Tech companies have become increasingly adept at manufacturing desire, but to what end? Behavior designer Jason Hreha argues that the industry needs to seriously consider the impact of its products. Are we helping our users lead better lives, or are we making them compulsive, impatient and distractible? Read full article.
Entrepreneurship is the life blood of any thriving community; the more entrepreneurs that realize their dream, the better it is for society. According to Entrepreneur magazine, 84 Million Americans are currently or want to become entrepreneurs. This panel will aim to answer the question of how to make entrepreneurship accessible to the masses. While risky, any would-be entrepreneur, regardless of age, has a shot at making her dreams a reality. As more and more individuals have embraced this risk, the market is providing more resources than ever before. This panel will provide an in-depth look at how to leverage the existing frameworks that make entrepreneurship open, and brainstorm future frameworks that are needed to continue to support the dream globally. The panel of experts will provide case studies of entrepreneurs that have found success using these resources, how you can leverage it yourself and what drives the panelists to make entrepreneurship open to all ages and genders.
How does one determine if entrepreneurship is the right “career path” for him or herself?
How do you mitigate risk when pursuing a new idea and what are some practical ways to know when to proceed with it full-time?
My idea has been validated, how do I take advantage of all of the great resources available?
How do I find and select the best people to work with? What are some examples?
What future frameworks do you think need to exist to continue making entrepreneurship open to the millions of would-be entrepreneurs globally?
(via Marc Goodman: A vision of crimes in the future)
The world is becoming increasingly open, and that has implications both bright and dangerous. Marc Goodman paints a portrait of a grave future, in which technology’s rapid development could allow crime to take a turn for the worse.
Marc Goodman works to prevent future crimes and acts of terrorism, even those security threats not yet invented.
“I think so many of the objects we’re surrounded by seem trivial. And I think that’s because they’re either trying to make a statement or trying to be overtly different. What we were trying to do was have a very honest approach and an exploration of materials and surface treatment. So much of what we try to do is get to a point where the solution seems inevitable: you know, you think ‘of course it’s that way, why would it be any other way?’ It looks so obvious, but that sense of inevitability in the solution is really hard to achieve.”
Jonathan Ive, SVP of Industrial Design, Apple Inc.
The past two years, Apple has assured its claim as the world’s most valuable company and is on track to become the first trillion dollar company. In addition to raw tenacity and the visionary leadership of the late Steve Jobs, much of Apple’s “secret sauce” comes from their focus on user experience and beautiful design, lead by Jonathan Ive (pictured above). User experience is “the way a person feels about using a product, system or service.”
What makes Apple’s approach to user experience superior to others? I think the answer is simple - everything Apple does, including how it deals with user experience decisions, is driven by Purpose. Readers of this blog will know that GSD&M’s core focus when engaging with a client is to help them find their Purpose and excel. The Purpose Institute defines Purpose as “… A definitive statement about the difference that [the company] is trying to make in the world.”
Note that Jonathan Ive says “of course it’s that way, why would it be any other way” when referring to user experience decisions. How does Apple get to that point, and what is the Purpose that drives it there? Apple’s purpose is To make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind.
This Purpose assures that Apple is constantly aiming for the highest bar, no exceptions. Apple embraced and pioneered many user experience principals on its way to realize the Purpose - investing in iteration, prototyping, bringing metaphor’s into the user interface, the modality / app model, creating a 3d space, and continuity in experience.
We can learn from Apple that user experience is vital and can lead to a tremendous positive impact on a company’s long-term success. Because of the importance of user experience (especially in the past 5 years due to the Apple App Store), there is constantly buzz around new UX frameworks and subsequent refinements. Lean UX, which is based on finding product/market fit through customer development and iteration, is currently the go to framework. Before that it was Agile, and before that a more Traditional approach (see figure above). These frameworks are helpful, but in the complex world of user experience, the only way to consistently deliver a great user experience is to assure that all user experience decisions are driven by Purpose. Janice Fraser, one of the pioneers of user experience summed it up perfectly when she said, “You can’t A/B test your way to success.” The only way to assure that the correct user experience decisions are made it to know the core Purpose of the company and drive towards that Purpose with each decision.
To dig into the concept of Purpose a bit more, let’s take a look at Instagram. The Purpose Institute details the following key areas relating to Purpose:
Purpose drives everything.
Purpose is a path to high performance.
Purpose fosters visionary ideas and meaningful innovation.
Purpose moves mountains.
Purpose will hold you steady in a turbulent marketplace.
Purpose injects your brand with a healthy dose of reality.
Purpose recruits passionate people.
Purpose brings energy and vitality to the work at hand.
Purpose contributes to a life well lived.
These can be directly applied to user experience decisions.
Instagram entered a very crowded space, yet has been able to attract 15 million+ users and was recently acquired by Facebook for $1 billion dollars. They did this by having a very clear Purpose. In the video interview embedded above with Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom, he defines Instagram’s Purpose: To make it easy for everyone to capture and share beautiful photos. This is the difference they want to make in the world and in the lives of their customers. This drives all of their user experience decisions. You can feel the Purpose in every screen of their mobile app. While they ultimately land on the right user experience via testing and iterating, the question they ask before adding or removing a feature is: Will this make it easier for our customers to capture and share beautiful photos? Anything that does not contribute towards realizing that Purpose is ignored.
Referring back to the key points regarding Purpose from The Purpose Institute, let us see how having a defined Purpose helped Instagram.
Purpose drives everything: It drives all decisions at Instagram, including what features they add or remove.
Purpose is a path to high performance: Instagram tests new features weekly. They brainstorm new ideas at the beginning of the week, select one to test, code it during the week, and test it over the weekend. If the feature sticks, Instagram implements it across the full user base.
Purpose fosters visionary ideas and meaningful innovation: Instagram is able to innovate and become the market leader in a very noising and old industry.
Purpose moves mountains: Instagram did it with around 10 employees.
Purpose will hold you steady in a turbulent marketplace: All startups go through the valley of death (perhaps multiple times), Instagram did as well and their Purpose helped them keep faith in challenging times.
Purpose injects your brand with a healthy dose of reality: Instagram chose to focus initially on iPhone only.
Purpose recruits passionate people: Instagram recruits the most talented people in the Valley.
Purpose brings energy and vitality to the work at hand: Instagram uses its Purpose as motivation for everyone to work hard and for the community to engage with the company
Purpose contributes to a life well lived: Instagram enriches the lives of all of their stakeholders - internal and external.
The future of user experience is becoming ever more complex - with new technologies like Google Glass on the horizon - it becomes even more important to know how to ignore the noise, and focus on the signal. Define your Purpose: Why do you need to exist in the world? The rest of the answers will flow. You will just know, because there is no other way.
I graduated from art school 2 years ago, here are some things I think I’ve learned. In the words of my current client, Donald Glover: “I’m not saying this thing is true or not, I’m just saying it’s what I learned.”
“Creativity Is Recession Proof” were the words plastered over the novelty T-shirt I bought in college, and it turned out to be the most honest piece of clothing I have ever, and likely will ever own. Sadly… it also shows my nipples.
The Internet is the world’s most powerful tool. With great power, comes… you know the rest… or maybe you don’t, since you’re scrolling through facebook or tumblr. The way you share creations is almost as important as the creations themselves.
Advertising is worth the shame. My first illustration job out of college paid 20 dollars an image — a feeling not unlike getting mugged by a paraplegic sloth — yet every time those 20 dollars filled an empty wallet, my name and sites were sent off into the ether to hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people. Now some of those people pay me 100x-1000x that for illustrations. Why? Maybe because I make nice things, but more likely? Because with every underpaid image I made, I made someone, somewhere, remember my name.
Don’t “fuck the haters”, embrace the hivemind. The “haters” will come in many forms: sometimes with criticism based on personal preference, sometimes with nonsensical attacks that seem like youtube commenter vomit, and sometimes with actual advice disguised as “hate”, saying what you’re doing wrong and what you could be doing better. Not everyone is a sage, not everyone is right, but they are worth listening to, if only to put a pin in to see if you hear something like that again. You will literally never be above improvement. There is no plateau, keep climbing, and pay attention to what’s around you, even the guy shouting through a megaphone while jackhammering directly underneath a potential avalanche.
Waiting for inspiration is like waiting at the DMV: It lasts forever and if you don’t know enough, you’ll probably still fail at the end. Nike your problems away by just doing it… “it” being something. You can wait and wait for good ideas, you can consume books, magazines, websites, and music by the truckload, desperate for something to trigger some sort of eureka moment, but if you just write your shitty lyric down, lay your shitty brush stroke down, or take your shitty photo, you’re on the right to track to actually making something good. I have made many terrible things, some of which remain terrible but served as stepping stones to better things, some I transformed into rather nice things, and I learned more about myself, the world, my work, technique, appeal, and a million other tiny factors from simply doing something, even when it failed.
Work to play. Be an idiot when you’re young, like… college-young. I was quite an idiot in college but I could have been even more of one and probably have been just fine. However, when you leave… leave the party there. If you give up a lot when you leave your childhood behind, and put your all into boring grown-up things like “work”, “money”, and “responsibility”, it genuinely doesn’t take much time to get the freedom you had in college back. The only difference is that instead of keeping the party going to distract yourself from a job you hate and rent you can barely pay, you can kick back and enjoy the party when you choose to on your own terms, if you even care about doing so at all. In other words: Stop it with this YOLO nonsense, why you are taking the words of a filthy-rich, diamond-selling recording artist who was on a Canadian TV show’s acronym of wisdom to mean: “be an idiot always and forever because fuck it, I’m young”, is beyond me. He worked hard to be able to wear $6000 socks, he didn’t “You Only Live Once” his way to them.
There are a lot of people more talented than you, that’s something you should know, but never accept. I’m regularly embarrassed by the quality of my work when I look at the hordes of artists superior to me, but you have time to spend, knowledge to gain, and skills to practice for the rest of your life. Your place amongst the world has no finality to it, you can always be more.
A friend who will stab you with a knife in the front is worth your weight in unicorn blood. Friends will back pat and backstab, occasionally becoming bloat and baggage, but if you should be so lucky as to find a person who cares about your success enough that they will outwardly knock you down a peg or ten with the truth so that you can better yourself, don’t toss them for the easier friend. Even lone-wolf-alpha-dog-max-payne-type people need a little help along the way.
Karma is a pretty damn good business model. I have hunted for clients before. I have barked up their trees, aggressive and hungry for work, failing to get it every time. I have also done a lot of personal work, just for fun, but executed seriously. Many of these would be labelled as “fan art” — depictions of pop-culture icons with my own odd twist that I put out into the world — some of which I pour dozens of hours into. Traditionally, when I finish work with a client, I ask: “So, how did you find me?” almost every time the answer is: work of mine they saw on the web that I did for shits and giggles. I put good in, and in time (thanks to item #2), I get good out. There is no science or stability to this beyond the notion that if you work hard enough and if you can make your work seen, you will be rewarded. These are the naive musings of a 23 year-old, remember?
“Art” is a shitty word that people will tack on to anything these days. Just focus on creating, whatever that may be, however that may be, do it well, and do it because you love it.
Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends 2011 - Always a must study.
This fact-packed presentation compiled by KPCB partner Mary Meeker explores and examines the significant trends shaping the Internet today. Backed by hard data and decades of technology analysis, Mary posits that the mobile revolution is still in its infancy and poised for tremendous growth. Her presentation also zeroes in on the newest breakout trends driving e-commerce, including the rejuvenating effects of local commerce, the global race to adopt mobile devices and apps, and the latest innovations in online payments. The evolving social space comes under Mary’s scrutiny as well. She observes that social networking is proving to be not just a powerful engagement model, but also a pervasive new wave of opportunity that spans the online experience. View the full presentation for a look at the digital trends that surround us in today’s increasingly mobile, social world.
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” - Steve Jobs, 1955-2011
This is one of the first demo videos of the Citi MasterCard + Google Wallet app. I like the accidental additional transaction in the demo. Whoops! It is kind of scary that you’re walking around with a digitized Credit Card. The hacker community is going to have a hell of a fun time with NFC (I’m sure plenty of security measures have been taken by the industry, but even then there are plenty of flaws that can be exploited on less-sophisticated phones and users).
Nonetheless, Google Wallet will be a game changer down the road. Good news for them, people have accepted giving up a certain level of control and information in exchange for convenience as apparent from the rapid adoption of online banking and PFM tools.
The whole “store your Citi MasterCard information in Google Wallet” is semi useless if you think about, as it just adds another layer. Tech like Google Wallet will eliminate plastic all together, and will turn the Credit Card companies into just Credit companies. The winner here may ultimately just be Citi and Google, not MasterCard. It will be really interesting to see how this all plays out and how the payments (and credit and debit) industry in general evolves over the next decade. I personally find it to be fascinating.
Read more about the integration. If your credit card company offered something like this and your phone was compatible, would you use it?
UPDATE: Google Wallet now has a commercial (embeded below). Meh. Don’t they remember the failed Seinfeld + Bill Gates commercials? Showing the actual technology would be much more badass.
Ben & Jerry’s 1983 Public Stock Offering to the residents of Vermont raised the company $750K for 17.5% of the company for a manufacturing plant, allowing them to skip venture capital and stick to their social mission. 1 in every 100 Vermont family owns some stock in Ben & Jerry’s. What a brilliant piece of business history :)!
Ultimately, Cohen and Greenfield did decide to keep the company, but they vowed not to allow the growth of their enterprise to overwhelm their ideas of how a business could be a force for positive change in a community. ‘We decided to adapt [the company] so we could feel proud to say we were the businessmen of Ben & Jerry’s,’ Cohen concluded. Among the stipulations they made to ensure that their company would be different from other parts of corporate America was a salary cap, limiting the best-paid people in the company to wages just five times higher than those of the lowest-paid employees. As Ben & Jerry’s grew, this unusual limitation would complicate the company’s high-level staffing.
To finance further growth, Greenfield and Cohen decided to raise capital to expand by selling stock to the public. However, in an effort to maintain a sense of local accountability in the company, they limited the stock offering to residents of Vermont, utilizing a little-known clause of the state law governing stocks and brokering. With the proceeds from this sale of stock, the company began construction of a new plant and corporate headquarters in Waterbury, Vermont, about half an hour away from Burlington.
I’m privileged to work with some of the best of the new breed of software companies, and I can tell you they’re really good at what they do. If they perform to my and others’ expectations, they are going to be highly valuable cornerstone companies in the global economy, eating markets far larger than the technology industry has historically been able to pursue.
Instead of constantly questioning their valuations, let’s seek to understand how the new generation of technology companies are doing what they do, what the broader consequences are for businesses and the economy and what we can collectively do to expand the number of innovative new software companies created in the U.S. and around the world.
This panel discussion aims to put a process behind the discovery of the infamous “Disruptive, Billion Dollar” idea. While tactical topics such as the Lean Startup Methodology are important once entrepreneurs have ideas they are actively pursuing, seldom is the process behind discovery and selection of those ideas actually discussed.
This panel aims to cover two key parts of this process:
Inception: What is the process behind actually coming up with the idea? This is a mixture of art and science; we hope to be able to showcase the science.
Validation: What is the process to evaluate if the idea is worth pursuing? This is a combination of internal and external factors that will be discussed in the panel.
We hope that once attendees walk out of the panel, they have mental clarity on how to discover their next great idea. Not just one that is trendy, but something truly disruptive, viable and sustainable.
What is one checkpoint in the inception phase that must be true before you take an idea through the validation phase?
What is the key trigger that leads you from the validation phase to pursuit of the idea full-time?
What is premature commitment bias and how do you avoid it?
As a serial entrepreneur, what is your personal process to discovering new ideas?
What are the key elements that always exist in your businesses from start to exit?
Chief Strategy Officer At donornation.org. Passionate About Tech, Design & Community Development.
Internet | Greater San Diego Area, US
Chief Strategy Officer at donornation.org, a philanthropic marketplace that helps to support local schools and businesses committed to the greater good.
Previously co-founded Rally.org (originally Piryx.com), the social giving platform used by non-profits, political campaigns and social entrepreneurs around the globe – oversaw the platform and developer strategy in addition to wearing many hats throughout the founding and growth phase. Rally.org is based in San Francisco and is backed Mike Maples (Floodgate Fund), Reid Hoffman (Greylock Partners), Ron Conway (SV Angel), Kevin Rose (Google Ventures), Eric Ries, Tim Ferris, Naval Ravikant (AngelPool) and other leading investors.
Prior to Rally.org, strategist focused on product design and business consulting for startups. Experience with Fortune 5 million to Fortune 500 on branding, product strategy, marketing, biz dev, creative direction and user experience design.
Naveed gives back through his leadership roles with several non-profit organizations, including the Thiel Fellowship and the Ismaili Professionals Network.
2012 - Present
Chief Strategy Officer / DonorNation
2011 - Present
Advisor, 20 Under 20 Program / The Thiel Fellowship
2010 - Present
National Program Manager, Professional Ventures Program / Ismaili Professionals Network (IPN)
Naveed Lalani is a consultant focused on product and web design for startups and small businesses. He has worked with companies from Fortune 5 million to Fortune 500 on their branding, product strategy, marketing, business development, creative direction and user experience design.
Previously, Naveed co-founded Rally.org (previously Piryx.com), the social giving platform used by non-profits, political campaigns and social entrepreneurs around the world. Naveed oversaw the platform and developer strategy at Piryx in addition to wearing many hats throughout the founding and growth phase.
In his free time, Naveed is reading, blogging, traveling, gaming, speaking, connecting, and watching TED. He enjoys being engaged with the community and empowering others into entrepreneurship. He gives back through his leadership roles with several non-profit organizations.