Lesson One: Why Social Media Experts are Idiots

This post is for the entrepreneur or aspiring one. Guy Kawasaki worked for Apple and Steve Jobs twice. He learned some things. He shares Twelve Lessons with you that he learned from Steve Jobs. Here is the YouTube video of that presentation which was given after Mr. Jobs’ passing. It’s about 47 minutes long. I will summarize each lesson in twelve entries or if you want to listen to its entirety here it is:

Lesson One: Mr. Kawasaki thinks that experts are clueless. Especially the “social media experts” or the “social media gurus.” If someone tells you that they are one of these, run the other way. Experts can’t help you. They are arrogant and will just tell you to do the better sameness. They are disconnected from customers. Steve Jobs did not listen to experts. In fact, experts listened to him. As entrepreneurs, you are supposed to figure it out for yourself. Social media has allowed you to get close to people and influencers very fast. Use it correctly and learn something.

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How the World’s Most Powerful Blogger Masters Fear

Sometimes this is what I do on Friday afternoon before an evening out. I seek to entertain and educate myself by checking out YouTube. I had a recent discussion with a date about Arianna Huffington and why she is such a Big Deal in the media and blogosphere. So I decided to find out what Search results YouTube (Google) would produce for “Arianna Huffington”, the woman who has been called the “World’s Most Powerful Blogger.” And I found this piece from 2007 uploaded by GoogleTalks where a very pregnant Sheryl Sandberg then of Google, now the COO of Facebook interviews the New Media titan.

Aside from her explanation of how she transformed from a Conservative to a Liberal what I found interesting was Ms. Huffington’s insight about the concept of fear. Women and men handle the feeling of fear differently. Nothing too earth shattering there. But what kinds of things are women fearful of? Ms. Huffington illustrates her point with the concept of the “Evil Roommate” which lives in our brain and tells us mean or undermining things. The Evil Roommate exists in the minds of both men and women. But here again lies the difference. For example, women wake up in the morning and the Evil Roommate may whisper something like this to them, “Look in the mirror, is that another wrinkle?” or “Those jeans are tighter on you because you threw them in the dryer, right?” She goes on to posit that it’s not about the absence of fear which will move us forward, but of mastering it. I think this thought approach applies to human beings in general. Both men and women have different perceptions of what may cripple them mentally and/or emotionally but  perhaps it’s a matter of first identifying the nature of the fear and why it’s given permission to exist in our minds.

Ms. Huffington is an interesting personality to listen to. Her thoughts about the perception of the “outspoken woman” and what needs to change to move women forward are not revolutionary but she speaks to the themes of human dignity and the democratization of the Voice. Human beings feel valued when they have a Voice that is acknowledged and heard. So regardless of whether you agree or disagree with her political views or maybe just don’t like her, in the big picture she reminds us about the beauty and power of the blogosphere to deliver Truth from ordinary people. The emergence of New Media has granted a voice to ordinary people who can blog about things that matter to them up to a potentially institution-changing and revolutionary way.  I do understand that a double-edged sword exists where any non-Truth can also be broadcast by an ordinary person with evil intentions to destroy the World.  But the global activism that this form of communication  has spawned just in 2011 also amplifies the new era of individual self-fulfillment and attempting to “do good” in the world. So the next time the Evil Roommate rears itself, press the mute button. That Voice does not earn the right to be heard.

You can follow Arianna Huffington @ariannahuff and her Internet Newspaper the Huffington Post @HuffingtonPost

StartUp San Francisco: A Winning Tradition Based on Six Concepts

I discovered this article on Twitter during my morning news run. It was written by Boston entrepreneur Jason Evanish about his visit to the Valley. The Valley collectively refers to Silicon Valley and San Francisco. He believes that there are six reasons why the Valley is the Center of the Universe and these beliefs resonate with my recent experiences in the space.

Here are his observations:

(1) Openness (#payitforward): There is a “How can I help?” attitude. Most recently, I experienced this kind of generosity at AngelHackSF, the SF Ruby on Rails community, WomenWhoCode (led by the fearless Sasha Laundy) and Women 2.0 events.

(2) Optimism: Anyone with a vision is encouraged. The energy of the startup community is contagious and this fosters an entrepreneurial environment. At the beginning of the journey, it’s the subjective feeling of hope that prevails over a revenue model or the analytical razzle dazzle.

(3) Culture: The Valley is competitive but also collaborative. The Valley attracts a lot of talent because of this kind of culture. Talent wars abound so companies must provide a great work culture in addition to a fun environment. Mr. Evanish remarks how he was impressed with his visit to San Francisco based Twilio.

(4) Evangelism: People are happy with work and life in the Valley. They want you to move here now. Mr. Evanish believes that there are three hubs in the Valley ecosystem: San Francisco, Palo Alto and Mountain View. My observation is that San Francisco is THE hub of the Valley ecosystem where the Peninsula (Palo Alto, Mountain View and Menlo Park) and the South Bay (Santa Clara, San Jose and Cupertino) are also important and complete the ecosystem. Facebook is moving to Menlo Park and Apple is Cupertino – they are in the ecosystem. The Valley is a regional ecosystem which offers a phenomenal lifestyle. One can live in San Francisco, work in Mountain View, enjoy the culture/nightlife of San Francisco during off hours, catch a music concert or lecture in Berkeley, take off to Tahoe for skiing, run off to Napa or Sonoma up in the Wine Country, drive down the coast to Big Sur to be on the water, etc. etc. etc. (you get the picture). Plenty of things to do. All the time.

(5) Weather: The Bay Area climate is more favorable than the East Coast. This has a tremendous impact on lifestyle. Thus far, at every tech event I have been to I have always met a transplant who said they left the East Coast because of the weather. They were tired of shoveling snow, or tired of not being able to go out, or tired of being unsatisfied with their heating system in their apartment. They just got tired.

(6) Omnipresence: Mr. Evanish thinks it’s “cool” to see a familiar tech company’s logo on a billboard. These billboards are ubiquitious in San Francisco (the “City”) and the rest of the Valley. Walk or bike in the City, or drive along 101 or 280 and it’s just not possible to not see one of these gigantic manifestations of a Brand. This concept of omnipresence is also similar to how technology is so relevant in our lives.

At the end of the day the Valley has created a Winning Tradition because of the people who inhabit it. There is a diverse group of individuals from all over the world who converge here with hopes and dreams to build something great that will impact humanity. And even if the dream is not realized, the experience of engaging within a vibrant talented community and building life long relationships contributes to the richness of the Tradition. It’s the dynamic human element that matters.

This post was based on an article from OnStartups.com and tweeted by Dharmesh Shah (@dharmesh) the founder of @HubSpot. Discover #inboundmarketing.

Celebrities in the Digital Age: Why James Bond Thinks the Kardashians are Idiots

In the upcoming January issue of British GQ magazine, Daniel Craig the latest James Bond incarnation will tell you why the Kardashians are lame. His Big Rant is about celebrities demanding privacy when they choose to sell out their privacy. (think back to Kim’s failed foray into marriage and her request for privacy.) To me it’s as simple as “If you don’t want the attention, then get off the stage.”

Regardless of whether you are a reality tv star or celebrity, is it possible to live privately in the digital age? Social networking sites are ubiquitous ~ Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and now Google+ permeate the Web. Technology is ubiquitous and I hardly know anyone who does not participate in online living. When was the last time you logged on? Can you imagine life without a smart phone and a computer? You can choose to remove yourself from participating in the online world but would that make you irrelevant?

The irony is that these non-private networks or online communities which can be built can also transform a nobody into somebody. Anybody can be somebody. Any human being can feel like they are a big deal. Let’s face it. People like recognition. Create a twitter profile, gain a massive following, become influential and you’re a star.

In the same vein that James Bond seems to perpetually be in his mid-thirties, creating an online persona presents an opportunity (and perhaps a danger) to create a fantasy. How do you distinguish a fact from an opinion, a self-labled journalist from an attention seeking fictional storyteller? Are opinions becoming construed as fact in the digital age? How many different truths are floating out there on the Internet?

I would add Daniel Craig’s Twitter handle here but I don’t know which one is real. There are also multiple James Bond Twitter handles.  In any case, the next James Bond movie “Skyfall” is scheduled for its United States release in November 2012.  Here are the worldwide release dates for globetrotters.

The Link Between a Queen, San Francisco and Silicon Valley

I’ve developed a habit of checking my Twitter feed right before bed to check on breaking news or something to laugh about. Last night there was a stream of tweets from Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan about the power of education and its impact on women and children.

Here is the stream in reverse order:

(5) A child born to an educated mother is 50 percent more likely to reach the age of five. #EducationSavesLives
(4) 1 extra year of schooling for a girl reduces her chances of dying later in child birth by 40%! #EducationSavesLives
(3) Never forget it – education saves lives. #Education
(2) We were a gathering of enthusiasts from all walks of education… all trying to balance our education optimism with economic realism.
(1) Spent morning immersed in how aid for education needs global partnership. During times of crises there’s no better investment than in ppl.
Queen Rania summarizes the sad and unfortunate reality of the world today. That not all societies believe education is a basic human right.  Education creates hope and opens the doors to recognize opportunity. Ultimately it is the “investment in people” or human capital that fuels the innovation which fixes problems in society at large or improves the quality of life for an individual. Generally, the global innovation incubators are found in highly educated locations. San Francisco and Silicon Valley (San Jose, Sunnvyale, Santa Clara) are both in the 10 most educated U.S. cities or in the 10 best cities for educated workers.  I don’t see this changing any time soon. The driver for innovation in the Valley are immigrants who can call the Bay Area a new home offering a certain regional appeal of inherent beauty, optimal climate and cultural/outdoor lifestyle activities. If presented with the chance to experience the San Francisco Bay Area or some other innovation ecosystem such as New York/Boston or Austin where would talent recognize the best career and lifestyle opportunities? Given the proximity to the Asian markets perhaps the San Francisco Bay Area also offers a strategic advantage.
In summary, the power of education is the power to change the world and make a dent in the universe. Ultimately, education eradicates poverty which creates hope for an individual to pursue opportunity. This is not to say that everyone in America has access to opportunity but education is the foundation to begin any journey to change the world. You can follow Queen Rania @QueenRania

The Silicon Valley Ecosystem Now: Investing or Gambling?

I just read an article expressing Sean Parker’s opinion about an impending bubble in the Valley. Not sure why he posted it on his Facebook page (which I subscribe to) two weeks after it was published. Or perhaps it could be the result of the heightened chatter on the Web today of the Facebook IPO which could be valued at $100 Billion. Anyway, it brings up questions that anyone can ask themselves when they think they are making a good decision for a favorable monetary outcome. One of Mr. Parker’s assertions is that because there is so much money floating around, the talent is not playing the correct function on the team. So when making an investment are you approaching the right people to get the best possible advice? You may have access to a lot of talented people but how do you know who exactly is the best equipped to handle your specific objectives. Are they the right match? If you don’t know that you don’t know you are talking to the wrong people, then are you gambling?

Secondly, Mr. Parker asserts that there is a strong sense of entitlement to just be a player at the table and throw money at a project without considering whether certain elements are fully baked. Put simply, is your ego driving you to make decisions which are not based on logic or analysis? As human beings is it possible to make any investment decision without an emotional dent? When does investing become gambling?