#growconf | A timelined summary of ‘Day 2: Inspire’ at GROW 2010 (Part 3 of 4)

August 20, 2010. Day 2, Inspire: The GROW Conference will provide inspiration for turning today’s entrepreneurs into tomorrow’s leaders. Speakers include founders of fast-growing companies, leading investors and influencers who will share lessons learned.

(For first quarter coverage, click here. For second quarter coverage, click here.)

Second/third quarter of Day 2

11:45 AM – Kara Swisher, Co-Executive Editor of the Wall Street Journal, interviews Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos and author of Delivering Happiness. Tony explains to Kara and the audience the important of establishing a core-value-based organization and hiring new talent strictly in sync with those values—and that those values should be recognized and rewarded separately from job performance. (I don’t want to axe any connections here, but I must say I grew tired of Kara’s relatively pointless and all-too-frequent interjections and interruptions—especially by her second interview with Andrew.)

Tony discusses how strong foundations (core values) create a “flock of birds” effect, where all members of an organization and move effortlessly in unison by instinct and habit, not by command and direction.


It’s this way, folks. (Photo credit: Knowlton Thomas)

12:14 PM – The self-described “cheerfully cynical” Lane Becker steps on stage. Like Brody earlier, Lane goes over the lessons he has learned in his storied career. He explains his four efforts: the 8-month failure of DeepLeap in 1999, the still-going AdaptivePath founded in 2001, an 8-month project called MeasureMap which was bought out by Google for its Analytics (his favourite accomplishment), and his latest venture, 2007’s GetSatisfaction. (He loves the two-word startup names eh?)

Lane explains his “Two rules and three parts” theory. The two rules are A) that startups are hard, mentally and emotionally, with constant uncertainty and the need to make myriad uninformed decisions, and B) that “nobody knows anything. (His bonus rule is that VC’s will always pay for meals.) The three parts to running a startup are Founding, Funding, and Failing.

Founding: Startung a company is not unlike getting married. Share the same goals (exit amount, equity split up, etc.). Work with people who aren’t like you, skill-wise. Start at your best and stay there, because if you go down, it only gets worse.

Funding: Decide how big you need to be. Do you need VC? Know that venture capitalism is a casino—and you’re not the house. Stay “emotionally neutral.” Don’t confuse money with doing real work.

12:43 PM – Failing: Fail at your own speed and on your own terms. Luck is luck. And—get this—succeeding is better than failing!

Lunch comes around after Lane. We get an uninspired selection of dull deli sandwiches, generic salads, and cookies (those happened to be pretty good). And the standard lunch beverages: pops, juices, and “ice water”—is that sort of like an Online Website, or Human Person?

1:35 PM – Lunch wraps up.

1:40 PM – Tom Conrad, CTO of America’s online radio service Pandora, steps on stage. After skimming the surface of his Pets.com escapade, where he “nearly destroyed the U.S. economy by myself,” Tom delves into what he believes are key components to successful entrepreneurial pursuits.

“Love it.” Have passion for your work.

“Move fast.” Be agile; respond quickly to market shifts.

“Decide.” Avoid “analysis paralysis”—make decisions and make them in timely, efficient manners.

“Believe.” Don’t lose faith, and you will persevere.

Tom ends his presentation by saying he’s been fighting for Pandora in Canada for half a decade, and isn’t giving up the battle.