Category Archives: Strategy

Larry Page: “… be a bit uncomfortable to stay relevant”

Source: Google website, Aug 2015
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… in the technology industry, where revolutionary ideas drive the next big growth areas, you need to be a bit uncomfortable to stay relevant.

Build a Meaningful Career

Source: HBR, Feb 2015

Here are principles you can follow to find a career — and a specific job —­ you don’t just enjoy, but love.

Know what “meaningful” means to you

  • Legacy
  • Mastery
  • Freedom
  • Alignment (with the place you work)

Form hypotheses

If you’re unsure what matters most to you, think through a given day or week at work. Ask yourself: what made me most happy? What did I find most frustrating? Then, Koloc suggests, come up with a few hypotheses about what is most meaningful to you.

Run experiments

Form a personal board of directors

Think long term

Principles to Remember

  • Make a prioritized list of what a meaningful career would look like to you
  • Invite four or five people to serve as a board of advisors as you explore what you want
  • Experiment with different elements of a job that you’d want either in your current job, outside work, or by talking with people

“Crazy is a Compliment”

Source: FT, Oct 2014

She has a wise take on the question of risk. “Pretending your job is safe and your company is stable leaves you dangerously exposed. If you think risk taking is risky, being risk averse is often riskier.”

… trying something new and being disruptive will mean challenging the status quo, group think and powerful incumbents. Then, accusations of craziness may follow. But in her experience, “almost all entrepreneurs at one point or another have been accused of being out of their minds”.

What prevents more of us branching out and taking greater commercial risk? It is what a colleague of Rottenberg calls the “pre-Bannister mistake” of self-limitation. Before Sir Roger Bannister broke the four- minute barrier for running a mile in 1954, no one thought such a feat possible. But three years later 16 runners had done it. Your dreams may be “crazy” but they may also be worth shooting for.

Experimentation is also vital. She suggests entrepreneurs should “minnovate” – take a lot of small steps.

Stand out from the crowd, Rottenberg says, and be ready to be rebuffed. “If they don’t call you crazy you aren’t thinking big enough.” But remember you have a home life, she warns, and signs off with a homely message for her daughters: “I can be an entrepreneur for a short time but I am a mommy forever.”

The Next Phase of the Digital Revolution

Source: Vanity Fair, Oct 2014

The next phase of the Digital Revolution will bring a fuller fusion of technology with the creative industries, such as media, fashion, music, entertainment, education, literature, and the arts. Much of the early innovation involved pouring old wine—books, newspapers, opinion pieces, journals, songs, television shows, movies—into new, digital bottles. But now completely new forms of expression and media formats are emerging. Role-playing games and interactive plays are merging with collaborative modes of storytelling and augmented realities. People are creating multi-media books that can be crowd-sourced and wikified but also curated. Instead of pursuing mere artificial intelligence, people are finding ways to partner the power of the computer with that of the human mind.

In this new era, the primary role for humans will be the same as it was 20 years ago. Human entrepreneurs and innovators will supply the imagination, the creativity, and the ability, as Steve Jobs would say, to think different.

The people who succeed will be the ones who can link beauty to engineering, humanity to technology, and poetry to processors. In other words, it will come from creators like those on this year’s list, who can flourish where the arts intersect with the sciences and who have a rebellious sense of wonder that opens them to the beauty of both.

“The Innovators”: Walter Isaascson

Source: S&S website, Oct 2014

The computer and the Internet are among the most important inventions of our era, …  most of the innovations of the digital age were done collaboratively. There were a lot of fascinating people involved, some ingenious and a few even geniuses. This is the story of these pioneers, hackers, inventors, and entrepreneurs—who they were, how their minds worked, and what made them so creative. It’s also a narrative of how they collaborated and why their ability to work as teams made them even more creative.

The tale of their teamwork is important because we don’t often focus on how central that skill is to innovation. … we have far fewer tales of collaborative creativity, which is actually more important in understanding how today’s technology revolution was fashioned. It can also be more interesting.

  • How did the most imaginative innovators of our time turn disruptive ideas into realities?
  • What ingredients produced their creative leaps?
  • What skills proved most useful? How did they lead and collaborate?
  • Why did some succeed and others fail?

I also explore the social and cultural forces that provide the atmosphere for innovation. For the birth of the digital age, this included a research ecosystem that was nurtured by government spending and managed by a military-industrial-academic collaboration. Intersecting with that was a loose alliance of community organizers, communal-minded hippies, do-it-yourself hobbyists, and homebrew hackers, most of whom were suspicious of centralized authority.

The collaboration that created the digital age was not just among peers but also between generations. Ideas were handed off from one cohort of innovators to the next.
Another theme that emerged from my research was that users repeatedly commandeered digital innovations to create communications and social networking tools. I also became interested in how the quest for artificial intelligence—machines that think on their own—has consistently proved less fruitful than creating ways to forge a partnership or symbiosis between people and machines. In other words, the collaborative creativity that marked the digital age included collaboration between humans and machines.

Finally, I was struck by how the truest creativity of the digital age came from those who were able to connect the arts and sciences. They believed that beauty mattered. “I always thought of myself as a humanities person as a kid, but I liked electronics,” Jobs told me when I embarked on his biography. “Then I read something that one of my heroes, Edwin Land of Polaroid, said about the importance of people who could stand at the intersection of humanities and sciences, and I decided that’s what I wanted to do.” The people who were comfortable at this humanities-technology intersection helped to create the human-machine symbiosis that is at the core of this story.

Peter Thiel: Disruption applies to Existing Industries

Source: Business Insider, Sep 2014

The concept [of disruption] was coined to describe threats to incumbent companies, so startups’ obsession with disruption means they see themselves through older firms’ eyes…

But if you truly want to make something new, the act of creation is far more important than the old industries that might not like what you create.

Indeed, if your company can be summed up by its opposition to already existing firms, it can’t be completely new and it’s probably not going to become a monopoly.

Stanford CS183B: How to Start a Startup

Source: Re/Code, Sep 2014
(course website: http://startupclass.samaltman.com/)

This fall, Stanford will offer a course in “How to Start a Startup,” taught by incumbent startup school headmaster Sam Altman, the president of Y Combinator. It’s officially “CS183B” and worth credit for Stanford students.

The 1,000-minute course will also be made available online and will include appearances by well-known investors and entrepreneurs. Peter Thiel will give a lecture on monopoly theory, and Marc Andreessen and Ron Conway along with Ben Silbermann of Pinterest will talk about how to raise money. These are based on talks that the same speakers have made at Y Combinator class dinners over the years in Mountain View, Calif.

Related Reading: Google Doc, Sep 2014