Startupfest 2012 - Getting Luck On Your Side

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Serendipity is one of the biggest drivers of success—being in the right place, at the right time, with the right people. But can you manufacture luck? Lane Becker has been putting serendipity to work …

Serendipity is one of the biggest drivers of success—being in the right place, at the right time, with the right people. But can you manufacture luck? Lane Becker has been putting serendipity to work for over ten years. He co-founding Adaptive Path, the first user experience design firm, and Get Satisfaction, an online customer service community platform used by over 65,000 companies. The co-author of Get Lucky, along with Getsatisfaction co-founder Thor Mueller, looks at getting lucky, with a mind-expanding romp that includes improv theater as a management technique, pop-up cocktail parties, behavioral neuroscience, modern network theory, and Buddhism.

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  • \n
  • The overarching theme for today's entrepreneur: anyone trying to build something new and meaningful in this world.\n
  • The overarching theme for today's entrepreneur: anyone trying to build something new and meaningful in this world.\n
  • In saying this, Brin and Systrom aren’t taking anything away from their accomplishments. They’re acknowledging that for anything to succeed with the kind of speed and scale that their businesses have requires more than any one person, or even a team of people, can ever fully take credit for.\n\nSeen this way, luck is about something more than just chance. It's a way to think about how to systematically, methodically engage with the unknown, in a way that brings all the benefit to you not just of what you're capable of, but of what all of those around you, known and unknown, are capable of. Even though you don't have a clue what that is when you set out.\n\nFor a lot of people, the unknown is frightening, and there's so MUCH that's unknown now – or rather, we're so aware that we don't know everything, thanks in particular to the Internet and its tendency to place the entire world right in front of us – that it can be almost overwhelming. But that's the wrong way to think about. We have a better way. Here it is.\n\n
  • In saying this, Brin and Systrom aren’t taking anything away from their accomplishments. They’re acknowledging that for anything to succeed with the kind of speed and scale that their businesses have requires more than any one person, or even a team of people, can ever fully take credit for.\n\nSeen this way, luck is about something more than just chance. It's a way to think about how to systematically, methodically engage with the unknown, in a way that brings all the benefit to you not just of what you're capable of, but of what all of those around you, known and unknown, are capable of. Even though you don't have a clue what that is when you set out.\n\nFor a lot of people, the unknown is frightening, and there's so MUCH that's unknown now – or rather, we're so aware that we don't know everything, thanks in particular to the Internet and its tendency to place the entire world right in front of us – that it can be almost overwhelming. But that's the wrong way to think about. We have a better way. Here it is.\n\n
  • Serendipity.\n\nThis is a particular kind of luck: Not blind luck, where things just happen (good things, bad things) for no particular reason. \n\nSERENDIPITY is a sub-species of luck—the kind of luck you can affect.\n\n
  • Serendipity is a surprisingly hard-to-translate English word, often misunderstood and mis-used. \n\nThe best definition we’ve found comes from the Dutch Serendipitologist Pek Van Andel, who refers to it as "The art of the unsought finding." Another way to put it is, serendipity is what happens when you go looking for one thing, but find something else instead.\n\n
  • In order to make this a tiny bit more methodologically sound, and to help people understand how their actions and their environments can affect the amount of serendipity in their life and business, we put together a simple equation that explains it. \n\nSerendipity = chance + creativity. Chance, meaning everything out there, everything that you can't know, can't see, can't predict, that exists outside your purview but COULD be a part of it; and creativity, your ability to make meaning in the world, to create something new and different that wasn't there before. Your sphere of influence in this world.\n\nSo, now that we have this equation, getting more serendipity in our lives is just simple math: If we want more serendipity, we have to increase our chances—the number of unexpectedly good things we're running into—or we have to increase our creativity—our ability to DO something with those chances when they show up.\n
  • To explain how to do this, we developed a simple framework, which we call "planned serendipity." \n\nPlanned serendipity is, simply, a set of skills designed to allow you to generate, see, and act on the right unexpectedly good things that happen to you. It's also about how to design your organization to make it luckier, too, since businesses can be designed, through structure and culture, to encourage certain kinds of behaviors. \n\nI'm going to walk through several of the core skills of planned serendipity today. As you’ll soon see, making yourself luckier, bringing more serendipity into your life, isn't complicated. It's not hard. It's just work -- the kind of work that highly successful people already engage in.\n\n
  • There are three things you need to do to get luckier (and, no, this isn’t rocket science!): \n\n1) Make room for more chance occurrences in your life.\n2) Be ready to *see* them when they appear in front of you.\n3) Be willing to *act* on the right opportunities when they appear.\n
  • First up is the skill of motion, the raw material of serendipity. Motion is the way we increase our chances — the way we generate more unexpected collisions with the world, some of which might serendipitously benefit us in ways we can’t yet predict.\n
  • Here’s a simple example of planned serendipity in action: Any time you go to a conference or similar type of gathering, like this one we’re at right now, you’re actively engaging in the skill of motion. You’re experiencing new and unfamiliar people, new ideas, and directions, but within a familiar environment—the subject of the conference at hand. \n\nThis is motion, the raw material of serendipity. Getting up and out of your routine in a intentional fashion makes it more likely that you’ll collide with new experiences you didn’t know you needed until you found them. Maybe you’re even experiencing something like that right now.\n
  • We can see this play out in a bigger, broader way by looking to Pixar, the animation company founded by Steve Jobs and company. When Jobs set out to build an office for Pixar, he knew that what he wanted was to encourage those moments of serendipity, when people run into someone they didn’t know they needed to find. To accomplish this, he had all the critical shared services located in the same part of the giant Pixar building -- right in the middle, inside a vast atrium. Things like the mailroom and the cafeteria all right next to each other, smack in the center of the building.\n\nThis ensured that, whenever someone needed something — to grab lunch, or make a photocopy — that person had to go to the same place as everybody else. Designers, engineers, executives — in this way, they all ran into each other in unexpected combinations. Pixar’s campus is a building built for serendipity.\n
  • Preparation is, simply put, the ability to draw connections between things — people, ideas, experiences, situations — that others might miss. A lot of being lucky is being able to see something that isn’t obvious to others.\n
  • This is a picture of part of Marcel Duchamp’s “Large Glass” painting, the Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelor’s, Even. The cracks in the painting are there because, not long after he had completed the work, while it was being moved between museums, the glass painting slipped and shattered.\n\nInstead of being distraught, Duchamp saw it as opportunity. He meticulously reconstructed the piece, laying bare the cracks, and was heard to remark “The Large Glass is a lot better with the breaks, a hundred times better. It's the destiny of things.” \n\nDuchamp was prepared to see opportunity where others could only see misfortune.\n\n
  • Or consider James Schlatter, a researcher at a large, established pharmaceutical firm called GD Searle. One day he was mixing chemicals in search of an anti-ulcer medication when a particular combination surprised him by bubbling over the beaker, ending up on his hands. Later that day, he licked his finger to turn the page of a document and was overcome by the sweetest flavor that he’d ever tasted.\n\nSchlatter had been on a quest to find a new drug but had found something quite different: a remarkable artificial sweetener. The gap between what he and his team expected and what it found would have been insurmountable in most businesses. But somehow this company, publicly traded and with thousands of employees, was able to shift its attentions, re-align its activities to this new opportunity. The result was aspartame, the artificial sweetener that has become ubiquitous in grocery stores as Nutrasweet, today a multi-billion dollar product line.\n\nSchlatter had the mental preparation that allowed him to notice the importance of the sweet taste even though focused on another task. Equally importantly, he was part of an organization that was able to take advantage of this discovery, and turn it into a multi-billion dollar market.\n
  • We can architect preparation into the culture of our companies, as well. My favorite version of this is a local San Francisco product design consulting firm, One & Company, that was bought by the phone manufacturer HTC in 2007. As part of their acquisition agreement, One and Co insisted that they be allowed to continue to work for other companies on products other than phones, because they knew that a key part of their ability to design great products was their internally developed skill of recognizing opportunities across products they had developed — being able to connect things together in ways they couldn’t necessarily predict.\n\nFor example, one of the groups that had worked on a snowboard design had, in the process, discovered a great kind of rubber that had a particularly tactile grip. Later, while designing one of the new mobile phones for HTC, they realized that the same rubber would work incredibly well for making a phone backing that was easy to hold onto. \n\nAs an organization, they have designed preparation — that ability to connect seemingly unrelated things —into their daily function.\n
  • But it’s not enough just to create new opportunities, and it’s not enough to see them, either. In order to truly become lucky, and gain benefit from serendipity, you have to be willing to act on what you see. You have to be ready to practice the skill of divergence.\n
  • To understand divergence, let me tell you a story of the man in this photo, James Marshall. James Marshall is the unluckiest person in the world, but it’s all of his own making.\n\nIn the 1860s, the early days of San Francisco, Marshall had bought up vast tracts of land in northern California, intending to build an agricultural empire. Vast fields for growing crops, and building a farming empire. Until one day one of his employees quietly brought him something he had discovered in the field: Gold. \n\nJames Marshall, you see, was the first person to discover gold in San Francisco, my town, before the gold rush began. However, his response to seeing the gold was not what you might predict: He told the employee to keep quiet and keep the gold hidden, because if word got out it would ruin his plans to build his vast agricultural operation!\n\nJames Marshall, unfortunately, didn’t know how to diverge: He wasn’t prepared to do something other than what he had originally intended. He created the circumstances to encounter something new, and he even recognized it when he saw it (who wouldn’t recognize gold?), but he still wasn’t able to do the critical third thing: He wasn’t able to change his plans when something better came along.\n\nNeedless to say, the gold rush happened anyway, and James Marshall did not get the jump on it that he could have. Whoops.\n\n\n
  • For a much better example of divergence, let’s look to Jeff Bezos and Amazon.com. Several years ago, Amazon launched a seemingly unrelated line of businesses — online server access and storage, at the speed and scale that Amazon had already developed for its own business. \n\nBut it was only seemingly unrelated — in fact, it was the natural outcome of an organization that was always looking for new ways to branch into new opportunities. In this case, Bezos and company recognized that the server infrastructure they had developed over the years to support their own business could profitably be rented out at a very low cost to developers all over the planet. \n\nIn doing so, they helped launch and take ownership of a significant new market, cloud computing. All because they were willing to *do something different* than what they had originally planned. To diverge.\n
  • I was surprised to read this in a book, not too long ago. We think of our corporate institutions as everlasting, but the truth is, at the current rate, many of us will outlive most of the companies with whom we interact right now on a day-to-day basis.\n\nIt’s worth asking. Why is this? And what is it that allows some companies to slip this particular noose?\n\nWe’ve found that, especially for entrepreneurs, the skills of planned serendipity are already hard-wired into the way they work. This is because entrepreneurship is fundamentally a creative act, and planned serendipity is, in the end, a fundamentally creative process -- a way of taking advantage of the unknown, drawing it towards us in ways that extend beyond what we alone are capable of.\n\nThat said, a final word of caution, tied together with a request for each of you, as you set out to build your next world-changing business. It’s easy to put planned serendipity into practice when you’re getting started, because it’s a necessary component of any new endeavor. But as we succeed, and as our businesses get larger, we often set the unknown aside in favor of other things the business world holds dear: routine, process, systemization, risk mitigation — control. But every one of the breakthrough examples I’ve shown you has come from somewhere else: a commitment to uncertainty, a willingness to experiment, a desire not just to find the unknown path but to actively explore it, even when the potential outcome is entirely unclear at the outset.\n\nThe best businesses are the ones that never lose their embrace of serendipity, the place where everything genuinely new originates. Instead, they find a way to bake it into their process — to make serendipity part and parcel of their inner workings. In other words, they plan for serendipity. \n\nMake your business one of those.\n
  • Thanks for your time! \n

Transcript

  • 1. GOOD
  • 2. GOOD IS
  • 3. GOOD ISARD WOR
  • 4. SergeyBrin,Google
  • 5. Sergey Brin,GoogleThe number one factor that contributed to o
  • 6. Kevin Systrom, Instagram
  • 7. Kevin Systrom, Instagram “As much as entrepreneurs want to take credit foand every little decision,
  • 8. SEREND IPITY
  • 9. SEREND IPITY
  • 10. SEREND IPITY = the art of theunsought finding
  • 11. SEREND IPITY
  • 12. SEREND IPITY= chance + creativity
  • 13. SEREND IPITY
  • 14. plannedSEREND IPITY
  • 15. THREE1.Generate more chance opportunities2.Recognize these opportunities3.Take action on the ones that matter
  • 16. 1.http://www.flickr.com/ photos/philon/
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  • 19. 2.http://www.flickr.com/ photos/philon/
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  • 22. 2.http://www.flickr.com/ photos/philon/
  • 23. 3.http://www.flickr.com/ photos/philon/
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  • 25. 3.http://www.flickr.com/ photos/philon/
  • 26. 43
  • 27. PREPARE FOR THE http:// http://amzn.to/Lane Becker Muller Thor @monstro@tempo