Running A Marathon

I don’t know anything about running a marathon. The physical one. I have never run it. To be able to do so, I’d need to train, at the very minimum for a few weeks. I’m going to struggle to run for 5 miles even. I’ll probably do it, but I may not enjoy it or consider ever doing it again.

I have however run a mental marathon. I trained for it and I enjoyed it. Although it was tiring like the physical one, I thoroughly enjoyed running it and kept going back to run it.

When you have large goals or you’re trying to build something complex, it won’t happen easily. It might be as easy as running in a straight line, but you would probably need to run for a long time and you will need to build endurance. Once you have built endurance you can probably do it over and over again. You would also enjoy every time you would run this marathon. However, if you don’t run a mental marathon for a really long time such as taking time off and putting the brain at ease, you will need to train again, just like the physical one.

Your IQ wouldn’t have changed during this time. You would still be mentally as capable as you were before, but you wouldn’t have the endurance to run a mental marathon. On the bright side though, for a former marathon runner, it’s easier to build endurance again. Easier than someone who hasn’t done it before.

If you feel you’ve big goals and the aptitude or the IQ but are somehow still helpless and incapable of getting to them, it’s the endurance issue. You get on the mental treadmill, but you’re too irregular. You build the endurance a little bit, and then you go back to your old ways. You fail to build on your previous progress. If you can do that, you’ll see yourself on the other side.

Breaking Problems Into Pieces

When I was in college, I didn’t do too well. I always thought this isn’t for me and education scared me. I read too many subjects with no interest or aptitude in, and I didn’t study enough of what I loved. Of course, due to lack of options of subjects in traditional college education in Pakistan.

I also think that I didn’t do too well because the education system made me study 350 days, and then examined me in 15 days. I think the reward feedback loop was broken to the core and there was no reason for me to concentrate basically through out the year. In summary, the system didn’t break down the problems for me into smaller pieces.

When I started university, I started to do well instantly. I feel I can give credit to two things that I’ve already mentioned above. Firstly, 80% of the time, I was studying what I was really interested in and had aptitude for. Secondly, I was getting assessed for quizes, presentations, assignments, mid-terms, and eventually finals. I was rewarded for studying daily, and my problems were broken down into pieces. I could solve smaller problems that led to solving a larger problem in the end, and I was rewarded through-out the process. I graduated with cum laude.

I understood that for me to do well, I’ve to break down my problems and also create sequential reward system where possible. So I started doing that in my life and my business from that point on.

When you think about creating a content website that will have 50 million pageviews everyday, your brain would likely not allow you to feel that this can be done. If you’re struggling with the first 50 views, how can 50 million views ever happen? When you think about running an e-commerce store handling 10,000 orders per day, you probably want to give up, before you even begin. And when you think about wanting to make a million dollars, a million sounds a bit too much for you to make.

But breaking everything down to smaller pieces makes it easier, at least for me.

When I and Saad assess potential business opportunities we tear the business apart, and break it into pieces. We identify the small contributions that we can make, and small problems that we can solve, that could eventually result in this large-scale business that we are assessing at the time.

To give you an example, if our goal is to create a YouTube channel with 100,000 subscribers, we would identify the average view count of many YouTube channels with 100K subs. Suppose that number is 10 million views. This means, we can get 1 subscriber for every 100 views we deliver. Next we’ll identify various combinations of getting 10 million views. For example it can be 10 videos with 1 million views (highly unlikely) or it can be 100 videos with 100K views (still quite unlikely) or it could be 300 videos with 33K views each (possible).

Next we identify ways to deliver up to 30K views to a video. How much can we bring through external websites. How much can we bring by embedding on our blogs, or on 3rd party blogs by creating relevant visual content for someone’s textual content. What volume can be be driven by Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp etc. 

How many views can we do inside Youtube through search. What kind of search volume will our content have and various combinations of that for example videos with low searches but low competition and videos with high searches and high competition etc. How can we create a chain of views from one video to another through interactive video cards in the end etc and what percentage of views could come from there.

In the end we want to break things down to pieces so small, that literally anyone could do the simple tasks that need to be done on an on-going basis to create something much larger.