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You can see that things get hectic pretty quickly when you start moving back generations. The thing that I find surprising is how recently in time you had such a large number of ancestors. Estimating an average generation at years, most of those people were your current age around Who were they all?

What countries did they live in? What did they all do with their lives? What tragedies did they endure and what were their greatest triumphs? What were the parent-child relationships in this diagram like? Which of the in-law relationships above were close and loving and which were angry and contentious? The craziest thing to me is that this diagram, which only represents the last years of your ancestry, contains romantic relationships, each involving at least one critical sex moment and most of them probably involving deep love.

Okay that got completely out of hand. This diagram only goes five generations farther back than the one above it and look at the insanity that took place. The 4, human beings in the top section are your great 10 grandparents. Most of them were your age in the second half of the s, just as the Enlightenment was getting going in Europe. Finally, I know I already made this point in the evolution post , but look closely at that top section and notice that you can actually see 4, distinct tiny people in there—and realize that if you pluck just one of them from there, you would not exist today.

What's your ideal opening for Fallout 5?

Come on. That puts you at 68 billion ancestors around AD. With a concept called pedigree collapse , which is what happens when people end up with a mate who is somewhat or very closely related to them. So for example, if two cousins had a child, that child would only have six great-grandparents, not eight. Because of pedigree collapse, if you extended your family tree way, way back, it would begin to get smaller , resulting in a diamond shape:. The widest point of the Ancestor Cone happens for most of us around AD, 3 when our family tree is near the total world population at the time.

From that point on, pedigree collapse becomes a stronger factor than the normal upward x2 multiplier, and the tree converges inwards. The simplest way to think about it is that every stranger in the world is a cousin of yours, and the only question is how distant a cousin they are. The degree of cousin first, second, etc. For first cousins, you only have to go back two generations to hit your common grandparents.

For second cousins, you have to go back three generations to your common great-grandparents. Since a lot of people get confused about cousin definitions, I made a little chart illustrating what a second cousin is. So notice that for you and your second cousin, A your parent is a first cousin of their parent, B you have grandparents that are siblings, and C their parents are your common great-grandparents. For third cousins, everything just goes up a level—your parents are second cousins, your grandparents are first cousins, your great-grandparents are siblings, and you have a common pair of great-great-grandparents.

A straight second, third, or fourth cousin must be on your same generation level. The number of cousins you have grows exponentially as the degree of distance goes up. You may have a small number of first cousins, but you likely have hundreds of third cousins, thousands of fifth cousins, and over a million eighth cousins. Because I got a little obsessed with this concept while doing this post, I decided to roll up the nerd sleeves and figured out a formula for this:. But also scared because there might be a better way to do this, so feel free to add suggestions in the comments.

I calculated some examples below:. Most interesting to me is that these numbers go up so exponentially that taking the world average for number of children per family 2. The other way to look at this is from the top down and see how quickly the distance of relation is magnified as generations move down—while you and your sibling grew up in the same house, your kids will be cousins who might or might not be friends and your grandkids might barely know each other.

In its first couple hundred years, before expanding into the thousands, it might look something like this:. Little Telia, born right around the year , is as much a mystery to you as your ancestors from the early s up above. Meet Your Ancestors All of Them. But this goal usually involves more than just a straightforward task; consider the experience a person is trying to create. What the condo buyers sought was to transition into a new life, in the specific circumstance of downsizing—which is completely different from the circumstance of buying a first home.

Before they understood the underlying job, the developers focused on trying to make the condo units ideal. For example, the new condos were competing not against other new condos but against the idea of no move at all. Prospective condo buyers were looking for simpler lives without the hassles of home ownership. But to get that, they thought, they had to endure the stress of selling their current homes, wading through exhausting choices about what to keep.

Or they could stay where they were, even though that solution would become increasingly imperfect as they aged. It was only when given a third option that addressed all the relevant criteria that shoppers became buyers. Creating space in the condo for a dining room table reduced a very real anxiety that prospective buyers had.

Reducing their stress made a catalytic difference.

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These principles are described here in a business-to-consumer context, but jobs are just as important in B2B settings. A deep understanding of a job allows you to innovate without guessing what trade-offs your customers are willing to make. Des Traynor is a cofounder of Intercom, which makes software that helps companies stay in touch with customers via their websites, mobile apps, e-mail, and Facebook Messenger.

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Intercom, which now has more than 10, customers and grew fourfold in , adopted a jobs-to-be-done perspective to clarify its strategy in , when it was still an early-stage start-up. Here is an edited version of their conversation. Traynor: Somewhat by accident!


In Intercom had just four engineers and some modest VC backing. I was asked to speak about managing a start-up at a conference. And that made an impression because…? We were searching for direction at the time.

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Customer support? Market research? Nor did we know exactly what they were using us for. How had you approached those questions until then? And how did you figure out what the relevant job was?

Everyone has a story. What's yours?

We got in touch with innovation consultant Bob Moesta, who has a lot of practical experience with this approach. Bob and his team conducted individual interviews with two types of customers: people who had recently signed on with us, and people who had dropped the service or changed their usage significantly.

Personal Growth

I listened in on four interviews live—and tried not to jump to judgment. Two things stood out. One, prospective clients who sampled our services were usually flailing. Their growth had flattened, and they were ready to try something new. And two, the words they described our product with were really different from the words we used.

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  6. According to Bob, this is really common: Companies fall in love with their own jargon.