The Four Levers for Growth

As you’ve probably realized by now, I’m a big fan of understanding the why, as opposed to the how. Once I’ve recorded the how, I have a strong compulsion to know why users do certain things. This is, in essence, how I do my work.

As you’ve probably realized by now, I’m a big fan of understanding the why, as opposed to the how. Once I’ve recorded the how, I have a strong compulsion to know why users do certain things. This is, in essence, how I do my work.

The primary goal I have with Conversion Gold is to give you the mental models and concepts that I’ve collected over the years, in hopes that you can apply them to enrich your interests. I don’t often write about the one easy trick, or provide copy and paste swipe files of killer headlines. I want to talk about the concepts. I want to understand why these things work. I’m more interested in discussing principles and strategies than I am in discussing tactics.

In this issue I’m going to back out, abstract a little, and tell you how to grow a website by reasoning from first principles.

One of my favorite little tidbits of information is that Elon Musk’s background was actually in physics.

Long before he revolutionized the electric automobile industry with Tesla, he was part of the team that created PayPal. Long before that, he was studying physics in college. One of the core mental models that physicists learn is called reasoning from first principles.

Regarding first principles, Elon has this to say:

I think people’s thinking process is too bound by convention or analogy to prior experiences. It’s rare that people try to think of something on a first principles basis. They’ll say, “We’ll do that because it’s always been done that way.” Or they’ll not do it because “Well, nobody’s ever done that, so it must not be good.” But that’s just a ridiculous way to think. You have to build up the reasoning from the ground up—“from the first principles” is the phrase that’s used in physics. You look at the fundamentals and construct your reasoning from that, and then you see if you have a conclusion that works or doesn’t work, and it may or may not be different from what people have done in the past.

I have often wondered what we have to learn from first principles about building, growing, and optimizing website businesses. There are tens of thousands of blogs, articles, speakers, gurus, and books that claim to be the one true way to grow your business and become rich.

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