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Attending One of the Largest Tech Conferences in the World (Silicon Slopes Summit 2021)

The following are my notes from attending the Silicon Slopes Summit in 2021. They are not well formed but hopefully they are useful to someone!

Check out my vlog about the adventures I had while attending: https://youtu.be/mdLPX3oraZM

Notes

Day 1

  • People notice your on stage presence. Clint came out with hands in pockets and it does not instill confidence or leadership

  • Silicon slopes now has a job board

  • Utah has an unemployment rate of only 2.7% which is one of lowest in the nation

  • The best organizations develop their talent and continue to do so

  • Silicon slopes now offering health plans for companies with 2-50 employees in partnership with the of University of Utah

  • Steve Ballmer and Mitt Romney

    • Steve Ballmer dropped out of college too
    • "stay with your products, they will make it”, Steve said this was important with Windows 1 and 2
    • You need thought leadership in addition to person leadership if you are not longterm in your thinking, you'll be in trouble
    • Your idea needs to be broad to survive, you must be long-term in your thinking
    • We get the best talent from around the world, you can't get that elsewhere
    • We must support immigration or we'll lose our competitive talent advantage
    • We aren't incentivizing engineers enough to draw top talent the way other countries are
    • When investing, you need to be passionate about what you are investing in
    • You are entitled to you own opinion, not your own facts
    • You must make decisions with data, otherwise you run the risk of making the wrong choice
    • Your career will most likely look like the stock market, slowly up and to the right. Stick around, play the long game
  • If we don't fix healthcare, it will cripple our nation and business, we need to raise prices of products just to provide employees with healthcare

  • The university of Utah is developing a system that can determine what already available drags on the market can be used for so that new drugs don't need to be developed

  • Gayle Troberman

    • People are listening now more than ever to audio
    • Podcasts are BIG, it's easy to do and setup and it scales easy
    • In marketing, think "where can I be that others aren't?”
    • Death to an entrepreneur is to follow conventional wisdom
    • The story of Pepsi vs Coke marketing on MTV was that Pepsi marketed on MTV prior to Coke seeing it as an opportunity and had to outspend Pepsi for the next 10 years to make up for the mistake
    • Most buyers of a product are not in your target audience
    • If you don't get on the audio train you'll be left behind. Audio today is what video has been for the last 10-20 years
    • Stories win, not production value
    • Welcome dissent, it will make your business better
  • Astra

    • Launching rockets for businesses to deploy satellites
    • Will build and launch small rockets daily
    • You need to iterate. Think of NASA, they only launched rockets once and prayed they worked where as SpaceX launches dozens and learns from it. You'll learn much more by doing it this way than by spending years ta perfect something before launch
  • Ryan Smith

    • Nobody can tell what the Jazz colors are so we are rebranding to consolidate the brand and it’s perception
  • Ryan Smith and Dan Reynolds

    • Imagine Dragons has been hacked multiple times because they send send demos over Gmail
    • You will win or lose based on your songs. This is also true of products and business
    • If someone has ultimate power and doesn't get questioned it will fail
    • All Dan cares about is ticket sales because that means brand awareness. Someone could have a hit single on TikTok but can't fill a concert
    • Know your audience, make it appeal to the must people possible
  • Tim Cook

    • Coding teaches you the art of the possible! Even if you don't want to end up coding
    • Tim Cook asked the senator multiple questions. Why go through the effort of getting Tim Cook on a plane just to have him lead an interview instead of being asked the questions
    • It's easy to lump things together, it's rarely correct to do so
    • You cannot create a backdoor just for the good guys
  • Cybersecurity

    • 200% increase in DDOS attacks during Covid
    • Most companies don't know where their data is or who has access to it
    • Most companies that have a breach will have it when they are migrating to the cloud because it's new. You can't just spin up the same app in a new datacenter
    • API breaches will become the # 1 attack vector next year
    • Companies need to lock down what API'S they use, which they expose, and who has access to them. Ensure your microservices contacting each other are secure
    • 41% of internet traffic last year was not human, 46% was bad traffic
    • Security must be a concern from day one
  • Creating unicorn brands

    • Global ecommerce is a 6 trillion dollar industry
    • Creating brands
      • Must create an emotion of desirability
      • Your tech can be amazing but if it's not put into a form that's useful and simple, it will fail
      • Talked about creating
      • Mr beast burger
    • Accelerating brands
      • You must be data driven: 
      • You must do SEO and it must be automated
      • The average person only reads 20% of the text but views all images Day 2
  • Employees are looking for new jobs. They want better leadership even more than monetary incentives

  • Data shows that employees want more autonomy

  • Employees feel they are not getting the leadership training they need

  • A big mistake in business is dwelling on your past successes. You must be forward thinking

  • Deb Liu

    • Reframe the question "why me?" to "why not me?"
    • Learn to ask "will you take a chance on me?"
    • Advocate for your vision

Overstock (culture)

  • Focus on engagement of employees and autonomy - not on whether employees should work in the office or not
  • Employees are often frustrated due to lack of autonomy or that they are not being heard

Bestselling author

  • Burnout can come due to working hard with little or no impact
  • When there are unclear roles, step up and lead, don't wait to be anointed. Then be willing to humbly step back down

Homie (how to get more performance out of humans like we do with horses)

  • You can’t force people to do anything
  • Cooperation works much better than controlling, you must be partners
  • Good employees are sensitive subtle cues from their leaders the same way n good horse is to its rider
  • Give a "point" and use subtle cues. Don't rely on using the reigns all the time
  • Respect people's space, let them move around
  • Include people in the "vision setting process"
  • Use pressure and relief over punishment and reward (relief being more autonomy)
  • Thinking and instincts must go together; however you must think more than use instincts. This is like training horses, if you leave them out to pasture, they’ll stop learning and go back to instincts
  • Horses can sense your mood, your confidence, etc. This is also true of employees. They notice
  • Give new leaders rockstar direct reports so Hey won't take advantage of timid leadership
  • Confidence from leaders will spread to the team
  • Give employees a chance to prove themselves
  • Expose the people you lead on some of the challenges you face
  • There aren't many bad horses, there are bad horse owners
  • You should build a system of leadership at work where you can plug anyone in on the team and they can be successful
  • As a leader, work on the relationship first way before getting around to the work

Going Public

  • Only tell those who need to know about the IPO, if the deal falls through, you could demoralize the team

Intuit (how and why to ship things fast)

  • Build a manual process before automating it
  • Run mocks before writing code
  • Speed to benefit over speed to build
  • Focus on customer problems, not business opportunity
  • Company's Ar investing a lot into each sprint. Think of all the salaries divided by bow many springs there are in year
  • Realize that estimates will ALWAYS take longer than expected
  • Build, measure, learn is popular. In a perfect world you should he learning before you build
  • Work broad to narrow and continue to refine it down to its smallest pieces
  • Experiment with the riskiest assumptions (eg: having a landing page that shows pricing but when a package is chosen it takes you to a page that says we aren’t ready yet” but allows customers to drop their email in. This allows the company to gather data on the assumptions)

Justin Hammond
I love all things tech. I've been programming since the age of 12, repairing iPhones since 16, and founding tech companies since 20. I'm an open source fanatic, Apple fanboy, and love to explore new tech. I spend my time coding open source projects, tinkering with electronics and new tech products, and consulting teams on how to get things done.


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