A few weeks back we put OATV.com and it’s underlying code up on GitHub.
At the time, I thought it would serve as a repo for sharing some of the work we’d done in designing our new site. And my hope was that it would be helpful for someone looking to build a site with a similar look and feel.
Then, last week, something happened.
Yay! Thrilled that Benny made the first pull request!
“‘For instance,’ [Meryl Streep] says, forking at a bread-crumbed oyster, ‘we are taught about Benedict Arnold, the first traitor in America, but I’ve never heard—until I went onto the [National Women’s History Museum] Web site—about Deborah Sampson, the first woman to take a bullet for her nation. She was 21 years old in the Revolutionary War. She enlisted on the American side under a man’s name, wore boys’ clothing, was cut with a British saber across her forehead, and took a musket ball in her thigh.’ She’s a good storyteller, with a warm, urgent voice. ‘And her compatriots carried her six miles to the doctor’s, and he stitched up her head and she wouldn’t let him take her pants off—because he would discover she was a woman!’ So did she die of her wound? ‘No—she was very good with her needle, so she cut the musket ball out and sewed her own leg up and served another eighteen months. In 1783 she was discharged, went home and had three children.’ Sampson was granted £34 by the state of Massachusetts for exhibiting ‘an extraordinary instance of feminine heroism by discharging the duties of a faithful, gallant soldier, and at the same time preserving the virtue and chastity of her sex unsuspected and unblemished.’ Amazing story. ‘And I am 60 years old and I learn this story,’ says Streep. ‘I should have learned that story in the fourth grade. Because it helps you as a child to know that it is not just Paul Revere riding a horse and calling, ‘The British are coming, the British are coming.’ It’s not just Benjamin Franklin and George Washington and the battles won, it’s the bravery of all these people that are undiscovered, unknown.’”—
As I was reading the book, something struck me like a hammer: Despite Steve Jobs’ choice of words, lack of empathy, and sometimes prickly demeanor, he spent a huge amount of time giving his most talented employees constant, hard, critical feedback.
Thinking about how most companies dole out feedback — if they do at all — it’s usually directed at the bottom quartile of performers versus the top. A typical manager at review time spends 80% of their time preparing detailed reviews on the bottom 25%. The top quartile gets lame, short reviews — the equivalent of “You’re doing great, keep up the good work!” So, a manager takes all that time and effort to get someone doing the work of half of a full-time employee (FTE) to do the work of .75 or 1 FTE. In contrast, Steve Jobs — with his feedback energy directed at the top — manages to motivate people already doing the work of 2 or 3 FTEs to do the work of 10, maybe 20 FTEs. Now that’s serious leverage! Could this be a superpower comingling with a weakness?
I’ve found that the A players are comparably lazy with regards to their potential. Without serious motivation, they will never reach it—or even try. Despite his delivery, I believe Steve’s critical energy was directionally correct.
Here are a few other suggestions for motivating top talent:
Flip the feedback equation to 80% of your energy spent on the top quartile. This is really hard in practice as the feedback is usually more nuanced. And the top performers are usually defensive.
Infuse some damn passion. The best people don’t just want money, they want to go on a crusade and make a difference. An entrepreneur needs to constantly re-enroll the troops with a compelling, authentic story of how and why we will do the impossible.
Set stretch goals and push like hell to meet them. It’s great if these goals have meaning as well — e.g. we need the software release out before a major industry conference.
Find a bogeyman competitor to hate. (Preferably a company bigger than yours — Microsoft!) At IronPort, we called out our competitors to the entire company and rallied the team to play catch-up. We also gave bonuses to the sales teams for rip-outs of a competitor’s appliance and then mounted them like trophies on the wall.
Work your ass off by example. A leader who is always present, ridiculously responsive and contributes real, hard work sets the right pace and tone.
A constant challenge for leaders is to find effective AND positive ways to motivate. The very best companies have inspirational founders who have found a way to coax the superpowers out of their top employees. When the top quartile contributes at 5x to 10x, it makes a serious difference.
We guarantee that every product we sell is authentic and that we are authorized to sell it.
We offer our own unique graphic designs on website.
Everything is home grown and original.
That’s what good design is all about.
Being true to designers, creators, and customers.
That’s why I take it as a personal offense when I see would-be competitors just blatantly and openly rip us off.
In the last month we’ve seen no less than 7 Fab copycats.
3 of them have gone as far as to copy almost exactly key elements of our website design.
We’ve come across screenshots from these copycats that include our own design elements and even our own Fab employees.
The worst offender is a new company, bamarang, operating out of the UK and Germany from the infamous Rocket Internet - Samwer brothers. Their site is not just a copycat, it’s frankly just stealing our unique Fab design elements.
Let me put bamarang and the other copycats on notice. Ripping someone off is not going to work in this space. Knock-offs are just bad design. Users will see right through it. Such tactics may work in some industries, but not in design.
In design, customers are smart and customers value real authenticity.
Do something original or don’t do anything at all.
Personal data on the web is growing rapidly. More people are spending a greater percentage of their time social networking (time spent per user on social networking sites has grown over 300% in the last two years). Additionally, there are more people coming online for the first time every day,…
Incorrect reports that long-time Penn St. coach Joe Paterno had passed away Saturday night were picked up and re-transmitted by, among others, us at BreakingNews and @breakingnews. We soon learned those reports were wrong, and we owe you both an apology and an explanation.
Our editor noted that CBS Sports — a trusted source — reported Paterno’s death around 9pm ET. The CBS Sports headline and story was based, seemingly, on erroneous reporting by the Penn State student publication ‘Onward State.’ The original CBS Sports obituary didn’t directly attribute the student paper. The Huffington Post followed with a story.
However, during the evening, Onward State’s twitter feed reported it twice, first saying that Penn State football players had received an email ‘informing them of Paterno’s passing.’ A second tweet said ‘our sources’ can confirm that the coach had died at age 85. Those accounts were soon dismissed by the family. We quickly reported the dismissal and later news that the managing editor of ‘Onward State’ had resigned.
We decided to delete the original tweet and Facebook posts (we updated the post on Google+) because those posts were shared hundreds of times, and we didn’t want to perpetuate the rumor. For more on how the CBS report sparked reports across the web, here’s a timeline of what happened, assembled by Poynter.org’s Jeff Sonderman.
you thought I didn’t really notice. But I did. I wanted to high-five you. Yesterday I had a pair of brothers in my store. One was maybe between 15-17. He was a wrestler at the local high school. Kind of tall, stocky and handsome. He had a younger brother, who was maybe about 10-12 years old. The only way to describe him was scrawny, neat, and very clean for a boy his age. They were talking about finding a game for the younger one, and he was absolutely insisting it be one with a female character. I don’t know how many of y’all play games, but that isn’t exactly easy. Eventually, I helped the brothers pick a game called Mirror’s Edge. The youngest was pretty excited about the game, and then he specifically asked me.. “Do you have any girl color controllers?” I directed him to the only colored controllers we have which includes pink and purple ones. He grabbed the purple one, and informed me purple was his FAVORITE. The boys had been taking awhile, so their father eventually comes in. He see’s the game, and the controller, and starts in on the youngest about how he needs to pick something different. Something more manly. Something with guns and fighting, and certainly not a purple controller. He tries to convince him to get the new Zombie game “Dead Island.” and the little boy just stands there repeating “Dad, this is what I want, ok?” Eventually it turns into a full blown argument complete with Dad threatening to whoop his son if he doesn’t choose different items. That’s when big brother stepped in. He said to his Dad “It’s my money, it’s my gift to him, if it’s what he wants I’m getting it for him, and if your gonna hit anyone for it, it’s going to be me.” Dad just gives his oldest son a strong stern stare down, and then leaves the store. Little brother is crying quietly, I walk over and ruffle his hair (yes this happened all in front of me.) I say “I’m a girl, and I like the color blue, and I like shooting games. There’s nothing wrong with what you like. Even if it’s different than what people think you should.” I smile, he smiles back (my heart melts!) Big brother then leans down, kisses little brother on the head, and says “Don’t worry dude.” They check out and leave, and all I can think is how awesome big brother is, how sweet little brother is, and how Dad ought to be ashamed for trying to make his son any other way.
“The last 20 years of Internet policy have been dominated by the copyright war, but the war turns out only to have been a skirmish. The coming century will be dominated by war against the general purpose computer, and the stakes are the freedom, fortune and privacy of the entire human race.
The problem is twofold: first, there is no known general-purpose computer that can execute all the programs we can think of except the naughty ones; second, general-purpose computers have replaced every other device in our world. There are no airplanes, only computers that fly. There are no cars, only computers we sit in. There are no hearing aids, only computers we put in our ears. There are no 3D printers, only computers that drive peripherals. There are no radios, only computers with fast ADCs and DACs and phased-array antennas. Consequently anything you do to “secure” anything with a computer in it ends up undermining the capabilities and security of every other corner of modern human society.”
“GoDaddy may have backpedalled on SOPA but they still support PIPA. If you work on the internet and do business with GoDaddy you’re STILL supporting a company who is actively working against your best interests.”—Boycott GoDaddy
When we were building Spool’s founding team, we looked for people who were technically solid but especially good at making other people around them better. The following are the types of people we identified that do this. There are probably others.
The Lead Engineer sets the technical standard. She will conduct the hardest interviews and will generally work technical magic. She will raise everyone’s technical bar. This is usually what someone says when they mean 10x developer.
The Hustler will bend the rules a little when need be, find loopholes in a system, find people you need to find, hack together systems to extract data, and set the standard for just getting things done. She challenges everyone’s thinking about how to get things done.
The Little Engine That Could refuses to lose. She manages to do great things through sheer determination. Sometimes she will tell you about this in an interview, but many times you will need to dig into someone’s background to get a read on this. She makes everyone else more driven, focused, and makes them believe great things are possible.
The Teacher soaks up and disseminates information. A teacher is constantly learning new technologies or synthesizing large amounts of information. She then distills the critical points and actively shares them with others. She makes everyone more productive almost immediately. This adds up tremendously over the years.
The Anti-Pinochio is willing to call b.s. on anyone, including the CEO. She is great at spotting b.s. and willing to ask questions of anyone. This keeps a team honest and a company transparent. This is different from being an asshole or a heretic.
The Energizer Bunny throws herself into a task fully and doesn’t have an off switch. She gets everyone to give 100% and is so enthused that everyone else becomes enthused. She sets the bar for effort and make everyone want to work harder just so they don’t disappoint her. This extends outside work too. She’ll be the first person at the party, the last one to leave, and will make everyone have more fun every day. Happy, enthusiastic teams are productive teams.
The Heart – this is the person on the team that everyone misses when she’s not around. She’ll bring cookies in for the office, she will remember birthdays, she will make people feel better when they’re down, and she will make people do great things because she’s just so lovable. People want to come to work to see this person everyday. Just having people look forward to showing up every day is a huge productivity boost.
Be careful of what you ask for. That’s a lesson Max Schrems of Vienna, Austria learned the hard way when he sent a formal request to Facebook for a copy of every piece of personal information that the social network had collected on him, as required under European law. After a wait, the 24-year-old law student got what he was seeking: a CD with all his data stored on it — 1,222 files in all. The collection of PDFs was roughly the length of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace, but told a more mundane story: a record of Schrems’ years-long relationship with the world’s largest social network, including reams of data he had deleted. Now Schrems is pushing Facebook to disclose even more of what it knows.