Tag Archives: start-ups

Learning about Biz-ness

26 Oct

Biz Stone came to a Yale Master’s Tea today. For those who either don’t go to Yale or stick their fingers in their ears and sing loudly to avoid hearing about each new tech start-up, a quick refesher:

Biz Stone: co-founder of Twitter (and Xanga and lots of other cool things). Total baller.

Twitter: Twitter.com (I use it! My Twitter stream is to the right of this blog). A service that lets you send out thoughts, links, etc in 140-character chunks and “follow” the streams of other users. Biz calls it “an information network, not a social network,” and I would agree – I use it as my RSS feed and a way to find the pulse of what’s going on. And, yes, occasionally to thank my mother for doing my laundry. But only occasionally!

Master’s Tea: events where certain residential colleges at Yale invite luminaries from specific fields (or luminaries in general – think Hillary Clinton & Denzel Washington for starters) to sit down in a fairly low-key environment and “chat” with a group of Yale students.

So, today Biz came. I learned a lot and tweeted even more. But here are some of the real quotational gems; many of them made me think as I work with my own start-up this year, and I thought you might enjoy them, too:

  • If Twitter succeeds, “it’s not a triumph of technology, it’s a triumph of humanity.”
  • A great question he got about Twitter – “What do you want people to say about Twitter in five years? Ten years?”
  • “Opportunity can be manufactured”
  • “Creativity is a renewable resource.”
  • Mistakes cause you to show your integrity and character. You use them to explain what you did wrong, why, what happened, and why it won’t happen again. “Then you tuck it under your belt and move on.”
  • The movie “Wings of Desire” is, apparently, awesome.
  • “To succeed spectacularly, be ready to fail spectacularly.”

Twitter internal company culture quotes:

  • “We can change the world, build a business, and have fun.”
  • “We don’t always know what’s going to happen.” –> leave the door open to innovation in response to unexpected events/usages of your technology
  • “There is a creative answer to every problem.” and you should do something creative before you try the obvious solution
  • “There are more smart people outside of our company than inside of it.” 300 people at Twitter. 6+ billion in the world.
  • “We will win if we always do the right thing for our users.”
  • “The only deal worth doing is a win-win deal.” Treat business relationships like real relationships.
  • “Your coworkers are all smart and full of good intentions.” Give everyone the benefit of the doubt. If you think someone’s doing a bad job, introduce yourself and find out how you can help.

Another remark that hit home, especially after my course at the School of Management last year on corporate social responsibility and social ventures:

  • Start-ups have the unique ability to build into their business and culture the idea of doing good so that their altruism can have a kind of compound interest as they grow into bigger businesses. (fyi, Twitter has a non-profit wine brand called “Fledgling” that donates all profits to “Room to Read”)
  • The right business model should be either invisible to users or so useful that it is appreciated by them

Who knew that a little business named after chirping birds could end up saying (and enabling others to say) so much?

Now that’s one Rockin’ Robin.