I’ll never forget one time when I was struggling for weeks with a specific product design challenge; it was a boring one, but there was a UX issue that was causing a lot of friction for our users. I had our design team try everything I could think of to make the interaction smoother. But no matter what we did, nothing really helped all that much.
One day, I was having lunch with a friend and I was telling him about the issue we were having. “Yeah, we went through the same thing”, he said. “As soon as we tried [simple but non-obvious fix], it went away.” We built and pushed my friend’s simple fix that afternoon, and just like that, the problem was solved.
That was when I truly internalized something that seems pretty obvious (though I had largely ignored it before): I am not special. Every single challenge that I’ve had has been solved before, and it’s exponentially easier and more efficient to start with those solutions and adapt them to my business, than it is to start from scratch each time. That was when I started reading every business book and blog I could get my hands on, and taking every meeting I could to learn from people smarter, more experienced and further along in their careers than I am.
(1) Cf. Should you blog (or tweet)?