Book Summary: Explosive Growth Summary Cliff Lerner

Explosive Growth Summary


Imagine waking up one morning to find your previously unknown start -up all

over the news.

After years of hard work and unsuccessful investor pitches, your

valuation has increased tenfold overnight and investors are suddenly

acknowledging your success and banging down your door to throw money at


Within a few weeks, you’ve raised nearly $10 million on the basis of just a

few phone calls, and every media outlet in the world wants to talk to you.

Sounds like something out of a dream or a movie, right?

Well, this crazy story is entirely true. As SNAP Interactive’s cofounder and Cliff’s brother, I was fortunate enough to be there for nearly all of it.

Explosive Growth Summary


“Make your life a story worth telling.”

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“In the end, it’s not the things we did that we regret, it’s the things we didn’t do.”


#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 1 : Find something that people are doing inefficiently

and create a solution that makes it substantially easier (ten times easier) to

achieve the same result. Does your product accomplish this?

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 2 : Once you’ve figured out how much start -up capital

you need, double it.

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 3 : Make the unknown known by creating a worst

case scenario plan. You’ll discover that the situation is rarely as bad as you

initially thought. Do you have a worst -case scenario plan?

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 4 : First -mover advantage is useless if the timing isn’t

right. Have you thought about ideas, products, or features that failed in the past

—simply due to being too early—that may work now?

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 5 : Your first few hires will set the tone for your

culture. Secure elite talent ASAP and hire carefully. Are you confident your last

few hires are the right cultural fit?


“I’ve learned it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve failed, you only have to be right once.”

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 6 : Learn how to validate an idea with as little time

and financial investment as possible. Do you have a plan to validate your ideas


#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 7 : A few fanatical customer advocates are worth more

than hundreds or even thousands of casual signups. Fanatical users will supply

word -of -mouth growth, while providing the necessary feedback to iterate on

the product. Do you have at least twenty fanatical users or a plan to get them?

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 8 : Having a remarkable product is not subjective.

Either people remark and it grows organically or they don’t. Are people

remarking about your product?

Explosive Growth Summary


#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 9 : A marginally better product is worthless. It needs to

be at least ten times better. Have you quantified how much better your product’s

core offering is than the competition?

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 10 : You can often find success at the intersection of

passion and expertise. Are you passionate about the problem your product solves?

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 11 : Have you looked outside your industry for new

solutions and approaches to solve the problem in order to create the 10X experience?

Explosive Growth Summary


“You miss 100 percent ofthe shots you don’t take.”

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 12 : Do you know what your product’s “aha” moment

is? If not, figure it out, and focus on optimizing that experience for all users.

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 13 : Are there projects you’re keeping alive by

ignoring the sunk -cost principle (or for emotional and non -practical reasons)? If

so, shut them down now to free up more valuable time and focus.

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 14 : Perfect is the enemy of shipped. Creating the

perfect feature indicates making lots of assumptions without gathering user

feedback and data, and will take significantly more time. Are you continuing to

work on features that are polished enough to put in front of a few customers now

and get feedback?

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 15 : Building product and testing features without

robust analytics is like driving blindfolded—it won’t end well. Do you have an

effective dashboard with all your key metrics?


“Virality isn’t luck. It’s not magic. And it’s not random. There’s a science behind

why people talk and share. A recipe. A formula, even.”

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 17 : When writing copy, sell the benefit, not the feature.  

Are you selling the benefit?

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 18 : If you’re not running tests, start now. Do you plan to run at least three tests in the next thirty days?


#EXPLOSIVE GROWTHTIP 19 : Many of today’s billion -dollar companies

succeeded by growing on top of other platforms. Are you testing integrations

with emerging and established platforms?

“You need to identify social influencers in small areas, see who the influencers

are, and target them. That’s how we spread throughout college campuses and

other social scenes.”


#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 20 : Have you targeted a partnership that would

provide massive visibility and growth for you?

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 21 : Your growth strategy can’t be an afterthought. A

great product with a poor or traditional marketing plan will have poor results. Do

you have a growth rocket strategy?

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 22 : If people are complaining about something, it

means the product is good enough that they care about it. The real problem is

when no one’s complaining. Is anybody complaining about your product?

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 23 : Read all your customer emails, because there’s a

pot of gold in them if you look closely enough. If you have too many customer

emails to review, have somebody summarize them each week for you, but never

become disconnected from your customer. Did you read all your customer

service emails last month?

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 24 : Do you have every employee (including

management) spend one hour per quarter with customer service, listening to calls

and answering customer emails?

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 25 : Try to hire employees who will also use your

product, because they will have some of the best ideas and will outperform non

user employees. Do at least 20 percent of your employees use the product


#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 26 : Hold a monthly brainstorm session, ideally with a

theme such as “new features” or a specific goal and encourage the entire

company to participate. Did you have a brainstorm meeting with all of the

company’s participation recently?

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 27 : Better late than never is a bad plan for site reliability. Users are ruthless, and if your product doesn’t work, they will go somewhere else, fast. Are you actively addressing site reliability?

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 28 : When a competitor starts copying your features,

you can pretty much write them off completely, as it means they ran out of

innovative ideas. Are you copying features?

“Imitation is the sincerest form offlattery.”


#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 29 : If your largest source of revenue stopped paying

you or disappeared, could your business survive for at least six months? Come

up with a contingency plan now.

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 30 : Revenue tests take several months to reveal their

true impact and long -term ramifications on user growth and retention. Reaching

conclusions too soon can be very damaging. Do you wait until your crucial tests

reach statistical significance before reaching conclusions?

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 31 : Never start charging for something that users are

used to receiving for free. They will revolt and cause irrevocable damage with

bad reviews. Do you have any plans to charge for features you are currently

giving away for free?

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 32 : Come up with new features to charge users for

instead of monetizing previously free features.

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 33 : Write down the five people you spend the most time with. If you become the average of them, would you be happy with that outcome? If not, it might be time to upgrade your inner circle.

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 34 : When a billionaire wants to work with you, never

say no. Are you fully exploring opportunities to work with a billionaire?

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#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 35 : Don’t be pressured into making any decisions or

signing any documents you’re unsure about. Rushing into a poor decision or

agreement can be catastrophic, whereas missing an opportunity will not be.

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 36 : Leverage is everything in a negotiation.

Understand when you have it and when you don’t. Are you maximizing your

leverage before key negotiations?

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 37 : The best time to raise money is when you don’t

need to. Is the company financially stable enough where you can walk away

from a bad or mediocre term sheet?

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 38 : Investors are a lot like jealous exes—they want

you a lot more when someone else is interested.

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 39 : Whenever you can take some money off the table

(especially life -changing money) do it.


#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 40 : Don’t hire someone you wouldn’t want to have a

beer with after work. Do you want to enjoy a beer with most of your coworkers?

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 41 : The threshold question when evaluating a current

employee is: would you hire that person again if you could do it over? If not, let

them go. Are you in the process of letting employees go who don’t pass the “re

hire ” test?

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 42 : Can you describe your product’s USP in one

concise sentence? Is it truly remarkable?

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 43 : Have you asked your users to describe your

product in one sentence? Did at least half of the responses refer to the same concept?

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 44 : Ask if users have already recommended your

product to a friend. Do you know what percentage of your users have

recommended your product to a friend? If they said no, try to find out why.

Perhaps you just haven’t made it easy enough for users to share your product—

an easy fix.

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 45 : Are you actively measuring your NPS? Is your NPS above fifty? Don’t waste time and money by trying to market and grow a product that has a poor NPS.

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 46 : Marketing a product with a low NPS is essentially

saying to potential customers, “Hey, my product sucks, come check it out.”

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 47 : Do you know what single user action or

experience compels users to come back to your product repeatedly? If not, figure

it out now, because this could be the most important insight you need to grow your business.



#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 48 : Growth without retention is worthless. However,

retention without growth is a problem any entrepreneur should love to have,

because it means people love the product. Do you know what your one -day and thirty -day retention is?

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 49 : Don’t spend significant money on marketing until

your one -day and thirty -day retention is well above average for your industry.

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 50 : Do you have any features that are rarely used? If

so, do you have a plan to obliterate them in the next thirty days?

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 51 : Do you have a process to actively evaluate new features? If not, implement CIO (Celebrate, Iterate, Obliterate) ASAP.

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 52 : Do you have a concise and inspiring vision and mission statement?

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 53 : Do you have documented core values? Does every

employee know them? Are you doing anything to actively reinforce them?

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 54 : Do you offer fifteen -minute in -office massages to all employees at least monthly? Trust me, do it.

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 55 : Are most of your employees working on

something to help the company reach a single critical goal?

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 56 : Figure out what motivates every employee, and understand that their motivations may be different than yours. Are you asking

each interviewee and employee what would make them more excited about coming to work every day?

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 57 : Don’t be afraid to test any idea, because you can

rarely guess what will and what won’t work. Have you tested an idea recently that somebody from your customer service team was passionate about?

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 58 : What is the one goal that, if achieved, would solve

most other problems? Do you have a plan to obsessively focus on and achieve that one goal?

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 59 : Small goals lead to small ideas. Double or triple your goals and use a company -wide brainstorming session to solicit ideas.

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 60 : Do your employees have ways to be creative and

try their own ideas? Do you have a monthly hackathon?

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 61 : Do you have any internally developed tools that

may be a better business opportunity on their own than your current product?

Are you doing anything to pursue them as a new opportunity?

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 62 : Have you made a list of fun, taboo, or

controversial topics in your industry? Do you have a plan to get data to prove or

disprove them? Issue a press release highlighting the controversial data and you’ll have an explosive growth story.

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 63 : Schedule a company brainstorming session to come up with ideas for a top ten list about your industry or product.

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 64 : Have you identified trending news stories that you

can inject your company into? Are you actively providing the writers with a new

angle or fresh data?

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 65 : Anticipate newsjacking opportunities by

identifying upcoming concerts, festivals, sporting events, conferences, annual

events, and trade shows. Do you have a list of at least three upcoming

opportunities for newsjacking?

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 66 : Speed is key and the big boys can’t keep up. Have

you contacted key writers to tell them you will provide any data and survey information they need within a tight timeframe?

Explosive Growth Summary Explosive Growth Summary


#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 67 : Can you quantify how much superior your core product offering is than the competition? Is it 10X better?


#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 68 : Are your most talented people working on the biggest opportunities instead of the biggest problems?

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 69 : When creating a new product, create a separate

account with funds earmarked exclusively for the new initiative. Do you have different accounts for different products?

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 70 : Make sure any potential investors are fully aligned

with your strategy and vision. Talk to the companies behind their failing prior investments to see how the investors behaved when the going got tough.

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 71 : Raising debt can be very dangerous. Try to avoid it entirely, if possible.

Explosive Growth Summary Explosive Growth Summary


#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 72 : Focus on building solutions to problems, rather than building new products or features.

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 73 : Do you have all your media and product

information (listed above) easily accessible on one page online for the media to access anytime?

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 74 : Do you have a few “friendly users” on standby,

ready to speak positively about your product to the media?

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 75 : Have a meet -and -greet at your office with key

reporters and bloggers. The most social employees should be there to mingle and

show off what they’re working on. Have you met personally with key reporters yet?

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 76 : The corporate setup is crucial. For us, being

publicly traded had some advantages, but in the end, it hurt us far more often

than it helped. Are there any structural issues with your company setup that are

holding you back, and are you addressing them now?

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 77 : Have you and all your employees read Contagious

, by Jonah Berger? If not, have everyone read it ASAP!

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 78 : Find a fun and positive way to include your

targeted blogs or influencers into a data story. They just may connect with you

on it!

Explosive Growth Summary


#EXPL OS IVEGROWTHTIP 79 : Does your business have a moat, a sustainable

competitive advantage around it? If not, formulate a plan to create one.

#EXPLOSIVE GROWTH TIP 80 : If you want more out of life, or have any fears that

are holding you back, attend the Tony Robbins event, “Unleash The Power Within.”


CLIFF LERNER is an accomplished business leader who gave up a lucrative

Wall Street career to launch an online dating start -up . With little funding, Cliff

founded Snap Interactive. His start -up would go on to create the first successful

Facebook dating app, grow revenues 4,412 percent in five years, and sign up

more than 100 million users. Cliff resides in New York City and is always on the lookout for his next entrepreneurial endeavour.

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