Supported by Greenhaven Road Capital, finding value off the beaten path.
Kevin Delaney spoke with Khe Hy on Rad Awakenings about starting Quartz, NYC, and LoL.
Decentralized command. Leaders can only be doers for so long. This is a change Alex Blumberg has seen as he’s gone from hosting podcast to guiding hosts. Delaney has seen this too.
“The skill that you need to have is to be able to identify the best ideas. If you have to be the source of every idea, as a leader you’re in trouble. The skill that quickly became clear is that you need to listen, to gather information, and to help direct people to the best ideas.”
Your gear doesn’t matter. People can handcuff themselves waiting for the situation to be just right. It never will be.
“On some level resources are overrated. People often complain they can’t do stuff because they don’t have resources – but that’s often a distraction or an easy excuse…I think you find a way.”
Experimentation. Successful businesses experiment in small ways. They realize, as Rory Sutherland has said, “One of the brilliant things to look for in marketing is disproportionality, how very very small things have a huge effect.”
“The experimenting nature of Quartz is part of the culture.” Hy
“You’re a great example of our not being sentimental about the way things have been done in the media industry.” Delaney
Quartz began as a way to be different and they’ll succeed by trying lots of small things and sticking with what works. The biggest secret of business success said Brent Beshore, “is that there is no secret. Do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.”
Curiosity. Curious people live better lives.
“The thing that I’ve found correlates most with success is just having ideas. When I’m interviewing people for jobs, I try and get them talking about the stuff they’re interested in. If I think that I’d be jealous that someone else published an idea in a post more than twice in a conversation, I can have a strong conviction that someone can come here and have the intellectual curiosity that will allow them to connect with readers and be successful here.”
Curiosity helps us figure things out. Marcus Lemonis said to be like an infant and just keep asking questions. Ray Dalio said curiosity is “a big motivator.” Kara Swisher said curiosity makes for better interviews.
Stakeholders. Another train of successful businesses is getting the right people involved. The right people are curious and allow for decentralized command. They also stick around.
“I think Quartz was able to hire the people we did because we had a real mission. The mission was to ensure that quality content thrived in our digital landscape amid questions about the advertising model…that’s powerful for the people here.”
Some people at Quartz got offers for more money and left. Others stayed. Investors know this too. The best investment plan is the one you’ll stick with. A stable investor base has let people like Wesley Gray, Meb Faber, and Jim O’Shaughnessy operate smoothly.
Platforms Alex Moazed wrote about our modern monopolies as platform business models. The city is a platform model.
“I found myself walking across Park Avenue to school every day and by virtue of that, having access to the great potential of New York. One of the things as a young kid in New York is you realize that just about anything is possible. You don’t always know the straight route to it but if you really want something you can see around you the birth of various things.”
Platforms – cities, social networks, connection apps – allow for interaction. These can create see it to believe it moments for inspiration.
Thanks for reading. I’m mikedariano.