Ideas from the book Things a Little Bird Told Me by Biz Stone.

When you’re starting a company, you sometimes have nothing more than an idea. And sometimes you don’t even have the idea - just the supreme confidence that one day you will have an idea. You have to begin somewhere, so you declare yourself an entrepreneur just like Wile E. Coyote declares himself a genius. Then you make a business card and give yourself the title FOUNDER and CEO.
  • There are good people everywhere.
  • A company can build a business, do good in society, and have fun. These three goals can run alongside each other, without being dominated by the bottom line.
  • People given the right tools, can accomplish amazing things.
We can change lives. We can change the world.
  • If we pretend to know all the answers we may get a closer look at all the questions.
  • Visualise what you want to see happen for yourself in the next two years.
  • If you take an idea and just hold it in your head, you unconsciously start to do things that advance you toward that goal.
  • Opportunity is manufactured.
  • Rather than waiting and pouncing with a high degree of failure, you might as well go ahead and create the set of circumstances on your own. If you make the opportunity, you’ll be the first in position to take advantage of it.
  • Being the person who makes something happen for yourself is the core of entrepreneurship.
  • Luck is a piece that is out of your hands. But as you create opportunities for yourself, your odds at the lottery go way up.
The way I saw it, people went to college in order to be qualified to get a job like the one I was being offered.
  • Believing in yourself, the genius you, means you have confidence in your ideas before they even exist. In order to have a vision for business, or your potential, you must allocate space for that vision.
  • Inventing your dreams is the first and biggest step toward making it come true.
  • Learn not to care about hard work being wasted. You can always put it in your portfolio. Don’t take rejection personally.
  • Creativity is limitless.
  • For any one problem there are infinite potential solutions.
  • Challenge yourself everyday.
  • Experience and curiosity drives us to make unexpected, offbeat connections. It is these non-linear steps that often lead to the greatest work.
  • Asking questions is free. Do it!
  • Are you in an environment where creativity thrives? Is there room for new ideas every day? Can you make room?
If you don’t love what you are building, if you’re not an avid user yourself, then you will most likely fail even if you’re doing everything else right.
  • You know in your heart when something is worth pursuing; you’re not sure exactly why, but it doesn’t matter. Success isn’t guaranteed, but failure is certain if you aren’t truly emotionally invested in your work.
  • It was a joy to work on Twitter.
I always tell people to back into it. Imagine working on something you love. Describe it to yourself. Don’t focus on how much money you want. Instead think about this: What type of people surround you? What sort of work are they doing? How do you get to work? What adjectives would people use to describe what you do?
  • Embrace your constraints, whether they are creative, physical, economic or self-imposed. They are provocative. They are challenging. They wake you up. They make you more creative. They make you better.
  • Risks breed success.
When it comes to taking risks, so many of us hedge. It’s natural to set up safety nets. I’ve often met with entrepreneurs who tell me that they are hanging on to their job and tinkering at night on their passion. Of course they are; they need to feed their families. The problem is unless you are willing to accept the worst-case scenario, you can’t expect to achieve the best-case scenario. If it is going to reach the potential you dream it will, your true calling needs all your attention. Willingness to take risks is the path to success.
  • In order to succeed spectacularly, you must be ready to fail spectacularly.
  • Embrace the upside of fantastic, epic, earth-shattering, life-changing failure. It’s totally worth it if you succeed. And if you fail, you’ve got a great story to tell - and some experience that gives you a serious edge the next time you go for it.
  • Gray mode - separating the system into different pieces so that if one piece failed, it could be isolated and not affect the other pieces.
  • You don’t have to advertise your failings but to hide them is, on some level, deceptive. This is linked to the value of vulnerability. When you let people understand that you are people like they are, passionate but imperfect, what you get in return is goodwill.
I believe in honesty, and I believe that explaing mistakes to the people who used our service was the best way to create a long-term relationship with them.
  • He wanted people to know that they were doing their best, but he didn’t want to hide or downplay their flaws. He decided that they would own their many imperfections.
If the system crashed, I’d walk down to the engineers to investigate what had happened. Then I’d go on the Twitter blog to report what I’d discovered.
  • The loudest complainers are often your biggest fans.
  • It doesn’t pay to act bulletproof. Nobody is flawless, and when you act as if you are, it always rings false.
Not only did we encourage angry people to email us, but I put my cell number on the home page of the site and answered the phone when it rang.
  • He learned that failure was part of the path and that it was worth the risk. It was a critical component of growth.
  • Every company needs an idealist.
  • Innovation comes from pre-existing ideas.
  • When everything is wrong and broken, instead of harping on what’s wrong and broken, find what works and build on that.
  • An open, curious, optimistic mind yields solutions, and has a better time along the way.
  • Twitter was proof that leaderless self-organising systems could be true agents of change.
  • Twitter connected people everywhere instantly to what was most meaningful to them.
The point is to trust your instincts, even if you’re smaller and less powerful than the other guy.
  • Watching for patterns of use across the system, they built features based on those patterns.
If I was willing to face the consequences, I could play by my own rules.
  • Trust your instincts, know what you want, and believe in your ability to achieve it.
  • We should always seek knowledge even in the face of fear.

Assumptions for Twitter Employees

  1. We don’t always know what’s going to happen.
  2. There are more smart people out there than in here.
  3. We will win if we do the right thing for our users.
  4. The only deal worth doing is a win-win deal.
  5. Our coworkers are smart and they have good intentions.
  6. We can build a business, change the world and have fun.

We don’t always know what’s going to happen

  • If we think we know what will come next, we’ll fail. Instead, we need to leave the door open, for unknown developments and surprises. The core element of this assumption is humility.
  • The ability to listen, watch, and draw lessons from the obvious and unlikely places breeds originality and growth.

There are more smart people out there than in here

  • We shouldn’t look only internally for answers to challenges.
  • Ask people. Look around. Research. Keep a level head. Don’t think you are so great. Don’t assume that we’re the only people who can solve our problem.

We will win if we do the right thing for our users

  • Does it make the experience better for people?
  • More than 99% of people just leave the settings on default.
  • Making a feature that is optional is like throwing it into the junk drawer.
  • It’s our responsibility to decide what features make the most sense. If we are going to build it, let’s use it.

The place where companies most frequently lose sight of what’s best for their customers is when it comes to monetisation.

Should we make ads 50 percent bigger so we can make more money? It makes the page ugly and hard to read. Is that good for the users? No.

Should we split our company into two separate buildings because we can’t afford one building? It leads to confusion and poor decisions on the product end. Is that good for our users? No.

Should we deceive the user into clicking on an ad? Obviously not. Should we trick our users into clicking on anything? Hell no!

These can be tough choices especially if you really need the money. But there’s got to be another way. Creativity is a renewable resource. Don’t sell out your product. Keep thinking. Consider whether the average person is going to benefit. Measure every decision against that requirement.

The only deal worth doing is a win-win deal

  • There’s no such thing as a good deal in which one party gets the short end of the stick. Deals are like relationships. We want deals that are going to last.
  • To some extent, in every deal your reputation and your business are at stake.
If you have a list of people that you don’t want to lose at any cost, don’t wait until they quit to offer them more money and more stock options.

We can build a business, change the world and have fun

Traditionally, companies are driven by financial success. But I want the new definition to include making a positive impact on the world - and loving your work. I want to set a higher bar for success. If any one of these three tenets is missing, then you shouldn’t be considered successful by your own terms or those of society.
  • Helping others is helping yourself.
  • Helping others gives us a feeling of success. It makes our lives meaningful.
  • If you give people a simple way to help others, they will.
  • People are good, and if you give them the right tools, they’ll use them for the right thing.
  • In times of abundance, it’s human nature to seek a more purposeful life. This is often best satisfied by practising selfless concern for the well-being of others.
We could do business with a higher level of ambition and better ways to measure success. We could embrace our employees’ innate desire to do good. There is value in selflessness. Companies must understand this pattern and develop products that deliver deeper meaning. It’s important to recognise value before profit.