<<First Name>>, I am not your father. But the Volkswagen-scandal around cheat software tricking test station into believing the exhaust emission of a Diesel engine is much cleaner shows just how technical arrogance can lead to the dark side. In a conversation with a German founder and VC we concluded that believing your old technology to be superior to others with nobody else seeing that - especially those Americans who want to tell "us Germans" about clean air when they drive all their gas guzzlers, puuleeeaazzzeee, give us a break - can lead to a situation, where technical arrogance quickly turns ugly. The VW-scandal really is an innovation-scandal, but this may have been the best service to date to promote electric vehicles. There is a large and interesting article on that here.
And the dark side had a blast this week with another decision taken by the EU. The EU parliament passed a bill on net neutrality that allows ISPs and telecommunication providers to discriminate against content types. Content that they deem 'important' or where the company creating the data pays a premium is getting a priority treatment. And German Telekom already takes action targeting specifically startups to pay a premium. Yes, startups. The very same cash-strapped startups are asked to pay more, while the big corporates are getting discounts. So much about supporting entrepreneurs and innovation in Germany and Europe. Europe's not getting their shit together. Read more here (in German) from Die Zeit.
Getting ready for the publishing date of my book "Die Silicon Valley Mentalität" I wanted to start giving you a sneak peak to some of the elements that form the SILICON VALLEY MINDSET and which you can apply yourself regardless of where you live.
The first one is Paying-it-forward. This is about helping others without expecting anything in return. This may be just 5 minutes on the phone that you spend, or a meeting in a café to give feedback on an app, or connecting somebody to an acquaintance who may be able to help. The expectation is that if everyone is paying-it-forward, in the end everyone will profit. It will come full circle back to you, when you need somebody to give you feedback on your website or connect you to someone. This is what givers do. And this is what you'll find in the Silicon Valley people doing.
What is a STARTUP? Well, a not so serious definition describes it as not knowing what its product is, who its customers are, and oblivious of how to make money. But there is some truth to it. Startups are charting unknown territories and need to iterate and pivot.
I have a PhD in chemical engineering and when a new compound was created, the scientists tried to create it by 'cooking' with different ingredients and approaching it through different paths. Like you can travel to Rome from the North, South, East and West. With one difference: they don't know where Rome is or what it is.
Do you still distinguish between soft and hard skills? Hard skills being something like programming, or knowing how to solder some electronics? While Soft skills are those things like making a button prettier or being able to speak in public? Also meaning soft skills a re nice to have, while hard skills make the real money?
If you still believe that, then please wake up. Now! Apple has shown that a seemingly soft skill such as Design is in fact a very hard skill in every sense. You can learn it, you need to work hard to master it, but when you are successful you can benefit a lot of people AND your bottom line. DESIGN THINKING is one of those hard skills that you should learn, practice, and apply.
Today's NSFW - internet lingo for Not Safe For Work - pays tribute to the electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk. First graders in a German elementary school in Lemmchen built robot costumes and performed to the music for Die Roboter. It's just too adorable!