Co-Founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger were able to launch Instagram without being computer science graduates. Krieger is proud of this fact, as it shows students from other disciplines can start companies in the technology space. He recalls his most valuable Stanford courses as the ones that taught him to define questions and then allowed him the freedom to seek the answers. In this clip, fellow Co-Founder Kevin Systrom also talks about the importance of connecting with other members of the entrepreneurial community. (via ecorner)
Gamification is a hot term these days – but what does it really mean? At it’s core, Gabe Zichermann explains in the video below from the NY Founder Institute, gamification is simply a way to look at customer loyalty campaigns as not about tangible customer value, but rather about status.
(watch the video or read the transcript)
“The next thing I want to say is about hiring great people. It seems like this is pretty obvious, but many people don’t spend a lot of time on it. They kind of have a conventional HR department or a conventional way of choosing who works in their company. I think you have to spend much more energy on it and be much more creative about deciding who it is that you hire. The individual is important. You certainly have to hire people who don’t fit into your organization or who can stimulate the organization and don’t kind of have the kind of corporate code involved in them. This is kind of a Bob Sutton kind of point of view. But more and more it’s about the team. Building hot teams. And that involves having people with many different disciplines, people who are generalists but also have empathy for people who are experts at different areas. Hal Levitt’s book about hot groups, you can read that and find all the things that are necessary to make a hot group. It’s very important that the groups be of a size. Many of the groups that I belong to, like the Mechanical Engineering faculty, are too large to actually be a hot group. And so you have to spend a lot of time figuring out how to make the group small enough, eight to 12 people, so that they can function by breaking the group down into those sizes. But one of the main things is just to have an unfair advantage in doing your hiring. IDEO has this unfair advantage called Stanford University which we’ve snuggled up next to and have a strong program with. Many companies should have closer relationships with their local universities. I’ve been quoted lots of times in places like Fortune. There’s an article about how I’m basically saying if I hire the right people and everything else will work out. I mean, that’s not exactly true, but it makes for good journalism. But the main thing about hiring people is you have to have a point of view about who you want in your company. And I don’t mean that you want people who have four Os from a certain school in their circuits courses. And Bob Sutton, who studied IDEO for a long time, who’s a professor here, has this point of view that he calls ‘attitude of wisdom’. And so IDEO goes about hiring, we make sure that every single person who’s hired by the company has been what we call ‘lunched’ by 10 other people, meaning that you’ve been taken to lunch by that person and that person gives you a 9, a 10 on a scale of ‘this is a good fit for IDEO’. One of the major fits is what we call the ‘attitude of wisdom’, which is, is this person the kind of person who has the force of personality to really get their ideas out there, because we really want somebody who is not shy about getting their ideas out and vocal about it and works hard at trying to win everybody over that theirs is a good idea, and that they have the balance with that to actually consider that their idea might be improved upon by others. And you know the kind of people who have one side or the other, right? Too shy to kind of get involved or too arrogant to not see that their idea can be improved upon and built upon by others. And so looking for that balance, it’s really easy to see who has that characteristic. And it turns out that kind of technical competence around here and so forth is easier to find and this kind of fit is hard. And this is where I talk about limits to growth. IDEO has not grown at all based on financial reasons or how much money we want to make or what the numbers went to be. We grow because we find another one of these people. So we started with two, we’re at about 430, and it’s just from one at a time picking off these people. When the dotcoms were growing really good, I was on the board of a few of them and they were like hiring stuff and they kept saying what great people they had, and I thought to myself that as they approach the total population of the United States–like 250 million people–in their company, by definition they would have average people in their company. If you know about having a good group, if you don’t have a t-shirt, if your group is not represented by a t-shirt, then you’re not part of a really good group.”
Another video on that topic by Marissa Mayer, she joined Google in 1999 as Google’s first female engineer and led the user interface and webserver teams at that time. She is Vice President of Location and Local Services at the company.
Challenge yourself against better players and you’ll become star of the team. Google’s Vice President of Location and Local Services, Marissa Mayer, reflects on her personal experience working with some of the finest talent in high-tech, and points out that working with the best empowers each player to excel.
Tine Thygesen’s talk at Build 0.5 focused on the three things entrepreneurs must do right in order to build great teams. Tine notes that entrepreneurs tend to have a couple of bad habits that can be mitigated by building great teams effectively. First, especially in building your team you must focus on the long haul. Teams that are committed and dedicated for the long term consist of great people. Great people might not be easy to get, but taking shortcuts here is not a good idea. While you might get average people easily into the team this is a poor long term solution. You need to attract great people from the beginning, because great people want to work with other great people.
A startup CEO is always hiring, and not necessarily for a role, Tine says. If you find absolutely great people, get them in, even if you don’t know exactly what they should be doing. On the flipside, this means that you must also fire people quickly if they are not contributing and not making the team greater than it was without them.
Second, you must make people come to you. While you are always hiring you cannot possibly do this all of your time. The war for talent means that this will continue to be your biggest challenge in growing a company. Tine suggests you must make yourself the talk of the town and the most attractive place to work in. Having great people already there helps, but you can also do more and reach out to the community, throw parties and enable co-working, for example.
Third, once you have the great people you must work hard not to lose them. People join companies but they quit bosses, Tine says, and suggests you must be conscious of this by leading from the front and involving the whole team. By doing the most boring, unappealing tasks, leaders can free their teams to do the exciting stuff that will further feed their enthusiasm for the team, and also gets them to pitch in with the boring things. “If you don’t take the trash out, don’t expect anyone else to take the trash out”, Tine notes. And by making sure that as a team grows transparency and communication get special attention, the team members sitting in the same room do not feel excluded from the leadership and from the decisions. If your team is disintegrating, you can’t do anything, Tine says. In a startup, keeping your team happy is even more important than keeping your customers happy. (via hackfwd.com)
Thanks to Made by Many for this great new App. Very effective and fun to use. Not only at keynotes, not only at SXSW. This is the future of getting peoples opinion, attention and stats.
You know how sometimes during a keynote or pitch you would really want to say something back to the speaker? So you wait until the speaker is done and put your hand up. Well, unless you are Robert Scoble of course. Or unless you have an iPad with Holler Gram installed. Or pick any of the pre-formatted shoutouts or make your own using your choice of fonts and colors.
You can even tweet your shout right from the app.
Holler Gram was made for SXSW specifically but I can totally imagine it will be popular at all events this year. As the author explains “You can even rate sessions by holding up a giant number display to become the ultimate armchair critic”. How awesome is that? (via thenextweb.com)
“The Heaviness Of Being Successful Was Replaced By The Lightness Of Being A Beginner Again, Less Sure About Everything.” – Steve Jobs
After yesterdays news about another medical leave of him, I remembered his commencement address atStanford from 2005.
***Interesting read (October 2010): John Sculley on Steve Jobs and on the value of experience. Interview transscript***
By Stephen M. Kosslyn
The Craft of Scientific Presentations: Critical Steps to Succeed & Critical Errors to Avoid
by Michael Alley
by Nancy Duarte
The Jelly Effect: How to Make Your Communication Stick
By Andy Boundes
by Dan Roam
Clay Shirky looks at “cognitive surplus” — the shared, online work we do with our spare brain cycles. While we’re busy editing Wikipedia, posting to Ushahidi (and yes, making LOLcats), we’re building a better, more cooperative world.
Clay Shirky believes that new technologies enabling loose collaboration — and taking advantage of “spare” brainpower — will change the way society works.
In just under a week, on January 12, leaders in the areas of fitness, science, health care, game design, video games, and education will converge to talk about the Power of Play, especially active gaming. This summit grows out of a collaborative partnership between theAmerican Heart Association and Nintendo of America.