Discovery Invest Leadership Summit. Content Summary and Big Thinking.

I tried to do something slightly different for this year's Discovery Invest Leadership Summit. Truth be told, the way conferences are covered on Twitter is starting to grate my carrot. It's not that the tweetors are ill-intentioned, it's just that I don't think there's much value for the receiving audience if 100 people at a conference are repeating the same 100 character (# tags take up space too!) quotes and 1 liners. That's not conference coverage in my humble opinion. Or not efficient coverage at least.

The little experiment was: 

  • Use Google+ as a platform
  • Instead of tweeting, rather take opinionated, Andy-filtered notes and post the long form version out.
  • See if I could aggregate any useful info FROM Twitter.


  • Google+ is still bloody quiet in SA. But I can totally see the case the US pundits have for using it as a blogging/communications platform. It really handles social content objects well. It's a framework for BETTER conversation.
  • I'll post them below. I think it worked out pretty well.
  • Didn't work out. Didn't find huge value in the Twitter stream besides a confirmation of certain quotes. Perhaps it's different to follow it from outside the venue. Let me know in the comments. Also, I wanted to use Storify to aggregate content - but Storify and the Motorola Xoom tablet I was testing at the time didn't really see eye to eye. Sad face emoticon.

Here are the notes from the 3 speakers who really stood out for me. Lessons, thoughts, quotes, facts and big thinking...

Ricardo Semler. Discovery Invest Leadership Summit.
Notes and thoughts from the Keynote

Our interpretation of the world and of the actions we think we need to take is a bit off. Funny times where we go through hell in airport security, yet its easier to unleash a puff of anthrax in Times Square. Perception and interpretation of safety is off.

Business is more about marginal change than dramatic change. Dramatic change comes from outside your business, outside your industry. It's why we poach staff and pivot business so often. Desperate to get away from marginal change.

92.9% of companies don't exist for more than 20 years.

Are we sure that a 'career' should be: learning to read budgets, making powerpoints and facilitating meetings? Typical definitions of business success are crumbling.

The business plan: extrapolation of wishful thinking, where all the good stuff happens in the second half of the plan.

Semler's company disbanded their corporate HQ. Allows offices to pop up in a location - when needed. Some are temporary, some not. Concept of coming to work at one place is breaking.

Intuition is not trusted enough in business. We've become too scientific. We're doing business like the IBM machine that beat Kasparov at chess. We should be looking for intuition in staff hires. Its one of the only people differentiators left...

Breaking paradigms. How about setting your own salary? Its possible with ultra transparency. Tell your staff what everyone makes. Tell them what the benchmarks are. Tell them how much money the company makes. Then ask them what they want to make. Basically, salary jealousy occurs because we don't have enough inputs. Would be interesting to se how this plays out in SA with BEE demands that inevitably lead to salary mismatches.

We spend 23% of our life studying. 35% of our life retired and the rest working. Ouch. Now think about this: Plot your available income, available time and health on a line graph, with the next 60 years as the x axis. It tells us a lot. When you have the money, you don't have the time. When you have the time, you don't have the money - and health over 60 years just tends towards death.

1 day a week is worth roughly 20% of your salary. What if a company gave you 1 day a week back at say... a 10% discount on your salary. So now you have some time to do the things you want to do when you're retired, except now you have the money and the health!

We need to give ourselves options. There is always a better way. We need dramatic change.

Dan Ariely. Discovery Invest Leadership Summit
Thoughts and notes from his Keynote

Irrational behavior and how to combat it.

Humans have a funny ability to all believe very strongly in the wrong thing. They also aren't as aware of their preferences as they think they are.

Organ donations. Some countries donate a lot, some very little. Is this about generosity? Is it about marketing? Actually its about the enrollment form. Low donor countries have a form that says: tick the box if you want to join donor programme. High donor countries have a form that says: tick the box if you DON'T want to join the donor programme. Opt in vs opt out. When we don't understand a choice, or don't pay attention to a choice - we often just do nothing. Wonder what the CPA regulations are on how you ask this +Paul Jacobson ?

Path of least resistance is so attractive because its what will happen if you do nothing...

Retail study. Jam. A shelf with 6 jams vs 24 jams. 24 is more interesting and will always be chosen as a stock preference. But. 30% of people shown 6 jams actually bought. 3% of people shown 24 jams actually bought. Too much choice causes humans to shut down. Interesting challenges for retailers - and the exact problem we're trying ti solve with

eCommerce study. Economist subscription prices:
Web 59 dollars
Print 125 dollars
Web and Print 125 dollars

When given 3 choices, majority choose expensive combo option - perception of comparative value. When given just the first and last option, majority choose the cheaper option. Presentation of choices can manipulate the chooser.

How do you break this?! Or take advantage of it as a business?

* Link positive experiences with negative required behaviors.

* Keep the problem small (eg. Global warming - the problem is just too big). Toyota Prius a good example of transferrance. Buy a Prius, you're doing something about global warming.

* Set temptation barriers. Eg. An alarm clock where the snooze button is linked to your bank account, and donates a Rand to your most hated politician every time you hit it.

Interesting. Semler says go for intuition. Ariely says challenge your intuition - we're wrong too often!

Read his book: Predictably Irrational.

Chris Anderson. Discovery Invest Leadership Summit
Notes and thoughts from his Keynote

Free. The future of a radical price.

Cross subsidisation. Give away one product to get people to buy another. The original "through free to fee" model. Razorblades, Jello, Blogs, Google services - all good examples.

When items become abundant (usually because of things like Moore's Law), we need to change the way we treat them. We must waste on a grand scale. Use it to drive innovation. Use it to get these items into the hands of more people.

Scientists created HTTP / TCP IP, the transport protocols for data. We, the people, created the web. We filled it. And most of it's free.

Time it takes for price to fall by 50%: Processing power 18 months. Storage 16 months. Bandwidth 12 months.

In a competitive market, price falls to the marginal cost. Joseph Bertrand. 1883.

The Internet is the first truly competitive market. Global scale. Same platform. Competing for our money, time and reputation. Low barrier to entry. Almost 0 cost of delivery another copy of a digital product.

Freemium. Where the minority subsidize the majority. All good, but it requires scale. Gotta have a lot of traffic if only 1% of your users actually hand over cash.

The 3 biggest tech trends of today.
* The App Economy
* The Cloud
* The End of Physical Media

Odd thing about the "cloud" - the cheaper local storage gets, the less you need it. Because all the storage you need is in the cloud.

Games are a great indicator of behavior and pricing psychology:
* people will pay to save time
* people will pay to lower risk
* people will pay for more of things they love
* people will pay for status
* people will pay if you make them (when they're hooked)

Local (South African) startup in the cloud/freemium space to watch: PeoplePlus


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