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Anuj Adhiya is the Category Growth Lead at The Predictive Index. He is on the team responsible for brand growth and evangelizing talent optimization. He is currently writing "Growth Hacking for Dummies", slated for publication by Wiley in 2020.

Before this, he was the Director of Engagement and Analytics at GrowthHackers. He was responsible for growing the community. He was also the data analyst on their growth team.  

Additionally, he's a Growth Mentor at Seedstars. He also serves as Marketing Specialist at Harvard Innovation Labs. At both places, he coaches startups to help uncover their best growth opportunities and solve early challenges. He recently began hosting The Beaten Path podcast where he explores how successful travel startups have grown.

Everything he's learned about growth has been from Sean Ellis and the amazing GrowthHackers community.  Ask him about anything related to growth (or not - like public speaking, ping pong, whiskey, travel planning, food - go wild!)

  • DH

    Dani Hart

    2 months ago #

    ANUJ!!!

    Yes, this made me so happy to see you on the other side of the AMA. I won't go too hard on ya. ;)

    1. What's the one thing that remains true for both growth hacking and team optimization?
    2. Is there anything new and different you've learned about growth since leaving GrowthHackers?
    3. How much does personality matter when it comes to optimizing teams?

    I'll let the rest ask some questions before going into my backlog.

    Cheers!
    Dani

    • AA

      Anuj Adhiya

      about 2 months ago #

      Dani!!!!
      As always you're first at everything you do.

      Here we go!

      1. What's the one thing that remains true for both growth hacking and team optimization?

      The central truth is that both are intentional processes around learning about what works best and doing more of that.

      As someone who came from a science background, I understood that finding your "optimal zone of focus" requires a lot of testing. There is no shortcut. You have to find your way there through trial and error. And once you do, you can hone in on the sweet spot and optimize for that signal.
      To do that you have to develop a hypothesis of where to begin testing first (ie objectives), followed by individual tests to help you understand where the answers(s) may lie. This to me is the growth hacking process in a nutshell

      Its the same when it comes to teams. You have to understand what kind of team you want to build first (ie whats your objective). This is informed by the strategy of the organization (ie are we the kind of company that wants to move fast and break a lot of things or are we one that needs to follow more rules and its ok that we sacrifice some speed as a consequence because mistakes have consequences etc.

      Much like an experiment design , this process then helps you create a design of a team that then informs who you hire, how you keep them engaged and how you keep your pulse on whether the ways in which you hire and inspire are still relevant on an ongoing basis or not.

      3 Share
    • AA

      Anuj Adhiya

      about 2 months ago #

      2. Is there anything new and different you've learned about growth since leaving GrowthHackers?

      Two things come to mind
      a. The smaller thing: I did not appreciate how hard it is to keep up with what's happening with all things growth if its not your job to do that.
      Admittedly, I had to set reminders to come back to GH after I left to ensure I didnt lose the habit.

      b. The bigger thing:
      I had the opportunity to mentor a couple of startups (who were just at PM Fit) earlier in the year as part of an accelerator program.
      Both companies were relatively small between 10-20 people.

      They knew nothing about the growth process but were motivated to learn as growth would influence further investing decisions by the accelerator.

      Despite that an external person it was VERY hard to influence their resources and thinking to orient around the process as other regular business issues keep cropping up.

      This was a 3 month program where we'd hold weekly meetings and it took them ost of that time to see the value in it and the impact of it as well.

      Bottom line - even with motivated teams, building a culture of growth is hard. You need direct influence and more communication with the CEO than you would think to start to get the company thinking a certain way and then aligned around growth.

      I don't believe I had as much impact as I would have with this companies if I was internal to them at this critical just-past-PM-Fit stage and dedicated to driving the process for at least 3-6 months before they started owning the process themselves

      3 Share
    • AA

      Anuj Adhiya

      about 2 months ago #

      3. How much does personality matter when it comes to optimizing teams?

      Personality not so much - its more about work styles.
      Every team has a an optimal dynamic based on its objectives.
      For example here's what my team is like: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1z_rc6VLoWT_QU115cjDN05i9pTZ469G5J6pJypOdmhc/edit?usp=sharing

      You can tell from the first slide that more people on the team are strong with innovation and agility.
      As the team is maturing, we've taken on more process and teamwork style dynamics (mostly filled with hiring me). As we get that right, we'll then start to add more rigor to it with more detail oriented folks to help us get more discipline and results focused (ie even more than we are).

      The 2nd slide shows you more about the way we communicate and take action and where our relative strengths (and weaknesses) lie as a team.

      So by focusing on work styles rather than personality - and also being guided by what our team needs are at the moment, we can make better decisions about who should be on the team to raise our odds of hitting our goals.

      3 Share
  • MV

    Maja Voje

    about 2 months ago #

    Hey Anuj

    congrats for this AMA! I am so happy we got the chance to meet each other last week in Slovenia. I was very impressed not only with your extreme intelligence but also with your warm and approachable character. After we conducted The Predictive Index test, it got me wondering:

    1. Could psychological testing be too deterministic? For example, I am not a native English speaker- could my interpretation of certain words be significantly different because of my cultural background? What else should employers consider when they are making hiring decisions?

    You revealed an exciting plan that you will be profiling growth teams around the globe
    2. What are the entry criteria for this research? Who is welcome to join and how can get they get in touch?

    I surely hope this research results will be shared publically since it is a very fascinating subject. Being involved in Growthhackers.com for so long I'd even dare to ask you ...
    3. What knowledge and skills should we be developing now to excel in our jobs in 2020?

    I know I have some unfair advantage here because I had the pleasure of meeting you last week :), but I really believe your plans for the future are super interesting for the development of this community so I'd be great if you shared more thoughts on what is next. Thank you so much and have a wonderful AMA! You will always be one of the legends of this community.

    • AA

      Anuj Adhiya

      about 2 months ago #

      Maja - The pleasure was all mine - I still can't believe we met in person! You're a massive fireball of energy that makes everyone feel better about what they're doing :)

      I'll answer your Qs slightly out of order...

    • AA

      Anuj Adhiya

      about 2 months ago #

      2. re profiling growth teams around the globe
      What are the entry criteria for this research? Who is welcome to join and how can get they get in touch?

      Some background for those that may not know what Maja is talking about.
      As part of the research for my book, I'm interested in learning about the makeup of growth teams.
      In other words
      a. what are the characteristics of people in great growth teams and
      b. what is the overall dynamic of the team that allows it to function as a high-performing growth team.

      If I can see patterns in the type of people and the general dynamic of high performing growth teams perhaps that helps those thinking of hiring heads of growth and/or building out growth teams understand some more about what they need to look for at an individual and team dynamic level. (Cognitive ability and a baseline of certain skill sets are assumed here).

      As of now the basic criteria are that:
      a. the company is post-product market fit
      b. Company size is >=20 people
      b. is not an agency (though that would be an interesting 2nd project at some point)
      c. has a growth team (however many people are in it and wherever it lies within the larger org - that doesnt matter for now)

      If this research is of interest to you please reach out to me on LinkedIN: https://www.linkedin.com/in/anujadhiya/
      Also please point anyone you know who may be a fit for this to me - I'd greatly appreciate it.

    • AA

      Anuj Adhiya

      about 2 months ago #

      3. What knowledge and skills should we be developing now to excel in our jobs in 2020?

      One of my biggest regrets continues to be not being absolutely kick @$$ at data analysis.
      Don't get me wrong - I'm decent but nowhere near as good as I should be and am working to up my game.

      From my experience data fluency (with analysis and reporting) is the most transferrable and impactful skill on a team.
      This allows the team to go from being reactive with what they do to being predictive about the what they should do and the potential impact of those actions.

      A good example of this is what @cmore showed with his Predictive Growth Model (https://growthhackers.com/articles/predictive-growth-model-v1-0/) which he's already refined since its inception.

      I feel like not being truly great at all things data means that I'm operating at half capacity and by implication, not being half as impactful as I could be.

    • AA

      Anuj Adhiya

      about 2 months ago #

      1a. Could psychological testing be too deterministic? For example, I am not a native English speaker- could my interpretation of certain words be significantly different because of my cultural background?

      When we met, part of my mistake was forgetting to tell you that you could take it in Slovenian since the assessment defaults to English.

      So you are absolutely right that cultural background and interpretation can impact the assessment - though in your case I'm fairly sure the answer would be the same :)

      1b. What else should employers consider when they are making hiring decisions?

      We have a framework at PI called the Head-Heart-Briefcase
      Head = Behavioral Drives & Cognitive Ability
      Heart = Values, Passions, Interests, Shared Beliefs
      Briefcase = Experience, Skills, Knowledge, Education

      Generally hiring decisions tend to get made based on the Briefcase which gives you an incomplete picture.

      You need to interview for all of these aspects to know the full person and how they might fit in to your organization.
      The caveat here is to know if/when to weight any aspect more than the other (eg a non-profits may weigh Heart more, or a Wall St firm may weigh Head more etc)

      If this is of interest, we did a webinar on the topic a short while back: https://www.predictiveindex.com/resource-library/webinar-head-heart-briefcase/ (no email needed to view)

  • SC

    Seth Cobbs

    2 months ago #

    Any tips from the book that you can share as a quick preview?

    • AA

      Anuj Adhiya

      about 2 months ago #

      Hey Seth!

      I'm writing this book for me 5 years ago. This is the book I wish I had as someone which zero experience with growth AND being thrown into an unbelievable situation of getting to work with the person synonymous with growth.

      So it definitely is targeted at non-marketers and/or those looking to dip their toes into the world of growth and want an easy way to understand it.

      I'm not sure I can offer a best tip but what I can say is that there are specific reasons this book exists.

      It can be hard to truly grasp the principles of growth hacking without practical experience. A minority of books (and I would argue, Sean/Morgan's book falls into this category) rely on at least some past knowledge or experience to internalize their value and be able to execute based on that information.

      Most books that market themselves as growth books however, focus more on tactics and not on the processes and cultural change needed within a company for these concepts to be truly useful.

      So this is my attempt at covering for that gap - especially if you were starting from scratch and truly are a "growth dummy" like I used to be.

      2 Share
  • JQ

    Jason Quey

    2 months ago #

    Hey Anuj! Good to see you here :).

    1. What has been different about your experience at The Predictive Index compared to GH?

    2. What are some of the common growth challenges and opportunities you've found talking to early stage startups?

    3. A spin-off of Peter Thiel: What's something related to growth that you believe is true that you believe most would not agree with you about?

    4. What are your current challenges at The Predictive Index?

    5. What's your favorite memory that includes the most of your non-growth topics together (public speaking, ping pong, whiskey, travel planning, food)? :)

    • AA

      Anuj Adhiya

      about 2 months ago #

      Jason, my man - lets do this!

      1. What has been different about your experience at The Predictive Index compared to GH?

      I don't think Im saying anything controversial by saying that Executing on the growth process was much easier at GH since that's literally what @sean espouses every day.

      With PI, I walked into a company that is on a pretty sharp growth trajectory. People are being hired all the time (PS: We're hiring!).
      This means that you walk into a scenario where there are established ways of doing things. That way of doing things is obviously working since the company is growing like gangbusters. And this is happening without a dedicated growth team of any sort or even the kind of high-temp testing that happens at GH or elsewhere.

      So my biggest drive here has been to attempt to prove the value of that process and its impact on the marketing team and the company at large.
      I'm fortunate to be given a very wide berth to prove out that process and influence teams to embrace this work style as this is an organization focused on moving fast and constantly trying out new things.

      So I guess I wasn't expecting a company of PI's size (125 people when I joined in end Jan, and now already up to 150) to not have a dedicated growth function somewhere but at the same time also wasn't expecting the level of encouragement to be brave and try out new things no matter how "settled" things might appear.

    • AA

      Anuj Adhiya

      about 2 months ago #

      2. What are some of the common growth challenges and opportunities you've found talking to early stage startups?

      I'm going to define early stage as those that are just around or past PM fit for this purpose (assuming you meant that too?)

      The biggest challenge I've seen is the tension between needing resources for product vs growth sprints.
      This is a real problem when you have 5-10 people and everyone is already doing everything.
      Even if you decide to set aside time and resources for growth, getting someone to be responsible for the health of their data is hard.
      This in turn impacts learning and ability to focus on problem (or opportunity) areas.

      Assuming this is something that someone takes on you still have the real challenge of being able to run tests within product. You need some engineering resource but all of it is precious. Not to mention unexpected things keep happening (one company I worked with lost its database of product images which took a week to recover)

      The net result of this is that tests within product rarely happen and most of the testing remains focused on acquisition or on the website. There is that much growth you can extract from there, especially when you haven't optimized for the first experience, retention etc.

      So this lack of being able to run product-focused growth tests is a bigger challenge than I realized for early companies.
      ---
      The opportunity I've realized is that at this early state, you have a chance to reorient the company to be totally customer focused.
      Companies have very little money at this stage and are doing all they can to squeeze the maximum amount from their resources. This is the time to introduce KPIs that are oriented around delivering value (ie a North Star Metric) since all revenue is a function of value delivered.

      The earlier a company can start thinking this way, the better it is for the choices they make (eg what can we do to increase value delivered vs what feature can we release next). By having an external focused number, it allows the team to coalesce around a common mission vs getting bogged down with individual numbers that can devolve into a blame game which is something that can seriously hamper teams if they're lucky enough to be getting bigger.

    • AA

      Anuj Adhiya

      about 2 months ago #

      4. What are your current challenges at The Predictive Index?

      Proving the value of the growth process - bar none.
      I lead growth of a sister site talentoptimization.org that is supposed to become the world's hub for anyone to learn about anything to do with the topic. It very intentionally has different branding from PI and in fact is supposed to be very PI agnostic in terms of what happens there.

      I am judged by how fast the concepts around talent optimization are spreading, quantifying that spread and how well it might be sticking. I do weekly sprints to learn about what works and what doesnt.
      Long term this should have an impact on people checking out PI as a way to execute on talent optimization efforts without needing any sort of hard sell.

      Given this is all new, I'm working in a real MVP-type environment with respect to marketing stack etc which makes things more challenging but that's fun as I can be more creative about what I can try and measure.

  • PC

    Pedro Clivati

    about 2 months ago #

    Hey, Anuj - thank you again for doing this!

    1. What's the number 1 mistake you see companies doing when deploying a Growth Hacking methodology in their companies and how to avoid that?

    2. Any tips on how to get company-wide adoption for a company starting out with the GH methodology?

    3. What's your favorite whiskey brand? lol.

    • AA

      Anuj Adhiya

      about 2 months ago #

      Pedro - so cool to see your Qs! Hopefully I can do them some justice.

      Im going to answer your first 1 Qs together:
      1. What's the number 1 mistake you see companies doing when deploying a Growth Hacking methodology in their companies and how to avoid that?
      AND
      2. Any tips on how to get company-wide adoption for a company starting out with the GH methodology?

      Thinking that you will read a book, take some course etc and then you'll identify your North Star Metric and be able to start running tests and then you'll find growth at some point.

      I alluded to this earlier but the mindshift required across the entire company is tremendous. This is of course harder when the company is bigger and you're trying to do something new.

      What I'm about to say applies as much to the growth methodology as any organization change..

      If you believe that the organization needs to change the way it needs to do things, multiple things need to happen:

      a. Does the executive team agree that a change is needed and whether a specific approach is the way forward or not? This can be as simple as a survey to the team.
      If there isn't alignment, this requires a larger discussion at the exec level as to why not.

      b. If there is agreement, how does the org need to change to accommodate this new strategy (eg become flatter? Merge groups? something else?)

      c. Based on this new structure, do we have the right people to be able to execute on this strategy and/or do we need to hire people?

      There's a lot more I could write but you can see that the foundation of this is rooted in agreement and action based on the strategy at the highest levels of a company. If (part of) that strategy means the organization has to become more agile and oriented around testing and learning then that will guide the right kind of actions needed to actually be able to make that stick.

  • AM

    Amanda Milligan

    about 2 months ago #

    Hi Anuj!! I logged back on GH recently for the first time in a while -- so great to see you doing an AMA and read what you've been up to!

    Here's my question: What's the biggest mistake you've seen marketers make when trying to generate growth?

    • AA

      Anuj Adhiya

      about 2 months ago #

      Hey Amanda - glad to be the reason you engaged again :)

      Now that I have a few more data points of experience on this topic, it feels like a couple of things:

      a. No clear idea of the motivations of the people you're trying to engage
      Quantitative data just gives you the "what happened"
      Without qualitative data, you will never understand the why.
      It is incumbent on any serious growth professional to understand what people are trying to accomplish through your product/service before doing anything.

      Only once we understand the "why" do we have a shot at molding our products/services to meet their needs best. This is what makes organizations (not just marketers) customer focused. It also serves as a forcing mechanism for everyone to be able to ask themselves this Q everyday:
      "How is what I'm doing today helping our customers achieve their goals?"
      If you don't know the answer, some part of it is likely to be found in understanding people's motivations first.

      b. Not enough focus.
      It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new methodology, running tests etc.
      Without a decent hypothesis as to what aspect of the customer experience you're trying to impact, you're just running tests for the heck of it.
      You may even generate a lot of wins but their impact will be scattered and the resulting ROI nowhere near as great as if they were all well focused around a certain area.

      When building product, we're always told to niche down at first and target as narrow a slice of potential adopters as possible (im aware some people don't subscribe to this approach). But if you buy into this philosophy, then the same thing applies to testing. Develop as granular a hypothesis as you can of the area you want to impact and make that your objective.
      This could be something like:
      "Increase retention rate by 10%" to "Increase retention rate of people who come from LI and don't do A within n days"

      This then makes it much easier to run focused tests around what you want to improve and fine tuned learning around what's working.

  • JM

    Jennifer Moebius

    about 2 months ago #

    Hello Anuj! Being relatively new to GrowthHackers, I'm interested in learning:

    1. Getting started: How would you suggest a GH noob get started with all things growth? What should I do first?

    2. Getting real: How is The Predictive Index applying the growth mindset to building the new talent optimization category and market?

    3. Getting results: What have been or will be key results of applying the GH methodology at PI?

    4. Getting educated: What are the best places (online/offline) to find out more about talent optimization?

    5. Getting crunk: What is your favorite whiskey? And why?

  • SM

    Stephen Messina

    about 2 months ago #

    When you are in a role like yours, how do you handle situations with teams that aren't primarily focused on testing? Creative teams, Marketing, etc sometimes likes to try new things in an unstructured and timely manner. How have you built a culture of Growth testing when quant is not on the minds of your stakeholders/team?

  • HQ

    Hila Qu

    about 2 months ago #

    Hi Anuj,

    Comes back to you :)

    A. What is the biggest thing you didn't learn from your time at GH that you felt you had to figure out on your own at PI?

    B. How do you think GH for B2B is different from GH for B2C?

    C. What are some fun books/blogs/newsletter you love most?

    • AA

      Anuj Adhiya

      about 2 months ago #

      Hila - as always I'm following in your footsteps!

      A. What is the biggest thing you didn't learn from your time at GH that you felt you had to figure out on your own at PI?

      I think the biggest thing is having influence to try things differently when you come into an already high-performing marketing team.

      The marketing team here is split into:
      a. Global Demand Generation
      b. Brand
      c. Partner Marketing
      d. Marketing Operations (which ultimately reports to Business Operations team but has a dotted line responsibility to Marketing for metrics)

      I'm currently in the Brand team which as you can see is one part of an overall Marketing team that is approaching 15 people and growing.

      From my time at GH, I come here with a very specific perspective on growth which no one else on the team has. This is not a ding on the team - it's just that they've operated very differently (and successfully so), just not within the confines of what we know to be a growth team and the way such a team works.

      For now, all of my growth efforts will be within the confines of the Brand team (my job is to grow talentoptimization.org) but at some point I can see it bleeding into other areas of marketing as .org will start to impact other parts of the business and perhaps that can be the trigger for wider adoption of the methodology.

      So I suppose I wasn't prepared for an incremental approach to spreading the methodology but at the same time I also wasn't prepared for as much freedom as I've been given to do what I need to do.

  • DF

    Drew Fortin

    about 2 months ago #

    Awesome to see you on here, Anuj!

    1. What comes first? Great growth hacking or amazing teams?
    2. If I wanted to create an amazing team strategy, what resources are out there for me to get started?

    • AA

      Anuj Adhiya

      about 2 months ago #

      1. What comes first? Great growth hacking or amazing teams?

      Drew - I've thought a lot about this since your AMA tbh :)

      While I was at GH, I took the whole "amazing team" bit for granted because I was working with @sean and he attracted amazing people into his orbit. So the amazing team was built mostly by his well-honed gut feel and because it worked well, I didn't really pay attention to it.

      It was only after I encountered PI that the light bulb around how intentional you can be/have to be to create amazing teams went off.

      You can have all the amazing processes you want but if you don't design the right team to execute on it, you're odds of achieving your goals are that much smaller.

      So I've now settled on: you have to design the kind of team that can work cross-functionally first and then let this team execute on the growth process.
      I know that in reality it's likely the other way around but I see that as an opportunity to build awareness around team design.

  • AL

    Arsene Lavaux

    2 months ago #

    Hey Anuj- Nice to see you are back for an AMA.

    Who is the best growth hacker on the planet?
    Why?

  • JB

    Jeet Bhowmick

    about 2 months ago #

    Hi Anuj.
    Nice to see You.
    What is your best tips for growth hacking?

    • AA

      Anuj Adhiya

      about 2 months ago #

      Hi Jeet

      The biggest tip I can leave you with is there is no best tip.
      This is the first lesson of growth hacking - there are no magic bullets.

      Having said that, if you read through this AMA (or any other on this site), you will see a pattern. What everyone is talking about is that this is an iterative process of testing and learning that can lead to breakout growth if everyone is playing their part in helping their company grow.

      It's simple math - one growth professional simply cannot compete with an entire company focused on growth.

      So what it comes down to is whether your company can create a culture of growth - which is what enables you to execute on a testing process and learn the right things about what grows value for your customers.

      This is not as sexy as the "top 10 tips on XYZ" but the problem with tips are that they are tactical. Tactics without strategy & process to guide them are wasted effort and have short term gains at best.

  • MB

    meenati biswal

    about 2 months ago #

    what is the use of data science?

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