I don’t remember exactly when my dad told me to “measure twice and cut once”, but it must have been right before I nearly sawed my fingers off doing one of our many tenement improvement projects. My family and I immigrated to the US from the Soviet Union. We lived in a small Brooklyn apartment where everything always broke, but would never know the joy of being fixed by a licensed professional. Instead, there we were – my engineer dad and I, wearing our irregular Fruit of the Loom T-shirts, poking, prodding and making sparks, like a pair of Iranian scientists trying to launch a chimp into space. We installed air conditioners, fixed pipes, and used a geriatric Soviet drill that would deafen Metallica. It’s only recently that I realized my dad’s advice was both the greatest and worst thing I ever got. And, it’s cast a huge shadow over my life and how I view business…and the world.
Lately, several executives and aspiring entrepreneurs have asked me the same terrifying question: “What should I do next?” I’m not sure how I became Dr. Phil for anxious professionals, but suddenly I’m fighting the urge to grow a bushy, un-ironic mustache. Maybe writing a book about the future of US innovation makes people assume you have all kinds of answers… But everyone seeks a slightly different answer. Some aspire to build the next Facebook. Others are deciding what product to launch. A few just want to break free from their desks – and possibly, set them on fire. Today, I’d like to share the advice I gave them – minus the smudged napkin drawings and fire safety lecture.
This is a repost of Steve Faktor’s original Forbes article
I’ll be first to admit that I’m a reforming “innovation” trollop. I’ve thrown the word around too lightly, at any old sailor. I need a hot shower and a Brillo pad… What’s so bad about “innovation”? It doesn’t mean much…and maybe never did. Today, we use it to describe an iPhone newsreader app and the reinvention of space travel by SpaceX. That’s more range than Meryl Streep. My business is about creating great products and services, so I look for great tech partners. Some are startups led by brilliant entrepreneurs, bursting with optimism and 5-Hour Energy. As they describe their app, game, or web service, their words scream Johnny Depp, but the reality is a bit more Judah Friedlander. No shame in that, but I sometimes wonder how we could get these brilliant minds to work on meatier problems. My concern isn’t for them, but for us. The US needs jobs and as I wrote in Econovation, the big numbers still come from physical, capital-intensive businesses. Here are three ways we can help make brilliant minds deliver bigger results.
This week’s episode of Ideafaktory Radio is the first of a three part series with Forbes contributor and Social Enterprise guru Mark Fidelman. This wasn’t even meant to be recorded! Mark deviously taped our private conversation on his iPhone and captured the two of us brawling over the future of apps, among other issues that keep geeks up at night. In this episode, you’ll learn:
- Why you don’t need to motivate people who work at MTV
- Why only rich, hot people should go into journalism
- How successful apps get pimped
- Why Twitter and Facebook might be #JumpingTheShark #LOL #OMG
- Why I don’t care that apps are dying as Mark nurses app developers back to health, like Mother Theresa.
- How competition cleanses everything except financial services
Coming soon: Gregory Essau, a home builder turned sustainable economy missionary.
Hyper-connected tech blogger Robert Scoble, recently wrote about treating startups more critically. Robert found himself meeting with lots of crappy, over-funded, digital startups that desperately need more time in the oven, an intervention by Dr. Drew, or more likely, Dr. Kevorkian. (My words, not Robert’s.) Not only am I seeing the same things, but I’d take it a step further. I believe this current crop of entrepreneurs might actually be hurting America - and perverting the very idea of innovation in the same way Beyonce’s Run The World is like kicking Aretha Franklin in the ribs…repeatedly. All is not lost. There are ways to take advantage of this situation, though it’s way too late to save this song:
I recently read a scathing review of several new services offering free or nearly free phone calls over the internet. Assuming you get past the fact that this mystery has already been solved, the mere existence of these services raises a few confounding questions:
- Why would anyone design such bufoonish, overly technical services?
- What kind of uber-geeky cheapskates are they targeting? Who in their right mind would take that many steps to make a phone call? We live in a world of free off-peak mobile minutes, Skype, and $24 per month unlimited VOIP service.
- Finally, after sitting through the ponderous description of how these services work, what venture capitalist would have funded these unintuitive, consumer repellent services?