The Tim Ferriss Show: The Oracle of Silicon Valley, Reid Hoffman and Michael McCullough

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Listen to the Podcast with @reidhoffman and Michael McCullough the founder of QuestBridge.org  

7.5/10 Microphones

  • What Reid took from his alternative schooling in Vermont (Putney School): Grounding in the breadth of human condition, perhaps more so than most people in silicon valley who are valley narrowly focused
  • Tips for Non-Technical Founders:
    • Depends on how core tech is to your idea
    • Generally worth finding a technical cofounder if building anything tech
    • Usually at least 1 founder should be technical
  • Reid On Philosophy:
    • Undergrad degree in AI, but realized the technology wasn’t ready yet, and went to learn from philosophy on how better understand/pursue AI
    • Philosophy is pre-science and birthed out science
    • Novice Recommendation: Wittgensteinian philosophy
  • What Makes a Good Entrepreneurial Firefighter?
    • Understand what the problem is, what is the key moving variable, solve that and propagate out broadly
    • Focus on result you are looking for, work backwards to find what matters and how you can influence it
    • Avalon Hill Board Games: Helped Reid learn this approach/technique
  • On Strategy
    • Most people think they are better at it than they are
    • Games are good practice, not computer one, but vs. other people
    • Read some military strategy- Sun Tzu (The Art of War), Carl von Clausewitz
    • Sports, but those are limited if you only know one sport in mind and not if the rules for that sport change
    • Key is the learn the CURRENT game and how to play that
      • Companies fall when they’ve learned a game that is no longer current and cannot adjust
      • Recognize when a strategy does/does not apply
    • On Uber
      • Positive: Quickly deployed with clear benefits to drivers, riders
      • Negative: Overly combative with regulators and others, don’t try bulldoze them
    • On Investing in Facebook
      • Already aware and tracking before he met Mark Zuckerberg
      • First meeting just confirmed his thoughts
      • Suggested Peter Theil lead round to avoid conflict of interest with LinkedIn, Friendster
    • 3 Types of CEO Jobs and which ones Reid likes/dislikes:
      • 1000+ people: Reid isn’t interest in this, your focus is on the organization and making it work (Reid would rather help them than do it personally)
      • 150-500 people: Ok doing this job, but prefer product problems, firefighting, etc.
      • 10-20 people: Comfortable doing it, as you are still working on problem and less about the organization
    • Looking for CEOs:
      • Founders should try keep connected, but not always be the CEO
      • See LinkedIn Posts from Reid on this and other topics
      • You are bringing in a later stage cofounder who has scale skills, closely tied to mission, product and organization, and will partner well with the founder (not a grey haired hired gun)
    • On Morning Routines:
      • 30-60 minutes: Focus on a creative problem I need to work on (not distracted from other things and most clear minded, even before shower)
        • Try prime on the topic before sleeping
      • Triage email for emergencies
      • Business breakfast on a project like Mozilla, portfolio company, etc.
      • Drive to breakfast do a call (only phone time of the day)
    • Name Association:
      • Brian Cesky: 7 Star design, AirBnB is not an online product, but the entire experience of going, staying, leaving – how to best design that entire process at each step
      • John Lilly (Greylock): Deep and interesting as a technologist, technical CEO of Mozilla combined with design experience
        • Intersection of user design with deep technology
      • Elon Musk: Super smart, relentless, The Sky is the Limit is too short for Elon
        • Strategy is usually going after easiest/most valuable problem
        • BUT, if you have a deep vision and focus on something competitors are really weak, then you can give you a sufficient window to tackle hard problems
      • Julie-Ana (founder of Kiva.org): Word class entrepreneur, learner, etc. who can also apply all of those to for profit, but also non-profit world in the same kind of scale, time, focus
      • Cory Booker: Great civic leader, bold, entrepreneurial
        • Leading edge of how to learn from silicon valley to serve American people (not just to raise money)
        • Expert is asking questions
      • Most Gifted Books:
      • What would you put on 1 Billboard?
        • Michael: Pick something you’re afraid of everyday and go after it
        • Reid: In DC, have you worked someone across the aisle today?

Michael, Founder of QuestBridge

  • Going “off algorithm” in the ER
    • Algorithm = mandatory checklist, but something there are more options not on the checklist
    • On looking at someone in the eyes as they die:
      • If they are afraid, you are trying to give them peace
      • If they are content, they are giving you a kind of peace/universality that would be hard to pay for
      • An honor to be there either way
    • Good vs. Great ER Doctors:
      • Good = Thorough and not careless
      • Great = Actually care about the patient and comfort them
    • Southern accents work best in the ER, even when you yell they don’t think you’re mad
    • ER work translates to making a decision, but you need to make important decision without complete information
    • Neurofeedback: Seeing increasingly interesting techniques
    • Morning Routine:
      • 30-60 meditation when wake up in middle of the night (concentration and mindfulness techniques)
    • Questbridge: Common Application for super smart, low income kids to apply to schools (free to apply), been going to 20 years in some form
      • Results in half of diverse kids that go to top schools
      • The Key Problem: No actual shortage of smart low income kids, they just simply don’t fill in the applications
      • Now need to bring these kids from college and into the corporate world
      • Reid: Decided to be involved/invest
        • Question of life is how do you maximize humanity
        • Questbridge is very intelligent system design by providing a path to succeed in a great college
          • As a way to change a life and the whole world
        • Contribute to Questbridge create your own intervention- read out to Michael directly at Michael@questbridge.org
          • g. give our laptop/ipad where you have to fill out the college app the qualify from the device

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