Tuesday, February 20, 2018

A Year of Learning and Leading UX at Google

Christine  Courage talks about her first year of leading UX at Google and her 5 gems she used at building a great UX culture 

I’m a big believer in timing.

I joined Google as a Vice President of User Experience (UX) a little over a year ago. To be frank, Google wasn’t at the forefront of my mind for a next career step. I even passed on a job offer in 2004 because the approach felt too tactical.

However, now more than ever, UX, engineering, and product management are seen as equal partners in product and strategy development. Today’s tech company leaders are still clamoring for great design talent, but they’re also seeking design leadership. Google is no exception.

Lots of big name companies are out there telling the story of how they approach design. (Facebook, Salesforce, and Airbnb come to mind.) But at Google, the UX culture perhaps isn’t as widely known. My initial hesitation was in part because I didn’t think of Google as a hub for design, and knew very little about how the company cultivated UX professionals.

Ultimately, I was curious and the proposed role piqued my interest, so I decided to explore the opportunity. Also, why was I holding on to my impression from 12 years ago? Thanks to a few promising discussions with UX, product management, and engineering leadership — and the recommendation of a trusted friend who already worked at Google — I decided to take a chance and this time accept the offer. A year with my team has dispelled misconceptions, and added dimension to my understanding of what it’s really like to work at Google.

Here are the top 5 insights I’ve learned about building and maintaining a healthy UX culture.

1. Smart should be the default, but engagement is what counts.

Everyone says “People at Google are so smart.” True, but I’ve had the pleasure of working with a lot of smart people over the course of my career. When I joined I learned that many of my colleagues have worked here for 10 years or more. Not only have they stayed on and built careers, they’re still incredibly passionate about their work. They really care! So while smarts are great, smarts and passion are the really powerful combination.

2. Embrace speed (without intending to break things).

Google embraces speed, but with the maturity of a grown-up company — an approach made possible by the trust we place in our employees.

For example, as machine learning has improved and grown in importance, the UX team has taken advantage of the benefits of this technology to design smarter solutions for our business customers. AdSense (Google’s product that lets website owners earn money by running ads) uses machine learning to learn about a publisher’s site, and then suggest new places to show ads that optimize both revenue and a better user experience. While the technology may do the heavy lifting, the design of what constitutes a good suggestion, delivered respectfully and empathetically to our users, is the domain of UX.

It’s amazing to me that after almost 20 years, Google has managed to retain a culture of trust and empowerment. The opportunities are plentiful — it’s on you to be bold and take them.

3. Grow a peer network that’s authentic and supportive.

The peer network is one of the greatest benefits of joining Google. I’ve found past experiences as a UX leader lonely, and often looked outside of the company for counsel and camaraderie. However UX at Google is over 2700 people strong. Because the team is broken into different product areas, rather than everyone reporting to centralized leadership, there are peers at all levels, instead of fewer senior people as you advance through your career.

A satisfying work life is due in large part to the connections you forge with your teammates. In my first year they’ve been invaluable by offering support, advice, and partnership that has helped me navigate the company.

4. “Googleyness”* still wins out

(*Replace with your company’s code for ethical conduct.)

When I was new to my role, I was impressed by the level of support and selfless help my colleagues offered. I didn’t have to earn trust and credibility, it was granted to me on day one. My job was to keep that trust.

Tech’s social role, responsibility, and inherent trustworthiness has been a topic of ongoing conversation and concern. For that reason I was encouraged to find that a strong moral compass guides both how we treat our colleagues and how we advocate for users.

As a UX leader, my job is to advocate for users. I’ve found my non-UX peers to be very receptive to that perspective. They’re also direct and communicate with respect. I appreciate this form of candor and dialogue, especially when it comes to discussions about what’s best for our users.

5. Be humble. But don’t be afraid to share your story.

Everyone is busy, so it’s easy to focus just on day-to-day work, and forget about what’s outside of Google. Also, I didn’t realize that the internal environment is rich with learning opportunities (design speaker series, leadership classes, our own internal UX conference, and UX managers conference). With all that’s going on, it’s easy to be internally-focused.

Thankfully, many Googlers are humble. My colleagues have said to me “I don’t have a story to tell. Why would people want to hear from me?” But they do have great stories to tell! From cutting-edge work in virtual reality and hardware design, to voice-user interfaces and great enterprise experience design, the process of bringing new technologies to life is often as compelling as the final products.

The consequence of leaders not engaging with the wider community to tell these stories is that other companies write our story for us. Misconceptions like “They’re too arrogant” or “UX doesn’t matter there” become the perceived truth.

As we kick off the new year, I’ve personally resolved to get out to more events, as a speaker, and attendee. And to write more. My hope is to provide people interested in learning about Google UX another perspective, and eventually, more ways to connect with our community.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Microsoft targets Australian tech start-ups with ScaleUp accelerator

US tech giant Microsoft has launched its accelerator program in Sydney called ScaleUp – looking to invest in start-ups that have typically received initial funding and are looking to expand.

 It promises to help fast-track their growth by linking them with potential customers, Microsoft partners and technical guidance.

Sydney is the eighth Microsoft ScaleUp program globally, with other operating  in Seattle, Beijing, Berlin, and London. 

It will be based in the new Sydney Startup Hub, which was opened as part of a $35 million NSW government plan last year.

It takes in selected start-ups, which don't pay anything for it, and typically works with them for about four months. In the five years it has been running globally, close to 730 companies have graduated from the program and raised almost $US3 billion in venture capital with 48 exits among them.

The ScaleUp program will come under the control of former Fishburners CEO and Muru-D co-founder Annie Parker, who was  ...
The ScaleUp program will be run by Annie Parker - former Fishburners CEO and Muru-D , who was appointed to lead Microsoft's start-up programs globally. Photo: Daniel Munoz.

"The quality of talent plus support from government set the scene for a thriving local start-up ecosystem that we can't wait to be part of."

The ideal companies will be business-to-business and enterprise-software-as-a-service firms, where a future partnership with Microsoft could be a valuable outcome for both parties. ..

The key opportunity....... is the ability to connect with Microsoft sales teams and its networks to help your business grow

We are looking forward to many success stories to emanate from this opportunity !

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

How Emotionally Intelligent Are You?

We are honoured to have Ush Dhanak talk to us about "Why we will need Emotional Intelligence in the Future Of Work" on Friday 28 July in Sydney.  
Emotional intelligence has helped businesses explain why some of their best performing staff and leaders don’t necessarily have the best academic qualification or professional skills.
But many leaders are still confused by emotional intelligence and its importance to the workplace. They are asking:
“How do I know if I am emotionally intelligent?”
“How can I measure it in myself and what do I look for in others?”
In order to answer these questions, it helps to first understand the main traits of emotional intelligence. Once you know these, you can start looking for them in yourself and others and assess how you measure up. You can then take steps to improve those that you are weakest on, if you want to raise your EQ.

Below, Ush Dhanak identifies 15 initial questions you can ask yourself to self-assess your level of emotional intelligence:

  1. Do you have the ability to listen to others?
Blindly ploughing your own course with no regard for others is no sign of EQ! Instead, emotionally intelligent people are able to listen and take in the thoughts, feelings, and opinions of others. They actively seek these out and are able to process them without judgement.
  1. Can you identify and express emotions?
We all experience a multitude of emotions – but people with EQ recognise what these emotions are and are able to label them and express what they are. Labelling emotions has the effect of diminishing their intensity and creating clarity – which can lead to better decision-making in the workplace.
  1. Are you curious about others?
Because you have the ability to empathise with others, you are also curious about them, if you have high emotional intelligence. This connects with the first above: you listen and care about the responses of others – which makes you curious about what they’re going through.
  1. How self-aware are you?
People with EQ are comfortable in their skin. They know what they’re good at and what they’re not so good at. They certainly don’t think or act like they are the best at everything. They are also better able to handle situations when their weaknesses may be exposed – because they are prepared for them.
  1. Do you display confidence?
Because of high self-awareness, emotionally intelligent people have a confidence about them – but not excessive or misplaced confidence. It comes across as an air of authority and balance. 
  1. Do you view change as threat or opportunity?
Emotionally intelligent people don’t feel threatened by change; because they are comfortable, aware, prepared, and confident in their abilities, they are flexible enough to approach change as an opportunity. They can help others to see it positively too: partly for this reason, high EQ points to strong leadership qualities.
  1. Are you easily upset – or unruffable?
People with EQ are thick-skinned and can take a joke; that of course doesn’t mean that they are immune to emotion – they are just not offended easily or over-sensitive to criticism and can control their emotions. The balance and confidence that they exhibit makes them seem more ‘unruffable’ than most.
  1. Do you build strong relationships?
Another trait is the ability to build strong, lasting relationships. Emotionally intelligent people don’t waste time with partnerships that won’t bear fruit; instead, they focus on working on the relationships that do matter.
  1. Are you good at finding compromises?
Every social situation has people we don’t get along with. The difference with emotionally intelligent people is that they don’t get angry, irritated, or frustrated by them. Instead, they are able to recognise emotions brewing up and to then rise above them. This makes them better able to see the other person’s point of view and more likely to find a compromise.
  1. Are you a good judge of character?
Being aware of your own traits and emotions also helps you see qualities in others. This can make you a better judge of character. You are able to scratch the surface and to see what really lies beneath with other people: a very useful skill when you’re a leader hiring employees, for instance.
  1. Do you find the positives in all situations?
Emotionally intelligent people are able to get over mistakes, negative experiences, and setbacks more easily than others. They see things positively and realise that most events in life are learning experiences; so they pick themselves up and get on with it. This also makes them more likely to take calculated risks – because they are less fearful of making mistakes.
  1. Can you say NO?
People with EQ know where to draw the line and realise that saying ‘yes’ to things actually means saying ‘no’ to other things (which may be more important). They are clear about priorities and so are not scared to say ‘no’ when necessary. This avoids the stress associated with agreeing to things just to please others.
  1. Do you know when to disconnect?
Emotionally intelligent people may often be hard-working leaders – but they also know when to switch off and disconnect from the working world. They know that family time, rest, and ME time is important to their wellbeing and they will make time for it. They have work-life balance.
  1. Are you usually in a good mood?
You’ll usually find emotionally intelligent people in a good mood and pleasant to be around; they don’t get too stressed and seem generally content with life. This is because deep-down they are in a ‘good place’ and the day-to-day stresses don’t get to them too much.
  1. Do you trash talk?
Finally, you won’t find people with a high EQ talking people down; they avoid negative conversations about others and don’t indulge in gossip. They implicitly know that focusing on the negative actions of other also brings your own energy down – so they prefer to focus on the positives.
Hopefully the above questions help you get clearer on the attributes of emotional intelligence. Apart from these observational measurements, there are validated tests you can take that will provide an indication of your level of emotional intelligence.
Want to assess emotional intelligence in your workplace? Or measure your own EQ?


The Leibovich boys make another catch of the day with Matt Berriman’s Unlockd

The next Aussie Unicorn? 

Matt BERRIMAN and Unlockd  - now $20m annuity revenue  - high growth company - can it build to an annual annuity revenue of $200m? 

Sophisticated investors, Lachlan Murdoch backed , Peter Gemmell , Margaret Jackson and catch of the day boys 

Hazi and Gabby Leibovich think so.

Unlockd is an advertising play - members release their phone in exchange for advertising. Every time they unlock phone - they get an ad every 3rd time and get points

Surveys,  watching videos etc , complete surveys and tasks is another feature that is gaining traction .

Priya Dobra - ex m and a guy at time Warner joined the board - adding governance and opportunity for acquisition growth to the board.

Exciting times for this startup! 


Monday, January 29, 2018

Summer 18 Spark Magazine is a great read

Decimal raises $857k with a $10m val

Digital advice provider Decimal has received $867k from global fund manager IFM Investors, with the placement of 28,900,000 ordinary shares at $0.03 a share,  skiing the business at $10m.

Decimal enables the superannuation industry to seamlessly transition into providing members with comprehensive financial advice solutions online .

Aussie Fintechs compete with the worlds best!

Source:- https://www.businessinsider.com.au/10-australian-startups-just-made-the-global-fintech100-2017-11

Ten Australian tech companies have made the annual KPMG and H2 Ventures Fintech100 list for 2017, while China took out the three top spots.

Sydney online lender Prospa (Greg and Beau)  was the highest-ranked Australian startup, landing in number 24 after a year that saw it close a $25 million capital raising round led by AirTree Ventures and secure a $20 million debt facility from Partners for Growth

Larry Diamond’s ZipMoney, entered the Fintech100 at number 37 after a massive 2017 that saw Westpac invest $40 million into the “buy now, pay later” venture, and rival NAB offer a $260 million debt facility deal.

Afterpay Touch ( “buy now, pay later” fintech ) came in at number 44 after its February merger with Touchcorp saw it become a $350 million player. 

The service is starting to enter mainstream retail, with its integration with Jetstar.

Foreign exchange provider Airwallex, artificial intelligence specialist Hyper Anna, home loan provider Tic:Toc, insurance distributor CoverGenius, cash loan provider MoneyMe, Business loan broking platform Valiant and investment firm Macrovue also made the list.

Two New Zealand fintechs – Xero at number 16 and Pushpay at 42 – made the main list while Banqer also featured. 

The USA contributed the most number of fintechs to the 100 with 19 companies, but China was the big winner with the top 3 spots:- 

Third party payments provider Ant Financial, property insurance tech firm ZhongAn and electronics leasing startup Qudian.

Lending and payment dominated this year’s Fintech 100, with 32 lending businesses and 21 payments companies making the cut.

KPMG and H2 Ventures said the 100 companies were chosen on 10 metrics, with total capital raised, rate of capital raising, geographic diversity, sectorial diversity and a subjective “X-factor” used as the five core judging factors.

The top 10 companies in this year’s Fintech100 were:

Thursday, January 25, 2018

These are 13 tips to successfully market an ICO

The Bob Pritchard Column .
1.        Determine your market
Integrate digital tokens into your business model. If it doesn’t inherently add value to your product or service offering, then don’t do it.
2.        Learn the SEC rules
In July 2017, the SEC ruled that some digital coins are actually securities.   The SEC will not let ICOs fly under the radar. For a successful ICO, you must be aware of the SEC’s criteria for what constitutes a security.
3.        Keep your ICO secure
Be prepared to be a target for hackers who could steal our user and ICO participant information and funds.   Security should be a top priority:
a) Use different randomized passwords for key accounts so that if one account is compromised, the rest of our accounts are safe.
b) Ensure web host admin passwords are ONLY shared on a need to know basis.
c) Mandate 2-Factor Authentication for company staff to stop hackers even if the account password is compromised.
d) Have a full time community manager monitoring ICO slack & telegram chats. Proactively ban members with suspicious names or throwaway email addresses  and ignore phishing message.
e) Release your crowdsale address in advance and inform our community on it. Use the Ethereum name service to purchase an address that can be easily remembered.
f) Use a hardware wallet, to access your ICO smart contract/wallets or store funds.
4.        Know your audience
You will be speaking to two distinctive audiences: those with digital currency knowledge, and those who don’t.  Your marketing and PR materials must speak to both sides of the spectrum. Through thought leadership, social media, and more traditional PR hits, carefully define and tailor your messaging.
5.        Give people a strong reason to get your tokens
Clearly explain the rewards your token holders are entitled to. The token can be used to purchase services or products and ensure there will be sustained demand for the token. Don’t structure it as an equity/debt token, which will make it a regulated security. Create a sincere emotive story in order to compel a desire to support your cause.  69% of Millennials want businesses to better facilitate customers getting involved in social issues, and many investors do, as well.
6.        Social Media Accounts
– You need at least 3 VERY active on answering questions and moderating the spamming, trolling and other unpleasant behavior.   In order of importance (Email/Form Contact, Telegram, Slack, Twitter, Steemit, Medium, Facebook, Linkedin, Youtube, Instagram,etc…)
7.        Announcements in popular ICO calendars
Place information on special calendar sites. There are a couple  of dozen resources where you can publish a schedule for your planned ICO.
8.        Update your website
Make sure your website is up to date and current with your company’s latest news.
9.        Collect every possible email 
Collect the email address of anyone who could be remotely interested in your project.  This will become the channel to send out official information and provide a powerful voice to our investors.
10.     Promote your information
Investors want evidence — and concrete proof that your business will excel. Moreover, we will gain additional exposure and be reported on regularly.

11.      Free and Effective Marketing

We need to take advantage of free public channels to promote the ICO.  We must List the ICO on multiple websites
12.     Publications in professional communities
13.     Native advertising, general topic media, and blogs
14.     Create a pay per performance model
Each investor needs to get a chance to spread a discount to their connections.  They can get something for referring friends…and the friends get something too!