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Posted on 25 May 2011

Chad Hurley V Jonathan Ive - who do you rate?


The Royal College of Art’s ‘Innovation Night’ hosted Chad Hurley, founder and CEO of YouTube. Post talk, I was surprised by a comment that Hurley had not given much away and that not much was gained in listening to him.

In that person’s opinion Jonathan Ive, Senior Vice President of Industrial Design at Apple, had been far more forthcoming and inspirational. For me, Hurley’s session (which had been followed by a short interview with Dr Paul Thompson before being opened up to the audience) delivered several insights worth remembering.

Both men were very entertaining: Hurley offered some very useful tips to budding entrepreneurs, Ive made it easier to understand the Apple design process (without giving away any of Apple’s secrets). It’s good to know Apple don’t use Focus Groups - it’s not just me that thinks they’re a bad idea.

Highlights from Hurley’s talk:

- Trust people and don’t hide behind your lawyers; ultimately a piece of paper is not going to protect you - Broadcast what you’re doing, it’s your best protection - working in secret leaves you vulnerable to someone else exploiting the opportunity.

Your original idea, the big one, might not be the one you end up with. Be true to your ideals but expect things to come out of your project that might be more commercially exploitable, - don’t be afraid to follow that path.

And the most valuable piece of advice of all that there are no rules. It’s a simple statement but has huge implications and acknowledges the role luck plays in our endeavours (I love Dieter Rams’ quote that the best bit of luck he had was getting a job with the Braun brothers).

It’s a huge privilege to be able to hear such men share their experiences and in Hurley’s insights I recognised my own career. Those who found the talk problematic have perhaps had different experiences to me - it’s difficult to appreciate the helpful advice of these hugely successful people if you’re not successful yourself.

Success is an interesting experience because it’s something that you hope for in the future and also recognise in the past; I don’t think people feel ‘successful’ in the moment - in my experience you feel stressed, overworked and exhausted. It’s when you look back that you see what the elements of success are and you find it easier to recognise them in the future. Think about Wimbledon champions - once you win your first tournament, the next one’s easy.