The Power of Notion: Building Products, Hiring Talent, and Creating Value


Hatched by Glasp

Aug 17, 2023

3 min read


The Power of Notion: Building Products, Hiring Talent, and Creating Value


In today's SaaS and software market, Japan ranks as the second-largest in the world, making it crucial to have individuals who understand the culture, network, and ecosystem present in the local market. This understanding has been instrumental in the success of Ivan Zhao, co-founder of the versatile tool "Notion." In a recent interview, Ivan shares his insights on product development, talent acquisition, and core values. This article aims to explore the commonalities between Ivan's perspectives and the benefits of habit tracking.

Creating a Culture of Craftsmanship:

One of the key aspects that Ivan emphasizes is the attention to detail and craftsmanship. This quality is not only limited to physical products but can also be seen in the way people live their lives in Japan, particularly in cities like Kyoto. The simplicity and precision with which individuals carry out their daily lives are awe-inspiring. This attention to detail translates into the notion of hospitality, where service is not limited to the product itself but extends to support, sales, customer success, and all the human aspects of a business.

Recruiting the Right Talent:

Ivan believes that hiring the right talent is the easiest way to solve complex problems. Notion's core value of craftsmanship, which they define as "quality with speed," is a delicate balance to maintain. To ensure the quality is not compromised, recruiting the right individuals becomes crucial. Once hired, these individuals become part of the team, understanding the product and contributing their opinions on its direction. This aligns with the notion that habit tracking apps should provide contextual cues and flexibility to support diverse needs while encouraging self-control and goal-directed behavior.

The Notion Way:

Notion, as a company, aims to create better tools that enable more people to participate in the act of creation. The focus is on building a product that is visually appealing, intuitive, and flexible. With a small team of around 20 employees, most of whom are product-centric, Notion ensures that every employee understands the product's vision and contributes to its development. This parallels the idea of habit tracking, where visualization of progress and adaptation of strategies play a crucial role in improving habits.

The Value of Feedback and Micro-wins:

Notion's culture encourages direct feedback, creating an environment where individuals can learn from each other. This aligns with the benefits of habit tracking, where metacognition allows for the identification of setbacks and the adaptation of strategies. Celebrating micro-wins along the personal growth journey is another way both Notion and habit tracking positively impact mental health. By focusing on the progress made, individuals are motivated to continue their habit formation journey.

The Reminder Effect:

A significant advantage of habit tracking, especially when using digital tools, is the reminder effect. Habit trackers serve as triggers for actions, reminding individuals to perform the desired behavior. However, it is essential to strike a balance and avoid becoming overly dependent on habit trackers. Researchers have cautioned that some habit tracking apps can be too rigid, failing to support users' practical and emotional needs. Flexibility and simplicity are key to successful habit tracking, encouraging self-control and goal-directed behavior.


In conclusion, Ivan Zhao's insights on product development, talent acquisition, and core values align with the benefits and principles of habit tracking. The attention to detail, craftsmanship, and understanding of cultural nuances are essential in both building successful products and forming effective habits. Incorporating the actionable advice from this article, individuals can strive for quality, flexibility, and continuous improvement in their personal and professional lives.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Focus on the details: Embrace the concept of craftsmanship, paying attention to even the smallest aspects of your work or habits.
  • 2. Seek the right talent: When building a team or seeking support, prioritize hiring individuals who align with your values and understand the vision of your product or habits.
  • 3. Adapt and celebrate progress: Regularly evaluate your progress, adapt your strategies, and celebrate the micro-wins along your journey to maintain motivation and achieve long-term success.

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