lunes, 31 de marzo de 2014

Disruptive Innovation: Steve Blanck speech

Reproduzco aquí el speech que Steve Blanck ha leído en el Commencement Day de ESADE business School, para los alumnos del Full Time Mba.

Es un discurso redondo sobre innovación y como gestionarla en el futuro muy próximo.

Me quedo con la necesidad de las empresas de "act as a start up" y esta definición:

A pessimist sees danger in every opportunity but an optimist.. an optimist sees opportunity in every danger.


I’d like to start with a request.

Everyone, hold your phone up in the air like this.

Now look around.  In this sea of phones do you see any Blackberries? How about any Nokia phones?
Ok you can put your phones down now but let’s keep exploring this a bit. Raise your hand if you rented a VHS tape last night? Or if you used a paper map to find your way here?

These questions and your answers lie at the heart of what I’d like to talk about with you today: the changing face of innovation and your role in it.

Let’s start with Joseph Schumpter. I’m sure many of you have heard his name. Schumpter was an economist who taught at Harvard in the 1930’s and 40’s.  I like the guy because he’s credited with coining the word entrepreneur. But you probably remember him as the one who proposed the theory of creative destruction.  According to Schumpter, capitalism is an evolutionary process where new industries and new companies continually emerge to knock out the old.

Fifty years later another Harvard professor, Clayton Christensen, developed his theory of disruptive innovation, which actually described how creative destruction worked.
Disruptive innovation leads to the creative destruction of businesses that once seemed pre-eminent and secure.

Which brings me back to your mobile phones.

Think about this; 7 years ago Nokia owned 50% of the handset market. Apple owned 0%.  In fact, it was only 7 years ago that Apple shipped its first iPhone and Google introduced its Android operating system.

Fast-forward to today—Apple is the most profitable Smartphone company in the world and in Spain Android commands a market share of more than 90%.  And Nokia?  Its worldwide market share of Smartphones has dwindled to 5%.

You’re witnessing creative destruction and disruptive innovation at work. It’s the paradox of progress in a capitalist economy.

So congratulations graduates – as you move forward in your careers, you’ll be face to face with innovation that’s relentless.

And that’s what I’d like to talk about today—how innovation will shape the business world of the next 50 years—and what it means for you.

The Perfect Storm
Your time at ESADE has trained you to become a global business leader.
But the world you lead will be much different from the one your professors knew or your predecessors managed.

Just look at the disruptive challenges that businesses face today– globalization, China as a manufacturer, China as a consumer, the Internet, and a steady stream of new startups. Today’s workforce has radically different expectations, brands are losing their power, physical channels are being destroyed by virtual ones, market share is less important than market creation, and software is eating world.

Industries that we all grew up with, industries that enjoyed decades of market dominance – like newspapers, bookstores, video rentals, personal computers — are being swept away.

The convergence of digital trends along with the rise of China and globalization has upended the rules for almost every business in every corner of the globe. It’s worth noting that everything from the Internet, to electric cars, genomic sequencing, mobile apps, and social media — were pioneered by startups, not existing companies.

Perhaps that’s because where established companies might see risks or threats, startups see opportunity. As the venture capital business has come roaring back in the last 5 years, startups are awash in available capital. As a consequence, existing companies confront a tidal wave of competitors 100 times what they saw 25 years ago.

Efficiency over innovation
Yet in the face of all this change, traditional firms continue to embrace a management ethos that values efficiency over innovation. Companies horde cash and squeeze the most revenue and margin from the money they use. Instead of measuring success in dollars of profit, …firms focus on measuring capital efficiency. Metrics like Return on Net Assets, Return on Capital and Internal Rate of Return are the guiding stars of the board and CEO.

Cheered on by finance professors, Wall Street analysts, investors and hedge funds, companies have learned how to make metrics like Internal Rate of Return look great by one; outsourcing everything, two, getting assets off their balance sheet, and three only investing in things that pay off fast.
As Harvard professor Clayton Christensen noted, these efficiency metrics provided wise guidance for times when capital was scarce and raising money was hard. But they have also stacked the deck against investment in long-term innovation.

Since the financial crisis of 2008, policy makers have kept interest rates at near zero, flooding the market with cheap money in an attempt to restart growth. In spite of this, private equity funds have used the rallying cry of efficiency to hijack corporate strategy and loot the profits that historically would have been reinvested into research and development and new products. We legalized robbing the corporate treasury. Today billions of dollars that companies could have invested in innovation are sitting in the hands of private equity funds.

Unfortunately as we’ve learned from recent experience, using Return on Net Assets and IRR as proxies for efficiency and execution won’t save a company when their industry encounters creative disruption. Ask Sony about Samsung, ask any retailer about Amazon, any car company about Tesla, and any newspaper company about the web.

The stock market clearly values companies that can deliver disruptive innovation. Look at the valuations of companies like Tesla, Illumina, and Twitter.

In fact, I predict that over the next few decades, we will see two classes of public companies. The first will be commodity businesses that are valued for their ability to execute their current business model. Their lifetime as a market leader will be measured in years. The second class will be firms with a demonstrated ability to continually innovate and reinvent their business models. The companies that can show “startup-like” growth rates of 50% plus per year will get stratospheric market valuations.
So I hope you are thinking—“hey how can I lead a business with startup growth?” At least I hope you’re thinking that, rather than “oops I joined the wrong company.”The question for all of you is … “What will it take to inspire and manage this kind of innovation?”

Before I answer that question, let’s take a minute to establish a common definition of innovation. At its most basic, innovation means to introduce something new. But in a business context, the meaning gets more nuanced. I’d like to describe the four types of innovation you can build inside a corporation:

The first type of corporate innovation is individual initiative. It’s exactly as it sounds – you build a corporate culture where anyone can suggest an idea and start a project. Some companies use a suggestion box, others like Google give employees 20% of their time to work on their own projects.

The second type of business innovation is called process improvement. This is the kind most of us are familiar with. Car companies introduce new models each year, running shoes grow ever lighter and more flexible, Coca-Cola offers a new version of Coke. Smart companies are always looking to make their current products better – and there are many ways to do this. For example they can reduce component cost, introduce a line extension or create new versions of the existing product. These innovations do not require change in a company’s existing business model.

This is what companies typically do to secure and defend their core business.

The third type of business innovation – continuous innovation – is much harder. Continuous innovation builds on a strength of the company’s current business model but requires that new elements be created. For example, Coke added snack foods, which could be distributed through its existing distribution channels. The Amazon Kindle played on Amazon’s strengths as a distributor of content but required developing expertise in electronics and manufacturing.

Fourth and finally is disruptive innovation – this is the innovation we associate with startups. This type of innovation creates new products or new services that did not exist before. It’s the automobile in the 1910’s, radio in the 1920’s, television in the 1950’s, the integrated circuit in the 1960’s, the fax machine in the 1970’s, personal computers in the 1980’s, the Internet in the 1990’s, and the Smartphone, human genome sequencing, and even fracking in this decade. These innovations are exactly what Schumpter and Christensen were talking about. They create new industries and destroy existing ones. And interestingly, in spite of all their resources, large companies are responsible for very, very few disruptive innovations.

The first two types of innovation—individual and process innovation– are what good companies do well.
The third type—continuous innovation—is a hallmark of great companies like GE and Procter and Gamble.

But the fourth type of innovation – creating disruptive innovation– and doing it on a repeatable basis– is what extraordinary companies do. Apple with the iPod, iPhone and iPad; Amazon with Amazon Web Services and Kindle; Toyota with the Prius… these companies are extraordinary because, …like startups, they create entirely new products and services.

ESADE and other great business schools have provided decades of advice and strategy for the first three types of innovation. But leading an existing firm to innovate like a startup is not business as usual.

Building Innovation Internally is Hard
Paradoxically, in spite of the seemingly endless resources, innovation inside of an existing company is much harder than inside a startup.  That’s because existing companies face a conundrum: Every policy and procedure that makes them efficient execution machines stifles innovation.
Think about this.  When it comes to innovation, public companies have two strikes against them.  First the markets favor capital efficiency over R&D.  And secondly, their sole purpose is to focus resources on the executionof their business model.

As a consequence, companies are optimized for execution over innovation. And to keep executing large organizations hire employees with a range of skills and competencies. To manage these employees companies create metrics to control, measure and reward execution.  But remember—in public companies financial metrics take precedence. As a result, staff functions and business units develop their own performance indicators and processes to ensure that every part of the organization marches in lock step to the corporate numbers.

These Key Performance Indicators and processes are what make a company efficient —but they are also the root cause of its inability to be agile and innovative. Every time another execution process is added, corporate innovation dies a little more.

Act Like a Startup
So how does a company act like a startup in search of new business models while still continuing to successfully execute?

First, management must understand that innovation happens not by exception but is integral to all parts of the firm. If they don’t, then the management team has simply become caretakers of the founders’ legacy. This never ends well.

Second and maybe the most difficult is the recognition that innovation is chaotic, messy and uncertain. Not everything will work out, but failure in innovation is not cause for firing but for learning. Managers need radically different tools to control and measure innovation. A company needs innovation policies, innovation processes and innovation incentives to match those it already has for execution. These will enable firms to embrace innovation by design not by exception.

Third, smart companies manage an innovation portfolio where they can pursue potential disruption in a variety of ways. To build innovation internally companies can adopt the practices of startups and accelerators.  To buy innovation companies can buy intellectual property, acquire great teams, buy-out another company’s product line or even buy entire companies. And if they’re particularly challenged in a market they can acquire and integrate disruptive innovation.  My favorite example is Exxon’s $35 billion purchase of XTO Energy in large part to get their fracking expertise.

Other smart companies are learning how to use Open Innovation pioneered by Henry Chesbrough who teaches here at EDADE. They can partner with suppliers, co-create with consumers, open-source key technologies, open their application programming interfaces, or run open incubators for customer ideas.

Everything I’ve been talking about smart companies have already figured out.  Many firms are creating the new role of Chief Innovation Officer to lead and manage these innovation activities. Ultimately this is not just another staff function. The Chief Innovation Officer is a c-level executive who runs the company’s entire innovation portfolio and oversees the integration of innovation metrics and initiatives across the entire organization.

Looking forward, all of you will play a role in the future of business innovation, whether you help to accelerate it or discourage it.

How can you kill innovation? Some companies have so lost the DNA for innovation they become “rent seekers”. Rent seekers fight to keep the status quo. Instead of offering better products or superior service, rent seekers hire lawyers and lobbyists to influence politicians to pass laws that block competition. The bad news here is that countries where bribes and corruption are the cost of doing business or that are dominated by organized interest groups, tend to be the economic losers. And as rent-seeking becomes more attractive than innovation, the economy falls into decline.

I know that’s not the path most of you want to take. Instead I think you want to be part of the innovation team.  And if you do you are in luck. Companies need your help.

They need your help in creating new metrics to manage measure disruptive innovation.  They need your help in creating new innovation incentive systems that reward creative innovation.
And they need your help as leaders who can run companies that can both execute and innovate.
Finally, remember Innovation won’t come from plans or people outside your company  – it will be found in the people you already have inside who understand your company’s strengths and its vulnerabilities.

So in closing, let me leave you with this final thought:

A pessimist sees danger in every opportunity but an optimist.. an optimist sees opportunity in every danger.

In the last 150 years only a few generations have had the opportunity to reshape the nature of business.

Be an optimist.

Congratulations class of 2014:

Embrace change and lead the way.

domingo, 30 de marzo de 2014

WIFI en los aviones

El post de hoy de Enrique Dans nos habla de su pésima experiencia utilizando el servicio de pago WIFI a bordo de un vuelo de NY a Madrid con Iberia.
Precio abusivo (29,95 euros), pésima calidad de conexión, banda ancha ridícula (50 Megas), cargo adicional exorbitante, ...).

Comparto su cabreo al 100% siendo inadmisible que una compañía del tamaño de Iberia caiga en un error de este tamaño y creo refleja un tic de su pasado gubernamental: en un mercado libre (sin subvenciones y monopolios) sólo sobreviven los que saben adaptarse a las nuevas circunstancias y hoy tener WIFI a mano no es un lujo, es una necesidad imperiosa, un elemento necesario en el customer journey de cualquier pasajero que no sea un bebé.
Si le añadimos el contexto de tener que pasar 7 horas en un espacio mínimo y con un mal servicio a bordo (a menos que viajes en Business class), tener conexión es la diferencia entre aburrirse o entretenerse, ser productivo o dejar pasar todo el tiempo.

Creo que la llave está en que las compañías aéreas ofrezcan un servicio Fremium de alta calidad.

No sé cuantos clientes volaban en ese avión de NY a Madrid: imaginemos que el billete costaba 1000 euros con un margen bruto de 100 y que volaban 250 pasajeros.
¿Cuantos usuarios se habrán conectado? un 25%? digamos 50.

Son alrededor de 1000 euros de facturación añadida. Si el margen del WIFI es el mismo que el del pasaje, le deja a Iberia el mismo dinero que un pasajero más.
¿Cuantos pasajeros eligirían Iberia si el WIFI (funcionante y aunque limitado para un tiempo razonable) fuese gratis?

Digamos una hora gratis y el resto de pago, pero funcionando de maravilla.
Con un pasajero más ya tendrían el mismo ingreso.
Si mis margenes son equivocados da igual: conceptualmente, creo que esta oferta sería imbatible.

Iberia necesita imperiosamente un nuevo Chief Customer Experience Officer (suponiendo que ya tienen uno).

jueves, 27 de marzo de 2014

Miedo y riesgo

En el último TED hay una charla de Chris Hadfield que os recomiendo escuchar: va sobre riesgos y miedos.

Es muy interesante ver como una gran preparación te permite no pasar miedo frente a grandes riesgos mientras puede darse justo la situacción contraria.

Frente a una araña sentimos miedo cuando el riesgo que sea venenosa es mínimo; por lo contrario este astronauta nos cuenta como no pasó miedo quedandose ciego en una misión espacial fuera del Soyuz, es decir mientras paseaba por el espacio.

Siendo emprendedores, tiene mucho que ver con desactivar la amigdala (nuestro radar ancestral de "fight or flight"), practicar mucho (las 10,000 horas de otro post), tener planes de contingencia siempre a mano y formarse, formarse siempre.

Os recuerdo que si es cierto que grandes empresarios como Bill Gates o Steve Jobs  nunca se licenciaron en una Universidad, vivieron el ambiente de high performance de Harvard o Reed, para citar estos dos.

En vuestro caso: ¿vuestros miedos son proporcionales a los riesgos?

sábado, 22 de marzo de 2014

Lessons of a life

Miguel Palma (si necesitáis un despacho legal y gestor en California, el suyo es el mejor) me ha pasado este historia que me parece digan de ser compartida.

Un conocido suyo murió de repente hace año y medio y a través de su hija ha podido acceder a la carta que este hombre tan especial le escribió a sus nietos antes de morir.

James era poeta y contador de historias de su Irlanda natal y suscribo todos sus consejos que parecen traídos de alguna de mis conferencias. 

Veo que muchos opinamos lo mismo. En otro post tenéis 100 consejos (cien) más, pero estos son los básicos.

Que los disfruten.

Sed felices. Luchad por ello.

"On Sept. 3, 2012, James K. Flanagan of West Long Branch, N.J., died unexpectedly of a heart attack. He wrote this letter to his five grandchildren just months earlier and it is reprinted here with the permission of his daughter Rachel Creighton.

Dear Ryan, Conor, Brendan, Charlie, and Mary Catherine,

My wise and thoughtful daughter Rachel urged me to write down some advice for you, the important things that I have learned about life. I am beginning this on 8 April 2012, the eve of my 72nd birthday.

1. Each one of you is a wonderful gift of God both to your family and to all the world. Remember it always, especially when the cold winds of doubt and discouragement fall upon your life.

2. Be not afraid . . . of anyone or of anything when it comes to living your life most fully. Pursue your hopes and your dreams no matter how difficult or "different" they may seem to others. Far too many people don't do what they want or should do because of what they imagine others may think or say. Remember, if they don't bring you chicken soup when you're sick or stand by you when you're in trouble, they don't matter. Avoid those sour-souled pessimists who listen to your dreams then say, "Yeah, but what if . . ." The heck with "what if. . ." Do it! The worst thing in life is to look back and say: "I would have; I could have; I should have." Take risks, make mistakes.

3. Everyone in the world is just an ordinary person. Some people may wear fancy hats or have big titles or (temporarily) have power and want you to think they are above the rest. Don't believe them. They have the same doubts, fears, and hopes; they eat, drink, sleep, and fart like everyone else. Question authority always but be wise and careful about the way you do it.

4. Make a Life List of all those things you want to do: travel to places; learn a skill; master a language; meet someone special. Make it long and do some things from it every year. Don't say "I'll do it tomorrow" (or next month or next year). That is the surest way to fail to do something. There is no tomorrow, and there is no "right" time to begin something except now.

5. Practice the Irish proverb: Moi an olge agus tiocfaidh sí "Praise the child and she will flourish."

6. Be kind and go out of your way to help people -- especially the weak, the fearful, and children. Everyone is carrying a special sorrow, and they need our compassion.

7. Don't join the military or any organization that trains you to kill. War is evil. All wars are started by old men who force or fool young men to hate and to kill each other. The old men survive, and, just as they started the war with pen and paper, they end it the same way. So many good and innocent people die. If wars are so good and noble, why aren't those leaders who start wars right up there fighting?

8. Read books, as many as you can. They are a wonderful source of delight, wisdom, and inspiration. They need no batteries or connections, and they can go anywhere.

9. Be truthful.

10. Travel: always but especially when you are young. Don't wait until you have "enough" money or until everything is "just right." That never happens. Get your passport today.

11. Pick your job or profession because you love to do it. Sure, there will be some things hard about it, but a job must be a joy. Beware of taking a job for money alone -- it will cripple your soul.

12. Don't yell. It never works, and it hurts both yourself and others. Every time I have yelled, I have failed.

13. Always keep promises to children. Don't say "we'll see" when you mean "no." Children expect the truth; give it to them with love and kindness.

14. Never tell anyone you love them when you don't.

15. Live in harmony with Nature: go into the outdoors, woods, mountains, sea, desert. It's important for your soul.

16. Visit Ireland. It's where the soul of our family was born -- especially the West: Roscommon, Clare, and Kerry.

17. Hug people you love. Tell them how much they mean to you now; don't wait until it's too late.

18. Be grateful. There is an Irish saying: "This is a day in our lives, and it will not come again." Live every day with this in mind.

As was written in his obituary, James K. Flanagan "was proudly liberal and fought unyieldingly for the underdog. He was an accomplished author, poet, and seanchai -- Irish storyteller; he reveled in recounting the joy of growing up Catholic in Jersey City and his adventures in the Adirondack Mountains and on the Western coast of Ireland. His greatest love was spending time with his family, most of all his five grandchildren" Ryan (11); Conor (10); Brendan (9); Charles (8); and Mary Catherine (5)."

domingo, 16 de marzo de 2014

Innovación en minimizar riesgos

Anoche cenamos con una pareja de empresarios muy especiales y a los que queremos mucho, muchísimo.

L@s d@s han pasado por las mejores Universidades e Instituciones académicas y de hecho ella es una altísima ejecutiva en una de las 10 mejores Business Schools del mundo.

En mitad de la cena mi amigo me dió una clase sobre como minimizar riesgos y asegurar el futuro de tu fábrica contra un enemigo inesperado pero presente y me dio permiso para contarlo, a cambio de aclarar que esto no lo había aprendido en la London Business School, sino en la calle.

En Navidad toda la plantilla de su empresa juega al mismo número de la lotería: imaginad lo que pasaría si de repente les tocara el gordo.

A cada decimo ganador le tocan unos 300,000 euros, una suma considerable para un empleado “mileurista”: descontando lo que se lleva el Sr. Montoro, son unos 20 años de sueldo.

Lo normal pues, si te toca el gordo, es celebrarlo el día 22, el día 23, el día 24, …

Pero si le toca a TODA la plantilla, el absentismo laboral que se generaría seria del tamaño de la Catedral de Burgos.

Para minimizar este riesgo (bajo, pero existente) mi amigo y dueño de la fábrica compra el doble de billetes de la serie del mismo número que compran sus empleados: de este modo, si tocara el gordo, él recibiría suficiente dinero como para no preocuparse si la fábrica cerrara unos días o para siempre.

Genial, ¿verdad?

Gracias por la clase, amigo (y por la cena)

5 caminos para ser el mejor

Comparto aquí un articulo de Eric Barker visto en Time, sobre los 5 caminos que nos llevan a ser el mejor en cualquier cosa.

1, 10,000 horas de practicas (son 3,7 años, 10 horas de lunes a viernes, con un mes de vecaciones);
2. Tener buenos genes;
3. Formar parte de un gran equipo;
4. Ser generoso;
5. Tener una mezcla de los puntos anteriores.

Seguro os inspirará como a mí.

The Five Paths To Being the Best at Anything

168351286 Getty Images
I’ve posted a lot about becoming the best in your field. Looking back, what are the most successful methods for getting there?

10,000 Hours

Let’s get the most famous one out of the way first: Hard work pays off.
Malcolm Gladwell popularized the theory in Outliers: approximately 10,000 hours of deliberate practice at something can turn you into an expert.
Via Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined:
…the most elite violinists accumulated about the same number of hours of deliberate practice (about 7,410 hours) by the age of 18 as professional middle-aged violinists belonging to international-level orchestras (about 7,336 hours)! By the age of 20, the most accomplished musicians estimated they spent over 10,000 hours in deliberate practice, which is 2,500 and 5,000 hours more than two less accomplished groups of expert musicians or 8,000 hours more than amateur pianists of the same age.
That said, 10,000 hours is an average. And deliberate practice is not just going through the motions.
You’ve spent more than 10,000 hours driving but that doesn’t make you ready for NASCAR or Formula One.
Deliberate practice means getting feedback and always pushing to improve. It’s not flow and it’s not fun.
But it is what molds champions.
(More on how you can become an expert here.)

Have Great Genetics

I won’t lie to you: being a member of the lucky sperm club certainly has its advantages.
Via The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance:
Even in this age of hyperspecialization in sports, some rare individuals become world-class athletes, and even world champions, in sports from running to rowing with less than a year or two of training. As with Gobet’s chess players, in all sports and skills, the only real rule is that there is a tremendous natural range.
There are also genetic advantages in the area of music, math and writing.
Via The Complexity of Greatness: Beyond Talent or Practice:
Heritability coefficients were strongest in music (.92), math (.87), sports (.85), and writing (.83) of the explained variance.
This is usually cause for many to throw up their arms and surrender. (These people do not have much grit, mind you.)
But the existence of genetic advantages doesn’t mean you should give up. I’d ask you two questions:
  1. Have you tried a wide variety of things to see if you possess genetic advantages at any of them?
  2. Have you tried aligning your efforts with the areas where you show a level of natural talent?
As David Epstein explains, the model is no longer “good at sports” or “not good at sports” — it’s “which sport was your body designed for?”
Via The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance:
But, as Norton and Olds saw, as winner-take-all markets emerged, the early-twentieth-century paradigm of the singular, perfect athletic body faded in favor of more rare and highly specialized bodies that fit like finches’ beaks into their athletic niches. When Norton and Olds plotted the heights and weights of modern world-class high jumpers and shot putters, they saw that the athletes had become stunningly dissimilar. The average elite shot putter is now 2.5 inches taller and 130 pounds heavier than the average international high jumper… Just as the galaxies are hurtling apart, so are the body types required for success in a given sport speeding away from one another toward their respective highly specialized and lonely corners of the athletic physique universe.
Tall and thin? Try basketball. Short and thick? Weightlifting. Mom and dad are successful engineers? Give math a whirl.
Taking advantage of genetic gifts is a matter of finding what your body and mind might have been designed to excel at and aligning your efforts appropriately.
(More on genetic advantages — and how I had my own DNA analyzed — here.)

Be Part Of A Great Team

Working 10K hours and having naturally steady hands can be a great advantage to a doctor but surgeons only get better at their home hospital.
Why? That’s where they know the team best and develop strong working relationships.
Via Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success:
Overall, the surgeons didn’t get better with practice. They only got better at the specific hospital where they practiced. For every procedure they handled at a given hospital, the risk of patient mortality dropped by 1 percent. But the risk of mortality stayed the same at other hospitals. The surgeons couldn’t take their performance with them. They weren’t getting better at performing coronary artery bypass grafts. They were becoming more familiar with particular nurses and anesthesiologists, learning about their strengths and weaknesses, habits and styles.
Star analysts on Wall Street? Same thing.
Via Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success:
Even though they were supposed to be individual stars, their performance wasn’t portable. When star analysts moved to a different firm, their performance dropped, and it stayed lower for at least five years.
What about for artists? Yeah, baby.
Via Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success:
Frank Lloyd Wright’s drought lasted until he gave up on independence and began to work interdependently again with talented collaborators. It wasn’t his own idea: his wife Olgivanna convinced him to start a fellowship for apprentices to help him with his work. When apprentices joined him in 1932, his productivity soared, and he was soon working on the Fallingwater house, which would be seen by many as the greatest work of architecture in modern history.
(More on how your friends can make you a better person here.)

Be A Giver

Researchers who hog the credit on scientific papers are less likely to win a Nobel prize.
Those who give younger academics a bit of the spotlight are more likely to have a trip to Stockholm in their future.
Via The Half-life of Facts: Why Everything We Know Has an Expiration Date
One striking finding was the beneficence of Nobel laureates, or as Zuckerman termed it, noblesse oblige. In general, when a scientific paper is published, the author who did the most is listed first.There are exceptions to this, and this can vary from field to field, but Zuckerman took it as a useful rule of thumb. What she found was that Nobel laureates are first authors of numerous publications early in their careers, but quickly begin to give their junior colleagues first authorship. And this happens far before they receive the Nobel Prize… By their forties, Nobel laureates are first authors on only 26 percent of their papers, as compared to their less accomplished contemporaries, who are first authors 56 percent of the time. Nicer people are indeed more creative, more successful, and even more likely to win Nobel prizes.
We think of givers as getting exploited or walked on. And that definitely happens.
Wharton Professor Adam Grant explained in our interview:
What I find across various industries, and various studies is theGivers are most likely to end up at the bottom. That’s primarily because they end up putting other people first in ways that either burn them out, or will allow them to get taken advantage of and exploited by Takers.
But that’s not the end of the story. If givers resist being martyrs, or have a circle of “matchers” who protect them, they end up on top:
Then I looked at the other end of the spectrum and said if Givers are at the bottom,who’s at the top? Actually, I was really surprised to discover, it’s the Givers again. The people who consistently are looking for ways to help others are over-represented not only at the bottom, but also at the top of most success metrics.
(More on balancing nice with tough here.)

Combine Them

Only got 5000 hours and “pretty good” genetics? Combining these methods can provide powerful results.
You don’t need to work endlessly or be born brilliant. There’s a very simple formula we can all use to get a benefit from this information:
  1. Always work hard to improve.
  2. When choosing tasks and strategies, consider your natural gifts.
  3. Pick a great team and get familiar with them.
  4. Within reason, always help others.
All other things being equal, I can’t imagine how this combination would not lead to an impressive level of success. Can you?

sábado, 15 de marzo de 2014

90 things I learned from founding 4 tech companies

Jason Goldberg es un gran tipo que he encontrado un par de veces: me encantan estas 90 (noventa) reflexiones y las comparto TODAS (bueno, creo que soy incapaz de seguir la 28 a la letra: ser duro a veces sí: ser un capullo, nunca. Nunca).

De veras no puedo estar más de acuerdo sobre lo que hay que hacer (y no hacer) para intentar montar tu empresa.

(Encontrado en

Jason Goldberg is an accomplished entrepreneur, executive, and investor with a passion for designing digital product experiences, including Fab. Jason is a product guy. He loves to blog, loves transparency, and loves trying to make people smile. A version of this post originally appeared on his blog,

On October 27, 2010, I wrote a blog post about the “57 Things I Learned Founding Three Tech Companies.” This past week while in Tokyo for meetings, I was invited to participate in a panel discussion on startups. The discussion quickly turned to those 57 things. Thousands of miles away and two years later, people still want to talk about those 57 things.
As the questions came in, I realized that my 2010 list was great for what I had learned as of two years ago, but it also was in desperate need of an update to include what I’ve learned more recently, especially after pivoting in 2011 and scaling the company.
So, here goes — 90 things I’ve learned founding four tech companies.
1. Find your company’s One Thing. 

Your One Thing falls at the intersection of three truths:
  • The one thing you and your team are most passionate about.
  • The one thing you and your team have a realistic shot at being the best in the world at.
  • A huge untapped market opportunity.
2. If what you’re doing does not fall at the intersection of those three truths, you’re doing the wrong thing.

3. Only do your One Thing. Everything else is a distraction. Don’t do side projects. Don’t take unnecessary meetings. Anything that distracts you from executing on your One Thing is just that, a distraction. Say no to everything that does not contribute to your One Thing.
4. It’s all about the product. Always has been. Always will be. The only thing that matters is how good your product is. All the rest is noise.
  5. The only judge of how good your product is is how much your users use it and value from it.

6. In the early days the key determinant of your future success is traction. Spend the majority of your time figuring out how to cultivate pockets of traction amongst your early adopters and optimize around that traction. Traction begets more traction if you are able to jump on it.
7. If you cannot gain traction in one year, pivot. I firmly believe that in this age where the product development life-cycle is so short and user feedback comes so quickly, you will know within a year whether you are focusing on a worthwhile One Thing.
Sure, you’re not going to get it right at first, no one does. But, you can iterate and iterate on features, but you cannot iterate your way to a business model. I’ve seen too many businesses get stuck or fail because of their endless pursuit for the magic new feature that is going to help them gain traction. Stop. There are plenty of interesting problems out there to solve.
If you can’t show some measurable and real traction within one year, move on to working on another problem. I bet you, if you are working on your startup for a year and you have not yet experienced real traction, if you poll yourself and your team and ask the three questions: (1) Is this the problem we are most passionate about solving, (2) can we realistically be the best in the world at it, (3) and is it a huge untapped market, you’ll likely uncover that you are working on the wrong one thing. So, pivot. Pivot to the One Thing at the intersection of those three truths.
8. Once you pivot, focus, and don’t look back. When we pivoted, we made the decision within 10 days to focus exclusively on our new One Thing, and we set a rule that not one person on the team could still do the old thing. We needed every last ounce of resource and mindshare focused on our One Thing. We shut down the old website and apps right then and there. We pivoted the entire company in 10 days, focused on the future, and never looked back.
9. Be self-aware. Know your own personal One Thing — the one thing that you yourself are really good at. Likewise, know what’s outside your one thing — the many things that you are not so good at.
10. It’s not about you, part one. Building a successful company is less about you and more about your ability to bring out the greatness in the people around you.
11. It’s not about you, part two. It’s not about you, it’s about your customers.
12. Have amazing co-founders who are better at what they do than you could ever be.
13. Work with people you love. Work with people you get excited about. People who thrill you. People you trust. People who you can look at every day and say: There is no better person in the world for this job andcritical to business success. 14. Position your desk in a way in which you are staring at your co-founders, and they are staring at you. If you aren’t enjoying looking at each other each day, you’re working with the wrong people.
15. Don’t work with people you don’t love. Bradford [Shellhammer] and I have a rule: As long as we’re running the company, we’re only going to work with people we love to work with. If we don’t enjoy working with someone — an employee, a partner, whomever — we’re just not going to do it. There’s no short term gain that is worth sacrificing for working with someone you do not working with.
16. Founders need to personally own something big themselves. It’s not enough just to lead, you need to own something big and critical to the business and your brand. And you need to really, really own it. My personal belief is that since everything comes down to the product, the best founders are product managers. Bradford and I split ownership for our virtual products, which I own (our website and apps) and our physical products, which he owns (the merchandise we sell). To this day, not a single pixel gets on our website or apps without my input, review and approval. It’s that important. Likewise, not a single designer gets approved to sell on our site without Bradford’s input, review and approval. It’s that important. Sure, we employee lots of amazing people whom we trust to help us make it great, but as founders we still own and control the final product. I can’t imagine it any other way.
17. As CEO, you need to also do the stuff that no one else can do. Typically that means stuff like pitching and choosing investors, managing your board, coaching your execs, helping your team understand and build towards the bigger picture, motivating and rallying the troops, and most of all, providing clarity of focus. These are the things that only the CEO can do, and you cannot outsource them.
18. Work with people who argue with you and tell you "no."
19. The most important hiring criteria for your executives is cultural fit. You need to work with people who work like you do, and who enjoy and appreciate your style and pace. It doesn’t matter how smart or experienced people are, if they don’t match your style it’ll never work. You need to love working with them, and them with you.
20. Be willing to fight like hell during the day, but still love each other when you go home.
21. As the CEO, you and only you can figure out where the company needs to go, how to get there, and how to marshal the resources you need to get it done. Sure, you’ll need a lot of input to figure out the plan, but you and only you can provide that clarity of focus that is required to say, “this what we’re doing” and then align the resources to match the direction. The biggest enunciation of strategy is how an organization allocates its resources.
22. Make deliberate decisions. There’s no time to dicker around at a startup. Pick a path and go with it. Better to make a decision followed by a mistake and some learnings and course corrections than to sit around idle while contemplating the direction. Leaders need to lead.
23. Inspire. Startups are hard work. They’re emotionally draining and tiring. Inspire your team to push forward, accomplish the impossible and persevere.
24. Push the people around you to care as much as you do.
25. As CEO, you are responsible for every hire. If we make a hiring mistake — and we do from time to time — I put that blame on me, not on anyone else. 26. Hire people who are passionate about solving the specific problem you are trying to solve. Passion for building a business is not enough; there needs to be passion for your customer and solving your customer’s problem.
27. As CEO, you set the tone, the style, the pace, the expectations. My tone is confident but humble and challenging. My style is to cheer on our wins while focusing our management on our challenges. And, I’m direct and transparent. No one ever has to wonder how Jason feels about something. I wear it on my sleeve (and on my blog). My pace is fast. My expectation is passionate pursuit of perfection, knowing that we’ll make plenty of mistakes along the way. I like to say that we celebrate our challenges and focus on why we suck more than why we’re great. That’s our tone. We also challenge each other in meetings so that we get to amazing results. There are no free rides. It takes thick skin to work at a startup.
28. Be tough. Sometimes you have to even be a jerk. Not too often, but sometimes. If every day is a happy day, it’s too easy. I’m not saying be an asshole for no reason. I am saying that greatness comes from pushing people outside their comfort zone. Push. Managers especially need to be cool with this and understand this. If it was easy everyone would be doing it. It’s hard sometimes because we’re creating something special. When you do 98% work and I ask you where the other 2% is, that’s a good thing.
29. Be authentic and transparent. Tell the same story to yourself, your executives, your general employees, reporters, external observers and your investors.
30. If you are down on someone, the rest of your team will already know. 

31. Give a bad seed a day before firing them. Fire fast.

32. Cultivate and coach people versus churning through them. At my first startup I soured on executives too quickly, blaming them as opposed to accepting ownership myself. Coach and mentor. Give a good seed who is not performing several months to turn it around. It might be you, not them. There’s a difference between a “bad seed” someone who just isn’t capable or doesn’t fit in, versus someone who is capable and is a cultural fit but whom isn’t performing at the level you expect for them.
33. Treat people well on the way in and on the way out. We’ve let go of a small handful of people and — unless it was because of woeful underperformance or horrible attitude — with each I’ve coached our team to go out of our way to offer more than generous exit packages. In most cases it didn’t work out because the person wasn’t a fit, not because they didn’t work hard. I take the approach that everyone who ever works for the company will come in contact with at least 100 people who we eventually want to be customers. We want our former team members to respect and appreciate our company and our brand, forever.
34. Provide feedback. We do twice-yearly reviews of all team members, but it should never be a surprise. If it’s done right, feedback and postmortems are regular activities and reviews are just the official aggregation of such feedback.
35. Even executives need reviews. Here are the criteria I review the company's executives on:
Culture. Does the executive personify our culture, cultivate it, and help us nurture it?
Passion. Is the executive passionate for our specific mission or could they be working at any company? Were they made to work here?
Manages Up. How well does the executive manage up to me and keep me informed about their activities, go to me for input when they should, and not when it’s not needed.

Manages Horizontal. How well does the executive manage and coordinate with his/her peers? Do they operate in silos or do they foster teamwork and collaboration? Do they come to me to solve and referee issues between the executives, or do they bring their peers together and come to me with options? This is one of the criteria that most executives in startups struggle the most with.
Manages Down. How well does the executive lead and manage their team? Do they provide direction? Do they make sure that all of their team members are clear about their mandate and responsibilities? Do they coach and build people up?
Inspires. How well does the executive inspire people around them? Do they lead by example and motivate people to give their all for the company mission?
Takes Ownership. Is the executive accountable for results, both good, fair and bad? Do they take big projects on their shoulders and get sh*t done?
Big Picture. Does the executive get where the company is going over the long term and what we need to do in order to get there?
Attention to Detail. Does the executive meticulously and thoroughly follow up on tasks? Does nothing fall through the cracks?
Exec Ready. Could the executive run the company for a month if I was away? Could they easily transfer to another country or region and step right in and lead? Could they present to investors or reporters about the company?
36. You’re never as right as you think you are. That goes for you and for your company. 37. Think five steps ahead. Very hard to do, but it’s what differentiates great companies from good companies. Think where things are going, what the impact of today’s decisions will be tomorrow. What the chain of events is likely to be. Tough stuff, but so important.
38. Build all of your own technology. This is a must if you want to build sustainable competitive advantage. If you think you can build the next great company on someone else’s stuff, you’re kidding yourself. (I’m not saying don’t leverage open-source or established platforms. I am saying don’t outsource your code).
39. Bake social into your company’s DNA from the start. It has proven to be a core advantage. We think social first and we are defining and inventing what social commerce can be. Getting social right is hard. You will get it wrong a lot. Keep at it. One billion people use Facebook. One billion. Your customer is growing up on social media.
40. The time to start thinking mobile first versus web first was six months ago. Mobile is already 33% of our visits and sales, and we just launched our mobile apps nearly a year ago. Very soon mobile (smartphones and tablets) will be a majority of the usage.
41. Go to the gym and/or run at least four times per week. Keep your body in shape if you want to keep your mind in shape. So many people get this wrong yet it is so very important. I take it to the extreme — I run every morning and I also lift weights at least four nights per week. It’s not just because I’m a fitness freak (okay, I am), it’s because it keeps my body and mind fresh to fight big emotional and physical battles. It’s also because the gym is scheduled private time with myself in the morning (I watch TV shows while running on the treadmill) and with my partner in the evening. It forces us to do something together every night besides just sit on the couch or work, which is a great thing.
42. Don’t drink on airplanes unless you are on a flight of longer than eight hours. It ruins you and wastes your time.
43. The first thing I do, without fail, when landing in another country after an overnight flight is hit the gym. I don’t care if it means delaying my first meeting by an hour. That post-flight workout counteracts the jet-lag and gets me ready to face the challenges ahead.
44. Follow your gut, and back it up with data. We like to say that we start with emotions and then support our emotions with data to learn whether our emotions were right. But, it’s emotions that come first. I firmly believe that’s how it should be.
45. User experience matters a lot. More than most people realize.
46. The best designed user experiences get out of the way and just help people get sh*t done.
 Less is more. If you have to explain it, you’ve already failed.
47. Be technical and understand how technology is built. Not every leader has to write code but you do have to understand how it is built, what the engineering process is all about, and how the technology works.
48. It’s easy to farm out the parts of the business you don’t particularly enjoy, but you can’t allow it to be your blind-spot. For me, that’s operations, so even while I’ve taken the approach of hiring people smarter than me and more operationally passionate than me to run operations, I’ve also challenged myself to be deep in the details and challenged our organization to make our operations a competitive advantage. Take the part of the business you know the least about and shine a spotlight on its importance. Force yourself out of your own comfort zone.
49. Stack rank your features; and it’s all features. Every request for use of scarce resources needs to be prioritized versus alternative use of the resources. No two features are ever created equal. You can’t do everything all at once. Force prioritization.
50. Ship it. You’ll never know how good your product is until real people touch it and give you feedback. If you’ve been working on some technology for more than four weeks and you have yet to have a user start to test it, you’re likely working on too big a chunk of code. Break it down into small milestones that allow for rapid user feedback.
51. Ship it fast and ship it often. Don’t worry about adding that extra feature. Ship the bare minimum feature set required in order to start gathering user feedback. Get feedback, repeat the process, and ship the next version and the next version as quickly as possible. If you’re taking more than three months to launch your first consumer-facing product, you’re taking too long. If you’re taking more than four weeks to ship updates, you’re taking too long. Ship small stuff weekly, if not several times per week. Ship significant releases in three week intervals.
52. You’re doing really well if 50% of what you originally planned on doing turns out to actually work. Follow your users as much as possible.
53. But don’t rely on focus groups to tell you what to build. Focus groups can tell you what to fix and help you identify potentially interesting kernels for you to hone in on, but you still need to figure out how to synthesize such input and where to take your users.
54. Most people really only heavily use about five to seven services. If you want to be an important product and a big business, you will need to figure out how to fit into one of those five to seven services, which means capturing your user’s fascination, enthusiasm and trust. You need to give your users a real reason to add you into their time. Or, if you’re selling stuff, you need to give your users a real reason to add you into their wallet. Not easy.
55. As CEO, you have to balance the needs of the business and the interest of the shareholders. If the two are not aligned, you’re in trouble.
56. Only work with investors who share your long-term vision. Keep reminding your investors what your long term vision and plan is. If you’ve got an investor with a two-year return focus while you’re building towards a 10 year or 20 year business strategy, you’re misaligned. And only you can fix that.
57. Always choose your investors based on who you want to work with, be friends with and get advice from. 

58. Never, ever, choose your investors based on valuation. A couple of dilution points here or there won't matter in the long run but working with the right people will.
 Alignment of business objectives and personal relationships means tons more than valuation.
59. Raise as little money as possible when you first start. Force yourself to be budget constrained as it will cause you to carefully spend each dollar like it is your last. 60. Once you have some traction, raise more money than you need but not more than you know what to do with. This is tricky. Don’t skimp on fundraising because of dilution fears.
61. Spend every dollar like it is your last.
 But, don’t be afraid to spend.
62. Know what kind of company you are trying to build. There are very few Googles and Facebooks. A good outcome for your business might be a $10M exit or a $20M exit or a $100M exit or no exit at all. Plan for the business you want to build. Don’t just shoot for the moon — at least until you realize that you are legitimately on a rocket ship. From a money-in-your-pocket and return on time spent standpoint, owning 20% of a $20M exit in two years is much better than owning 3% of a $100M business in five years.
63. Understand whether your business is a VC business or not. A VC business is expected to deliver 10x returns to investors. That means if you’re taking money with a $5M post-money valuation, the expectation is that you are building for a minimum $50M exit. $10M post-money valuation = $100M target. $500M valuation = $5B target. That’s not to say that you might not sell the company for less and everyone involved might be happy with that outcome, but that’s not what you are signing up for when you take VC money with such a valuation. Know what the implications of taking VC money are and what it means for expectations on you.
64. Make sure your personal business goals are aligned with the goals of your investors. The business will only succeed if you are motivated. Investors can’t force the business to succeed. And they certainly can’t force a CEO to care.
65. If you’re on a rocket-ship, strap on on your seatbelt and aim for another planet. Four months after we launched, when we hit 1 million members of whom 50% came from social sharing, we knew we were onto something big. So, we started thinking about our business differently. We started thinking: Just how big could this thing get? In January 2012, when we looked back on our first six months and we saw that 2/3 of our daily sales were from repeat buyers, 50% of members still from social sharing, and just how emotional our customers were about the product, we realized that we had a unique opportunity to build a brand for the decades, so we started thinking less about near term results and more about what the company could look like in 5, 10, 20 years. And, then, we started really building our business that way: What will it take to build the next amazing global brand around everyday design became our focus, not hitting any near term numbers.
66. Find yourself a “sherpa.” This is someone who has done it before — raised money, done deals, worked with startups. Give this person 1 to 2% or even up to 5% of your company in exchange for their time. Rely on them to open doors to future investors. Use them as a sounding board for corporate development issues. Don’t do this by committee. Advisory boards never amount to much. Find one person, make them your sherpa and lean on them. I’ve leaned on Allen Morgan for the last eight years through four companies and all sorts of ups and downs and twist and turns. He’s been an essential consigliere who has helped me navigate acquisitions, sales, investors, and all sorts of corporate governance issues. Find your Allen Morgan. If you do this right, it will pay back in spades.
67. If you want to build a long term business, don’t give in to short term pressures. Once you’ve decided to ride that rocket ship, play the long game, not the short game. Most startups are playing short. Big winners play long.
68. Protect and nurture your brand. Too many companies get this wrong. Your brand is bigger than your business. Your brand is the emotional reaction your customers and partners and employees have towards your business. Brands are fragile and they are built through repeated trusted and consistent interactions.
69. Service matters more than sales. Sales go up and down, service lasts forever.
70. As you grow, the hardest thing to manage is culture. Ultimately, culture is a personification of who you hire, who manages, and how they do it. Alignment among managers around who to hire, how to hire and how to manage (and how to have fun doing it) is key to culture. Don’t talk about culture; create culture by hiring smart and managing smarter.
71. Don’t defocus your team on strategy. Execution wins. In my first startup we were constantly doing executive strategy offsite sessions, brainstorming together as to where we needed to take the company next. That defocused the team away from executing on the plan at hand. Now, I do strategy by collecting inputs over time and having small dinners with with Bradford (errr, usually on airplanes), and then getting our executive team together twice per year to review and plan together. Between those sessions, it’s all about execution.
72. Insist on perfection. Never, ever settle. If you start to settle a little here, a little there, soon enough you’ll turn around and say, "How did we get here?”
73. But make mistakes. Insisting on perfection doesn’t mean your team members have to live in fear of making mistakes. Encourage them to try things and innovate. Celebrate mistakes as learning opportunities.
74. Just don’t f*ck it up. There’s a difference between a mistake that turns into a learning event and f*cking something up by doing stupid things. It’s not a fine line, it’s a big canyon of difference.
75. Celebrate your challenges. We have all-company meetings weekly, and they’re about 30% about why we’re awesome and 70% about the challenges ahead. If you want to grow and do amazing things, that’s how it should be. Our management meetings are skewed even more towards improvement, more like 10% success focused and 90% improvement focused. Again, as it should be, in my opinion.
76. Conferences are generally a waste of time.
 I know many people disagree with me on this one, but it’s just not my bag. I learn more meeting with our team, solving problems, going to talk to customers and partners or walking a trade show than I do shmoozing at events. My rule is that conferences are to be avoided unless it’s purely for PR purposes or if you’re in sales.
77. Wear funny socks or colorful shoes. I wear funny socks and red shoes to remind myself to not settle for boring and to be creative. And, to show others that even me, the boring CEO guy, can be fun.
78. Do something, anything that shows you’re not just a robot. Let people get to know the real you. I’m known to DJ in our office on random Fridays at 4pm. I shoot marshmallows at people, in the most loving way.
79. Hang a lantern on your hangups. 

80. Laugh at yourself, and let others do so, too. When I f*ck something up, I make sure to point it out to our team and make a joke about it. We’re all human.
81. Tell a good story. People get inspired by stories, not plans and tactics and results. Bring the results to life by making them personal to you and the people around you. 82. But don’t lie. Ever. You can round up, but you can’t make it up. The numbers are the numbers are the numbers.
83. Find inspiration in the people around you. Listen to them. Cultivate them. Learn from them. Help them make you better.
84. Have fun every single day. If it’s not fun, stop doing it. No one is making you.
85. It’s true what they say in sales, you’re only as good as your last sale. We’re only as good as our most recent damaged order, or worse yet, our most recent order that we couldn’t fulfill.
86. Go home. Yes, it’s cool to build a successful fast-growing company. It’s way cooler to go home to your partner.
87. Mature, but don’t grow up.

88. Be humble.

89. But, change the world. Do something meaningful. Make a difference.
90. Smile, you’re designed to.