2011 tad cup, plus a lazy reblog

i’m doing the lazy reblogging post this week.  but before we start, a quick recap on the 2011 tad cup.

this past weekend, 2011 tad cup took place.  for those unfamiliar with this tournament, tad cup is an amateur-only tournament sponsored by the legendary tad cues.  (if you’ve not hit with a tad cue, it basically feels like a brick wall with anvil.)  tad cues also sponsor the same tournament in taiwan and japan, i believe, so amateur players in asia are not missing out.  because this is an amateur event, you don’t see multi-pack runouts typically associated with pro events, but i did watch some pretty fantastic pool.  for a more captivating perspective, check out omg’s recap.  below is a pic of the tad cue given to the winner of the tournament.

something i learned from watching this tournament is fight.  although technique and knowledge are important aspects of pool, a person’s fight is just as important.  it is fully possible to beat the more skilled opponents just because you want to beat them worse than they want to beat you.  when it comes to the contest of will power, it doesn’t matter that you have larger muscles or more developed coordination, or even the size of your brain.  you can’t teach will power; you simply have to figure out how to get it.  and yes, you can overcome unfamiliar equipment, hostile crowd, feeling cold, seeing double, or a thousand other factors.  i saw it done this weekend.  it is possible.  back to practice.  🙂

(i practice with someone at the pool hall from time to time.  i’m supposed to be the “better” player {whatever that is}, but when he really tries to beat me, i have to play so much harder even though his skill level remains the same.  when you fight with all you’ve got, you’ll be surprised what can happen.)

in pool, there exist people who believe they should offer unsolicited advice, and people should accept their advice without qualification.  what the dealio, dealio?  so here’s a quick psa guide to giving unsolicited advice.

1. determine whether or not you’re actually qualified to give that advice.  if you’re not at least deuel level, you should probably work on your own game instead.  if you’re only a c player, you’ll just look like an moronic a~*, since 9 out of 10 times the other person will know more than you do.
2. figure out whether or not the person actually really truly wants your advice.  this requires that you possess mind-reading abilities, or at least proficient in vulcan mind meld.
3. possess the necessary abilities to communicate that advice.  if you lack the excellent communication skills ala, oh, let’s say president reagan, you cannot adequately communicate your ideas to others, meaning you should just not say anything.  ever.
4. only when conditions 1, 2 and 3 are met should you even consider dispensing your “wisdom”.  if all three conditions are not met simultaneously, walk away.  for clarification, read this.

also, couple of interesting pics from azb.  correct me if i’m wrong, but that looks like brittany bryant.  don’t ask me; i’m confused as well.

anyway, there is an interesting article on TechCrunch on the difference between vanity metrics and actionable metrics.  i’ve reblogged the entire post below.  the link to the original article is here.

Don’t Be Fooled By Vanity Metrics
by Erick Schonfeld | TechCrunch | July 30, 2011

Startups love to point to big growth numbers, and the press loves to publish them.  We are as guilty as anyone else in this regard: one million downloads, 10 million registered users, 200 million tweets per day.  These growth metrics can often be signs of traction (which is why we report them), but just as often they are not.  It is important to distinguish between real metrics and what Lean Startup guru Eric Ries calls vanity metrics.

Vanity metrics are things like registered users, downloads, and raw pageviews.  They are easily manipulated, and do not necessarily correlate to the numbers that really matter: active users, engagement, the cost of getting new customers, and ultimately revenues and profits.  The latter are more actionable metrics.  As First Round Capital’s Josh Kopelman recently advised on Founder Office Hours, “The real data is retention and repeat usage.”  Startups that focus on the real metrics can make their products better, attract more customers, and make them happier.

It is important for startups to properly instrument the data they track so that they can get a handle on the true health of their business.  If they track only the vanity metrics, they can get a false sense of success.  Just because a startup can produce a chart that is up and to the right does not mean it has a great business.  A mobile apps could have millions of downloads but only a few hundred thousand active users, or a freemium website might see exploding traffic growth but barely any conversions to paying users.

Many startups, of course, track one set of numbers internally and selectively share another set of vanity numbers externally with the press.  The worst is when startups try to pitch us with raw growth numbers (we are up 400%), but without any context (400% from what, 1,000 users or 100,000?).  We always ask for more meaningful numbers, but those are not always forthcoming.

The vanity metrics aren’t completely useless, just don’t be fooled by them.  There are ways to back into real numbers from the vanity metrics.  VC Fred Wilson blogged today about his 30/10/10 rule: 30 percent of downloads or registered users are active once a month, 10 percent are active once a day, and 10 percent of the daily users will be the maximum number of concurrent users.  These are the patterns he is seeing in his portfolio companies and the startups pitching him.

Startups would be better off, however, reporting real metrics from the start.  Vanity metrics can catch up to them, especially if those numbers do not correspond to the real numbers.  Facebook is a great example of a company that focuses on the right numbers.  Even in its college-only days, it would always talk about daily active users (the users who come back every day) and how fast it took them to take over a particular campus.  If more startups would measure and share the right metrics from the start, the rest of us would focus on them too.

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