Adventures in A/B testing

I travel a ridiculous amount. As I write, I’m mid-flight from Charlotte, North Carolina to Miami, Florida. This is only the second of the four flights I’m taking to get to Ushuaia, Argentina. This is my life.

However, it’s the first leg of my journey that inspires this week’s article. To get to the airport, I decided to get a driver.

What my drivers never know when I tap the button on the app is I’ll want to chat with them (if they’ll let me) for the entire ride. I’ve found that rideshare drivers stories make for the most interesting conversations. Note that, to date, I’ve only had ONE driver tell me he wanted just to be a driver. They ALL have a dream, they all are using this side hustle as a means to an end.

Today’s driver (I’ll call him Bob) was no exception. After our initial banter, I jumped into my usual line of questions, “So what do you do when you’re not driving?”Bob was eager to share his story. He had gone to school for accounting and has had a desk job for seven years in the accounts payable department. Partially bored with his current work and partly inspired by the success story of Cousins Main Lobster trucks, Bob had decided to go into the food truck business. He was, as he told me, using his earnings to save up for a truck and to serve the “great people of San Francisco.”

Enthusiasm was not lacking in this young man! When I asked him what kind of food he was going to serve, he spoke of the virtues of barbeque. It’s simple to make, tasty to eat, everyone loves it. We got all the way across the Bay Bridge talking about BBQ and his plans when he threw me a curveball. He brought up his other option of Steak Rolls, egg rolls made with cheesesteak filling. I was jonesing for BBQ; now I was plain hungry.

“I know I gotta have a thing. I just don’t know which is the right thing.” His BBQ bravado was wavering.

I asked him if I could share a little advice: “Have you thought about doing some A/B testing?”

I talked him through the process and concepts of testing two (and only two) ideas with customers and how it helped you learn. By the end of the ride, Bob had decided to make small batches of both BBQ and Steak Rolls to get feedback.

Many of you are keenly aware of A/B testing, so why am I telling you about food truck options? First, I hope you understand my curiosity about who people are and what makes them tick is not limited just to people I know.

Secondly and more pointedly, my advice: Try A/B testing on yourself. Unsure about updates to your email signature, your LinkedIn photo, your header, the way you answer the question “what do you do?” If you’re hesitant about making a change for fear of not getting it quite right, test your ideas.

  1. Ask those you trust.
  2. Give them an A option and a B option.
  3. Review feedback.
  4. Make the change!

Getting feedback from others on how your personal narrative, all parts of it, is unbelievably valuable in figuring out your “thing.” You know you can do it too.

If we know why you’re awesome and we want you for your awesome, then you get to be awesome.

It’s that simple.

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