The Lean You: Pivoting your New Year’s Resolutions

This one on a personal note.

I stopped blogging for some time not because I had nothing to say, but because I had something cooking on my back burner…

I saw no point in writing about waste in startups and venture capital while carrying waste on many aspects of my life.

Being rational and pragmatic as much as I can, that small discomfort gradually took the form of a black, evil dragon puffing heavy hot breath over my back. I felt I had to straighten some things out: I’d be a sloppy incoherent piece of the cosmic machine if I weren’t able to change what’s inside my reach and control.

I learned and did a lot in this process (and that includes losing 40 lbs over 6 months). Hence, as the new year approaches, I’d like to share some of my findings in a language you’ll understand: under the light of the lean startup principles.

#1: Throw away your New Year’s resolutions

They mean nothing, and you’ll fail them anyway: they’re assumptions of what you feel or think you should do to become a “better” person, not what you really need.

Like startup founders who still don’t know the real needs of their end customer, we devise our own feature wishlist and decide that’s what we’ll pursue in the new year.

Don’t. There’s a better and more efficient way (a bit harder though).

#2: Find your real pain.

Finding your real pain is a tricky process. I refer to something really crooked that bothers you, not a problem with someone else. Most people know this pain very well – “I’m too fat” and “my marriage sucks” are faves to many of us.

There are also people who disguise their pain with other problems that keep them from fighting their real issues. This may sound harsh, but if they were startups, that behavior says only one thing: they deserve to fail.

So what is your most critical pain? What is the most desired feature you need, so you can live your life to the fullest? Pick only one thing to iterate on, and make sure you pick the right one. Humbly and sincerely asking people close to you about your strengths and weaknesses will help generate a real feature wishlist.

#3: Pivot your way towards your MVY

Forget the new year as a solid cycle, a pre-formatted timeframe. After all, you may need 3 years to solve only one thing, or just a couple of weeks to solve a lot of small stinky problems.

Think sprints. Picture your weeks or months as lean startup iteration cycles. Build – Measure – Learn over your assumptions and start building your MVY – the Minimum Viable You.

What is the most critical assumption to be validated first and foremost? For example, “People will value me if I dress better” and validate by measuring “If 7 out of 10 strangers treat me better when I’m slightly overdressed”.

What changes and tasks you need to make/perform to achieve that person you envisioned with the help of your customer? (i.e. your trusted people circle)

If you validate that the fresh new you (the present MVY) isn’t working and pleasing people and/or yourself, pivot. Find another assumption and restart the cycle.

#4: Painlessly drop the wrong assumptions

Here’s what this process will teach you: people might not like you better if you embody that theoretical new You previously envisioned. You might not like it… So you may feel those changes were a waste of time and effort. Good! That’s the spirit: you won’t dwell inside forever, and will simply drop the wrong assumptions.

Find the real pain and solve it. You should become a better version of yourself. Do or do not, there is no try.

Happy New Year!

Time is our most valued asset and the most precious gift we have, so don’t waste a second by cheating on yourself and denying a better life for you and yours.

Over the past year, I became a better father; lived longer, healthier, and more productive days; increased my focus on what’s important. It took me a continuous systematic approach that isn’t different from the lean gospel we already preach.

In other words, don’t talk the talk – walk the walk. Have a great time iterating towards a better you!