(Book Cover Image From Amazon.Com)
“Things a little bird told me: Confessions of a Creative Mind” by Twitter cofounder Biz Stone discusses a variety of work related concepts that librarians should be aware of. One of the important concepts was making sure that organizational culture matches an employee’s values. This is evident in the book in that Biz Stone decided to stop working at Google (even though he was well compensated), because he found the work to no longer be intellectually engaging and he also felt that Google placed technology ahead of people. In addition Biz Stone and another co-founder of Twitter decided not to continue serious negotiations with Facebook after visiting Facebook’s founder and Facebook’s offices. Biz Stone writes that, “We were as alien to him (Mark Zuckerberg) as he was to us.” In addition the book discusses creativity, team work, and risk tasking.
One take away from the book was the ability to provide high quality customer service even in the face of extreme customer dissatisfaction. At times the Twitter service would crash on a frequent basis, and nasty compliant email messages would be sent to Biz Stone. Instead of responding harshly, Biz would write back, “Dear Joe, thank you so much for your feedback. I’m frustrated as you are when the service goes down. I’m so glad you sent me this note. Here’s what the guys are doing. Please let me know if it doesn’t work for you in four hours.” Once Biz wrote back a nice reply, he often got a note back from the customer stating that they only wrote a mean email because they really liked the service/staff. Biz noted that the loudest complainers were often the biggest fans of Twitter since they were the most passionate about the service. By responding personally, honestly, and in a caring fashion Twitter put a personal touch on its customer service. In addition the assumptions for Twitter employees focus on a need to practice good internal customer service (i.e. co-workers). The Twitter belief is that “Our coworkers are smart and they have good intentions.”
I really loved Biz’s take on creativity. In high school he wanted to play a sport, but he could not make any of the teams. What did Biz Stone do? He decided that he wanted to find a sport he could not find available at his high school (in this case lacrosse) and he formed a lacrosse team at his high school. This teaches me that you have to be prepared to create your own path instead of just relying on choosing options from a predetermined template of choices. Also, I really enjoyed Biz Stone’s take on risk taking. “In order to succeed spectacularly, you must be ready to fail spectacularly.” Risk taking is something that Biz Stone is really good at. He got one of his first professional jobs designing book covers by taking a risk. He was moving boxes for the publisher Little, Brown, and Company when one day the entire art department went to lunch. Biz went into the art department’s office and actually designed a book cover. Two days later the art director gave him a full time job on the spot.