Monthly Archives: April 2013

Ten Commandments: Thou Shalt Know Thine Customer

There are two separate aspects here.

First, know your user. For what job do they employ your product. Here you have to think about product, not feature. And about the specific benefits the user will be receiving from your specific products. And what other options they would have that you compete against. 

You will also have to think about what is the “whole product” as defined by Geoffrey Moore. This will be different depending on market segment and on segment maturity. 

The other aspect that you will have to think about is the organization that the user is a member of, particularly if you sell to businesses? What is the buying center? How do they make decisions? Who will be a positive influencer, who will stand in the way? This varies greatly based on organization size, vertical, geography. You have to understand the mechanics here, preferably based on personal experience and not just hearsay. 

Q1 Reading List

I got a lot of reading done. No baseball and no football really helps.

Tom Maschler: Publisher. Fascinating. Unputdownable. Fragments leave you wanting more. Somebody should please write a real biography.
Robert MacFarlane: The Old Ways: A Journey On Foot. Somehow fascinating but ultimately he’s probably too smart for me.
Donna Leon: The Jewels of Paradise. I really wanted to like this. But somehow the whole narrative setup and altogether too much Dan Brown never work and the book never recovers. 

Jess Walter: The Financial Lives of the Poets. Poet turned web entrepreneur turned wannabe drug dealer. Masterful.

Daniel Klein: Travels with Epicurus. Not what I expected. Heavy on the philosophers, light on personal detail.

Pete Townshend: Who Am I. Incredibly interesting. Well written. Audiobook version superbly read by the man himself. Now I’m discovering The Who, who I didn’t really know all that well, and rediscovering his fabulous solo albums. 

n+1, Number Fifteen. Great story by Kristin Dombek, can’t wait for the book.

Ulrich Beck: Das deutsche Europa. Intelligente Diagnose. Leider wenige Therapievorschläge. Die Idee eines obligatorischen “Europajahres” bleibt de facto  ein Prärogativ der Mittelschicht und des Bildungsbürgertums. 

Randall Stross: The Launch Pad. Spending three months in a Y Combinator batch. Really well written, puts you right in the middle. Lots of detail that will be very meaningful if you’ve been there and done that. 

Dave Eggers: A Hologram for the King. Masterful prose about a lost man sleepwalking through Saudi Arabia. If anything it’s too short.

John Banville: Ancient Light. Cleverly crafted and beautifully written. Characters seem a bit synthetic though. Not my favorite Banville novel by far.

James Wood: The Fun Stuff. Literary criticism from the very best. What a fantastic writer with deep insights.

Brigid Keegan: Diplomatic Baggage. A bit light, a bit long. 

Michael Moss: Salt, Sugar, Fat. Surprisingly disappointing. Thin on detail, incomplete, and rambling. 

Reread Salman Rushdie: The Enchantress of Florence. Amazing. 
Geoff Dyer: Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi. Simply wonderful. A great find, courtesy of James Wood. No idea how I did not know about this writer.
Michael Frayn: Skios. Lightweight but very funny.

Joseph Brodsky: Watermark. Wonderful.

Bernhard Schlink: Sommerlügen. Sehr intelligent.
Wolf Wondratschek: Mara. Die Geschichte von Heinrich Schiffs Stradivari. Sehr interessant.
DT Max: Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace. Incredibly well written.