About a year ago I listed a house on Craigslist that I was renting and living in at the time with my wife. We didn’t own the house, our lease was pretty long, and we needed to move…so we needed someone else to come rent it as soon as possible.

I decided to use a method to tackle this problem that I came up with while running one morning. I know a lot of people have ideas in the shower, but I have a lot of ideas while I run. The method is simple: Don’t be satisfied until the 3rd iteration, and then ship it and stop wasting time.

Here’s how it works in practice:
I thought about what I needed for the listing, and came up with a basic plan for what I wanted to get accomplished.

  • Video showing the whole house and yard
  • Basic information about square footage
  • Contact information
  • Highlight some of the coolest features of the house (like the firepit I built in the backyard)

Then, I shot the video with my cellphone. As soon as I was finished with the video, I watched it, and made some notes about what I could do better.

  • Make it shorter
  • Don’t switch the camera tilt
  • Put away a few things in the house
  • Highlight some things that I missed which are important

Then I cleaned up the house and yard, and made another video, and did the same thing. It was only 1 minute shorter though, and the original video was 9 minutes long. I made a few more notes about what I wanted to change and did another video which I’m using as my final product because: “Ship It and stop wasting time.

The third video hit almost everything I wanted: Good visuals, fairly clear sound, 5 minutes long. There are a few things that I would have done differently, but all in all, it was fine, hit all the major points, and was short enough to be reasonable. So I shipped it.

I can tell you that the 3rd iteration was significantly better than the 1st, and that actually shooting the video was the best thing I could do to improve the video. This whole idea follows Eric Reis’ Lean Start-up model of an MVP (minimum viable product) while using advice from Seth Godin’s Ship It Journal, and at the same time adhering to the planning practices that I’m such a stickler for.

Validation: We had a couple get a hold of us after a week who said they saw the video, and they ended up renting the house and we got out of our lease.

The 3rd iteration model. Don’t be satisfied until the 3rd iteration, and then ship it and stop wasting time.

You can see this on my LinkedIn if you’d like