Lessons from Bing Gordon

Bing Gordon

Today the interns @Uptake got to meet Bing Gordon. Bing is a board member at Amazon, one of the founding members of EA, and also one of the founding members of Audible. He is one of the most conscious and insightful people I have ever met. He’s also made the Midas List of Venture Capitalists. Here are some of the lessons he taught us:

#1 Draft Pick

There’s only one number one draft pick in football. There are very few people who make it to the Football Hall of Fame. In order to be the best, see what the number one draft pick is doing, and learn to emulate the patterns that made them successful. In business the same principle applies. Google, Microsoft, and Amazon have earned their place in the hall of fame. Uptake is currently the #1 draft pick. If you want to start a business that joins the likes of the stars, start emulating the patterns that made them successful (not the specific actions).

Rule of 7

Bing did a great job of describing what a level 10 productivity looks like for college students: It’s the night before your exam, and you’ve still got a term paper and calculus homework you’ve procrastinated on. At 10pm you get a text from your friend asking for help on the Chem homework (fuck! There was Chem homework?!) At midnight your friends force you to go out for a quick drink where you see someone looking at you from across the bar. IF you’ve been having a level 10 week, on Monday you’ve got an A paper, A on your calculus homework, finished the Chem, and have a date for next weekend. The rule of 7 says if you’re feeling below a 7, you need to have an intervention with yourself (help may be needed) to figure out what happened and how you can make the next week better.

Rule of 30%

Where do you want to be in 3 years? What are your goals you’d like to have accomplished by then? What’s stopping you from doing it in 2 years? The Rule of 30% says you can achieve almost anything in a time frame 30% shorter than you think it takes. Writing out a plan help make it possible. “What would it take to accomplish my goals in two-thirds the time I plan it to?”

Forever OKRs

Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) are Google’s system for setting goals to have better alignment in an organization. Bing recommends using industry benchmarks to improve your happiness and effectiveness in life. When you go negotiate your pay for an internship/job, ask “what did the best intern get paid last year?”, “What is the best intern doing that separates them from the rest?” Setting goals helps you to better evaluate where you are and what you need to do to make it to the next level in any area. Note: I’ve noticed Bing is a proponent of using information feedback to inform future decisions.

Women In Tech

Bing has two daughters, and addressed the issue of women in tech. Here’s some quotes from his talk with my takeaway in the parenthesis:

“Being apologetic is okay, just realize you typically have nothing to be sorry for, and it’s mostly you saying ‘please don’t hate me’” (Think about WHY you are apologizing, 80% of the time we do nothing worth apologizing for)

“Does this compensation match the best people in the company doing the same job? If not, why are you being evaluated as less than the best? You shouldn’t be” (I’d take this as a negotiating tactic during your next interview. Sheryl Sandberg says if you aren’t comfortable asking for yourself, understand your asking helps ALL women).

“Be obviously strong” (Dr Stephen Covey says embracing challenges is a step towards becoming successful)

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