Michel Bayan, Executive Vice President of Fragmob, learned as a child to distinguish between the ten million things you can have and the ten million things you can’t have.
By Michel Bayan
I never met my paternal grandfather. He passed away before I was born, but my father would always tell me stories about him. He was a cellist by night and a stunt motorcycle driver by day. My father would always give me bits of wisdom from my grandfather. One piece of advice that has always stuck with me is a lesson in focus and contentment, and it was one of those lessons that I kept learning at different levels as I matured, a lesson that has brought itself to my business many times:
“Life is twenty million things. Ten million of them you can have. Ten million of them, no matter how hard you try, you can never have. If you spend all of your time focusing on the ten million things you cannot have, you’ll never have time to enjoy the ten million things you can have.”
At Fragmob, we’ve got two main challenges of focus every day. We make mobile tools for direct sellers in companies like Silpada designs and the Avons, Amways and Herbalifes of the world. Our products are all about focus. We leverage users’ and their companies’ data to keep them focused on the best activities to take for their business and their teams in real time. As a direct seller, there are about a million things you can do for your business at any moment. Your company’s compensation plan offers virtually no limit on how much money you can make. It’s great to have so many options and such potential, but when I was in the field myself, I discovered that people found all of those options confusing, and confused minds take no action. So we crunch a bunch of data for them, delivering a simple and engaging experience that keeps our users focused on attainable actions they can take right now. This focus keeps them working. Our active users open our apps 17 times a day for a taste of where their business is and what to do next. Limiting their options and creating the right experience for a user is critical here. Simply showing them reports and information doesn’t drive action. It’s the science of data combined with the art of user experience that drives focus and engagement.
On the other end, we have our own internal challenges of focus. Our tech team is incredible, but they too have their limits. My imagination and passion for new ideas and features often makes my eyes bigger than our stomachs. We work really hard to stay focused on the right ten million things: the ones we can have now and the ones that users, partner companies and our own experiences validate. This is a big challenge for me. I can see the tremendous value of all of these amazing features we want to add. Every day, we are disrupting the way direct selling is done, changing the rules and playing a role in making this opportunity more attainable for more people. Many of our feature ideas are so exciting that we want to just jump in headfirst and start programming. Luckily, we’ve got a leadership team that seems to have a grasp on the lessons of my grandfather, and they remind me of them often.
The real art of this lesson is in assessing which category all of these options live in: the attainable or the unattainable. For our users we use design, business intelligence and data analytics to objectively point them in the right direction. But when you’re pushing the envelope of an industry, you’re on the road less travelled. The line between what you can and cannot have is blurred, and it’s dynamically changing over time. There’s also the question of whether we will be able to achieve this new feature. Will people use it? Will they pay for it? That’s where “lean startup” principles help out a lot. Make a decision, start down the road with something simple and make sure you’re getting “validated learning” along the way. We show users, customers and prospects early demos and mockups of new features so we’re not developing in a vacuum. The market is always informing our progress, and we’re not afraid to stumble. Most of the best software in the world had to pivot a few times before it found its sweet spot. If we move fast and learn faster, we evolve rapidly, and everyone wins. After all, the twenty million things you can and can’t have today are not necessarily the same as the ones of tomorrow. And down the rabbit hole we go….
Michel Bayan is the Executive Vice President of Fragmob.