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Brian Balfour: 10 lessons on career, growth, and life

Brian Balfour: 10 lessons on career, growth, and life

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5 Oktober 2023

Brought to you by Jira Product Discovery—Atlassian’s new prioritization and roadmapping tool built for product teams | Coda—Meet the evolution of docs | Wix Studio—The web creation platform built for agencies — Brian Balfour is the founder and CEO of Reforge. Prior to Reforge, he was the VP of Growth at HubSpot and co-founded three other startups. In today’s episode, Brian shares 10 lessons from his career, growth, and life: • Lesson 1: Inspect the work, not the person. • Lesson 2: Tell me what it takes to win; then tell me the cost. • Lesson 3: Problems never end (and that’s okay). • Lesson 4: The year is made in the first six months. • Lesson 5: Growth is a system between acquisition, retention, and monetization. Change one and you affect them all. • Lesson 6: Do the opposite. • Lesson 7: Use cases, not personas. • Lesson 8: Solving for everyone is solving for no one. • Lesson 9: Find sparring partners, not mentors or coaches. • Lesson 10: 2x+ the activation energy for things that need to change. — Find the full transcript at: https://www.lennyspodcast.com/brian-balfour-10-lessons-on-career-growth-and-life/ — Where to find Brian Balfour: • X: https://twitter.com/bbalfour • LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bbalfour/ • Website: https://brianbalfour.com/ — Where to find Lenny: • Newsletter: https://www.lennysnewsletter.com • X: https://twitter.com/lennysan • LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lennyrachitsky/ — In this episode, we cover: (00:00) Brian’s background (04:29) His Notion doc of lessons (07:35) Lesson 1: Inspect the work, not the person (12:39) Implementing lesson 1 and a recap of Reforge Artifacts (16:01) Lesson 2: Tell me what it takes to win; then tell me the cost (18:17) Why you should revisit your ideal end state often (20:25) How planning works at Reforge (23:50) Lesson 3: Problems never end (and that’s okay) (26:31) The “players, coaches, captains” framework (30:24) How AI will allow for smaller teams (34:13) Small teams do bigger things (34:37) Lesson 4: The year is made in the first six months (38:20) Lesson 5: Growth is a system between acquisition, retention, and monetization  (40:44) Examples of engagement and retention problems from HubSpot and Reforge (46:21) Lesson 6: Do the opposite  (55:25) Brian’s thoughts on category creation (57:39) Lesson 7: Use cases, not personas (1:01:18) The use case map (1:03:38) Lesson 8: Solving for everyone is solving for no one  (1:11:14) There are many ways to do product (1:16:52) Lesson 9: Find sparring partners, not mentors or coaches (1:23:49) Advice on setting the tone for group sharing (1:25:07) Lesson 10: You need to give 2x the activation energy for things that need to change (1:32:02) Lightning round — Referenced: • Reforge: https://www.reforge.com/ • Frank Slootman on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/frankslootman/ • Artifacts: https://artifacts.reforge.com/artifacts • Ray Dalio’s 5 Step Process: https://commoncog.com/dalios-5-step-process-to-getting-what-you-want/ • Building effective teams: https://www.reforge.com/blog/building-effective-teams • Scott Belsky’s website: https://www.scottbelsky.com/ • MOOCs: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massive_open_online_course • The Creative Act: A Way of Being: https://www.amazon.com/Creative-Act-Way-Being/dp/0593652886/ • A Breakdown of LinkedIn’s AI Assisted Growth Loop: https://brianbalfour.com/essays/a-breakdown-of-linkedins-ai-assisted-growth-loop • Lex Fridman Podcast: https://lexfridman.com/podcast/ • Acquired podcast: https://www.acquired.fm/ • Unsolicited Feedback podcast: https://www.reforge.com/podcast/unsolicited-feedback • Elena Verna Analyzes Airtable’s Shift to Enterprise and Slack’s Product Roadmap: https://www.reforge.com/podcast/unsolicited-feedback/episode-5 • The ultimate guide to product-led sales | Elena Verna: https://www.lennyspodcast.com/the-ultimate-guide-to-product-led-sales-elena-verna/ • How to become a category pirate | Christopher Lochhead (author of Play Bigger, Niche Down, Category Pirates, more): https://www.lennyspodcast.com/how-to-become-a-category-pirate-christopher-lochhead-author-of-play-bigger-niche-down-category/ • Dharmesh Shah on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dharmesh/ • The ultimate guide to JTBD | Bob Moesta (co-creator of the framework): https://www.lennyspodcast.com/the-ultimate-guide-to-jtbd-bob-moesta-co-creator-of-the-framework/ • How to sell your ideas and rise within your company | Casey Winters, Eventbrite: https://www.lennyspodcast.com/how-to-sell-your-ideas-and-rise-within-your-company-casey-winters-eventbrite/ • Target the Right Market: https://hbr.org/2012/10/target-the-right-market-2 • Douglas Atkin on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/doatkin • How Linear builds product: https://www.lennysnewsletter.com/p/how-linear-builds-product • How Notion builds product: https://www.lennysnewsletter.com/p/how-notion-builds-product • Aaron White on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/aaronmwhite/ • Ariel Diaz on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/arieldiaz/ • Ray Dalio’s website: https://www.principles.com/ • Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future: https://www.amazon.com/Zero-One-Notes-Startups-Future/dp/0804139296 • The Wolf of Wall Street on Netflix: https://www.netflix.com/title/70266676 • Margin Call on Prime Video: https://www.amazon.com/Margin-Call-Kevin-Spacey/dp/B005UT29Z0 • The Big Short on Netflix: https://www.netflix.com/title/80075560 • The Bear on Hulu: https://www.hulu.com/series/the-bear-05eb6a8e-90ed-4947-8c0b-e6536cbddd5f • Halt and Catch Fire on Prime Video: https://www.amazon.com/Halt-Catch-Fire-Season-1/dp/B00KCXIHJG • Vuori: https://vuoriclothing.com/ • The man in the arena: https://www.theodorerooseveltcenter.org/Learn-About-TR/TR-Encyclopedia/Culture-and-Society/Man-in-the-Arena.aspx • Startup Dads podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/startup-dad/id1693312339 — Production and marketing by https://penname.co/. For inquiries about sponsoring the podcast, email podcast@lennyrachitsky.com. — Lenny may be an investor in the companies discussed. Get full access to Lenny's Newsletter at www.lennysnewsletter.com/subscribe

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