Silicon Valley Jerks And The Companies They Ruin

Auguste Rodin was an obsessive genius, horrid toward his family and other people. This type of personality has been evident throughout history. Silicon Valley high tech jerks have also been around for decades. The “bad” Steve Jobs is only one of many examples. A more recent example would Uber’s Travis Kalanick, whose behavior arguable has severely damaged Uber’s business and its IPO. The conundrum we face with these people is that once they are in place it can be very difficult to remove them.

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Now that I have a large number of weekly viewers, and subscribers, I want to use this update video to again offer a bit more about myself, and to give you advance notice of my plans for delivering more online streaming and live video content in the next few months. I am specifically looking for your feedback comments to assist me in making those plans most effective.

Real Power and Influence

One of my Intel colleagues, a Harvard MBA told me a story of HBS students eager to take John Kotter‘s leadership class, at the time called “Power & Influence.” The students thought that Kotter’s course would teach them how to become calculating and ruthless. He amusingly remembered that Kotter’s course taught them the exact opposite: managers must first learn to be humble, connect and gain the respect of their colleagues and subordinates, before attempting to lead, or they would be doomed. Kotter’s book of the same name is filled with case studies of “ruthless” people who failed and those with humility who succeeded.

I want to talk a bit about networking with new acquaintances or renewing old contacts.  Networking is often dreaded because it sounds like being disingenuous or insincere. Good networking is genuine and sincere. I made the point in Week 1 that communication skills are crucial, and they can be learned. Warren Buffett has said that “public speaking” is the most important skill he ever learned.  So let’s discuss a few ideas on how to make networking less stressful and more successful.  In this video, I will list three key things to remember when networking and expand on why they are so important. My UBC Management students will remember this from my Management Communication course.

I had the great good fortune to know Professor John Sperling, Cambridge don, when I was an undergraduate student at San Jose State University. At that time, our campus was awash in great thinkers: visiting scholars Buckminster Fuller, Alan Watts, and a host of other eminent faculty. I knew Sperling as a friend and mentor, and worked closely with John and my friends with the SJSU student government: Dick Miner, Peter Ellis and others, some of whom went on to work with Sperling at the Institute of Professional Development and later at the University of Phoenix. My fondest recollection of John was as the catalyst for our symbolic burial of an ugly yellow Ford Maverick on the first Earth Day. John challenged us to define ourselves by what we would do to mark that day. It has become one of the defining events of the first Earth Day. But I also view John as the precursor of the current MOOC’s movement. John shook up the academic world with his revolutionary ideas about education. John created immense controversy but he also spawned significant change.

Stanford Graduate School of Business and Harvard Business School are adopting drastically different strategies for delivering business education. These differing strategies are reflected in the debate that has erupted between two of Harvard Business School’s best known professors and their visions for the future of business education, Michael Porter and Clayton Christensen. I have also been personally tire kicking MOOC’s, acting as a mentor for Stanford’s online Technology Entrepreneurship course, hosted by NovoEd. I have been pleasantly surprised by the experience, and among the teams I am mentoring is a group of Xerox senior research scientists acting as an entrepreneurial team.

Stanford University’s free online course, Technology Entrepreneurship begins this week. I have agreed to be a mentor to a maximum of two entrepreneurial teams in this Stanford online course.
In addition to being free you can follow the course on your schedule via the posted video lectures. The course will be taught by Assistant Professor Chuck Eesley. The recommended textbook, Technology Ventures, by Thomas Byers, Richard Dorf, and Andrew Nelson, is available as an etextbook on CourseSmart or Kindle. The first three course videos are available online now.

I will also be working this term with Professor Thomas Hellman at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business on his Technology Entrepreneurship course. I will be scheduling time to meet with students for both the Stanford and UBC Sauder courses. Further information on dates and times will be posted here.

An excellent discussion of the deeper social implications of the Internet of Everything. Perhaps difficult for some to grasp, but consistent with many other futurists’ views. The current world of MOOC’s in online education, for example, may only be a brief waypoint on the journey to anytime, everywhere education.