Author Archives: Jeffrey Ito

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Jeffrey Ito is a graduate of the University of Southern California from Los Angeles, California with a Bachelor of Science in Industrial & Systems Engineering and an SAP Specialization. Jeffrey Ito is the Founder of Lithium Gold Ventures, LLC. He is an entrepreneur who loves new technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, 3D printing, Bitcoin, and iPhone apps. Jeff enjoys helping people gain an edge with 21st Century break-through technologies. His ultimate vision is to create optimized technology systems that help improve the lives of other people. If there are any questions, comments or feedback you have for me - feel free to contact me at any time.

Hooked: How To Build Habit Forming Products

Hooked: How To Build Habit Forming Products Cover

Hooked: How To Build Habit Forming Products is a crystal clear take on how to build products that keep users coming back for more. The Hooked methodology works perfectly for technology startups and potentially even physical products. Whether you are an entrepreneur, marketer developer or innovator you can benefit from the habit-forming qualities inside this book.

Hooked CoverThe core message of Hooked is that every person is programmed in such a way that their lives revolves around habits. The fact is that habits help us make easier, quicker decisions. The brain stores behaviors and automatic responses for different situations as a survival mechanism. Thus, past success can drive future actions (habits). We as humans use tools for productivity and the smart phone is a tool unlike any other. It is quite literally the computer that we carry around in our pockets which can play games, record video, watch movies, communicate, access tools, pay for purchases and infinitely more! A growing generation of mobile devices means time and attention are going towards our phones, and since even Silicon Valley is trending towards app startups, it makes sense to understand the Hooked model thoroughly.

By training users to pick up a new habit, the person is essentially reprogramming the way they do things. Instead of spending money on advertising, focus on creating a product that truly enhances the customer’s day-to-day lives. The fact is that successfully changing long-term user habits is exceptionally rare. To build a mind monopoly one must provide a service that is not just marginally better but nine times better. Being first to market (and the mind) is just as crucial. Google vs Bing is a perfect example. 

All humans are motivated to seek pleasure and avoid pain; to seek hope and avoid fear; and finally, to seek social acceptance and avoid rejection. Although seeking pleasure and avoiding pain are key motivators in all species, make sure your core product is a “painkiller” rather than a “vitamin”. 

Hooked SystemA habit is when not doing an action causes a bit of pain. Understanding cognitive biases and core motivators of humans will be key to building a product that taps into psychological triggers both external and internal.

The FOGG behavior model, represented by the formula B = MAT represents that a given behavior will occur when motivation, ability and a trigger are present at the same time and in sufficient degrees. If one of these factors is missing then the ability for action is limited. For example, if your phone rings but it is on silent, the trigger is missing. If you get a phone notification from your annoying school bully, then motivation is missing to reply. If the phone rings and it’s your girlfriend calling but your legs are immobile then action is missing. Subsequently, all 3 factors must be maximized to achieve the desired behavior from the user. 

The ability for the user to take action must simple and clear. A cluttered interface or design may lead to confusion and inaction. Here are the six elements of simplicity that influence the likelihood of a particular behavior occurring

  • Time – how long it takes to complete an action
  • Money – the fiscal cost of taking an action
  • Physical Effort – the amount of labor involved in taking the action
  • Brain Cycles – the level of mental effort and focus required to take an action
  • Social Deviance – how accepted the behavior is by others
  • Non-Routine – according to Fogg. “How much the action matches or disrupts existing routines.”

Variable rewards, when compared to static rewards, are key to dramatically increasing the amount of times a “pigeon taps the lever”. You want the user to keep coming back for more and each time not knowing what they are going to get. Variable rewards are the drug that keeps users addicted. There are a few types of variable rewards that work especially well to influence the human psyche.

The Three Variable Reward Types: 

The Tribe – Our brains are adapted to seek rewards that make us feel accepted, attractive, important and included. 

Reward: Connectedness with other people. 

The Hunt – The need to acquire physical objects, such as food and other supplies that aid our survival, is part of our brains operating system. 

Reward: Material resources and information. 

The Self – The rewards of the self are fueled by “intrinsic motivation”. The self-determination theory espouses that people desire, among other things to gain a sense of competency. Adding an element of mystery to this goal makes the pursuit all the more enticing.

Reward: Intrinsic rewards of mastery, competence and completion. 

“Experiences with finite variability become less engaging because they eventually become predictable”

When autonomy feels threatened it is human nature to feel constrained by lack of choices and rebel in reactance. Giving the user autonomy within your product will lead to repeat engagement. Before users become hooked to your product and create mental associations with automatic behaviors, they must first invest in the product. At a simple level the more users invest time and effort, the more they value the product or service. Give the user freedom to explore and let them invest themselves into the app. 

As humans we tend to overvalue our own actions and seek to be consistent with past behaviors. This means that as soon as we find a solution that is better than an old way of doing things and enjoy it, we are likely to switch over to the new solution. Minuscule improvements or marketing angles will do little to persuade the person to another product unless it is better by numerous factors. This means that if you score big on a habit-forming product it will be difficult for competitors to come in and take your users. The Habit ZoneWhen we see others enjoy awesome things, we try a little harder and condition ourselves over time to enjoy it too. A great recent example of this is the timing of Uber and Lyft where a 3 year head start can make a world of difference in users and investors.

Habit forming technologies adapt to our needs by allowing us to make investments in the product to enhance the experience. Every song added to iTunes and every film uploaded to Netflix means more content and value for the user. Information generated, collected or created by users whether it is a photo, video, tweet or news link are examples of stored value in the form of content. 

By getting users to upload their own personal content, the effort associated with providing the data and the rewards received from other users combine to create a powerful hook that brings people back to the service time and time again. Followers, likes, friends and badges are fantastic rewards for investing in a product. 

These investments by the user are excellent opportunities for loading personal triggers, and hence the Hooked cycle goes on. 

(Exercise) The Five Fundamental Questions For Building Effective Hooks

1. What do users really want? What pain is your product relieving? (Internal Trigger)

2. What brings users to your service? (External Trigger)

3. What is the simplest action users can take in anticipation of reward, and how can you simplify your product to make this action easier? (Action)

4. Are users fulfilled by the reward yet left wanting more? (Variable reward)

5. What “bit of work” do users invest in your product? Does it load the next trigger and store value to improve the product with use? (Investment)

Learn more about Hooked on Nir Eyal’s blog.

Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products

Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products

Tag: Recommended Books
Publisher: Portfolio
Publication Year: 2014
ISBN: 1591847788

How do successful companies create products people can’t put down?Why do some products capture widespread attention while others flop? What makes us engage with certain products out of sheer habit? Is there a pattern underlying how technologies hook us?Nir Eyal answers these questions (and many mo...

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How do successful companies create products people can’t put down?

Why do some products capture widespread attention while others flop? What makes us engage with certain products out of sheer habit? Is there a pattern underlying how technologies hook us?
Nir Eyal answers these questions (and many more) by explaining the Hook Model—a four-step process embedded into the products of many successful companies to subtly encourage customer behavior. Through consecutive “hook cycles,” these products reach their ultimate goal of bringing users back again and again without depending on costly advertising or aggressive messaging.
Hooked is based on Eyal’s years of research, consulting, and practical experience. He wrote the book he wished had been available to him as a start-up founder—not abstract theory, but a how-to guide for building better products. Hooked is written for product managers, designers, marketers, start-up founders, and anyone who seeks to understand how products influence our behavior.
Eyal provides readers with:
• Practical insights to create user habits that stick.
• Actionable steps for building products people love.

• Fascinating examples from the iPhone to Twitter, Pinterest to the Bible App, and many other habit-forming products.

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Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal

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Rich Dad, Poor Dad

Rich Dad, Poor Dad Header

There aren’t many authors that are able to motivate you so much as to actually help you gain control over your life and develop a framework for accelerating it. Robert Kiyosaki is definitely one of them – and in ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’, he proves why his words are meant to inspire action.

While most people will categorize this book under ‘Investment and Money’, the first thing you need to understand is that it is really not all about the money. This book is written to trigger our mind out of the comfort zone we are in. The mental models make us aware of a system that teaches us how to think and what actions to take during our lifetime.

The main inspiration which can also be noticed in the name of the book comes to Kiyosaki from the two father figures that were present in his life: his biological and his friend’s father. Categorizing both of them as fathers, Kiyosaki reveals how different their perspectives are when it comes to money and financial decisions – and which perspective is made to prosper.

In a nutshell, both of his fathers looked at money from a different angle. One of them worked 9 to 5 and valued hard work. The other dad relied on passive income and built income streams from real estate, royalties and more. We must view situations in as many possible perspectives as possible. For example, going to real estate school, getting married and raising a family are directions society wants us to accept. Buying expensive stuff to boost our ego and make false impression of ourselves is another one. We must be able to perceive freely and understand things for what they truly are to truly understand how systems work.

Rich Dad, Poor Dad book coverAs Kiyosaki states, we don’t need anything that we haven’t earned to maintain an image. Moreover, he signifies the importance of our motives – and how being motivated by not just money but the world around us can help us succeed. Being educated does not always mean being smart. Lessons can be learned anywhere and at any time, and all we have to do is accept that we are all equal from the start.

When it comes to financial investments and money, Kiyosaki provides well-informed fundamental financial tips. He explains all the concepts in a visual fashion, using diagrams to back up his theories and detail important things accordingly. Unlike many other books on investment and money preaching the ‘do’s and don’ts’ of investing money, ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ is a smart guide to making money work for you.

Obviously, there is no one-size-fits-all formula to making money and being successful, as it all lies inside each one of us and how we allocate our time and assets. In his blog, Kiyosaki covers this from an entrepreneurial point of view and an outside-the-box thinking.

The true mastery of Kiyosaki is his balanced approach to both of the father figures and the decisions that made (one of) them successful. Through detailed six lessons, he explains how his rich dad taught him to change the normal perspective and always use a different way of thinking.

As per the famous quote from the book,

Know what an asset is, acquire them and become rich”,

The applicable solution to financial despair is through the accumulation of assets and reduction of liabilities. Assets let money flow in and liabilities make money flow out, so in order to achieve financial independence one must accumulate assets and diminish liabilities. For example, investing money in property is adding asset value, which can pay reasonably well in the future to pay off expenses. Remember that a home will come with liabilities such as insurance, taxes, etc which must be accounted for. The important thing is to know the long-term cost in terms of assets and liabilities that must be paid each month before taking on major financial decisions.

In short, the crux of the book is to never depend too much on your job and education as it all can fall apart with downsizing. Instead increase your asset portfolio and find ways to earn more money. Once your assets are successfully generating cash flow, rather than buying things and turning them to liabilities, re-invest the cash into other assets to accelerate your income earning potential. This allocation of assets is how the rich become richer because they know and follow the simple tactics of making money the right way.

What we can learn from this book is that life throws us a lot of opportunities and risks over its course and money, although essential, are a reality only for the people who know how to change their thinking and step out of their comfort zone.

Rich Dad Poor Dad: What The Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!

Rich Dad Poor Dad: What The Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!

Tag: Recommended Books
Publisher: Plata Publishing
Publication Year: 2011
ASIN: B0175P82RA
ISBN: 1612680011

Rich Dad Poor Dad, the #1 Personal Finance book of all time, tells the story of Robert Kiyosaki and his two dads—his real father and the father of his best friend, his rich dad—and the ways in which both men shaped his thoughts about money and investing. The book explodes the myth that you need ...

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Rich Dad Poor Dad, the #1 Personal Finance book of all time, tells the story of Robert Kiyosaki and his two dads—his real father and the father of his best friend, his rich dad—and the ways in which both men shaped his thoughts about money and investing. The book explodes the myth that you need to earn a high income to be rich and explains the difference between working for money and having your money work for you.
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Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

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Books Books By Billionaires

Shoe Dog: A Memoir By The Creator Of Nike

Shoe Dog: A Memoir By The Creator Of Nike Header

How does one go from a $50 investment of mom’s money to a $100 billion dollar shoe giant?

Nike is one of the iconic international brands today. If you take a look at the top athletes across the world, most likely they wear Nike’s on their feet. To know that the brand started with humble roots would inspire just about anyone to do great things. Shoe Dog: A Memoir By The Creator Of Nike by Phil Knight is a riveting, courageous and inspiring story of how one man – entrepreneur, athlete and father – took on all odds to see his Crazy Idea come to life. 

For Phil Knight, countless failures, setbacks and obstacles are worn like badges of honour. Every obstacle overcome just leaves the competition further back in the dust. Shoe Dog is an endlessly entertaining read that had me flipping through the pages like a madman to see what would happen next. Phil’s relentless determination is contagious. Any entrepreneur with a Crazy Idea should read this memoir. 

Shoe Dog HardcoverAs a young adult, Phil spends months vagabonding across the world in different countries. These seemingly inconspicuous adventures had a profound impact on shaping Phil’s perspectives and destiny as a leader. By being around those in varying cultures, customs, status, cuisines, architecture, languages, dress, mannerisms, etc one is able to truly grasp what the human condition means. His experiences even inspires me to consider long-term travel.

On a whim, Knight schedules an interview with a Japanese running shoe manufacturer and presents himself as the representative of an American distributor interested in selling Tiger shoes to American runners. The executives like what they hear and Mr. Knight places his first shoe order soon thereafter. What really mattered in this situation, is the grandiose vision he shared.

Business is a lot like sports. Because managing cash flow and growth is extremely delicate, the company (originally called Blue Ribbon) would constantly run out of money yet manage to find a way through the situation. An important lesson is to always have a backup when funding your idea and also sourcing your product. Besides, there is too much capital available for savvy entrepreneurs with great ideas. When a bank rejected Nike on the basis of accounting, Japanese investment firm Nissho saw the vision and invested even more into his Crazy Idea.

“Like books, sports give people a sense of having lived other lives, of taking part in other people’s victories. And defeats.”

This is a Hero’s journey every step of the way. Phil leads a misfit gang of outcasts and together they build a brand that is unlike any other. People don’t just buy Nike shoes, they buy what it feels like to be an athlete. Nike is about artistry in motion. There is an element of freedom when competing – individual or team – that bonds the human spirit together. This, is the essence of Nike.

Overall, the book is a great source of what not to do in business, which is probably even more important than knowing what to do.

As the story unfolds, the importance of human relationships comes into play. This is not just the memoir of a singular person, but of the souls and persons, great adventures and struggles behind the brand. Form a team that has something to fight for and they will perform their best. Achieving success takes cooperation and a little bit of luck, but mostly never giving up and taking on failures head on. An entrepreneur’s vision supersedes all the naysayers who say they can’t do it, and their team is there to back them up.

The last important lesson Phil shares is that of time and making sure to live your life the way you want, how you want. At the end of a life lived, you will look back at your memories. Make sure they were well spent with the people you love and doing the things you really wanted to do. This is the secret to living an amazing life. Just do it.

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike

Tag: Recommended Books
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Year: 2016
ASIN: B0176M1A44
ISBN: 1501135910

In this candid and riveting memoir, for the first time ever, Nike founder and board chairman Phil Knight shares the inside story of the company’s early days as an intrepid start-up and its evolution into one of the world’s most iconic, game-changing, and profitable brands.Young, searching, fresh...

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In this candid and riveting memoir, for the first time ever, Nike founder and board chairman Phil Knight shares the inside story of the company’s early days as an intrepid start-up and its evolution into one of the world’s most iconic, game-changing, and profitable brands.

Young, searching, fresh out of business school, Phil Knight borrowed fifty dollars from his father and launched a company with one simple mission: import high-quality, low-cost running shoes from Japan. Selling the shoes from the trunk of his Plymouth Valiant, Knight grossed eight thousand dollars that first year, 1963. Today, Nike’s annual sales top $30 billion. In this age of start-ups, Knight’s Nike is the gold standard, and its swoosh is more than a logo. A symbol of grace and greatness, it’s one of the few icons instantly recognized in every corner of the world.

But Knight, the man behind the swoosh, has always been a mystery. Now, in a memoir that’s surprising, humble, unfiltered, funny, and beautifully crafted, he tells his story at last. It all begins with a classic crossroads moment. Twenty-four years old, backpacking through Asia and Europe and Africa, wrestling with life’s Great Questions, Knight decides the unconventional path is the only one for him. Rather than work for a big corporation, he will create something all his own, something new, dynamic, different. Knight details the many terrifying risks he encountered along the way, the crushing setbacks, the ruthless competitors, the countless doubters and haters and hostile bankers—as well as his many thrilling triumphs and narrow escapes. Above all, he recalls the foundational relationships that formed the heart and soul of Nike, with his former track coach, the irascible and charismatic Bill Bowerman, and with his first employees, a ragtag group of misfits and savants who quickly became a band of swoosh-crazed brothers.

Together, harnessing the electrifying power of a bold vision and a shared belief in the redemptive, transformative power of sports, they created a brand, and a culture, that changed everything.

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Shoe Dog: A Memoir By The Creator Of Nike by Phil Knight

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The Macintosh Way

The Macintosh Way Header

The Macintosh Way is Guy Kawasaki’s vision of “doing the right thing and doing things right”. This book is a nostalgic reference to one of the greatest eras in modern computing – the 80s. Essentially, it is an insider’s look at the Art of Guerrilla Management and is a very effective game plan to building a lasting organization. Apple is one of the elite technology companies in the world and has been that way since its inception.

1984 was the introduction of the Macintosh which ushered in a whole new era of computing. As the chief evangelist for Apple, Guy leads you into the trenches of doing battle at Apple and creating game changing products. If you have read some of Guy’s other books, such as The Art of The Start, then you may recognize his fun, breezy writing style. The book is engaging and sprinkled with wit and humor throughout the pages which makes the story of Apple seem even more epic. 

Doing The Right Thing

When it comes to establishing a Macintosh Way environment, the top guy is the most important factor. They reflect the personality of the organization. If the top guy changes perspective so goes the organization. If the top guy is “the man” and has unstifled creative control over the company then the organization will be unstoppable.

5 Special Characteristics Of The Top Guy (for all the entrepreneurs reading)

  1. Passion for products
  2. Strong sense of security
  3. Willingness to give employees rope
  4. Ability to live vicariously
  5. Chutzpah 

Secondly, hiring the right people and instilling the correct values is critical to running an effective Macintosh Way organization. 

A players hire A players, while B players hire C players

The Macintosh Way book coverBeing a Macintosh Way company means making your best effort, putting everything on the line and swinging for the fences. Even when Macintosh Way companies fail, they do it with style and the knowledge that they gave it their best shot. Every experience is something to gain.

Product development is an art, not an assembly line process. It is very much both an intellectual and artistic endeavor that is almost impossible to master. A Macintosh Way company knows this and puts it into action. There are four characteristics of a great product: Deep, Indulgent, Complete and Elegant (DICE).

Great service is the third essential ingredient of the Macintosh Way. Support should be ingrained into every company regardless of cost. Instead of viewing support as an extra cost, make it the utmost priority. Service is the first line of defense for your customers problems, and understanding your customer is essential to making great products. The Macintosh Way companies do things right for the sake of doing things right. 

How great support works

  1. Put the customer in control 
  2. Take responsibility for your shortcomings
  3. Don’t point the finger
  4. Under promise and overdeliver

How to integrate great support

  1. Hire the right people
  2. Empower employees to empower customers
  3. Integrate support into the mainstream
  4. Provide the support staff with diversions
  5. Thank your customers 

Marketing is the fourth essential ingredient of The Macintosh Way. Rather than focusing on the technology used for marketing, The Macintosh Way advises to focus rather on the marketing of the technology. Substance over form. Grab the hearts and minds of your customer and you will have their attention.

Doing Things Right

In terms of doing the right thing user groups, communities, key influencers and cults are vital to getting to the heart of your customers. Members of the user group support one another on the overall vision and, in essence, will vouch for the company as evangelists. 

Cult Of MacEvangelism is selling a dream. It is getting other people to believe in your product because they love it. There is no “convincing” people that your product is better. The outstanding product, customer service and brand should speak for itself. 

At its core your company should have the right environment, products, customer support and informative marketing. And the positioning must be clear. 

This book is a gem. Good luck finding a copy.

Knowing how Apple exists at its core can reap great dividends in the future when it comes to launching your own particular software on an Apple platform. In an era where Apple dominates mobile computing and the app marketplace, it would behoove fans to learn more about its history, philosophy and culture.

The Macintosh Way

The Macintosh Way

Tag: Recommended Books
Publisher: Scott Foresman Trade
Publication Year: 1989
ASIN: 0673461750
ISBN: 0673461750

The Macintosh Way is a "take-no-prisoners guide to marketing warfare" says Jean Louis Gasse, founder and president of Be, Inc. Must reading for anyone in the high-tech industry, it is valuable, insightful guide to innovation management and marketing for any industry.

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About the Book

The Macintosh Way is a “take-no-prisoners guide to marketing warfare” says Jean Louis Gasse, founder and president of Be, Inc. Must reading for anyone in the high-tech industry, it is valuable, insightful guide to innovation management and marketing for any industry.


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The Macintosh Way by Guy Kawasaki

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