Thursday, 20 November 2014

Ben Huh's 3 Lessons

Ben Huh, the  CEO of the infamous I Can Has Cheezburger, posted his story and lessons on Medium today. He detailed his story of the struggles of the business, including multiple rounds of layoffs and falling revenues. He also explained his side of the story, and even owns up to the fact that he lost his focus and vision throughout the way.

Near the end, he discusses the three lessons he learned over the last three years. I found it refreshing and interesting to hear about one CEO's struggles, especially that he is able to see where he went wrong.

The first lesson: "Consumption is learning"
He talks about learning from others, and I think this fits really well with what I am learning these days. Social media moves so quickly that many universities are only just now figuring out how to teach it. Much of what I know about the internet and social media isn't stuff I learned in a classroom. It's stuff I learned by seeing others use it. I learned the little tips and tricks about hashtags from the thought-leaders I follow. When I was hired to help run a facebook page, I had never run a facebook page before. I learned how to properly do it by seeing what other facebook pages were posting. I learned through consuming other people's posts.

The second lesson: "Remixing is cooperation"
He mentions that everyone should be open to criticism and cooperation. By inviting others to comment, modify, and remix your work, you can grow and develop something better than anything imagined. Social media is inherently social (maybe that's why they call it social media!) and it pays to have people suggesting new ideas. Creativity isn't a one-person operation; it comes out of many people working together to create something through cooperation. I'll never understand facebook pages that don't let people comment or twitter accounts that don't read their mentions. Afterall, how can you create anything new without listening directly to your consumers.

The third lesson: "Friction kills. Speed wins"
His take on this is that you need to get out of the way of the users to allow them to do whatever they want. His take on speed is that people don't want to wait, and that you need to get the product to the consumers as fast as possible. This applies in every aspect of life I think; I can't be the only one who hates waiting around for the newest product or innovation. Social media is about speed. If I take a good picture on my phone, you can bet I'm posting it to instagram right away. I think the biggest annoyance is waiting for content. For example, last week Laurier SOS took a picture of me holding one of their signs for a contest. They told me that once it was posted, if I tagged myself in it, I'd be entered to win. I went home and looked for the picture to no avail. I quickly forgot about it. Today, the pictures were posted and someone mentioned it to me. I couldn't believe that - a whole week to post some pictures?! Of course I completely forgot about the contest and the picture. Speed wins, and in this case their lack of speed killed.

It's interesting to hear his version of these lessons, and I liked that they're coming from a place where he was failing the company. So much of the advice we get is from people who are doing well and have always done well. I really liked reading the perspective of someone who struggled so much, and not in that "rags-to-riches" way but "here's how I almost destroyed everything" way.

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