"...keeping you great"
Next Free Screening -- Wed 5th March at 2pm (any time zone) we'll be screening for free (saves you $99) another online seminar, this led by one of the few keynoters in the history of our Summits to get a spontaneous standing ovation. More below, but first...
Co-Founder of Airbnb -- Nathan Blecharczyk keynoted immediately before my talk at the Mobile World Conference in Barcelona this week - and wow, what a great story of how he and his partners co-founded and built room-sharing site Airbnb, expanding to over 600,000 locations in 192 countries today. Quick lessons:
- They were brilliant at constantly "newsjacking" - taking advantage of current events and hijacking news stories to drive publicity for their firm. Their first big publicity stunt was rounding up rooms for the 2008 Democratic convention in Denver; they followed this up by creating cereal boxes named ObamaO's and Cap'N McCain's to grab publicity which played off the "breakfast" aspect of their Airbed & Breakfast company. Read about the publicity stunt at this link - honestly, who would think to make clever cereal boxes as a tech company.
- When almost ready to give up (yes, they went through a major dark period - it's rarely easy) they sought out coaching and turned to Paul Graham, founder of the famous Y Combinator incubator. Graham almost turned them down but relented solely because of the cereal box campaign.
- Later when Graham asked them "who is your customer" and they answered "everyone!", Graham re-asked the question "where are most of your best customers now" and they replied "New York City." Graham then implored Nathan and his co-founders to round up what funds they had and spend a week in NYC visiting everyone one of their customers who were offering rooms to rent. After meeting with all twenty-some customers (yep, that few) they began to refine one photo and one room description at a time and created a beachhead in NYC. It was the power of focusing on creating a few rabid customers in a tight geographical space (niche) that was the catalyst for Airbnb's eventual skyrocketing growth. Key? Get out and spend time with your customers and focus.
Guerilla marketing through newsjacking; finding a great mentor/coach; focusing on a narrow market; working at making 1% improvements every day; and persevering (doing the work) are some timeless lessons for all of us no matter what size company you have.
Paul Graham Steps Down -- speaking of Graham and Y Combinator, he just announced last week that he's stepping down as President. In this FORTUNE interview he outlines the top advice he's shared with the 632 start-ups that have come and gone through the incubator he co-founded with his wife and two other partners. You'll note that Airbnb, Dropbox, and Stripe are his biggest success stories and many of the lessons learned align with Nathan's journey above. Specifically:
- Get a co-founder - Nathan had two; Paul had three
- Get a co-founder you like (love the story he tells about this)
- Focus on a specific subset of users
Take 2 minutes to read this quick interview.
What Lego/Apple Have in Common -- you think its crazy a tech company produces cereal; how about a plastic toy company producing a blockbuster movie ($183 million box office revenue and counting). Take 2 minutes to read this FORTUNE article highlighting what Lego and Apple have in common - the creation of an integrated experience. "Experience" has replaced "Product" in the 4Ps of marketing. The key for all companies is to create this same integrated experience for your customers - a great topic for your next "council" or marketing meeting. Go to this link for more on the 4Es of marketing. Again, it comes back to "what is best for the customer."
Buffett's Real Estate Lessons -- being in the middle of a huge real estate investment in farmland myself, this exclusive excerpt from Buffett's upcoming shareholder letter grabbed my attention. Take 3 minutes to read through FORTUNE's excerpt and pick up some real estate investment tips from the greatest investor of all time. BTW, what the story doesn't share is that Buffett rents this farm to his son and in reading Buffett's biography, Snowball, over the holiday's, he would vary the rent as a percentage of revenue (22% - 26%) based on his son's weight!! In fact, he cut various financial deals with this children as a way to control their weight and thus their health - a little strange, but who's to judge!!
5th March 2pm -- hope you enjoyed the last free screening of Dave Kurlan's online seminar on selling. The next "Learning Wednesday" screening features the author of one of the top 5 biz books in 2012 and his 96 minute keynote at our FORTUNE Summit last year - David Marquet, author of Turn The Ship Around which describes his leadership and execution lessons in taking the USS Sante Fe from the worst sub in the nuclear fleet to first in 24 months without the luxury of throwing anyone off the boat!! It's one of the most powerful, insightful, and practical presentations I've even seen, deserving the standing ovation he received. Click here to save $99 by registering for the free screening set for Wednesday, 5th March at 2PM your local time.
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