Tony Fadell



Tony Fadell (the author) played a big part in building the iPhone, iPod and the Nest Thermostat - some of the most iconic products of all time. Build is both an autobiography and a playbook - for how to build great products.

The inside story on Google’s acquisition of Nest was particularly interesting to me - Tony’s observations align with my personal experience as a Googler. The chapter on Assholes was refreshing, you need to know how to deal with these people! I also found myself agreeing with Tony’s product messaging framework.

This is an important read for anyone interested in building great products.

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Key Takeaways

The 20% that gave me 80% of the value.

  • There are too many mediocre companies and products out there. Strive for excellence - push those around you to do the same.
  • Dedicate yourself to a problem you’re passionate about. Find your community. If nobody is working on it - you maybe too early.
  • There are two types of decisions:
    • Data-Driven: Acquire, study, and debate facts and numbers that will allow you to be fairly confident in your choice. Easy to make, easy to defend and easy to get agreement.
    • Opinion-driven: Following your gut and your vision - without the benefit of sufficient data to guide you or back you up. Hard to make and always questioned.
    • You can’t turn an opinion-driven decision into a data-driven one
  • Know the different types of assholes (political, controlling, aggressive, passive-aggressive, mission-driven). Pushing for greatness, challenging assumptions and not tolerating mediocrity doesn’t automatically make you an asshole.
  • Quit if you’re no longer passionate about the mission, or you’ve tried everything and spoken to everyone and it’s still not working.
  • Design and prototype the entire user journey. Don’t just make a thing - make a better user journey. Every customer touchpoint is an expression of your brand and product.
  • Test prototypes with real customers as soon as possible.
  • If hardware doesn’t absolutely need to exist to enable the overall experience, then it should not exist.
  • Product story telling is really important - for both the customers and your team. Once you understand why your product is needed - you can focus on how it works
  • Version 1 of your product should be disruptive. Opinion driven vision > Customer Insights > Data. Aiming for product-market fit, not profitability.
  • Version 2 is typically an evolution. Decisions can be baes on data and customer insights once you are evolving your product - look for opportunities to disrupt yourself which aiming for profitability
  • You make the product. You fix the product. You build the business. Every product. Every company. Every time. Tony Fadell
  • The disruption tradeoff: Not so disruptive that you won’t be able to execute - Not so easy to execute that nobody will care.
  • Handcuff yourself and your team to a deadline - constraints make you more creative. Then codify your delivery process into a heartbeat - that sets the pace for product development.
  • Good ideas solve for a customer need, that’s important and frequent. Good ideas will follow you around - they persist in your mind.
  • On Org Design: Break your org into product specific groups so each product gets the attention it deserves. New products need new teams, otherwise they’ll never get made. Decisions speed up and everyone has a shared goal rather than conflicting priorities.
  • Design thinking means thinking through a problem and finding an elegant solution. Don’t outsource a problem unless you’ve tried to solve it yourself. Try to notice things, and avoid habituation, getting used to the inconveniences
  • Product messaging is key. What you should say? - Where you say it? You can’t say everything everywhere, so you need to get it right.
    • Understand your customers pains → map them to a pain-killer in your product
    • Test the messaging to check it resonates
    • Map your customer touch-points - and work out where each piece of messaging is displayed.
  • The product managers responsibility is to build the right products for the right customers
  • The things a CEO pays attention to become the priorities for the company.
  • Do something meaningful - make something worth making

Deep Summary

Longer form notes, typically condensed, reworded and de-duplicated.

Fully expanded this summary is 9600 words. Condensing 360 pages to about 20.

There are too many mediocre companies and products out there. Strive for excellence - push those around you to do the same.

Building Yourself

  • As a kid you make just 25% of your decisions. Largely you mimic your parents. In adulthood you have choice. This is your time - take risks.
  • Life is unstructured, no curriculum tests or grades. You’ll need to learn from failure, so change your relationship with it.
  • Follow your curiosity to find a job you love. What do you want to learn about? Surrounded yourself with people who you can learn from. Learn through productive struggle.
  • Start at the bottom, work hard, prove yourself and move up. Get in early, stay late. It’s your education.
  • Prioritise ‘Mission, People and Opportunity’ over ‘Money, Status and Title’
Criteria for a great product/team/project/company
  • You can dedicate decades to a problem you’re passionate about. Find your community.
    • If nobody is working on it - you might be too early or going in the wrong direction.
    • If you find a small community keep going, get in early, build relationships and find mentors.
  • Put in the work to learn your field - aim to become the most knowledgable. Leverage your knowledge to meet leaders - that will create opportunity.
  • Make a connection at your target company. Keep sharing interesting stuff and they’ll notice you. Be persistence and helpful. Offer something don’t ask for something.
  • Get into a small company, building something meaningful, with some rockstars on the team. Help the rockstars, earn trust, win respect and nurture the relationships.
  • Don’t just to do you job (looking down). Spend 20%:
    • Looking up, to the mission and milestones ahead. Make sure you’re staying true to the mission and you’re on a path that makes sense.
    • Looking around: beyond your team, meet other functions, understand their needs, perspectives, and concerns. You’ll be able to judge the health of the company better this way.
  • For best results always engage other disciplines early; don’t wait until you’ve built something

Building Your Career

6 things to think about if you’re thinking about becoming a manager...
  • Learn to let go. Get over the fear that the product will suffer. Trust your team - give them room and opportunity. Don’t overdo it - make sure you still know what’s going on. Examining the product in great detail and caring deeply about quality is not micromanagement. That’s exactly what you should be doing.
    • Steve Jobs used jeweller’s loupe to check individual pixels were properly drawn. He inspected every piece of hardware, every word on the packaging - he showed the level of detail expected at Apple
  • Agree how to work up front. Your product development, design, marketing and sales process. Set a schedule, define how you’ll work together. Get everyone to sign off on it, then let go and let the team work.
  • Track progress with regular team meetings. Goal is to give everyone clarity. Keep a list of your priorities, questions and risks for each project and person. When the list gets too long you need to either dive deeper or back off
  • Know your management style. Find out what connects with your team, find out how to share your passion and motivate them. Tell them why you’re passionate? How this small detail relates to the mission.
  • Help people succeed and become the best version of themselves. It’s your responsibility to help them work through failure and find success. Celebrate when they do.

On Decision Making

  • There are two types of decisions:
    • Data-Driven: Acquire, study, and debate facts and numbers that will allow you to be fairly confident in your choice. Easy to make, easy to defend and easy to get agreement.
    • Opinion-driven: Following your gut and your vision - without the benefit of sufficient data to guide you or back you up. Hard to make and always questioned.
  • You can’t turn an opinion-driven decision into a data-driven one. Data can’t solve an opinion-based problem. No matter how much data you get, it will always be inconclusive. This leads to analysis paralysis—death by overthinking.
  • If you don’t have access to data - use insights and consult...
    • Insights are key learnings about your customer, market or product space. They can provide something substantial that gives you an intuitive feeling for what you should do.
    • Consult experts and confer with your team. You won’t reach consensus, but hopefully you’ll be able to form a gut instinct.
  • Customer panels aren’t helpful. People can’t articulate what they want clearly. They’re adverse to new stuff.
  • You can’t A/B test your way to achieving your mission. Experimentation is not a replacement for a product vision. Think through what you test. Testing is a tool that’s best used on the smaller stuff (e.g where to put the buy button) - not ‘the core’ of your proposition.
  • This is not a democracy:
    • Sometimes you’ll need to make the in/out decision. Not everyone will agree with you.
    • Explain if it’s an opinion-driven decision → you’re not going to reach the right choice by consensus. Tell the team your thought process. Walk through all the data you looked at, all the insights you gathered, and why you ultimately made this choice. Take people’s input. Listen, don’t react. Listen for feedback that could lead to a better plan. Then give the speech:
      • ‘I understand your position. Here are the points that make sense for our customers, here are the ones that don’t. We have to keep moving and, in this instance, I have to follow my gut. Let’s go.’
  • Why did your boss call in consultants?? — Are you causing delay? Do they fear for their job? Do they know what they want - but don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings?

On Assholes

  • Political Assholes: Masters of corporate politics. Do-nothing-take-credit types. They are risk averse - focused only on survival and pushing others down so they can reach the top. They don’t build. They hide from tough decisions but are quick to say ‘I told you so’. They may try to swoop in and save the day like superman.
  • Controlling Assholes: Micromanagers that strangle creativity and suck joy out of work. Can’t be reasoned with - all good ideas have to be theirs. They are threatened by talent and never give credit. They dominate big meetings - get defensive and angry if their ideas are questioned.
  • Asshole Assholes: They suck at work and everything else. They are mean, jealous and insecure. Can’t deliver - they aren’t productive - they try to deflect attention away from themselves. They will lie, gossip and manipulate others to get people off their scent. At least they don’t last long. They can be either...
    • Aggressive: They freak out. They yell. They accuse you of all kinds of nonsense. They sneer at you in a meeting and demean you in front of your manager. These assholes are easy to spot.
    • Passive-aggressive: They smile. They nod. They agree with you, act friendly. Then they go behind your back, spread vicious gossip, and try to screw you at every step.
  • Mission-driven Assholes: Sometimes a little crazy - always crazy passionate. They have no filter - and often don’t care “how things are done around here.” They are neither easygoing nor easy to work with BUT unlike true assholes, they care. They listen. They work incredibly hard and push their team to be better. They are unrelenting when right, but open to changing their minds. They praise genuinely great work. Typically stories follow them around (crazy things they’ve done) but everyone agree’s they’re not that bad, really. The team ultimately trusts them, respects what they do, and looks back fondly on times they were pushed to do the best work of their lives. A mission-driven “asshole” might tear apart your work, but they won’t attack you personally.
  • Pushing for greatness, challenging assumptions and not tolerating mediocrity doesn’t automatically make you an asshole.
  • Before deciding if somebody is an asshole - understand their motivation. There’s a big difference between being ‘emphatic and passionate to benefit the customer’ and ‘bullying someone to appease your own ego.’
    • If you’re the passionate type - describe your position so people see what you see. Be open to questions.
    • If you’re facing a passionate type - stand up for what you believe in, they’ll respect that. Mission-driven “assholes” want to be better and achieve that mission. If it’s in the best interest of the customer, they’ll hear you and change their mind. Eventually.
  • How to deal with a controlling asshole → Kill them with kindness. Ignore them. Try to get around them. Quit. In that order.

On Quitting

  • If you’re no longer passionate about the mission. You’re staying for the paycheck or status. Time is goes slowly at your desk. QUIT.
  • If you’ve tried everything. You’re passionate about the mission, but the company is letting you down. You’ve spoken to everyone - understood the roadblocks - pitched the solutions. You’re project is going nowhere - the company is falling apart. QUIT and find another way to work on the mission.
If you are leaving - leave well

Build Your Product

Design and Prototype the Entire User Journey

  • Whether atoms or electrons — the product is just a small part of a customer journey, that starts long before your product, and ends long after. The customer doesn’t differentiate between advertising, app or support — it’s all your company/brand. Don’t just make a thing - make a better user journey.
  • You should map, visualise and prototype the whole experience - the entire customer journey. How a customer discovers, considers, installs, uses, fixes, and even returns your product. It all matters.
  • Draw pictures. Make models. Pin mood boards. Sketch out the bones of the process in rough wireframes. Write imaginary press releases. Create detailed mock-ups that show how a customer would travel from an ad to the website to the app and what information they would see at each touchpoint. Write up the reactions you’d want to get from early adopters, the headlines you’d want to see from reviewers, the feelings you want to evoke in everyone. Make it visible. Physical. Get it out of your head and onto something you can touch. Don’t wait until your product is done - map out the whole journey as you map out what your product will do.
How Tony corrected the focus of the Nest team

Customer Journey & Touchpoints

PR, search, social media, paid ads
Website, email, blog, trial, demo
Partners, payment model, up-sell, cross-sell, delivery
Design, UX, performance
Quick guide, account creation, how-to videos, tips
Reliability, usability, updates, lifespan
Troubleshooting, knowledge base, call centre, community
New products, newsletter, promotions, ratings/reviews
  • Designing for the limitations of a product box created clarity. The team had to decide on a name; tagline; features; branding and value proposition. It became a microcosm of all marketing - and the work could be reused elsewhere.
  • View everything through the lens of your potential customers. Will your prototypes resonate with your customer? You can’t just call them a ‘customer. You have to know them.
    • Who are they? Why would they buy? What would they need to know? What was most important to them?
    • Create personas → use them.
  • Test prototypes with real customers as soon as possible. Nest team tested home installation instructions. Dig into the reports and work out what you can do better.
Nest Screwdriver Anecdote
Many things don’t need to be made. If hardware doesn’t absolutely need to exist to enable the overall experience, then it should not exist.

Storytelling is super important

  • The story of your product, company and vision should drive everything that you do.
  • Every product should have a story — a narrative that explains why it needs to exist and how it will solve your customer’s problems. Good product stories have three elements:
    • they appeal to people’s rational and emotional sides
    • they make a complicated concept simple
    • they focus on the why → reminding people of the problem they solve
  • Start with the why. Once you understand why your product is needed you can focus on how it works. Just don’t forget that anyone encountering your product for the first time won’t have the context you have. The story is an important communication tool for customers, team members, potential hires, investors, marketing etc...
Product Story Telling Example → The amazing iPhone presentation
  • A good story is an act of empathy. It recognises the needs of its audience. Blending facts and feelings.
  • Base your story on customer insights and concrete information. Just enough to convince people that you’re anchored in real facts. Connecting to peoples emotions creates a reason to take action:
    • Show them a compelling future - hope
    • Connect to their worries and fears -
  • Analogies give customers superpowers - they can grasp a difficult feature and explain it to others.

Evolution · Disruption · Execution

  • Some definitions to start:
    • Evolution: A small, incremental step to make something better.
    • Disruption: A fork on the evolutionary tree—something fundamentally new that changes the status quo, usually by taking a novel or revolutionary approach to an old problem.
    • Execution: Actually doing what you’ve promised to do and doing it well
  • Version 1 of your product should be disruptive, not evolutionary.Disruption doesn’t guarantee success — you can’t ignore the fundamentals of execution. Even if you execute well - it may not be enough. You may also need to disrupt marketing, channel, manufacturing, logistics, the business model or something else to surpass an incumbent in their industry.
  • Version 2 is typically an evolution. Refine version 1 using actual customer insights. Double down on your disruption. You now you have fit you should be able to move quickly. If you truly were disruptive, your competition probably won’t be able to replicate it quickly. Keep the thing that makes your product unique whilst you evolve (click-wheel iPod)
  • Whilst evolving your product, look for opportunities to disrupt yourself.
  • Celebrate when the incumbent sues you. Typically the incumbent will ignore you and laugh at you in the beginning. Once they start to sue you - it means that you’re a credible threat. Celebrate that moment.
Three reasons disruptions fail
The Key Tradeoff
Not so disruptive that you won’t be able to execute
Not so easy to execute that nobody will care.
  • You can only push people so far from their mental model (overturn window of change).
  • First time around you and your team will have to make many opinion-driven decisions. To do that you’ll need some tools (order of importance).
    1. Vision: What you want to make, why you’re making it, who it’s for, and why people will buy it. Leadership is needed to ensure the vision is delivered intact.
    2. Customer insights: Customer and market research: what they like, what they dislike, what problems they experience on a regular basis, and what solutions they’ll respond to.
    3. Data: You won’t have reliable data. BUT gather information - scope of opportunity, the way people use current solutions.
  • Second time around, the order of importance changes
    1. Data: Track usage - test new versions. Hunches can be confirmed or disproved. You can fix the stuff you got wrong when following your gut to fix the stuff you screwed up when you were just following your gut.
    2. Customer insights: Now people are paying - they’re more reliable for insights. They can tell you what’s broken and what they want to see next.
    3. Vision: Assuming you got v1 right. The vision is now less important. Keep in mind your longer-term goals and mission so that your product purpose isn’t lost.

Heartbeats for Handcuffs

  • Constraints help you make decisions. Time is the most powerful constraint. Commit to an external deadline like Christmas or a conference. Handcuffing yourself to a deadline mean you have to get creative to finish on time. If working on a version 1, its hard to know when to ship unless you set a deadline.
    • Constraint → Creativity → Fuels innovation.
  • Create heartbeats (strong internal deadlines) to keep everyone moving forwards. Team heartbeats and (cross-team) project heartbeats.
Delivery tips
  • Predictability of a heartbeat allows you to codify a product development process. Ultimately the predictability is how you make your deadline.

Three Generations

  • Typically you need 3 generations of any new disruptive product to turn a profit. Three stages of profitability line up with the crossing the Chasm scale.
  • Book recommendation: Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore.

Version 1
Version 2
Version 3
Product Market Fit Not remotely profitable
Profitable Product Positive unit economics
Profitable business Covering all expenses
Innovators and early adopters
Early Majority
Late Majority
Shipping a prototype
Fixing V1
Refining an already great product
Figuring things out and outsourcing
Bringing things in-house
Selectively outsource smaller projects
After companies find product/market fit, they can start to focus on profitability.
  • Your product has to learn to crawl, and walk, before it runs. It takes time to evolve and change, to react to customer feedback and make every point on the customer journey strong.
You make the product. You fix the product. You build the business. Every product. Every company. Every time.

Build your Business

Great Ideas

  • Good ideas have 3 key aspects to them:
    1. It solves for ‘why. You need to understand why customers need it before anything else.
    2. It solves a problem that a lot of people have in their daily lives
    3. It follows you around - you can’t stop thinking about it even after you’ve learnt enough to realise how hard it would be to solve.
    4. 7 stages of an idea that follows you around
  • The best ideas are painkillers not vitamins. They solve for a customer problem that constantly bothers you.
  • The Vision for Nest
  • Identify your biggest risks and challenges. You need an answer for the biggest ones; everything else can be solved later. Include the challenges in pitch decks; use them to rally your team.

Getting Ready to Work on Your Idea

Work at a startup
Get a working knowledge of each discipline. Enough to hire and enough to know when you’ll need to them.
Work at a big company
To understand big company problems. Process, governance and politics.
Get a mentor
More important than a cofounder or a team. You have to trust in them, they have to believe in you. Your mentor should be smart, and have done it before.
Find a cofounder
To share the load and provide balance.
Convince others to join
Don’t start unless you don’t know who your first 5 employees are. They should be great at what they do (Individual contributors)

Marrying for Money

  • Think of a VC partnership as a marriage: a long term commitment between two individuals based on trust, mutual respect, and shared goals. Take time to find somebody you’re comfortable with. A good relationship with your partner is key - they’ll be able to help you and hook you up to their network. Once you take money the balance of power shifts, the VC can fire the founder.
  • Funding is very cyclical. But it’s never easy.
  • Getting funding takes longer than you’d expect. 3–5 month process
  • Most VCs are risk averse; and want to see you’re on a clear growth trajectory. Don’t get funding too early. If you’re still researching and testing you might not need it yet.
  • Questions to ask: Do I need more money? What will I use it for? Whats the minimum I need? How much will you need when your needs change later?
  • VC Warning Signs
    How to secure VC funding
  • You can only serve one customer. Decide who your most important customer is. 2 sided network: you need to focus on one side. Most companies should be B2C or B2B. You need to understand your customer, their demographics and psychographics, their wants and needs and pain-points. All your teams are shaped by that understanding.
    • Some exceptions: travel, retailers, financial products. If you cater to both, your marketing has to be B2C. You can’t convince a regular person to use a B2C product.

Killing yourself for work

  • True work-life balance is a mythical state where you have time for everything (work, family, friends, hobbies, exercising, holidays). Personal balance - knowing you’re going to be working or thinking about work most of the time and creating space to give your brain and body a break.
    • Design your schedule and your calendar. At the daily, weekly and quarterly scale.
    • Create time to reflect - 2-3 times a week.
    • Create room for foundational health suff
      • Sleep well: Keep it dark and cold. Limit caffeine, sugar and alcohol
      • Eat well: Your an athlete, your sport it work. Fuel yourself. Don’t eat too much, or too late. Cut down on refined sugars, smoking, alcohol.
      • Exercise 4-6 times a week.
      • See family
  • Prioritise all the time. Write everything down - have a system for bringing things up with your team.
  • Tony’s paper task/project/product management system
  • Vacations are an opportunity for a team member to step up and do your role
  • Hire an assistant - outsource scheduling and sorting through emails emails. They are your partner, they can unlock time
  • If you can’t function today; go home relax. Don’t stay and make bad decisions.

What to do in a crisis

  • Keep focused on how to fix the problem - not who to blame - cancel non-essential stuff
  • Get into the weeds. Bring clarity. Remember to step back afterwards
  • Get advice from mentors - don’t try to solve problems on your own
  • Your job is constant communication - talk and listen
  • Accept responsibility for how its affected customers and apologise
  • Set expectations and limits to additional working hours (Saturday to 5PM not Sunday)

Part 5: Build Your Team


  • The best teams are multigenerational - From interns to experienced crew. Put interns on real projects - they’ll tell their friends.
  • Hire diversely. Every new perspective, background and experience will improve the business. There’s a battle for talent - you can’t afford to ignore any part of the population.
  • Candidates should interview with people they’ll work with (same team and cross-discipline). Everyone on the team should know what you’re looking for.
  • Candidates should be mission-driven, good on their feet, passionate about the customer and add to the culture. Have a no assholes policy.
  • In an interview:
    • Find out who they are, what they’ve done and why they did it. What are you curious about? What do you want to learn? What’s their compelling story? Why they left and want to join.
    • Simulate work. Work through a problem with them. What questions do they ask? What approaches do they suggest? Do they ask about the customer? Are they empathetic?
  • If you have 50 people who get your culture and 100 that don’t - you’ll lose it. Teach the culture by immersion, give new hires the push they need to start running with the team.
  • Fire people that don’t work out. It’s not fun, but it’s brief. It’s better for them and for you. Help them find a new gig. Nobody should be shocked to be fired, start performance management early.
  • Make hiring everyone’s priority. Don’t lower the quality bar though.


  • Growth continually breaks your company. Breakpoints typically occur when you need to add new layers of management. Breakpoints lead to communication problems, confusion and slowdowns - if not managed well.
    • People can’t manage more than 8-15 people. 7-8 people in larger organisations.
    • Create management layers pre-emptively
    • Change the communication process.
Typical Breakpoints...
  • Pieces of your culture won’t scale. Small companies can buy birthday cakes. At 300 people it becomes too difficult.
  • Specialisation → The more the organism grows the more differentiated each cell needs to be, the more complicated the system becomes. People sometimes struggle to narrow their focus. It feels like things are being taken away. Focus on the opportunity - Do they want to lead a team? Learn something new? Help them understand what they love - work to retain those things.
  • Org Design → People and teams need to diversify
    • Single product companies can organise by function (hardware, software).
    • As you add products - this structure will slow you down (it will break between 2-5 products)
    • Leaders can’t keep up with more than 3-4 projects. Remaining projects get sidelined for later, and later never comes.
    • You need to break your org into product specific groups - so each product gets the attention it deserves. New products often need new teams - otherwise they’ll never get made. Each product gets a dedicated engineering team, marketing person, designer and writer. They turn into little startups. Decisions speed up and everyone has a shared goal rather than conflicting priorities.
  • Meetings. Be mindful of hours spent in meetings and compiling status reports (both intra-team and inter-team). All-hands meetings must decrease in frequency and scope. They should start to focus on vision. Google had 140k people attend a weekly 120 minute all-hands (madness).
  • HR and mentors become more important as you scale - especially as you transition through the breakpoints.
  • Culture is hard to pinpoint and preserve. You have to write down what you value, and have a plan for how to preserve them. Codify your values and how you work - get teams to write down how they do things. Keep special events. Weave them into budgets, processes and hiring.
  • Plan for breakpoints. Or you’ll get stuck at the same size and stagnate. They don’t just happen to the company - they happen to the CEO and leadership team.
  • Create the optimal structure first- then fill it with people. Avoids weird overlaps and titles to make concessions for egos.

Design Thinking

  • Everything that needs to be created needs to be designed. Designing means thinking through a problem and finding and elegant solution. Anyone can do it - everyone should.
  • Design thinking encourages that you identify your customer, and their pain points, deeply understand the problem you’re trying to solve and systematically uncover ways to solve it.
    • Analyse your customers needs
    • Explore all possible options - including unexpected ones
    • Choose the best option - aesthetically, functionally and at the right price point
  • Design isn’t just for designers. Not everyone can be a great designer but everyone can think like one.
  • You shouldn’t outsource a problem until you’ve tried to solve it yourself, especially if it’s core to your business.
Design Tips

Avoid habituation

  • We get used to inconveniences - they become reality.
  • Think like a designer and view things with a critical eye - how can they be better. You find opportunities to improve experiences that people long ago assumed would always just be terrible.
  • To solve a problem - you have to notice it in the first place
    • Tony noticed that all his CDs were too heavy - he had to lug them around everywhere
  • Steve jobs called this mindset staying a beginner
    • Steve wanted iPods to work out of the box - so he changed the supply chain so they arrived charged. Now everyone does it. It’s magic, but the kind anyone can do, you just have to notice the problem
On Naming Things

How to do Marketing

  • It needs to be both anchored in human connection and empathy AND rigorous and analytical
    • It can’t just be figured out at the end - think about marketing from the very start
    • Use it to prototype your product narrative. Make it tangible. Do it in parallel. Product marketing and product development can inform each other
    • The product is the brand. Every customer touchpoint is a marketing opportunity. A great end to end experience is great marketing
    • Nothing exists in a vacuum. Design the entire process together - all of the customer touch points
    • The best market is just telling the truth. The goal of marketing is to find the very best way to tell the true story of your product
The best marketing is just telling the truth. Steve Jobs

Two key frameworks bring structure and understanding to everyone in your team → and help the team understand how important it is.

1) The messaging architecture
2) The messaging activation matrix
Marketing should prototype the product narrative in parallel to product development
Tony approved everything Nest put out into the world (everything was presented in context)

The Point of Product Managers

Product Manager is a role that’s often misunderstood - as it sits at the intersection of so many disciplines. It’s where design was in the 80s (tech companies didn’t have designers in the 80s).
The Product Managers responsibility is to build the right products for the right customers. A product manager will do a little of everything but a great deal of this:
Product narrative and story telling is so important that Product Management and Product Marketing should not be separate roles
Figuring out what should be built is a team sport - but shouldn’t be done by consensus either.
  • The product manager has to be a master communicator - they have to influence people without managing them. They have to ask questions, listen, use their super power, empathy for the customer, empathy for the team.
  • Nest Customer Empathy Example
  • Product management are at the centre of any product, they are the thread that ties people, teams and disciplines together.

Getting Sales Right

Sales culture should be driven by relationships not sales.
How to align incentives in Sales

Lawyer up

  • The more successful and disruptive you are the more you will be targeted.
  • Lawyers are setup to bill by the minute... so bring them in house quickly - it’ll be obvious when. Look into fixed price contracts and the legal documents open sourcing movement.
How to get the most out of your lawyers
Legal anecdotes

Part 6: Be CEO

Anecdote about the rocky integration with Google

Becoming CEO

  • Nothing can prepare you for being CEO. You set the tone for the company - ultimately everyone looks to you. The things you pay attention to and care about become the priorities for the company.
    • If you want your company to care about everything - then you need to pay attention to everything. Don’t get lost in spreadsheets, keep your focus on the customer. Everything matters, you can prioritise but get across everything.
  • Pick things apart until they’re great. You’ll have to tell teams to do better when they’re at 90% amazing. Keep pushing until further returns become really painful, then pull back a little. Push people and teams to discover how great they can be.
  • It’s not easy. But all that attention, that care, the quest for perfection — they’ll raise the team’s own standards. What they expect of themselves. After a while, they’ll work incredibly hard not just to make you happy, but because they know how much pride they feel when they do world-class work. The entire culture will evolve to expect excellence from each other.
  • You are at the top of the pyramid. Your passion and focus will trickle down. Don’t pick your battles - all parts of the company need your attention. Nothing comes off the list.
  • Traits of good leaders
  • Don’t worry about being liked - build a thoughtful independent company that could thrive without you. It doesn’t feel good to push people in the moment. Explain it’s about the customers not you. You can’t please everyone -trying can be ruinous. It’s lonely at the top. Stand alone.
  • Just because you’re in charge doesn’t mean that you’re in control. Your attention is constantly diverted.
  • You can never tell if you’re doing it right in the moment.
  • The freedom is thrilling, empowering and terrifying. You can create whatever you want. You can change things. That’s why you start a company - thats why you become a CEO.
Three types of CEO
Your relationship with the Board is important..

Buying and Being Bought

  • The two companies cultures should be compatible. Figure out if your goals are aligned, if your missions nestle into each other, if your cultures make sense together. The dating phase is crucial - check the sink for dirty dishes.
Anecdote - When Tony realised it wasn’t going to work as planned at Google
  • Apple protects its culture by buying only small companies - their culture is never really diluted
  • Great companies are bought not sold
Avoid a culture of continuous increasing perks - hears how to do it...

Don’t be a CEO barnacle - know when to step down

  • People strive to be CEO of a big company. It’s hard for them to let go - their identity is wrapped up in it - it’s terrifying
  • When to step down:
    • The company or market has changed too much - you can’t manage it anymore. Not everyone is a great fit for every stage of the company.
    • You’ve become a babysitter CEO. You are not challenging and growing the company.
    • The board is pushing you to be a babysitter CEO
    • You have a succession plan and the company’s on an upswing. Try to leave on a positive note and leave the company in good hands.
    • You hate it: It doesn’t mean you’ve failed. You learnt something about yourself
  • Be smart - see changes coming - make a succession plan
  • After you leave - it takes about 18 months before you can start thinking about something new

Beyond Yourself

  • It’s special to create something together as a team.
  • Products and people are what matter. The products change, the companies change, the relationships don’t.
    • The best part about being an exec was the opportunity to help people.
  • Do something meaningful - make something worth making