Ideas are bulletproof

I was flipping TV channels (does anyone else still do that anymore?) and I caught the end of V for Vendetta.  I have seen the movie before and I think it’s a great flick.  One line toward the end has always struck me as being a mantra for entrepreneurs.

When V is about to off Mr. Creedy, Creedy desperately asks V after having shot him so many times, “Why won’t you die?”  V says in response, “Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea, Mr. Creedy.  And ideas are bulletproof.

Despite economic turmoil and during times of war, political instability, and larger macro-crises, sometimes people are compelled against odds to bring an idea to life.  And to me that is really the true spirit of entrepreneurship.

How to reward genius?

Joel Spolsky wrote an excellent piece describing an idea an intern had while working for him at Fog Creek Software to create a job board system to allow FCS to capitalize on all the web traffic they were generating.

http://www.inc.com/magazine/20090101/how-hard-could-it-be-thanks-or-no-thanks_Printer_Friendly.html?partner=fogcreek

It’s an excellent story to highlight a key question: how do you reward genius in your startup?

Do you call them out publicly?  Do you award them cash bonuses?  Do you give them more stock?  It’s a tough thing to decide sometimes depending on the situation, because you don’t want to reward someone if by consequence you risk de-motivating someone else in the team.

At Visible Measures, we have often struggled with this.  We are blessed with the best group of folks a nerd like me could ever hope to work with.  We have believe in the ideal of trying to be “MORE than fair” with everyone, hoping to anticipate people’s needs and desires so that they never have to really ask for anything.  But of course ideals are not always reality.  

More often than not, we have ended up highlighting people’s ideas, efforts, and accomplishments, and have tried to reward genius with more ownership in the company, as well as with fun little gifts, little treats, bonuses etc.  But to be honest, even more important to me as an entrepreneur is that people have a great attitude about creating and building something together and are willing to do whatever it takes to make good things happen.  We believe that “good intent” is really something to be treasured and rewarded.

Our goal is to try to build the team with the best attitude and the most passion.  I know that a lot of great things can happen if you’ve got the right team “on the bus” no matter where you’re headed.

Speaking tomorrow at CES – stop by if you haven’t gotten eaten up by Vegas yet!

I am not a huge fan of big conferences.  People have been saying that CES this year is noticeably smaller than last year.  It still feels like a zoo to me!  I have been meeting some great folks though which is awesome.

The panel that I’m on isn’t happening until tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon, and I would bet anyone that there will only be a handful of people still surviving or still in Vegas by that time.  This town is fun but so harsh – I’ve been here since Tuesday night so I’m pretty much dead.  If you are around and at least somewhat awake/sober, please do stop by!

I’m participating in a session entitled: Advertising Analytics and Social Media, Search, Video Search and HyperTargeting (aka: “Ok, who’s left?  Hmmm, let’s put them all in here!”).   It’s on Saturday, Jan. 10, at 3pm in North Hall 261.

http://www.cesweb.org/sessions/search/sessionDetail.asp?ID_session=DH23

Please come or else the panel speakers will end up sitting and talking amongst ourselves!  

Brian