On Meditation

I’ve been experimenting with and thinking about meditation in recent years and thought I’d share some of my thoughts with you. 

What this post is not: it’s not another “you should meditate” article. Even though I’ve seen quite a few valuable benefits, my practice is still semi-regular. And l debate how much time I’m willing to spend on meditation, given the opportunity cost. 

Instead, I’d like to share a few observations and invite you to share yours. If you have never meditated, some of these ideas might intrigue you and spark an interest in trying. And if you have experience with meditation, I’d love to compare notes!

Here are some realizations I had over time:

1. Our thoughts and emotions largely determine our destiny. And unlike other factors, they are not entirely outside of our control. Of course, they also define our subjective experience.

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On Amsterdam

As we were preparing for the trip, my wife read somewhere that Amsterdam is sometimes called San Francisco of Europe and jokingly told me that I was going to like it. Of course, you cannot truly judge a city based on a short tourist visit during which you only experience the best part but she was right—Amsterdam is now one of my favorites.

Amsterdam is beautiful. One word that was stuck in my head was “decorations”. Everything seems to be impeccably decorated. On the macro scale, the city itself is decorated with canals. On the medium scale, roads and buildings are decorated with trees and flowers. And on the micro-scale, there are thousands of tiny details—from exquisite architectural sculptures to art on building walls.

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Favorite Books of 2018 (and early 2019)

Here are some books I’ve enjoyed more than others in the last 14 months or so. I’ve included some notable quotes but not all are equally representative of the book contents.

Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker

“What is progress? You might think that the question is so subjective and culturally relative as to be forever unanswerable. In fact, it’s one of the easier questions to answer. Most people agree that life is better than death. Health is better than sickness. Sustenance is better than hunger. Abundance is better than poverty. Peace is better than war. Safety is better than danger. Freedom is better than tyranny. Equal rights are better than bigotry and discrimination. Literacy is better than illiteracy. Knowledge is better than ignorance. Intelligence is better than dull-wittedness. Happiness is better than misery. Opportunities to enjoy family, friends, culture, and nature are better than drudgery and monotony. All these things can be measured. If they have increased over time, that is progress.”

21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Harari

“Homo sapiens is just not built for satisfaction. Human happiness depends less on objective condition and more on our own expectations. Expectations, however, tend to adapt to conditions, including to the condition of other people. When things improve, expectations balloon, and consequently even dramatic improvement in conditions might leave us as dissatisfied as before.”

Culture Code by Daniel Coyle

“Give a good idea to a mediocre team, and they’ll find a way to screw it up. Give a mediocre idea to a good team, and they’ll find a way to make it better. The goal needs to be to get the team right, get them moving in the right direction, and get them to see where they are making mistakes and where they are succeeding.”

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Monthly newsletter: technology, startups, business growth and marketing

Monthly Newsletter: Issue 6

Hi, this is an issue of my monthly newsletter. I’ve picked a few interesting articles on technology, startups, growth, marketing and other topics for you.

I hope you enjoy the read with your morning cup of coffee. Let me know what you think! ~Max

Technology and Startups

Growth and Marketing

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Do You Need to Be Technical to Do Marketing in Tech?

I am sometimes asked if one needs to be technical to be successful at marketing of technology products. This question is particularly relevant to product marketing.

The short answer is “it depends”.

It depends on how you define “technical”. Let me explain.

Sometimes when people use the word, they talk about functional technical skills, i.e. being able to use marketing tools. And sometimes they talk about product-related knowledge and skills, i.e. knowing how tech products work.

So let’s break this down into two parts.

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Monthly newsletter: technology, startups, business growth and marketing

Monthly Newsletter: Issue 5

Hi, this is an issue of my monthly newsletter. I’ve picked a few interesting articles on technology, startups, growth, marketing and other topics for you.

I hope you enjoy the read with your morning cup of coffee. Let me know what you think! ~Max


Technology and Startups

Growth and Marketing

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competitive intelligence tools, market research

Best Tools For Competitive Intelligence

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could always be on top of what your competition is up to without making this your full-time job?

There are many online tools available in 2018 that can help you achieve exactly that.

For the purposes of this post, I will omit all the context about competitive intelligence — what it is, why it’s important, how to do it systematically and how to make it actionable. Instead, I will simply list useful tools and apps and provide brief descriptions.

Let’s dive right in!

Listen to Their Customers

  • B2B software companies: Capterra and G2Crowd reviews
  • E-commerce companies: Amazon reviews and Google Shopping reviews
  • Mobile apps: reviews on iTunes and on Google Play marketplaces
  • Reviews on social media platforms: read comments on ProductHunt, search Twitter for the responses to the company, look at comments on their Facebook page
  • Other categories: try searching directly for “company name reviews” or “product category reviews”

Listen to Their Employees

  • Do people enjoy working there or are they leaving in droves — Glassdoor.com

Review Their Funding and Investors

See Whom They Are Hiring And Where

Automatically Receive News About Your Competitors

Stay on Top of Company Announcements

  • Subscribe to their email newsletter(s)
  • Subscribe to their blogs and press releases

Detailed Analysis

  • Watch, read or listen to interviews with their CEOs or key executives.
  • If your competitors are public, review their S-10, 10-Q or 10-K reports on sec.gov. Insights to expect: financial metrics, market intelligence, future plans, etc.
  • “Mystery shopping”. Sign up for product trials or product demos to learn more about their products. Visit their stores and talk to their salespeople.
  • Do your own qualitative research. Not only talk to your customers but to customers of competing products too — so that you could learn about their strengths and weaknesses.

Other Tools

  • Review their traffic — Similarweb
  • Review company profiles — Owler
  • Understand their content strategy — BuzzSumo
  • Review their SEO rankings and PPC strategy — SpyFu
  • Get notified when their website is updated — Visualping

Consider Purchasing Research Reports

Browse reports published by these companies:

Obvious But Sometimes Overlooked

  • Corporate website and blog.
  • Social media: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Leverage Your Colleagues

  • Create a slack channel for competitive intelligence. Post big news and encourage all customer-facing teams to do the same, so nothing important goes unnoticed.

Let me know if I left anything out!

Monthly newsletter: technology, startups, business growth and marketing

Monthly Newsletter: Issue 4

Hi, this is an issue of my monthly newsletter. I’ve picked a few interesting articles on technology, startups, growth, marketing and other topics for you.

Hope, you enjoy the read with your morning cup of coffee. Let me know what you think! ~Max


Technology and Startups

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