Welcome to the Tech for Non-Techies podcast

100. My story: ambition, tech and the camel incident

Today, I’m doing something a bit different. As our smart community grows, I know that some of you might not know much about me, my story or how I got into this tech thing.

That’s why today, I’m sharing a little bit about me.

I’m sharing this with you so that you can see that the confusion you feel about tech, or the fear that your lack of tech knowledge will be discovered, does not have to be your permanent reality. I want you to see from my example that there are many more opportunities for you than you probably think.

You will also learn what not to wear when riding a camel.

Summary notes from this episode:

  • I always wanted to have a great career, but when I graduated in 2005, tech wasn't what it is today. I started my career in the media, then worked in private equity and became a non-technical founder after my MBA.
  • I planned to use my MBA to transition into a career in tech, but this was harder than I thought. Business school gave me business skills...
Continue Reading...

99. The top skill you need to succeed in the Information Age

Venture capitalist Marc Andreessen famously wrote that “software is eating the world.” While digital transformation is everywhere, and even your coffee shop has an app, this doesn't mean we all need to learn STEM subjects and become coders.

The vast majority of jobs remain non-technical. 

To succeed in today's economy, ambitious professionals need to learn how to become Digital Collaborators. This means learning additional skills, rather than completely retraining.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • Microsoft says that "the demand for digital skills continues to grow, and we estimate that digital job capacity – or the total number of technology-oriented jobs – will increase nearly five-fold by 2025, rising from 41 million in 2020 to 190 million in 2025. These numbers are in stark contrast, and they illustrate the digital skills gap that has accompanied the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”
  • Being a Digital Collaborator means learning to...
Continue Reading...

98. Feature creep – why apps get too complicated

When an app has too many features and pop ups, most users get confused and frustrated. This is feature creep: when the product’s core functionality becomes hidden in too many options and things to do.

Feature creep happens when a team is determined to stay productive, but loses sight of its strategy. Sometimes stopping is better for the product than doing more.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • Feature creep is problematic for two main reasons: it confuses users and it costs money. This is because product teams have to be paid to design and code, and you also have to pay cloud costs to store your pointless features.
  • Feature creep happens when there is a pressure to produce, which is contrary to the ability to focus. It can be easier to present new features as productivity to investors and corporate bosses, rather than saying that the product team took time to review results and reflect.
  • To prevent feature creep, go back to the fundamental product development questions...
Continue Reading...

97. How I built Make Love Not Porn - with Cindy Gallop

Would you leave a high flying career in advertising to set up an adult content site? Most people wouldn't, but Cindy Gallop is not most people.

After leading one of the world's top advertising agencies, BBH in the United States. Cindy decided to try her hand at tech entrepreneurship. Her venture, Make Love Not Porn, is in the new category of "social sex" and aims to revolutionise how people talk, share and watch sex. 

As a non-technical founder of an adult content business, Cindy had to learn how to work with developers, get users despite being banned by advertisers and create a troll free online environment.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • "You don't have to be a tech person to build something absolutely phenomenal in tech," says Cindy. Instead, you need a strong vision, the right team and the determination to keep going. 
  • "You do not need a technical co-founder from the beginning." In fact, delegating your vision to the tech person simply because they...
Continue Reading...

96. How to innovate at a corporate: lessons from Apple and Intel

Every company wants to be innovative, but how do you balance the risk of innovation with the need to keep the lights on? Listen to this interview with Kapil Kane, Head of Innovation at Intel China, to find out.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • Most tech innovations die because they do not have a solid business case. As much as non-techies need to learn to speak tech, techies need to learn to speak business. “No matter how smart you are, if you are not able to get your idea across in the language of a lay person, you are missing out a lot,” says Kapil.
  • To structure creativity within an organisation, Kapil advises learning from Apple, where teams often worked on projects that other teams did not know about. This meant that they could focus on their work, while upper management connected the dots.
  • The innovation accelerator at Intel China Kapil set up brings in revenue, but that is not the only benefit. It serves as a training ground for ambitious people “If...
Continue Reading...

95. Top mistakes non-technical founders make in UX design

Design is often at the core for why products go viral or flop. But, how can you tell good design from bad right at the start? How do you hire the right people and avoid costly mistakes?

That’s what you’ll learn on this episode.

Learning notes:

  • User experience designers, not developers, should be your first hire in the vast majority of cases.
  • Learning how to use design software does not make you into a designer. Learning to use a kitchen knife does not turn you into a chef. This is the same logic.
  • Great designers mix human psychology and the design process to make products that people want to use. The best designers are well versed in behavioural economics and human insight, not just tech tools.
  • Great designers are partners, who question your assumptions and sometimes tell you that you are wrong. Someone who only agrees with you isn’t going to help make your product great.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

  • Introduction to Design for Technology: Listen on Apple...
Continue Reading...

94. Learning effects: why getting more users isn't the only key to success

You've probably heard about network effects, but they aren't the only thing you need. Learning effects build the ultimate moat against your competition.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • You get better at speaking a language the more you practice and correct your mistakes. It is the same with algorithms: they get better with time and training.
  • The more time and data you have to train an algorithm the more accurate the algorithm’s output will be, and also, the more complex the problems it can solve.
  • “Learning effects can either capture or add value to existing network effects or generate value in their own right.” – Competing in the Age of AI, by Marco Iansiti and Karim Lakhani
  • Companies that have been training machine learning algorithms for longer are at a competitive advantage. Strong learning effects make it impossible for competitors to catch up.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Continue Reading...

93. Lessons from the Netflix C Suite

How do you get to the top of a tech company as a non-technical professional? How can you drive innovation, when you’re not building the technology yourself?

That’s what you’ll learn from this interview with David Wells, ex CFO of Netflix and chair of the board at Wise.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • It’s called tech, or working in tech, but the entire economy is going to be this. So calling it tech is a little bit apocryphal at this stage,” David says.
  • Tech jargon distances people from the actual understanding of the concepts.” Learning core technology concepts is not as hard as the jargon has many believe.
  • Learning what data scientists do and how to work with them is the best skill set to develop for business people in tech. “Data science is the analysis of the lifeblood of the company and you have to ask fundamental insight questions against it. You do not have to build the models yourself, but you are at an advantage if...
Continue Reading...

92. How to get people to be nice to each other on your platform

On Airbnb, people stay at strangers' homes. On Twitter, people get trolled. Both are global tech platforms, but why do people treat strangers well on one, and badly on the other?

The answer lies in platform governance: the rules you make to encourage good interactions and punish the bad stuff. Learn how to set up platforms where people are nice to strangers with this week's podcast episode.

Learning notes from this episode.

  • Platform governance touches product development, engineering and marketing. It isn't just a corporate mission statement nobody reads.
  • The logic we apply to creating good offline environments also apply to platforms, but just on a bigger scale. Ask yourself: how do I want people to feel when they get here? What do I want them to do?
  • The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters by Priya Parker is an excellent book on how to create offline environments. You can apply these lessons to the online world you are creating. 
  • Community leaders and opinion...
Continue Reading...

91. How to launch a platform when you've got no users

platforms Mar 23, 2022

How do you launch a dating app, if you have no men and no women on it? Or, how do you launch a market place with niether buyers nor sellers?

This is the chicken and egg problem that all platforms have to solve to succeed.

In this week's episode, you'll learn 6 methods for how to launch a platform when you have no users. Some are sneaky, some are fun and all are very clever.

Sophia's favourite book on how to build & grow platforms is Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy - And How to Make Them Work for You.

1. Pipeline to Platform conversion, e.g. Amazon to Amazon marketplace

2. Using a company that has the user base you want, e.g. Airbnb & Craigslist 

3. Seeding content, e.g. dating apps & Quora

4. Bringing influencers to your platform for an incentive, e.g. Joe Rogan

5. Producer Evangelism: e.g. Kickstarter, Indigogo, Partyslate

Listen to Sophia's interview with Partyslate CEO & Co-Founder Julie...

Continue Reading...
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Close

50% Complete

Sign Up

Get insights on what non-techies really need to know about tech to run companies, transition careers and make smart investments.