Monday, August 11, 2014

Review - Things a Little Bird Told Me and What Twitter and Biz Stone Taught me?

I picked up a book in the business section at the Crossword Bookstore in Oberoi Mall, Goregaon. The book was called, 'Things a Little Bird Told Me: Confessions of the Creative Mind.

There were 5 beautiful lessons I learned from this book. 

The Amazon description of the book went like this, 'Biz Stone, the co-founder of Twitter, discusses the power of creativity and how to harness it, through stories from his remarkable life and career.'

I knew I had to buy the book the moment I saw it. There was something intriguing about it. To my surprise, three hours later, I finished reading the book and the first thought that went through my mind was this, This book by Biz Stone showed me why you can do business, change the world and have fun.

1) Surround Yourself with Passionate Creative People
 A hackathon where Biz and Jack worked together led to the creation of Twitter

The first company opened by Biz Stone and Evan Williams was going through some hard times. So Evan decided to keep a hackathon to encourage his team members to work on something creative in this time. Biz Stone decided to take part in this hackathon. He looked around for one person he would like to partner with. He found Jack Dorsey (first CEO of Twitter, founder - Square) and knew he wanted to work with him. In that two week hackathon they came up with a prototype of a program the world now loves, called 'Twitter'.

2) Value Before Profit
 Biz set up panels with live twitter feeds

Biz Stone and his team at Twitter decided to attend the SXSW Interactive Media Conference in 2007. He wanted people to interact and post their thoughts while discussions happened. He wanted to add value to the event with his product. He decided to invest in various panels around the conference venue. He then encourageD some of the main speakers at the conference to post their thoughts on their personal twitter accounts. Soon everyone followed. So participants could now tweet their thoughts about a talk or discussion at the conference, and they would see their tweet appear live on the big panel for that talk or discussion. It became a trend at the conference to use twitter after this. They had provided value before profit.

3) Accept worst case scenario, to get best case scenario
 So Biz decided to approach a girl he never met before and asked her out on a date.

You have to be willing to risk it all, if you want real results. Biz jumped from being a book cover designer to film maker to the founder of two failed start ups. He dropped out of college to work under an art director. He had a dream and was willing to work with full focus towards it. He backed himself up if he truly believed in something. He was ready to accept the worst case scenario for it. He mentioned an experience, where he approached his future wife for the first time and asked her out on a date, without ever meeting her before. Not a very smart thing to do, but it paid off big time for him.

4) Keep it Short and Simple, Silly

140 Words

Because of the extreme value, Twitter added to the SXSW Interactive Media Conference, they were given one of the top awards. Biz tried thinking of a good speech to give the audience to convey what he really felt. He finally ended up thinking about this. "We would like to thank you in 140 words and we just did"

5) Listen with Love

The Amazon description of the book went like this, 'Biz Stone, the co-founder of Twitter, discusses the power of creativity and how to harness it, through stories from his remarkable life and career.'
 Listen, Listen, Listen to your customers

A customer had once sent the twitter team this message, "You assholes do not know what you are doing" Biz responded as such, "Thank you for your note. We know that you are frustrated. Here is what the guys are doing to solve this. Please get back to me if it does not work in one week's time." Biz always knew that the customers were important and he had to listen to their thoughts on the product. He remained patient through many such complaints and found ways to really empathize with the customers needs

My favorite Biz Stone quotes from the book are,

1)"The point of school isn't to do homework. The Point of school is to learn. When I realized this, I stopped caring about grades."
2) "It is just that my priorities are flipped. People come before Technology."

This quote from the book, to a large extent sums up the emotions I felt after reading it,

"When people are more connected, they feel more empathy for each other."

Thank you for this wonderful read, Biz. You make Business, Beautiful:)

Let us learn together
Tweet @AbhishekShetty_


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