5th Law of Eship: We have to have a core (something that will be unique & very hard to duplicate) to be great [tweet]

9) 24 Steps are grouped into 6 themes & starts not with your technology or product but with "Who is your customer?" [tweet]

10) The 1st hypothesis 2 test is whether you have a well defined target customer who has a problem & money 2 pay 2 fix it [tweet]

11) Disciplined Entrepreneurs r not driven by 1 customer nor by spreadsheets but by a well defined target customer group [tweet]

12) Once mkt is selected, must deselect rest. Deselect = discipline. Every1 loves to select; no1 likes 2 deselect [tweet]

13) Q: Is deselection important? Steve Jobs: "I'm as proud of what we don't do as I am of what we do." - Ans: Hell yes! [tweet]

14) Build the company from the customer back & not from what you want out. Target Customer 1st, Product 2nd [tweet]

15) Primary Customer Research is essential: Walk in your customers' shoes - economically, emotionally & socially [tweet]

16) In eship, specificity wins & generalities don't - hence eship is about the quest for the holy grail of specificity [tweet]

17) Don't make your persona a composite, make it real person. This ends debates much faster & more effectively [tweet]

18) Validate your persona by listing 1st 10 customers & check to persona; also derisks & gives team confidence & focus [tweet]

19) "What can you do for your target customer?" - it must be specific, compelling & unique [tweet]

20) "How does your customer acquire your product?" maybe boring but essential - often overlooked [tweet]

21) "How do you make money off your product?" - unit economics of COCA vs. LTV must work [tweet]

22) "How do you scale your business?" - b/c limited resources, must start small & plan 2 grow big [tweet]

23) We need to train our entrepreneurs to have the spirit of a pirate & the execution skills of a Navy Seal Team [tweet]

24) "It is more fun to be a pirate than to join the navy" - Steve Jobs & embraced by MIT entrepreneurs [tweet]

25) MIT has spirit of a pirate ("creative irreverence" = hacking) but also enormous discipline hence success in eship [tweet]

26) Entrepreneurial Myth: "Entrprnrs are undisciplined" Wrong, great ones have enormous self-discipline [tweet]

27) Gr8 entrprnrs derisk risk & only bet when they know the odds are in their favor & there is a big payoff [tweet]

28) Fake it B4 U Bake It: Don't build until u have derisk market w/ real customers; build a site & market test 1st [tweet]

29) Don't build a plant to produce dog food until you prove the dogs will eat it. Logic is not enough, u need real proof [tweet]

30) Wisdom is scar tissue & scar tissue comes from failing & learning in the process. @24StepsofEship is based on wisdom [tweet]

31) "Truth will set you free" rather "Action will set you free" [tweet]

 Which is your favorite? Which do you disagree with? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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