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More on data enabled underwriting April 30, 2012

Posted by jeremyliew in big data, financial services.
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Check out my guest post on data enabled underwriting at American Banker.

How to Build the Next Huge Mobile App April 19, 2012

Posted by Bipul Sinha in discovery, distribution, location, mobile.

The advent and growth of social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and, now, Pinterest has heralded a new era in the Internet where people are connected to one another to share, discover, curate, and collaborate. The mobile applications are fast becoming the primary vehicle to access what I call “connected services” to discover people, information and entertainment. However unlike the intent oriented desktop Internet search, the mobile platform is about discovery. Thus the application developers would have to think differently about getting user attention and engagement.

User Time Slices

I view smart phones as bite-size infotainment consumption devices. Users launch different applications for short spurts during the day to interact live, get updates, transact, share experiences, and generally play. I call these 2-5 minute spurts “time slices” and examples of these time slices include waiting for a coffee, a short break from work, waiting for everyone to gather for a meeting etc. Users typically don’t have any fixed plans for these time slices and they like to discover infotainment through their applications. To build a mass market application, developers should consider two core factors: a unique discovery oriented infotainment experience and a bite-size time slice filler. An application that fits this paradigm would get huge user attention and engagement. Pulse News* is a great example of such an application. It allows users to discover news and information in a bite-size consumption format – you launch your Pulse when you have a few minutes and would like to be in the know.

How do you think about building the next large scale mobile app? I’m all ears.

* Lightspeed Portfolio Company

People who feel guilty over mistakes make better leaders April 18, 2012

Posted by jeremyliew in leadership, management.
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Just read an interesting article about some research coming out of the Stanford Business School that suggests that feelings of guilt may signal leadership potential. Some excerpts below, but I’d urge you to click through and read the whole thing – it is pretty short.

When we think of a typical leader, most of us picture a person who’s sociable and upbeat. But new research puts a wrinkle in that stereotype, revealing an unexpected sign of leadership potential: the tendency to feel guilty. “Guilt-prone people tend to carry a strong sense of responsibility to others, and that responsibility makes other people see them as leaders,” says Becky Schaumberg, a doctoral candidate in organizational behavior who conducted the research with Francis Flynn, the Paul E. Holden Professor of Organizational Behavior…

Schaumberg first began investigating a possible link between guilt and leadership when she noticed that driven, hard-working people often mentioned guilt as a motivator. “You don’t usually think of guilt and leadership together, but we started thinking that people would want individuals who feel responsible to be their leaders.”…

There are many ways of responding to mistakes or other problems, Schaumberg says, including blaming others and blaming yourself. But the most constructive response, and the one people seem to recognize as a sign of leadership, is to feel guilty enough to want to fix the problem. “When thinking about what traits are important for leaders to possess, there tends to be a focus on what people do well. But we know that people make mistakes and mess up, and it’s important to look at how people respond to those mistakes because that’s a clue to who they are.”

If you read the whole article, you’ll see how it talks about the specific experiments and research that she did to come up with this finding, and also about how guilt (as distinct from shame) is a better predictor of leadership than how extroverted you are.

This reminded me of Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset:

Dweck explains why it’s not just our abilities and talent that bring us success–but whether we approach them with a fixed or growth mindset. She makes clear why praising intelligence and ability doesn’t foster self-esteem and lead to accomplishment, but may actually jeopardize success. With the right mindset, we can motivate our kids and help them to raise their grades, as well as reach our own goals–personal and professional. Dweck reveals what all great parents, teachers, CEOs, and athletes already know: how a simple idea about the brain can create a love of learning and a resilience that is the basis of great accomplishment in every area.

The takeaway is similar. Dweck says that people who have a growth mindset regards abilities and actions as changeable, and think that through more work they can improve. So they embrace learning through failure, and when something goes wrong, they keep working to make it right, to learn.  People with a fixed mindset regard ability as innate, and so avoid situations that could lead to failure.

Schaumberg comes to a similar conclusion from a different direction. She says that people who feel “guilty” feel guilt about an event or action, and work to make it right, whereas people who feel “shame” feel it about themselves, and remove themselves from the opportunity.

Whichever way you come at it, others recognize when someone works to make things better, and they look to those people for leadership.

Direct Selling; Is it the Next Driver Of Startup Commerce Companies? April 14, 2012

Posted by jeremyliew in Uncategorized.
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I just wrote a guest post on TechCrunch asking. “Is Direct Selling The Next Driver Of Startup Commerce Companies?” We’re seeing lots of exciting startups using this old channel to drive very fast growth.