Day 2 at the Westin in San Francisco, I attended the Business of Software Conference as both speaker and delegate.
Here are my notes from Day 2
Ryan is a genial American working in Bath England at Carsonified, a web applications and events company.
Ryan’s topic was ”How to give your company soul!” Anyone who has the brass balls to ask 400 techies to shut their eyes and reflect on a piece of classical music for two minutes at the start of a presentation and then get them pumped with the King Leonidas speech from 300 deserves my attention.
Ryan’s presentation highlighted all the stuff they do to create a unique and productive review at Carsonified. They believe in Having fun, recognising effort and talent, creating short term projects and victories, celebrating success and creating an awesome working environment. In truth I have heard lots of people claim to do this but Ryan’s story was presented with great authenticity and his passion for the business was evident.
When the videos come out you should check this one out.
A senior representative of the worlds biggest software company at a conference for rebels and renegades seemed like an interesting choice but Chris gave a frank and highly engaging presentation on the lessons learned from both the successes and the failures at Microsoft over the years.
Chris began with a great video clip from 1998 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrAD25V7ll8. Watch it and squirm!
Key lesson: that video was played on all major news channels and mentioned an national chat shows, however at the following years conference when everything went well it generated very little PR.
Chris made some comparisons between Microsoft success stories and flops( X Box vs Accounting)
Key questions for all software companies when developing new successful products
- Are we in it for the long term?
- Is the product Game Changing?
- Are you delighting endusers and IT departments
- What is your Geo Strategy (ie MS Office Accounting launched first in US against a very well developed competitor. Perhaps they would have been better launching in Europe where the market was more fragmented.)
- Can you reach the Key Influencer Community
- What channels really matter and can you afford them.
Neil was super sub, stepping bravely into the slot created by swine flu and a cranky product manager.
Neil doesn’t like presenting, he would rather let others take the stage and play a supporting role. On the evidence of this presentation he should stand up more often.
Neil has just written and published Don’t just roll the dice A usefully short guide to software pricing http://www.businessofsoftware.org/ebook.aspx and I would recommend that anyone in the business should get a copy either hardcopy from Amazon or in pdf form from the link above.
In essence Neil’s presentation encouraged everyone to think more thoroughly about the value of stuff.
He challenged the audience to think how much they would pay for a signed first edition of Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath and to establish where the value really lay, in the book, the story the signature the rarity or just the warm feeling that you can get when you spend a large amount of money on an indulgence.
He also challenged us to think beyond just monetary value but to consider value in terms of service delivered.
I still havn’t worked out precisely how many kittens an ipod is worth though.
Having read the book I can recommend it as relevant to all entrepreneurs wrestling with the pricing .
In my very rough research based on eavesdropping the conversations between sessions and the Twitter post conference I would suggest that Kathy was the speaker that rocked the conference. In my head it was 3am and I lost the power of note taking so will simply say this;
The essence of Kathy’s presentation was
Know your user, Love your user, Make your user look and feel like a hero.
My favourite quote was “it’s not was the product does its what the product allows the user to do..”
Kathy is obsessed with customer/user experience as so should we all be.
Jennifer is Professor of Marketing at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford and she came to talk to the conference about Happiness!
There was so much in this presentation I can’t begin to summarise adequately everything that she packed into an hour. But I’m going to try.
Chasing happiness is useless (happiness like crack cocaine has a short high and severe crash)
In American( western) culture the concept of a right to happiness is less than 100 years old.
The pursuit of happiness can make us miserable.
Our perception of happiness changes with age
11-14 our vocabulary is too simple to prperly articulate what happiness means
15-18 our Angst vocabulary increases but happiness is about feeling loved / known
20′s Feeling vindicated, powerful, wealthy
40-50 Rested wonderful grateful
How long does happiness last?
A promotion at work ……….3 days
A significant lottery win……3 months
How long does unhappiness last?
research amongst paraplegics suggests that the unhappiness associated with a major life changing/limiting accident lasts……on average 6 months.
People can’t actually remember what makes them happy. (when we go to Disneyland we remember the pictures of the smiling children because we don’t take pictures of sulks and tantrums.
It takes about 24 minutes to get into a state of Flow (happiness) but the average worker gets interrupted every 3 minutes.
Conclusion. Instead of chasing happiness try for brief moments of fun, being effective, striving for overriding goals.
The pillars of happiness
- Self Esteem
- Feeling linked to something bigger
Make time to protect different sources off happiness in your life. (Friends Partner Work Community Health Family) When we neglect any of these sources we become unhappy when our activities combine these we create more opportunities to feel happiness in our lives.
Work on Projects you love. These energise us . Do you know what projects give you energy and which deplete you?
Anticipating pleasure has a similar effect on the brain to anticipating pleasure. ( Aaker suggested, with a wry smile, the best way to enjoy a holiday was to book it look forward to it and at the last minute cancel it!)
Spend time with people you love and with people who energise you.
Beware people who deplete your energy, their attitude spreads like a contagion.
Simple things make us happy People, Dancing, Giving, Sharing and all things that give us a sense of self esteem.
Things that you think should matter like religion and education only make us happy in as much as they provide the above.
In Summary: Be with the people you love, work on stuff that excites you, and dance like no one is watching!