Growth is life and life is growth, aka what email marketing taught me about life outside the inbox.

When you think about growth all day long, and have a practice of yoga and meditation, it’s natural to start drawing some parallels between marketing, and — life.

(This is not going to turn into a Canva card, I promise.)

The following post came out of the many conversations I’ve had in “work” and in “life” (to me, a continuum), where I find myself talking about growth in one area, only to say “It’s just like in… [the other area].”

You don’t grow your business without some inevitable takeaways for growth in your life. If you don’t see it, maybe ur doin’ it wrong.

As we close out 2015 and spreadsheet our dreams for next year, I would love for all of us in the greater innovation community* to think about how growth = life and life = growth.

*VCs, founders, early teams, wantrepreneurs, spiritual seekers, you’re all included.


One of the principles I talk about most when I talk about email marketing for growth is “one email, one CTA.”

It’s a simple rule:

Each email campaign should only have 1 tight, focused call-to-action.

More specifically:

– Don’t include more than one call to action in an email that you’re trying to use for true persuasion or conversion (if, for some reason, you want to send an email that’s not conversion-oriented, then that’s a different story)

– It’s ok, and even preferable, to include multiple instances of your call-to-action destination within one email.

– For example, if the desired action is for your subscriber to click through to your landing page then you can link to that landing page in 2 to 3 different places:

1. a button

2. a linked image

3. an in-line hyperlink, like this:


“Monthly update” style newsletters, which usually present a carousel-like buffet of content and actions, are ineffective at conversion for this very reason.

We tend to keep things compartmentalized in our lives, but to me marketing has always = life and life has always = marketing.

One email, one CTA.

This same principle applies beautifully to life optimization as well.

One day, one A.

I usually have so many browser tabs open that my browser stops working. My whole machine stops working because there so many browser tabs in multiple windows and even in multiple browsers.

Sure I could buy a more powerful machine, level up the computing power.

But if I did that, I’m not sure my own mind could keep up.

If there’s a tiny lag in my internet, I start mousing over to a new tab.

I can’t tell you how many exit intent collectors I’ve triggered not because I truly intend to exit or close the tab, but simply because my mind starts to wander. Fast.

In Chet Holmes’ book, The Ultimate Sales Machine, the author focuses mainly on the management of the sales process and personal effectiveness rather than tricks and tactics to get more sales.

(Side note: any good “Machine” for achieving a goal is really just the collected, structured and codified process by which we travel towards that goal (the goal is often like a rainbow or a mirage), not one-time tricks. Similarly, Growth Machine = growth is a process, and silver bullets don’t exist).

In the book, Holmes presents a philosophy that he calls “One touch.”

Basically, it means: don’t pick something up unless you aim to finish it then and there.

For example, don’t open an email unless you are prepared to answer it or take action.

Now obviously you can’t do this all the time — sometimes we have to open it to become aware of what the question is, only to find out we need more information before we can take action.

(But the preview text helps a lot 🙂

Taking it beyond the inbox — because there’s always a beyond — I can apply this to my whole life.

“One touch” means I don’t pick it up unless I aim to finish it.

This is the opposite of how most of us conduct our lives, and I have proof.

Do you use Sidekick?

Sidekick is a fascinating way to study this in other people, aka your recipients, because it allows you to track every open and click on the emails you send to people.

You’ll see patterns of open behavior as people get prepared to take action on your email.

There is usually one open (probably on mobile, as 60%+ of email gets opened on mobile first), and then a quiet period as the person goes about their morning or day. That’s the first touch.

Then, as the person remembers or re-approaches the action moment, the opens and reopens start to appear in quick succession.

If you’re using Sidekick for sales to a high level lead, and you want to know the exact moment to ‘strike’ (that is, put through a call or otherwise do a followup or remarketing), you want to watch for that flurry of reopens.

But, this pattern of multiple touches means something totally different when you’re the one who’s doing it.

In managing your own attention and time, how many touches do you make before you take action?

I realized I was touching things many, many times.

Picking them up and putting them down and picking them up and putting them down and switching and switching.

Every subsequent time you open the same email, it costs you. A few seconds to find the email, a little bit of memory and energy for Gmail or your browser — not to mention your brain — to process that query and call it back up again.

Has your browser ever crashed on you?

Mine has crashed lot recently. Running out of memory, too many tabs — and yes, I’m still talking about Chrome, not my brain.

I realized that I actually like when Chrome doesn’t remember my tabs after the restart. I’ve noticed that it really doesn’t matter, I didn’t lose anything of consequence. I only gained space.

Sometimes it’s nice to close everything and restart.

So now I’m trying this thing — one day, one “A” (for Action).

I ask myself:

What’s my 1D1A today?

After I finish my one needle-moving, most important Action, I’m allowed to feel free and accomplished and satisfied.

That’s the deal. If I do the thing, the flip side of the deal is I have to allow myself that freedom from gnawing anxiety that I “haven’t done enough.”

Everything else I close after my 1D1A is just compounding extra goodness that I get to feel great about, sort of like negative churn.

The kicker is that completing my 1D1A, gives me extra juice to complete (not just start) one more focused thing, which sometimes gives me extra juice to complete yet another — or maybe like five more.

But let’s not get carried away.

I don’t think about those “bonuses” (or “upsells” if you will…) when I’m still focused on my main 1D1A. It’s a funnel after all — every step of the funnel is all-consuming in that moment, and its only job is to deliver you to the next step, not all at once all the way to the final conversion in some kind of magical, non-linear explosion.

This works well in email optimization:

The tighter your funnel — within the email, since every email is its own funnel as well as belonging to a larger lifecycle funnel — the higher your conversion rate.

It works even better in time-optimization:

The more times you open the same email before “closing it out” with action, the more time and energy you ended up spending.

Those seconds add up. Those bits and bytes of memory add up, and it doesn’t always bounce back to 100 when the task itself is done.

It works best of all in attention optimization (time being only a proxy for attention and energy):

The fewer things you’re switching your attention from back and forth, the more attention you have.

And where attention goes, so energy flows.

Like powerful, concentrated dose of Get Shit Done / Move the Mountain.

Today, my 1 A is writing this post till its end — just the first draft till its natural end. And here I am.

What’s yours?



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More on Email Marketing:

7 Little Known Techniques in the New Email Marketing

YouTube webinars:

Content Marketing 4 Startups

Email Marketing 4 Startups 

And if you’re curious about other lessons on / from email marketing (or better yet, ready for some proven shortcuts), check out my project ==> Email For Startups <==