PartnerHacker Weekend 12/17: Always Be Learning

A quick recap of the PhD from this week:

Recently published:

#12DaysofNearbound Christmas Carol Contest Winner

Yesterday, it seemed as though Aaron Howerton and Jessie Shipman's hilarious duet had solidified the win for the Nearbound Christmas Carol Contest. But in the final hours of the contest, Daniela Garcia belted out a carol that stole the hearts of the partner ecosystem.

Nearbound Christmas Carol vote
The final vote for the Nearbound Christmas Carol Contest.

Congratulations, Daniela Garcia!

The partnership ecosystem voted your carol as the winner of the #12DaysofNearbound Christmas Carol Contest! Be on the lookout for an exclusive Reveal Gift Basket coming your way.

Thank you, Aaron Howerton, Cecilia Cochran, and Jessie Shipman, for your amazing submissions.

Winner of the Neabound Christmas Carol Contest
Congratulations Daniela!

Your kids know more about marketing than you

Mario Maker teaches marketing
Image courtesy of my iPhone. Weird mustache is courtesy of Nintendo.

I’m not kidding.  

I watched my kid grasp basic marketing truths that took me years in the professional world to get. (I might be a bit daft, but that’s another story).

I didn’t end up graduating with a major in marketing, but it was my major for several semesters.  The only things I remember from those classes are the words “target market” with no real context.

I needed a lived context.

My son builds these levels on the WiiU game Mario Maker.  He’s posted some of his favorites to the network so others can play them and, if they like them, give them a star.  

He checked in the other night only to find two of his favorite creations had been removed from the network because they did not get enough stars in a given time span.

Here comes the pain.  And the learning.

I watched him go through all the stages of grief.  

He told me: “The worst part is, that’s the level I worked on the longest, and it was my favorite!  Some of my other levels are silly and easy to build, and they have more stars than this one. I wonder why?”

It's not about you

You may think you've built something amazing, but until you test it in the marketplace, it's just an idea in your head.

This is an important lesson. Yes, build a better mousetrap. But the problem is that what you think great content and better mousetraps look like might not be the same as what customers want.

There are two potential solutions: the product solution and the marketing solution (best used in tandem).  The product solution is to learn from what people do like and make products more like that.  

The marketing solution is to learn what feelings people want to experience when using your product and do a better job of attaching those feelings to it, finding the niche of people who will “get it”, and getting the word out to them.

My son, a very stubborn and independent creative type not keen on compromising his design, immediately went with the marketing solution.

Build a partner ecosystem

It took me a long time to understand the value of building a “tribe” of loyal fans or customers. It took me a long time to see the value of capturing leads, doing personal one-on-one outreach to influencers and early adopters, and touting the real stories of happy customers to help draw in the more risk-averse with social proof.

My son had the epiphany less than ten minutes after his teary explosions during the second and fourth stages of grief.  Here’s how it went down.

He logged into the video game and posted a question asking if anyone else had been frustrated by having a level removed for too few stars.  

In minutes he was conversing with three or four others.  He checked out their profiles and levels.  He followed them.  They followed him.  Then they somehow came up with an agreement.  

They would give each other the name of their newest levels and all play each others and give them a star, ensuring three quick stars, pushing it nearer the top of the newly added levels, raising the profile, and keeping it from getting removed.


He went out and talked with people, built a tribe around a shared frustration, and collaborated to find a solution. He created strategic alliances. He added them to his followers so that there could be accountability, follow-up, and future collaboration.

Every problem is an opportunity

Rather than wallowing in his sorrow, he saw his frustration as an opportunity.  Surely someone else felt the same?  Surely there was a way to work around it?  And he did.

He realized that intentions don’t matter; value creation does.  

But value creation is not just in the product, but the feeling people have about it, the reasons they have to care, and the connection you build with them.  Now, even before building a level, he preps his loyal allies to reduce the risk and boost the ratings when it is released to the network.

Be curious

My kid isn’t some kind of special genius.  The world we live in is the most resource, information, and opportunity-rich in human history.

My kid took time to learn from his frustration and found a way forward.

He partnered up and won.

(The kid in question is 17 now, but I originally wrote this when he was 11. Just came across it again and realized how relevant it is to partnerships so dusted it off and touched it up a tad just for you!)

Screenshot of plx recordings.
Click to watch the on-demand PL[X] recordings.
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