TTI Growth Hacking week I: Hacking personal growth
The Talent Institute kicks off 2017 with a fresh batch of growth hackers and digital content creators, ready to take professional matters in their own hands. As part of the growth hacking trainees, I met with the other students at B1 for breakfast right before we got down to (lean) business. The TTI really highlights social aspects throughout the entire first week, and it all started with breakfast, where we gently introduced ourselves to our classmates. It felt somewhat like those first days at high school and college: A bit awkward... Shortly after though, in the classrooms, we were introduced to Emily and Dusty and the began with what TTI calls culture days, which would discard that feeling straight away.
Right off the bat, we were encouraged to create a shared language with classmates, resulting in a more dynamic group. By learning about different personal development models, such as the learning spiral, reflective exercises and group feedback, this was manifested. Additionally, this brought me and my classmates closer together, understanding others motivations and background stories. In only two days mutual ties were formed.
The first couple of days went on like this, creating an environment all soon to be growth hackers agree would be most optimal to learn the skills we want to acquire. This environment contains aspects like self and group development, good and bad in-class behavior, expectations from the TTI and its team and, possibly above all, bonding with other classmates. I realized this is essential in establishing a positive learning environment. Through these days and the content of the classes, I felt comfortable quicker than I usually would in a new environment.
The second half of the first week was dedicated to elaborate on the mindset build in the previous days. With the different learning models, which were beautifully explained by Emily with complementary practical examples, fresh in our minds, Thijmen and Roderick were standing in front (well, actually, Thijmen was seated the entire lecture) educating us on entrepreneurship, specifically about lean start up. With both TTI courses in the class room, it was packed. But we all were listening carefully as Roderick gave us his first hand experience to transmit the model to our brains. Unfortunately, acquiring knowledge doesnt work just like that. But luckily for us, this is where the TTI practical is essential mentality came in hand. We were sent out of class the next day to do field research for an assignment to get a feel of how one might use the lean start up model and to put the build, measure, learn principle to practice. The interplay between being educated on specific theories and independently applying it, really worked well for me to get a clear perspective on what was being taught. Coming from a strictly theory based uni study, this was new to me and I found it working rather well and satisfying to realize that Im developing a different mindset already (and this is just in the first week).
While it was an exciting first week filled with new information and all, it was also exhaustive. Our last task before the VrijMiBo was possibly the most exciting one yet though: the matching event. 22 different startups, 17 growth hackers in the making and just 4 minutes to find out if you and the person repping the company across you are a suitable match for the 6 month traineeship starting next month. An experience this was! The fast paced conversations felt time bending, with you often being interrupted by a smash on the gong in the middle of the life story that lead you to that exact conversation. Though the TTI team emphasized we should keep an open mind to all companies and not let personal preference and prejudice influence our decision, I found my match fairly early
on. Being a music lover, hoarder, collector or whatever arbitrary name you want to give it, I had a great conversation with the managing director of Vinyl Express, a startup that provides a platform where you can digitally buy vinyl records from a widely ranging database. But, being the obedient student I am, I tried not to be biased, and there were a lot of other cool startups, with which I and other classmates were having good conversations with too. But one thing we all experienced was a sort of uncomfortable feeling of talking about a position in a company for a job we still had to acquire the skills for. On the flip side, this gave it less of a job interview vibe, but more a conversation between two possibly interested parties, which is more suitable for matching.
Alas, the VrijMiBo had arrived! Nearly the entire TTI-team, the growth hacking class and the people from some companies stayed for the opening of the first few beer bottles. I have to say, after just a week the collective feeling my classmates and I already established is the mainly result of the first few culture days at TTI.
After a replenishing weekend we began working on the holiest of grails in growth hacking: the pirate model. Dusty broke it down in separate classes to explain the components the model consists of and challenged us to be able to dream it from now on. With assignments directed specifically at our trainee companies and the lean methodology, a clearer picture of my vision on growth hacking started to take shape. The combination of data driven analytics that goes beyond digital marketing were more challenging than my previous experience, both on a educational as on a professional level. Where I felt a bit overwhelmed by all the new information in the first week, I began to feel increasingly more comfortable, because it dawned on me: I made the right decision to become a growth hacker.