On Business

When luck meets learning is the outcome different?

When luck meets learning
Photo by Michellis

I’ve had a crazy week. Steve, Angela and I have been asking ourselves very important questions like, “What are the needs of our customers?” And we have struggled to come up with definitive answers. Last friday we sat around our boardroom with beers and taco chips hashing out the different layers of our customers needs. It was both fun and frustrating. After 2 hours our meeting had come right back to the beginning and our questions remained unanswered. The truth is we weren’t confident we had nailed it.

This week I attended the GrowTalks in Vancouver with Steve. It doesn’t take a genius to become successful, that’s something I’ve learned over the last three years running a startup. What it takes is the ability to remain focused and apply the good things we learn along the way (and a little bit of luck). Our 48 hours in Vancouver at Grow was a mix of learning and luck. The first speakers of the morning came out, they were fired up and told everyone in the audience that they were inspiring leaders, in fact they were visionaries.  *Cough, then they spit out what they really thought. “You are not visionaries!”

The crowd kind of laughed awkwardly, hoping they were kidding, but then fell silent after realizing they were not. I loved it, they caught my attention and I knew the day was going to be good. The next speaker spoke about UX/UI. Well she spoke about User Experience actually, and not very subtly drew a line in the sand arguing persuasively that User Experience was very different from User Interface and must not be confused as such. Right now there are UI/UX bloggers rolling over in their graves, I mean their beds, towards their keyboards to differ.

But quickly as the day progressed the talks began hitting closer and closer to home. They were discussing how they had solved the very questions we were struggling to answer. I had this uncomfortable feeling that either every speaker was secretly spying on us and planned everything they were going to talk about by watching what we were doing, or every single company in the room was struggling with the exact same problems we were. Neither conclusion seemed very reassuring. Either we were unique and naked or we were similar and uninteresting. In the end it didn’t matter. What mattered was that we lucked out. We were privileged to be in a room with people willing to talk about how they had solved the very problems we were facing.

There is something magical when luck and learning line up. Ultimately, though this magical week of learning would be useless if we did not apply it. Upon arriving back in the office today, Steve and I shared our new found insights with the team, drew up a simple strategy based on what we had learned from the conference and started executing. It’s true, I’m not lying. We have drawn up a two week discovery strategy and have already started implementing it. After many attempts at trying to implement status-quo shattering strategies we have discovered that habits form quickly, but significant shifts in behaviours and patterns only take place when we are intentional about executing the strategies we form. Learning is great, but it is useless unless we apply it. We, as a team, don’t want to be the hard ground that good words fell on and then died. For soil to grow good crops the seeds need to be planted and the work needs to be done.

By Jonathan Whiting

I enjoy sharing what I am learning and hopefully it's of interest and help to you. I live in Canada with my wife. Follow me on Twitter.

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