TechVancouver came back last week with a new line up of engaging and influential speakers sharing their ideas on following your own passion, motivating teams, and creating passion among employees. Hosted at the Rise HQ, it drew over 160 tech sector professionals, including a number of founders and investors.
“The most important thing to understand with employees, is that everyone wants control in their lives. I don’t think anyone grew up wanting to be an executive assistant.”
Kenshi Arasaki from A Thinking Ape, a mobile gaming company, talked about the importance of being frugal in a new startup venture. Outlining his experience in Silicon Valley — where he was able to take his startup from the worst of circumstances to success — he credits his turnaround to his ability to keep his costs low and still operate even when times were tough. “When your company is cheap to operate, it becomes a lot harder to kill, and like in the back alleys of Gastown, it becomes an invincible cockroach.”
That said, companies still need to be able to throw the right resources at hiring talent. “There are some things you should not take shortcuts on, especially anything that’s going to allow your business to grow. It is always necessary to invest in good people.”
Following Arasaki was Jonathan Bixby from Stanley Park Ventures, a startup studio in Vancouver, who offers tips and tricks to keeping the passion alive in employees. He gives two key points; “Firstly, the most important thing to understand with employees, is that everyone wants control in their lives. I don’t think anyone grew up wanting to be an executive assistant. Everyone wants to be happy and in control of their lives, and so as an employer, you have to understand that control is the heart of passion.”
He follows this idea with a practical trick that he has used to motivate and stir up passion within his employees. “Get a Google spreadsheet, write down all your employee’s names and find out something cool about them that they are passionate about — it could be that they love Coldplay, they love a particular restaurant, or they love travel. Find a way every 365 days, as the CEO or boss of your business, to surprise them with something that they are passionate about. Don’t ask them what they are passionate about. Actually take the time and learn about them. I don’t care if you are 500 people, find out what that person is passionate about and go and surprise them with that passion.”
Mona Akhavi from Sidebuy added tips on using the passions and perspectives of her customers to create a successful product. “Have a picture of what you want your product to be, but have that conversation with your customer. Build the minimum that you can that is absolutely valuable to your customer and get their feedback. Don’t sway around with a new trend.”
Closing the night out, Andrew Reid from Vision Critical, a cloud-based customer intelligence platform, spoke about the importance of faking it ’til you make it, and truly believing in your product and your team to deliver those expectations. “Originally, I would only describe what the product was, and I would always find myself a little behind. But some of the best advice I received was that if you believe in your team and you believe in the velocity of what you are going to do, it’s okay to be marketing slightly ahead of where your product is.”