Lessons from Biz Stone

I just finished reading Things a Little Bird Told Me: Creative Secrets from the Co-Founder of Twitter by Biz Stone. Don’t be fooled by the long title. The book is slightly longer than 200 pages and a very fast read if you’re into tech startups.

The book strikes a solid balance between Twitter’s history and Biz’s recommendations for entrepreneurs. You’ll learn how Biz first started working at Google together with Evan Williams, another co-founder of Twitter. Together, the two worked on Google’s Blogger tool before striking out on their own to form podcasting platform Odeo. When things started looking bleak for Odeo after Apple made podcasts available on iTunes, rather than shut the company down, Evan decided to have the company’s employees work on creative new projects. That’s when Jack Dorsey who also worked at Odeo had the idea for Twitter.

Interwoven with Twitter’s story, Biz shares a lot of recommendations that are common wisdom for entrepreneurs. These include:

  1. Having supreme confidence when starting a company even though all you may have is an idea
  2. Questioning rules and assumptions that are held to be true rather than following them blindly
  3. Having the flexibility to adapt knowing that there will be times when you don’t have all the answers

Some less common tips that I found very valuable include:

  1. Constraints breed creativity
  2. Showing your human vulnerability encourages others to help you
  3. Success is much more likely to follow if you do what’s right for your users than if you follow the money

If you’re looking for inspiration as a tech entrepreneur, want to get ideas for what to look for in an entrepreneur as a tech VC, or are simply looking to learn Twitter’s story, I strongly recommend you read the book.