Masters Of Scale

“Release, observe, react”

That’s what Reid Hoffman says in his podcast with Mark Zuckerberg.

MARK ZUCKERBERG? He’s more inaccessible than a rock star, harder to hear in an uncontrolled environment than our President, just to hear him talk normally, off guard, telling his tale, is a thrill. We’re long in the tooth in the tech era. Despite Marc Andreessen’s pontifications, I don’t think the future is so bright. We saw incredible innovation for twenty years while we were paying attention, for nearly twenty years before that, but now there’s consolidation and power and that era where you had to constantly buy new hardware, check out new sites and apps, seems to be behind us. Oh, I’m not saying there’s not plenty of runway in front of us, but I am saying WHERE WAS THIS PODCAST WHEN WE NEEDED IT?

Reid Hoffman made his first big score with PayPal, but he’s most famous for LinkedIn, he knows everybody in the Valley, and he’s got them talking on his podcast. But it’s more than that, Reid is delivering his philosophy, it’s a master class for wannabes, it’s just that today it’s so hard to jump that hurdle from outside to inside. And speaking of inside, what they say is true, every industry is small, everybody knows everybody, whether it be tech or music or waste management. Make it, and you’re part of the club.

Now I want you to take advice with a grain of salt. Because it’s rarely particularized to you. Sure, it worked well for the person giving it, but you’re different, you have to play to your own strengths. But still, there are a lot of good transferable lessons in this Zuckerberg podcast.

Like the one above, “Release, observe, react.” First and foremost Hoffman says if it’s perfect, you’ve launched too late. Steve Jobs could get it right the first time, but for the rest of us, it’s best to get the product out there and observe…

I do this all the time.

And so should you.

I put out product, I write something, and I gauge the reaction. Sometimes I get a lot of e-mail, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I write something I know is great, but it’s not the kind of thing that people would respond to. And then there are the times I hang it out there, wondering if anybody will care, whether I’ll lose subscribers, and the reaction is NUCLEAR! The funny thing is it’s usually about my personal life, or observations, turns out my audience is more interested in me than what I have to say. Of course, not everybody. But Hoffman makes that point too, you play to the majority. And when I write about politics, when I go off point, it pisses some people off, but it resonates with others who forward it and I gain new subscribers, new doors are opened, if you stay in your own vertical you’re not gonna grow.

Assuming people care to begin with. Which is why you should constantly be releasing songs, combing the data, seeing what works. There are so many tools available.

Another aphorism from Hoffman is “Listen and ignore.” Turns out what people do is very different from what they say. They say don’t do this, they hate that, but then they’ll use it ad infinitum. Ignore hatred when your play count is soaring.

You also have to become comfortable with embarrassment. If you’re not willing to screw up in public, you’re best off being a worker bee. You need a thick skin to make it.

There are numerous lessons in this podcast.

But most thrilling is having access to Zuck. You feel like you’re in the room. It’s not that he’s making such incredible revelations, it’s just that he becomes three-dimensional, you can see the path. And he was into computers and networking long before Facebook. Most successful people paid a lot of dues when no one was watching. They look like overnight successes, but they’re not.

And Zuck would rather have a social impact than financial success. And I’m sure he likes the money, but that’s what the new tools afford you, the chance to make an impact. Hell, I deplore Breitbart and the right wing blogs spewing falsehoods, but you’ve got to give them credit, they used the new tools, the internet, to be heard, and their candidate got elected.

And the game is always changing, but one thing remains constant, it all comes down to people. And when you can hear the people speak…IT’S UTTERLY FASCINATING!

P.S. Now I started with Eric Schmidt. He was unbelievably boring, I turned it off, I was never gonna listen to “Masters Of Scale” again. But then one podcast ended and the episode with Crisis Text Line’s Nancy Lublin began and I got hooked. She’s a force of nature, she has grit, which is what the episode is about, so then I pulled up Zuck’s and was even more satisfied. And next comes Sheryl Sandberg, who was in this podcast, not in her I’m an expert on everything mode, but as an employee of Facebook, and just to hear her speak…WOW!

P.P.S. Smart is underrated. Smart is hard to do, as is educated. Sure, not all these people graduated from college, but they paid so many dues that when they finally speak the pearls of wisdom drop right off their tongues. Used to be we listened to musicians, now we listen to techies.

Masters of Scale

Masters of Scale with Reid Hoffman – Apple podcasts


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