Strength of weak ties which facebook doesn't
I suffer from something called Ménière’s disease—don’t worry, you cannot get it from reading my G+ posts. The symptoms of Ménière’s include hearing loss, tinnitus (a constant ringing sound), and vertigo. There are many medical theories about its cause: too much salt, caffeine, or alcohol in one’s diet, too much stress, and allergies. Thus, I’ve worked to limit control all these factors.
However, I have another theory. As a venture capitalist, I have to listen to hundreds of entrepreneurs pitch their companies. Most of these pitches are crap: sixty slides about a “patent pending,” “first mover advantage,” “all we have to do is get 1% of the people in China to buy our product” startup. These pitches are so lousy that I’m losing my hearing, there’s a constant ringing in my ear, and every once in while the world starts spinning.
To prevent an epidemic of Ménière’s in the venture capital community, I am evangelizing the 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint. It’s quite simple: a PowerPoint presentation should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than thirty points. While I’m in the venture capital business, this rule is applicable for any presentation to reach agreement: for example, raising capital, making a sale, forming a partnership, etc.
• Ten slides. Ten is the optimal number of slides in a PowerPoint presentation because a normal human being cannot comprehend more than ten concepts in a meeting—and venture capitalists are very normal. (The only difference between you and venture capitalist is that he is getting paid to gamble with someone else’s money). If you must use more than ten slides to explain your business, you probably don’t have a business. The ten topics that a venture capitalist cares about are:
2. Your solution
3. Business model
4. Underlying magic/technology
5. Marketing and sales
8. Projections and milestones
9. Status and timeline
10. Summary and call to action
• Twenty minutes. You should give your ten slides in twenty minutes. Sure, you have an hour time slot, but you’re using a Windows laptop, so it will take forty minutes to make it work with the projector. Even if setup goes perfectly, people will arrive late and have to leave early. In a perfect world, you give your pitch in twenty minutes, and you have forty minutes left for discussion.
• Thirty-point font. The majority of the presentations that I see have text in a ten point font. As much text as possible is jammed into the slide, and then the presenter reads it. However, as soon as the audience figures out that you’re reading the text, it reads ahead of you because it can read faster than you can speak.
The result is that you and the audience are out of synch. The reason people use a small font is twofold: first, that they don’t know their material well enough; second, they think that more text is more convincing. Total bozosity. Force yourself to use no font smaller than thirty points.
I guarantee it will make your presentations better because it requires you to find the most salient points and to know how to explain them well. If “thirty points,” is too dogmatic, the I offer you an algorithm: find out the age of the oldest person in your audience and divide it by two. That’s your optimal font size.
So please observe the 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint. If nothing else, the next time someone in your audience complains of hearing loss, ringing, or vertigo, you’ll know what caused the problem.
One last thing: to learn more about the zen of great presentations, check out a book called Presentation Zen by my buddy Garr Reynolds. You can get a free copy when you purchase Enchantment: http://bit.ly/jxzBAA
Many people have explained what one can learn from Steve Jobs. But few, if any, of these people have been inside the tent and experienced first hand what it was like to work with him. I don’t want any lessons to be lost or forgotten, so here is my list of the top twelve lessons that I learned from Steve Jobs.
Experts are clueless.
Experts—journalists, analysts, consultants, bankers, and gurus can’t “do” so they “advise.” They can tell you what is wrong with your product, but they cannot make a great one. They can tell you how to sell something, but they cannot sell it themselves. They can tell you how to create great teams, but they only manage a secretary. For example, the experts told us that the two biggest shortcomings of Macintosh in the mid 1980s was the lack of a daisy-wheel printer driver and Lotus 1-2-3; another advice gem from the experts was to buy Compaq. Hear what experts say, but don’t always listen to them.
Customers cannot tell you what they need.
“Apple market research” is an oxymoron. The Apple focus group was the right hemisphere of Steve’s brain talking to the left one. If you ask customers what they want, they will tell you, “Better, faster, and cheaper”—that is, better sameness, not revolutionary change. They can only describe their desires in terms of what they are already using—around the time of the introduction of Macintosh, all people said they wanted was better, faster, and cheaper MS-DOS machines. The richest vein for tech startups is creating the product that you want to use—that’s what Steve and Woz did.
Jump to the next curve.
Big wins happen when you go beyond better sameness. The best daisy-wheel printer companies were introducing new fonts in more sizes. Apple introduced the next curve: laser printing. Think of ice harvesters, ice factories, and refrigerator companies. Ice 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0. Are you still harvesting ice during the winter from a frozen pond?
The biggest challenges beget best work.
I lived in fear that Steve would tell me that I, or my work, was crap. In public. This fear was a big challenge. Competing with IBM and then Microsoft was a big challenge. Changing the world was a big challenge. I, and Apple employees before me and after me, did their best work because we had to do our best work to meet the big challenges.
Steve drove people nuts with his design demands—some shades of black weren’t black enough. Mere mortals think that black is black, and that a trash can is a trash can. Steve was such a perfectionist—a perfectionist Beyond: Thunderdome—and lo and behold he was right: some people care about design and many people at least sense it. Maybe not everyone, but the important ones.
You can’t go wrong with big graphics and big fonts.
Take a look at Steve’s slides. The font is sixty points. There’s usually one big screenshot or graphic. Look at other tech speaker’s slides—even the ones who have seen Steve in action. The font is eight points, and there are no graphics. So many people say that Steve was the world’s greatest product introduction guy..don’t you wonder why more people don’t copy his style?
Changing your mind is a sign of intelligence.
When Apple first shipped the iPhone there was no such thing as apps. Apps, Steve decreed, were a bad thing because you never know what they could be doing to your phone. Safari web apps were the way to go until six months later when Steve decided, or someone convinced Steve, that apps were the way to go—but of course. Duh! Apple came a long way in a short time from Safari web apps to “there’s an app for that.”
“Value” is different from “price.”
Woe unto you if you decide everything based on price. Even more woe unto you if you compete solely on price. Price is not all that matters—what is important, at least to some people, is value. And value takes into account training, support, and the intrinsic joy of using the best tool that’s made. It’s pretty safe to say that no one buys Apple products because of their low price.
A players hire A+ players.
Actually, Steve believed that A players hire A players—that is people who are as good as they are. I refined this slightly—my theory is that A players hire people even better than themselves. It’s clear, though, that B players hire C players so they can feel superior to them, and C players hire D players. If you start hiring B players, expect what Steve called “the bozo explosion” to happen in your organization.
Real CEOs demo.
Steve Jobs could demo a pod, pad, phone, and Mac two to three times a year with millions of people watching, why is it that many CEOs call upon their vice-president of engineering to do a product demo? Maybe it’s to show that there’s a team effort in play. Maybe. It’s more likely that the CEO doesn’t understand what his/her company is making well enough to explain it. How pathetic is that?
Real CEOs ship.
For all his perfectionism, Steve could ship. Maybe the product wasn’t perfect every time, but it was almost always great enough to go. The lesson is that Steve wasn’t tinkering for the sake of tinkering—he had a goal: shipping and achieving worldwide domination of existing markets or creation of new markets. Apple is an engineering-centric company, not a research-centric one. Which would you rather be: Apple or Xerox PARC?
Marketing boils down to providing unique value.
Think of a 2 x 2 matrix. The vertical axis measures how your product differs from the competition. The horizontal axis measures the value of your product. Bottom right: valuable but not unique—you’ll have to compete on price. Top left: unique but not valuable—you’ll own a market that doesn’t exist. Bottom left: not unique and not value—you’re a bozo. Top right: unique and valuable—this is where you make margin, money, and history. For example, the iPod was unique and valuable because it was the only way to legally, inexpensively, and easily download music from the six biggest record labels.
Bonus: Some things need to be believed to be seen. When you are jumping curves, defying/ignoring the experts, facing off against big challenges, obsessing about design, and focusing on unique value, you will need to convince people to believe in what you are doing in order to see your efforts come to fruition. People needed to believe in Macintosh to see it become real. Ditto for iPod, iPhone, and iPad. Not everyone will believe—that’s okay. But the starting point of changing the world is changing a few minds. This is the greatest lesson of all that I learned from Steve.
If you’re interested in technology and you want to know who to follow on Google+, here's a list of leading tech journalists, commentators, and personalities, divided by categories and specialties.
- Editor in Chief of Wired and author of The Long Tail
- Founder of TechCrunch
- French podcaster and tech commentator
- Technology Editor for The Huffington Post
- Controversial Wall Street journalist who covers tech sector
- CNET blogger scours the Web looking for the best deals in tech
- CNET car-tech editor
- Veteran tech reporter for cbsnews.com
- Executive editor at PC Magazine
- ZDNet blogger on technology in education
- CEO of Dell
- ZDNet news hound on the Between the Lines blog
- ZDNet Editor in Chief; prolific tech news blogger
- Veteran technology pundit
- Widely-published freelance tech writer
- Long-time analyst of the PC industry
- Gartner analyst on consumer technology
- Lawyer; commentator on technology and law
- Canadian tech writer for GigaOm
- Lotus, Mozilla pioneer; angel investor
- One of the tech world’s most influential venture capitalists
- Technology hardware commentator at ZDNet
- CNET writer on green technology
- Host of TWiT network and former TechTV host
- Host of GeekBrief.TV
- CEO of Revision3; former editor of PC Magazine
- Founder of GigaOm
- Science writer for The New York Times
- Founder of Technologizer and former editor of PC World
- CBS News correspondent on US tech policy
- Host of Tech News Today on the TWiT network
- Fox TV personality covering geek topics and social media
- CNET TV host of Loaded and tech correspondent for CBS News
- Tekzilla host and former TechTV personality
- ZDNet news writer; SmartPlanet.com editor
- Tech news hound for All Things Digital
- ZDNet technology columnist
- Tech geek turned Internet personality
- Tech columnist for New York Times and CNBC
- Editor in Chief of MIT Technology Review
- Tech editor at Popular Mechanics magazine
- Tech news writer for PC World
- Founder of Techmeme
- Computer editor at The Guardian
- TechCrunch news writer
- Technology editor for the Houston Chronicle
- Technology reporter for Bloomberg Businessweek
- Freelance tech columnist
- Silicon Valley blogger for AllThingsD.com
- Editor, writer, and comedian
- Tech humor columnist and veteran tech writer
- Editor in Chief of PC Magazine
-CNET TV host and writer; creator of the famed “Molly rant”
- ABC technology reporter, TWiT network host
- CNET mobile tech editor
- CNET mobile tech reporter
- Analyst on mobile tech; Wi-Fi pioneer
- AllThingsD.com mobile reporter
- Founder and Editor in Chief of Boy Genius Report
- CNET mobile tech reporter
- Founder of Pocket-lint.com
- CNET reporter on mobile and wireless technology
- Editor in Chief of Laptop Magazine
- Mobile site editor for GigaOm
- Writer on mobile tech and IT in education
- CEO of Salesforce.com
- TechWeb Editor-in-Chief
- PC World tech writer
- Author, blogger, expert on Cisco and virtualization technologies
- TechRepublic’s Head Technology Editor
- Editor in Chief of Computerworld
- Veteran tech journalist
- CTOvision.com blogger; government IT expert
- Blogger and consultant on Web 2.0 for business
- EMC CTO and blogger
- Government 2.0 Correspondent for O’Reilly Media
- Founder of IT Conversations
- Watchdog of IT project failures
- CIO, author, and TechRepublic columnist
- Former editor in chief of CIO Magazine
- Editor of UK IT site Silicon.com
- Popular tech tip writer for TechRepublic and other publications
- Former editor in chief of Computerworld
- Senior IT professional and TechRepublic blogger
- Amazon.com CTO
Web and social media
- Founder of TechVi, Web video specialist
- Reporter for VentureBeat, The New York Times, and Wired
- Academic/researcher in new media
- CEO of Mahalo, founder of Weblogs Inc.
- CEO of Mashable
- Tech startup founder; tech news junkie
- Co-founder of Flickr
- Silicon Valley entrepreneur
- Professor and author who covers tech and new media
- Web Video journalist covering tech, culture, and new media
- ZDNet blogger on social media for business
- Author and social media thought leader
- Editor and founder of ReadWriteWeb
- Web developer and ZDNet blogger on Web 2.0
- CNET writer covering Web 2.0
- Founder of WordPress
- Editor of CNET’s Webware
- Forrester analyst on new media technologies
- Founder of Digg.com, host of Diggnation
- Creator of Delicious, a.k.a. del.icio.us
- TechCrunch co-editor
- Tech writer and social media flag-bearer
- CNET News reporter, covering the Web
- Co-founder of Stack Overflow
- Writer at VentureBeat
- TechCrunch reporter
- Tech venture capitalist in New York
- “The father of blogging and RSS” (BBC)
- Author and Harvard professor covering the Internet
- Creative thinker. Entertaining. Geek-chick.
Geek, Myspace co-founder and internet celebrity.
- Gadget reporter for CNET
- Host of Tekzilla and Qore, and former CNET TV host
- Former Engadget editor and co-founder of GDGT
- CNET editor of mobile gadgets
- Gizmodo editor
- Editorial Director of Gizmodo
- Managing Editor of Engadget
- Gadget columnist for CNET
- Founding editor of both Gizmodo and Engadget
- NPD head analyst on consumer technology
- Engadget reporter
- Consumer electronics startup advisor
- Editor in Chief of Engadget
This list is a modified version of the Twitter list originally written by over at http://goo.gl/NQXpC
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