Category Archives: Growth

Memorable Phrases

Source: Medium, Feb 2020

  1. “I was thinking about you.”
    if you are thinking about someone — let them know. The best part about this phrase is that it’s true. Every day we think about other people and telling them when we are can only strengthen a relationship.

  2. “What do you think?”
    “I’m curious about your experience with W.” “Can you tell me more about Z?” “I’d love to get your opinion on Y.” “Can I get your advice on Z?”

    Most people love to share their experiences. They love to talk about their lessons learned. They love to know that their voice is respected and people appreciate their perspective. So when speaking to someone about a topic that is clearly important to them, ask them to share their thoughts. It’s a guaranteed way of making people think highly of you. Plus, friendships rarely fizzle out if you are making an effort to learn about the other person’s thoughts, feelings, and ideas.

  3. “I love the way you see the world.”
    I don’t know about you, but I love to be told that I’m interesting. “Every time I’m with you I learn something new.” “That’s interesting. I never thought of it like that before.” These phrases send me flying.  Give them a shot for yourself. The next time someone tells you something interesting fire back by telling them how interesting they are. Few phrases make people feel more special than the words “I love the way you think.”
  4. “I followed your advice.”
    people love it when people listen to them. But they really love it when they are told that they have been helpful and their words have made a positive effect on someone else’s life.

Larry & Sergey -> Google

Source: The Verge, Dec 2019

Initial Google Logo: September 15th, 1997, to September 27th, 1998.

999: PAGE AND BRIN TRY TO SELL GOOGLE FOR $1 MILLION, THEN $750,000

While Page and Brin had officially incorporated Google, and smartly changed its name from Backrub, in 1998, the two men shortly after thought they might sell the company, apparently not quite aware of the potential of the product.

In fact, Page and Brin tried to sell Google for $1 million to internet portal company Excite in 1999, as recalled by Khosla Ventures founder Vinod Khosla. The prominent venture capitalist was able to negotiate Page and Brin down to as low as $750,000, but Excite CEO George Bell still wouldn’t take the deal. Google is now worth nearly $913 billion.

2002: YAHOO WANTS TO BUY GOOGLE FOR $3 BILLION, BUT PAGE AND BRIN DON’T BITE

If you someone from the year 2019 traveled back in time and told you about the eventual fate of Yahoo, it would have been hard to believe. In 2002, Yahoo was an internet giant of unprecedented size, and it wanted in on Google’s fast-growing search business. So much so that Yahoo was willing to pay up to $3 billion for it, a then-unconscionable amount of money for a startup with what Yahoo CEO Terry Semel considered lackluster revenue.

Props to Yahoo for seeing the value in Google — Yahoo leadership was right after all, about Google becoming a big thing — but Page and Brin weren’t in the mood to sell. Just three years after they were willing to take $750,000 for Google, it had grown into an entity they felt was worth more than 4,000 times that price.

AUGUST 2005: PAGE BUYS ANDROID FOR $50 MILLION, WITHOUT TELLING SCHMIDT

One of Page’s most prescient business calculations was the rise of mobile computing, and he moved quick to snap up a small startup by the name of Android in the summer of 2005 to the tune of $50 million. He did so without telling Schmidt, who was then still CEO, because Page believed so strongly that Android co-founder Andy Rubin could help the company make inroads in the mobile software market.

OCTOBER 2006: SUSAN WOJCICKI CONVINCES PAGE AND BRIN TO APPROVE YOUTUBE ACQUISITION

Susan Wojcicki was the 16th employee at Google and the person whose garage the company was literally started out of. That meant she often had the confidence of Page and Brin, but it did take some convincing on her part to get Google leadership to approve the the landmark $1.65 billion acquisition of an online video site called YouTube.

SEPTEMBER 2008: GOOGLE LAUNCHES CHROME BROWSER, THANKS TO SUNDAR PICHAI

After Page and Brin hired a number of developers from Mozilla Firefox, and at the suggestion of superstar product manager Sundar Pichai, Google embarked on its quest to build a better web browser. This was despite then-CEO Schmidt’s insistence that Google stay out of what he later categorized as the “bruising browser wars.” The eventual product was Chrome. The browser’s eventual domination of the market is one of Pichai’s most stunning business successes, and it helped push the product chief toward the CEO role years later.

Clayton Christensen’s Contributions

Source: HBR, Jan 2020

Clayton M. Christensen is best known for his theory of disruptive innovation, in which he warns large, established companies of the danger of becoming too good at what they do best. To grow profit margins and revenue, he observes, such companies tend to develop products to satisfy the demands of their most sophisticated customers.

As successful as this strategy may be, it means that those companies also tend to ignore opportunities to meet the needs of less sophisticated customers — who may eventually form much larger markets.

An upstart can therefore introduce a simpler product that is cheaper and thus becomes more widely adopted (a “disruptive innovation”). Through incremental innovation, that product is refined and moves upmarket, completing the disruption of the original company.

Disruptive innovation:

the core theory of why bad things happen to good companies. “Disruptive Technologies: Catching the Wave” is the big-picture “why is this a problem” article warning established companies that a seemingly rational concern with profit margins can have disastrous results.

Product innovation: 

why good managers struggle to innovate successfully, this time focusing on the discipline of product innovation itself, rather than on organizational and management structures.

By understanding the tasks that customers look to a product for (the “job to be done”), a company can develop offerings — products, services, and whole brands — that customers truly value. Christensen uses the “milk shake” example to show how product developers should be considering their task.

The financial tools in the way

Established financial incentives often make it unattractive for companies to innovate. In “Innovation Killers: How Financial Tools Destroy Your Capacity to Do New Things,” Christensen and his coauthors target metrics such as discounted cash flow, net present value, and earnings per share, along with attitudes towards fixed and sunk costs. They suggest that leaders take up other methods for evaluating investments — ones that consider future value.

Business model innovation

Product innovations might be necessary, but to be truly disruptive, they often need to be delivered to the market through new business models.

In “Reinventing Your Business Model,” Christensen and his coauthors describe how to determine if your company needs a new business model and what makes one successful, using examples ranging from Apple’s iTunes to CVS’s MinuteClinics.

To Christensen, the role of every general manager is to lay a foundation for future growth. To that end, managers need to understand disruptive innovation, the threat it poses, and how to lead their teams and organizations to create growth that can keep pace with ever-evolving technologies, industries, and customers.

 

Business Moats

Source: CB Insights, date indeterminate
<see source for details>

 

Charming Helps!

Source: Medium, Jan 2020

Bring The Positive Energy

Here’s the first key to being charming: you have to make other people want to talk to you… and that means that you want to be open and welcoming.

People who are charming are people who make us feel good. They make us feel like they understand us, value us and think we’re awesome. They’re nonjudgmental, empathetic and caring. They’re the sort of people you feel like you could rely on when the chips are down because they’re just that kind of person.

So how does one convey warmth to others?

To start with, you want to smile. A broad, genuine smile that reaches the eyes — the famous Duchene smile — is a way of making yourself instantly seem friendlier and more approachable. It also forces you to feel happier and friendlier in a nice bit of biofeedback; by making yourself feel more friendly, you will come across as friendlier and more likable.

http://www.journalofadvertisingresearch.com/content/58/1/51.figures-only

You want to make sure to be as positive as possible. You don’t have to be a wide-eyed optimist, but we are instinctively drawn to people who are happier. Happy people give energy to the room and make others feel good.

Build The Emotional Connections

The next key to being charming is to build the emotional chemistry by finding commonalities with the person you’re talking to. Charming people have the ability to make us feel as though we’ve known them forever — even if we’ve only just met them thirty minutes ago. They bring an easy sense of familiarity and intimacy that we don’t often feel with other people, especially with people we’ve only just met… but it feels so natural that we never think about it.

In fact, one researcher found that it was possible to build an incredibly intense emotional connection — one stronger than even some long-term friendships — in the span of an hour.

The key to building this emotional intensity comes from sharing personal emotional information with one another.

You want to share emotional truths that illustrate some of what makes you who you are. One of the easiest ways to do this is through the Question Game– taking turns asking meaningful questions of one another. Those questions like “what would a perfect day look like to you”? They may sound cheesy… but they’re the ones that elicit the emotional truths and help forge those surprisingly deep and intimate connections that make us feel so close to someone we’ve just met.

So you may want to ask something like “What would you do if you could do anything with no chance of failure?” or even just sharing an embarrassing — but amusing — incident in your life. The key is that you want to allow yourself to be vulnerable; being charming means letting others feel as though they’re getting insight into you that few other people may get.

Just be sure to leaven it with humor. After all…

Funny is Sexy

As I’ve said many times before, there’s a reason why women rank a sense of humor so highly when they’re listing what they find attractive in men. In fact, some researchers believe that there’s a direct correlation between being able to make a woman laugh and her level of sexual or romantic interest.

The most charming people out there have excellent senses of humor. Some are droll and witty, others are self-deprecating, while yet others are brash, even borderline offensive… and we love them for it.

So why is humor so important to charm? It’s the way that it makes people feel.

Charm is all about making the other person feel good in your presence. Laughter releases muscle tension in the body, leaving you feeling relaxed calm while also releasing endorphins in the brain. If you’re able to make a woman laugh, you’re able to make her feel good… and she’s going to associate that feeling with being in your presence.

A good sense of humor is also a reliable indicator of intelligence; after all, most humor — even puns — is intellectual in nature. Even pratfalls and low-brow humor require a strong sense of comedic timing and being able to gauge the social appropriateness of the situation. Plus: being able to understand the proper time and place for different forms of humor is a sign of finely tuned social calibration.

Develop Your Presence

The final part of charm is to utilize your presence. We often talk about people who feel larger than life, or who have us riveted. These people have presence.

We like people who like us… and the ability to make you feel liked is one of the keys of being charming. Charming people have a way of making you feel like the most important person in the world. They give you their full attention and give you the impression that not only are they hanging on your every word, they’re finding absolutely everything you have to say fascinating.

The first and most important way of using presence is simply to give someone your full attention.

The next way that you develop presence is to indicate that you’re actually paying attention. There are many ways of doing this — countless non-verbal signs like nodding your head and “go on, I’m listening” sounds, for example — but the most powerful is to be an active listener.

Making a point to ask questions about the things that she’s telling you, especially if you use her choice of words or phrasing, makes it abundantly clear that not only are you paying attention but that you’re making a point to engage with her, not just passively absorbing her words like a sponge. Even just repeating the last couple of words back in an intrigued, questioning tone can build and signal your interest in what she has to say.

Daron Acemoglu in Conversations with Tyler

Source: Conversations with Tyler, Dec 2019

what makes China exceptional is that — like no other despotic, extractive society in history — it has a complete obsession with innovation and technology.

China is the first society that’s really systematically trying to do that. China wants to keep the despotic control of the Chinese Communist Party while at the same time be a leader in digital technology, leader in Telecom, leader in AI, and it’s pouring a lot of resources. It’s providing incentives, and the question is whether this is going to succeed. My view is, it is not a complete failure, but it’s not going to be a huge success.

there are tensions. You really need — you called it individualism. I’m happy to call it that. I would have called it something differently. But you need that individualism spark. You need that experimentation for the most radical type of innovations to take place, and China is missing that. It’s going to try to pour more and more resources to make up for it, but I’m not sure whether it’s going to work.

A 4.1/4.0 for his Stanford PhD!

Source: Ed Boyden, Oct 2019

Related Resources:

Huffington Post, Sep 2016

Synthesize new ideas constantly.

Never read passively. Annotate, model, think, and synthesize while you read, even when you’re reading what you conceive to be introductory stuff.

That way, you will always aim towards understanding things at a resolution fine enough for you to be creative

Conversations with Tyler, Apr 2019

we don’t actually have theories — detailed knowledge — enough to make predictive, interesting models, for example, of how we form emotions, of how we make decisions.

… questions about attention-focusing drugs like Ritalin or Adderall. Maybe they make people more focused, but are you sacrificing some of the wandering and creativity that might exist in the brain and be very important for not only personal productivity but the future of humanity?

I think one of the things that I really love about the space of ecological diversity is, if you think of brains as computing things, then ecological diversity might provide many ways of computing the same thing but in different ways that actually yield interesting computational insights or aesthetic outcomes.

I think architecture is very important. I find architecture to be very inspiring for scientific ideas.

My group started at the MIT Media Lab, and now we have half our group over here in the MIT McGovern Institute, but I used to wander the halls of campus late at night to just look at stuff, the posters in the hallway. I get inspiration by trying to connect dots from different fields or disciplines or even entirely separate, unconnected topics. I find a lot of productivity from inspirational environments and connecting dots between random things.

COWEN: Now, you were first hired here by the Media Lab, is that correct?

BOYDEN: I was.

COWEN: They were a different ecosystem, and they saw some reason to hire you, where other groups didn’t see the same reason.

BOYDEN: Yeah. I was writing up these faculty applications to propose to set up a full-time neurotechnology group — let’s control the brain, let’s map the brain. At the time, the majority of the places that I applied to for faculty jobs actually turned me down.

So I went to the Media Lab to talk to people there. I’d been an undergrad researcher there. That’s when I was doing work on quantum computing, for example. It was just sheer dumb luck. They had a job opening that they couldn’t fill, and they said, “Why don’t you apply?”

COWEN: A job opening for what?

BOYDEN: I can’t recall the details. It might have been a professor of education or something. I forget what it was. But they said, “You know what? We’re the Media Lab. Maybe our new mission is to hire misfits.”

It’s a great place for people between one field and another where there’s sort of some space. But you know what? It could be an entire new discipline. Now, flash forward 12 years later, we actually started a center for neuroengineering here at MIT that I co-direct.

I think I learn more from individuals and their variability than from categories of people. For example, in our group at MIT, I have two PhD students. Neither finished college, actually. I can’t think of any other neuroscience groups on Earth where that’s true.

COWEN: And you hired them.

BOYDEN: I did, yeah.

COWEN: Knowing they didn’t finish college. And that was a plus? Or, “I’ll hire them in spite of this”?

BOYDEN: Well, one of them had been a Thiel fellow and then decided that it could be good to have an ecosystem in academia to support a long-term biotechnology play, and it’s hard to do biotechnology all by yourself. The other was a college dropout who was working as a computer tech support person next door, and both of them are now leading very independent projects.

Again, I try to look more at the individual, and I try to get to know people over a long period of time to learn what they’re good at and how they can maybe make a contribution based upon their unique experience. That’s different from what people have done traditionally.

BOYDEN: I think there’s so much crosstalk nowadays. I read a statistic that 40 percent of the professors at MIT trained at one point in their career at Stanford, Harvard, or MIT. So there’s a lot of crosstalk that goes back and forth. I think one of the themes in science is that you end up learning different things and bringing multiple things to bear.

COWEN: How should we improve the funding of science in this country?

BOYDEN: I like to look at the history of science to learn about its future, and one thing I’ve learned a lot over the last couple years — and it’s even happened to me — is that it’s really hard to fund pioneering ideas.

The third thing I would do is I would go looking for trouble. I would go looking for serendipity.

One idea is, how do we find the diamonds in the rough, the big ideas but they’re kind of hidden in plain sight? I think we see this a lot. Machine learning, deep learning, is one of the hot topics of our time, but a lot of the math was worked out decades ago — backpropagation, for example, in the 1980s and 1990s. What has changed since then is, no doubt, some improvements in the mathematics, but largely, I think we’d all agree, better compute power and a lot more data.

So how could we find the treasure that’s hiding in plain sight? One of the ideas is to have sort of a SWAT team of people who go around looking for how to connect the dots all day long in these serendipitous ways.

COWEN: Does that mean fewer committees and more individuals?

BOYDEN: Or maybe individuals that can dynamically bring together committees. “Hey, you’re a yogurt scientist that’s curious about this weird CRISPR molecule you just found. Here’s some bioinformaticists who are looking to find patterns. Here’s some protein engineers who love — ”

COWEN: But should the evaluators be fewer committees and more individuals? The people doing the work will always be groups, but committees, arguably, are more conservative. Should we have people with more dukedoms and fiefdoms? They just hand out money based on what they think?

BOYDEN: A committee of people who have multiple non-overlapping domains of knowledge can be quite productive.

But in economics and in other fields, it also seems like people are trying to make better maps of things and how they interact.

BOYDEN: One way to think of it is that, if a scientific topic is really popular and everybody’s doing it, then I don’t need to be part of that. What’s the benefit of being the 100,000th person working on something?

So I read a lot of old papers. I read a lot of things that might be forgotten because I think that there’s a lot of treasure hiding in plain sight. As we discussed earlier, optogenetics and expansion microscopy both begin from papers from other fields, some of which are quite old and which mostly had been ignored by other people.

I sometimes practice what I call failure rebooting. We tried something, or somebody else tried something, and it didn’t work. But you know what?

Something happened that made the world different. Maybe somebody found a new gene. Maybe computers are faster. Maybe some other discovery from left field has changed how we think about things. And you know what? That old failed idea might be ready for prime time.

With optogenetics, people were trying to control brain cells with light going back to 1971. I was actually reading some earlier papers. There were people playing around with controlling brain cells with light going back to the 1940s. What is different? Well, this class of molecules that we put into neurons hadn’t been discovered yet.

COWEN: The same is true in economics, I think. Most of behavioral economics you find in Adam Smith and Pigou, who are centuries old.

BOYDEN: Wow. I almost think search engines like Google often are trying to look at the most popular things, and to advance science, what we almost need is a search engine for the most important unpopular things.

COWEN: Last question. As a researcher, what could and would you do with more money?

BOYDEN: Well, I’m always looking for new serendipitous things, connecting the dots between different fields. These ideas always seem a bit crazy and are hard to get funded. I see that both in my group but also in many other groups.

I think if I was given a pile of money right now, what I would like to do is to find a way — not just in our group but across many groups — to try to find those unfundable projects where, number one, if we think about the logic of it, “Hey, there’s a non-zero chance it could be revolutionary.”

Number two, we can really, in a finite amount of time, test the idea. And if it works, we can dynamically allocate more money to it. But if it doesn’t work, then we can de-allocate money to it.

I would like to go out and treasure hunt. Let’s look at the old literature. Let’s look at people who might be on the fringes of science, but they don’t have the right connections, like the people who I talked about earlier. They’re not quite in the right place to achieve the rapid scale-up of the project. But by connecting the dots between people and topics, you know what? We could design an amazing project together.