Exciting Employees; Swooshing Employees; Core Value Icons; Detroit and Des Moines
December 4, 2012
Sleepless Nights; Midnight Lunch; Sheer Innovation; Edison’s Rules
December 18, 2012

Google CEO Interview; Antifragile Businesses; Kaggle.com; Brain Hurt

"…keeping you great"


WARNING: maybe I've been drinking too much spiked eggnog this holiday season, but this insight is full of a lot of stuff that hurt my brain just trying to digest the ideas – but I sense it's important stuff.

Google CEO Exclusive Interview — Larry Page, co-founder of Google, and CEO since April 2011, granted only his second wide-ranging print publication interview since taking over the reins. Therefore, I was excited to see what he had to say. Sadly, unless I missed something (re-read the interview three times – first brain hurt), I learned nothing. Was he hiding all the good stuff? If so, why give the interview. If there's nothing more, should we worry about Google? Here's a link to the Fortune interview – seven minute read.

Simplicity? — Or is it the case that Page's brilliance is in the ultra-simplicity of his thinking/focus (he has better focused the teams within Google). Take his response to the question about the future of search "The perfect search engine would really understand whatever your need is. It would understand everything in the world deeply, give you back kind of exactly what you need." Huh? I could use some help here from my insight readers – if you have the inkling, please read the interview and help me see what I missed! I'll reprint the best insights.

$10k Prize Saves Company Millions — Get the crowd solving your problems using prizes. And with prizes you only pay the winners vs. funding a bunch of losers (why don't governments take this approach!). Peter Diamandis's latest blog outlines how you can use the competition platform Kaggle.com, like Allstate did, to improve the algorithm they use to set your rates. Take 2 minutes to peruse Kaggle.com to see some of the competitions hosted by GE ($3 million prize), Facebook (prize — you get hired!), and the Colorado Department of Education ($5000 prize) – OK, a government agency did host a prize. Then read Diamandis's blog outlining the 4 steps for creating your own competition.

Hire 600 Scientists for $10,000 — notes Diamandis "In that (Allstate) competition, 600 data scientists, composing 300 teams, sought to improve Allstate's internally developed vehicle-risk assessment algorithm (brain hurt #2) — what it uses to set your rates based on your probability of having an accident. The winners of the $10k prize demonstrated a 340 percent improvement in predictive accuracy over Allstate's best internal algorithm!" Continues Diamandis," I can't imagine how much such an improvement is worth, but I have little doubt that this $10k purse will eventually drive hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars of additional profits." Do you have a bunch of data that needs crunched to identify new patterns/opportunities? Create a competition on Kaggle.

Antifragile (BIG BRAIN HURT) — this is the title of genius Nassim Nicholas Taleb's latest book (27th Nov). Subtitled "Things that Gain from Disorder", I just started reading it this past weekend and it is another brilliant and game-changing piece of thinking/writing on par with my favorite book of his last decade, The Black Swan. In essence, anything that is antifragile is more than resilient; it actually gets better when stressed or shocked or exposed to risk and uncertainty – like our bodies, the economy, and our businesses.

Overprotective — A key premise of the book is that naturally occurring antifragile (and complex) systems that have survived for eons are weakened, even killed, when deprived of stressors, the same way muscles atrophy if you spend a month in bed. So in our attempt to take all the risk out of situations, like neurotically overprotective parents, those trying to help are often hurting us the most – in education, healthcare, the economy, our businesses, etc.

Skin in the Game — and my favorite line in the book so far, which summarizes another key premise of the book "…the largest fragilizer of society, and the greatest generator of crises (is the) absence of 'skin in the game.'" Continues Taleb "we are witnessing the rise of a new class of inverse heroes, that is bureaucrats, bankers, Davos-attending members of the I.A.N.D. (International Association of Name Droppers), and academics with too much power and no real downside and/or accountability. They game the system while citizens pay the price. At no point in history have so many non-risk-takers, that is, those with no personal exposure, exerted so much control." That's why it's so important to create systems where everyone has some skin in the game – in our societies and our businesses ala Jack Stack's classic boo
k "The Great Game of Business."

Holiday Biz Gifts — What a perfect time to thank customers for making a great decision to do business with you. And what better gift over this month of holidays than a book (put a box in your trunk and pass out at biz luncheons and customer visits with a personal note in each) – maybe The Greatest Business Decisions of All Time – something quick to read that will spur ideas for their own business and provide important historical information on 18 of the greatest business decisions ever made. Bulk discounts available.

Verne Harnish
Verne Harnish
Verne Harnish is founder of the world-renowned Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) and chaired for fifteen years EO’s premiere CEO program, the “Birthing of Giants” and WEO’s “Advanced Business” executive program both held at MIT. Founder and CEO of Gazelles, a global executive education and coaching company with over 150 coaching partners on six continents, Verne has spent the past three decades helping companies scale-up. The “Growth Guy” syndicated columnist, he’s also the Venture columnist for FORTUNE magazine. He’s the author of Scaling Up (Rockefeller Habits 2.0); Mastering the Rockefeller Habits; and along with the editors of Fortune, authored The Greatest Business Decisions of All Times," for which Jim Collins wrote the foreword. Verne also chairs FORTUNE Magazine’s annual Leadership and Growth Summits and serves on several boards including chairman of The Riordan Clinic and the newly launched Geoversity. He is an investor in many scale-ups. A father of four, he enjoys piano, tennis, and magic as a card-carrying member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians.