"I never took a day off in my twenties. Not one. And I'm still fanatical, but now I'm a little less fanatical. I play tennis, I play bridge, I spend time with my family. I drive myself around town in a normal Mercedes." Bill Gates
"Dispel the persistent myth that entrepreneurial success is all about innovative thinking and breakthrough ideas. I’ve found that entrepreneurial success usually comes through great execution, simply by doing a superior job of doing the blocking and tackling.
We all know that there is no such thing as overnight success. Behind every overnight success lies years of hard work and sweat. People with luck will tell you there’s no easy way to achieve success—and that luck comes to those who work hard. Successful entrepreneurs always give 100% of their efforts to everything they do. If you know you are giving your best effort, you’ll never have any reason for regrets. Focus on things you can control; stay focused on your efforts and let the results be what they will be.
Execution, execution, execution – unless you are the smartest person on earth (and who is) it’s likely that many others have thought about doing the same thing you’re trying to do. Success doesn’t necessarily come from breakthrough innovation but from flawless execution. A great strategy alone won’t win a game or a battle; the win comes from basic blocking and tackling. All of us have seen entrepreneurs who waste too much time writing business plans and preparing power points. I believe that a business plan is too long if it’s more than one page. Besides, things never turn out exactly the way you envisioned them. No matter how much time you spend perfecting the plan, you still have to adapt according to the ground realities."
Techcrunch published an article about hiring in startups, with some lessons about how to hire, some very controversial advice, and why startups are not for everyone. Quoting the article:
1) "The most important part of hiring correctly is to not hire the wrong people. The second most important part of hiring correctly is to hire the right people. What that means is that it is better to not hire anyone at all if you can’t find the right person."
2) “Fire people who are not workaholics”
3) "I’m not saying you should chain people to the desk. I’m not saying you should make them work 24 hours a day. What I’m saying is that you should hire people who work 24 hours a day because there is nothing else they’d rather do. If you’ve got a product to launch and you’re ultimately trying to disrupt a bigger and better funded company, it’s likely that you are going to need a superhuman effort from the team. I doubt Google’s early employees complained about the hours (and take a wild guess as to why Google gives employees free lunch and free dinners)."
"If something about this doesn’t sit well with you, that’s ok because you are part of the vast majority of people out there who have an appropriate work-life balance. That doesn’t make you a bad person. It just makes you a bad hire for a resource-strapped startup that needs a team of kick ass all-stars to have a hope in hell of succeeding."
"There is nothing wrong if people don't want to work for startups and fully commit to it. Actually I usually recommend people not to do it and most people in the world don't do it."
The best habit of a Product Designer is to... be an avid and pragmatic user of the product you are designing.
Good habit #2: Constantly and continually simplify.
Iterative product design is a lot like subtractive sculpture. You start out with a big block of marble and you have a general idea of the form you want to carve it into. So you get out a bandsaw and start removing huge slabs of rock. Now you have the rough form. This is your initial product specification. Now you get out the big chisels and start to discern head, arm, legs. Now you have your working prototype.
Good Habit #3: Listen to the users.
Constantly get feedback. Read ALL the customer service emails. Drop your defenses and really really listen to criticism. Learn to discern when criticism is valid, and when it is aberrant (this is hard).
Good Habit #4: Iterate. Iterate. Iterate.
Make lots of small and fast changes. Make the versioning cycles as fast as possible.
Good Habit #5: Plan conservatively.
Realise that all great things take time, and that design of new products is truly fret with unknowns. Make conservative and realisable milestones, and simultanously push for more every time you feel slack in the process.
Good Habit #6: Deliver agressively.
In my game development studio we used to have many a late night codefest. One of our engineers was famous for having an intuitive grasp of the state of code. And sometimes, at 4am, he would simply throw down his mouse, and yell "Ship it!" It was ballsy, and it was usually right. Nothing tests the mettle of a product like getting it into the hands of users.
Good Habit #7: Revisit the product roadmap often, and adjust the sails accordingly.
A product is a living thing. A roadmap is a long term plan which ideally translates big vision into material function. As you recieve user and marketplace feedback, you will inevitably need to adjust your roadmap. Do this on a regular basis so that the document stays alive. Reviewing the roadmap also can help you stay on strategic track for the long term.
You need analytics and KPIs in order to get better. If not, you will only have erratic progress.
"You can achieve incredible progress if you set a clear goal and find a measure that will drive progress toward that goal.
Measuring tools allowed inventors to see if their incremental design changes led to the improvements—such as higher power and less coal consumption—needed to build better engines. There's a larger lesson here: Without feedback from precise measurement, invention is "doomed to be rare and erratic." With it, invention becomes "commonplace.""
The importance of eating your own dog food, being obsessed with your product quality, and how Reid Hoffman got convinced that Jeff Weiner was the right one for the CEO position at LinkedIn (I have seen this in many successful startups and big companies for CEOs and product managers):
"Jeff went above and beyond to immerse himself in Linkedin. For example, just a few months after Jeff joined LinkedIn, several engineers were sitting around at midnight in between bug fixes for what ultimately turned into a very late night product launch that extended into the early morning. One of the engineers decided to pull a graph of their new CEO’s login activity on LinkedIn.com. People were shocked: the only time period during the launch when Jeff was not consistently logged into the site was between 3:30 – 4:00 AM. It turned out he was obsessed with the product quality — just like a true founder. To this day, Jeff is renowned for being one of LinkedIn’s most active users and is known for his ability to catch bugs before our developers."
The entire Pixable team wishes you a great entry into 2013 which will be a great year. I want to thank you for being there with us but especially for making Pixable your daily addiction to browse the photos that matter to you the most. Without you we would not have reached more than 5 million users (and growing). For 2013 we have prepared many new features and products. Stay tunned. Happy New Year!
"Hand in hand with this philosophy comes another, highly complementary strategy: When you want something, broadcast that to everyone you meet."
"Always say yes to invitations, even if it's not clear what you'll get out of the meeting"
"Show up, and often. This should be obvious, but as a busy entrepreneur it's amazing how unappealing it is to socialize with people you don't know when you're working 16-hour days. But everything starts with showing up"
"Be the person they saw yesterday as often as possible. They will think of you if there is an opportunity the next day"