What I Learned from Matt Woodmen (left) at CES 2016 that Changes Everything

What I Learned from Matt Woodmen (left) at CES 2016 that Changes Everything

One of the best things about living in Las Vegas is easy access to the amazing shows that come to town. The Consumer Electronics Show last week is the largest with 3,600 exhibitors looking to catch the attention – and cash – from hundreds of thousands of influential visitors. The show didn’t disappoint. (Want to join me next year?)

While I found interesting the connected devices (like shoes and sporting equipment), drones (including one that carries a person), 8K high definition quantum dot TVs (color unlike you’ve seen outside of nature), and self-driving cars (Mercedes was there, too), the my big eye opener was a Super Session on the future of entrepreneurship.

I believe that no matter if you’re an individual or massive corporation, if you don’t think and act like an entrepreneur, you’re obsolete. So this session grabbed my attention and I’m glad it did.

When the session opened, in walked Steve Case, founder of AOL (my jaw dropped), Matt Woodmen, founder of GoPro (my eyes bugged out), and Stewart Butterfield, founder of Filckr (I was hooked). Each of these guys are billionaires; I wanted to know what they’re thinking.

Representing three generations of entrepreneurship, Steve a Baby Boomer, Stewart an XGen, and Matt a Millennial, the conversation ranged widely. And as you might expect, each had a different take on what entrepreneurship looks like.

Steve talked about the infrastructural elements for success: passion, people, product, partnership, platform, and policy. He discussed the need to interact with government (policy) to grow big. These are all things Boomers consider important.

Stewart talked about the team, quoting the African proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.” He talked about including others to make your success. Makes sense, XGens love their tribe.

Matt talked about customers. “Identify what people want to do and eliminate the friction.”

Let that idea sink in…

Every rapidly-growing, disruptive company does this instinctively: Amazon One Click for shopping, Uber for a ride, AirBnB for a place to sleep tonight. GoPro makes frictionless sharing extraordinary moments, telling stories, and creating conversations with friends and the world. That focus keeps GoPro ahead of the other dozens of competitors going after their market.

Key Question: How can you make your customer’s desired experience absolutely frictionless? Hint: if they say, “Why is it so hard to…” you’ve got an opportunity. (I’d love to hear what you think.)

Matt wasn’t done, “We sell GoPro through passion epicenters, where people who care about what they do buy: ski shops, surf shops, cycle shops.” Let THAT sink in. You can create differentiation by connecting with passionate people and letting them tell the story about their passion. And at passion epicenters, people care much less about price.

Key Question: How can you connect with a passionate customer base and fuel their passion? Hint: how can you help your customer tell a new, better story? (I’d love to know your thoughts.)

Steve and Stewart talked about the how – infrastructure and team – and Matt talked about the why – the customer experience and the outcome they crave. While the infrastructure is all important, if you don’t have the customer focus, the need for the rest won’t matter.

P.S. I’m in Singapore this week facilitating executive management training for one of my favorite clients. We’re talking about changing the game by fueling customer passion.

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