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John Lam's Blog


I like to listen to podcasts during my morning job as an Uber driver for my kids. Today was Andrew Chen being interviewed by Tim Ferris, and in the first 15 minutes there were two wonderful anecdotes from it.

The first is My Life in Advertising which describes some of the origins for common advertising techniques today. One I loved was the story around the invention of the coupon which helped to solve the chicken-and-egg problem that product people had at the turn of the century. Retailers wouldn't stock your product because customers were not asking for it. But customers wouldn't ask for it if they didn't see it on the store shelves. So Claude Hopkins invented the coupon - and ran ads in the local newspaper. Then he would go around to all the different retailers to stock the product and tell them that about the coupon in a future edition of the newspaper and how they would have angry customers trying to redeem the coupon if they didn't buy some stock of the product. Demand generation!

My Life in Advertising Book

The second was how Sean Ellis in the early days of SV startups would go around talking to young founders and explain how he could help them "with their marketing". The negative connotations around the word would invariably send the wrong impression about the work that he really did, which was helping companies grow. So he invented the term "growth hacking" to describe what he does. Brillaint. #

Feature idea: add an last updated (human readable time) byline to the top of the blog. #

Andrew Chen has a blog of sorts, which is now called a "newsletter" these days. For his job as a VC, it's all about the deal flow and writing content helps to attract deal flow. What's cool is that he's been doing it since 2005. A complete list of his essays. #

Shreyas Doshi is one of my favorite people on Twitter, and one that has earned a spot in my TweetDeck columns (I don't use algorithmic feeds for my own sanity). He recently started writing in public about his idea about different types of people in organizations, which led to this excellent summary by Sam Higham:

If I'm honest with myself, I've been in every one of these roles over my career. The other important observation is that a team needs a mix of these people too! #

I cannot resist a great Feynmann story, and this one by Paul Stenhardt on What Impossible Meant to Richard Feynmann was a great story! Impossible to Feynmann is a compliment. Stupid is something applied not just to others but to himself as well.