What I learn from Ben Chestnut, Co-founder of MailChimp

Have you ever researched for tools so you can email blast (ok, spam) your customers? You probably heard of MailChimp. The company with a cute monkey logo wearing a postman hat. It is regarded as one of the most successful bootstrapped, SMB-focused SAAS (Software As A Service) company in the US, and probably the world. 

Need proof? Well, got spare cash? The founders might sell some shares at a $10 Billion USD valuation.

Ben Chesnut, co-founder of Mailchimp. He is one of the legendary SAAS founder whom i admired alot, for his unorthodox, witty way of doing things.

I did an interview with Simon Grabowski, CEO of Getresponse, one of mailchimp competitor a few years back. Hopefully one day, I have a chance to interview Ben, probably at Thailand (since he's half Thai). :)

These are some of the learning I picked up from this video interview he did with Jason Lemkin, founder of Saastr. There is another great video he did with Jazon Nazar too for article in entrepreneurs.com 



1) The 10X feature? Freemium, debuted in 2009~2010. This is where things really skyrocket. It grows like from 100,000 users, to about 1 Million within its first year, then to 3 Million on 2nd years. As you can see, this is not really a feature, but rather an innovation in the business model. (~4:33)

2) 1st Choke (point where one user converts from free to paid)? There isn't really any one choke. Since their targeted market is SMB, 30% of SMB die in 2 years, 50% die in 5 years. So he look at his sales pipeline like 5 to 10 years.  (~7:30)

3) How does Ben view churn? He asked, which industry in which the small business customers are the most tech savvy? That turned out to be the eCommerce customers, they are the one pushing the limit of innovation for mailchimp. The thinking is, how mailchimp can help them to sell more? Then the technology built for these group of high impact, high end customers, it will trickle down on the platform and benefits other customers as well. (~10:10)



4) Small business, frequently using mailchimp as CRM. Probably in a very similar way, Zetpy can copy a page from this too :), which we did. Zetpy can show you who are your Top 100 Spending Customers buying across channels like Lazada, Shopee, Shopify or WooCommerce. (~11:10) 

5) How does mailchimp build brands? Ben experiment with different type of medias (eg podcast). They have a culture of tinkering and experimenting with things. Ben wants something more tangible, where people can see, feel, coz it makes your brands real. Think Billboards, Monkey Toys, Socks! Summarizing Brand building in ABC (~14:20)

A) Care about your brand.
B) Try to get it physical, not just digital only (when you can afford it)
C) Always be tinkering.


6) #DoomFear - We (The biz) could die tomorrow, or becoming slow, then embarrassing descend into irrelevance, which is worse than crash. This probably apply to all of us, where things are moving at breakneck speed nowadays.  (~20:10)

7) What is it that mailchimp brands means to you? Customer said "it's marketing", it made Ben realize it's no longer just about email. this is where they expand beyond email. We should be asking this questions to our customers every quarter! (22:10)

8) Doom is always around the corner, eg GDPR (A real existential threat for any marketing company), and it probably never ends. They could have reacted negatively, but they always think from a customer viewpoint. So MailChimp redo the infrastructure just to cope and help their customers comply with it. Along the process, it builds up (even higher) trust with customers. (~31:00)

9) Any moat at mailchimp? Ben thinks he just wanna keep running faster as speed is his only moat, stay ahead of the curve, listening hard to your customers (Ben's mantra is Listen Hard, Change Fast), and keep adapting crisis after crisis. (~33:00)





10) The 3Cs. Entrepreneur, you are probably pretty good at one way of communicating, for Ben, it's blogging, that's how he marketed mailchimp. So again, the 3Cs, What's your Communication style? What's your Channels that is going to give you the highest Cadence? Stick to what works for you, and tell the stories about your brands!  (6:40)

11) How do you stay focused on the most important things? You really need to the know the goal, what is the end state that you want? Ben doesn't just stop there, he always goes one step further by asking "What are the habits I need, to achieve these goals? What are the habits I need to change? In order to get there?" Then he focus on acquiring new habits, change existing habits or both. Sometimes, he even forgot those goals,  as he get so focused on the habit change, that the goals come. 

So dream, look into the futures, what are the goals to move your company to the next level? What are the behaviours or habit that is going to get you there? Start focused on habit and behavior change!  (31:46)






My dream writer home

One of my lifegoal is to be a writer. Writing down the thoughts of my monkey mind, on stuffs that I care deeply about, and turning into something that I can share (and hopefully contribute along the way) with the world. 

One of my inspiration will always be Ernest Hemingway.

Writers gonna write, and these are some of the place that I would love to be at... just to write!

Damn, i really do envy these homes! :_ )

And I will get one built with inspirations taking from the design shown below. 






































































3 Questions before I Sleep, Everynight.



1) Have I learned something new today?

This is important, personally I see myself as a learner. Fundamentally, that's also one of my most important identity. That something new can be relate to our daily life chores like "How do we fry a perfect egg? " Or it can be something to do with making money, like one friend taught me how to do arbitrage trading for crypto, while another taught me how to do "Grid Trading" in Binance.

Two of the best sources of learning new things? Listen to podcast (on skills or knowledge you want to acquire, in order to achieve your goals) on the way to your work, and books!   

I believe we only stop learning when we are six feet under. Always be open minded and curious.


2) Have I tried to do something new, or something hard, or something that scares me today? 

Sometimes, learning alone is not enough, we must DO. Applied knowledge is often hardwired in our brain and could better serve us for life. 

It could be the new things I just learnt, that i can put into practice right away. Or it could be a new route which i'm taking to my workplace, or it could be something that I fear just do it. 

Doing something new, or hard, helps you to fire up new brain cell connectivity in your brain, while doing things that scares you (most of time, it is just embarassment of failure that we are afraid of), will make you build up confidence knowing you are pushing your own limits. 


3) Have I done something good today? (For somebody, or something a little help, a favor today) without anticipating anything in return?

Human climb up to the top of the foodchain because of our ability to social, to grasp a concept and to work together. We are social animal, we are part of something that's bigger than ourselves. 

To be happy, we have to contribute back, to the people, community we love and to the cause web believe in, without expecting anything in return. A little act of kindness, goes a long way.  (Pay it forward).

That's it. 3 Questions before I sleep, every single night. 

Sometimes, i get all 3 achieved, sometimes, i don't. But the goal is to constantly reflect, tweak, and be better at it as i know it will serve me well. How about you?
 



DO NOT Follow Your Passion (Yes, You heard it right, here's WHY)

"GO DO IT! YOU CAN DO IT! JUST FOLLOW YOUR PASSION!!!!"

You might hear this all the time, shouted by the motivational gurus. 

But watch out, this is a trap.

Why "follow your passion", is often misunderstood and overrated?



Nobody is Born with Passion - Neither do we suddenly find "our passion" too. The path to passion is is mostly a life long process of discovery and reflection. We have to put in the work for it.     

You Could Have Lot of Passion -  Are you passionate about programming or painting? or are you more passionate about basketball or football? Often time, it's difficult to tell. Instead, look into what you are good at. eg Are you good at programming or painting? This is probably easier to figure it out. One way to discover what you are good at, is by asking yourself if there is something that you can do absolutely best with the least amount of efforts?

Passion Changes Over Time - What you are passionate about as a child, might not necessarily be the things you are passionate about when you are at your 20s,  30s, or 40s. People changes with time and experience as grow elder, so does our passion.

You might Suck at Your Passion - I am very very passionate about basketball, but i'm also consciously aware that I will never be as good as my idols, both Michael Jordan #23 and Kobe Bryant #24. The truth is, you might not be good at your passion. Just because you like singing, doesn't mean you will win America's Got Talent! I talked about how people often mistaken their passion as something they are good at in "100,000 reasons why should not start your own biz"

Follow Your Passion is Too "Self-Centered" - To fuel your passion sustainably, you need to feel good about it. So how do you feel good about your passion? It often goes back to "What do you contribute?", "Whom do you serve?" and "What positive impact you are making to the people and environment around you?". It simply means finding ways you can contribute and serve other people with your passion. We are social creatures, there's certain thing hardwired in us, helping other people makes us feel good. It feels awesome when our passion are contributing to something which is bigger than ourselves, it gives us a sense of purpose. 




But wait...

Successful people like to tell you, that the reasons for their success, is they love what they do. 

So you might conclude that...if you do what you love, then you will be successful! Wow, sounds simple isn't it. 

Or it could also mean... if you are successful (already), you love what you do. You just love being successful and everybody loves you - it's phucking awesome!

So, which one is it?

For one second, Thinking for yourself. It is not easy as there is a lot of noise around you. But it will be profound once you realize that passion is something that we can develop. It all starts with curiosity and interest.

You don't necessarily have to have, passion, yet. 

However, everyone gotta have at least a little spark of interest in something - this is all you need to start develop your passion.

Passion often starts with Curiosity. Curiosity leads to Interest. Interest leads to Action (learning by doing something about it). Action leads to Progress. Progress means Results and Perceived Growth. Results and perceived growth make us feel good about ourselves, and it levels up our Interest, motivates us to put in even more energy in action which will leads to even more progress. 

When you see results in something, you will want to do it more, this is where the virtuous cycle kicks in. In short, below is where the magic of virtuous cycle starts.


Curiosity -> Interest -> Action -> Progress -> Results / Perceived Growth -> Refueling more Interest x Action x Progress.  

You can see what started off as a little spark of interest, can be turned into a burning inferno via the virtuous cycle. Furthermore, if this is what you feel you can contribute to the world and make a difference, this could be an undying passion!

Passion for something leads to disproportionate time practicing or working at it. That time spent eventually translates to skill, and when skill improves, results improve. Better results generally lead to more enjoyment, and more passion and more time is invested. It can be a virtuous cycle all the way to extraordinary results. - Gary Keller

So starting looking inwards, in search of your spark of interest. Your job is to ignite the spark of interest via the above process, and turn it into a mastery. Because so good that, the world can't ignore you.

Trust the process.
Trust the process.
Trust the process.

Mamba Out.

 








最理想的山, 最理想的自己

每个人心中都有一座山。

一座无形的山。

它可以是理想,使我们憧憬未来,使我们任何一刻抬起头, 都能看到前进的方向。

它可以是障碍,使我们害怕未知,停滞不前。

某种程度上,人生就是一个登山的过程,我们一辈子需要翻过一座又一座山。

翻越山的方式有很多种,可以直接攀登,也可以迂回翻越,甚至可以另选一条属于自己的路, 一样可以抵达前方,发现新的人生风景。

+++

我们去爬神山, 攀登的是一座有形的山。

我们每天都在爬山, 攀登的是一座无形的山。

要翻越无形的山,有时彷徨无助,有时荆棘满途。

遇到困难... 要坚持信念,积极面对,迎难而上,绝不言弃!

+++

我们人,只要填饱了肚子,就会有理想。

所谓的理想,是我们人类仅有的,对未来的想象力。

理想的生活 (Lifestyle),工作,伴侣,自己,山。

+++

人生是时间的微积分,

我们都是人生所有一刹那历练的累积。

山也是时间的微积分,

它都是火山作用或板块碰撞加上气候侵蚀的累积

人,每一天都在变;山,亦然。

今天的你我,与昨天的你我,都有少少的差别。

我们变得更好;

或更差。

与理想更接近;

或更远。

+++

柯文哲说:“追求這個問題的答案,就是這個問題的答案。”

我说:“翻越这座山的过程,就是我们最理想的人生。”

或许,最理想的山从来都不存在,因为到了最后,每座山都在映照我们自己。

或许,最理想的山,始终藏在心底。


大哥的大宅

2021年一月某日, 拜访了大哥.

大哥在我心中,是个标新立异的人,想法往往与众不同,对任何疑难杂症,总有让凡人预想不到的solutions.

约了大哥,刚好又有两位兄弟要聚聊 (一定是很口渴了吧), 就tag along。

大哥带我们参观了他的大宅 - 占地有一万多方尺,处于高地,周围环境清幽, 绿意绵延。 

他向我们一一阐明了大宅的设计,概念,收藏品背后的故事。

我超爱他怎么把每一个拆除的材料再循环使用,依凭天马行空的想象力发挥 upcycle。

他是个很喜欢小孩子的人,购入大宅是要有大空间,要给一足球队的小孩们尽兴地蹦蹦跳跳躲躲藏藏追追跑跑。

这房要给爸妈住,那房要给in-laws住,这房留给小瓜们,亲朋好友到访随时可落脚这里。

好客又喜热闹的他,把大厅面向夕阳西下的地方,so大伙儿们在吐槽着人生酸甜苦辣时, 不忘浪漫一番。

但,

女主人不想要小孩,不了了之。她也不喜欢喧闹,开趴也不了了之。

老爸老妈住不惯,更不了了之。(老人家们毕竟有了自己固定的生活节奏与社区。)

大宅,少了人气,当然显得孤寂。

想象与现实的场景,有一个很大的落差。

也但,

他至少出发点是好的,也办到了。

世事岂能尽如人意,但求不愧人心。

2020疫情肆虐,大哥经历了与女主人分开,事业暂时的低潮,健康也亮了红灯。

连续跌了三跤, 挫败感当然很重,但都是暂时的。 生活不可能时时顺利。很高兴大哥的心情比较几个月前已经好转多了。 哥儿们聊到深夜凌晨二点钟, 大哥无私的分享又给我们带走满满的人生智慧。

大宅,迟早人去楼空。

大哥,永远还是我的大哥。

我祝福你 - 早日康复,找到幸福。 

100,000 Reasons Why You Should Not Start Your Own Biz | 十万个为什么你不该创业


I did a rather unusual sharing back in June, 2018 at Selangor Startup Accelerator - The topic was “100,000 Reasons Why You Should Not Start Your Own Biz”, literally translated from 十万个为什么你不该创业。

Here are the contents of the sharing. I hope you like it, if you have any thoughts, I welcome you to share it on comments below :)

100,000 reasons why you should not start your own biz



#1 You Think Your Hobby is Your Business



#2 You Cannot Live Cheaply



#3 You Think Growth Is Not Important



#4 You Don't Measure



#5 Don't Want Your Life Be Like A Roller Coaster?



#6 You Think Everything is Linear...



#7 Loneliness is Your Best Friend



#8 You Solve a Problem Nobody Cares about



#9 You Like to Attend Events!?



#10 So you have a CEO namecard...



#11 You always feeling I ain't lucky



#12 You Are Not Resourceful



#13 You Only Want to Do the Things You Like



#14 You Don't Exercise



#15 You Want Work Life Balance



#16 You Got Problem Hiring People



#17 You Got Problem Firing People



#18 You Lack Desire



#19 You Hate Selling



#20 You Need People to Motivate You



#21 You Think Work Hard is Enough...



#22 You Try to be Everything, for Everyone



#23 You Are Perfectionist



#24 You Don't Want to Learn New Things



#25 Whatever You Do, Can be and Will be Copied



#26 Do Nothing Wrong, Still Failed - Nokia CEO



#27 You Don't know what is Universal Sales Formula



#28 Most businesses fail



#29 In the end...



#30 #YouAreNotAsImportantAsYouThink



#31 This is LIFE



#32 You sure this is for you?




My primary message is, "Start Your Own Biz" is really not for everyone, and most importantly, you dont have to start your own business to make a meaning... nor to make money.

The key is to really understand who you are, what you are good at, what do you value, and then align what you want to achieve with your values - then you shall have a purpose-driven, fulfilling life with minimal regrets, and in the end, this is all that matters.