Or, this blog post could be titled: How I met the founder of Twitter and all I did was talk about my kid.
I went on my first business trip last week since having the baby. I was very nervous about leaving but I knew Jamisen was in great hands with his Dad, allowing me to really focus on my business conference (during the day; the evenings and mornings were tough without my lil’ guy). But, it was a great conference and a fantastic foray back into business travel. With the founder of Twitter, Magic Johnson and the founder of Paul Mitchell Haircare products as speakers (plus many many other amazing business talks), I had a jam packed three days of learning.
The founder of Twitter, Biz Stone, (that’s me and him above) kicked off the event with his first-hand account of building Twitter. He was super funny, approachable and down to earth. An example of his humor? He told the story about how, early in Twitter’s infancy, people kept complaining to him that “Twitter wasn’t useful”. He quipped “Well, neither is ice cream. So what? We’re makin’ someting. We’re liking it. Why do you have to keep calling us and saying it’s ‘not useful.’ Quit calling us. ”
He shared some keys for having a successful business:
(1) Have fun. Biz (aside: can I call him Biz? Mr. Stone seems a bit too formal) a story about how he was doing home remodel projects, sweating buckets pulling carpet, and his friend, co-founder Ev Williams, tweeted that he was drinking a glass of wine after a massage. Biz immediately started laughing. And that is when he realized that he was having fun building Twitter and with the experiences it was bringing him. Part of having fun is believing that your co-workers really do have their A-game on and making sure that you always approach every situation with an attitude of goodwill. Here’s one of his short, easily digestible slides from the talk.
(3) Opportunity can be manufactured. Opportunity is a set of circumstances that happen that you can take advantage of them. So many people believe you have to wait for opportunity but really, you can create the circumstances and then take advantage of them. (Side note: I totally manufactured the opportunity to talk to Biz. I waited by the elevator until he had to take the elevator and then I piled in and chatted with him for at least five minutes).
(5) To succeed spectacularly, be ready to fail spectacularly. When you’re really young and starting out, you need someoe to tell you it’s okay to lose all your money and go totally bankrupt. (Anne-Marie note: My friend Bob Prichett says this too. He says that starting your business before you’re encumbered with a mortgage is a blessing. Encourage your kids to try their hand at something they’re passionate it, before they have too much to lose. I started BrambleBerry.com at the age of 20, way before I realized that it was a major risk.)
(6) Give back. Help Others. Even when it’s small. Biz said, “Even when we were totally in debt, we were always keen on volunteering and helping.” In reality, the lesson is that there is a compound interest in helping others. So the earlier you get started helping, the more impact you’re going to have over time. Don’t wait until you have enough, start now. It ends up being way more if you start early. Entrepreneurs can build that into the fabric of your culture from day one. You can have a huge impact over time.
The message he left us with was: We can change the world, build a business and have fun.