People are always advised to follow your dreams, but in 'That Will Never Work' I show them how!
The lessons I learned starting Netflix - and over a lifetime of entrepreneurship - are broadly applicable to anyone with a dream.
Now, I love a good factory tour. Drop me into a bottling plant, an automotive assembly line, or a jellybean factory, and I'm happy as a clam at high tide.
When I first met Jeff Bezos back in the late 90s, the only automated thing in his office was a rotating fan, gently blowing across a pair of identical blue shirts he'd hung on a water pipe behind his desk.
No one knows what's a good idea or a bad idea until you try it.
Iteration, not ideation, is the most important part of early stage entrepreneurship. You have to have a lot of ideas - a lot of bad ideas - if you want to end up with a good one.
My father was an investment banker, a stock broker.
I tell aspiring entrepreneurs all the time: Validate your idea locally. Get some experience under your belt. Prove your idea has legs where you are. Spend some time as a big fish in a small pond. Demonstrate that there's a there there... there. Where you live.
I'm this big believer that culture is not what you say, it's what you do. Who cares about your PowerPoint and about what you've carved into your cornerstone? If it's not being modeled, it won't be readable.
As entrepreneurs, or artists, or just people with dreams, the worst thing you can do is get so caught up in planning the perfect idea that you never get around to actually... well, doing it. I call this building castles in your mind.
Like Netflix, Looker started as nothing more than an idea. Lloyd Tabb and Ben Porterfield were two brilliant engineers who had figured out a better way for businesses to see and analyze their data, and they asked me to join them to help out with the ABCs - that's short for Anything But Coding.
Innovation is doing something in a different way, but it also has a subtext: When there's an established way, and that way is considered the best practice and how it's traditionally been done, innovation comes by and says 'Let's try a different approach.' It doesn't need to be big or company-wide - it could be a single thing.
Diversity is not a skin thing, necessarily. Diversity is you have people around the table who have different backgrounds and different experiences and think differently.
As a student I'd done work with a charity that took inner-city kids from disadvantaged areas and introduced them to hiking and climbing in the wilderness.
At a startup, it's hard enough to get a single thing right, much less a whole bunch of things. Especially if the things you are trying to do are not only dissimilar but actively impede each other.
In fact, I'm happy to go on record as saying that the ability to create a reality distortion field is right up there alongside optimism as an entrepreneur's most valuable weapon.
At Netflix, we realized that we weren't in business with the Toshibas and the Sonys of the world. We were in business with the guy sitting at home trying to find a DVD to watch. If we had the courage to focus on him, everyone - movie studios, electronics companies, Netflix itself - won.
You pick what your customers want, not what your entrenched business model may require you to do.
The role of a founder-CEO is extremely lonely. You can't always be fully forthcoming with your board or investors or employees.
Every successful career I've ever known was filled with long periods of meandering, months or even years when no one knew what would happen next. Look at me: I started as a geology major turned failed realtor.