I was chatting with Jonathan Wegener, CEO of Timehop, last week. Timehop is a product that has always enjoyed almost unbelievably high retention and engagement, but previously struggled to hit hyper growth. After a ton of iteration over the last year suddenly they have started to grow quite quickly - breaking the top 50 in the US iOS Appstore, and the top 10 free overall in the UK.
Jonathan and his team have steered the product very well, so you can imagine there were a few congratulations in order. But, partly as a testament to the way Jonathan thinks, we spent a lot less time talking about how good growth is and a lot more about the right way to push going forward.
You see, some three months ago Jonathan set a big hairy goal of growing 10x. You know those moments, when you gather the team and say, “I know this sounds impossible but we need to find a way to get to this crazy place in a pretty short time frame.”
Now, I don’t know how his team took it, but I know that when I’ve set a goal like this with a team there is a really fine balance to be walked. On the one hand a single BIG FUCKING GOAL is bound to get their attention and feels exciting. On the other hand, you have to make the more skeptical folks on your team actually believe there is a chance it’s possible or they will think you’ve lost it.
Despite some probable skepticism, Jonathan did set that crazy goal, and then in less than three months they actually hit it! So the big question is “what now!”. The analogy I would paint is that you spend all this time, months or years, trying to push this big boulder called growth from the top of a hill. And you are trying every damn trick you can hear about or think of to get this damn thing to move. And then suddenly, sometimes, the boulder finally moves!
This moment is when you find out just how much drive you have in yourself, and how much you have recruited for the right kind of drive in your team. The drive isn’t just for when you are in “The Struggle” it’s for when you are in “Win More” mode. It’s that push to win a Game 7 in a long basketball playoff series, and then pick yourself back up, and despite what Nate Silver says, keep pushing and defy the odds again.
In times like these there are two natural instincts: a) it’s working, don’t fuck it up, b) take a quick breath to recover. Continue reading "When you hit your Big Fucking Goal"