RIP Tony Hsieh

Tony Hsieh was one of my startup heroes, and I was saddened to hear that he tragically passed away after suffering injuries in a house fire.

46 years is no age. Tony was involved in a lot of different things, and there were plenty of mind blowing new approaches to business and entrepreneurship to be had for us all from him. But alas, it was not to be.

When a tragedy such as this occurs, and you think being the immediate pain of the loss for those he leaves behind, you have a choice;

Uou can mourn the future that has been lost, or you can celebrate what he managed to achieve in a remarkable career.

Tony was one of the first to truly pioneer the idea of being customer centric. After helping found Zappos he was instrumental in building the company around happy customers to an extend that he was perfectly happy to offer employees money to leave the company, if – in a clever ploy – they were more motivated by that check than by working to keep customers happy.

Tony was an original an independent thinker. He wasn’t a slave to dogma, he questioned every assumption and dug out his own data to base decisions on and he was a level above and beyond most in terms of applying creativity to business and venturing into places and doing things in new ways that few others would have thought.

Tonys tragic passing should aside from mourning the loss be a celebration of the original thinkers. Of those who dare to challenge the status quo, not submit to ideology and never just go with the flow.

It is a super tough spot to be in and the setbacks are legio. But the world needs people like Tony in order to move forward in a sustainable way that brings prosperity and happiness to as many people as possible.

RIP.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Willingness to pay…for what?

A new study from the Reuters Institute at Oxford University has found that there seems to be a co-relation between users with media subscriptions like Netflix and Spotify and the willingness to pay for online news.

Naturally, legacy media executives are already starting to misinterpret the findings to fit into their own worldview.

A willingness to pay is not a blanket willingness to pay. Willingness to pay is directly associated with value.

And there is just a huge difference between paying a subscription for an evergreen back catalogue of music or movies and then paying for clickbait that rots in less than 30 seconds after publishing.

On the other hand with an established willingness to pay, there is room to ask oneself in the news industry:

“Ok, how can we take a page out of the playbook from Netflix, Spotify and/or others and apply that in our context?”

What you will get from such an exercise is an imminent need to rethink the product to make it more based on perceived customer value.

And – importantly – stop trying to force the public to pay for you being able to maintain a model that is if not completely dead then terminal.

That takes a huge mind shift internally in the media organizations. A mind shift they have so far proven unwilling and thus unable to make.

It has nothing – nothing – to do with willingness to pay.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Media should take some cues from MedTech

The other day I was asked by Lars K. Jensen to contribute 3 tips on digital development as it relates to media to his weekly newsletter, ‘Digital Ugerevy’.

Naturally, I obliged and delivered as I try to do every time a good friend of mine asks for a piece of advice or some input. And I consider Lars to be a fellow crusader through many years in trying to breathe some new life into a super challenged industry. So I was happy and eager to help

But it also got me thinking about how different the media industry is from what I am doing today. And why it made a ton of sense to leave it for someone like me.

While there are many great things to say about the media industry, it is super hard to challenge and affect. Not because people in it have figured things out, but because they think they have figured it out – and are thus very resistant to real change.

Why? Because the media industry is an industry that puts too much weight on the ego and – more importantly – ego-driven decisions.

I guess it comes with the inherent opportunities for public exposure it offers those of its tribe that puts themselves forward and out there. It’s human, I know, but still…

In the media industry there is no real price for trying to solve a problem as seen from the end user or reader. You will likely die trying instead. Because media people just know better; they are always the smartest people in the room – or so they think.

Contrast that with MedTech which is where I am currently busy trying to build a new startup ground up:

Here there is every price for trying to solve a problem for someone who is experiencing pain, agony or whatever it might be that ails them.

Here there are no-one being smarter about how to solve problems, because those trying to do it are most often deeply invested into research where they actually value figuring things out and secure the validity of what they try to bring to market before they do it. Everything else is a ‘No go’.

Here there are no-one winning an argument with “…but we usually do it this way”, because it is essentially the same thing as saying that the underlying problem will persist, and what we’re trying to do is inherently futile – which again would lead research for better solutions absolutely nowhere.

Here there is preciously little gloating. There are few if any waiting and hoping for others to fail as we’re all on the same mission to try and improve things.

Here it truly matters what you do. It is not a game.

Here there are visions of what might be if we succeed instead of longing for the past.

And I could go on.

Honestly: Is there any reason not to say “So long, media” and refocus your energy from something futile to something deeply meaningful?

I think not.

But I am still glad to try to help out and kick the can when great people such as Lars comes calling.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Ego eats impact

You either love life or you are afraid to die.

That’s how a Danish politician tried to frame the peoples response to Covid-19 on Twitter yesterday.

Naturally, it is both a false, primitive and superficial way of putting it.

I could just as well say that there are those that are full of themselves and only care about what’s good for themselves – and then there are those who think about others and want to look after each other. And I would be equally right. Or not.

It got me thinking though. About what kind of personality it takes to build and grow something for the benefit of others; a startup that can truly get to a point where it delivers the maximum impact.

Can someone obsessed with ego do that? You could argue, yes. History is full of them: Steve Jobs of course comes to mind. Maybe our own Jesper Buch too. But are they the norm, or are they truly outliers?

I ask because I don’t know. But I am both fascinated and curious about it.

My logic would assume that in order to truly due something for others and have the opportunity to create real impact, you need to be able to put your own needs and wants to the back of the cue.

Exceed for the need to do something good for others, of course. Call it having a vision, if you will.

I see a lot of talented people in the startup community struggle and (sometimes) fail, because they are more obsessed with living the startup ‘dream’ than they are with putting the needs of others – their customers – first.

It remains a recurring theme and one of the primary reasons why so many startups end up failing.

And it is just a crying shame, if your ego and inability to serve others before yourself end up being the thing that kills you.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)