Hackernoon logoWhat Winning Second Place in the Golden Kitty Awards Taught Me by@marie

What Winning Second Place in the Golden Kitty Awards Taught Me

Marie Prokopets Hacker Noon profile picture

@marieMarie Prokopets

In elementary school I wrote a play about how bobcats lost their tails. The play was selected to be acted out on stage and it came in first place!

My parents were so proud.

Here’s what my dad texted me after my company FYI won second place in the Product Hunt annual Golden Kitty Awards 🏆😺:

Second place is better than no place at all. Also it wasn’t judged by experts. Basically the acceptance of the product or service is an ultimate judge. Hopefully you’re not discouraged.

My dad was right.

My co-founder Hiten and I were disappointed that FYI didn’t win Lifehack of the Year.

At the end of projects, we love to do a postmortem to review what happened and our lessons learned.

Here are the 3 things we learned the hard way after trying to win a Golden Kitty and getting second place 🥈.

1. You’re always going to think your product sucks. Get over it!

When Hiten and I first saw that FYI was in the finals, we couldn’t understand how it had happened.

We didn’t ask anyone to nominate us or think of strategies to get a nomination. We’ve been heads down working on what’s next. Why did people nominate us, we wondered.

Why were we so surprised?

Our focus was on what we thought was lacking with our product. On the things we hadn’t built yet, the improvements we wanted to make, and the brilliant marketing strategies we’ve yet to execute.

We were so focused on our own perceived “suckiness” that we forgot how much our existing customers love FYI.

Imposter syndrome, we learned, extends to the things you build too.
It’s easy to convince yourself that something isn’t good enough, even when people love it. It’s easy to discount positive feedback in favor of the negative.

Focusing on the customers who love your product is the best thing you can do. It’s truly what it takes to win in the market.

Plus, it helps to have a killer product that people love like FYI :)

2. Focus on what you can do, not what your competitors are doing.

My co-founder tells me a lot of stories about tactics competitors used on his businesses in the past. From writing bad reviews to lying during sales calls and even more that’s probably worthy of another entire blog post.

Beyond the anecdotes he shared with me, I had no personal experience with people in a business context doing things I wouldn’t do.

But once voting for the awards started, I began to see people doing whatever they could to win.

Like promoted tweets getting people to upvote products. And bots being used to get last-minute upvotes.

We sent an email about the Golden Kitty awards to an FYI email list, only for it to be copied almost word for word by another product in the Lifehack category. Their email was sent out minutes after our email.

I laughed a bit when I saw two identical emails sitting next to each other in my inbox 😹.

My first instinct was judgement. How could they! It all seemed unfair. But then I had a realization. Whether it’s winning awards or winning customers, people are going to do whatever it takes. Plus, “anything it takes” is often way worse than bots, promotions or copied emails.

In fact, it really doesn’t matter what they are doing. It matters what you do.

  • Are you providing the best experience for your customers?
  • Are you solving customers’ most painful problems?
  • And are you doing the best job you can promoting your product to the right people?
  • What can you do today?

These are the things to focus on in order to win.

3. Being uncomfortable pays off tenfold.

At first, Hiten and I didn’t want to promote the awards at all. We were uncomfortable asking people for support. Neither of us really likes shouting from the rooftops about what we’re working on. It’s just not in our nature.

We quickly realized we have to. Seeing other people working so hard to get support made us realize it’s about time we start talking about our product. That we get over our own fears and speak about what we’re working on.

In the days before the voting closed, we did something we don’t normally do. We hustled (in our own way) to get folks to support us.

The pressure of the award and the timeline reminded us that we should always be promoting FYI as much as we can.

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable by doing things that don’t come naturally.
Learning how to get beyond your comfort zone will help you grow and hit the goals you’ve set for yourself and your product. You might even surprise yourself and grow in unexpected ways.

It was a crazy close race between FYI and the product that ended up winning Lifehack of the Year. We were neck and neck most of Tuesday, the final day of voting.

On our end, we saved the bulk of our marketing to the last day, once we got over imposter syndrome. And then, we watched the voting like hawks.

The tightness of the race caused us to keep promoting FYI and the awards until the very last second.

Here are the three lessons trying to win Lifehack of the year taught us:

  1. You’re always going to think your product sucks. Get over it!
  2. Focus on what you can do, not what your competitors are doing.
  3. Being uncomfortable pays off tenfold.

These learnings are already paying dividends. We are more motivated than ever. And our marketing efforts for FYI are getting a big boost as a result.

This motivation to do better by getting out of our comfort zone has been invaluable. We’ll gladly take the #2 spot in the Golden Kitty Awards along with this newfound inspiration.

It’s a great reminder that even when you don’t win the #1 spot, with a little bit of reflection you can learn a ton to do much better going forward ❤️.


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