On Leadership, Accelerated Innovation (reactions to WhatsApp), and Entrepreneur’s Mindset
Here are a couple of articles that stood out for me in the last few weeks.
On Leadership #
- Sam Altman for President, by Paul Graham
- How to Get a Job at Google, by Thomas Friedman
- Satya Nadella, Chief of Microsoft, on His New Role, by Adam Bryant
I have been thinking a lot about what it means to be a leader. These three pieces all touch on the topic. All three point to the essentiality of humility in a leader, in recognizing when to lead, and when to step down.
From Friedman’s piece,
What we care about is, when faced with a problem and you’re a member of a team, do you, at the appropriate time, step in and lead. And just as critically, do you step back and stop leading, do you let someone else? Because what’s critical to be an effective leader in this environment is you have to be willing to relinquish power
From the interview with Satya Nadella,
I was throwing very ordinary stuff one day. So the captain took over from me and got the team a breakthrough, and then he let me take over again. I never asked him why he did that, but my impression is that he knew he would destroy my confidence if he didn’t put me back in. And I went on to take a lot more wickets after that. It was a subtle, important leadership lesson about when to intervene and when to build the confidence of the team. I think that is perhaps the No. 1 thing that leaders have to do: to bolster the confidence of the people you’re leading
Reaction to WhatsApp: acceleration of ubiquitous platforms #
- Why The WhatsApp Acquisition Changes Everything, by Tomasz Tunguz
- Three phases of messaging, by Benedict Evans
Tomasz Tunguz and Benedict Evans are two of my favorite writers in recent months. They both write digestable, timely, and insightful short pieces.
From Tunguz’s piece, he talks about how WhatsApp’s deal is an example of how innovation cycle is getting shorten. I strongly believe in autocatalysis of information innovation:
Clay Christensen’s innovator’s dilemma surfaces not every decade, like the stories of steel mini-mills or hard drive makers, but every 18 months. Because the mobile user base is 10x larger than the PC world, because the older competitive moats don’t work, because the disruption cycles are so fast, competition in the consumer web has never been fiercer.
With that setting the context, Tunguz’s post feeds into my belief that disruptive innovation requires ubiquitous platforms: http://blog.raywu.co/ubiquity
Evans’s piece provides some supporting argument to the ubiquity theory I mention above, that Infrastructure/Standard emerges out of platforms,
In other words, WhatsApp, Instagram and a dozen others have unbundled Facebook, but at what point and in what ways does WhatsApp itself get unbundled?
Entrepreneur’s Mindset #
- The Eventuality, The Heist, and The Ripple, by Khailee Ng
- If you want to grow a company, you must master the Rockefeller Habits, by Bernard Leong
Khailee is a phenomenal speaker (performer), and I aspire to give a talk with his kind of passion. It’s also a very inspiring story. It’s a must watch.
I will also take up Bernard’s advice in reading Mastering the Rockefeller Habits. Very relevant as JFDI.Asia (Hugh has been helping us focus on this) and our portfolio scales up beyond the startup phase.