February 15

Yoga Poses for Non-Flexible People - Health.com

These yoga poses are perfect for beginners looking [...]

12 Yoga Poses For People Who Aren't Flexible

Gentle poses and helpful modifications that are perfect for beginners and those who lack flexibility.

Flexibility 101

So, you say you're not flexible? Join the club. Many factors can contribute to a less-than-bendy body, from genetics to the weather outside.

Age and gender also play a role, as men and older people tend to be less flexible than the young and females. But that doesn't mean you should rule out yoga, says Chrissy Carter, creator of Beginning Yoga by Gaiam ($10; amazon.com) and a NYC-based yoga instructor. Carter says these moves will help you feel calmer, sleep better, and yes, get more flexible.

Hold each position for 5 to 10 breaths. Seated poses can be held for longer, as long as you feel comfortable.

Benefits of yoga

Many people avoid yoga because they're not flexible, but Carter says they are the very ones who should take up the practice! Yoga increases concentration, strengthens muscles, dials down stress, and can give you better posture.

Before you get started: Remember to maintain a smooth and even breath throughout the poses and don’t hold any pose longer than you’re physically able. You can increase the length and deepness of each pose with practice. One sign that you held a pose for too long is that you don't have enough energy to come out of the position with grace and integrity.

Mountain Pose or "Tadasana"

This pose seems so simple, but it is the basic template for all the other postures. It's a welcoming way to begin connecting with the breath and beginning a yoga practice.

How to do it: Stand tall with your feet together, perhaps with your big toes touching, eyes closed. If you’re stiff, separate your feet slightly. Let your arms rest at your sides, with fingers together.

Modification: If standing is too much of a challenge, lay on your back with the soles of your feet pressed up against a wall. You’ll feel like you’re standing on the floor, but your lower back will get a slight stretch.

Child's Pose or "Balasana"

This incredibly basic move is a resting pose you can stay in for up to a few minutes.

How to do it: Start with your knees and tops of your feet on the floor with the feet together and touching. With your knees apart, rest your belly and chest between the legs. Place your head on the floor, and stretch the arms out in front of you.

Modification: If your head doesn’t reach the floor you can use a block or pillow to rest it on.

Watch the video: Child's Pose

Downward-Facing Dog or "Adho Mukha Svanasana"

This pose is challenging for beginners, but you can make it easier by increasing the distance between your feet.

How to do it: With feet hip-width apart, hinge forward at the waist and press your flat palms into the ground, hips in the air. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart and the arms, shoulders and back should line up in a straight, diagonal line. The hands should be at the front of your mat, and toes should face forward near the back of the mat. At any time, you can take a break by resting in child’s pose, and then come back into down dog again.

Modification: For beginners, you can bend your knees to keep the spine long and move some of the body’s weight into the legs.

Chair Pose or "Utkatasana"

This is a symmetrical pose, meaning both sides of your body will be moving in and out of the pose at the same time. It heats you up and strengthens the legs.

How to do it: Stand with your feet together or hip-width apart if you’re stiff. Bend your knees (like you’re sitting in a chair) while raising the arms up alongside your ears.

Modification: Chair pose can be challenging, so feel free to move out of the pose and into mountain pose on alternating breaths. This also makes it more dynamic.

Tree Pose or "Vrksasana"

This is a one-legged balancing pose. The pose builds confidence and can help to center the mind. It's not easy to think about your stress when you're balancing on one leg!

How to do it: Stand on one leg and bring your foot up to your ankle, shin, or thigh depending on your flexibility. You can put a hand on the wall for balance or even stand with your back against a wall. If you feel very centered, lift your arms into the air to create "branches" for your tree.

Shavasana

Think doing nothing is easy? For many of us, especially those who haven’t tried yoga before, the concept of doing nothing is actually very challenging. This pose is both calming and grounding, and you can use it to cool down.

How to do it: In this pose, close the eyes and attempt to just relax the body while lying flat on your back. Lie with your legs about hip-width apart and rest the arms at about a 45 degree angle to the torso, palms facing up. Allow your limbs to completely relax.

Trainer tip: If you need more space for the lower back, you can place a folded blanket under the knees, which will help to lengthen the lower back. If you’re feeling stressed, placing blankets over the pelvis can help relax the body and the mind.

Bridge Pose or "Setu Bandha Sarvangasana"

Like in chair pose, you can move in and out of bridge on alternating breaths, or hold the pose, if you’re able to. This energizing move opens the whole front of the body; the hips, abdomen, and chest will all be flexed.

How to do it: Laying flat on the floor, bend the knees with feet flat on the floor, knees pointing up to the ceiling, arms alongside your body. Press into your arms, with your feet remaining on the ground, and move the hips away from the floor, opening your chest.

Modification: Hold onto your mat with both hands, which gives you the leverage to turn the arms, so your palms are facing up. Shimmy the arms under the back, while maintaining an arched back, and open your chest. If you’re more open, you may find you can clasp the hands underneath the back with fingers laced together.

Locust Pose or "Salabhasana"

This back bend is extremely accessible for beginners. It’s energizing and heating, but it strengthens all the muscles of the back. This pose is perfect for improving posture, and for many of us with weak upper back muscles (largely due to desk jobs) it works the upper back muscles.

How to do it: Lie on the belly and inhale while raising everything off the floor—arms, legs, and chest. Palms should face the floor, while you focus on keeping your neck long and extending the head up and away from the chest. You can also clasp your hands behind your back when you lift up your limbs, which will create a deeper opening for the chest and shoulders.

Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose or "Viparita Karani"

Carter says after a long day of being on her feet, 5-8 minutes of laying in this cooling pose makes her feel like a brand new person. It also improves circulation.

How to do it: Lie on your back and walk your legs up a flat wall. Your legs should be straight and the end of your back should meet the wall. If needed, place a pillow under your lower back for added support.

Trainer tip: Sometimes when you’re new to this position you can experience tingling in your legs. If you feel that, ride your legs down the wall, pull your knees to your chest and feel a stretch, then you can stretch your feet back up the wall.

Modification: With your knees close to your chest, open the legs so the knees go out in opposite directions. The soles of your feet should touch. This stretches the inner thighs and groin.

Watch the video: Legs Up a Wall

Warrior 2 or "Virabhadrasana II"

This pose strengthens the legs; it’s heating and it helps to open the inner thighs.

How to do it: In this standing pose, you step your feet wide apart, about a leg’s distance apart. Turn your right leg out 90 degrees, and then angle your left toes in just slightly. Take your arms out to the side, to be level with the floor and then you bend your right knee so that it stacks on top of your ankle. Make a square with that right knee and hold the pose. Then, repeat for the opposite side.

Modification: You can come in and out of the position with each breath if it’s too difficult to hold.

Wide-legged Standing Forward Bend or "Ardha Uttanasana"

This forward bend stretches the hamstrings and the inner thighs.

How to do it: Spread the feet apart, about a leg’s distance. With your quads engaged, hinge forward at your hips with a flat back. Place your hands on the floor, if you can’t reach the floor, use blocks to hold onto, or even use the back of a couch or coffee table to hold onto if you don’t have blocks accessible. If your legs are tight, your back will be harder to straighten; placing your hands on something will keep your back flat.

Plank Pose

This core-strengthening move is great for beginners. It can be done with the knees on the ground, or off the ground for those who are more advanced.

How to do it: On your mat, get into a stance similar to that of a push up, but place your forearms together and down into the mat. Keep your body still, straight, and elevated about 3-4 inches from the mat. Think about drawing the abdomen into the lower back. Don’t sink into your joints, but lift up and suspend yourself out of gravity. Hold this pose, or come out of it in between breaths if it’s too difficult to hold.

Thread the Needle

This pose gets its name because it looks like you’re taking your arms through the eye of a needle. Carter loves teaching this pose to beginners and it’s great for tighter students. The back is supported, and for extra neck support you can put a pillow behind the neck.

How to do it: Lie on your back and bring your knees up so they form a 90 degree angle with the knees pointing toward your head. Cross your right ankle over the left thigh. Clasp the hands behind your left knee and pull the left leg toward you. This will stretch the right buttocks and the left hip. Then, repeat on the other side.

February 15

Yoga Postures • Yoga Basics: Yoga Poses, Meditation, History, Philosophy

Asana is defined as “posture or pose;” [...]

The above main categories of yoga poses can also be categorized into the yoga pose types below. You can also filter by these posture types on the above main pose category pages.

Energetic Effect: Energizing
Physical Effect: Strengthens Back & Core, Opens Chest

Energetic Effect: Invigorating
Physical Effect: Strengthens Arms & Legs

Energetic Effect: Stabilizing
Physical Effect: Strengthens Core Muscles

Energetic Effect: Calming
Physical Effect: Stretches hamstrings & back muscles

Energetic Effect: Surrendering
Physical Effect: Opens hips

Energetic Effect: Letting Go
Physical Effect: Stretches back muscles
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Check out our yoga books: Yoga for Beginners takes you through all the basics of practicing yoga and then teaches you the poses in the context of a yoga practice sequence. Yoga Class guides you through eight lessons to learn 30 of the most commonly used poses while incorporating yogic philosophy and principles of alignment.
To get the most out of our site, we suggest you take some time to explore before jumping into the practice. Browse our yoga 101 section for general info on the history and types of yoga, then start exploring asanas the physical postures used in hatha yoga. Remember to breathe and always start your yoga practice with a brief meditation. If you are new to yoga, please read our Yoga for Beginner's page
Ahimsa, the yogic practice of non violence must be adhered to when engaging in the practice of hatha yoga. Respect your body's limitations and inner wisdom, if something feels wrong or dangerous, please do not do it. Please consult your health care practitioner before starting a yoga, pranayama or other exercise program.
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February 15

Top 100 Yoga Blogs


February 15

Yoga Poses for Beginners | Fitness Magazine

New to yoga? Try these basic yoga poses to get str [...]

You are here

Yoga Poses for Beginners

  • Mountain Pose

    • Stand tall with feet together, shoulders relaxed, weight evenly distributed through your soles, arms at sides.
    • Take a deep breath and raise your hands overhead, palms facing each other with arms straight. Reach up toward the sky with your fingertips.
  • Downward Dog

    • Start on all fours with hands directly under shoulders, knees under hips.
    • Walk hands a few inches forward and spread fingers wide, pressing palms into mat.
    • Curl toes under and slowly press hips toward ceiling, bringing your body into an inverted V, pressing shoulders away from ears. Feet should be hip-width apart, knees slightly bent.
    • Hold for 3 full breaths.
  • Warrior

    • Stand with legs 3 to 4 feet apart, turning right foot out 90 degrees and left foot in slightly.
    • Bring your hands to your hips and relax your shoulders, then extend arms out to the sides, palms down.
    • Bend right knee 90 degrees, keeping knee over ankle; gaze out over right hand. Stay for 1 minute.
    • Switch sides and repeat.
  • Tree Pose

    • Stand with arms at sides.
    • Shift weight onto left leg and place sole of right foot inside left thigh, keeping hips facing forward.
    • Once balanced, bring hands in front of you in prayer position, palms together.
    • On an inhalation, extend arms over shoulders, palms separated and facing each another. Stay for 30 seconds.
    • Lower and repeat on opposite side.
    • Make it easier: Bring your right foot to the inside of your left ankle, keeping your toes on the floor for balance. As you get stronger and develop better balance, move your foot to the inside of your left calf.
  • Bridge Pose

    Stretches chest and thighs; extends spine

    • Lie on floor with knees bent and directly over heels.
    • Place arms at sides, palms down. Exhale, then press feet into floor as you lift hips.
    • Clasp hands under lower back and press arms down, lifting hips until thighs are parallel to floor, bringing chest toward chin. Hold for 1 minute.
    • Make it easier: Place a stack of pillows underneath your tailbone.
  • Photo by Susan Pittard

    Triangle Pose

    • Extend arms out to sides, then bend over your right leg.
    • Stand with feet about 3 feet apart, toes on your right foot turned out to 90 degrees, left foot to 45 degrees.
    • Allow your right hand to touch the floor or rest on your right leg below or above the knee, and extend the fingertips of your left hand toward the ceiling.
    • Turn your gaze toward the ceiling, and hold for 5 breaths.
    • Stand and repeat on opposite side.
  • Seated Twist

    Stretches shoulders, hips, and back; increases circulation; tones abdomen; strengthens obliques

    • Sit on the floor with your legs extended.
    • Cross right foot over outside of left thigh; bend left knee. Keep right knee pointed toward ceiling.
    • Place left elbow to the outside of right knee and right hand on the floor behind you.
    • Twist right as far as you can, moving from your abdomen; keep both sides of your butt on the floor. Stay for 1 minute.
    • Switch sides and repeat.
    • Make it easier: Keep bottom leg straight and place both hands on raised knee. If your lower back rounds forward, sit on a folded blanket.
  • Photo by Chris Fanning

    Cobra

    • Lie facedown on the floor with thumbs directly under shoulders, legs extended with the tops of your feet on the floor.
    • Tighten your pelvic floor, and tuck hips downward as you squeeze your glutes.
    • Press shoulders down and away from ears.
    • Push through your thumbs and index fingers as you raise your chest toward the wall in front of you.
    • Relax and repeat.
  • Photo by Chris Fanning

    Pigeon Pose

    Targets the piriformis (a deep gluteal muscle)

    • Begin in a full push-up position, palms aligned under shoulders.
    • Place left knee on the floor near shoulder with left heel by right hip.
    • Lower down to forearms and bring right leg down with the top of the foot on the floor (not shown).
    • Keep chest lifted to the wall in front of you, gazing down.
    • If you're more flexible, bring chest down to floor and extend arms in front of you.
    • Pull navel in toward spine and tighten your pelvic-floor muscles; contract right side of glutes.
    • Curl right toes under while pressing ball of foot into the floor, pushing through your heel.
    • Bend knee to floor and release; do 5 reps total, then switch sides and repeat.
  • Crow Pose

    • Get into downward dog position (palms pressed into mat, feet hip-width apart) and walk feet forward until knees touch your arms.
    • Bend your elbows, lift heels off floor, and rest knees against the outside of your upper arms. Keep toes on floor, abs engaged and legs pressed against arms. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths.
  • Nick Cardillicchio

    Child's Pose

    • Sit up comfortably on your heels.
    • Roll your torso forward, bringing your forehead to rest on the bed in front of you.
    • Lower your chest as close to your knees as you comfortably can, extending your arms in front of you.
    • Hold the pose and breathe.
  • Your Beginner Yoga Flow

    Combine these moves for the perfect beginner's flow—just follow along with Nike master trainer Traci Copeland.

February 15

Yoga.com Poses

Yoga.com Poses
Yoga.com Poses
February 15

The Top 5 Yoga Blogs of 2016 | DoYogaWithMe.com

What makes a good yoga blog? Good, substantive con [...]

The Top 5 Yoga Blogs of 2016


What makes a good yoga blog?

Good, substantive content. I like a distracting bit of clickbait as much as the next person, but it helps to combine the fluff with the occasional sprinkling of deep thought. Oh, and easy on the product placement please.

Trustworthiness Are the post authors credible and not too flighty? This is the quality a yogic discussion has when it doesn’t rely too heavily on Venus ascending in the dominant house of Uranus in the aspect of Ganesh to convey some sense of spiritual gravitas. A good author tries not to be so open minded that her brain falls out.

Frequent posting. You’ve got to keep that blog fresh. Something we here at DoYogaWithMe are terrible at and hoping to improve. You may have noticed our own yoga blog isn’t in our top five and that’s not false humility.

There are other criteria but let’s keep it simple and work with these. In no particular order then, the top five yoga blogs of 2015:

1. Daily Cup of Yoga

A comfortable place to fill up on all things yoga. The cup of yoga appears to be not quite daily anymore, but there’s more than enough to keep my interest, and a large archive. The guest bloggers are good. There seems to be nothing but guest bloggers lately, however, which is possibly a sign that this popular blog is winding down.

  • Meatiness: 7
  • Trustworthiness: 8
  • Activity: 5
2. J. Brown Yoga

Definitely the highest density of interesting, original posts with lots of engagement in the comment threads as well. Mr. J. Brown is doing it right. This well-designed blog is easy on the eyes too. He has to be forgiven for posting only once a month recently. I’m sure he has a day job.

  • Meatiness: 10
  • Trustworthiness: 10
  • Activity: 3
3. MindBodyGreen

More of a catch-all health and alt-living magazine than a yoga blog. We’ll just focus on the category, “yoga,” which is one subsection of the body in MindBodyGreen. Immediate points lost for the annoying newsletter pop-up. Why are pop ups back? We hated them the first time. Once you get past that you’ll be treated to a long list of low-cal content, but the thing is, there’s a ton of it. At least one new post per day. So if you’re addicted to yoga, and need a very regular fix, there may be something here for you.

  • Meatiness: 4
  • Trustworthiness: 8
  • Activity: 10
4. Rachel Yoga

Our very own Rachel Scott maintains a blog that’s noteworthy for its openness, humour and lively style. The blog is a window into Rachel’s soul as she explores life through yoga. It’s a different approach to yoga blogging and it works. But don’t take my not-so-objective word for it. Check it out for yourself.

  • Meatiness: 9
  • Trustworthiness: 10
  • Activity: 5
5. Yogadork

A few years ago The New York Times described Yogadork as “a kind of Gawker.com for yogis, the blog tiptoes the line where yoga intersects with pop culture.” Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Not sure. But, hey, maybe hearing what Ellen Degeneres has to say about yoga pants will brighten your day, and if so, then mission accomplished.

  • Meatiness: 2
  • Trustworthiness: 6
  • Activity: 7
February 15

Yoga Poses for Beginners

Build a foundation in yoga with these beginners&#0 [...]
February 15

Yoga Poses & Asanas - Basic to Advanced

Browse our extensive yoga pose library, with a vas [...]

Learn beginners' yoga poses with these step-by-step, in-depth instructions. Start with an understanding of proper alignment to reduce your risk of injury and build a safe foundation for more advanced asanas to come.

Yoga Poses

Poses by Anatomy

Asanas that work specific parts of your body, from your lower back to hamstrings + more

Browse Poses by Anatomy

Yogapedia

Beginner-to-advanced asana instruction, prep poses, modifications, sequences and video from our top yoga teachers

Browse Poses in Yogapedia
February 15

The 50 Best Yoga Blogs of 2016 | DOYOUYOGA

Finding your favorite yoga blog can be a daunting [...]

The 50 Best Yoga Blogs of 2016



Since the 80s, the ancient Indian discipline of yoga has been taking the western world by storm. Existing in many forms today, the controversies, complexities and communities that surround modern yoga are excellently reflected in the blogosphere. We’re excited to continue the annual tradition of nominating the best yoga blogs on the web.

This list celebrates what we all love about yoga today: the incredible diversity, the passion and hard work, and of course, the amazing yoga community. Along with a wealth of yoga pose and sequence guides, you’ll also find tips on Kundalini practice, Ayurveda advice, discussions on yoga politics, and even ideas for starting your own yoga blog.

There are blogs in here that will make you laugh, make you cry, motivate you to change your life, and inspire you to change the world. Just like a really good yoga class, right? The broad range of topics you’ll find in these blogs reflects the most important thing about yoga: that it’s for everyone!

With no further ado, and in no particular order, here are this year’s selections:

Curvy Yoga

Curvy Yoga trailblazer, Anne Guest-Jelley, has evolved her blog into podcast form this year, meaning you can now listen to her insights on yoga and life on the go!

Half Moon Yoga and Art

Adventurer, artist, writer and yoga teacher Hannah Faulkner combines her passions on Half Moon Yoga and Art. She draws inspiration from her surroundings to create beauty in a multitude of ways, making for an incredibly engaging blog.

Spirit Voyage

Come to Spirit Voyage for all things Kundalini.

With insights and information on yoga, Kundalini practice and meditation, this is a great resource if you want to dive right into the tradition.

Daily Cup of Yoga

A regular favorite, Daily Cup of Yoga‘s inspiring posts tend to feature real life wisdoms about the impact of yoga on and off the mat.

The books section is also a great resource for the yogi readers out there!

Yogi Times

Not a fan of regular news sites? Try the Yogi Times instead! Art, recipe and travel articles are complemented by interviews and yoga videos, to give you a broad insight into the yoga world.

Tara Stiles

This down-to-earth blog from the founder of Strala Yoga, Tara Stiles, is essentially a wonderful and simple guide to feeling great, with healthy recipes, yoga tips, and wonderful little life hacks. Enjoyable reading for all yoga practitioners as well as teachers.

The Journey Junkie

Allie Flavio (a.k.a The Journey Junkie) shares her thoughts on yoga, travel, and lifestyle, augmented by some gorgeous photos. With tips on blogging and general life goals, this blog really is a place for true inspiration.

Yoga Basics

Anatomy, controversy, yoga news, health, fashion and more: Yoga Basics is a fantastic blog that will help you keep up-to-date on the latest in yoga trends. We love the focus on weaving yogic principles into everyday life.

Rachel Brathen

One of Instagram’s favorite yogis, Rachel Brathen spends her time teaching yoga in her Caribbean home of Aruba and at retreats around the world, as well as inspiring social change through her non-profit, 109 World.

Follow her adventures on her blog!

Elena Brower

Elena Brower‘s personal posts and beautiful poetry are deeply moving. Combined with unique insights into the professional yoga world and useful yoga guidance, this blog is simply a lovely internet home for any yogi.

The Yoga Lunchbox

What began as the story of one yogi’s personal journey has transformed into a great all-round yoga blog. Featuring classic texts and stories from around the yoga world, The Yoga Lunchbox is a wonderful resource that has a strong community feel.

It’s All Yoga, Baby

Roseanne Harvey’s informed and thought-provoking blog, It’s All Yoga, Baby, aims to discuss all things yoga, and the relationship between yoga and popular culture. Her writing critiques many of the issues facing today’s yoga community with humor and intelligence.

Marianne Elliott

Marianne Elliot‘s work as a yoga teacher and human rights activist shines through the well written and engaging pieces that populate this blog. Well worth a visit for yogis who want to make the world a better place.

Daily Downward Dog

Although the articles on Daily Downward Dog are interesting for everyone, the blog is geared towards yogis over 40. There is also a strong focus on relieving back pain and making yoga accessible for all.

Starr Struck

Mary Catherine Starr‘s frequent updates feature yoga, art, recipes, music, and lots of other lovely little life things. If you’re in need of a gratitude reminder, check out her “Simple Joys of the Week” posts!

The Yoga Blog

The Yoga Blog is a fantastic platform for yogis from all walks of life to share their experiences. With the aim of inspiring community and play, they have huge range of topics to motivate you to join the conversation. Plus, their charity donation of 50% of all advertising revenue shows that they walk the walk, too!

Little Flower Yoga

If you want to find ideas, tips and stories relating to yoga for children, then visit the Little Flower Yoga blog! This invaluable resource goes well beyond anecdote, with overviews of research and book reviews.

Om Gal

In yoga teacher Rebecca Pacheco‘s blog, you’ll find fashion tips alongside yoga tidbits, as well insights into her daily life! Great for the more athletic yogi.

J. Brown Yoga

J Brown is an acclaimed teacher who promotes a more traditional, introspective, and breath-focused style of yoga. His honest and interesting writing has been featured widely: when you read this blog, you’ll see why!

Yoga for Healthy Aging

This regularly updated blog does what it says on the tin: with lots of information about the effects of yoga on the body and brain, Yoga for Healthy Aging supports readers to maintain their health for years to come.

Wild Places Yoga

Articles on the Wild Places Yoga blog are sure to help readers connect their yoga practice with the natural world. The beautiful photos will have you heading to the nearest park in no time, mat in hand!

Yoga Journal

As one of the biggest yoga resources out there, it’s no surprise that Yoga Journal has a stellar blog. With info about everything from meditation to yoga tips for moms, and including guest articles from some very prominent yogis, this is a blog every yogi should know!

Whole Life Yoga

Tracey’s writing on Whole Life Yoga demonstrates how you can use yoga to impact the lives of those around you: there’s a real sense of yoga community in this warm-hearted blog.

Yoga Modern

“Ancient Wisdom, Modern Perspective” is the tagline for Yoga Modern: check it out for updates on culture, art, health and more, through the lens of yoga. Bonus points for not being afraid to discuss serious global issues.

Yoga Minded

If you teach yoga to teens, want to inspire your own teens to start a practice, or simply want to know more, Yoga Minded is a great place to start!

Yoga Mint

Hari Bhajan, long-time student of Yogi Bhajan, offers tips on living the (Kundalini) yoga life with grace on Yoga Mint. The blog has been revived after a 3-year hiatus, so keep checking back for more musings!

Ashley Josephine

This super-helpful blog gives sound advice on how yoga can help you to work through a number of life issues. Practical yoga tips and videos also make Ashley‘s blog a fantastic all rounder.

Rachel Yoga

Rachel Scott mixes comprehensive yoga sequences with insights into heartfelt life-advice in this well-written blog.

Spoiled Yogi

Our favorite thing about this blog is that it’s refreshingly to-the-point. Written by a pre- and postnatal yoga teacher, Erica, Spoiled Yogi is a fantastic resource for new moms and pregnant yogis.

Yoga Spy

Yoga Spy provides a timely spotlight on yoga culture in North America, combining personal stories with wider musings and questions about the modern yoga community.

Yoga by Candace

Candace’s blog is perfect for the modern yogi: she mixes up yoga tips and sequences with fitness and recipe guides, in a way that’s really easy to identify with. Don’t miss her “Confessions of a Yoga Teacher” articles, for a sneak peek into the teaching world!

One With Life

Covering everything from chakras to yoga travel and meditation to creativity, Stephanie‘s blog can give you information and inspiration for a well-rounded yogic lifestyle. Bonus points for posting articles so regularly!

Silvia Mordini

Passionate and positive, Silvia‘s warmth shines through in her blog posts. With years of teaching under her belt, the articles demonstrate a depth of knowledge and experience, with a focus on happiness.

Yoga with Kassandra

Jam packed with yoga sequences and pose tips, Yoga with Kassandra is an amazing blog for yogis who want to maintain a regular practice. Kassandra also writes about fashion and fitness, with some tasty veggie recipes thrown in too!

Adam Hocke

Mixing yoga sequence podcasts with written posts gives Adam‘s blog a really fresh feel! His frequently updated blog features loads of helpful tips on poses, alignment, and meditation.

Alive in the Fire

Alive in the Fire has lots of self-love and all-round love going on in this life-affirming blog, as well as some fantastic photos. If you’re a bookworm, check out the reviews!

Whole Yoga Ayurveda

As a teacher at Stanford Medical School’s Health Improvement Program, Ananta definitely knows what she’s talking about! Follow her for practical and spiritual Ayurveda advice.

Gigi Yogini

Gigi Yogini, a.k.a Brigitte Kouba, writes honest, charming and funny articles about her experiences as a yogi, a yoga teacher and now as a mom-to-be! Visit this blog when you’re in need of some positive affirmation.

Yoga Dragon Den

Articles on this blog are lengthy but intelligently written, including musings about Ashtanga, philosophy, and chess, amongst much more. With posts dating back to 2010, there are lots of interesting ideas for the deep-thinking yogi here on Yoga Dragon Den!

Elephant Journal

The much-loved Elephant Journal goes beyond yoga to inspire readers to live mindfully in all areas of their life, and have an awesome time to boot! Articles range from conscious consumerism to enlightened education, so if you’re interested in leading a life that positively impacts the people and planet around you, then this one’s for you.

Sassy Yogi

‘Cause who doesn’t need a little more sass in their lives?! Sassy Yogi‘s beautiful pictures and an easy-to-read layout make this Singapore-dwelling yogi’s blog a favorite. Don’t miss her “Weekly Intentions” posts for some grounding inspo!

Anacostia Yogi

The inspiring woman behind Anacostia Yogi is Sariane Leigh, a yoga teacher who has dedicated her life to teach wellness in her neighborhood and tackle inequalities in health. Check out her blog for an insight into her life and simple tips on living well.

Karma Spot

If you’re lucky enough to have a family that’s also into yoga, then Karma Spot is perfect for you. Articles include interesting ideas for both parents and children, as well as fun and empowering activities for the whole family. Enjoy!

Grimmly 2007

You may not guess it by the domain name, but if you’re into Ashtanga, you should definitely check out this informative blog. Black and white pictures give the articles on Grimmly 2007 a classic and studious feel.

Yogi Crystal

Yogi Crystal discusses yoga, life, wine and running, and she’s right: what else is there? Follow her personal journey in this personable and light-hearted blog.

Chelsea Loves Yoga

Chelsea works with marginalized populations, with the aim of using yoga to engender community. Her inspiring work is reflected on her blog. Check out the “Yogis in the Community” section for interviews with some excellent teachers.

Jennifer S. White

Yoga mommas will find it hard not to identify with this lovable, passionate blogger. Jennifer‘s musings on being a mother and a woman are generously sprinkled with humor and warmth.

Bram Levinson

Bram Levinson‘s blog is an introspective reflection on life and yoga. His powerful writing will inspire any yogi to be grateful for what they have, and to make the most of their abilities to change the lives of themselves and those around them.

Body Divine Yoga

You’ll find well-articulated and intelligent discussion here on Body Divine Yoga, comparing modern yoga to its traditional and spiritual roots with a feminist slant. If you want to find a blog that critiques and dissects the issue of the “yoga body,” as well as other ideas in yoga politics, this is for you!

Big Sky Yoga Retreats

We’ve featured this awesome retreat before, but have you checked out their blog? Get a taste of the wild side when you read about the cowgirl yogi lifestyle, and don’t forget to check out how they help women with breast cancer.

We hope you’ve found your new favorite yoga blog, or are inspired you to start your own. Let us know which one you like best, and if you think we missed one, share it with us in the comments!


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February 14

The Ultimate Guide To Launching On Product Hunt

What I didn't do :-D

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Today is a guest post from Ovi Negrean, Chief nugget at nugget, who was kind enough to have us feature an epic article of his on how to absolutely crush it on Product Hunt. If you want to find out how Ovi managed to hack his way to the top 5 of Product Hunt despite being relatively unknown then strap yourselves in because you’re in for a fantastic ride.

Table Of Fun and Useful Contents

1// The ultimate guide of launching on Product Hunt (even if you’re nobody in the online space)

You only have one chance of launching on Product Hunt. Don’t you want to get it right?

YOLO! You Only Launch Once!

So what is Product Hunt and why should you care?

Why are the innovators so important?

But I don’t even have commenting rights on Product Hunt – how can I then do a successful Product Hunt launch?

So let me teach you how.

The truth about launching on Product Hunt

What the founders of Product Hunt won’t tell you

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read) – Conclusions

2 // How to launch on Product Hunt even if you’re Nobody in the online world – The launch build-up

How do you get into the right Slack chats?

ABH – Always Be Helpful

Be Genuinely Helpful and get to know people.

TACTIC: Build an email list months before you launch.

Finding your hunter and why it matters?

Why do you need a good hunter?

Finding your hunter

So you have a hunter – what do they need from you?

Getting your website ready for the Product Hunt crowd

At what time should you get hunted?

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read) – Conclusions

Get The Ultimate Guide to Launching on Product Hunt Checklist!

3 // The Product Hunt battle is won by preparing – The week before the launch

Gathering your army of soldiers

How do you fill this list?

Where else can you find people who would upvote you?

Preparing your messages to your soldiers

Prepare your email newsletter.

Prepare the other collaterals

The Product Hunt Algorithm – and what you should know about it.

Growth Hack Tactic: Thunderclap.it

How should you use Thunderclap for your Product Hunt launch?

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read) – Conclusions

 

4 // The Truth about launching on Product Hunt. The Launch Day..

So now that you’re on the homepage of Product Hunt – it’s Showtime!

What comes next is a list of well planned attacks, sniper shots and guerilla tactics that will make you stay on top of Product Hunt.

Stop. Message time.

How many messages should you send?

Comments on your Product Hunt page

Launch day – 2nd part of the day.

It’s time for the Guerilla Tactics

Think 10x

You ran out of friends – time to make new ones.

Make sure you follow up

The launch arsenal

After the launch

Our numbers

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read) – Conclusions

Checklist – The Ultimate Guide of Launching on PH

Final Conclusions

What’s nugget?

1 // The ultimate guide to launching on Product Hunt (even if you’re nobody in the online space)

You only have one chance of launching on Product Hunt. Don’t you want to get it right?

I finished my first Product Hunt launch in the top 5 even though nobody in the online space knew me. In this epic guide I’ll show you how I did it and how you can do it too.

I WON’T be able to help you if you have a lousy product, if you’re a douche or if you’re not willing to put in the work. Other than that, you’re set to be on top of PH, as I was.

[NOTE: This was initially published on my Medium as a multi-article series about the launch of nugget]I have other growth hacks and some tools to help you with Product Hunt domination in the making, so if you haven’t already, make sure you subscribe to my newsletter to get them]

YOLO! You Only Launch Once!

… so make sure you do it right and make it count!

People launch products all the time. Over 20,000 apps are launched each month. With such steep competition, there’s a massive fight for getting users and there are countless of products that don’t “make it.”

Build it — but they won’t come. Unless you promote the sh!t out of it. And the launch is the perfect opportunity for that.

People like to discover new things more than they like to discover old things. So make sure you take full advantage of your launch and make it an exciting event

There are many ways you can launch a product, and launching on Product Hunt is just one of the many outlets.

So what is Product Hunt and why should you care?

You want your product to reach the masses. Your target masses. We all do.

But in order to get there, you must first understand how the product adoption curve works.

The product adoption curve is a process each product or service goes through. From Facebook, Uber, Slack, and even DVDs (remember those?) or socks (I hope you did remember these). Some companies go through some of these cycles faster than others and some die along the way because they fail to understand the adoption curve and to plan accordingly.

Uber would not have been the massive success it is today and the ginormous success it will become in the future if they did not understand the product adoption curve.

Uber started by focusing on a very specific market — the tech enthusiasts in San Francisco. Only by first acquiring the innovators as their customers were they able to expand as they did. Oh, and having hundreds of millions of dollars. But that’s just a small detail.

You have to do the same. No, not build a taxi app, launch it in San-Fran, get massive funding and take over the world. Do the same in your space. Unless you can do the taxi app thing and take over the world. Then do that.

Why are the innovators so important?

Because innovators are willing to test your product when it’s still in its infancy. They are OK with bugs and spartan features. But even more importantly, they share their findings with the world and if they like it, they will advocate your product.

The innovators are the ones people reach out to when they are in search of a specific solution to their problems. And when their printers aren’t working. But they tend not to like that.

So without having a solid base of innovators using your product, you’ll never reach the number of users or customers you want and are bound to fail.

Product Hunt is just that — a massive community of innovators and early adopters that can jumpstart your product. So if you want to launch a tech product or service you have to launch it on Product Hunt.

But I don’t even have commenting rights on Product Hunt. How can I do a successful Product Hunt launch?

Well, if you know what PH commenting rights are, you’re already ahead of most. 🙂

So let me teach you how.

In this guide I will show you how I got nugget to the top of Product Hunt, right behind PayPal.me, Flow (a promising team chat + PM tool) and Nest (from Google), without being known in the online world

I’ll show you all the tactics, tips, and tricks I used to get to the top and how you can do it too.

I’ll show you what I did well and what I did wrong, and how I almost screwed my whole launch.

I’ll show you numbers and facts.

In the end, all you’ll need to do to reach the top of PH are a solid strategy, willingness to hustle, and a good product

The truth about launching on Product Hunt

You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!

The truth is that unless you already have a massive community of followers, getting on top of Product Hunt will be a constant battle.

As with any war, if you want to win, you will have to gather troops, plan ahead and be willing to do whatever it takes. There will be some casualties, you might have to bend a few rules and make some sacrifices so that in the end you gather the spoils of war.

What the founders of Product Hunt won’t tell you

This is a (hopefully) educated guess based on my own experience, so take it with a grain of salt.

Product Hunt is now a large community, but it’s still mostly made out of innovators and early adopters. For them to reach the Early Majority, they need all the Makers to reach out to their friends who are on Twitter but not on Product Hunt.

For first-time users of Product Hunt, it’s not enough to send them to the PH homepage and tell them you’re featured. You will have to educate them on what Product Hunt is and how they can upvote.

And even though this is normally not allowed as per PH’s policy, it’s what they also need in order to grow further.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read) – Section Conclusions

  • Product Hunt is one of the best places for a new tech company to launch a product.
  • Its community of Innovators and Early Adopters is exactly what you need at the start of a project.
  • In order to reach the Top of Product Hunt you’ll need to be creative about some of the rules, and Product Hunt needs you to make their rules more flexible so they can grow as well.
  • In the next 3 sections I’ll show you exactly how I did it and how you can do it too.

What’s nugget
nugget is a highly visual app that helps you discoverremember and share the best content from books that make you better

2 // How to launch on Product Hunt even if you’re nobody in the online world – The launch build-up

You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want. – Zig Ziglar

I have bad news and good news. The bad news is that you need to know a lot of people in the online space for a successful Product Hunt launch. The good news is that anybody can launch on PH.

So if you don’t have a large network to support you, make sure you build your community at least three months before your planned launch.

What you’ll learn in this section:

  • Where to find the online communities that will help your launch
  • How to get in them and why it’s important to turn them into allies
  • Why email is still crucial for an online business

As I told you in the previous post, build it (only) and they won’t come. It’s the same with Product Hunt. Hunt it (only) and they won’t upvote.*

*Unless you have a great hunter or a killer product with awesome messaging.

So in order to get a lot of traction and support for your product early on, you’ll need some friends. It’s important to have a few influential friends as well as many other friends just like yourself.

Think of it this way:

It’s a constant battle to be among the Product Hunt Top 5. And in order to win battles, you need generals, but you also need a lot of soldiers.

Where can you recruit these soldiers and generals? Wherever they hang out.

Historically the people who make up the “online space” have moved around. They started on bulletin boards, then IRC, then forums, then Digg, Reddit, or Hacker News. But nowadays, I find that the easiest place to find them is in closed Facebook communities and, especially, on Slack chats.

Slack is the new cool chat platform in town. It’s the new, modern, and hip IRC. I feel like you can build any product nowadays with a combination of Slack + TypeForm + Stripe. So if you don’t know what Slack is, let me google that for you

TACTIC: Join many relevant Slack groups.

OK, so now that you know that Slack provides group chat for businesses or communities, and that if you’re in the right Slack groups you can hang out with the influencers whose blogs you’re reading, whose companies you are following or whose podcasts you’re listening to, the next question arises:

How do you get into the right Slack chats?

First thing’s first. You need to find it if you want to get in it. Luckily it’s gonna be easier than your first awkward experience. Yeah, you know which one I’m talking about. 😉

There are multiple websites that list different Slack teams (communities). Here are a couple: http://www.chitchats.co/ or http://www.slacklist.info/

Some of these communities are free and open, while others are closed, require an invite, or require paid access/membership.

Choose the communities you want to be a member of based on your interests. Don’t just join any community and start spamming people. A community I recommend is Startup Study Group. You can ask for a direct invite here: https://ssg-slack.herokuapp.com/

I am part of multiple communities, even one dedicated to Product Hunt only. Some of the communities I am part of include members like Jason Calacanis (from This Week in Startups), Andrew Warner (from Mixergy) or Erik Torenberg (from Product Hunt). And over the months I have had the occasion to chat with all of them.

Similarly, you can also find on Facebook groups based around different topics, people or companies.

So now that you’re in the right groups, it’s time to make friends.

ABH – Always Be Helpful

Making friends in online groups is the same as making friends in real life – Don’t be an awkward douche. Instead, be helpful, supportive and if you can, funny. But don’t be douche-funny.

It’s going to be important to build some rapport with top hunters and moderators. They sometimes hang out in these Slack chat rooms. Probably in multiple rooms at once.

Be genuinely helpful and get to know people.

Don’t be afraid to tell people what you’re working on, even show them if you can, or send them a beta invite. Do this and I guarantee you’ll raise an army willing to fight for you on the Product Hunt Top 5 battleground once the time comes.

This is all going to take a lot of time, but unless you really don’t like interacting with people, it won’t feel like work. And if you’re lucky, you’ll get to make some lifelong friends along the way. I know I have. (I’m looking at you, Mastermind ONE.)

TACTIC: Build an email list months before you launch.

Another crucial resource in the success of your launch and your company is building an email list. You think it’s an old and dead medium? That it was replaced by social media? It’s not, and it hasn’t. Email is still one of the backbones of the Internet and it’s not going away anytime soon. That’s why all the best marketers focus most on building their email lists.

There are countless articles written about building a list. So I will just redirect you to Email1K, one of the best ways to jumpstart your list-building activities. If you have any more questions after this, or want me to write about my experiences in list building, let me know.

I will, however, give you two tips to get the maximum impact from your email list when launching on Product Hunt.

As you should know by now, all you need for a Product Hunt upvote is a Twitter account. So:

Email Tip #1 – Buy the Social Profiles add-ons

I did this on MailChimp, but all major providers have similar features. It’s inexpensive and you’ll know exactly which of your email subscribers are on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. This way, you will be able to segment your list and craft a better message to the ones that already have a Twitter account.

Email Tip #2 – Teach them about Product Hunt

Product Hunt itself is a relatively new community, so lots of people may not have heard about it yet. If you have the time and you think it fits your email subscribers, educate them about Product Hunt and invite them to join it, so they can upvote you once the time has come. (I stole this tip form Florin. Thanks buddy.)

Finding your hunter and why it matters?

Fortune favors the prepared mind. – Louis Pasteur

When going into a battle, would you rather have an experienced general instead of a rookie soldier? Of course you would! That’s why it’s important to get the best hunter (the Product Hunt version of your general) to hunt you. Let me tell you how.

Why do you need a good hunter?

Having a good hunter (the person who will submit your product on Product Hunt) can mean winning half of the battle. It’s like having a B2 bomber start the battle for you.

This is because a hunter who has many followers on PH can jump-start your hunt day. When somebody submits a product, all the people following them will be notified either via email or via the site’s own notification system. So having a few thousand people know about your product as soon as it’s hunted can bring you a huge advantage.

This is why I suggest you get hunted by the best hunter you can get.

Finding your hunter

So where do you find him or her? A good place to start is: https://uberhunters.com/all

Here you’ll find a list of the most influential hunters. Find somebody who hunted similar products before, or who likes the space you’re in.

Another option is to find somebody you have some commonalities with — you have some common friends, you live in the same town, or for the people outside U.S., even the same continent can be a good commonality. People like to help others in their same tribe, so to speak.

And of course, it should be somebody who has a large and engaged following. Don’t fool yourself, on Product Hunt, size does matter.

Once you’ve made a top three list of people you would like to be hunted by, figure out the best way to contact them. Ideally, you’ve already interacted with them on Twitter, Facebook, Live events, or on one of the Slack groups I’ve told you about earlier.

Some might be easiest to contact via Twitter or Facebook message, others via Slack or email. With all the tools out there today, you should be able to find anybody’s email.

When reaching out to them, remember this:

  • They like to hunt good products and they too want to have the products they hunt be on top of Product Hunt. This is what will make them an even more influential hunter.
  • They are busy people, so be as concise as you can and be respectful of their time.
  • You’re a human (I hope), so act like one. Talk in a friendly, human way.

If you don’t get any response from the #1 hunter you targeted, give it a few days, one or two follow ups and then move to the next on your preferred hunter list.

Finding the ideal hunter might take some time, so make sure you start looking for them a few weeks before the hunt day.

An important factor you should take into account: not all hunters have instant posting rights. The top ones do, but if you can’t manage to get a top one, be aware of this. It means that even though your product will be posted on PH and you’ll get your PH link, the product won’t automatically show up on the homepage of PH, which is where you need it to be.

If your product does not show up on the homepage, tweet to @ProductHunt asking them if they can put you on the homepage. A PH moderator will have to do this.

So you have a hunter — what do they need from you?

You want your Product Hunt page to have clean messaging and showcase the best of your product. You know your product best, so I recommend creating a Hunter Kit.

The Hunter Kit saves the hunter time and puts your product in the best light. It should contain:

  • Name of the product (max 60 characters)
  • The URL you want to promote. If you have app URLs as well, put them here too
  • Tagline (max 60 characters)
  • The platforms your product runs on
  • Media – between 5 and 10 images showcasing different parts of your product. If you also have a YouTube video, that’s perfect
  • Tell them what goodies you’re preparing to give out to the Product Hunt community, if any

This being said, the hunters have more experience than you on PH, so if they have any suggestions, take them.

Getting your website ready for the Product Hunt crowd

The Product Hunt community loves exclusives. Who doesn’t?!

If you have an exclusive you want to give, like a voucher or a discount, tweet to @ProductHunt a few days before the hunt and ask them for an exclusive badge. Not all the exclusives will have a star badge, but it’s worth a try.

Your final PH link will end with /?ref=product hunt. So ideally you should welcome the PH community and give them some special attention + the exclusive I hope you’ve prepared for them.

The easiest way to set a welcome message is to just use http://introbar.com/

This was our welcoming message and special offer: http://www.getnugget.co/?ref=producthunt

At what time should you get hunted?

As any good consultant would tell you: it depends.

Is your goal to be #1 on PH on that day or to get as many visits to your site / app as possible?

In my opinion, if you want to be #1 on PH, you should be hunted in the 2nd part of the day. If you want to be seen by as many people you can, go for an early hunt.

This is because the Product Hunt algorithm (more about it in the next article of this series) also takes into account the number of hours you’ve been up on the website.

The new Product Hunt day starts at Midnight PST.

Regardless of your main goal, which might be a bit of a stretch like finishing at #1, and because you never know the competition you’ll have that day, your secondary goal should be to finish in the Top 5.

Why Top 5?

Because the top 5 will also be highlighted in the next day’s Product Hunt newsletter that goes out to tens (hundreds?) of thousands of people, and that will give you extra visibility.

Another side benefit of staying in the top 5 is that you’ll be featured on sites like http://thetopfives.net/http://tophunt.info/http://thenews.im/http://firespotting.com/http://www.launchfeed.com/ or similar.

This is also a good Medium article about launch times.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read) – Section Conclusions

  • Get into as many relevant communities on Slack or on Facebook Groups
  • ABH — Always Be Helpful and really get to know people
  • The best time to start an email list is 10 years ago. The second best is NOW.
  • Find the best Hunter and prepare a Hunter Kit to highlight the best of your product
  • Get your website ready to welcome the PH community in the best possible way

3 // The Product Hunt battle is won by preparing – The week before the launch

If you would know there’s a battle coming up, would you gather the troops and weapons up on the day of the battle? Of course not. You would recruit and train the army beforehand. You would create strategies and have drills so when the battle day comes, you make sure you win! Same principle applies for a Product Hunt Launch. Let me show you how.

Battles are not won by generals, they are won by soldiers. OK, maybe don’t quote me on that but it’s a good analogy.

Get The Ultimate Guide to Launching on Product Hunt Checklist!

You will need to gather a lot of support for your launch so when your product gets posted on PH you can quickly get a few tens and then hundreds of upvotes so you’re always on the top of the PH charts.

Tens of products are put on Product Hunt daily but I’m guesstimating that only the top will get most of the traffic, as per the 80/20 principle. And so the products on top get more upvotes as well, which keeps them on top.

Being on top of Product Hunt is like a snowball effect, so you’d better start rolling your snowball quickly and keep it growing.

Gathering your army of soldiers

TACTIC: How should the journey start? By opening up Excel.

Create an Excel sheet, or if you have a team that will help and need access, a Google Docs Sheet and create a sheet for each of your team members. The more people you can get to do this (and all of your team members should) the greater your chances of success will be.

Each sheet should have the following columns: Category, Twitter account, Contact Mode, Language, Notes and Status.

If you’ll reach out to a lot of these people via Facebook, it’s useful to add a Facebook URL column, so you can easily just hit the FB link and get straight to the profile of your friend. On the day of the battle, every second counts.

You will have to have different messages for different people on this list, so the Category, Contact Mode and Language will make it easy for you to send the best message to each of your “soldiers” from this list.

Category should show how you know that particular person. I used: Influencer, Close Friend, Friend, Online Friend, Know Only, and Team. This is because you should also know you can follow up more aggressively on your Close Friends, but not not so much on the people you Know Only (acquaintances).

Contact mode will show you what’s the best way to contact them — email / Facebook / Twitter DM / Twitter @Mention / Phone?

Language is only relevant if you’re not from the States and you also have lots of people you want to contact in your native language. It’s not nice to send a message in English to a Spanish-speaking friend, if you are a native Spanish speaker.

It’s good to have all these things prepared, so on the day of the hunt you don’t have to think about any of the nitty gritty and use all your mental power to execute on the hunt.

Status is where you check who you sent the ask to, who upvoted already, and who you can and should follow up with.

How do you fill this list?

Go through your (plus your product’s and your team’s) Twitter account, both through the people you’re following and the ones who follow you, to see which are the names and faces you recognize that you think would want to help you succeed in your launch.

This works well if you have a small following / follower base — up to a few thousand at most. If you have more, you’re probably already known in the online space so even though these hands-on tactics would still work, you have other levers that could help you be on top of PH.

Another good source of potential upvotes is your email list.

I hope you started building an email list months in advance as I told you in a previous article and that you followed the Email 1K tactics so now you have at least a few hundred subscribers on your list.

If you’re on MailChimp (and most email providers have similar functionalities) you can buy Social Profiles. This way you’ll know who from your list is already on Twitter. If they aren’t already on your list, add them. You can put them under the MailChimp subscribers category and Twitter @Mention contact.

TACTIC: Go to https://twitter.com/who_to_follow/matches and connect your email address book.

You might find out that you know a lot more people with Twitter accounts than you initially assumed.

Look for levers – who on this list is an influencer, or has a team of colleagues that they can ask to upvote you as well? Tend to these people carefully as they can quickly get you many votes.

Where else can you find people who would upvote you?

A good source for us was Product Hunt itself.

Being an app with book quotes, we know our target audience likes books. Luckily the founders of Product Hunt also like books, so much that they even have a book category on the website.

So we made another Excel sheet with all the people who upvoted either Product Hunt Books itself or one of the books we have in our app.

We then created a list of about 15 tweets which state we know they like both Product Hunt and Books, and that we’re an app about books — now also on PH — so they should check us out.

Even though you might consider these borderline spammy tweets, they were targeted and well crafted, so a lot of people favorited and retweeted them.

TACTIC: So try to find products similar to yours that were already featured on Product Hunt; make a list of PH users that might enjoy your product as well; then, @mention tweet at them once your product is hunted.

Preparing your messages to your soldiers

Besides the list of soldiers you’ve gathered, you should know what you should write to them.

Have all the communication prepared beforehand. You’ll have more time to craft better messages, you won’t lose time in the day of the hunt coming up with a good message, and you’ll be less stressed about it.

You can create a Google Doc with different sections (if you use the Headings properly you can then generate a Table of Contents that will be useful) containing all your different messages.

Normally you’ll have a different (but probably similar) message for all the combinations of Category Contact method (definitely language if it’s applicable). But also don’t over do it. You might end up with dozens of different messages that will then be hard to manage.

TACTIC: For the people you can reach via Facebook, you can send them an audio message. This will be more personal and it’s also still quite novel, so it will have larger impact.

Always be creative, stand out and be personal. Let them understand that you’ve poured your heart and soul (and maybe personal savings) into this project and you really want to see it succeed. But don’t come off as a desperate. Nobody likes desperate people..

Prepare your email newsletter.

Use the social profiles feature I’ve told you about to segment your list into two: subscribers who have Twitter and subscribers who don’t.

While the subscribers without Twitter accounts might in fact have them, but linked to other email accounts, or they might create them just to support you, or they might share your link with somebody who does, the chances of this happening are quite slim..

So let them know about your launch on Product Hunt, but don’t worry too much about it.

And if you think there’s almost no chance of them helping, you can just skip this email to the non-Twitter segment.

For the segment with Twitter account attached, let them know you’ve been hunted and tell them how somebody with a Twitter account can vote for anybody on Product Hunt.

If you have the time and it makes sense for your list, write to this group one week before the PH launch date to educate them on Product Hunt, its advantages, and show them how to join the community. So when the time comes, they’ll already know what to do.

Even though you’ll message your Twitter group via the newsletter, you can also @mention them on Twitter once your product goes live on PH and ask them to check you out. This is because they might open your email too late or not open your email at all, so you may then lose valuable upvotes.

TACTIC: You can use Zapier.com with a zap for a Google Sheet + Twitter where Zapier will Tweet each row from the Google Sheet.

Prepare the other collaterals

You don’t want to spend any time on the day of the launch on anything you could have prepared beforehand!

On the day of, you should tweet every two hours. Pre-write some tweets so you have them prepared. They should be some rallying tweets to get your followers to upvote you.

Remember: you should not ask for upvotes directly.

Not publicly and from people you barely or don’t know anyway.

One thing you should be aware of: You’re limited in the amount of DM and Tweets you can make in one day, or anti-spamming purposes. So if you have a lot of DMs or @Mentions to do, preferably do them from your or your team’s accounts as well, so your main account does not get shut down. We found this the hard way and had a few hours when we could not tweet from the @getnuggetapp account.

The Product Hunt Algorithm, and what you should know about it.

As with any votes-based system, there will be people who will want to game it. To be honest, this series shows you some tricks to game the system as well. And like any good system, its creators continuously tweak the algorithm to keep people from gaming it. It’s just part of the game.

Some things that I know for a fact are currently part of the algorithm:

The number of hours is affected by when your product gets hunted. As I told you, if it will be posted in the morning, you might get more attention to it, but if it’s posted later in the day, it might get on a higher position with fewer upvotes (as it was the case with two of our competitors).

Another thing you should be aware of is where your core supporters are located? On the American continent? Or in Europe? Africa? Asia? Australia?

Because of timezone differences it’s a good idea to launch when your supporters are online, so you can quickly gather the initial votes.

From what I’ve seen lately, the number of hours on the website is quite important, so if your goal is to reach top 5 (and so be included in the 2nd day email) I recommend you launch late, at about lunch time on the East Coast.

I understand the reasoning behind it but I don’t find it very fair. All products should start at the same time so all have the same chance of getting to the top. But it’s not my platform and I don’t make the rules. So I have to play by them.

If somebody finds you on the homepage of Product Hunt and upvotes you from there, it counts more than if you send your specific PH product link and people upvote you from there.

I agree with this and it’s a good factor to have in the PH algorithm. From what I’m seeing, this is crucial and you should really pay attention to it!

TACTIC: I am not 100% sure this works, but I think that for now, you can evade the PH algorithm by sending people to the PH homepage with your product’s name being searched. E.g.: http://www.producthunt.com/?#!/s/posts/nugget

So what does this mean for you?

Whenever possible, just send your soldiers to the Product Hunt homepage and ask them to upvote you from there.

Still, there might be some cases where it’s easier and more secure to just send them directly to your product page or to the search page I mentioned above.

An upvote from your product page is better than no upvote. Also, in the start of the hunt, it’s important to quickly gather around 30-50 upvotes, so it might make sense to send the full link to your initial supporters.

I found out about these algorithm rules late in the day, when it was a bit too late. Learn from my mistake.

Growth Hack Tactic: Thunderclap.it

First: what is Thunderclap?

Thunderclap is a platform where you can create a campaign that rallies your friends and gets them to support you. What this platform will do is that people will join to support your campaign with Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr. Once people join, a Tweet, Facebook status message or Tumblr post will be created on their behalf with a message and URL.

The beauty and strength of Thunderclap is that these posts don’t go out when your supporters join, but they go out all at the same time, at the end date of your campaign.

This way, depending on the number of supporters you’ll have, the Twitter streams, Facebook walls, or Tumblr feeds will be bombarded with the same message at the exact same time, amplifying its reach.

A few notes on Thunderclap:

  1. You will set the default message, but everybody can overwrite it and customise it as they wish. Your URL will stay the same.
  2. There’s also a free tier, but look into the pricing options to see which works best for you.
  3. Be ready for a large traffic spike. Our website went down for a few seconds at the time that Thunderclap kicked in.

How should you use Thunderclap for your Product Hunt launch?

I’ve missed this opportunity and used Thunderclap to just create momentum on our website for the launch of the app, and not for us being featured on PH.

But you can set up a campaign where you get your closest supporters to help you spread the word about being on PH. You can create a message like: “We’re now featured on Product Hunt. Check us out on the home page. Can we get to the top? www.ProductHunt.com”

It’s going to be easier to get this kind of support, one supporter at a time, weeks or even months ahead. And if you craft your campaign well, it will all go out once you’re on PH and can help you gather some invaluable (early) votes.

But remember to also tell these supporters again once your product goes live on PH so they can upvote you as well. They might not notice that Thunderclap sent out the Tweet / Facebook / Tumblr update.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read) – Section Conclusions

  • Create a spreadsheet with all the possible supporters. Find them through your contacts and on Product Hunt
  • Prepare all the messages for the launch date beforehand so you don’t waste valuable time on the day of the launch
  • Make the Product Hunt algorithm your ally — know when to post and how to gather upvotes from the homepage directly
  • Use Thunderclap.it to create some noise about your Product Hunt feature

4 // The Truth about launching on Product Hunt. The launch day…

… and how I almost screwed up mine.

We were scheduled to launch on Product Hunt on 1st of September at 5 a.m. EST and our hunter was nowhere to be found

We had talked with Violeta, one of the top hunters and a fellow Eastern European to hunt us some weeks ahead. She agreed and we decided on the timeline. I sent her everything beforehand. All was set and ready to go.

But on the day of the launch, Violeta did not post us at the agreed time and she was nowhere to be found. She did not reply to emails, Slacks, Tweets, Skype messages.

Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face. – Mike Tyson

Products started to show up on the new PH day and to gather invaluable early upvotes.

I panicked. So I decided to hunt nugget myself.

The good news was that I had this option. The bad news was that my posting rights did not include having the product show up on the homepage of Product Hunt. I did not find this out until we had our own PH link, where we started to gather upvotes, but did not show up on the homepage.

And then Violeta came online. It was just about one hour later than initially planned and I should have waited for her, but not knowing what happened and when she would be back online, I made the stupid choice of not waiting.

She managed to save our a$$, helped us show up on the PH homepage and saved the day.

Thank you, Violeta

I just want to make this clear — Violeta wanted to help us and did help us in the end. It was just me panicking that almost screwed up our launch. I still think Violeta is one of the people to go to if you want to have a successful PH launch.

So now that you’re on the homepage of Product Hunt — it’s showtime!

I hope you stocked up on caffeine-filled products, set-up a team war room, and are ready to monitor everything!

What comes next is a list of well planned attacks, sniper shots, and guerilla tactics that will make you stay on top of Product Hunt.

Set-up another computer or tablet or monitor linked to your computer to always show you the Google Analytics real-time visitors. If at one point it will quickly go down, your website probably just crashed so you’ll want to bring it back online asap.

Update your social profiles by mentioning you’re on PH today and add your Product Hunt Link.

You can use bit.ly if you want to track the effectiveness of different channels.

Tweet @ProductHunt asking to put you as a Maker on your product’s PH page.

This is the time when, if you created one, the Thunderclap campaign should go out. See the previous article to see what I mean with this.

Stop. Message time.

I started with the mass messages. They had more chance of reaching more people at once. Then I moved to the more personal messages.

Send out your newsletter emails. I hope you’ve prepared them beforehand and split them based on whether they have Twitter accounts.

Put out messages on all the relevant Facebook groups you’re a part of. Try to tailor the message for the particularities of each group. Try to put it as a picture + the text + the link. Picture posts get higher engagement.

Send out the link to all the different Slack groups you’re a part of, on the public channels. Here as well, make the message personal and ask for honest feedback on your product.

How many messages should you send?

Twitter: A tweet every 1-2 hours. Alternate between posting about you being on PH, stats about your hunt, personal messages, and retweets from people who mentioned you being on Product Hunt.

Facebook Status updates: 3 or 4 both on the fan page page and your (and your team’s) personal accounts. From the personal accounts you can also just do a share of the fan page status update for at least 2 of the 4 updates.

LinkedIn: Use a similar strategy as with Facebook, but I would keep it at 2-3 posts.

TACTIC: On LinkedIn you can now create blog posts that get a good visibility with your connections. Consider putting out a quick blog post about you being featured on PH. Ideally, this too should have been prepared in advance.

Instagram: I am still unsure about the effectiveness of Instagram in a Product Hunt launch, but if you think it would help, put out 1-2 posts with a screenshot of your product on PH or an image you created beforehand with your logo and the PH logo plus some message asking for support.

Other social media accounts: Are you big on Vine, SnapChat, Pinterest, or any other social media outlet? If you feel like you’ll be able to get support from those followers, do a few posts about you being on PH as well.

Always remember: make your posts as personal as possible. Include photo / video if you can.

The Product Hunt launch day will be ask day. But if you’ve given enough value in the past, your followers will understand and they will help you with your ask.

Comments on your Product Hunt page

If your product is interesting or polarizing, you’ll start to get comments on your PH page.

Unfortunately, currently you won’t get notified unless somebody mentions you in a comment. So check the comments page at least once every hour. Or ask a teammate or friend to constantly check it and let you know when you get a new comment.

Respond to your comments as soon as you can. This in turn will bring more comments and will show larger engagement. nugget had the biggest engagement on the day we launched.

Launch day — 2nd part of the day.

If you want to make an omelet, you have to break a few eggs.

It’s time for the nitty gritty. It’s time for the one-on-ones.

Start reaching out to any influencers you might have on the list. Make the message concise and personal and hope for an endorsement from them.

Now go through the Excel spreadsheet you created with all the people you hope will support you, and message them personally. Ideally you have the different messages prepared for each different category, so things will work quickly.

TACTIC: You can now send a voice message as a Facebook message. Create a personal recording for some of the people you want to contact via Facebook. It will have a larger impact than just a written message.

Tweet to all the people you were planning to contact on Twitter. Either via DM or @Mention. Be aware that there is a daily tweets limit and you might reach that if you have a large enough list!

It’s normally forbidden to ask for upvotes. But the Product Hunt top homepage is a battlefield. All’s fair in love and war.

You’ve implemented all the tactics above, got support from all your friends and followers and got a lot of upvotes. That’s great.

The problem is that other people who have products hunted on the same day will do the same; and so on a normal day it’s always going to be a fight for the top positions.

It’s time for the guerilla tactics

No time to just sit and whine that you’ve gone through all of your contacts. It’s time to hustle.

I hope you already created a list of similar products. Products that if somebody has upvoted would probably also want to upvote yours. And I hope you’ve added all the users that upvoted them to an excel and made sure you removed any duplicates.

Now it’s time to let those people know your product — a product that would probably appeal to them — has been featured on Product Hunt,a platform they’ve clearly used before.

Create a dozen or so different tweets that are tailored to the products these users upvoted already and start tweeting them out.

If you do this properly, people will not be pissed because of this, but will favorite, retweet, and more importantly upvote you as well.

We’ve had quite a few people who retweeted us, because they saw the value of our product, but we also had somebody call us out on the number of these tweets we were sending. War involves a few casualties as well and it was a small price to pay.

Remember: Your Twitter account will get blocked. When this happens, switch to personal accounts. When one door closes…

Think 10x

What levers can you use? Who do you know that can get you 10 upvotes at once?

It could be a friend who has a team that all have Twitter accounts. Time to call him and ask for a favor.

It could be a colleague that had many business ideas along the way and created a Twitter account for each of them, even though they never got off the ground. Still, they can be valuable upvotes.

It could be someone you know that is working out of a coworking space. Those places are filled with Twitter users. 😉

This is no time to be humble. Work those phones and gather those upvotes.

You ran out of friends. Time to make new ones.

Are you on multiple Slack chats? See who is currently online (green dot close to their name) and start-up a conversation.

Ask them about what they are working on and how it’s going and when they do the same, let them know you’re in a middle of a battle and any support helps.

Don’t be too pushy about this and if people tell you they are busy, be mindful of their time and let them do their work.

I’ve made a few new friends by using this technique and managed to gather some upvotes in this process as well.

Make sure you follow up

There are many people who (if you’re a good person) will want to help. But people have their own agendas and problems and even though this might be hard to believe, you launch is not everybody else’s priority. Shocking, right?!

So make sure you cross reference your spreadsheet with people you’ve asked for support to the upvotes you’ve received. Is there somebody you were counting on who did not upvote? Give them a gentle reminder. 🙂

We’re working on some tools to automate some of this work, so if you’re interested in them, please let me know. (ovi at getnugget dot co)

The launch arsenal

This is the arsenal of tools we used for our launch. Pick and choose whatever works best for you and try to think of other creative ways to get more upvotes.

Also remember to eat, and stay alert and present from the start of the Product Hunt day to the end of Product Hunt day — 18 hours so stock up on caffeine if you need to. Oh, and have fun.

I would also recommend meditating before the launch begins and taking a few short walks to re-energize during the day.

After the launch

You have to give forward. But also give backward.

If you did all the steps I’ve told you about, have a good product, and you’re a good person, you should have ended your Product Hunt launch in the top 5, so your product will be featured in the 2nd day email.

It’s time to breathe, be happy, and recognize that this did not happen because of you, but because of all the support you got from friends and followers.

Thank all the people who upvoted you. If you follow a lot of people on Twitter or have an “if you’ll follow me I’ll follow you back” strategy, follow them on Twitter as well. You might get some nice follows back. 😉

TACTIC: Lots of people might now reach out to you via email or other social channels. This is another opportunity to convert them into email subscribers, or ask for a review, or any other CTA you’re focused on.

Just make sure you don’t ask someone who is already on your list to subscribe, or ask someone who just wrote to you to complain about a bug in your product to give a review. That won’t be a nice review.

When you thank people, try to do it in a personal way that stands out. Say it with a giphy!

*For those wondering – yes, this is how I looked like at the end of the Product Hunt launch.

Our numbers

We’re all curious about numbers. People like to compare themselves. To see if they are better than the rest.

My view — you should always compete against yourself. Don’t look so much at what the competition is doing. Just work on becoming a better version of yourself, each day.

This being said, I do understand the importance of benchmarking. So because of this I’ll share our numbers.

During our first 48 hours on Product Hunt we got:

  • About 4K extra uniques
  • About 2K app installs (brand new app)
  • About 400 extra email subscribers
  • Some new articles about our startup

These numbers kept growing after the 48 hours passed but, of course, at a slower pace.

Keep in mind that we’re quite niched and not everybody likes the topic of books, or quotes, or quotes from books.

I know some “general startup tools” products got a lot more traffic than we did, but I am happy with the visibility and prestige Product Hunt brought us.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read) – Section Conclusions

  • Create an Excel file with all the possible supporters — find them through your contacts and on Product Hunt
  • Prepare all the messages for the launch date beforehand so you don’t waste valuable time on D-Day
  • Make the Product Hunt algorithm your ally — know when to post and to gather upvotes from the homepage and not your URL
  • Use Thunderclap.it to create some noise about your Product Hunt feature

Checklist: The Ultimate Guide to Launching on PH

Start this as soon as you start working on your product, or as soon as you can, preferably at least 1 month in advance.

(I am not affiliated with them in any way. I just like them 🙂 )

  • Join relevant groups
    • Join Slack or Facebook groups of fellow entrepreneurs or people who are in your niche
    • Get to know and help people in these groups
    • ABH: Always Be Helpful

Start this at least 2 weeks before the launch

  • Find your hunter
  • Prepare the Hunter Kit
  • Prepare a special offer for the PH crowd
  • Decide on the time you want to get hunted

Start this the week before the launch

Start this on D-Day — The Launch Day

  • Update all your social profiles announcing you’re being featured on PH
  • Tweet @ProductHunt asking to put you as a Maker on your product’s PH page
  • Send out the email newsletter
  • Post your messages to the relevant Facebook & Slack groups
  • Tweet once every 1-2 hours about your PH feature and status update
  • Post on Facebook and LinkedIn 3-4 times
  • Post on any social accounts where you have a massive and engaged following
  • Include a Photo / Video whenever you can
  • Reply to comments on your PH page as soon as you can
  • Reach out to any influencers you have on your list
  • Message everybody in your supporters Excel sheet
  • Make the message as personal as possible. Add audio on FB if you can
  • @Mention or DM all the supporters with Twitter accounts from your Excel
  • Tweet to people who upvoted similar products on Product Hunt
  • Preferably you have created a dozen or so different tweets so they are not all the same
  • Remember: There’s a Twitter tweet & DM limit
  • See who is currently online in Slack chats and talk to them 1-on-1
  • Follow up – who from your Excel list did not upvote? If you can, ask them again.
  • Remember: It’s gonna be a long day, but get up from your desk from time to time, stretch, eat, drink, rest a bit. But don’t go to sleep until the PH launch day is over! #Hustle.

Start this the day after launch day

 

Final Conclusions

Winning one of the top spots on Product Hunt is not an easy task and should not be treated lightly.

Get The Ultimate Guide to Launching on Product Hunt Checklist!

You might find some of my tactics unorthodox. You might find the war analogy / metaphor a bit extreme. But this is how most successful startups started. In the late night conversations between seasoned founders you will find similar war tales.

Winning a battle does not mean we’ve won the war. The challenge now is to make nugget a success story as well.

 

  • Wow Ovi, this is all great advise. Loved every piece of it.
    Looks like I have a lot of work to cover 🙂

  • Agree Ayush, I have read this post several times, good stuff. Also have seen some guys smash it on product hunt, which was really good to see.

  • Thanks for your great insight and for flagging potential pitfalls (like the tweeting limit or PH algorithm/launch times).
    Great article and glad to see that PH worked so well for you guys!

  • Hey Ovi, thanks for this. The most comprehensive PH launch guide I’ve found to date. Cheers!

  • Great article Ovi, this is the one I was looking for – a little bit of theory mixed with practice and learnings! 🙂

  • By far the most detailed post about Product hunt. Thank you so much Ovi, you made it so much easier to understand the platform and how to have a great launch day. Looking forward to using these tips.

    • Thanks @i_Maila:disqus – Ovi did such a fantastic job, please do share your results with us!

  • Pingback: What Is Product Hunt And Why Should Authors, Podcasters, SEOs and Marketers Care()

  • Love this detailed guide! Half of your links to Slack groups were broken though…

  • For f**k sake! Is that all?! Launching on PH is a full time job apparently.

February 14

Creativity exercises to improve your lateral thinking abilities - Creative Corporate Culture

Here are some Creativity exercises to improve late [...]

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Creativity exercises to improve your lateral thinking abilities

 

* To our dearest followers, this past post (April 2 2014) has been enhanced with new ideas and updates. We hope you enjoy it! 

Why do some people always seem to be having new ideas while others of equal intelligence never do?

— Edward de Bono, New Think

According to Edward de Bono lateral thinking is the process of thinking outside the box, thinking beyond norms, coming up with something that can’t be comprehended under normal thinking.

One question we often ask ourselves in Ghost Writer Hub is what kind of creative exercises could we use to enhance lateral thinking? Well, it’s pretty easy, but first you should have an overview of the lateral thinking process. All you have to do is observe things around you. Take time to collect information (data and insights), analyze your problem and after that, generate ideas to solve it. These are the 4 key stages related to the lateral thinking approach:

  1. Impregnation: analyze the portrait of the problem under its various aspects ;
  2. Divergence: move away from the problem, to express a large number of original ideas;
  3. Convergence: transform the ideas stemming from the divergence into solutions of the initial problem;
  4. Evaluation of the solution: select the best idea that should be developed.

Now you have an overview of the process let’s focus on stage 2 Divergence. The creativity exercises or tips in this article will always give you alternatives to express a large number of ideas through the divergence stage.

Here are some Creativity exercises to improve your lateral thinking skills

1 – Use your 5 senses to inspire yourself with things from around you

Look for objects, analyse their shape, their color, where are they coming from. Use all your senses, try to listen to sounds in your environment, touch the objects your are looking at, what are the odors in the room… Now try to link those elements to your brainstorming session, it will help you to generate new ideas.

2 – Use a dictionary, book or magazine for random ideation

Take a book, close your eyes, open the book and pick a word that you relate to your issue. If this word is not giving you a new idea start again.

3 – Analogies and metaphors

Compare your problem to a known natural phenomenon (storm, eco-system, river…), to a mineral, vegetal or animal. You can also compare your problem with a symbol, legend or story.

4 – Make a list of the top 5 words related to your issue

Now start your brainstorm but you cannot use those words anymore.

5 –Define your Customer journey or product/service life cycle

Divide your issue in small steps. Here is an example:  in the morning I take my bike, I cycle to work, stop for a breakfast, take my bike, cross the park, get into the office … an other exemple: Customer take his car for shopping, step into the shop, look for a PC, ask for advise, buy the PC, put it in his car, go back to home, open the PC box…This approach is very useful to collect new insight and elements related to your goal.

6 – Random search on the internet

go on YouTube and click on video titles that you would normally not click on. Do that for 10 minutes. It always gives fresh and new ideas.

7 – Write a 6 word story of you problem

Make it simple avoid jargon. Your story should include images that will appeal the imagination.

8 – Brain writing

You should practice this in a group of minimum 5 people. Write your idea or goal on a paper and you give it to the person sitting on your right. This person should write a solution on your paper and give it to the person sitting on his/her right and so on.

9 – Create a Mind Map

This is a useful tool to sketch out a lot of ideas. It works like a hierarchical tree but here you start off with your problem in the center. After that you draw the major topics, continue with sub-topics…

10 – Start writing, don’t stop until you’ve hit 500 words

This is a free flow exercise. Don’t think just write.

11 – Rolestorming

What would you do if you were someone else? Think like

  • Buddha
  • Barack Obama
  • Steve Jobs
  • The opposite gender.
  • Your father or mother.
  • Your girlfriend / wife or boyfriend / husband.
  • A customer.
  • A colleague.
  • Your enemy.

12 – Reverse Thinking

Think about what everyone will typically do, then do the opposite.

13 – Meet people you don’t know

This is a special exercise. Go outside, in the street, and ask people for solutions to your problem.

14 – Six hats of Edward de Bono

Adopt successively various attitudes (roles), through 6 hat colors.

  • White hat: neutrality. Your share facts
  • Red hat: emotions. Your information tinged with emotions, feelings, intuitions and premonitions.
  • Black hat: negative criticism. You don’t agree, state dangers and risks. It ’s the devil’s advocate.
  • Yellow hat: positive criticism. You acknowledge crazy dreams and ideas.
  • Green hat: creativity. Your are very creative lots of crazy dreams and ideas
  • Blue hat: organisation. You focus on the processes, the actions and the planning

 

In conclusion, I would like to say that most of those creativity exercises are just simple habits that you could adopt to improve your lateral thinking. But don’t forget the most important tip! Have some relaxing time to think about your problems or issues,  this is a wonderful habit for lateral thinking.

 

Take Away

  •  Never think that resources and solutions are limited. There are always options solutions available around you. You just have to put your mind to it.
  •  Creative people develop / use lateral thinking habits that produces great results.
  •  Keep it simple, complexity means distracted effort. Simplicity means focused effort.
  •  Philosophy is about analysis, not thinking. We humans are very good at analysis but useless at thinking.

 

Other related stories:

5 Video’s To inspire Creative Ideas

Drink a Beer with Your Team to Generate Good Ideas

How to develop a creative organizational structure

Useful Creativity Tests

11 useful Tricks to Improve Creative Thinking

 

Please share this insight to inspire people to work with more passion and lead with creativity. It’s free like this article. Thank you  !

 

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February 14

You Need an Innovation Strategy

It’s the only way to make sound trade-off decision [...]

Executive Summary

Why is it so hard to build and maintain the capacity to innovate? The reason is not simply a failure to execute but a failure to articulate an innovation strategy that aligns innovation efforts with the overall business strategy.

Without such a strategy, companies will have a hard time weighing the trade-offs of various practices—such as crowdsourcing and customer co-creation—and so may end up with a grab bag of approaches. They will have trouble designing a coherent innovation system that fits their competitive needs over time and may be tempted to ape someone else’s system. And they will find it difficult to align different parts of the organization with shared priorities.

As Corning, a leader in glass and materials science, has found, an innovation strategy must address how innovation will create value for potential customers, how the company will capture a share of that value, and what types of innovation to pursue. Critics tend to discount “routine” innovation that leverages a company’s existing technical capabilities and business model and extol “disruptive” innovation, but that is a simplistic view. A company’s unique competitive circumstances should dictate the innovation portfolio it pursues.

Because innovation cuts across functions, only senior leaders can set an innovation strategy. In doing so, they must recognize that the strategy, like the process of innovation itself, requires continual experimentation and adaptation.

HBR Reprint R1506B

Idea in Brief

The Problem

Innovation remains a frustrating pursuit. Failure rates are high, and even successful companies can’t sustain their performance. The root cause is that companies fall into the trap of adopting whatever best practices are in vogue or aping the exemplar innovator of the moment.

The Solution

Managers should articulate an innovation strategy that stipulates how their firm’s innovation efforts will support the overall business strategy. This will help them make trade-off decisions so that they can choose the most appropriate practices and set overarching innovation priorities that align all functions.

The Steps

Creating an innovation strategy involves determining how innovation will create value for potential customers, how the company will capture that value, and which types of innovation to pursue. Just as product designs must evolve to stay competitive, so must innovation strategies as the environment changes.

Despite massive investments of management time and money, innovation remains a frustrating pursuit in many companies. Innovation initiatives frequently fail, and successful innovators have a hard time sustaining their performance—as Polaroid, Nokia, Sun Microsystems, Yahoo, Hewlett-Packard, and countless others have found. Why is it so hard to build and maintain the capacity to innovate? The reasons go much deeper than the commonly cited cause: a failure to execute. The problem with innovation improvement efforts is rooted in the lack of an innovation strategy.

A strategy is nothing more than a commitment to a set of coherent, mutually reinforcing policies or behaviors aimed at achieving a specific competitive goal. Good strategies promote alignment among diverse groups within an organization, clarify objectives and priorities, and help focus efforts around them. Companies regularly define their overall business strategy (their scope and positioning) and specify how various functions—such as marketing, operations, finance, and R&D—will support it. But during my more than two decades studying and consulting for companies in a broad range of industries, I have found that firms rarely articulate strategies to align their innovation efforts with their business strategies.

Without an innovation strategy, innovation improvement efforts can easily become a grab bag of much-touted best practices: dividing R&D into decentralized autonomous teams, spawning internal entrepreneurial ventures, setting up corporate venture-capital arms, pursuing external alliances, embracing open innovation and crowdsourcing, collaborating with customers, and implementing rapid prototyping, to name just a few. There is nothing wrong with any of those practices per se. The problem is that an organization’s capacity for innovation stems from an innovation system: a coherent set of interdependent processes and structures that dictates how the company searches for novel problems and solutions, synthesizes ideas into a business concept and product designs, and selects which projects get funded. Individual best practices involve trade-offs. And adopting a specific practice generally requires a host of complementary changes to the rest of the organization’s innovation system. A company without an innovation strategy won’t be able to make trade-off decisions and choose all the elements of the innovation system.

Aping someone else’s system is not the answer. There is no one system that fits all companies equally well or works under all circumstances. There is nothing wrong, of course, with learning from others, but it is a mistake to believe that what works for, say, Apple (today’s favorite innovator) is going to work for your organization. An explicit innovation strategy helps you design a system to match your specific competitive needs.

Finally, without an innovation strategy, different parts of an organization can easily wind up pursuing conflicting priorities—even if there’s a clear business strategy. Sales representatives hear daily about the pressing needs of the biggest customers. Marketing may see opportunities to leverage the brand through complementary products or to expand market share through new distribution channels. Business unit heads are focused on their target markets and their particular P&L pressures. R&D scientists and engineers tend to see opportunities in new technologies. Diverse perspectives are critical to successful innovation. But without a strategy to integrate and align those perspectives around common priorities, the power of diversity is blunted or, worse, becomes self-defeating.

A good example of how a tight connection between business strategy and innovation can drive long-term innovation leadership is found in Corning, a leading manufacturer of specialty components used in electronic displays, telecommunications systems, environmental products, and life sciences instruments. (Disclosure: I have consulted for Corning, but the information in this article comes from the 2008 HBS case study “Corning: 156 Years of Innovation,” by H. Kent Bowen and Courtney Purrington.) Over its more than 160 years Corning has repeatedly transformed its business and grown new markets through breakthrough innovations. When judged against current best practices, Corning’s approach seems out of date. The company is one of the few with a centralized R&D laboratory (Sullivan Park, in rural upstate New York). It invests a lot in basic research, a practice that many companies gave up long ago. And it invests heavily in manufacturing technology and plants and continues to maintain a significant manufacturing footprint in the United States, bucking the trend of wholesale outsourcing and offshoring of production.

Yet when viewed through a strategic lens, Corning’s approach to innovation makes perfect sense. The company’s business strategy focuses on selling “keystone components” that significantly improve the performance of customers’ complex system products. Executing this strategy requires Corning to be at the leading edge of glass and materials science so that it can solve exceptionally challenging problems for customers and discover new applications for its technologies. That requires heavy investments in long-term research. By centralizing R&D, Corning ensures that researchers from the diverse disciplinary backgrounds underlying its core technologies can collaborate. Sullivan Park has become a repository of accumulated expertise in the application of materials science to industrial problems. Because novel materials often require complementary process innovations, heavy investments in manufacturing and technology are a must. And by keeping a domestic manufacturing footprint, the company is able to smooth the transfer of new technologies from R&D to manufacturing and scale up production.

Corning’s strategy is not for everyone. Long-term investments in research are risky: The telecommunications bust in the late 1990s devastated Corning’s optical fiber business. But Corning shows the importance of a clearly articulated innovation strategy—one that’s closely linked to a company’s business strategy and core value proposition. Without such a strategy, most initiatives aimed at boosting a firm’s capacity to innovate are doomed to fail.

Connecting Innovation to Strategy

About 10 years ago Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), as part of a broad strategic repositioning, decided to emphasize cancer as a key part of its pharmaceutical business. Recognizing that biotechnology-derived drugs such as monoclonal antibodies were likely to be a fruitful approach to combating cancer, BMS decided to shift its repertoire of technological capabilities from its traditional organic-chemistry base toward biotechnology. The new business strategy (emphasizing the cancer market) required a new innovation strategy (shifting technological capabilities toward biologics). (I have consulted for BMS, but the information in this example comes from public sources.)

Like the creation of any good strategy, the process of developing an innovation strategy should start with a clear understanding and articulation of specific objectives related to helping the company achieve a sustainable competitive advantage. This requires going beyond all-too-common generalities, such as “We must innovate to grow,” “We innovate to create value,” or “We need to innovate to stay ahead of competitors.” Those are not strategies. They provide no sense of the types of innovation that might matter (and those that won’t). Rather, a robust innovation strategy should answer the following questions:

How will innovation create value for potential customers?

Unless innovation induces potential customers to pay more, saves them money, or provides some larger societal benefit like improved health or cleaner water, it is not creating value. Of course, innovation can create value in many ways. It might make a product perform better or make it easier or more convenient to use, more reliable, more durable, cheaper, and so on. Choosing what kind of value your innovation will create and then sticking to that is critical, because the capabilities required for each are quite different and take time to accumulate. For instance, Bell Labs created many diverse breakthrough innovations over a half century: the telephone exchange switcher, the photovoltaic cell, the transistor, satellite communications, the laser, mobile telephony, and the operating system Unix, to name just a few. But research at Bell Labs was guided by the strategy of improving and developing the capabilities and reliability of the phone network. The solid-state research program—which ultimately led to the invention of the transistor—was motivated by the need to lay the scientific foundation for developing newer, more reliable components for the communications system. Research on satellite communications was motivated in part by the limited bandwidth and the reliability risks of undersea cables. Apple consistently focuses its innovation efforts on making its products easier to use than competitors’ and providing a seamless experience across its expanding family of devices and services. Hence its emphasis on integrated hardware-software development, proprietary operating systems, and design makes total sense.

Further Reading

How will the company capture a share of the value its innovations generate?

Value-creating innovations attract imitators as quickly as they attract customers. Rarely is intellectual property alone sufficient to block these rivals. Consider how many tablet computers appeared after the success of Apple’s iPad. As imitators enter the market, they create price pressures that can reduce the value that the original innovator captures. Moreover, if the suppliers, distributors, and other companies required to deliver an innovation are dominant enough, they may have sufficient bargaining power to capture most of the value from an innovation. Think about how most personal computer manufacturers were largely at the mercy of Intel and Microsoft.

Companies must think through what complementary assets, capabilities, products, or services could prevent customers from defecting to rivals and keep their own position in the ecosystem strong. Apple designs complementarities between its devices and services so that an iPhone owner finds it attractive to use an iPad rather than a rival’s tablet. And by controlling the operating system, Apple makes itself an indispensable player in the digital ecosystem. Corning’s customer-partnering strategy helps defend the company’s innovations against imitators: Once the keystone components are designed into a customer’s system, the customer will incur switching costs if it defects to another supplier.

One of the best ways to preserve bargaining power in an ecosystem and blunt imitators is to continue to invest in innovation. I recently visited a furniture company in northern Italy that supplies several of the largest retailers in the world from its factories in its home region. Depending on a few global retailers for distribution is risky from a value-capture perspective. Because these megaretailers have access to dozens of other suppliers around the world, many of them in low-cost countries, and because furniture designs are not easily protected through patents, there is no guarantee of continued business. The company has managed to thrive, however, by investing both in new designs, which help it win business early in the product life cycle, and in sophisticated process technologies, which allow it to defend against rivals from low-cost countries as products mature.

What types of innovations will allow the company to create and capture value, and what resources should each type receive?

Certainly, technological innovation is a huge creator of economic value and a driver of competitive advantage. But some important innovations may have little to do with new technology. In the past couple of decades, we have seen a plethora of companies (Netflix, Amazon, LinkedIn, Uber) master the art of business model innovation. Thus, in thinking about innovation opportunities, companies have a choice about how much of their efforts to focus on technological innovation and how much to invest in business model innovation.

A helpful way to think about this is depicted in the exhibit “The Innovation Landscape Map.” The map, based on my research and that of scholars such as William Abernathy, Kim Clark, Clayton Christensen, Rebecca Henderson, and Michael Tushman, characterizes innovation along two dimensions: the degree to which it involves a change in technology and the degree to which it involves a change in business model. Although each dimension exists on a continuum, together they suggest four quadrants, or categories, of innovation.

Routine innovation builds on a company’s existing technological competences and fits with its existing business model—and hence its customer base. An example is Intel’s launching ever-more-powerful microprocessors, which has allowed the company to maintain high margins and has fueled growth for decades. Other examples include new versions of Microsoft Windows and the Apple iPhone.

Further Reading

Disruptive innovation, a category named by my Harvard Business School colleague Clay Christensen, requires a new business model but not necessarily a technological breakthrough. For that reason, it also challenges, or disrupts, the business models of other companies. For example, Google’s Android operating system for mobile devices potentially disrupts companies like Apple and Microsoft, not because of any large technical difference but because of its business model: Android is given away free; the operating systems of Apple and Microsoft are not.

Radical innovation is the polar opposite of disruptive innovation. The challenge here is purely technological. The emergence of genetic engineering and biotechnology in the 1970s and 1980s as an approach to drug discovery is an example. Established pharmaceutical companies with decades of experience in chemically synthesized drugs faced a major hurdle in building competences in molecular biology. But drugs derived from biotechnology were a good fit with the companies’ business models, which called for heavy investment in R&D, funded by a few high-margin products.

Architectural innovation combines technological and business model disruptions. An example is digital photography. For companies such as Kodak and Polaroid, entering the digital world meant mastering completely new competences in solid-state electronics, camera design, software, and display technology. It also meant finding a way to earn profits from cameras rather than from “disposables” (film, paper, processing chemicals, and services). As one might imagine, architectural innovations are the most challenging for incumbents to pursue.

A company’s innovation strategy should specify how the different types of innovation fit into the business strategy and the resources that should be allocated to each. In much of the writing on innovation today, radical, disruptive, and architectural innovations are viewed as the keys to growth, and routine innovation is denigrated as myopic at best and suicidal at worst. That line of thinking is simplistic.

In fact, the vast majority of profits are created through routine innovation. Since Intel launched its last major disruptive innovation (the i386 chip), in 1985, it has earned more than $200 billion in operating income, most of which has come from next-generation microprocessors. Microsoft is often criticized for milking its existing technologies rather than introducing true disruptions. But this strategy has generated $303 billion in operating income since the introduction of Windows NT, in 1993 (and $258 billion since the introduction of the Xbox, in 2001). Apple’s last major breakthrough (as of this writing), the iPad, was launched in 2010. Since then Apple has launched a steady stream of upgrades to its core platforms (Mac, iPhone, and iPad), generating an eye-popping $190 billion in operating income.

The point here is not that companies should focus solely on routine innovation. Rather, it is that there is not one preferred type. In fact, as the examples above suggest, different kinds of innovation can become complements, rather than substitutes, over time. Intel, Microsoft, and Apple would not have had the opportunity to garner massive profits from routine innovations had they not laid the foundations with various breakthroughs. Conversely, a company that introduces a disruptive innovation and cannot follow up with a stream of improvements will not hold new entrants at bay for long.

Executives often ask me, “What proportion of resources should be directed to each type of innovation?” Unfortunately, there is no magic formula. As with any strategic question, the answer will be company specific and contingent on factors such as the rate of technological change, the magnitude of the technological opportunity, the intensity of competition, the rate of growth in core markets, the degree to which customer needs are being met, and the company’s strengths. Businesses in markets where the core technology is evolving rapidly (like pharmaceuticals, media, and communications) will have to be much more keenly oriented toward radical technological innovation—both its opportunities and its threats. A company whose core business is maturing may have to seek opportunities through business model innovations and radical technological breakthroughs. But a company whose platforms are growing rapidly would certainly want to focus most of its resources on building and extending them.

In thinking strategically about the four types of innovation, then, the question is one of balance and mix. Google is certainly experiencing rapid growth through routine innovations in its advertising business, but it is also exploring opportunities for radical and architectural innovations, such as a driverless car, at its Google X facility. Apple is not resting on its iPhone laurels as it explores wearable devices and payment systems. And while incumbent automobile companies still make the vast majority of their revenue and profits from traditional fuel-powered vehicles, most have introduced alternative-energy vehicles (hybrid and all-electric) and have serious R&D efforts in advanced alternatives like hydrogen-fuel-cell motors.

Overcoming the Prevailing Winds

I liken routine innovation to a sports team’s home-field advantage: It’s where companies play to their strengths. Without an explicit strategy indicating otherwise, a number of organizational forces will tend to drive innovation toward the home field.

Some years ago I worked with a contact lens company whose leaders decided that it needed to focus less on routine innovations, such as adding color tints and modifying lens design, and be more aggressive in pursuing new materials that could dramatically improve visual acuity and comfort. After a few years, however, little progress had been made. A review of the R&D portfolio at a senior management meeting revealed that most of the company’s R&D expenditures were going to incremental refinements of existing products (demanded by marketing to stave off mounting short-term losses in share) and to process improvements (demanded by manufacturing to reduce costs, which was, in turn, demanded by finance to preserve margins as prices fell). Even worse, when R&D finally created a high-performing lens based on a new material, manufacturing could not produce it consistently at high volume, because it had not invested in the requisite capabilities. Despite a strategic intent to venture into new territory, the company was trapped on its home field.

Further Reading

The root of the problem was that business units and functions had continued to make resource allocation decisions, and each favored the projects it saw as the most pressing. Only after senior management created explicit targets for different types of innovations—and allocated a specific percentage of resources to radical innovation projects—did the firm begin to make progress in developing new offerings that supported its long-term strategy. As this company found, innovation strategy matters most when an organization needs to change its prevailing patterns.

Managing Trade-Offs

As I’ve noted, an explicit innovation strategy helps you understand which practices might be a good fit for your organization. It also helps you navigate the inherent trade-offs.

Consider one popular practice: crowdsourcing. The idea is that rather than relying on a few experts (perhaps your own employees) to solve specific innovation problems, you open up the process to anyone (the crowd). One common example is when an organization posts a problem on a web platform (like InnoCentive) and invites solutions, perhaps offering a financial prize. Another example is open source software projects, in which volunteers contribute to developing a product or a system (think of Linux). Crowdsourcing has a lot of merits: By inviting a vast number of people, most of whom you probably could not have found on your own, to address your challenges, you increase the probability of developing a novel solution. Research by my Harvard Business School colleague Karim Lakhani and his collaborator Kevin Boudreau, of the London Business School, provides strong evidence that crowdsourcing can lead to faster, more-efficient, and more-creative problem solving.

But crowdsourcing works better for some kinds of problems than for others. For instance, it requires fast and efficient ways to test a large number of potential solutions. If testing is very time-consuming and costly, you need some other approach, such as soliciting a handful of solutions from just a few experts or organizations. Similarly, crowdsourcing tends to work best for highly modular systems, in which different problem solvers can focus on specific components without worrying about others.

Crowdsourcing is not universally good or bad. It is simply a tool whose strength (exploiting large numbers of diverse problem solvers) is a benefit in some contexts (highly diffused knowledge base, relatively inexpensive ways to test proposed solutions, modular system) but not in others (concentrated knowledge base, expensive testing, system with integral architectures).

Another practice subject to trade-offs is customer involvement in the innovation process. Advocates of “co-creation” approaches argue that close collaboration with customers reveals insights that can lead to novel offerings. (See Venkat Ramaswamy and Francis Gouillart, “Building the Co-Creative Enterprise,” HBR, October 2010.) But others say that working too closely with customers will blind you to opportunities for truly disruptive innovation. Steve Jobs was adamant that customers do not always know what they want—the reason he cited for eschewing market research.

Choosing a side in this debate requires the cold calculus of strategy. Corning’s customer-centered approach to innovation is appropriate for a company whose business strategy is focused on creating critical components of highly innovative systems. It would be virtually impossible to develop such components without tapping customers’ deep understanding of their system. In addition, close collaboration enables Corning and its customers to mutually adapt the component and the system. This is critical when subtle changes in the component technology can affect the system, and vice versa.

But Corning’s demand-pull approach (finding customers’ highly challenging problems and then figuring out how the company’s cutting-edge technologies can solve them) is limited by customers’ imagination and willingness to take risks. It also hinges on picking the right customers; if Corning doesn’t, it can miss a market transformation.

A supply-push approach—developing technology and then finding or creating a market—can be more suitable when an identifiable market does not yet exist. A good example is the integrated circuit, invented in the late 1950s by Texas Instruments and Fairchild Semiconductor. Both came up with the idea of putting multiple transistors on a chip as a way to solve a reliability problem, not to spawn smaller computers. In fact, with the exception of the military, there was little demand for integrated circuits. Producers of computers, electronics equipment, and telecommunications systems preferred discrete transistors, which were cheaper and less risky. To help create demand, Texas Instruments invented and commercialized another device: the handheld calculator.

Some pharmaceutical companies, including Novartis (for whom I’ve consulted), explicitly shield their research groups from market input when deciding which programs to pursue. They believe that given the long lead times of drug development and the complexities of the market, accurate forecasts are impossible. (See the 2008 HBS case study “Novartis AG: Science-Based Business,” by H. Kent Bowen and Courtney Purrington.)

Again, the choice between a demand-pull and a supply-push approach involves weighing the trade-offs. If you choose the former, you risk missing out on technologies for which markets have not yet emerged. If you choose the latter, you may create technologies that never find a market.

Further Reading

Similar trade-offs are inherent in choices about innovation processes. For instance, many companies have adopted fairly structured “phase-gate” models for managing their innovation processes. Advocates argue that those models inject a degree of predictability and discipline into what can be a messy endeavor. Opponents counter that they destroy creativity. Who is right? Both are—but for different kinds of projects. Highly structured phase-gate processes, which tend to focus on resolving as much technical and market uncertainty as possible early on, work well for innovations involving a known technology for a known market. But they generally do not allow for the considerable iteration required for combinations of new markets and new technologies. Those uncertain and complex projects require a different kind of process, one that involves rapid prototyping, early experimentation, parallel problem solving, and iteration.

Clarity around which trade-offs are best for the company as a whole—something an innovation strategy provides—is extremely helpful in overcoming the barriers to the kind of organizational change innovation often requires. People don’t resist change because they are inherently stubborn or political but because they have different perspectives—including on how to weigh the trade-offs in innovation practices. Clarity around trade-offs and priorities is a critical first step in mobilizing the organization around an innovation initiative.

The Leadership Challenge

Creating a capacity to innovate starts with strategy. The question then arises, Whose job is it to set this strategy? The answer is simple: the most senior leaders of the organization. Innovation cuts across just about every function. Only senior leaders can orchestrate such a complex system. They must take prime responsibility for the processes, structures, talent, and behaviors that shape how an organization searches for innovation opportunities, synthesizes ideas into concepts and product designs, and selects what to do.

There are four essential tasks in creating and implementing an innovation strategy. The first is to answer the question “How are we expecting innovation to create value for customers and for our company?” and then explain that to the organization. The second is to create a high-level plan for allocating resources to the different kinds of innovation. Ultimately, where you spend your money, time, and effort is your strategy, regardless of what you say. The third is to manage trade-offs. Because every function will naturally want to serve its own interests, only senior leaders can make the choices that are best for the whole company.

The final challenge facing senior leadership is recognizing that innovation strategies must evolve. Any strategy represents a hypothesis that is tested against the unfolding realities of markets, technologies, regulations, and competitors. Just as product designs must evolve to stay competitive, so too must innovation strategies. Like the process of innovation itself, an innovation strategy involves continual experimentation, learning, and adaptation.

February 14

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February 14

Saving and Updating Laravel Relations

Saving and Updating Laravel Relations.

Family Fortunes: Saving and Updating Laravel Relations

Although I’ve been using Laravel heavily for over two years, I still find things there that I didn’t really know about.

Today I took some time to really understand all the different ways of saving and associating related models. I had misunderstood the docs at first, but after some searching and playing with test code I’ve come to a better understanding.

One-To-Many and Belongs-To Relationships

To illustrate I’ll use an example Parent and a Child class. The docs used Post, Comment, User and Roles which threw me off, so I hope that my naming convention is clearer.

class Parent extends Model
{
  public function children()
  {
    return $this->hasMany(App\Child::class);
  }
}

class Child extends Model
{
  public function parent()
  {
    return $this->belongsTo(App\Parent::class);
  }
}

I always use plurals for hasMany() relationships as a reminder to myself how it goes.

The first example is saving a Child object to an existing Parent:

// Find an existing Parent record
$parent = App\Parent::find(2);

// Creates a new Child instance 
$child = new App\Child(['name' => 'mei']);

// effectively sets $child->parent_id to 2 then saves the instance to the DB
$parent->children()->save($child);

If called repeatedly, the above code will continue to save Child records with the same Parent.

So far so good. We now want to do the reverse of the above.

Let’s say we want a new parent for our child (programmatic adoption?):

// a new Parent object
$parent = App\Parent::find(31);

// updates $child->parent_id to 31
$child->parent()->associate($parent);
$child->save();

Our Child had parent_id of 2. Above, associate set the parent_id property of $child to 31, then $child->save() persists the change to the database.

Of course, it’s possible to for an object to have more than one parent relation (for example, a Comment can belong to a Post and an Author). As the association is only confirmed when save() is called, we can simply call associate with another parent object.

$parent = App\Parent::find(31);
// a new parent! 
$anotherParent = new App\AnotherParent(['name' => 'steve']);

// associate with our parent, as above
$child->parent()->associate($parent);

// set the second relationship 
$child->anotherParent()->associate($anotherParent);
$child->save();

Assuming that foreign keys are set, calling $child->save() before setting the second relationship would throw an error.

Now that the relationship is set, it’s also possible to sever it.

// sever the parent-child relationship
$child->parent()->dissociate();
$child->save()

In this example $child->parent_id is set to null. The save() method must be called to persist the change to the database.

Again, if foreign keys have been set an error would be thrown here. This code would only work if the foreign key (parent_id) is nullable.

Many-To-Many Relationships

Let’s move on from Parent and Child.

To illustrate the Many-To_-Many relationship we’ll use Post and Tag. These two are connected with the belongsToMany() method.

class Post extends Model
{
  public function tags()
  {
    return $this->belongsToMany(AppTag::class);
  }
}

class Tag extends Model
{
  public function posts()
  {
    return $this->belongsToMany(AppPost::class);
  }
}

A Post can have zero or more tags, and a Tag can have zero or more posts (in theory anyway, an unused tag is mostly pointless).

Such a relationship allows us to get all tags attached to a Post, and conversely get all posts attached to a Tag.

Unlike one to many relations, both records must be persisted before the following to work. The pivot table must have both ids.

In this example, a tags are added to a post.

$post = App\Post::find(3);

$tag = App\Tag::find(47);

$post->tags()->attach($tag->id);

The first argument of attach() is an id, but an Eloquent model can also be passed:

$post->tags()->attach($tag);

What happens above is that the pivot table gets a new record, with post_id set to 3 and tag_id to 47.

If your pivot table has extra fields, these can be set by passing an array as the second argument. The parent (in this case Post) model’s timestamp can be touched by passing in true as a third argument:

$post->tags()->attach($tag, ['expires' => date('Y-m-d H:i:s')], true);

To sever the relationship, detach() is used.

A single id or an array can be passed to detach(), or called without any arguments which detaches all of the parent’s relations.

// detaches $tag from $post
$post->tags()->detach($tag->id);

// detaches tags with the following ids from $post
$post->tags()->detach([41, 52, 54]);

$post->tags()->detach();

The first and second methods deletes rows corresponding to the $post with the given tag ids. The last method deletes all rows from the pivot table with that $post’s id.

Finally, the sync() method is provided to make life just a bit easier for us.

Let’s assume we’ve edited the post, and have remove one tag and attached another.

$post = App\Post::find(4);

// $post has tags with ids: 32, 45, 47

// tag 32 is no longer required, and we need to add tag with id 86

// so instead of this:
$post->tags()->detach(32);
$post->tags()->attach(86);

// we do this
$post->tags()->sync([45, 47, 86]);

Here the new tags [45, 47, 86] will be persisted, and tag 32 will be deleted from the pivot table. This also removes any logic for finding out which tags already exist for the post which are not meant to be removed.

Conclusion

Having spent time playing with this I have a much better appreciation of how it works.

Again, Laravel and Eloquent provide an elegant interface to the database, and lets us write readable code.

I’ve picked up a few points here myself, and I’ll be taking a look back at a few of my own projects to see where I can improve them.

February 12

15 Things We Learned Doing our Early B2B Outbound Sales

15 Things We Learned Doing our Early B2B Outbound [...]

As a first time founder, I was s*** scared on the first few sales calls. Imagine an introvert ex-engineer trying to convince experienced biz guys to buy his half-baked product.

I probably sucked big time.

Sure, we had the lead gen segmentation part of the things covered (that’s what we do), but the rest of our sales process was a mess.

We had rookie problems & questions like:

  • Who in the prospect’s organization should we contact?
  • Via what channels should we reach out?
  • How should we present our solution?
  • And how can we answer all their sharp questions?

I mean … I’m talking to some VP of something something and they should buy my 2 months old product?

REALLY?

And then they say: “I’m not interested.”
Or: “We haven’t budgeted for this.”

But, but… you fit our ideal customer profile perfectly. I don’t get it.

Hopefully, for you, it will turn out that your product is quite OK. That it’s going in the right direction.

And that what you really need to work on is the sales process. Actually reaching out to the most qualified prospects and steadily improving the way you convey the value of your solution.

Outbound sales is scary. And feels almost a bit dirty for product focused founders. But it’s worth it.

Tons of scrappy startups have done it before – and won, eventually.
Sometimes even with a product that the market didn’t really need.

sales_chance

Here is what we’ve learned about the very early sales process so far.


1. Outsource it – only if you DON’t want to win

Outsourcing the sales process sounds like a great idea for product focused first-time founders. “We built an awesome product that every business needs so let’s just hire some experienced sales people to sell it for us.”

We’ve seen our friends and clients try this approach multiple times. And it never works. They always scale back and do it in-house with founders in charge.

The thing is: early sales is as much about learning as it is about selling.

Here’s a few quick reasons why founders should lead the early sales efforts themselves:

  • Nail the sales process: it enables you to go deep into the sales tactics, try out different things and figure out what works for your particular product and market.
  • Condense your value prop: talking to real prospects and asking for money will quickly shape your product’s value proposition.
  • Figure out the most common sales objections: you’ll be able to hear all sorts of objections and prepare constructive rebuttals.
  • You’ll get to know direct substitutes to your product: Most often, your prospects already use something to address the problem you’re solving. A spreadsheet, an informal process whatever. The more often you see a similar substitute, the more you can focus on its weaknesses and emphasise your strengths.

All in all: the learnings from early customer dialogs turn out to be invaluable for the founders.

It gives you extra credibility within the team as well. For example, a freshly hired CTO at another startup said to me recently:

“Damn Jakob, I really like Anna. It’s the first time I’m working with a CEO who has sold the first 15 deals herself. And now she can be out there with the sales guys and say – You can’t sell it – watch me do it! It’s soo good for the team.”

Extra tip: Investors LOVE founder hustlers! Tell them some “field stories” about how you won the early deals and what the team managed to learn throughout the process. Maybe they won’t love your idea. But they will sure remember the hustle.


2. Avoid doing it alone!

It’s been said many times: founders need to do the early sales themselves.

Sounds simple and obvious, but …

You will be tempted to give up. Especially in the early days when you still struggle with the product-market fit.

That’s why I believe the best approach is to do it in pair. Have at least 2 people in the sales mode (at least partially): to support and improve each other.

Here’s what selling in pair can bring you:

  • Have a role-play partner. You can role-play your pitch and sales questions with someone.
  • Build up a list of sales objections. Work together on the sales objections and best fitting counter-arguments.
  • Help each other work on deals. Riff on different prospects and exchange ideas on how to push deals forward.
  • Iterate together. Polish the lead qualification, sales pitch, marketing materials and help lead the product roadmap.
  • Have a benchmark. Challenge each other and compare the metrics of reachouts, booked demos and won deals.
  • Start to specialise some tasks. Maybe it turns out that one is better at reaching out and setting up meetings while the other one convinces people with the big vision and gets them to sign on the dotted line. Speacilize the tasks early on and consider it for the later process.

do_it_in_pairs


3. Sell to your most ideal customers first

You absolutely need to figure out your ICP (ideal customer profile).

It will help you clearly define your currently addressable market and focus on companies that can actually buy your product – right now.

Here’s a few questions you should be able to answer after you’ve nailed your ICP:

  • What’s the profile of the company,
  • What do they actually do: What vertical / category are they?
  • How big are they,
  • Where are they located,
  • Do they use any special technologies, etc.

You can learn more about the ICP here.

Make a list of couple hundred of them and try to sell to them.

Extra tip: We narrowed down our list in the beginning even further. 100 leads that were right in our sweet spot. Our rationale was simple: if they won’t buy… who will?

Below is a great deck on how to think about ICP for your startup by Lincoln Murphy.


4. Use modern tools to find your ideal customers

Lead generation in 2015 really shouldn’t be your problem.

Use a product that can bring you closest to the ideal customers without spending tons of time on the boring sales research.

For example: if you’re looking for e-commerce stores in Germany, Pipetop is a good fit for you. Alternatively, if you are going to target restaurants in Chicago area, you should probably look at Radius.

Here is a quick example of how detailed segmentation works in Pipetop:


5. Don’t chase gorillas and squirrels

Rule of thumb: as an early stage startup, you should avoid selling to extremely big companies (gorillas) and very small startups (squirrels).

The rationale behind this is simple:

  • Big companies: They have very high expectations and standards for working with outside vendors. Sales cycles can take up to a year and there is usually more established competition already in the marketplace.
  • Small startups: Scrappy small startups are always low on money and will have a ton of special feature requests.

Instead, focus your sales efforts on the growing small and midsize companies. There’s plenty of them.

Check out this insightful Quora answer for further explanation.


6. Tap into your network to help you close the first 5 sales

Once you work in an industry for some time you must have a few good connections: your previous employers, ex-bosses, ex-peers, people you’ve met at meet-ups, etc.

Now it’s your time to ask for a few favours.

A few quick tips about the reachout:

  • Don’t spam your whole Linkedin network. You might think that asking all your connections for potential intros to interesting companies is a good idea.__ It’s not. Focus on the ones that you’ve previously did a favour for and that are a great fit to ask.
  • In fact, I don’t use Linkedin for messaging at all. I found that having a previous email relationship is a very good heuristic for whether I should ask someone for a favour. You don’t want to nag people you’ve only met once and connected on Linkedin.
  • Avoid asking for too much work. Messages like: “Hey do you know someone who might fit this and this criteria that I should contact,” require a lot of time from your peer.
  • Do the legwork for them. Ideally you have prepared big list of companies that you want to reach. Go through these companies on Linkedin and see if there are any connections in your network that could help with an intro. In that case, write a 3 line paragraph describing how your company helps other similar companies (focus on the value!). Encourage them to first reach out to their connection to see if they’re interested in the first place (remember: double opt-in intro is your friend).

Extra tip: in case you find it hard to reach the first 5 sales through connections, you are probably working on a wrong problem. There might be nothing wrong with your idea or product! But often only a great product is not enough in B2B; you really need a founder-market fit to succeed.

It’s much easier to get things off the ground when you can leverage your network. Or as the VCs like to say: make sure you have an unfair advantage.

friends


7. Prepare a list of common objections – and OWN them

You know the problem you are trying to solve in and out. You’ve done extensive customer development, your probably have some own frustrations that led you to create the product.

Make no mistake – in every sales call you will face objections:

  • “We are already using this other vendor.”
  • “This sounds way too expensive.”
  • “Can we see the SLA?”

The best sales people are prepared to handle all sorts of objections. Not because they are geniuses. But because they take their time to prepare.

Make a list of all the possible objections and write down your rebuttals. Then memorise them.

As you go through more sales calls and amass experience, tweak the responses and add more objections. And another positive side effect is that it will help you streamline the sales process and shorten the time it will take for new reps to come on board.

Extra tip: sometimes your written sales objections “FAQ” will look great on paper but will actually sound super wacky once you try to say it out loud. Try going over it with someone else and polish the answers so they sound natural.

Here’s a great video on this topic:


8. Smarten up your outbound email campaigns

Cold emailing has proven to be a very effective and scalable way of reaching super targeted leads on scale.

And hand in hand with this trend, there is now a whole wave of super useful sales email tools.

Here’s a few of our favourite email tools:

Sorry, the video below isn’t an email tool. But it’s so good I wanted to share it here nonetheless. It’s one of the shortest and straight to-the-point videos I’ve seen to help you craft great cold B2B outbound emails:


9. Forget about commissions – it’s all about the learnings

I mentioned this before – the early sales are best done by founders or the founding team members.

You don’t want real sales pros hustling for commissions.
Not in the very beginning, at least.

Remember: The goal of early sales is not to optimise the revenue; it is to help figure out the product-market fit, nail the pitch and prepare the sales process for later hires.


10. Don’t take silence for an answer

I know how hard this is – you’ve emailed the perfect contact 3, even 4 times. No reply.

If the company is a great fit, don’t give up. Always keep on trying until you reach someone.

Customize the email, make it more personal, try to show how you can provide value upfront. Maybe send an email to your target’s boss or a coworker.

By all means, keep on trying until you get some kind of response. If nothing else, you can at least learn what they’re currently using as a substitute and use it to tweak your value proposition or product.

silence


11. Make quick notes after each sales call

Look, most of the sales demos end up with nothing – the very best companies manage to get to about 30% close rate from demos.

And you’re early.

That’s why your conversion rate will be much lower. Try to make the best of the “lost” conversations and learn from them.

Here’s a quick checklist that we keep track of during our sales calls:

USE THIS FOR SPENCER!!!!

  • Has the prospect expressed any new objections?
  • Was there a special moment during the call? A moment when they clearly expressed excitement?
  • Are they clearly disengaged with a certain part of the pitch?
  • What do they currently use to solve the problem?
  • What is their biggest pain point?

Wrapping up a week going through this sales notes now always gives us a few pointers how to get better going further.


12. If you get stuck on NOs, try to tweak your sales process and pitch first

What to do if you keep hearing the dreaded “NO”?

Certainly, it would be futile to just give up. You must have started the company because you experienced the problem yourself. Because you were frustrated or just thought there is a much better way to solve something.

Keep pruning the sales pitch and target market segment – it’s by far the simplest thing that you can change in an early startup.

Changing the actual product is much harder and more expensive, so do it only if you are completely sure that that’s the right thing to do based on your sales conversations.

Extra tip: Startups have a tendency to fall into the never-ending cycle of:”Just one more feature”. I’ve been there myself.

The key is to be brutally honest with your product and progress. Most often, just adding a feature or three doesn’t change the course of a startup.


13. ABC: Always be charging

Nothing comes free in B2B. That’s good.

Even better: nobody expects anything to be for free in the business context!

In fact, as many experienced sales people could tell you, people value your product less when you don’t charge for it.

So don’t make this mistake.

Even when you are deep in the validation phase, charge. It can be daunting to ask for money for something that doesn’t even exist yet or is riddled with bugs. But do it – always ring the freaking cash register, as a VC Mark Suster says.

Charging real money has very positive side effects even if it’s not immediately material from the revenue standpoint:

  • People paid for your product. You have freakin’ customers! That means you’re already better than 50% of startups.
  • You’re the closer. The rest of the team sees it and starts to understand why we are doing this in the first place.
  • Pushback is good. You will get some honest pushback when you try to charge for things. It’s tough, but great for your product in the long run.
  • You can optimize the pricing. You will be able to do insightful pricing decisions. We can all read and theorise about our pricing strategies all day long. But in the end, it’s the customers that will actually give you an indication of how good your pricing is. Aim for the sweet spot: the spot where your customers think your offering is a bit pricy, but still end up paying for it. (Mixpanel seems to be a great example of this strategy. Everyone I’ve talked to think they’re expensive, yet they all still pay them.)

show_me_money


14. There’s nothing wrong with letting your prospects go

If you haven’t experienced this, don’t worry. You will. I totally sucked at it in the beginning.

This is how it goes.

You’ve had a very good sales conversation. Or three. The sale was basically sealed. (At least you thought so.)

Suddenly, the customer goes into the “silent mode”: an email, a voicemail, another email. Nothing. No reply. Nada.

You need to accept this. It’s a part of the game. Remember, even the guys from the top league convert only 30% of demos.

Most often, it has zero to do with you. Your prospect is busy or has 10 other things on her plate.

That said, the most natural and yet the worst thing to do in this case is to do nothing. To just let it be.

I recently stumbled across a very interesting follow-up technique that can help in this scenario. It advises to send your prospect the following email:

“I have not heard from you, so I am assuming you are no longer interested in our offering. I am withdrawing the offer as we agreed. Good luck to you and I truly wish you the best. Thank you for the opportunity to work with you.”

Now – 2 things might happen:

  • The prospect doesn’t respond. That’s it. Potentially you can try pinging another contact at the company, but at least you’ve given it everything.
  • The deal comes back. The customer calls or writes you back and reignites the deal – awesome!

15. Beware of the small & innocently looking feature requests

Breathe.

Yes, I know how important each prospect feels in the early days.

But sometimes, that feature request is just prospect’s excuse for not saying “NO” to you directly. And that tiny little feature often turns out to not be so trivial in the end.

The best piece of advice I ever got on this is to ask the prospect: “Is this feature a deal-breaker for you?”

The responses to this question normally fall into 3 buckets:

  • “Yeah, we will 100% not buy without this, it just doesn’t solve our problem otherwise.”
  • “Nah, not really. But it would be nice, you know.”
  • “Well, it would be cool, but we are also not sure at all if this product is a fit for us right now”

Now, at least you know where you stand:

  • Case #1: you have to assess whether the potential deal is big enough to justify a disruption of the roadmap.
  • Case #2: you can simply reprioritize a certain feature.
  • Case #3 is tricky: they are obviously not decided about your value proposition. One thing is clear, though: you definitely shouldn’t implement the proposed feature. The sale is rarely about a single feature. Get to the bottom of their problem and see if your solution is even a fit.

All in all – you have the vision for the product, so stick to it unless someone is screaming and offering you hard cash.

An extra bonus: your developers are going to appreciate certain level of stability in the roadmap. Sure, it’s a startup, priorities change.

But nobody likes the guy who comes in screaming through the door asking for a new feature every second day.

sales_developer


That’s it!

I think the most important learning observation throughout this process has been that the fastest growing startups aren’t necessarily much smarter. Or that they had a much better product to start with.

Not really.

The characteristic the fastest growing b2b startups have in common is that they approach the sales process as a science.

Founders do the early sales, figure out the initial sales process and core value prop. Then they hire the first sales people and a VP of sales that further develop their sales playbook and eventually turn it into a very predictable revenue generating engine.

We would love to know your experience with early stage outbound sales – what tactics did you use? What worked, what didn’t work?

Let us know in the comments section below or on Twitter.