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Richard FitzGerald
Works at MindShare
Attended Clongowes Wood College
Lives in Dubai
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Richard FitzGerald

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Richard FitzGerald

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#SXSW  notes from Chaotic Good: The Right Alignment for Your Company, with +Phil Libin, Evernote CEO (as interviewed by
+Robert Scoble.   #chaotic  

DISCLAIMER: Loved this session, took way too many notes. 

Introduction with Scobleizer:
- Scoble mentions the book:
- The age of context. 

* Announcements: 
- Evernote will be used in Google Glass

- Data points, becomes information (data + analysis), becomes wisdom (data + information + context).
- "Wisdom: an elegant way to live your life productively."
- "Sensors and ambient context is going to do for our cognitive abilities what fire did for our sensory abilities."

Chaotic Good: The Right Alignment for Your Company

"Everything I ever need to know about business, I learned from playing Dungeons and Dragons as a kid."

* The Importance of Having an Epic Quest: something worthy of your time, and your team's / friends' time. 
- The more you pick a quest, the easier it is to ask others to come along with you (team, investors, etc.). 
- As soon as you're not on a quest anymore, just making $ or having a business, it will all fall apart. 
- These are the central cores Phil applies at Evernote. 

* While the Obama campaign may be 5-10 years too old to have played D&D, the next administration will probably have played it ... This generation has gone on to start companies, and really succeed. 
- Phil's excited about it; thinks it will be a good period in our country's history. 

* GOAL: Build an 100-year startup. 

How can we build a hundred-year startup?

* Selling 2 companies felt good, but it wasn't satisfying. "Let's build a company we want to keep."
- "Not only will it be around in 100 years, but it will still be a startup in 100 years."


* Follow the main system of D&D: alignment
- Everything each character does, has a purpose / goal / vision. 
- Alignment concept is central for business success.  
- Includes: founders, employees, customers, investors, users, partners, community.
- Every decision made, asks, "Does this help align interests or create a  conflict of interest?" 

* What to keep in alignment?
- Business Model: It must be simple and direct. 
-- If the biz model / product is more complex than the idea, focus is going in the wrong place. 
-- Evernote Example:
1. More people sign up.
2. More people stay (negative churn—people come back often because of the value of notes, and when they come back are often happy with the updates made).
3. More people pay.

"It's more important that you stay than that you pay."
- Example: Apple. "Every time I go to the Apple store, I want to buy something." 

"A simple and direct business model eliminates customer and partner conflict."
- Evernote has no indirect revenue (ex. advertisers).
- Therefore, they don't have to serve two masters. It's direct. 

"Disruption is a side-effect of successful entrepreneurship, it is not the goal."
* "I call bullshit on the whole idea of disruption ... I don't buy it, I don't believe it, it's a side-effect, not a goal. It's not the right way to think about it."
- EX: Ford, Facebook, etc. are about creating far, far more value than existed beforehand. Not destroying what's already there. 
- EX: iPod disrupted the mp3 industry; the value created was in no way proportional to the value "destroyed." Then others tried to compete (zoon, rio, etc.) and were trying to take value away from the success, not create more value on top of it. 

"Refuse to play the zero sum game."
* For entrepreneurs  we should refuse to play the zero-sum game. It's a very powerful metaphor that's deeply embedded in our culture. It's applied to politics, business, sports, etc. 
- Thought: the only way for me to win is for you to lose. This is a fundamentally wrong way of thinking; you don't have to play it.
- Not saying you have to be a nice guy, but the goal is betterness. I succeed, you succeed, millions of us succeed together. 
- This is how Evernote thinks about competition. 
- EX: The main alternative to Evernote is leading a miserable, unorganized life. Phil's always had a "nemesis," and not once did it make a difference. It's not the case with Evernote. Focusing on the competition never makes a difference / matters. 

* Economist Cover ... "Survival of the Biggest: The Internet's Warning Giants"
- Cover w/ Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon (Microsoft)
- What's wrong: the history of these companies, and state of the industry, is far more about building on what these companies have done / collaboration. 
- There's huge competition, but there's huge build between this interconnected world. 

* A Culture of Design: A Design of Culture
- For Evernote, it's an idea like this ^ that permeates every idea and corporate culture. 

"Measured over the life of the company, the culture is the product."
* The culture you have is the most important thing; designing the culture is ultimately the way you align threads and interests. 
* 26 different versions of Evernote. 
* A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." - R. W. Emerson

"When you stive for consistency, you achieve it though mediocrity."
- Everything's is mediocre / crappy. 
- Shoot for excellence rather than consistency (every app, every platform). 
- EX: Of course our android / apple platforms are inconsistent—because that's what works best for each platform / user who has already chosen their method to use our service."
-- Yes, it's more expensive, but what you get is alignment with the user. Best possible UX. 
-- It's what the user wants, it's what the phone makers want, it's what the carriers want. 
-- It puts all users in line (indirect); cut our marketing costs and put it toward product.
-- "Make something great vs. pay people to talk about something that's better than it actually is."
* GOAL: Make Evernote so good on every device that it feels obviously correct. Consistency is an emerging property, not a goal. 

"Great products aren't neutral, they have a strong point of view."
* Must align investor expectations upfront. 
- When saying "we don't want an exit," we're separating liquidity and exit.
- Need to raise multiple opportunities / rounds of investments so those who want to sell can. 
- Goal: on the day we go public we want most shares of those who will sell to have sold 6 months ago... 

"For Evernote, an eventual IPO is a moral obligation."
- If we're going to ask the world to trust us with our most personal work / world notes, we need to reciprocate. 
- IPO will happen, but not yet. 
- Why? Because "there is no exit strategy for you life's work."
-- If you're doing something less than your life's work, you're selling yourself short. 
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That was a blast! 2014 planning now underway
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Our offices in Media City Dubai are on the 45th floor on what look like the Chrysler buildings in New York. They building is home to much of ad land Dubai. So, Mad Men style, we have a vertical commut...
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To borrow the idea of publishing #WorkQuotes on Google+ from my old boss, +Shane O'Byrne , here is a story..

So the other day I'm on a flight to Kuwait to pitch for a bank's social media business.. I'm flicking through a copy of Gulf Business and my colleague spots an article and asks 'what's all this 'remittance' stuff I keep hearing about?'. I tell him that I have no idea. We figure out between us that is has something to do with expats / immigrants transferring cash to other countries. And leave it at that.

The next morning  we are in the pitch room with an audience of around 15 people, nervously waiting for it to start. At that moment, I dare my colleague to work the notion of remittance into the pitch. As a joke, considering we both didn't really understand it.

We both forget and the pitch goes to script. Then as we are about to finish, a question from the audience about the future of social comes to me - in the middle of saying that mobile will pay a big part, I somehow stumble out with 'and remittance payments through mobile is an area we see big development for, almost cutting out the bank entirely - we need to be in a perpetual state of readiness'. My finest moment. 
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Pure class
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Here is a video I shot yday

Richard FitzGerald

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Let's all meet back here on Monday morning for the start of The Championships 2015. Those tennis balls will be struck for the first time in the cauldron of competiton at 11:30am. Just four more sleeps to go... When is the draw? 17:54. The draw for Wimbledon 2015 takes place on Friday at 10am BST ...
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Looking at monthly active users for social networks, what impact does this have on marketing?

While the native content promoted post / tweet / pin / update is a given as the 'Adwords' of the social networks, do they drive revenue? Facebook see 750m is a good number to start news feed ads. They waited for that, and that is why they are a bit slow with Instagram ads. This is because news feed ads are capped in terms of frequency. 

This 'volume' question is also why Twitter are currently not doing as well as expected in terms of revenue - they don't have enough users for their ad model!

Why are Google+ slow to roll out ads, although a similar model has recently been announced, could it be the same reason?

Hence all the recent strategic plays in mergers and acquisitions to make internet more accessible. With this in mind, expect a correlation in growth of users with growth in ad revenue
Is Instagram actually the second biggest social network? Posted by: Jamie O’Brien, Social Editor Instagram is growing faster than Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus and LinkedIn combined, and...
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Google+ Dashboard - making it easier to manage your online presence

Today millions of businesses use Google+ to connect with their customers in meaningful ways. Many of these businesses also use AdWords to promote their products; Maps to update store info; and YouTube to publish high-quality video content (to name a few). We want to make it easier to manage your online presence - all across Google - so today we're getting started with Google+ Dashboard. After signing in to your Google+ page, you'll now have access to the following Dashboard features:

1) The ability to update your info (like website URLs, store hours and phone numbers) across Maps, Search and Google+ - all from the Overview tab.

2) One place to monitor your Google+ notifications, assign page managers, share photos and videos - even start a Hangout with followers.

Local businesses will also enjoy:

3) At-a-glance access to their AdWords Express and Offers campaigns.

4) Insights that include top searches for their business, top locations requesting driving directions, and performance data for their Google+ posts.

To start using Google+ Dashboard, simply sign in to Google+ as your page, then click the "Dashboard" icon in the navigation menu. We've got lots more useful tools to add from all across Google, so stay tuned for more updates!

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Google+ Is Now the #2 Largest Social Network In The World

A recent report by Global Web Index has revealed that +Google+ has now surpassed Twitter in active users!

This quick graphic I created only shows the numbers for Facebook, Google+, and Twitter, although Technically +YouTube was considered #3 and Twitter came in at #4.

If anyone has yet to see the value in Google+ as a platform to build an audience for their business or brand, they seriously need to re-think some things.

[HT +Rahul Roy and +martin shervington for making me aware of the original report:]

#socialmedia #evanG+ #facebook #twitter
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The notion of delivering something in beta and fixing based on user experience is so much more effective and productive.
+Mike Bracken demonstrates once again in this blog post just why the UK Government Digital Service is the one to watch.  It should be the model for any national, state, or local attempt to harness technology to improve the delivery of government services. I love Mike's emphasis on the importance of delivery of services that citizens want over the development of policy.

His best line, perhaps, is this one: " Delivery based on user need is like kryptonite to policy makers and existing suppliers, as it creates rapid feedback loops and mitigates against vendor lock-in."

But here's a taste of the expanded version:

"One of the many lessons in my 18 months in Government has been to watch the endless policy cycles and revisions accrue – revision upon revision of carefully controlled Word documents, replete with disastrous styling. Subs to Ministers, private office communications, correspondence across departments and occasional harvesting of consultation feedback all go into this mix.

"Rarely, if ever, does user need get a look-in. User need, if referenced at all, is self-reinforcing, in that the internal user needs dominate those of users of public services. I’ve lost count of the times when, in attempting to explain a poorly performing transaction or service, an explanation comes back along the lines of ‘Well, the department needs are different…’ How the needs of a department or an agency can so often trump the needs of the users of public services is beyond me.

"It’s usually the way with all large, rules-based organisations: that more time and effort is spent on internal logic and process than on listening to and understanding real user needs. But in the case of public service provision, it is too often a completely closed loop, the ultimate insider job."

But it's not Mike's criticism of policy and the service of internal needs over the needs of citizens that sets him apart, it's the strategy he developed to actually reverse the priorities.

"f we put user need at the front of our thinking, the 5 steps look very different. When we created GOV.UK, we created an alpha of the service in 12 weeks. It’s purpose was to create a working, but limited, version of what GOV.UK could become. We made it quickly, based on the user needs we knew about. (Using referrer and search information, it’s not too difficult to determine mainstream user needs, like driving licenses and passport information)

"We can then design services, or re-design them, and rapidly react to user feedback. As we move towards a Beta version, where the service is becoming more comprehensive, we capture thousands of pieces of feedback, from user surveys, A/B testing and summative tests and social media input. This goes a long way to inform our systems thinking, allowing us to use the appropriate tools for the job, and then replace them as the market provides better products or as our needs change. This of course precludes lengthy procurements and accelerates the time taken for feedback to result in changes to live services. In the first 10 days after we released the full version of GOV.UK in October 2012, we made over 100 changes to the service based on user feedback, at negligible cost. And the final result of this of this approach is a living system, which is reactive to all user needs, including that of policy colleagues with whom we work closely to design each release.

"Looking at the highlights of what we have delivered, it is notable that delivery of services, whether they be information or transactional, has come before final strategy work is completed. Or put more simply, in an analogue world policy dictates to delivery, but in a digital world delivery informs policy. This is what agile means for Government and its services, and if delivered in this way, the ramifications are profound."

Read the whole piece.  Also read the UK Government Digital Design Principles (, which I have described as the most significant user interface document since the original Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines, and the UK Government Digital Strategy (
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Social Media Marketing
  • MindShare
    Social Media Director, 2012 - present
  • MEC Global
    Social Media Marketing, 2010 - 2012
  • Avenue Media
    2006 - 2007
  • Cybercom
    2007 - 2009
  • We Are Social
    2010 - 2010
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London - Waterford - Germany - Ireland
  • Clongowes Wood College
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