7 things I’ve learned talking with bright leaders from Google, AliExpress, Rainmaking and others

good-stories

 

It’s almost 10 months since I started contributing to CorD Magazine as a freelance ICT Journalist. It’s Serbia’s leading business and management magazine in English, and this gave me the opportunity to talk with bright people and leaders like Gary Illyes from Google, Ghela Boskovich from Rainmaking and FemTech, Zhiyu Chen from AliExpress (Alibaba Group), and others. I believe that good stories change the world, and that’s the best part of all these exchanges. Here is a look back at the talks and to what I learned from them.

 

Even the smallest things can have a huge impact – Appreciate them

From the interview with Scott E. Fahlman, Inventor of the emoticon,
Research Professor at the Language Technologies Institute and Computer Science Department,
Carnegie Mellon University

scott-e-fahlman

Way back in 1982, Scott you proposed using :- ) as a joke marker, and soon the Smiley literally took over the world. At the time, he would have never assumed how viral and big the thing would be. When I asked him if he expected all of that, he said:

Not at all. I thought that it would amuse a dozen or so of my friends who were taking part in that email discussion, and it would all be forgotten in a day or two. I didn’t even save a copy, and we had to make an archeological search 20 years later to find a copy of the message on our old backup tapes stored in a warehouse. 

You never now what will happen and how the things will develop. Sometimes, even the smallest thing have a huge impact, and I believe we should appreciate all the small moments we experience and small things or create or come across.

You can read how Scott feels about emojis vs. emoticons, what he thinks of bitmojis and if it is ok for his students to use emoticons in the papers they deliver in the interview for CorD Magazine.

It’s all about your users/customers – Always focus on what they need

From the interview with Gary Illyes,
Webmaster Trends Analyst At Google

Source: Stateofsearch.org
Image source: Stateofsearch.org

 

Many times, we are obsessing over technology, innovation and new features – which is great – but the point of anything we do is to make the user experience better and to meet the users’ needs. When I asked Gary about some of the main areas of focus for webmasters to focus on in order to make improvements, he answered:

I would rather not pinpoint one thing that content creators should focus on in order to improve their users’ experience. There are many things that are important for both Google and users, for the latter sometimes subconsciously. (…) In my opinion, content creators and website owners should pick one thing that they think is important for their users and implement that. They know better what is important and what they have resources for. We can give them guidance on what things can be improved, but ultimately it’s up to them to make a final decision.

You can read more about machine learning and artificial intelligence, challenges of finding balance between transparency, responsibility and protecting your own operations, new trends for Search and Gary’s first memories of the Internet in the interview for CorD Magazine.

 

Diversity of perspectives and collaboration leads to better solutions

From the interview with Ghela Boskovich,
FemTech Founder,
Head Of FinTech & RegTech Partnerships at Rainmaking

Image source: Twitter
Image source: Twitter

Diverse perspectives and people contributing and collaborating is a key to building resilient and adaptive companies of the future. This is what Ghela is focused on – business development through making the financial service industry more flexible, customer-centric, adaptive and creative. We talked about FemTechGlobal, FinTech challenges, cryptocurrecies and blockchain technology, and a shift from disruption to collaboration. Here are some of her thoughts that were really inspiring to me:

Disruption says what you’ve done is fundamentally wrong, while collaboration says this is working, but can work better. So, I tend to avoid the word disruption. I think it’s overused, while I think collaboration is a lot gentler word, but also a more productive word. Don’t tell me you’re disrupting, tell me that you’re collaborating, tell me you’re working together, tell me that you’re venturing on this together, and I’ll pay more attention to you than if you tell me you’re disrupting.

FemTech is about connecting diverse ideas, in fact its premises is: diversity of perspective leads to better solutions. (…) When you have similar people with similar backgrounds and experiences and viewpoints, there is no way you can arm yourself with the tools to adapt to outside pressures or to where the market is going. So the network itself is about actually providing a platform for people to share their different thoughts and experiences and perspectives. This allows those differences to have a voice at the table and have an influence on the way we start to shape policy or business models. I think it’s one of the most important things; it’s almost an insurance policy. Diversity is an insurance policy against dying out. And the banking industry needs an injection of that.

Read more about FemTech, Rainmaking, home of the Startupbootcamp, blockchain, FinTech and the role of diversity in the futureproofing of businesses in the interview for CorD Magazine.

You need to recognize the customer’s need before they are aware of them

From the interview with Zhiyu Chen,
Chief Commercial And Product Officer At AliExpress  (Alibaba Group)
[at the time, now VP of Ecommerce at Wallmart]

Image source: Zoran Petrovic / CorD Magazine
Image source: Zoran Petrović / CorD Magazine

AliExpress grew from a 14-employees company to an international giant in just a few years, having a world’s largest IPO at the time. Zhiyu and I talked about business culture in East and West, entrepreneurial startup environment and somewhat more rigid industries, the future of e-commerce and export businesses, and more. One of the most interesting points was about that it is necessary for businesses to recognize needs of their customer, before the customer:

From the perspective of the e-commerce business, I think the manufacturer and exporter need to be closer to the customer, and to understand what is trendy and what their customers really want. In the past they got this information from importers, and if you work in international trade, importers sometimes place their order half a year or even a year in advance. So information gets lost in this process, and it also gets delayed. And I don’t think that is the future. The future is to understand what the consumer wants before the consumer.

Read more in the interview for CorD Magazine.

 

Every audience is unique and different – You have to be open and learn about the people you are communicating with

From the interview with Audun Farbrot,
Head Of Science Communication At Norwegian Business School BI

Image source: Forskningskommunikasjon/Torbjørn Brovold
Image source: Torbjørn Brovold / Forskningskommunikasjon.no

 

Audun has been helping scientists, researchers and experts share the knowledge using new communications and social media. He pointed out the importance of always having our unique audience on mind when we communicate:

The most important factor in communication, whether in a local or an international context, is to know your audience. Every audience is unique and different from every other audience. (…) To overcome cultural differences you really have to be willing to be open and learn as much about the people you are to communicate with, and be able to adapt your communication accordingly.

Read more about intercultural communication, Audun’s books on science communications and social media for knowledge sharing, challenges of working on knowledge sharing and communication tips in the interview for CorD Magazine.

 

It’s important to look at the world through the eyes of a storyteller

From the interview with Nadav Avidan,
 Global PR Lead At Viber
[at the time, currently – VP of Marketing at Glispa Global Group]

nadav-avidan

When we think of someone telling the story of an app used by hundreds of millions of users, we can get carried away forget the core of everything. In the age of views and impressions, retweets and followers, likes and comments, we have to remember that an authentic story angle and good storytelling are what makes a difference. And when you are a good storyteller, it also changes the way you experience the world around you:

Invest the time to develop your storytelling skills and your ability to identify a good story when you see one. (…) Try to be the one that people want to listen to when you tell stories about the time we went to Greece or the time we went to this party or something like that, try to understand what creates a good story, that’s point number one. (…) If you are looking at the world through the eyes of a storyteller, and you’re thinking: what I’m seeing right now, how can it become a story that is relevant to my brand? It feels weird in the beginning, but after a while it becomes second nature. And it’s amazing. I can tell you that when I’m talking with my friends, or watching a movie, or going to a party, or having lunch, and I see things and every time I’m like: this could be a story, this could be a story, this with a small change can be something amazing, and it’s fun because the world keeps changing in front of your eyes if you do that, as opposed to when things just happen and you don’t pay attention to them.

Read more about challenges of communication across borders, privacy and security, chatbots and the future of communication in the interview for CorD Magazine.

 

You can reach any major goal if you break it into smaller steps and execute

Image source: Ekapija
Image source: Ekapija

Nataša Sekulić, President Of The E-Government Alliance Within NALED And IBM Country Leader For Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia & Albania.

Besides the work for IBM, Nataša Sekulić is dedicated to bringing digitisation end e-Goverment to Serbia, through E-Governemt Alliance within NALED. It’s a long and a bumpy road, but for both this and other challenges, it’s important to take it step by step:

I enter every day with great optimism. I wake in the morning and say: Today I have a major objective, but also small steps to take in order to succeed. It is important to make a successful small step each day. You shouldn’t wait for something to succeed in five years, but rather work every day in order to succeed in the end.

Read more about digitisation, e-Government, blockchain technology and the meaning of automation and digitisation for citizens, businesses and the governent in the interview for CorD Magazine.

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