My Personal Manifesto

Every good leader, artist or philosopher has a personal manifesto, a list of principles they live by. These are mine.

Be loyal.

Do what it takes for friends and family.

Never forget those who supported you even in the smallest way.

Take a stand. Openly admit when you’re wrong.

You don’t always have to be right.

Be honest. Sugarcoating makes someone feel good for a second but honesty can help in the long term.

Confidence is more powerful than you think. Fake it till you make it.

Don’t take anything for granted. You have to work for it.

It’s ok to say “I don’t know.” Just find the answer.

Be curious. It can be about anything. Go on google and find the answer. Don’t settle.

Take risks even if it scares you.

Wish well for everyone, even if you don’t like them or vice versa.

If you really want something, go after it. You will get it eventually.

Don’t spend every dollar of your savings. Have at least a 2-3 months runway.

Fail. It’s the only way to succeed and add character.

Give everyone 3 shots before losing trust on them.

Don’t be self conscious. People are too busy to actually give a shit about you.

Show up.

Be optimistic. It’s your natural superpower to fight every battle.

Let other’s take the spotlight too.

Money is not the goal. Never be attached to it.

Be empathetic. Don’t fail to show that side of you.

Give back as much as you can.

Feeling low? Take a second and be grateful for what you have. Food, shelter, water.

Everything happens for a reason.

Experiences outweigh cost. Chose them over money, always.

Put yourselves in an uncomfortable zone everyday. It’s where magic happens.

Feeling scared? That means you’re learning.

Don’t judge before you have evidence.

Nice guys may finish last but they eventually get what they want.

If you try to please everyone, you won’t please anyone.

Strive for excellence not perfection.

Desire is greater than talent.

Getting angry doesn’t solve anything. Take a walk.

If it’s working, do more of it.

Feeling absolutely tired or overwhelmed? Order a pizza, watch a Bollywood movie.

Always understand “why” people are the way they are.

Listen to music. It’s good for the soul.

Don’t like someone? Lose your connection with them. Even thinking about them can bring negativity in you.

Simple test of integrity – don’t do anything that can cause you to lose sleep at night.

Leave your ego at the door.

Take responsibility for your mistakes. Don’t make excuses.

Instead of 10 small talks, have 1 deep or meaningful conversation.

If you get haters, you’re probably doing something right.

Envy someone’s experience but don’t be jealous of what they have.

Be you. You don’t need to try to fit in.

I Dropped Out Of School, Got A High Paying Job In Silicon Valley….And Then I Quit.

In the fall of 2014, I would’ve been going back to college as a senior, enjoying the last year and taking cool pics with my friends at graduation in the spring.

Instead, I decided to take the year off to work at an awesome company in SF.

But every morning I asked myself “Is this the craziest thing you can do while taking a year off?” The answer was “No” every time.

So I quit my high paying job and moved back home to start what I’m calling an “exploratory year.”

These days, it’s common to take time off from college and go travel the world or work to pay for school.

The difference is I’m not taking the time off for either of those two reasons.

I’m taking this year to focus on self-improvement and experimentation.

In the past couple years, I’ve had the opportunity to work at some great companies yet everytime I’d go to work, I felt like I was watching from the sidelines.

You don’t become Michael Jordan without being on the court and in the game.

Ever since I graduated high school, my goal has been to work for myself but I always ended up working for someone else because it felt safer.

Sure I had tried taking stabs at a few projects in my free time but I never went all-in. There was always a cushion whether it was a job or school.

Now there’s no school and no a job.

This is putting me in an “uncomfortable zone” where there is no safety net.

The feeling of not knowing what tomorrow looks like is something you can only learn from when you’re all in.

Every single day I’m learning by doing new things for myself.

So what’s next?

I’ve started a growth agency and am already working with a few awesome clients.

Along with that I’m also working on building software products. My first one is already live and it’s called PDFLeads.

The Simple Emotion Behind High Performing Content

List posts.
How to posts.
Case studies.
Cheat sheets.

What makes them common? They all work almost every single time.

You’ll find several posts suggesting to create this type of content but no one really has the answer to why it works.

The reason is a simple human emotion: LUST.

The lust to learn, the lust to get better, the lust for knowledge.

When your target audience is looking for a solution or an answer to their problem, they’re actually trying to become a better version of themselves.

If your content solves their problem, it’s bound to work.

5 Of Today’s Best Headline Crafters

Let’s cut through the crap, 80% of the people read your headlines and only 20% actually read the post.

So in the past few months, I got obsessed with copywriting especially headlines.

As I was learning by sifting through blogs, there were times where my hand would start moving subconsciously to click on a post because the headline was so irresistible.

5 people’s posts continuously did that to me:

1) Peep Laja – ConversionXL

How Much Copy to Write on Your Home Page?
When Conversion Optimization Best Practices Fail
The Psychology of a Successful Testing Program
Top 10 Articles on ConversionXL In 2014
How to Analyze Your A/B Test Results with Google Analytics
Testing The Hamburger Icon for More Revenue
The Greatest Factors Limiting Your Testing Program
Website Redesign for Higher Conversions? Tread Lightly
5 A/B Tests You Should Be Running on Your Landing Page Opt-In Forms
How to Use Qualitative Research to Drive Conversions

Why they work: They capture the emotion of “lust.” Readers lust to learn and Peep’s headlines give that every single time.

2) James Altucher – Choose Yourself

What I Learned About Life After Interviewing 80 Highly Successful People
Nothing Is Wrong With You
The Idea Matrix – What Changed Everyone’s Life After “Choose Yourself”
Life is Like a Game. Here’s How You Master ANY Game
Step By Step Guide to Make $10 Million And Then Totally Blow It
Can You Do One Page a Day?
10 Things You Need to Know To Become a Great Leader
OK. One Quote from Robin Williams
10 Things You Need to Know To Become a Great Leader
The Worst Interview EVER. What I Learned From It.

Why they work: There’s so much damn conviction. He bleeds honesty in every single post he writes, including his personal life.

3) Neil Patel – QuickSprout

The Ultimate SEO Checklist: 25 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Your Next Post
How Blogging Affects Your Bottom Line
7 Tips for Increasing Your Click-Through Rates on Facebook
Why Transparency Is The New Marketing
How to Create The Perfect Social Media Post
How to Build a Million Dollar Business From Your Personal Brand
10 Marketing Predictions You Should Prepare for in 2015
What Are The Best Times to Post on Social Media
How to Keep Your Readers on Your Blog Longer
Don’t Blog Unless You Use These 11 Tools

Why they work: Neil has been in marketing for the longest time so he attaches his personal experiences to learn from each post.

4) Joana Weibe – CopyHackers

How Much Is High-Converting Copy Worth to YOU? (No, Really, Calculate It Here)
2015 Challenge 4 of 4: Make Yourself Really, Really, Shockingly, Nauseatingly Uncomfortable
2015 Challenge 3 of 4: Stop Building Something That “May” Solve a Problem for People You Don’t Even Know
2015 Challenge 2 of 4: Build Something That Solves a Problem for People You Know
2015 Challenge 1 of 4: Loosen the Reins
The Non-Scuzzy and Totally True Story of How I Earned 6 Figures in 12 Months by Mastering the “Hidden Elance Economy”
How to Use Magic, Attention Management and Persuasion’s Darker Arts
And You Thought “Jobs to Be Done” Was Just for Product Development…
An Open Letter to Copywriters and the People Who Want to Hire Them
Explained and Demonstrated: How to Find Your Messages in Reviews on Amazon and TripAdvisor

Why they work: She’s just damn good. Joanna is a copywriter by trade and knows how to teach other’s the craft.

5) Dharmesh Shah – OnStartups

Some Easy Tips For Making Hard Decisions
6 Simple Ways To Be Much Happier Than You Already Are
Worthless Questions No Interviewer Should Ask
7 Traits Of Truly Sensational Startup Employees
Allow Yourself Labors Of Love
My Controversial Answers to Common Startup Questions
Why You Shouldn’t Drop Out To Start Up
Marketing Doesn’t Have To Be Evil
Why Friends Should Pay Full Price
How To Keep Software From Stealing Your Job

Why they work: He might be the odd man here, but his geeky and genuine voice wants you to take his word. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to meet him and can vouch that he is as genuine as he writes.

So who’s your favorite?

2015 – The Year Of Getting Your Marketing Data Together

It’s 2015 and B2B marketers have been armed with “marketing stacks” full of powerful tools but the data is all over the place.

It’s got to the point where an online marketer will end up having anywhere between 5-10 tools in his/her arsenal.

Let’s quickly guesstimate all the data a good B2B SAAS marketing team might have:

Top of the funnel (Google Analytics, Optimizely, Ads):
Landing Pages

Trials (App Backend / KISSMetrics):
Signup Source/Attribution
Funnels like visitor to signup

Lead Nurturing (Mailchimp or email automation like Vero):
Customer Service

Leads/Deals – (Salesforce or some other CRM/App Backend):
Sales cycles
Sales email data 

Post signup – (Stripe, Excel)

There’s going to be way more to this depending on the size of the company.

I’m not the only one thinking about this challenge. Last month I talked to several marketers to get an idea of how they currently do reporting.

The recurring theme was to export all the data and calculate everything manually using excel.

Even new research for 2015 marketing challenges echoes my thoughts.

How do you currently run the process at your company?

Use This Tactic To Get Your Dream Job Or Internship

Let’s face it. No one gets lucky and gets their dream job or career. There has to be some form of preparation towards it.

I often get asked by friends how I landed my internships and always have offers on the table.

You need to know what you want to learn.

The tactic to get the job you want is to look at job descriptions of roles you see yourself in.

In my case I want to learn about growth and lead generation.

I use a job board like ventureloop to search relevant positions.

Below is an example of one I found:

how to get your dream job

The job description literally tells you what you need to know to get that position. What a concept!

Now, how do you get these skills? If you’re a college student, spend time interning at companies that will let you manage projects that will help acquire these skills.

You can also offer to do free projects for cash strapped startups or small businesses.

By the time you’re ready to graduate you will be prepared to get your dream job.

I’m always browsing around looking at job descriptions to make sure I’m updated with the current skills.

If you want to be the best at what you do, this is how you make sure that you’re upto date with your skills.

21 Things I Learned At 21

Every birthday is a moment of self reflection for me. I turned 21 on June 12 so I wanted to ink some big learnings.

1. If you try to make everyone happy, you will end up making no one happy.

2. Don’t be afraid to ask. Worst case is you will get a no. But if it’s a yes, the upside is much higher.

3. It’s okay to fail. It’s the best way to learn.

4. Experience builds confidence.

5. Get a couple mentors. They’ve been in your shoes before and will have a different perspective you might not have thought about.

6. Everything is a numbers game. The more you try, the more your chances of succeeding.

7. Never burn bridges. Do the opposite of what you would do in that scenario. It shows maturity.

8. Stop stressing. It doesn’t make you perform any better. Instead it will make you feel worse.

9. Optimism is an unfair advantage.

10. No one is going to come hand you things. If you want something, go work for it.

11. It’s not always about what you know, it’s about who you know.

12. Haters will hate. That actually means you’re doing something right. People will talk trash about you and that’s inevitable.

13. You’re the average of the 5 people you hang out with. Pick your friends wisely.

14. You don’t have to drink to be cool. Be yourself and people will respect it.

15. *Never* forget the people who were there for you in the tough times.

16. Be open to change. Life can throw you in different situations and you need to adapt quickly.

17. Always ask for feedback. It’s how you improve yourself.

18. Don’t beat yourself over a wrong decision or failure. It’s never you, it’s the circumstances.

19. Get obsessed about what you want to get good at, whether it’s your job, hobby or a new skill.

20. If you want to achieve something, you will have to make sacrifices whether its social life or video games.

21. Never stop learning :)

What It Actually Feels Like Before Success

I wonder if all successful people had those moments.

Moments of insecurity, struggle, and pushing yourself every night that you’ll figure out something the next day.

There are no clear ways to getting what you want.

You want to yell “that’s BS” every time you read about some guy on INC magazine or Techcrunch who became a millionaire overnight.

They make it seem as if they knew exactly what they were doing. BS.

Turning down work offers that could pay you $$ so you can work towards doing something you like.

It’s hard to explain this to others. You don’t want to tell your friends about anything unless you are making money.

Deep inside all your friends don’t really know much about your ambition until that one day when you become successful.

This is the struggle train. Million thoughts racing in your head.

You keep doing things hoping one of your moves works.

You keep being persistent because what if you give up right before it was going to work.

Is this what it *actually* feels like before achieving success?

Bank Those 100 People

I want to be liked. We all do. In fact “belonging” is part of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Being liked by everyone was a big deal for me. I could never stand that thought of someone not liking me.

But a few months ago when I turned 20, reality hit me.

I realized that there’s no possibility that every person I meet is going to like me. The truth is that you will click with some people and you just won’t with some.

A few incidents forced me to change.

Few friends and acquaintances I used to be close with faded away. I tried to find reasons but failed.

I couldn’t get on the same wavelength of one of the co-founders for a startup I worked with.

Most recently I wrote a blog post to stand up for young people and tell employers to understand them. A popular marketer I mentioned in the post decided to turn the topic on its head. His fans wrote lots of interesting responses to say the least. I almost didn’t sleep that night looking at them.

It bugs the hell out of me if someone gets even remotely upset with me. Then I end up wasting a lot energy thinking about it which results in stress. But I’m trying to change that.

As they say, “What people think of you is none of your business.”

Of course I will try to find the reason when someone is upset and apologize if it’s my fault but if it’s not clear, I’ll try to move on.

Though I may not be a huge fan of Paul Graham, I’ve decided to take one of his product advice and use it in my personal life: “It’s better to have 100 people love you than a 1000 people sort of like you.”

Om Malik’s grandfather told him: “Don’t bank money, bank people.”

I heard the quote recently and just couldn’t get it out of my head. I’ve always valued people and relationships more than money but that quote cemented that thought.

So my goal is to bank those 100 people. I know I’ve got two aka my parents. That’s a start.

None of this means that I’m going to be a snob and say “I am who I am” and “Haters gonna hate.” I am constantly trying to grow as a person and a professional.

Constructive criticism is always welcome and I always love to ask for feedback to improve myself.

What I will stop caring about is if someone mistakes my honest nature for being arrogant.

What I will stop caring about is if someone doesn’t like my writing. I write from the heart. Hey you might not like this post and that’s completely acceptable.

I obviously won’t be keeping an actual list of 100 people that love me but I hope to get to that number through helping, writing, my project, sticking to my values, accepting mistakes, taking a stand, and being myself ;)

p.s Tweet me your thoughts @thesmitpatel

Self Awareness: It Can Make or Break You

I love music. I’d love to rock the stage like Jay-Z but I can’t. I’m self aware that I will never be Jay-Z so I don’t aspire to be him. But….I do have the skills to aspire to be the next Neil Patel (even our last names are the same ;) ).

When you’re young, your parents send you to play soccer and learn piano like every kid in the neighborhood. Apart from 3-4 kids, chances are most of you sucked at both and yet parents sent you there.

OK Smit, what are you trying to say?

Stop doing things which you aren’t going to be one of the best at.

Just because the average surgeon makes 6 figures or the average engineer gets a cushy job easily doesn’t mean you will be one of them. For every Jobs and Zuckerberg, there’s a million failed ones. Why? Because they thought they could do it too without realizing what their strengths are.

Self awareness can make or break you. If you are self aware, you will realize what you’re good at and not so good at. Being true to yourself will push you in the right direction.

It is the reason I decided not to become an engineer like most of my fellow Indians. I tried my hand at coding and quickly realized that that I couldn’t become the best at it because I was never an arithmetic or logic type of a guy. I was always on the creative and tactical side so I focused my energies on what I could become good at: marketing and business development.

Lying to yourself about what you’re good at will take you down the wrong path where the end result will be failure from the day you begin. But…you can make money even by sharpening pencils if you are the best at it.