2016-6-1. Tony Fadell is the father of ipod, founder of Nest.
Sebastian Thrun: Is it possible to find fulfillment working for a company or found your own company being CEO brings more?
Tony Fadell: Fulfillment is in the eye of beholder. You have to look for what you’re trying to learn. you need to set your own goals whether it’s as a startup as an independent or inside a big company.
The big thing that I asked when I interview people: what do you want to learn when you come here? Not what can you do for me. What do you want to learn? Because if you are always trying to learn then I know you’re trying to improve yourself and therefor you’re going to help the company improve as well.
Sebastian : How do you pick a candidate in the interview? How do you assess for the people really willing to learn
Tony: The other thing I ask is about their background so I go through their resume or any even if they don’t have experience. How did you pick your major? How did you discover what you wanted to do, what you really want to know? How did you know when you wanted to become an engineer or a doctor? I always want to see that insight. Do they understand what their gut is telling when they articulate that and then understand if they are really about pleasing you or trying to challenge themselves and get better. so you have to really listen closely.
S: you wanna be open to learning, open to failure.
T: Absolutely. We don’t learn to walk when we don’t walk out of the room. We have to learn everything in this failure on the way and you have to understand those moments of adversity and those moments of triumph, and how those people dealt with it. That’s the way I can assess.
We are adaptable creatures. we can learn all kinds of things if we want to learn.
Every single place you go there’s always something you can learn. You just have to be tuned into it and so yeah I learned a lot of great things in Apple. But at the end of the day, it boiled down to tenacity the people you know and things you need through your experiences. You can’t build a new company without understanding yourself but also knowing a network of people who can help you build. Most company is not just one person. It is a group of people. You need to have a network of people to help you and empower them to help you.
S: what is the rule for you to add a new feature?
T: First you have to segment out: are you a business to business product(service), or you’re business to consumer product. Very different things. company has very specific requirements and customer has very limited amount of requirement.
In General Magic we spent 4 years building something because we thought we needed every single feature. general magic lost a billion dollars and was one of the biggest failures in Silicon valley, because we put too many features in and it took 4 hours to explain what the product was. People have very limited time. You only have 3 or 4 amazing things to tell people.
Remote control is an example of Over design.
In the early days, we were trying to impress the person next to us. I am trying to say that I’m gonna make something so cool to impress them. You are doing something for someone who really understands and it gets really geeky. What your job as a great engineering designer is to not make things for the engineer next to you, but it’s to make for the common person who doesn’t understand the technology. Also, the product is empowering that person who buy the product a superpower. you make it so simple for them. They use it and feel like they have a new superpower they’ve never had.
S: how to say no if I want to add a new button.
T: there are data-driven decision, and opinion-based decision. the previous one is easier to look, and the later only takes 1 or 2 person to take care.
S: how do you learn from your failure?
… Your brain doesn’t come from the superficial success but from the learning success.
S: how do you convert from ipod to thermostat
T: I am chasing the passion, the thing that I really want to fix, that I thought was meaningful.
Don’t point to the market size. Point to the impact it could have as you do it right.
S: How do you do market research and something that doesn’t have a market yet?
T: You have to start with the idea what are you changing, and you have to take bold steps in terms of making something and trying it.
S: When I grow up in German, my professor never ever ask a question. They are supposed to know everything.
T: I went to 12 different schools in 15 years. Every time I was always learning because I was always in a new environment. I never was a master of in my environment because it was always changing. you should never think you’re a master of in your environment. This is about staying beginners to know what kind of product you’re going to make.
There are 2 things. One is always question. If you always question that means you’re curious, you have the potential to learn. The other one is just keep trying, keep listening ,keep learning, keep applying knowledge.