Leadership Notes #8

Leadership Notes #8
In this edition: An interview with Daisy Guo who is revolutionizing creative entrepreneurship in China, plus The Death of Expertise and how to conquer boredom at work
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Must Reads

1. On rewriting emotional intelligence

2. Understanding the psychology of nuclear brinksmanship

3. On keeping the passion for your work

4. How to fight boredom at work

5. On the difficulty of changing minds

6. What smartphones are doing to our mental heath

Great Books

7. Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked by Adam Alter

As Malcolm Gladwell observes, "an addictive book about the rise of addiction." Alter, a professor at NYU, explores both the obvious and subtle destructive hooks of technology and offers smart prescriptions to transcend the biological undertow.

8. The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters by Tom Nichols

Long-time professor at the Naval War College and Jeopardy Champion Tom Nichols explains how the democratization of information has led to a horrifyingly misplaced egalitarianism of expertise.

Interview: Daisy Guo (Link)

Daisy (Xiaoqian) Guo, Cofounder & CMO of tezign.com, a platform-based design and creative talent solution, invested by Sequoia Capital, that provides creative services for large corporations like Unilever, Coke, China Eastern Airlines and Youku, etc.

She was named as a Global Shaper by World Economic Forum in 2014 and the curator of Global Shaper Shanghai II Hub. She was invited to 2016 Summer Davos and 2017 Winter Davos. She was awarded 2017 Forbes 30 under 30 Asia, Enterprise Technology and has spoken in Davos, Slush, BBC Business Matters, Abu Dhabi Culture Summit and Horasis Global Meeting 2017.

Daisy holds a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from Central Academy of Fine Arts in China. Prior to founding Tezign.com, she was a part of the curating team for the Chinese pavilion at Venice Biennale 2012 and she has enriched experience in curating art events in many different countries like America, Spain and Italy.

Sam Potolicchio: What does your company do and how did you get the idea?

Daisy Guo: Tezign.com is a leading digital talent platform in China to power the future of creative work. It is backed by top venture capitals like Sequoia Capital and is recognized as one of the fastest growing enterprise service startups in China and Asia.

Using data technology and machine learning, Tezign.com fundamentally transforms how brands engage with global creative talents to achieve design, creative and marketing works in the contemporary world. Tezign's solution is trusted by large enterprises and innovative organizations such as Alibaba, Unilever, Starbucks, China Eastern Airlines, Youku, Ofo and Uxin, among others.

Tezign has over 10,000 qualified creative talents or studios from 16 countries, covering the areas of graphic design, UIUX design, illustration, animation, social marketing, etc. We help companies to achieve marketing campaigns, go global or adapt to local.

I graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts. During that period of time I got a chance to reach out abundant top-tier creative resources. I found that the collaborations between large corporations and creative talents were quite inefficient and rigid, especially in the advertising industry. On one hand, large companies were frustrated with the lack of matched creative talents, on the other hand, creative talents were bothered by handling the legal and financial issues that they were not professional about. Therefore I'm thinking why not developing a platform that could bridge the brands and the creative side, and take care of these issues that puzzle the creative talents, then Tezign.com came out.

Potolicchio: What do we need to know about doing business in China?

Guo: I strongly suggest any foreign company that is seeking to build its empire in Chinese market to find a reliable local partner to cooperate with and to learn from. It is full of risks to directly compete with local giants.

For example, when came to China, Booking.com made a strategic collaboration with Ctrip, one of the largest traveling service platforms in China, to take over the oversea market of Ctrip, utilizing its understanding and profession in global market, instead of constructing itself as another version of Ctrip. The result is win-win. Similarly, Netflix has struck its first licensing deal in China with iQiyi, one of the massive market’s leading streaming platforms.

Chinese market, as well as the creative industry, have enriched potential and opportunities. Tezign, as a bridge for large corporations and creative talents, could definitely help with the localization process.

Potolicchio: What's something we don't know about your industry that we should?

Guo: As for the advertising industry, design is not only about making things more beautiful, but also about visualizing the culture, the mission and many other invisible values of a brand.

China is facing the consumption upgrade process when most brands are seeking to optimize their branding strategies, in order to stand out of the crowd. This trend results in an increasing demand for creative talents and better design which drives the marketing growth.

Some data for reference, last year, the world’s biggest advertising group WPP made revenues of more than £14.39 billion globally, an increase of 12.5% on the previous year. Over 28% of Adobe’s valuation can be attributed to its Marketing Cloud business. This is where Tezign's market is, and it's huge.

Potolicchio: What business leader is doing work you admire?

Guo: Jeff Bezos is my role model in business.

Firstly, he is a visionary leader. Before starting Amazon, he has already had clear mind and strategies about what he was doing, what he would like to do and what he wanted to achieve. After graduation he worked on Wall Street, and in 1990 he became the youngest senior vice president at the investment firm D.E. Shaw. Four years later, he quit his lucrative job to open Amazon.com. Now Amazon.com becomes a legend and it changes the industry fundamentally.

Moreover, Mr.Bezos expands to other industries. He also cares about the future of human beings and the world, besides his commercial success. For instance, he invested in Blue Origin, a Seattle-based aerospace company that develops technologies to offer space travel. It's a strategic imagination for human beings. I am really touched and inspired by his visions.

Potolicchio: What's a book we need to read to understand what you do?

Guo: I highly recommend ‘Behind the Cloud’. This book documented the story of salesforce.com and its founder, Marc Benioff. It illustrates how salesforce.com grows from a startup in a rented apartment into the world's fastest growing software company (B2B company) in less than a decade.

Tezign is essentially a B2B company, with similar business logic as Salesforce. Though focusing on different industries, the success of Salesforce can be a great reference for Tezign in terms of team building, public relations etc. In ‘Behind the Cloud’, Benioff shares the strategies of motivating employees, turning customers into evangelists, leveraging an ecosystem of partners, and allowing innovation to flourish.

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