Tag Archives: Understanding

Succinct communication

Succinct communication is the practice of using as many words as necessary, and not more, to make your point.

Succinct communication, whether written or verbal, is a signal of understanding. The other ends of the spectrum, which are not communicating at all or communicating with too many words, often suggest a lack of understanding.

The ease with which written content can be created on the web, and the resulting content explosion, make succinct communication increasingly valuable. The desire to communicate succinctly is one of the reasons behind the length of my blog posts which are often shorter than most other written web content. However, I know that I still have room to improve.

Here’s a succinct piece on the benefits of succinct communication.

How to have better conversations

I recently listened to an excellent TED talk by Celeste Headlee on how to have better conversations.

Conversational ability has always been an important skill, and it is becoming even more important as technology further increases the frequency and pace with which we communicate both verbally and in writing.

Here are the 3 strategies which most resonated with me:

1. Listen to understand, not reply

2. Don’t equate your experiences with their’s

3. Stay out of the weeds

You can listen to the 12 minute talk below.

The user/customer journey

When you hear a new startup pitch for the first time, it’s often hard to wrap your head around how the startup works. As you’re trying to do so, in a good willed attempt to help you understand, many founders begin to talk about different parts of what the startup does, with no unifying thread of how these parts relate to one another. This makes matters worse.

A much better approach to understanding what the startup does is to ask the founder what the step by step user or customer journey of someone using the startup looks like.

For example, in the case of an e-commerce startup selling physical goods, what sequence of events takes place after a customer places an order? How and at what time is the payment taken? Is the order routed to a specific supplier, or to the company’s warehouse, or does it depend on the specific product that is ordered? How and in how much time is the order prepared? How and in how much time is the order delivered to the customer? How does the customer track and ask questions about their order during this process? After receiving the order, can the customer choose whether to return the order or not? If so, how does the return take place? If not, how does the company measure the customer’s satisfaction? When and how does the company pay the supplier?

Similarly to the post-order customer journey outlined above, it’s possible to outline other user or customer journeys. Once again, in the context of an e-commerce startup selling physical goods, this would include a user’s pre-order website navigation journey and the separate pre and post-order customer service journeys.

The benefit of this approach is two-fold.

First, it helps the investor better understand what the startup does.

Second, the founder’s ability to clearly communicate the step by step user or customer journey reflects the extent to which they have thought about and understand what their startup does. This is an indicator of the startup’s eventual probability of success.

Math and empathy

Last weekend, I wrote about how studying math helps us identify patterns which are an important contributor to successful investing.

As Roger Antonsen, a mathematician at the University of Oslo, puts forth in this TED talk, the study of math also helps us realize that the same pattern can be expressed in different ways. So, depending on the perspective you take, the same pattern can also be understood in different ways.

If this is the case, then to truly understand something, we need to be able to see it from different perspectives. And seeing something from a different perspective that belongs to someone else is empathy. In other words, to truly understand something, we need to be able to empathize.

I couldn’t embed the video in this post, but you canĀ watch it in full at this link.