Doing the Impossible Part II

It can’t be overstressed how important hard work and perseverance are in hitting it big. It’s absolutely true that you have to work hard and persevere doing the right things, but you can’t be lazy about doing them.

Henry Ford came out with the revolutionary flathead V8 that steamrolled the competition. Chevrolet had introduced the straight-6 that was a quantum leap ahead of his 4-cylinder powered cars and he didn’t want to follow Chevy’s lead. He demanded his engineers develop a V8 with the engine block made from a one-piece casting at an affordable price, considered an impossibility in its day.

Numerous technical obstacles were overcome and the result? Ford V8s leapt ahead in the marketplace.

It wasn’t easy, it was considered impossible in the day, but do it they did and made history.

I like this quote from the second Mission: Impossible movie:

Mission Commander Swanbeck (aka Anthony Hopkins) to Ethan Hunt (aka Tom Cruise): “This is Mission Impossible, not mission difficult. Difficult should be a walk in the park for you.”

I like the attitude—it takes that kind of attitude and work ethic to pull off success.

Igor Sikorsky, the man credited with inventing the helicopter, had this to say:

“According to the laws of aerodynamics, the bumblebee can’t fly either, but the bumblebee doesn’t know anything about the laws of aerodynamics, so it goes ahead and flies anyway.”

If everyone around us thinks we’re going to fail, but we don’t even know the meaning of the word, we go ahead and succeed because we just plain do it.

Grant Cardone is a sales trainer and successful entrepreneur and investor. His mantra? “Whatever it takes.” You do whatever it takes to be successful and you keep doing it until you succeed—then why stop there? Keep doing whatever it takes!

It’s not easy becoming a success. It’s not easy getting your software to go viral. You have to do the right things: Great product, spot-on marketing and PR, great tech support. The backbone behind that is drive and dedication, the absolute conviction to do the impossible followed by working your backside off to get that viral rush when your product takes off in the marketplace.

The one key ingredient behind success is hard work. Splurge yourself!

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The Voice of the Customer

This blog has been following a very specific sequence of topics, all geared towards the topic of Going Viral. The outline has been in place and every post has followed that outline, all tied together to address the specific functions needed for viral growth. This blog is supposed to continue the Doing the Impossible theme.

I’m breaking that sequence.

I’ve been updating and editing automotive engineering manuals I first wrote in the early ’90s and I came across this important phrase: “Voice of the Customer.” The context was how design goals should be set at the beginning of the program that reflect the voice of the customer.

Twenty years later, this topic is even more relevant. (Sure, I’m banging my own drum by pointing out that I was driving this topic twenty years ago, and weren’t I a visionary in recognizing this!? More importantly, seeing this reminded me HOW IMPORTANT this topic is.)

I have seen with software, more than any other product, how the Voice of the Customer is paramount.

We, as consumers, are inundated with products. Even our cars have computer systems with touch-screen control and complicated menus. We have smartphones and tablets and laptops and desktops, oh my! We fill out information on digital devices, we order products online, we submit trouble reports and customer complaints through a company’s “dashboard.”

And yet a lot of these systems are pure shlock. They’re clumsy, they’re cumbersome, they’re hard to navigate. Excessive mouse clicks to find what we need. Drivers complain about how hard the infotainment system is to navigate. Have you ever tried to work your way through filling out insurance forms online?

Behind all of this is the customer. Software companies need to look at their software through their customers’ eyes. We’re usually not experts in their field, so the “logical engineering choice” for menu layouts completely baffles us.

When I pick up a new software program, I try to figure out what the logic is behind the program. What were they thinking when they designed it? They sure weren’t thinking like I do as a consumer or user, so if I try to do what I intuitively do, I’ll fail miserably.

I am passionate that software programmers should NEVER design a UI, particularly if they work for Microsoft. Why should I have to figure out their logic? Why can’t they make something that I can figure out easily? Sure, they have to do some research and studies to see how users actually use their software. Well, why not?

Software companies: do you want your software sales to expand exponentially? Then listen to the Voice of the Customer. Ask them what they want, what they need. Sometimes, like with kids (or girlfriends and wives), they don’t come right out and tell you and you have to figure out what they really mean.

Software that intuitively operates the way users think will make users happy. Happy users brag about the product and tell others. Slightly annoyed users don’t.

Software programs that works like users expect them to are poised to succeed like crazy.

Listen to the Voice of the Customer. And build software that works like they (we) want it to.

Please.

Doing the Impossible

Great software doesn’t happen as a result of casual activity. It doesn’t happen by sitting on your duff, whether you’re watching sports on TV or performing 12-oz curls at your local watering hole. It doesn’t happen by working a 40-hour week and then going home.

Creating great software requires drive, dedication and purpose. Just like winning the Super Bowl or the Masters, the amount of work required to achieve perfection is substantial. The team HAS to be committed to winning.

Much is made about development teams having nerf gun wars and basketball hoops in an office. These are great stress-relievers, they help to break the monotony and provide the opportunity to unfix fixated attention. But they don’t provide the drive, dedication and purpose necessary to achieve greatness.

The drive, dedication and purpose starts at the top, and that mindset has to permeate throughout the company.

This is not a treatise on management but I do want to make this point: Starting at the top and putting that drive, dedication and purpose is not a case of desk-pounding, screaming and oppressive management styles but rather Inspiring and Leading. A leader needs to infect the organization with the passion needed to achieve greatness.

On the other extreme, one can’t lead by being passive either.

Behind that drive, dedication and purpose is one key ingredient. If you polled every successful person, you’ll find one constant: Hard Work. You’re not going to end up with great software without hard work.

“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.” –John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy uttered the above quote to inspire a country in the space race. The result? The US landed a man on the moon by the end of the decade—two men, to be precise.

Do you want your software to go viral? Start with the Three Pillars: Great Software, Great Marketing and Great Support. Back that up with an effective sales team (or sales process if your sales are online).

Behind all of that is Drive, Dedication, Purpose and Hard Work.

Since this topic is so important, I’ll have more great quotes from famous people on the subject in upcoming posts.

Good Hunting.