The Road Less Traveled Insights, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Powered by Syndu How to win at life, part 1 of N
How to win at life, part 1 of N


(By Leland Francisco)

I want to win at life, like everyone. Winning means different things to different people.

How most people perceive winning:

  1. Get rich and live a relaxed life.
  2. Make the world a better place.
  3. Become a Zen monk fully immersed in the now.
  4. Enjoy every minute like a crazy hedonist.
  5. Grow an amazing family and have great friend companions.

Every person enjoys different flavors with different quantities to achieve winning.

But all of those require tools.
Tools help you win; they are the driving engine to winning.

You need to accumulate tools to win, or start praying for a rich uncle/Monk/God to pop up and give you everything you need.

Well, we are not going to wait for that.


One of the tools I find very effective is getting out of your comfort zone.

Bear with me. You heard it a million times (cliché alert).

Here are some examples of doing it:

  1. You have always worked in large corporations [GETTING OUT OF THE COMFORT ZONE] -> You start working on something for yourself.
  2. You don’t like the capitalistic world [GETTING OUT OF THE COMFORT ZONE] -> You start searching for the great things capitalism has done for the world and fully embrace it for a week.
  3. You never considered dressing up extra nicely [GETTING OUT OF THE COMFORT ZONE] -> You go to a fancy store, buy a very nice shirt and pants and go out with them to a Fancy Restaurant.




This tool expands your mind like nothing else.
Experiencing the world differently makes you brave, powerful, insightful and with a backbone to sustain a lot.

It also has a stacking effect – the more you get out of your comfort zone, the more the qualities needed to win at life improves.


How am I getting out of my comfort zone as of right now?

  • I am eating a lot healthier, something I haven’t done in a long time
  • I challenge my procrastination by working in hours I usually don’t enjoy working in (8-10 PM)
  • I am writing this blog post even though in my comfort zone I don’t believe it will reach anyone and will be read only by me

So go ahead and try one time today to get out of your comfort zone, you will gain at least 20 points closer to winning, I promise.

< /div> ]]> Mon, 09 Dec 2013 19:55:00 +0200
Ideas, what the hell do I do with them
Ideas, what the hell do I do with them

It starts with a safe



Well, you store them of course.

You buy a big fat safe, and you start piling them up in the safe, until I come over, and give you 100$ for each one of them and then you retire.

But, until I do come over to buy all those ideas, there’s something you have to do with them.

An idea’s worth

An idea is an odd thing, it’s a thought that sprung in your head, and you hoping it will grow wings and manifest itself to a beautiful butterfly (poetic-intended).

Ideas are cheap, I would say the average idea costs 1$. 0.1$ for a lousy one, and 10$ for a very good one.

It doesn’t really matter how I do my math, but I proved that anyone can come up with ideas, and if I got you incentivized enough (100$ per idea) you could retire just from making up ideas.

So, if ideas are worthless, what’s the point?

The point is the manifestation. An idea in your head or in your safe will not change anything. Ideas are meant to be executed or to be executed (pun-intended).

Executing ideas


Before you start running and taking people heads off, you must determine if an idea is worthwhile.

So, we will delay our execution for now.

Evaluating Ideas

You evaluate an idea to determine if to go forward with it.

Ideas can be very different from one another, and can be evaluated in different ways, but most ideas these days can be evaluated as follows (apologies for the length of text below, but I intend to provide you with real tools to work with):


Try getting as much people as you know to hear your idea and start performing an investigative process with them:

  1. Would you use that product?
  2. If not, why not?
  3. Would you pay 10$ for it?
  4. Do you know other people that might be interested in it?
  5. Would you use it on your mobile?

The point of this step is to refine your idea or throw it away, after doing a few of these “investigations”, your idea will either start to feel like it sucks, and you should throw it, or it will feel like it has potential, and you should refine it around the edges. Be true to yourself while doing these investigations.

Find competitors

If an idea has no competitors it usually means there’s something broken with it. A lot of smart people like you think of ideas, every day thousands of applications, games and websites go online, that have people behind them that thought they will be successful.

If nobody executed something that is similar to what you are attempting, then there is a problem with it. Competitors shouldn’t scare you off, you need to learn from them (are they successful? What are they doing well? What are they doing badly? How much are they making? Can I do something better than them?)

Follow the money

Start an excel spreadsheet, open google and start estimating your market and have a vibe on the business plan.

What I mean by that step is that we need to put some numbers behind what you are trying to do, and I think the best way I can articulate how, is give you an example:

I have an idea for a gestures application for your mobile, so that when you drive you don’t need to touch your phone to answer calls (you use “Waves” from 0.5M away from the phone, and I use the front camera to pick up these “Waves”). Here’s what I’m going to do to put some numbers:

  1. I will find how much users successful “gestures”/”voice commands” applications have in the Android market (easier than iPhone), but they must be similar to what I’m doing. I saw that some good ones have 100-500K users.
  2. I will estimate how much the maximum amount a user will pay for that application over his life time (either via ads, direct payment, inner-purchases), let’s say 0.2$
  3. Now I can estimate that the app I am making will make me a maximum of 2 (iPhone + Android) * 0.2$ (per user) * 500K = 200K$

Bear in mind, the numbers in the excel are there to give you a rough feeling on how much this venture is going to give back to you if it is successful. It is very easy to cheat yourself on this stage (pick the most successful application, say to yourself that you will do much better than the successful ones), get a reality check with someone else looking at the numbers, show them how you deducted your calculations, back the numbers with facts (e.g. the average mobile user life time value for an adventure game is XXX$).

By now you have dissected your idea pretty well, you got a vibe from it, and you can either decide to “promote” it, or throw it to the trash can.

Good ideas are those that got promoted enough so that they are viable enough. It’s a killing field for ideas, they get slaughtered every day, that’s why you have to keep restocking your safe, and keep promoting good ideas that you have evaluated.

Word of caution

It is easy to start being overly pessimistic and just dismiss any idea that comes along in this approach, you must find the middle ground, as we said – the execution is the most important thing, so you might think of a silly idea that has tons of competitors (e.g. “To Do” application for mobile) has no chance, but if you execute well (“AnyDo”), then you might get your market share and be successful.



In the end, you should have at least 1 idea that you feel is your “prime” idea, that got evaluated enough, and you are ready to execute.

< /div> ]]> Thu, 17 Oct 2013 10:57:44 +0300
The methods of starting your idea
The methods of starting your idea


(Image from jakeandlindsay)


There are different ways to go about starting (“How”) your idea/venture, these methods get intertwined in different times, but this is a general division of them.

The how

Give me the money

Try getting money from traditional investors (VC/Angel/Family and Friends) as fast as possible to get the idea going.

Get me those users

Try getting it out there as fast as possible, and getting users as fast as possible, that will grow into sustainable revenue.

To the crowd and beyond

Try crowdsourcing your idea, receiving money from the crowds.

Partner down

Find a partner (usually technical) to do most of the work for you, for free (or for minimal wage) + precentage of the business.

Partner up

Find a company that is interested in your idea, and form a partnership with them, this can either be a financial partnership, or a technical one.


The Methods of Execution

And while you are starting, there are different perspectives on how you should do it (“Method of Execution”).

I want it all

Create a full blown spec, cut no corners and go straight to a finished product.

Down to basics

Try going the MVP (“Minimum Viable Product”) route, by doing only the essential core of the idea.

Usability is everything

Invest heavily on the UI/UX parts, and don’t put emphasis on the functionality.

Down to the very basics

Formulate the idea in a different way that is way more basic (e.g. “Car driving directions app for mobile”, translated to you hiring cheap people to do the actual navigation directions manually)


A lot of times, the method of execution you select dictates how you should go about starting it. Which means you should first focus on the “Method of Execution” before “How” you are going to do it.

For example, if you decided that you “Want it all”, it usually means you will need to give up on trying to “Get those users”, or if you decided to go “Down to the very basics” then you should probably “Get those users” as fast as possible.

It might sound counter-intuitive, but that will provide better results than trying to go the other way around (you might be fishing for money from VC’s, when all you need is to put a simple website in 1 day to get those users…).

Also, I don’t believe there is a single correct answer for what is the best method of execution is or how you should go about executing it, some ideas can’t lift above the ground if they are not “very complete” (e.g. the ‘iPhone’, a space rocket), while others might just need the bare metal to get going (e.g. Consulting on how to eat right), and like everything, there are exceptions (some crowdfunding projects raised more than VC’s and allowed going the "Want it all" path).

My suggestion is to usually to go bottom-top:

  • Can I just do the very basics?
  • Damn, I can’t, so maybe just if I focus on making it something very sexy, will it be enough?
  • Darn it, I’m going to need to throw in some functionality in, let’s go MVP
  • This rocket will just not fly (why the hell are you building a rocket?!) if we don’t make it perfect

I also created a small diagram on how I see the method of execution correlates with the “how” in my eyes (5 means strong correlation, 1 means small correlation):



Just a quick but very important tip: 90% of the ideas I encoutered could be executed very well in the first two steps (Very Basics/Nice UI), not even get to the MVP, which means they don't require any real funding, just you getting it out there.

To sum it up, you have your grand idea, you evaluated it and you just picked the execution mode and how you are going to do it.

Next up I will get my hands dirty, and run through the whole cycle - find idea, evaluate it, find the how and the execution method.

< /div> ]]> Mon, 21 Oct 2013 11:38:09 +0300
How do I find an idea?
How do I find an idea?

Finding ideas is easy.

It’s so fricking-super-easy I shouldn’t even write about it.

But I will, because for some reason people are stuck in the idea phase.




Before we start

Let’s just do a small mind trick before we start, because I really love it.

If I were to give you 100$ for every idea that you give me, would you be able to generate 100 ideas in a month? (That is an easy 10K$ per month!)

Okay, back to finding ideas.

Where ideas originate from

Well, from a lot of places, but here are some of those:

  • Someone is doing manual work instead of automating it
  • Something is taking too long to do now, it can be done quicker/faster
  • Something can’t be done right now, it can be fixed so it will be done
  • Something is done uncomfortably right now, it can be made beautiful and comfortable to do
  • Someone is unaware he can do something that will benefit him

In the end, it’s about fixing something broken.

Okay, so how do I go about finding things that are broken?

Broken World

Open your Eyes, the World is broken

Our world is far from perfect, if you just open your eyes, you will spot broken things all around you, here are just a few examples of broken things I encountered today:

  • It took me 20 minutes to find a parking spot
  • I was being very unproductive today
  • I wanted to buy some healthy home food to serve me for the next few days, couldn’t find something
  • We played around with Siri, it really sucked

This list was compiled under 3 minutes, without giving it too much thought.

People share their pain

In the world we live in, not only do you feel pain, but you share it with the world, you use Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, online Forums, and flat out tell people around them that X sucks.

Here are a few examples:

  • Open AskReddit, it’s one of the biggest sub-reddit, it has 5M people subscribed, and people are asking none-stop for questions, most of the times these questions lead to something broken or bothering them
  • Open Google, and start free searching, for example I searched “its annoying when you can’t”, and I saw for example: “How to annoy your friends in Facebook” and “How Facebook is Using You to Annoy Your Friends”, it seems that there are annoying things in Facebook that require fixing. I just picked these combination of words and got an idea from it, you can pick any topic (e.g. “Weather app sucks”, “Website lousy UI”…). The concept is to use a negative word in an area or field that interests you
  • Open the webpages for applications and games you use, and check their review page, you will usually find things that they don’t like in their application/game, it means you could have done the same application/game but improved the parts that other people don’t like (so many startups start this way)

People share their passion

When people love something, or want something, they show it, when they do, they signal you an area/solution that they want.

Here are a few examples:

  • Open Kickstarter and check the popular section, the projects that get well-funded are those that people are highly passionate about, you can think of something in the same “areas” of those popular projects (or even do the same thing)
  • Open Reddit (again), and go to one of the subreddit’s you like, and search for things like “I would buy”, “take my money”, reddit is a community that is very vocal on what they will buy (here is an example from 1 month ago in an online game I am playing)
  • Check startups that are being funded/having exit's, you can learn from that what ideas/areas of interests are popular/requested

Brainstorm yourself


I like to sometime take a product/application/website that got to my attention, and start brainstorming it:

  • Why is it successful/why is it not successful
  • What would I have done differently if I would have built it
  • Are there features missing?
  • What do I think of the UI/UX?
  • Can the concept be used differently/in other ways?

And so forth, this brainstorm session usually yields insights on new ideas for similar products/projects, or sometimes even brand new



Okay, so I just went over with you a couple of angles on how to be creative and generate new ideas, but we didn’t discuss how you should evaluate your idea, decide if to go for it and other things on how to go forward, this will be covered in the next post.



< /div> ]]> Fri, 11 Oct 2013 15:54:48 +0300
There’s a first (or second) time for everything
There’s a first (or second) time for everything

It has been a while since I had a blog.

What is the purpose of this? I’m still not sure, it feels like an experiment, but it might just be something real.

I’m trying to develop my business, and through it hack my way to freedom, I think people are bound to their work place, and I am one of those people.

I hope some day some powerful and brave men (and women) will be able to change the course of how this world is navigating itself, I am pretty sure that this world can function a lot better, while providing each of us the freedom we all yearn for.

Until the day I am powerful or brave enough, I will focus on my own personal freedom hacking adventure, while trying to help those close to me in their own way.

I don’t think this place will serve one purpose, but time will tell.

Happy Hacking!

< /div> ]]> Tue, 24 Sep 2013 13:04:16 +0300