Ben Huh

Today I had the opportunity to hear Ben Huh speak. The title of his talk was Making Failure Cheap: Managing Risk to Ensure Success.

It was interesting to hear the stories of when he began Cheezburger Network and his journey since then.

The main ideas I took away from his talk:

  • Make failure cheap. Countless failures = practice
  • The “10,000 hours” isn’t 10,000 linear hours of success and victories. It’s a hard road of failures and practice. Don’t look at life in a linear way- the best things in life are not linear
  • Understand the native format: just because you can doesn’t mean you should
  • The WANT, not the NEED, of users drives the Internet
  • If you have an idea, try it. If it doesn’t work, pivot
  • Life is never what it’s supposed to be; it happens almost randomly. You have to be able to listen to what the market wants
  • The world has too many people that follow money. What motivates you? Why do you study what you study?
  • One of the biggest and most powerful exports of the US is culture
  • With everything in life, there is a push and a pull
  • Believe in what you’re doing more than you believe in what you think you’re getting out of it

Schooling does a great job teaching us how to strive for success, but an education requires learning how to fail well. It was so inspiring to hear a notable individual like Ben put such emphasis on thinking of failures as practice and to really think about what motivates you. Too often, I feel like we get caught up in what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. What we so easily overlook is why we’re doing it.

Another intriguing aspect of Ben’s talk was his emphasis on the user. I mainly hear about user-centric thinking in terms of design but never before have I heard it highlighted so often in respect to entrepreneurship and spreading an idea. Ben’s notion of wants vs needs of users driving the Internet really got me thinking; a whole different mentality applies when users are motivated intrinsically (want) as opposed to extrinsically (need).

Overall, Ben was a refreshing reminder to utilize failure and understand users. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to hear his insights tonight!

(big thanks to Alex Diaz for organizing the event)


Photo credit: Madrona Venture Group (original file)

May 8, 2012