Guy Kawasaki posts a panel of web community founders he moderates that is truly the most amusing panel I’ve ever seen. Sometimes conference presentations and panels can be entertaining, but I’m the only one laughing – I think everyone finds these guys personable. Yes, geeks do have a sense of humor every once and a while (especially when it’s at the expense of the Ad guys).
The lesson alone is not that these founders defy the notion of “proven teams, proven technology, proven business model”. From the Apples to Microsofts to Googles of the world, they came in with unproven people, unknown technologies and made their business models and created some of the biggest corporations in the world. Logic is defied over and over, but not because success is illogical. There are formulas that work and formulas that don’t, but very rarely are those formulas spelled out in any concrete fashion – experimentation is necessary to mix variables just right.
Each and every one of these companies started with an idea, a notion of what might be useful or entertaining to someone. Some accidentally became the basis for a business, some were more planned out. Each took their ventures day-by-day. Eventually their ideas got validation and that proof of concept becomes the basis for a real business. One funny fact: Oprah Winfrey says that she was never a goal setter, flying again against the face of conventional wisdom.
The notion of proven anything is dead anyway. What these guys defy is the notion that you have to play by some predetermined set of rules. It’s a different game today and an idea-driven economy – money no longer buys success, ideas and execution do.
These founders repeat that you can’t plan for success. Bet on good ideas, passion and an ability to execute and adjust accordingly when opportunity arises.
The lesson: drink beer, have fun and do something that amuses yourself. Have enough insight to understand when what amuses you will amuse others and do a little bit every day to move forward.