As part of our social media roadmap in the September 2012 issue of Fast Company, we asked social media’s savviest users about their best practices. Use this guide to share their rules, then add yours, and we’ll keep charting a course through this rocky terrain.
Instead of crowing about career triumphs and students’ bright futures, Greylock Partners data scientist DJ Patil addressed a more pressing topic at a recent commencement address: his biggest failures, and why new graduates should embrace similar humiliation.
And how, practically, do you achieve success though failure? It starts with passion—finding work that you love. Once you do, you’ll never take no for an answer, or have patience for those who stand in your way. Second, surround yourself with people you value. Just like your body responds poorly to junk food, your mind and energy levels also respond to the company you keep. Third, strive to put yourself in uncomfortable situations. The world is changing as we speak. Right now there are two people in a garage with a dog (don’t ask me why there is a dog, but there always seems to be one) creating the next iPhone, Facebook, Google. Those of you that are graduating today, you are the first to go through your entire social years (puberty onwards) with Facebook. During your entire educational experience you’ve had access to Google, mobile phones, and the Internet. And yet during your time in college you have seen the introduction of the tablet. The notion of using a desktop or a laptop is outdated. Given this rapid pace of change, the only advice that I can give you is to keep learning—putting yourself in uncomfortable situations where you fail and acquire new skills as a result.
They were doing just fine before, but the biggest of minority owners of Facebook are about to be catapulted into a far more elite bracket. As we ponder what they’ll do with with new millions (nearly half a billion dollars for Reid Hoffman?), here’s a look at what got them where they are today.
DJ Patil pulls a two-foot-long metal bar from his backpack. The contraption, which he calls a double pendulum, is hinged in the middle, so it can fold in on itself. Another hinge on one end is attached to a clamp, which he secures to the edge of a table. “Now,” he says, holding the bar vertically, from the top, “see if you can predict where this end will go.” Then he releases it, and the bar begins to swing wildly, circling the spot where it is attached to the table, while also circling in on itself. There is no pattern, no way to predict where it will end up. While it spins and twists, with more velocity than I’d have imagined, Patil talks to me about chaos theory. “The important insight,” he notes, “is identifying when things are chaotic and when they’re not.”
A Year After LinkedIn Came Calling, CardMunch Poised To Make “The Rolodex Obsolete”
All they wanted was some mac and cheese. It was late 2010, and Sid Viswanathan, Bowei Gai, and Sudeep Yenashankaran were outside LinkedIn’s headquarters, peering into the cafeteria. The three CardMunch cofounders had just been escorted outside after a meeting at the company, but the meals inside were too much to resist. ”There were these huge boxes of food,” recalls Viswanathan.
“And we had backpacks,” Gai says.
The team snuck back in, started filling their bags with food—and then bumped into one of the senior directors of engineering at LinkedIn, with whom they had just met. And who had just walked them out of the office building. “I have never been more embarrassed in my whole life,” Viswanathan says today, laughing.
How Haiti’s Earthquake Inspired LinkedIn’s Skill-based Volunteer Marketplace
LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman and former Facebook executive Matt Cohler drop $15 million into education startup Edmodo. Can creating an education graph transform how schools do their job?
FC: Big data is also why you have faith in Groupon
RH: Yes. There’s two points on which a lot of the discussion about Groupon misses key insights. First is what exists with Groupon today: both scale and data. Data becomes important because of the scale. If you look at the core service that Groupon built on, it’s: Here are some offers that may motivate you to act today. That’s interesting enough for you to plunk down the money.
As the activity in this space gets denser, it becomes important for [deals companies] to maintain their value proposition, both for the merchant and the consumer, and to be able to match the right two. The ability to do that kind of matching, off the data, is the kind of thing that has a robust, at-scale, defensible value proposition and makes it harder for other people to offer products that are as good.
I also think people discount Groupon’s ability to build new value propositions. Groupon launched Groupon Now. An ability to raise my mobile phone and say there’s a 20 percent off offer two blocks from you in the next hour is actually pretty useful. And that’s a value of scale.
Bubble? What bubble? Today’s infographic on Co.Design says there’s no tech bubble here!
Also, don’t miss our Editor’s thoughts on The B Word!
“One of the challenges in networking is everybody thinks it’s making cold calls to strangers. Actually, it’s the people who already have strong trust relationships with you, who know you’re dedicated, smart, a team player, who can help you. Even college students have professors, family friends, alumni of their college. Your network is the people who want to help you, and you want to help them, and that’s really powerful.
What’s happened is that since most of your college kids have been in very structured environments, they don’t realize that what’s really essential is the network. They’re like, oh, my friends, they don’t know anybody. The actual answer is they might.”