The most important metrics are impossible to measure

The most important metrics are impossible to measure.

Of course, this doesn't mean nothing should be measured. And it certainly doesn't mean we can't gather important insights by measuring the things that can be measured. Avoiding the important work of measuring the measurable is neglect indeed.

But the very most important things, they cannot be measured.

How do you measure delight? How do you measure the number of people that signed up because of the one rabid fan that can't stop talking about you?

In a world where everyone is inundated with everything, how do you measure the impact of a billboard that sparks brand recognition while listening to a podcast sponsorship which reminds you to google something which causes you to click on an ad?

The truth is that now more than ever, insights are what matters.

Deep domain knowledge, the ability to weave things together and an ability to create solutions to problems that other people don't know exist are valuable precisely because they require insight.

The other thing to keep in mind is that 'not measuring' something doesn't mean 'neglect'. It means approaching something from a different angle. Maybe it means instead of doing a survey of customers about a feature, you have two in-depth conversations with your longest customers.

In a world where more things are becoming more measurable, I think it's wise to take a step back and think about the that which cannot be measured, and think about the kinds of inspiration they can provide.

Oh no, it worked!

The only thing scarier than failing is succeeding. (Note that I said scarier, not worse.) Because every success takes you to the next level. There's no finish line, the stakes just keep getting higher.

Now that it worked, now what? There are real people counting on you now. Your investors expect a return now. Your employees are buying houses.

You're not experimenting, you're executing. 

If you go down, real businesses stop. 

You matter.

Now what?

This is the idea that pays for the bad ones. This is the one that justifies your philosophy. And it's success will enable more success, or so you think.

It worked. 

But it's not done.

Now what?

The tools I use every day as a web developer

As web developers, we use so many different tools everyday. We can easily forget about everything we depend on. In the spirit of the new year, I want to take a moment to recognize all of the great products and projects which help me be the best developer I can be.

There's a saying out there, "You're only as good as your tools." (1) (2) This rings true in many different professions and in life. Tools that make you better at what you do are generally a great investment - typically risk free.

Here are my favorites. I use these every day, if not, every week.

The mind as a lever

I was having to talk with a good friend of mine last night about business, the things we work on and when we work on them.

We started on the topic because he was explaining how he's been waking up early lately, and as a result it's easier for him to work on the things he thinks are the most important, and that they get his freshest mind with less interruption.

Beyond this, what we started realizing, and we we were using Tula and it's growth as an example, is that in order to accomplish something important and significant, you do need to believe that you can do it. But our minds require ourselves to provide a certain amount of evidence that something can be achieved before we can truly believe that some other step can be achieved.

This was a fascinating conversation to me because the implication is that if you can truly believe something is possible, then you are probably more able to achieve those things. Then, once you are able to achieve an initial set of 'things', the sooner that you can believe greatness is possible, which in turn makes it more  likely that greatness happens. This process creates a positive feedback loop because as you start seeing more evidence to the potential greatness, it in turn makes the realization of said greatness more likely.

But there were two things that kept running through my head that I'm still thinking about about and somewhat troubled by. The first is thinking about the mind as a sort of lever, and that there is a certain amount of training we can do to our brains. In the same way that you can change the fulcrum on a diving board to get a different spring, so too can our thoughts can have an impact on what we are able to achieve.

But just like you can move the fulcrum on a diving board so much that you actually miss the bounce, we can also be delusional. The problem is that it's not so easy to differentiate between big ambitions and delusions of grandeur, especially when it's all happening in our own brains.

So it seems to me if the mind is a lever, the most important thing we can do is figure out where to place the fulcrum.

Podcast Episode 18: Regularly Scheduled Momentum

In our newest episode of the podcast I'm joined by Nate Kontny, the new CEO of Highrise. Nate and I talk about business, software, writing and a host of other topics including the future of Highrise.

Nate's a very talented software developer, a superb writer, has founded multiple companies, worked on the Obama for America campaign and is now running the newest company to spin out of Basecamp. It's interesting to hear Nate's story, how dots connect and how he's ultimately found himself in a situation he had in some ways been setting an intention towards.

Thanks to Nate for joining me again, and as always you can listen to the show below, or by subscribing in iTunes.