Pablo F's Journal

writing about #perspectiva, #pablof7z

Whenever I run into a list of books written by someone, even when I have no idea who that someone is, I have the reflex of clicking it.

Even if I see the word "reading list" offline I start poking the words like a madman, waiting for something to happen.

Booklists are super popular among people like us.

I didn't read that anywhere; I'm just guessing, but, since I see them everywhere, it's safe to assume that's because people can't get enough of them.

The books in this list I'm giving you are these: seven books you have already read.

Yup. That's it.

We're constantly looking for an answer to our questions out there. We assume that we don't already know the secret to life, but that there is one. A magic button that will make everything instantaneous and effortless.

Maybe the answer is that you already have all the information you need to become who you want to be. Perhaps now is just a matter of action, of applying what you already know.

I know this is not earth-shattering. By now is as much a clichè as "the best books for X" lists, or "5 reasons why you are like Trump."

The insight is noticing that, whenever you feel the pull to peek into that reading list from famous-internet-guru, realize that that is also procrastination.

Last year I did the challenge of not allowing myself to read any new book. Not even books I had already purchased but hadn't read yet.

I could only re-read.

It turned out the value I got from that re-reading was much more impactful than continually chasing new stuff.

When you approach things from a perspective of "I already know everything I need to know to accomplish/be X, now I need to make it happen", it shifts your mindset into action.

If you want to find out what you already know, journal about something you've already read, you'll find that you'll be much more prone to extracting insights.

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One of the things I like the most about building Perspectiva, or any product I build, is that I get to make any and all choices.

When I work with clients, (at least when I used to work with clients since I seldom do now) I can inform them, guide them, suggest stuff, but ultimately, I'm building a product for them, and, more importantly, I'm building their vision.

Perspectiva is my vision of what an online journal for someone who wants to write but fails to do it consistently should be.

Last week I started building a trial for Perspectiva. It's not a free trial. Why? I'll tell you why later, but it's a cheap trial. Just a buck. Yup. $1.

The important thing is that I don't want my customers to forget... or to subscribe "by default", because they didn't notice it.

You may or may not know about them: dark patterns. Things product do to "strongly suggest" you take an action they want you to take.

It could be Facebook burying the "delete account" button under a bunch of confirmation dialogs and hoops. Or Amazon removing all navigation bars and distractions from the website when you are approaching the checkout page.

I don't mind a lower subscription rate if it'll mean that the customers that join in are honestly excited and eager to subscribe.

It's not about honesty, it's not about a sense of moral high-ground, it's simply the type of people I want to work with on Perspectiva.

The trial flow on Perspectiva doesn't sneakly try to push you to convert... like Dropbox's does:

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Not meaning to single out Dropbox here. EVERY single SaaS I've tried does something like this. Well, not every one, Basecamp doesn't and I appreciate that.

To be honest, Basecamp is one of the companies I base lot of my product decisions on: they are playing the long game. It seems they just want to have happy customers and let the score... as they say... take care of itself.

I also want to play the long game. If a customer wants to upgrade, they upgrade. If they want to stay, they stay. If they forgot to cancel and their card is charged without them remembering, when I see a cancellation within a few days of a charge I email them offering a refund.

Oh, about the non-free trial: like I said, I want the customers that come in to be really committed: starting a journal is a serious commitment: I don't want people who are just trying one app after the next, creating accounts on dozens of Product Hunt launches just to see what's inside.

So we (my wife and I, aka the Perspectiva team), decided to put a barrier to make sure the people who make it in have some true motivation.

Yes. We are doing something to REDUCE signups.

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Back in February, I joined WIP, a wonderful paid community of makers who share their journey and can ask questions and support each other.

When I joined that community, I started working every single day, working on exciting projects and pushing work out left and right, I was building a pretty cool streak and feeling proud of it.

Streaks are these funny things; they trigger something innate to humans, our thirst for more, and our competitive spirits. That's why they are in so many apps. They are the scoreboard of habit-building products.

My WIP streak was looking healthy... until one day, I simply forgot.
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Yup. I just forgot. Totally blanked on it. It's not that I didn't work. I did work on Perspectiva that day.

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But I did work on May 14th!

I worked on building a modal that will ask journalers on Perspectiva to define their goals, making it easier to help keep them working towards that goal in the future.

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Goals, goals, goals... GOALS!

The empire streaks back

(yeah, I don't know what that means either 🤷‍♂️)

After I realized my streak on WIP broke, I was so upset at myself, both for letting the streak break and also for caring about my streak breaking.

The next day I didn't post anything on WIP; I just worked quietly and shared my progress with Github, my wife, and our Perspectiva customers.

The day after was about the same. I didn't even connect to the chat.

And so, just like that, a habit that quite strong was broken.

As shown by the first chart, just pulled from WIP, I haven't been able to re-start my habit of sharing my progress with the WIP community just yet. Still working on that one.

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That's why, when I set out to implement the Perspectiva streak algorithm, I went for a much more complex (and radically geek-tertaining, I might add) than simply counting the number of days a journaler wrote.

After all, Perspectiva is a journal for people who struggle with journaling: it's expected that some days some people struggle with writing!

Hey, this is not just because this is actually how habits work; this is because I'm selfish, and I want an algorithm that will be empathetic with me, who's the main beneficiary from Perspectiva being accommodating when it comes to streaks!
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My dirty little secret: my streak, to this day, is not pristine 🤷‍♂️

I wish I still had the multiple pages of notes I took while designing the algorithm, but we just finished moving to a new house, and most of my paper notes are still in boxes, but trust me: there were several pages, with multiple pages full of charts, studying and evaluating what would be the proper curvature of the function that represents how habits really form.

Wife 🥰

I'm lucky that I can count on my wife, Marina, to help with this: she's helped hundreds (thousands, perhaps?) of clients work on their habit formation for many many years:

We were able to work together on how habits form slowly and break fast, but, depending on the strength of the habit, usually not overnight.

That's why Perspectiva's streak is not just a number. It's two: the nominal value, i.e., the typical streak, and the strength of the streak, which is a number ranging from 0 to 500, which represents the strength.

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Not just a number... TWO NUMBERS!

And THAT.. my friends, is the fascinating story of why Perspectiva has TWO numbers to display streaks.

Fascinating isn't it, lonely reader-whos-the-only-one-who-got-this-far?

If you've read this far, you might want to check out our app Perspectiva; a spartan-looking journal for people who struggle with journaling. Sure, it's not the prettiest, but it's the one that will help you stick with journaling once and for all!

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Here's a bit of a random idea but that it's interesting to explore, not sure how, but I'd like to find an answer to this question.

How can I frame my disagreement with someone that knows more about the subject matter than I do?

Say, a keynesian economist, well.. that's a bad example, because I understand, or I think I understand, the premise of their mental models and I think it's total bullshit.

But say someone like the economist from the book Princes of the Yen, who talks about the wonders of Quantitative Easing and understands the risks of QE programs but sees that a well-run QE program can be benefitial in the short and long term.

This idea feels and rings incorrect to me. But this guy clearly knows multiple orders of magnitude more than I do. So what's my standing to disagree with his idea, really? It's just intuition. Intuition that he's wrong, but I can't go down in the mud of the argument.

Well, actually, thinking about it, if I were talking to him, I could attempt to probe his arguments from the start and attempt to find the place of disagreement. Which of the premises he basis his argument on is where we fork-off.

So where is the disagreement? What's the root? Is it experiential? This guy is clearly a very bright guy, seems to be honestly curious and willing to take his conclusions wherever reasoning takes him (not sure if that's true, but,  let's assume it is for the sake of exploring this line of thinking.)

Is the disagreement based on our lived experiences? At some point, regardless of the fact that we could both be following reason, we could find ourselves in completely opposed conclusions under the same set of facts.

Again. What's the source of the disagreement? What's the element that makes the logical conclusions under same facts diverge?

This is what I'm not sure of. This is the basis of the question.

UPDATE: After 

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Look, before my daughter was born, I was honestly excited.

Ecstatic, I could say.

And yes, getting to know her, seeing what being a parent was really like, and all that... yeah, it sounded great.

But, truth is (Alana, if you're reading this... stop NOW, I don't want to traumatize you!), one of the things that I was looking forward to the most is that I was FINALLY going to be able to keep up with a consistent journaling practice.

I mean, what could be more motivating that recording those unique feelings and situations?

I had tried and SPECTACULARLY failed so many times that I realized I needed the strongest possible motivator to stick with journaling for a long time.

Because, you know what? I like what journaling gives me. But I'm horrible at sticking to it consistently. I guess I'm just not wired that way.

But, oh man... once my daughter is born... that'd be the final straw. I'll be documenting my child's growth, all the special moments, all the loving milestones, all the...



Labor was tough on me, and my wife had NO empathy for my delicate emotional state, complaining about, who knows, something-something-vagina-something-something.

So, obviously, that first day I wasn't about to take some time to write how I was feeling, I could barely tell my sister on the phone how things were going.

The first week was just a blur.

The journal I bought for this special, glorious ocassion didn't come out of the nightstand's drawer a single night.

Once we passed the first month I think I wrote one night... something about feeling so sleep deprived I couldn't write.

I literally couldn't. If I ever want to read what I wrote I'll have to hire an archeologist to decode it, and there are no freelance archeologists on Fiverr.

Looking back, I realize I picked the ABSOLUTE WORST time to decide to re-start a journaling practice.

It was like starting Super Mario Bros on the last scene, when you're fighting that giant turtle that wants to kill you.

Throughout the years, I've tried (and failed) many times to start and restart to be consistent with it.

I never knew what it was. I am not a lazy or undisciplined person. I mean, I'm no Tony Robbins, but I'm fairly consistent with doing what I propose to do.

And, you know what? when I wrongly decided that my daughter's birth was going to finally give me all the motivation I needed to be consistent I was right and wrong at the same time.

Yes. It did give me all the motivation I needed.

How could it not? I don't want to allow any period of my life to become a blur, but specially not my child's first few weeks!

And at the same time I was dead wrong.

It's NOT a matter of motivation.

You can have ALL the motivation in the world.

And yet, one day be too tired. Or too busy. Or you just won't feel like it.

And that's the mistake.

If your journaling practice depends on motivation, it's bound to fail.
One day of low blood sugar can kill your writing streak.

And then RE-starting your practice becomes a whole ordeal.

No, what you need is not motivation.

What you need is a system.

A system that works. A system that works independently of your motivation and blood-sugar levels.

That system is Perspectiva.

We created Perspectiva for people who struggle with journaling, whose access to the type of journal they use is not the problem. Their problem, our problem, is  consistency.

And here is where it shines. Perspectiva addresses everything we've identified as a roadblock, and everything known about habit formation. We've put all that together in one neat package.

A package we call PRO, but we could have called anything else.
(TheJournalYoullActuallyUse was a bit wordy.)

Look, the free version of Perspectiva, the one you have been using, hits all the basics. Everything you need to keep a journal, the crappy minimalistic text editor, the security, all that.

Those are the basics.

And maybe you've been able to leverage the compounding power of journaling, consistently writing and understanding your journey through life, without having all your days getting mixed up in a blur, and losing the important details of your daily life.

But if you haven't been able to keep up with it consistently, if you have tried many times before, like I did throughout the past few years, you know what happens? Well, you do know.

You've seen it.

Days go by without a second thought. They are forgotten. What happened two weeks ago merges with what happened a month ago.

Growth stalls.  And when growth stalls you don't simply stall, your world shrinks. When I look at my life, the times when I was consistent always matched the periods of highest personal growth, of enjoying life the m

And maybe you have been able to keep up with your practice without the need of unlocking Perspectiva PRO. Then you don't need another system and we are honestly happy to be able to give you the best possible journaling experience.

And it works great for people who already have a well-established journaling practice. We love having people using it every day without the need to unlock the PRO version.

But a fancy and enjoyable-to-use text editor, and a reliable, secure, and encrypted storage for your journal, that's not the reason we created Perspectiva.

Perspectiva PRO works like a marathon.

You get to run with a bunch of people, all working together towards a common goal. Tiredness

A few years ago, I was obsessed with running. I would out for runs every day, or most days. I started by running 5k, which quickly evolved to 7k.

I started trying to run faster, but particularly running longer distances appealed to me. I would start running in one direction and take some cash with me in order to be able to get back to the starting point. I loved seeing how far I could get and if I had to run in in a circle I would always have to stop running before my tank was empty.

I run into (pun!) my best running trick accidentally.

One morning I went out for a run and I happened to stumble upon an organized race. I think it was 10k.

I didn't plan to, but I merged my run with their's.

It was a ridiculously amateur race, but I was no pro either. Still, finding myself surrounded by people like me, who got up early, put on their running shorts in a freezing winter morning, to join thousands of strangers to run in a circle. I don't know, it empowered me more than I realized.

When I finished the race, I had beaten all my personal records. Again, I was a total noob, so you are unlikely to find my epic run in the Guiness World Record.

What matters is that I took that lesson to heart.

When you're serious about something, sourround yourself with people who are as serious as you are.

Perspectiva is a place for people who are seriously committed with their journaling. We mention this ALL over the place. Every part of the registration, the first emails we sent you, everything alludes to this fact.

We want to be sourrounded by people who are honestly committed with journaling, just as WE are.

Because, just as in races (I went on to run 42km races just from using this), there are always moments where your motivation dwindles, when you feel tired, when you think "why the hell am I running? who's chasing me?", there are always moments in everybody's journaling practicee when you'll feel like just quitting and walking away.

That's the moment where others will cheer you to continue regardless of the pain and the discomfort.

Perspectiva PRO detects when your motivation is dwindling, it could be that you're not writing, or that you're writing less and less, or even that you're waiting for the last moment of the day to write an ever-shorter entry for the day.

Anyone can do what's right when they are riding that wave.

What separates the wheat from the chaff is those that can do it when life's super busy, when they are feeling down and when they've had the dullest day ever and can't possibly think of a single thing that stands out.

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Some apps are great at creating habits.

The wrong habits.

Allow me to explain:

A few months ago, I wanted to start making dinner earlier, so I would go to bed earlier as well.

I live in Spain. Dinner at 10pm is the norm here. We need time to recover from our siestas, after all.

I downloaded a habit tracker, and created a habit:

"Start dinner before 8:30 pm."
(Yep, that's early for me)

The app kindly asked me if I wanted to be reminded.

"Nice," I thought, "I do want to be reminded!"

I did the math in my head.

8:15 pm would be a good time for the alarm. I'll be sitting on my couch, twiddling my thumbs, the alarm goes off, and I'd jump up, ready to change my behavior.

Spoiler alert: that didn't happen.

Instead, at 8:15 pm the next day, I was trying to convince my daughter to finish her bottle before putting her to bed.

She was twisting her surprisingly strong little body while yelling tapato, TAPATO (zapato, Spanish for "shoe"). For some reason, she loves her shoes and doesn't want to apart from them while she sleeps.
It's quite the drama. The toddler version of Romeo and Juliet.

So my phone rang, I swore, Alana started yelling Abu (she calls the phone grandma because we use it to Facetime our moms) and I promptly turned off the reminder.

Next day? Alana was asleep, but I was very focused on something work-related.

Next day? I was showering. My wife turned off the alarm. 

In a few days, the app did successfully built a habit: the habit of turning off the reminder right away without even remembering what it was there for.

Can you see the problem with that?

In Perspectiva, we're fixing that.

We've created the concept of smart nudges

The system learns from your previous behaviors:

When do you usually journal? What do you do when you are reminded? What kind of messages work better for you, particularly?

We combine that data and everything science teaches us about human behavior to make our reminders as effective as possible, so we help you create the habit you're actually interested in:

The majestic habit of journaling.

I really hope you enjoy Smart Nudges. I'm not being sarcastic: once they get to know you, they end up being quite adorable.

And hey, you can always tune how persuasive you want them to be here.

Remember: we serve people who struggle with journaling because we believe they're not the problem: the problem is not finding the right system for you.

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