Do you think Facebook turned out well?
As a company, I mean.
I think so.
And let’s not forget that this company made its founder the 7th richest man in the world.
I don’t know about you, but I like to learn from the best.
And Facebook definitely qualifies.
Even if you’re not planning to create a platform that will be the biggest country in the world, there is still one thing you can learn from Facebook, that will help you to be massively productive.
When they just started out, they did something that was ultimately responsible for their entire success.
Here it is in a nutshell:
Facebook based its entire business around a single metric: the number of users.
What does that have to do with your own goals? Everything.
When you only care about one single number, you can base every single decision on whether it will make that number go up, or down.
The process of getting there becomes much simpler, because you’re not thinking about what your strategy is, what you’re focusing on and what goal you’re going for.
All you have to do is ask: Will this help me grow that number?
Yes? Do it.
No? Don’t do it.
It’s the simplest approach to work I’ve ever seen, and it works tremendously.
How can you apply this in your own life?
Let me introduce you to the Facebook productivity hack.
Step 1: Look at all possible metrics
No matter what your goal is, you can always come up with a metric for it.
Here are a few examples:
If you want to become a world class master at chess, look at the top chess ratings and pick a number to beat:
It seems like the top 40 players all have a ranking of 2700 or higher.
I have no clue what a 2700 point chess ranking means, but if you’re into chess, you will.
Some other chess metrics
Did you just start a blog?
When I started my blog, I got completely lost in the vast sea of metrics.
You can look at: traffic, social shares, number of Twitter followers, clicks on the page, referrals from social media, Google rankings, word count, number of incoming links, and, and, and…
Do you run a brick and mortar store selling paint?
Then there are about 1000 different metrics you can choose from: number of buckets sold, margin per bucket, fixed capital in inventory, customer loyalty and retention, cost per acquisition, customer lifetime value, overhead costs, hours spent per delivery, etc.
You get the point.
It might take some creativity, but no goal suffers from a lack of metrics to track it with.
Pro tip: If you really have no clue what to use as a metric, google your topic or goal + metrics or statistics and you’ll find some commonly tracked numbers.
Step 2: Pick one. Just one.
Here’s how a conversation would go down between you and Mark Zuckerberg, if you came into his office in 2008 with an awesome idea for Facebook.
You: “Mark, I have an amazing idea, how about we show users when their friends have a birthday coming up? I can code it, it’ll only take 2 weeks.”
Mark: “Does it help us grow?”
You: “Well, no, but it’ll make our users happy that we reminded them?”
However, if you told him: “Mark, if we suggest people invite their friends to Facebook via email right after they sign up, that could double our sign ups every day!” you could prepare to spend an hour or two in his office.
Every single decision ultimately came down to: Will it help us grow our user base?
Your metric has to have the same quality. In the beginning stages of a startup, growth is all that matters.
If you don’t hit critical mass your startup will never scale. You really can’t afford to focus on ROI or customer retention. Every single minute spent not on growth is a minute that’s not spent helping you stay in business.
Getting back to our examples, what does that mean?
Should you know that a great chess ranking will get you closer to your goal of becoming a master, then make that your metric.
But maybe it’s number of games played. Or win-lose ratio. Or number of 3 turn moves you know by heart.
Whatever you feel is the number that, if increased, drives you towards your goal the fastest — that’s the metric you should focus on.
How the hell are you supposed to run a paint store if your head is constantly spinning from thinking about all the numbers we mentioned above?
If you’re just starting out, guess what matters? Making sales.
So why not just focus on the number of paint buckets sold? If you sold 500 last year, sell more this year.
The same with your blog. Do you want to make a living off it? Then you might eventually have to sell something to people.
Guess what you need to do that? A way to contact them.
That’s why the only number that matters to me is the size of my email list.
Email is the only way for me to directly talk to my audience whenever I have something valuable to share.
I don’t know if people ever come back after visiting my site. I don’t know if they’ll see what I post on social media. And I don’t know where Google will rank my articles.
But I know I can send you an email whenever I need to if you give me your email address.
Step 3: Set a reasonable goal
Once you have a good metric to base your decisions off of, it’s time to set a goal that’s just within reach.
It should be a stretch, but not impossible.
For example: When I had 0 email subscribers, I focused on getting 100.
If you’ve never had people give you their email address before, getting 100 is pretty hard.
But it’s also doable. Anyone can get 100 email addresses.
After that, my next goal was 1,000. Once I had 100, I knew I could get to 1,000 as well.
Now, it’s 2,000.
Increase your goal as you go.
If you’re chess rating is 0, don’t shoot for 1000. Shoot for 100.
Make your first goal attainable within a few weeks.
Once you have that initial traction, you can increase it to a point where it might take you a few months, or even a year.
But don’t discourage yourself by shooting too high too soon.
Step 4: Base all your decisions around your metric
Voila, you now have a metric that will help you simplify every decision you make that relates to your goal.
How will this number affect the way you work?
Simple: For each project, task or action you plan to take to get towards your goal, ask yourself:
Does this help me grow my one, single metric?
If reading a book from the 1800’s with old chess moves teaches you new ways to win, that could increase your chess ranking fast.
However, playing 50 more matches against the same person with a lower ranking than your own won’t.
If it has a chance of growing your single metric, do it. If not, don’t.
Note: This doesn’t free you from trial and error. The way to success is never a straight line. Reaching any goal is a struggle. You will have to try things, in order to know whether they help you grow your metric. However, once you find out what works, this system will keep you from going off track.
Will a joint webinar grow my email list? I don’t know. Never did one. I have to test it to find out.
Will a giveaway grow my list? Yes. I did that already. Twice. The first one tanked. The second one did reasonably well. So I’m going to do another one.
The more different strategies you try to get to your goal, the more you will what’s worth doubling down on.
Even more so, you’ll develop a gut feeling about things.
Does setting up an Instagram help you sell more paint immediately? No? Then don’t do it!
Does cold calling homeowners in your area? Yes? Then do that as much as possible!
The point of the Facebook productivity hack is to make it simpler to choose what to do next.
It’ll still be tough enough to decide what to do.
But with this system, it’ll become a lot easier.
Step 5: Track your number where you can see it
Facebook had a dashboard.
Other companies have mimicked this behavior — quite successfully.
You should put your number somewhere where you naturally run into it several times a day.
A few good places are:
- The wall right in front of you at your workspace, whether that’s your desk at home or your cubicle at work.
- The backgrounds of your desktop on your computer, cell phone, and tablet.
- Whenever you open a new tab in your browser, for example with an extension like Momentum.
Generally, any place you visit multiple times a day works great.
Here are the 5 steps of the Facebook productivity hack again:
Step 1: Look at all possible metrics for your goal
Step 2: Pick one to focus on that’s likely to provide the biggest effect.
Step 3: Set a reasonable goal for your metric.
Step 4: Base all your decisions on whether they grow your metric.
Step 5: Keep your metric where you can see it.
Is this the straightest path to your goal?
I don’t know.
But it makes it a whole lot straighter than it was before.
If you struggle with finding a goal in the first place, I wrote extensively about it here.
What will you use the Facebook productivity hack for?
No matter what it is, make it count!