Creating my Personal Mantra: Lead, Love, Laugh
Traveling alone gives one a lot of time for introspection… especially if you can learn to ignore a growing unread message count. I have now come up with a daily mantra that I can measure myself on. So far, any day I can rate more than 4 on 9 is a good day.
Were my actions consistent with my values today? Did I keep my promises? to myself? To others? In short, am I leading a life that I would be proud to look back on?
Are there people, things and work that I love more than my self? How many? Do they know? Did I do anything to grow it? Did I share it? Did I make new memories? In short, is there love and passion for things other than myself in my life?
Did I laugh at myself today? At what’s funny in this world or what’s not. Did I make anyone else laugh? In short, am I making joy for people in my life?
Since metrics improve with feedback (yes always a #nerd), I thought I would share this.
No Country for Young Women
India is the the worst G20 country for women with 56,000 reported maternal deaths in childbirth each year and 44.5% women married illegally before they reach the age of 18. A rape is reported to the police every 18 minutes.
India ranked equal to Congo on the United Nations Development Programme’s gender inequality index for 2012.
India’s female participation in the labor force was 29 percent in 2011, 2 percentage points below Sudan and less than half of China’s 68 percent, according to the World Bank.
We can not, must not, be allowed to forget. Don’t relax, don’t stop thinking about how to make a difference.
Why we need to guess a lot better..
A couple of days ago, Andy Rachleff (if you don’t follow him on Twitter, ask yourself why) challenged a group of 60 smart, young people in business school to guess how big a very well-known private company was. Most of us didn’t have a clue.
I tried to guesstimate my way into it, not having read their blog in a long time. Unit $120 per sub/yr.. say a few million subscribers (but 2? or 10?)… and then there’s the ad revenue.. ermm… ad spots in an on-demand platform, urgh. You get the drift.. And this was a consumer company whose service more than half of us probably used already. With so many of us interviewing for jobs, evaluating starting up or trying to be investors, we need to get this outside-in guess right - at least as an order of magnitude, at least a majority of the time - to be able to make good decisions.. assuming you have the judgment bit tied down already. It’s how we will be able to identify and take advantage of opportunities not clearly apparent to everyone else similarly qualified.
So how do we guesstimate a lot better? The only advice that comes to mind is what Mike Moritz (follow his awesome Linkedin column here) once told me - it’s all about practice. Size up the opportunities and companies you see around you everyday instead of evaluating them on a scale of “cool” to “I wouldn’t use that”. Hopefully, we will soon learn some heuristics to apply more generally that will presumably get us “thinking fast” even when we are “thinking slow”.
And if you don’t recognize the reference in that last sentence, buy Daniel Kahneman’s book, trust me you need it.
Jason Kilar, Hulu Plus and learning at Amazon
image courtesy thenextweb.com
Last month Jason Kilar stepped down as the CEO of Hulu (btw, check out the humbling/weird comments on his last blog post) - and I didn’t blink. As a happy Hulu user, I didn’t quite skip a step. It was no big deal.
Today, I met the man. Now, in my stint at GSB, I have been fortunate to meet many tremendously successful people who have done things nobody could believe were going to happen. Even in this august company, Jason’s story and his simple, unassuming modesty stand OUT. I left lunch much inspired.
A highlight of Jason’s generous sharing was his comment about scalable mechanisms and culture. In fact, he talked about culture as a mechanism to scale something good. My mind responded by being blown at the nuances hidden within this view! :)
Elaborating when asked, Jason gave two great examples of scalable mechanisms at Amazon where he worked in his previous stint as.. superman (no really!):
- Metric Review Lunches: It started as a “couple of us and 2-3 engineers”, Jason said. They put together the metrics that measured what customers cared about (e.g. page loading time) and let engineering teams talk about how Amazon was doing on these metrics. These lunches have built a culture of engineering accountability and leadership at Amazon that has scaled to a multi billion dollar company preserving the same action that was taken that first day in a startup
- Awards and Prizes: If you are thinking employee of the month, think again. Amazon had the "Government Award" for those who identified and eliminated bereaucracy at Amazon. There was the "Just Do It Prize" (smelly old Nikes, in case you wondered) for folks who did rather than talked
The power of these tactical ideas that scale from a room with 3 people to a multi billion dollar company was remarkable to me. Something for every good leader and CEO to have in their toolkit - identifying and setting up scalable mechanisms for growth.
ps: My coworkers are probably concerned about what new idea I am going to spring on them now.
I was once a circuit design much bolder
On my way to pickin up some hot solder
But I pissed Sandhya off
She roared an evil laugh
And now am just a tarballed folder..
3D Printing disrupts Same-day Delivery
Hehe, not yet.
3d printing is really really cool (yes, that’s the official term) and is changing the world of hardware innovation already, as no doubt Chris Dixon would love to hear. There are ~30,000 of these printers out there in this world thanks to Makerbot, Reprep and now Formlabs.. And I still haven’t seen one, which needs to be corrected.
While critics like to point out that 3d printing (while full of disruptive potential) remains expensive and is not scalable enough for manufacturers to adopt, I think they are missing the forest for the trees. 3D printing is to hardware startups what the internet/cloud is to software startups - a means of rapid prototyping and distribution. So, 3D printing - here’s your first killer app - a $1000 lean-startup-dream-machine for all the hardware startups around the world.
In the last year, David Schafran at Eyenetra has created and tested over 200 different versions of the optometric diagnostic add-on they are building for smartphones. Engineers at NASA just prototyped micro-satellites - and now they can try new designs every week, everyday. Shapeways, backed by A3H is trying to reach the consumer market directly with its printing service+API and thousands of templates abound on the web’s software wikis that can be used to make everything from jewelry to guns (no longer or not really, some say). Of course people are using the technology to make iPad stands and iphone covers… philistines on the sidewalk. Tch tch.
ps: Author denies all intentions to design her own shoes. <rubs hands gleefully>