Book Haul, October

October 14, 2019 • #

I’m up here in Jacksonville for medical follow-ups, so I made my regular trip to Chamblin’s to do some shopping. Here are the latest pickups:

Book haul October

Weekend Reading: Kipchoge's 2 Hours, Future Ballparks, and the World in Data

October 12, 2019 • #

🏃🏾‍♂️ Eliud Kipchoge Breaks 2-Hour Marathon Barrier

An amazing feat:

On a misty Saturday morning in Vienna, on a course specially chosen for speed, in an athletic spectacle of historic proportions, Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya ran 26.2 miles in a once-inconceivable time of 1 hour 59 minutes 40 seconds.

⚾️ What the Future American Ballpark Should Look Like

An architect’s manifesto on how teams can rethink the design of baseball stadiums:

Fans want to feel that the club has bought into them, and a bolder model of fan engagement could give them a real stake in the club’s success. One of the most promising recent trends in North American sports is the way soccer clubs are emulating their European counterparts by developing dedicated supporters’ groups. These independent organizations drive enthusiasm and energy in the ballpark, and make sure seats stay filled.

Instead of just acknowledging and tolerating the supporter group model, we’re going to encourage and codify it in the park’s architecture by giving over control of entire sections of the ballpark to fans. Rather than design the seating sections and concourse as a finished product, we’ll offer it up as a framework for fan-driven organizations to introduce their own visions.

📰 Does the News Reflect What We Die From?

Analysis of how media over-represents rare causes, and represents almost not at all the most common causes of death.

The History of Steel

October 10, 2019 • #

Since I’ve been following the progress studies movement and Jason Crawford’s Roots of Progress blog, it was cool to see video of his talk on the history of steel from a San Francisco meetup a few weeks ago.

Dictating Notes with Siri

October 9, 2019 • #

I’ve been looking for a smooth way to dictate notes and thoughts while hands-free from my phone, particularly while running or driving.

When I run I typically wear one AirPod and have my phone inaccessible in a waistband pouch on my back. Since I’m usually listening to audiobooks while running, I don’t have an easy way to log thoughts or perform the audio equivalent of highlighting things.

I never use Siri at all but for a couple of easy, reliable Shortcuts for dictation. I thought this was a perfect candidate to explore the “Hey Siri” activation support with custom commands from the Shortcuts app (formerly Workflow).

This shortcut from MacStories provides a simple base for appending to a note in the Notes app. This is good, but for my use case I need to be able to do this completely hands-off. Using Shortcuts to capture and send workflow data around typically requires access to the app, forcing the device to be unlocked for it to work. This still could be convenient enough for, say, dictations in the car where the phone is in its mount or nearby, but in my waist pouch it’s totally inaccessible. I don’t want to have to mess with anything at all while I’m in motion running, so I needed something else.

So I logged into Zapier to see what I could do with its webhook trigger. If you send data to Zapier, they make it easy to connect to hundreds of different web services using custom multi-step workflows. Mine was going to be simple: dictate note → append text to a Google Doc.

I created a document called “Scratchpad” in my G Suite account to house any speech dictations. All I want is a temporary placeholder where I can record thoughts to get back to later. Each new dictated note appends a new line with the content. I use a workflow like this to add tasks in Todoist, but I needed something looser and more flexible.

Create the Zap

On the Zapier side, I created a zap with a webhook trigger first. This gives you a URL to copy and bring over into the Shortcuts app.

Create the Shortcut

Create a new Shortcut with these three steps:

  • Dictate text — to capture the speech-to-text data
  • URL — to set the base URL for the Zapier webhook (copied from your zap)
  • Get Contents of URL — this is what assembles the data into a POST request to the webhook endpoint

The only things you need to do here are paste in the zap URL, set it to the POST method, and edit the “Request Body” property. I added a note property and inserted the value of Dictated Text which will pass in that transcription from your dictation.

Shortcuts dictation

Setup the Zap

Once that’s done, creating the zap on the Zapier side is only two steps: a webhook trigger:

Zapier dictation step 1

And an “Append to Document” action event with Google Docs:

Zapier dictation step 2

I’ve been using this for a couple of days for ad-hoc comments while listening to books. It’s been a convenient way so far to quickly jot things down like I do when I’m reading paperbacks or Kindle. The only downside is that Siri mis-hears things a lot compared to the Google Assistant, which we use a good bit around the house. The dictation is usually passable, since it’s informal and usually close enough that when I review the notes, I recall what I was trying to say and can correct it. If I ever end up with a backlog of notes in there without being reviewed, the error rate on dictation will probably leave me stumped.

Second-Order Revenue

October 7, 2019 • #

In SaaS there are dozens of common metrics to measure on performance, like a pulse check on your company. Because of the often-high customer-to-revenue ratio with SaaS products, recurring revenue itself becomes a watermark metric to watch as an indicator. Recurrence leads to investing in and measuring customer success metrics, in order to keep that recursion happening indefinitely — customer lifetime value gets large with satisfied customers!

NPS, time-to-value, net retention, and customer health scores are just a few of those metrics that help give you a leading indicator of future revenue potential.

I love the term “second-order revenue” as a way of emphasizing the value of these customer success tactics. First-order revenue is that which is generated directly by a customer. Second-order revenue is money that is a step removed from, but still derived from, that customer. Some examples:

  • Customer implements your product at one company, switches to a new company, then rolls it out there, too. One relationship, two accounts.
  • Referrals from one customer to other folks in their network — why NPS is so valuable!
  • Word of mouth is a type of referral, but is frequently less direct. Customer hears “good things” about your product from people in their network, an event they attended, or similar, then buys for themself.

For a company with good product-market fit and a high NPS, it’d be amazing to calculate hard numbers around second-order revenue. It can be hard to trace the exact source of a customer — often it’s not a single thing, but a combo. We’ve found single individuals that highly value our product can drive enormous amounts of benefit by getting this exchange right.

As Jason Lemkin says in the SaaStr post linked above: “don’t shortchange second-order revenue.”