Marc Andreesen’s 7 Traits To Reinventing Industries

Marc Andreesen recently provided his take on the news industry and the opportunities to reinvent the business. But one of the most interesting parts of the post was the very end when Marc outlined the 7 traits that any successful business needs to reinvent industries. The following is an exert that deserved to be shared word for word:

The good news is those that would survive and thrive are in control of their own destiny. The challenges and opportunities…can be rethought, addressed, and fixed. It’s similar to what any successful business goes through. The guidelines and the characteristics for winning are the same. It requires the following:

Vision: The difference between vision and hallucination is others can see vision. It is critical to articulate a bright future with clarity that everyone can see.

Scrappiness: Tough challenges call for resourcefulness and pragmatism. You need to stay close to the ground, wallowing in every detail and all over any opportunity that arises.

Experimentation: You may not have all the right answers up front, but running many experiments changes the battle for the right way forward from arguments to tests. You get data, which leads to correctness and ultimately finding the right answers.

Adaptability: Ask yourself, would you rather be right or successful? That needs to be top of mind at all times because times change and we change. You want strong views weakly held.

Focus: Once you gain clarity from experiments and adaptation, then it’s time to focus on a small number of ultra-clear goals. When those are defined then it’s all-hands-on-deck.

Deferral of gratification: You need the stomach (and resources!) to reject near-term rewards for enduring success.

An entrepreneurial mindset: This is true both for new companies and existing companies. It’s a bit of a mantra. We own the company. We make the business. We control our future. It’s on us.

Business Is About Motion

One of my favorite books of 2012 was Get Lucky: How to Put Planned Serendipity to Work for You and Your Business, which was written by the co-founders of Get Satisfaction.  Get Lucky shows businesses how to succeed by fostering the conditions for serendipity to occur early and often.  One of the principles in the book is “Motion”, the skill of putting yourself in unfamiliar situations, but within familiar environments, in order to engage with previously unfamiliar people and ideas that are connected to your job, your projects, or your interests.

Motion is the reason that I’m traveling this week to Las Vegas and the Consumer Electronic Show or what most people know as CES.  Throughout the year, there are handful of events in the digital industry like CES and SXSW where people and companies come together.  The power of these events is the very planned serendipity that is talked about in Get Lucky.  When I’m attending one of these events, I intentionally structure each and every day that I’m there.  That structure revolves around catching up with old friends and colleagues,  attending parties / mixers where key industry players will be, and leaving a little time for the unknown.   For CES 2013, that means my week has things like:

  • Dinner with a good friend (and former P&G colleague) who recently moved into a senior marketing leadership role
  • Attending Twitter’s Annual CES party at the Cosmopolitan
  • Giving a Lightning Talk at the Tech Cocktail / Vegas Tech event for the Las Vegas Downtown Project
  • Lots of coffee meetings that are a mixer of catching up with friends and meeting new people

The pre-planning takes a decent amount of work, but the payoff is tremendous.

I personally think that too many people take a “wait and see” approach to industry events.  In their eyes, just attending the event is sufficient.  As a result, they end having a few fun days away from the office, but they spend the whole time with the people who they came with.  What they miss is the Motion, putting themselves into those unfamiliar situations to engage with previously unfamiliar people.  They miss the chance to bring a little luck to their business.  And I can’t think of a better town for luck than Las Vegas.

The Value of Wearing Two Hats

Every day in business, I wear two hats (metaphorically of course).  The first hat is in the agency world as the Chief Marketing Officer at Rockfish.  The second hat is in the start-up investor world, both as the co-founder of The Brandery and as a partner at Brand Ventures.  While these two professions have more differences than similarities, I know I am better at both jobs because of the other.

On the agency side, each day is spent uncovering the marketing and business pain points of our clients.  These pain points create opportunities which start up companies can capitalize on by providing the solution.  As an investor, I often have one of the first opportunities to evaluate the start-ups that are looking to provide that solution.  Well before they hit the pages of Mashable or the New York Times, many of these start-ups are pitching investors.  In the investment world, venture firms often talk about “proprietary deal flow” where they get a first look at investment opportunities.  In much the same way, being involved directly in the start-up investment space gives Rockfish proprietary deal flow to bring digital innovation to our clients.

Being a practitioner in the world of marketing helps me be a subject matter expert when it comes to brand marketing.  In turn, I become more valuable as an investor because of the subject matter expertise I can bring to start-ups.  And ultimately, the value comes full circle as I can better help the digital innovation strategy of my clients to identify opportunities.

Wearing two hats in your professional life definitely requires double the work.  But at the same time, the return you get for both jobs clearly proves the old saying of “one plus one equals three.”

Brands As API [presentation]

One of our key partners for both Rockfish and The Brandery is Miami University’s Interactive Media Studies Program.   They are really teaching the next generation of business leaders to combine business and technology in their approach to brand building.  Along those very lines, the program recently presented ”Brand As API”, a conceptual framework for understanding new opportunities in branding. This model was unveiled at SXSW Interactive in March 2012 and the presentation is embedded below.

Brand As API – SXSW 2012 Presentation

Join our Roundtable on the Future of Digital Marketing

Future of Digital Marketing

This week I am taking part in a fun experiment with a new startup called Roundtable.    Roundtable describes itself in the following way:

At Roundtable we’re all about empowering meaningful conversations – between thought leaders, between friends, and between curated communities of strangers.

It is a really neat concept and one I became interested in after reading a Roundtable on Startup Funding that was hosted a few weeks ago.  I decided to jump at the chance to have Rockfish host a Roundtable on the Future of Digital Marketing.  After all, we call ourselves a “Digital Innovation Partner” so it is a topic that is at the heart of what we do.  My goal was to bring together Marketers, Venture Capitalists and Startups to discuss and debate on where Digital Marketing will go in the next few years.  We were able to pull together a really world-class group of digital thought leaders including:

  • Chris Erb, VP of Brand Marketing for EA SPORTS
  • Chris Fralic, Managing Partner at First Round Capital
  • Jason Falls, author of “No Bullshit Social Media”
  • Jon Steinberg, President of BuzzFeed
  • Pete Blackshaw, Global Head of Digital and Social Marketing for Nestle

What is really neat about Roundtable is that anyone can join in the commentary with this great group of all-stars. So please take the time to head over to our Roundtable this week and share your thoughts on the Future of Digital Marketing.