Two years ago, I struck up a friendship with a well known DJ & music producer named DJ Illo. Despite very different career paths, one thing that Illo and I shared was a strong passion to learn everything there was to know about our unique areas of interest – music for him and startups for me. After many long conversations about topics like ‘success’ and ‘ambition’, we found a larger connection to one another; both Illo and I started DJ’ing when we were 13 years old. We both agreed that the lesson of learning how to DJ wasn’t about the technical side of mixing music, it was actually about developing an interest in something complex (especially for 13 year olds), and making a commitment to spend the time and attention needed to learn that skill. We decided that we wanted to give others a chance to have the same experience we had. So last week, in collaboration with YouthNet, we organized an event called #Inspire2013, where 80 teenagers came to Shopify to meet with accomplished musicians, artists, and entrepreneurs. The objective was simple: ‘inspire them to relentlessly pursue the things they are most interested in’. The event was amazing! Here are the details from the Citizen.
It was suggested to me that a question I may wish to pose to references (past employers) of potential new hires is whether or not the reference would hire that person again. The response to such a question has assisted me in determining whether that candidate is someone worth meeting. But what if I wanted to know whether that candidate was not just above average, but rather whether the candidate was a “10x’er” at their previous job. [For reference, Jim Collins defines a 10x’er as someone that possesses fanatic discipline, empirical creativity, and productive paranoia – although many in the tech scene seem to prefer the term ‘rock star’]. For the past few months I have tried a number of different approaches in an attempt to sniff out candidates that may be 10x’ers. After some testing, I believe that I have found a line of questioning that seems to work quite well. Simply put, I ask: ”If you were able to hire 10 identical copies (or clones) of this individual, would you jump at that opportunity, or would you be hesitant?”. I don’t think that this is gospel, but it has worked for me and so I thought I’d share it. #Hustle
I think most of us have heard the maxim that we should be ‘eating our own dogfood‘. To be clear, all that is meant by this phrase is that we should be consuming the products (or services) that we ourselves have created. The rationale is quite simple; if you yourself don’t like using your product then no one else will, and there’s no better way to test the user experience or demonstrate the product’s capabilities, especially for those at the company that aren’t involved with the building of the product itself. It seems so simple, yet I get pitched daily by business teams and execs that seem to have little to no understanding of the very product that they’re selling. And once it becomes apparent to me that someone is trying to sell me something that they know very little about, their credibility is shot and usually so is the proposed deal. Before joining Shopify, I was a customer (via smoofer), and we used the product on a daily basis for many months, which provided me with an incredible understanding of the platform. There is no way I would be able to bring in business at the current level had I not had a deep knowledge of our offering. With that said, my suggestion (especially for those that work on the business team) is to go learn everything there is to know about what you’re selling, before you start selling it. And then #Hustle like hell.
I recently spoke with Tom Taulli from Forbes about our Build-A-Business Competition. Tom was interested in hearing how we are using mentorship, along with equity investments, to motivate aspiring entrepreneurs to “get off their butt” and build new online businesses. Here’s the full article.