We had an amazing evening together - and didn’t speak about technology for a minute. We ended up speaking about Mozilla, venture capital (my role at the time) and entrepreneurship. And out of that discussion came an introduction to Chris Beard - who later asked me to consult for Mozilla and eventually hired me to help him run Mozilla Labs.
Which proves two points: Life is a series of serendipitous events. And it’s good.
In October 1984 Apple introduced the Macintosh in Germany at the “office & computer” trade show Orgatec in Cologne. At the time Orgatec was considered the biggest and most influential computer trade show in Germany (CeBIT was still part of the Hannover Messe and hasn’t yet become the palooza it is today).
My dad ordered one of the first Macs which became available in Germany at that show. 128 kilobytes of RAM, single 400 kilobyte floppy drive, no hard disk. Hard to imagine these days. And yet - it was the most incredible piece of technology.
This original Mac came with a set of software - all on 3.5” floppy disks: The system itself, MacWrite and MacPaint as well as a set of “Guided Tours”. One for the Macintosh, the other for MacWrite and MacPaint. These tours were semi-automatically running applications which came with an audio cassette to provide the narration and instructions.
Recently I came across the old tapes my dad still had in storage and digitized them. For a true “blast from the past” - here are the tapes (for some added fun - they are in German):
A Guided Tour to Macintosh (Note: The tape is identical on both sides)
A Guided Tour to MacWrite • MacPaint - Side A
A Guided Tour to MacWrite • MacPaint - Side B
BONUS: While going through a box of old stuff I also found the original manual, two brochures for the Macintosh and the very first edition of MACup, the first German Macintosh computer magazine. Here’s a photoset of these items.
I also came across the fabulous Guidebook Gallery site which has recordings of the English language version of the Guided Tour to Macintosh complete with a transcript and screenshots.
And as a special bonus - and just in case you haven’t seen this before: Richard Milewski, a colleague of mine, brought an original 1970’s Steven Jobs (yes, it’s Steven - not Steve yet) business card into the office a while ago. Here it is.
In 2009 John Lilly, Mozilla’s former CEO and now a partner at Uber-VC firm Greylock, gave a talk about the “7 Lessons from Mozilla” at the Wordpress “WordCamp” conference.
It is one of my favorite talks and one which has deeply influenced my thinking. I went on to have lots and lots of discussions with John, took his ideas and refined them over the years - now you can find them in pretty much every single talk I give.
You should watch it - it makes for great, inspirational and insightful weekend watching:
Here’s the source: http://wordpress.tv/2009/07/08/john-lilly-mozilla/
By now I guess (hope?) most of you are intimately familiar with Simon Sinek’s work “Start with Why”. No? Well - time to watch this TED Talk. You might want to read his book as well.
I fundamentally believe that his model is right. It’s a bit of an oversimplification - but it’s right. The reason why I am at Mozilla is because we start with the why…
Mozilla promotes openness, innovation and opportunity on the web.
Yes! Because it’s important.
By creating great software and building movements that give people the tools to take control of their online lives.
Oh - we build this awesome web browser. Do you want to use it?
See what I mean? Start with why.
Here’s a lesson in the power of asking.
I’m a big fan Seth Godin’s work. With my new role at Mozilla I thought it would be really interesting get some advice from Seth. So I emailed him.
Long shot, right?
I mean - come on. Seth is super-busy. Surely he gets a gazillion emails a day. And guaranteed: He has better things to do than to consider my completely unreasonable suggestion of having dinner together when he’s next in the Bay area.
Seth replied within 10 minutes (no kidding) and we’re having dinner when he’s here next.
Just ask. Simply ask.
The worst thing which can happen is you get rejected. Big deal. Ask again.
A little while ago I had the honor and pleasure to keynote the Joomla! World Conference, talking about the Mozilla project and the lessons we learned along the way.
It was a great experience as the audience was wonderful and played along beautifully. In case you have an hour to waste - here’s the video:
While going through a stack of old backup CDs I came across this gem - truly a blast from the past.
For a higher res version: PDF Download
I was featured on eBay Germany’s Company Tour on our Hiring site. Funny how some habits don’t die (coffee?!).
And what’s with that Backstreet Boys-look on the picture? ;)
I am sure a bunch of you have already seen this. It is good. So good that I watch it every time I waver. Every time I feel the niggling feeling of self-doubt coming up. And every time I feel down and lost.
Stanford’s “#leaveyourlegacy” video:
Be pissed off for Greatness my friends!
Do you have a job title which reads anything else but founder or CEO? If so - make this your motto for 2013:
“Our job titles are designed to empower us, not to limit us! Put your business card on the desk in front of you… This card does not define you. You are a Co-President. You are bigger than your defined role, and you are much more than your job title. Play your part—transcend your job title, be a hero.”
(from an article in the December edition of Inc. magazine)
For a while now I have been thinking about how to visualize Mozilla’s mission, our strategy and all the things we do in a succinct way. Recently I came across an article by Tim O’Reilly where he describes a model which Jen Pahlka from Code for America uses to tie these things together and more importantly to define what’s inside and outside of scope for CfA.
Intrigued by the model I’ve created a short video describing the model and its application for Mozilla:
It helps me a great deal in tying mission to strategy, programs and activities/actions – and getting to a clear picture of what’s inside and outside of scope for us.
What do you think?
At this year’s London Music Hack Iain Mullan created a totally hilarious and awesome hack of Johnny Cash’s song “I’ve Been Everywhere Man”.
Go and watch it. Watch the whole thing. I’ll wait.
(Note: this works only in Chrome and Safari as far as I know… longer story)
Funny, isn’t it?
Now here’s the thing. When I saw this today I first laughed. It was witty, cool, fun. And then it dawned on me - THIS is precisely the reason why I love the web and why it matters. Iain was able to create this fun thing on a weekend at a hackathon, upload it to his personal website and by now probably millions of people have seen it, shared it on Facebook, Twitter, through email or even wrote a newsletter about it.
Imagine a world where we only have iOS, Android and all the other closed platforms.
This whole thing would just not be possible. Iain would have needed to write this for every platform he wants to support - Objective C for iOS, Java for Android, etc. Then he would need to submit his app to the app stores. Oh - and before he can do this, he needs a developer account which, in the case of Apple for example, costs him $100/year. The app stores would very most likely not allow him to post his app - as it looks like he violated the copyright on the Johnny Cash song. And even if he would get the app into the store, then people can’t just share this - they need to download his app. They can’t even easily share a link to the app but need to tell their friends to go to the app store and find and download the “I’ve Been Everywhere Man” app.
And this is precisely why the web matters.
Failure. The fabled word. For some it’s the apocalypse. For others it has become a badge of honor.
Failure is the state or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective, and may be viewed as the opposite of success. [Source: Wikipedia]
The Lean Startup movement (wow - is that really a movement? Or more a fashion or even a fad?) teaches us to “fail fast”. There is now a successful conference which focusses on nothing else but failure (FailCon).
And yet - I ask myself: In the grand scheme of things – what do you learn from failure (especially the failure of others)?
One can argue that, as Thomas J. Watson stated, “if you want to succeed, [you need to] double your failure rate”. This might be true for your own experimentation - as with every failure you eliminate one way of doing things wrongly. On the flip side of that argument - assuming that there are a thousand ways to skin a cat (as they say), every failure only eliminates one of those 1,000 options. Which still leaves you with an incredibly small chance of success.
This might be worth doing if you learn from your own failures (as Thomas J. Watson did) but I would argue that it does little for you when you try to learn from the failures of others. All you learn is - what not to do. Wouldn’t it be much more helpful to learn what works?
So - next time you talk to a successful entrepreneur (or inventor or someone you want to learn something from) ask what made him successful and learn from that. Otherwise you only learn one way of 1,000 ways of “what not to do”.
heretic ˈherətik noun: a person holding an opinion at odds with what is generally accepted.
For quite some time now I am somewhat dissatisfied with my communication modalities. I either blog or tweet. Blogging feels somewhat heavy-weight, as I tend to want to get it right. I research what I want to talk about, I spend time writing a draft, re-read it many times and eventually hit the publish button. Twitter on the other hand is often limiting - I can’t express what I want to say as I have to squeeze everything into 140 short characters and the sheer fleeting nature of a tweet also often doesn’t feel right.
So I will try something new (well, for me at least) - I’ve set up a small email newsletter: TheHeretic.me
The idea is that I will publish once a day (or less - as I am lazy) something which caught my eye, made me think, something interesting, funny, insightful (we’ll see about that). You can reply to the newsletter and we can have a dialog. It’s a bit like a raw brain dump. Not quite a blog post but more than a tweet.
Join me for the ride and subscribe. Let’s see what comes out of it.
Oh - and before I forget: The stuff you will read on the newsletter are strictly my own opinions. Don’t construct any relationship to my employer or any other projects I work on. I don’t call it The Heretic for nothing. :)