“If there was anything I’d learned, its that the man never chooses the woman. All he can do is give her an opportunity to choose him – Neil Strauss”
I just happened to read this book called The Game by Neil Strauss. The book elaborates the experience of the author with different dating gurus and their principles in approaching women so as to be successful in the dating world.
Interestingly the rules of dating seems to have a lot of commonality with the principles of product management and marketing. As I was reading through the book I couldn’t help draw parallels between these two worlds of dating and product management. Hence the question, do better product managers who intuitively understand these principles of influence, end up dating hot girl(s)?
To better organize some of the theories discussed in the book, I wanted to pick up three key phases of acquisition, activation and retention in a product lifecycle and then draw parallels.
Some of these principles, indicative not exhaustive apply in the acquisition phases of the product. In the dating world, the guy is trying to get the girl of his interest.
Playing Hard to Get:
One of the most common dating advices that we have all grown up with is playing hard to get so that you demonstrate the attribute of superior value. While this has consistently worked well in the dating world, it seemed to have found a place in business as well. I find Google being one of the good employers of the tactic of playing hard to get. The invite only method which they pioneered for Gmail and then with Google Plus seemed to always pique attention and curiosity amongst the prospective users who desire to get the access at the earliest. This tried and tested approach is also well utilized by the One Plus mobile phones.
is the idea that in order to attract the most desirable girl, its necessary to stand out in a flashy and colorful way. And so the story goes, that the author and his guru, Mystery dress up in a flashy way every time they enter the club so as to gain the immediate attention of girls. Note: flashy is equal to something extremely unique such as unique hairstyle or bling jewellery that the girls just cant help but notice. In the product world, if your unique value proposition follows a peacock theory chances are you may get noticed immediately. If your business is in a crowded existing market such as ecommerce, your peacock theory may be something like promising the customers a near real time delivery or if its a in a new market, say it was 2009, then it could have been organizing the unorganized driving segment such as what Uber did. Essentially, you need to stand to stand out with a strong value proposition and an instant appeal.
The core lesson from a dating guru, Mystery:
Dont approach a woman with a sexual come-on. Learn about her first and let her earn the right to be hit on. This is very similar to our customer development model.
For those who are not familiar with customer development model, the core premise is that dont build and pray that the customers will come. Instead adopt a learning and discovering mindset uncovering the problem with the customers and therewith the right solution. The idea is not to push what you have, but to learn about your customers relentlessly, create a great value prop through your product and finally letting the customer earning the right to use your product by exchange of money or whatever currency deemed appropriate.
The three second rule:
A man has three seconds after spotting a woman to speak to her. If it takes any longer, the girl is likely to think he’s a creep. I believe a similar rule applies when you are explaining to your product to your prospective audience. Well, in the product world, it may be a thirty second rule where within the thirty seconds if you just cant get their attention, chances are you missed them. The point here is that to convey anything within thirty seconds, you should be able to articulate whatever you build in a simple understandable way.
Demonstrate Value in a Group (Adoption Curve)
When you approaching a pretty woman, approach her in a group. And when approaching a group ignore her for the most part. If there are men in the group, focus your attention on the men. If you win the trust of men, then you reduce the defense of the group to approach the girl of your interest. Interestingly, your ultimate target when you develop a product is the early majority. To get to the early majority you need to gain adoption with early adopters and innovators (in this case the men in the group) only post which you will be referred into the mainstream market. If you fail to gain the initial traction, you may never hit the early majority and suffer the fate of failure of most tech products such as Apple Newton and Google Wave, where the product couldnt propel its adoption into the mainstream market.
Indicator of Interest (IOI)
An IOI is a way in which the girl indicates that she is interested in you as soon as you meet her. Some of the IOIs are she asks you what your name is, she asks you if you’re single, etc. Per the book, receiving 3 IOIs means that the girl is interested in you. This is very similar to the activation of the customers in the minimum viable product. For those who are not familiar with the activation, it means the first action that you want the customer to take while building a feature/product. So when you are building early stage products, your only objective is to get the IOI from the customers by activating them across different aspects of the product. Example: a MVP of an ecommerce product may test for activation by checking if the users are adding the item to a cart instead of investing to build the entire product. By doing just this, you will get to learn if the customers are appreciating your product in terms of the selection, the price point and other value proposition that you are promising to offer because of which they have taken their first step of activating by adding the item to cart. Upon receiving sufficient level of activation (read 3 IOIs) you may roadmap the future releases.
Cat String Theory
Have you ever seen a cat play with a string? Well, when the string is dangling above its head, just out of reach, the cat goes crazy trying to get it. It leaps in the air, dances around and chases it all over the room. But as soon as you let go of the string and it drops right between the cats paws, it just looks at the string for a second and then walks away. To hook a pretty girls attention in a relationship on a constant basis, dating gurus profess the cat string theory. The idea is showing just enough attention and retracting to let them wanting more. Interestingly most habit forming products, hook you by providing you just enough and leaving you with wanting more.
Nir Eyal’s Hook, demonstrates that you can never really predict what you may see in Facebook at different times of the day. So when you use it, you HUNT for the information, then you feel satiated and leave. Only to come back again wanting more.
Law of investment
Another theory, mentions that to be in a happy relationship, the investment from both man and woman should always be the same. Infact, any kind of investment emotion or time or any other form is the starting point for forming and sustaining most relationships. Care should be taken that the investment remains the same from both ends to sustain a happy and fulfilling relationship. Relating back to the product world. Nir Eyals’s habit forming hook mentions about how our perception changes once we invest in a product. Example: the moment I type a message in my whatsapp, I look for a response or the moment I update my FB status, I check the no of likes.
Roller Coaster Theory:
The roller coater theory describes the “perfect attraction” which provides a feeling of excitement as the roller coaster rises to a summit and then whooshes down in a rush; then it offers the feeling of safety, because it was designed to allow you to have this experience in a comfortable, safe environment. Finally as soon as the ride is over you want to climb back on it and ride again and again. The theory of roller coaster is analogous to what we call as product market fit in the early stages of the product. The perfect attraction recipe for customer adoption is that design a feature which delights them with excitement such as the emotion that the customer goes through when their post on facebook goes viral, while at the same time providing a safe and comfortable environment with all the necessary privacy and security settings. In the end, it leaves the customer with a feeling to go back again and repeat what they did, which is when the product is deemed to be in fit with the market.
Love Lasts Forever:
Quote from the book .
“We have this idea that love is supposed to last forever. But love isnt like that. Its a free flowing energy that comes and goes when it pleases. Sometimes it stays for lifie, other times it stays for a second, a day, a month or a year.”
Isnt this true for products as well? None of the products are loved for eterntiy. The handful no of companies which are more than a century old is a testimony to this. In this age of digital world, I find the love (for products) even more ephemeral. The no of companies that we loved and has died/is dying is only increasing – digg, flickr, Orkut, etc.
I have just listed some indicative theories from the book and there is more to it. However, the effort here is to drive home the point that the principles of influencing human is same whether you want them to entice them as your customer or wife/girlfriend.
So if you are a product manager or an aspiring one, have you intuitively or knowingly applied any of the above principles dating/marrying hot women. Let me know what you think.
Disclaimer: I am not endorsing the views of authors in The Game. The endeavor here is to draw parallels from other areas into product management so that we could learn and appreciate the similarities. Join our product management workshop today.