September 26, 2019

Until now...

Salim Virani @saintsal

2 years, 200 pages, 200 subscribers, $200 in presales, but some big names like Harvard, MIT, Oxford signed up.

This book started as a side project almost 2 years ago. My and my co-author Bart, would organise writing sprints where we'd meet in an AirBnB for 3-4 days and write, write, write.

Our first version was a bunch of workshop formats and facilitation techniques we'd used ourselves. Things like:

  • how I first organised Leancamp, how I worked with people to spread it to 30 cities
  • how we reworked the Africa Prize for Engineering to go from business-school class-room style stuff, to groups working together on their businesses.
  • what really works in startup accelerators

The feedback was good from the people who knew what we did, but everyone else wanted to know, "what is peer learning? why peer learning?"

So we completely rewrote it, instead using the project to reach out to our role models and heroes to interview them. We built up a small mailing list to 200 people, but that has some serious educators on it, from Harvard, MIT, UCL, Oxford. (To be fair, some are our old clients.)

We then got feedback that people wanted more practical stuff! Kind of ironic, but shows that we did a decent job of answering the "why peer learning" questions and helping people see how it helps them. What we missed in version 1 was how we think about designing or improving other programs, not just what kinds of formats we design or how we work a room.

Now it's 200 pages of stories from all over the world . They're all connected by a few frameworks that we used ourselves, but then improved based on learning from our own heroes.

Our list email growth has tapered off, which isn't a good sign. But I'm also writing this for me, to feel I can share some discoveries that help education programs keep up to a world that changes faster and faster. Then I might move on from education, or at least the grueling and CO2-consuming business of running these international programs.

Instead of sprints, now I'm putting in around a day per week, and hope to have another (hopefully final!) version out within months.

  1. 2

    Just a quick note on your landing page: I think it's quite hard to focus on any one part of it because there's a little too much going on with the spacing & layout.

    Here's how I would envision it: https://imgur.com/HNXTXXD

    I would probably add another benefit for the end user in the header, something like:

    "See how peer learning can help you solve your most important problems", or something that really focuses on the user benefit or why someone might want to read your book.

    --

    I would also remove your right sidebar and turn that content into a horizontal row.

    --

    Good luck, looks interesting

    1. 2

      Wow! Thank you! I'm getting on that today.

      1. 1

        Did it! Looks oh so much better, and we're seeing more clicks from the homepage too. Thanks again!

  2. 2

    Having old clients from MIT, Oxford, etc. makes for a good start, doesn't it? 😃

    1. 2

      :) Yeah, I've been pretty lucky. What's interesting is even having access to them, I still get a sense that this is low priority. From our active clients, we see peer learning making big improvements, but we haven't quite cracked how to articulate that to everyone else...

  3. 2

    Congrats on your persistence and consistency!

    1. 1

      Thanks! The hardest part is getting back into the book after each time our projects took us away. I envy people who manage to stay in constant flow and ship consistently, like every week... but hey, now I've stopped all travel and project work so let's see if that gets us over the finish line.

      1. 2

        I understand it but you still made a great job.

        I have huge respect for people who are able to work with your consistence and persistence. Honestly, it is my biggest weakness and I hope to reach your level in this respect.

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