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How to have a great career in tech, lessons from Reid Hoffman

career strategy Jul 28, 2021

“The business strategies employed by highly successful start-ups and the career strategies employed by highly successful individuals are strikingly similar," says Reid Hoffman in his book The Startup of You.

If you want to have a great career in tech as non-techie, but don’t know how to get started, this episode is for you.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • Hoffman says we all have 3 puzzle pieces in our careers: our assets, our aspirations & values and market realities.
  • Plan your career 2 steps ahead. For example, if you work in finance and your aim is to get into product management, it’s unlikely you’ll just leap from one to the other. This is going to require an interim step, like volunteering with a start-up on weekends.
  • Invest in learning transferable digital skills. If you learn the basics of how apps, sites and algorithms get made, and when tech decisions overlap with business decisions, so many opportunities will open up to you.

 

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How space tech impacts us all

Space tech developments aren’t just a battle between middle aged billionaires. Nor is it a Cold War leftover. 

The technologies we use every day to watch TV and hail a taxi rely on connections in space. As the cost of space tech falls, and VC investment in the sector rises, the opportunities for business and consumer innovation open up.

Listen to this episode with Dr James Lambert, Head of Operations at private space tech company Pulsar Fusion, to get an overview of this fascinating industry.

Learning notes:

  • The cost of getting satellites into space is falling, which means more companies are using space technology.
  • Space tech is particularly useful to scan images of the Earth to answer specific questions, such as: where shall we mine for gold?
  • The companies that can reduce the cost of getting satellites into space or connecting space hardware with Earth level software, are those getting the most interest from investors today.
  • Innovations by private space companies,...
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What data scientists do and how to work with them

Big data and predictive analytics can help you make profits, sell clothes and strike oil. But, unless you know how to ask data scientists the right questions and then use their answers, data are just a collection of meaningless facts.

Listen to this episode to learn what data scientists do and how to work with them.

 

Learning notes from this episode:

  • Every senior level professional today has to learn to speak tech: knowing the concepts of how digital products get made is now basic literacy.
  • Working with data scientists can be broken down into three steps: 1) ask the right question, 2) get insight 3) take action based on the insight.
  • Predictive analytics are based on past data, which does not make predictions future proof and does not take account of shocks to the system.

 

Enroll in How To Speak Tech For Leaders by 26 July 2021.

If you want to sponsor several employees in your team to take the course and want a group rate, email us on ...

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How I built a party platform

Put on your party pants! In this episode, you'll hear from Julie Novack, the CEO & non-technical co-founder of PartySlate. PartySlate is a platform that connects event professionals to people planning events.

During the pandemic, PartySlate had to quickly reinvent its offering, but managed to end 2020 with no revenue loss. This is a great story in about resilience, leadership and giving users what they want.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • Julie spent a year researching Houzz, a platform for interior designers, to get inspiration for PartySlate. If a company is doing something similar to you, but for different users, study them.
  • PartySlate's content drives users to discover the platform and get inspired. This means that PartySlate will be front of mind when the user is ready to book an event. This is a great example of content marketing.
  • PartySlate makes money by charging event professionals for premium listings. For this, they need to understand those...
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The hidden cost of cat videos

tech terms explained Jun 30, 2021

Storing stuff costs money, this is why it’s good to look in the back of the cupboard and decide whether you really need all those spices you bought 5 years ago.

This is the same with data stored by tech companies. Companies have to pay to store data on servers. Google pays to keep all of those cat videos on YouTube. 

Learning notes from this episode:

  • Storing data costs money and most companies rent server storage space from Amazon AWS or Microsoft Azure.
  • If you’re going to store data, you need to know how you’re going to make money out of it.
  • Advertising isn’t the only way to make money out of data. You could aggregate the data into reports and sell them as industry insights.
  • Storing data on how people use your product can help you improve your product.
  • If you don’t have a plan for how to use the data you pay to store, you’re a hoarder and that’s not a good strategy.

 

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Introduction to Venture Capital

A robust venture capital industry is one of the pillars of the today's tech boom, because it provides the funding for new companies to grow. But "venture capital is not a job for everyone," says venture investor Dr Itxaso del Palacio in this week's episode.

Itxaso is a leading venture capitalist. She launched Microsoft Ventures in Europe and is Partner at Notion Capital today. She also teaches Entrepreneurial Finance at the MSc Technology Entrepreneurship at University College London.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • "Venture capital is mostly transactional. Founders operate the companies, and we can advise and suggest what to do but we don't operate the companies," says Itxaso.
  • Corporate venture arms are very different to VC funds and the incentives within them differ. For example, people in traditional VCs benefit financially if a company they invest in becomes a unicorn. This is often not the case in corporate venture divisions.
  • People do not usually begin...
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The career secret all tech innovators know

Most start-ups fail, but founders and investors can still use this for career success. Learning how tech products get made and how the companies behind them make money, open so many doors to interesting and lucrative opportunities. In fact, many product managers and venture capitalists have transitioned into these jobs via start-ups.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • Almost every company is now a tech company, so knowing how tech products get built and how they make money is THE most useful transferable skill in today’s economy
  • If you’re thinking of launching a venture, you do need to be aware that it might not work out. But, ask yourself what could I do if the venture failed? Would that be better or worse than what I was doing before? I most cases, the answer is yes.
  • Learning these skills does not mean getting an MBA or investing thousands as an inexperienced angel investor.

You can learn by listening to this podcast, reading books about the industry, and most...

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How to work with developers: advice from a CTO

“Come to developers with good research and understand your customer. If you don’t understand your customer, how can you expect the developer to build features for that customer?” says developer Ariana Waller, founder of Wally Tech.

Ariana works with non-technical founders and helps them bring their visions to life. But, many founders want to hire developers too early or make the wrong hires.

Listen to this episode to avoid falling into that common trap.

Learning notes: 

  • Learn about the users and the problem you are solving before you speak to developers.
  • Use no code apps to build solutions before you hire a developer to test your product. This will help you save on development costs and help you test your product before committing to paying for custom code.
  • Good developers will ask you questions about your users and your business model because they want to participate in projects that are likely to succeed. Even if you’re hiring outsourced product...
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AI, visual search & entrepreneurship with Jenny Griffiths MBE

“The biggest lie told in tech is that you that you need to be a coder. I think that being able to understand the user experience behind tech, being able to articulate technology, and being able to get other people excited about it, is what you really need to run a good company,” says Jenny Griffiths MBE, founder of Snap Vision.

Jenny is the founder and CEO of Snap Vision, a visual search company that works with the biggest names in fashion and publishing.

She has been featured on the World's Top 50 Women in Tech by Forbes lists. She was appointed MBE for Services to Innovation in 2015, and in 2019 was awarded the Royal Academy of Engineering's Silver Medal for contributions to UK engineering.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • The grass is always greener on the other side. Investors tell technical founders that they’re missing business skills, and non-technical founders that they need tech skills.
  • Snap Vision began as a consumer product, and while the Snap Vision...
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How to make a prototype for your product: The Sprint Method

Making a prototype is a key step in your journey in bringing your tech idea  to life. Begin with UX research, which we covered in last week’s episode.

With your research done, it’s time to move on to making a “fake product," which you will test with real users to see if there is enough demand to invest in creating the real thing.

To do this, Sophia takes you through the Sprint method developed by Google Ventures. Using this method, you can have a tested prototype in just 5 days.

 

Learning notes from this episode:

  • The aim of a prototype is test the key assumptions you are making about users and their behaviour.
  • Even the greatest prototype is usually very far from a plan that could be given to developers to code. For example, an app prototype from a sprint usually does not contain screens like the setting screen, where you can manage your account, or designs to reset a forgotten password.
  • Book 5 people to test your prototype. Research...
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