Category Archives: human

Open Letter To New Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey

Dear Jack: Congrats for going back to Twitter – I’m sure that you’ll be able to do great things there – why not try and pull a Steve Jobs and boomerang it back to its former glory? But you might ask, what glory? I was one of the very first users of Twitter, way back […]

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5 Ways to Build Your Own Unicorn

unicornOne of the main reasons why companies like Uber and AirBnB are doing so well in my opinion is that not only do they provide a fantastic experience to their customers (well, most of the time) they have a number of attributes which speak to what I feel are base traits in humanity.

Way 1: Figure out a way in which people can help each other for money

Helpfulness. Since the dawn of time, humans have existed in packs – we started in villages and grew them into cities, but most of the time, not only do we enjoy each other’s company, we generally like helping each other. When you look at how the internet has enabled what I call “crowdhelping” – telling people things that you’ve figured out for no reason other than it would help others, then you can easily see how that can extend into the peer-to-peer economy. Of course, getting a little cash out of the deal is pretty sweet too.

Way 2: Let your “helping humans” work on their own schedule

Freedom. It’s at the core of what humans want. They want the ability to do what they want, when they want, and with who they want. It’s been proven that the more freedom and autonomy people have in their jobs, the happier they feel. Uber and AirBnB give their “helping humans” the freedom to work whenever they like, and not work whenever they like.

Way 3: Take stuff that people don’t want to do themselves off their plate.

Laziness. If there is one thing that you can be sure of, it’s that people are generally lazy. If there is a way for them to not to have to do something, then they will find that way. Typically, this is done by delegating the task to someone else, even if they have to pay them for it. Big brothers delegating to little brothers, bosses to employees, people to cab drivers or to other people through something like TaskRabbit. Tim Ferris started a whole “anyone can outsource” revolution with the 4 Hour Work Week, now anyone can outsource anything they don’t want to, or have the time to do.

Way 4: Figure out a way of using stuff which is mostly just sitting around

Wastefulness. I don’t know about you, but I hate seeing things go to waste. We’ve had a drought here in California for 4 years now and I don’t run the water a second more than I have to. I don’t buy things I don’t need to use a lot, and expect to eventually not even need to own many things anymore. You probably sometimes look around your house and say “how much of this stuff do I really use?” I think people, in general, hate seeing waste, seeing things that they paid for not being used.

Way 5: Challenge the status quo. If someone hates you, you may be doing something right

Finally, we are usually all about “the little guy” – we love the underdog, the David beating Goliath story. We love seeing big, inflexible institutions which have been screwing us forever – because they have set up the rules so that they can – being taken down by the little guy. Namely us.

Sure, there are plenty of other things out there which are more tactical (don’t need employees, just be the middleman, etc.), but those IMHO are simply implementations of the points above.

The reason these companies are doing so well is that they touch upon our core humanity. Instead of fighting the way humans are, they go with it.

So go with it – maybe your idea will be the next unicorn.

— image yosuke muroya

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You’re Free To Do What You Want, Any Old Time

One of the best songs ever – I’m Free by The Soup Dragons

The reality is that we are finally free, to do what we want, any old time.

One of the reasons why Uber is floating in the valuations that its in at the moment, and is stirring up so much goodwill on the one side and so much wrath and controversy on the other side is that, in my opinion, it truly speaks to some things deep in our human roots:

  1. We are social creatures, and deep down, we really like helping each other
  2. We are independent creatures, and we want the freedom to do what we want, any old time
  3. We are lazy creatures, we want people to do things for us, and are willing to pay people to do these things for us, and we want things to just happen instead of us having to do them
  4. We are thrifty creatures, we hate seeing things just go to waste, sitting around unused. We don’t like wasting money on things when we don’t have to
  5. We love to see David take on Goliath and win – we are huge fans of the underdog beats the big guy

Uber, even in the limited area that its focused in, speaks to all of these pieces of our human nature: we ARE social, independent, lazy, thrifty and love seeing the small and scrappy overcome the large and lumbering.

I see Uber making mainstream the elements above – literally being the vanguard to bring all of the above elements into every area of or work and lives. There is no reason why all of the above are simply limited to the ride sharing space – any and all of those elements could easily be incorporated into your firms current offerings, thus tapping into the immense underlying essence of what it means to be human. If you just tap in one of the areas above, then you will have already made progress. Tap into all five, and watch your brand skyrocket.

Let’s say you are on the lookout to develop or expand one of your current offerings. Simply pick one of those elements above, and see how you can weave it into the offering. Let’s say that you are a home building retailer and one of the things you sell are power tools. Let’s pick element 3 – people are lazy. Why not build an on-demand tool delivery service, based on task? Build an app which allows customers to tell you which task that they are trying to perform, then suggest the tools required to perform that task, then deliver those tools for the duration of the task, then take them back for the next customer. Or add element 1 – people like to share – give the customers who purchase a tool the option to join the local “Drill Owners Club” where they can rent their new purchase out to others in the area in order to help defray the costs of the initial tool purchase. Eventually the tool could be paid off, and the customer could make money from renting the tool.

Based on the systems, frameworks, networks that we have today, we are more free to do what we what, any old time. The question is, will you help your customers be free, or not?