Modern Makers #26: How to become indistractable


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Hi makers,

Hope you’re all doing well and welcome to the new makers who have joined us since last Sunday!

This week in the agenda:

📚 One book: Indistractable by Nir Eyal

💰 Squarespace & Gumroad now have Memberships and paid areas

📡 Some product updates for Parabola

🤖 A video tutorial to better understand how webhooks work


📚 Book of the week

Indistractable - How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life
Author: Nir Eyal
Release date: September 2019

Five key lessons / takeaways: 
  • Traction VS Distraction - Traction: positive actions that direct you towards the results you want to achieve. Distraction: negative actions that take you away from your goals. These two types of actions are sensitive to the same signals, both internal triggers (being hungry, feeling tired or bored for example) and external triggers (phone notifications, a colleague coming to talk with you). According to the author, most distractions actually come from internal triggers. We need to realize that the reason we are distracted, the reason we procrastinate is that we are trying to escape some kind of unpleasant feeling or situation. Distraction is just an unhealthy escape from bad feelings. And all too often it means we will rush to our phone to pass the time and feel better for a few minutes

  • Process your emails in batches - it is much more efficient and less stressful than checking your inbox all day long. This is because our brain needs time to switch from one task to the next, so it's best to focus on responding to emails all at once. It is often recommended to have two sessions during the day dedicated to processing your emails. A first session in the morning and another one in the early afternoon for example. Personally, it is a method that I try to implement in my work but without real success for the moment 😔

  • The 10-minute rule - whenever a temptation arises (such as grabbing a cookie or wanting to check notifications on your phone), the author recommends that you allow 10 minutes before giving in to that temptation. If after ten minutes this desire is still present, you can succumb to it and enjoy this delicious cookie 🍪. By using this method, you will often find that the desire will have disappeared after ten minutes. Your body and your productivity will thank you

  • Have an agenda for each day - what are the things you absolutely want to accomplish today? What are the two or three essential tasks you need to do that will make this day productive? Starting your day by creating this agenda and listing your priorities allows you to organize one of your most valuable resources: your time. If you don't plan your day, the outside world (your colleagues, for example) will do it for you. Take control

  • Create an effort pact with another person - Sitting physically with someone and working together is a good way to motivate each other and avoid procrastination. Easier said than done in 2020 with all of us working from home or in isolation. Videoconferencing tools or sharing the progress of your projects on Twitter by building in public could be valid alternatives here

Some other content that caught my attention this week:

  • Tiny Products by Ben Issenmann - what is a "Tiny product"? A product that can be launched quickly (Ben sets a maximum development time of two weeks), a product that generates income (otherwise it is just a hobby) and finally, a product that does not require maintenance or support

  • The Big Lessons From History - Collaborative Fund - a great article in which Morgan Housel lists five essential lessons to be learned from the major events of the last century (including Covid-19 of course). One of my favorite articles of 2020 and I highly recommend everyone to read it

  • Meet Reid - Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn's co-founder, has published on Coda (a company in which he has invested) a list of key principles that he applies in his work. In particular, the willingness to always learn (Reid defines himself as an infinite learner).

🧰 Product

Squarespace, one of the most popular website builder, announced this week the launch of a new feature allowing the management of subscriptions and paid areas.

With this new feature, Squarespace now allows you to create a paid course reserved only for your customers or launch a paid newsletter for example. It offers several options including one-time payment and recurring payment (weekly, monthly ...). This feature is available in all paid plans, from £7 to £28 per month as part of an annual subscription. Transaction fees are only 1% with the most expensive plan and 7% with the Starter plan.

This is a very important announcement for Squarespace who can now be a very good option for creating projects with a subscription dimension. A tool such as Webflow, as great as it is, does not yet natively offer this kind of functionality (even if it is possible to use a tool such as Memberstack to overcome this issue).

A membership website with Squarespace

Coincidence or not, it is also this week that Gumroad has chosen to reveal its new Memberships feature. For those who are not yet familiar with Gumroad, this is a service that allows you to easily sell products on the web. Mainly digital products since they represent 95% of the products sold on the platform. Creators have made over $350,000,000 selling with Gumroad since its launch in 2011 🤯

With Memberships, Gumroad now makes it possible to create premium offers by only giving access to certain products and content to people who have subscribed to a subscription. It allows you to create different pricing tiers or even let your audience pay the amount it wants. This new feature will allow Gumroad to compete with other platforms that are very popular among content creators such as Patreon or Substack.

Introducing Gumroad Memberships

The team at Parabola (a tool that allows you to retrieve, transform and export data) has been pretty busy in the last couple of weeks with a couple of product updates revealed this week. Nothing really major, but rather a set of new features that make the tool more efficient to use and easier to learn, including:

  • the Search feature now focus you in on the columns and rows that contain what you're looking for. You can decide to expand columns and rows if you need more context

  • it is visually easier to identify the steps in a flow that are encountering a problem, making it faster to fix issues

  • more than 20 steps have been updated: some are brand new steps such as Limit rows or Clean Data, others have been slightly modified or even deleted

  • a new onboarding process has been implemented in order to welcome new users and help them understand how Parabola works

  • the Format dates step now auto-detects the format of your dates

You can learn more about all the updates introduced in recent weeks on Parabola’s website.

⚒ Tutorials

Do you know what a webhook is? Gareth Pronovost has a new video on his Youtube channel that will help us better understand how webhooks work. For this tutorial, you will need a paid account on Zapier, an Airtable account and a Slack account. We will use the Webhooks by Zapier app (a premium app on Zapier). Webhooks by Zapier works with 3 different triggers, including : Retrieve Poll (the URL will be scanned at regular intervals to see if it contains a value) or Catch Hook (the trigger used in this tutorial, which instantly captures the value contained in the URL each time an event is triggered).

The main steps include:

  • Creation of the Webhook on Zapier

  • Get the webhook’s URL and use it within a Formula field on Airtable

  • Using the Concatenate function in another Formula field with the URL of the webhook + other elements such as the first name and last name of a contact

  • Creation in Zapier of a step that send a message on Slack and which contains the different information available in Airtable and retrieved via the webhook

This automation created by Gareth could have been built directly with Airtable Automations or by using the Airtable app on Zapier) but that’s not important here. The main goal of this tutorial is to give us a good introduction to webhooks, something I’m keen to learn more about. If you have other interesting resources and tutorials about webhooks, please feel free to leave a comment or send them directly to me by email.

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📦 In other news

That’s all for this week. If you like the content of this newsletter, please share it with your friends, colleagues or communities, it's what helps me the most.

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I also invite you to contact me if you have questions or need help with no-code tools or if you want to have a virtual coffee with me ☕

Have a great week, and keep building!


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