Tobi Lutke, CEO of Shopify. How did they turn a $100,000 prize into $12,000,000 in transactions?
In the world of magazine articles, one of my all-time favorite headlines is “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Meta” from the MIT Technology Review, a feature about billionaire programmer, Charles Simonyi. Charles designed Microsoft Office and is outstanding at looking at programming as different layers of abstraction.
How can we raise our perspective from 5,000 feet to 30,000 feet to learn a few things? This post will do that with competitions.
Today, Shopify, a start-up I have advised since 2009, announced the winners of their Build-a-Business Competition, featuring a grand prize of $100,000 cash. Winners were determined by combining their two highest-revenue months in an 8-month competition window.
I want this post to show two things, and the second is where meta comes in:
1) How the competition winners won and key lessons learned in taking their products from ideas to profitability. This includes manufacturing, marketing, PR, and just about everything in between. I’ve looked at these types of lessons before.
2) How Shopify has used these competitions to build their own business several-fold and cross the chasm from early-adopter to mainstream. This is something I’ve never written about… Read More
The dunes that inspired Dune: Agate beach sand dunes. (Photo: Kevin McNeal)
For a mere 20 years or so, I refused to read fiction. Read something that someone just made up? I can do that myself, thanks.
That was the attitude at least.
My time of reckoning came when I needed to fix insomnia, and non-fiction business books before bed just compounded the problem. I began reading fiction to “turn off” and instead saw breakthroughs in creativity and quality of life as a side-effect.
Now, if people ask me, for instance, “Which books should I read on leadership?”, I might reply: “Dune and Ender’s Game.” I’ve come to look for practical solutions in both fiction and non-fiction.
For those of you who are stuck in the business or how-to sections, as I was for decades, I offer you 10 fiction books that might change how you view the world… and how you perform.
The Top 10
Listed in no particular order… Read More
Peter Diamandis explaining X PRIZE economics. (Photo: Hubert Burda)
Dr. Peter H. Diamandis is the Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation, and co-Founder and Chairman of the Singularity University, a Silicon Valley based institution partnered with NASA, Google, Autodesk and Nokia. Dr. Diamandis attended MIT, where he received his degrees in molecular genetics and aerospace engineering, as well as Harvard Medical School where he received his M.D.
He’s no underachiever.
I’ve known Peter for several years, both as a friend and as advising faculty at Singularity University. He is known for being incredibly resourceful. And, true as this may be, it’s his ability to teach resourcefulness that impresses me most… Read More
Paulo Coelho (Photo: Philip Volsem)
Paulo Coelho has long been one of my writing inspirations.
His work, of near universal appeal, spans from The Alchemist to the most recent Aleph and has been translated into more than 70 languages.
Few people know that The Alchemist, which has sold more than 65 million copies worldwide, was originally published by a small Brazilian publisher to the tune of… 900 copies. They declined to reprint it. It wasn’t until after his subsequent novel (Brida) that The Alchemist was revived and took off.
I, for one, have always been impressed with consistent writers. Paulo, who averages one book every two years, is staggeringly consistent. As I type this, I am under the pressure of book deadlines and often feel as Kurt Vonnegut did: “When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.”
My output is erratic at best, and I wondered: how does Paulo write? What is his process? How does he think about it?
I reached out to him, and he was kind enough to reply with the attached/linked audio. In it, he provides some gems and answers the following questions, which I posed to him (I provide my own abbreviated answers in brackets)… Read More