A week ago I attended the second of their new "Inside the Mind" series, where the focus is on innovative PEOPLE in the industry, rather than innovative COMPANIES. It's reminiscent of an annual piece we do in the iMedia publication: iMedia 25 innovators. The focus on people is what's so intriguing. Everyone wants to hear from the Apple's and the Facebook's of the world, but the people within these companies are the ones driving collaboration and innovation.
In this breakfast session, Sarah Fay, Former CEO of Aegis North America moderated a discussion with Lars Albright, Co-Founder & CEO of SessionM and also of Quattro which was sold in 2010 to Apple and Martin Nisenholtz, Former CEO of the New York Times Digital. Sarah Fay, did a great job interviewing these two and she's no stranger to paving pathways herself!
Here are some key pieces of advice on personal development and industry insights that I pulled from the conversation:
1) On making career choices: As Lars said, "pick the company around the team." It's one of the two most important things when trying something new in your career: do you love the team and do you see growth in the field?
2) On the charm of the startup environment: For Lars and Martin it's the smaller company size. Lars says, "I enjoy the attachment and the accountability of entrepreneurship." And Martin says, "You can’t babysit people. Once a company grows to 70-100 people it’s harder to manage because it’s hard to run an organization if you don’t know the people. Larry Paige and Sergey Brin were still interviewing every hire when google was at 10,000 employees. They were hiring 300 people weekly – how did they do that?"
3) On what makes a successful company and team: Martin, "Everyone has to have a clear view of the value proposition your customers expect. If the team focuses on that, you should be fine." And, "You need people who can intuit what needs to be done: the way a great rock & roll band operates. If you can’t operate that way, you won’t make it. You can’t babysit people."
4) On the next wave: Lars, "The next wave is enterprise mobile." Martin, "If you see the wave, it’s already coming. If you can see the wave before anyone else sees it, that’s a talent that would be worth cultivating." (*Don't I wish I knew how!)
5) On the evolution of the news industry: Martin's take is that the industry needs to figure out how to incorporate UGC beyond the comments section, and also that the premium subscription model is a numbers game. If a publication doesn't have they types of numbers NYTD has, the conversion rate remaining the same won't net enough to sustain it. He does see a light at the end of the tunnel though and doesn't think the news industry will die. He says the Buzzfeeds of the world will be what’s next after the NYT's and Boston Globe's.
It was a fun and aptly titled conversation. I'm looking forward to going "Inside the Mind" of more thought leaders and industry luminaries!