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Sept. 29, 2021

121. Turn Disruption OFF and Innovation ON with Terry Jones

How to be the one who’s doing the Innovating that leads to Disruption for other businesses, rather than being on the other end of situation.


How to be the one who’s doing the Innovating that leads to Disruption for other businesses, rather than being on the other end of situation.

 

ABOUT TERRY JONES

Terry Jones is a Digital Disruptor, author and a venture capitalist. 

He has founded five startups, with two billion dollar IPOs - Kayak and Travelocity.  

He has served on 17 corporate boards. 

His success has established him as a thought leader on innovation and disruption. 

As a speaker, author, venture capitalist and board member, Terry helps companies use the tools and techniques he has developed to succeed in our fast-changing world.

 

TERRY'S WORK & BOOKS

 

 

 

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Transcript

Whenever you start, it won't end up being what you thought. Unless you're one of those guys, like on Shark Tank and all the Sharks say this sucks and you go, no, it doesn't. You're all wrong. Everybody told me wrong, and I'm right. And those guys walk away and starve to death because they didn't change. I mean, every startup is a pivot. It always happens that way.

 

Alright. Welcome, everybody. I'm really excited to have our guest on today. Terry Jones is a digital disruptor, an author and a venture capitalist. He's founded five startups. A couple of you might have heard of Kayak and Travelocity. He served on 17 corporate boards, and his success has established him as a thought leader on innovation and disruption. That's going to be our main focus today, turning disruption off an innovation on. As a speaker, author, venture capitalist and board member, Terry helps companies use the tools and techniques he's developed to succeed in our extremely fast changing world.

 

Thank you so much for joining me today.

 

Terry Wade is great to be with you.

 

Awesome. So one of the things that you and I talked about in the Preinterview, which I just love is just this basic concept of disruption, innovation being the two sides of the same coin. And of course, we want one of them. We don't want the other, or we think we don't want the other, maybe share a little bit about if you would in a relationship between those two and how we can hopefully end up on the positive side of that.

 

Well, they are two sides of the same coin. And the only reason you call it a disruption is because you didn't do it. It was done to you. So I think we need to think about we can be a disruptor. But the tool of disruption is innovation, right? That allows you to be a disrupter. And if you just sit on your butt, well, then you're going to get disrupted and we see it happen so many times. I was looking at The Wall Street Journal this morning and you see the market cap of Tesla versus the auto industry, the market cap of Airbnb versus the hotel industry.

 

And we could go on because people look forward and say they're going to disrupt this industry, but they're going to do it by thinking about a new and innovative way to approach the business problem that the people who are trying to solve.

 

Awesome. So a lot of people will look at traditional business model. So, for example, I've grown up in the insurance industry and gosh for at least 25 years now, we've been hearing about the Internet companies are coming and the phone companies are coming or the teleconference companies are coming or the call centers, and to some degree that's impacted the industry to some degree, it's not. So you've had some people sounding like chicken little, the sky is falling. You've had some people say no it will never change.

 

And of course, the truth is usually somewhere in between. How does an entrepreneur or a business look at and distinguish? What are those things that are fundamentally true that we want to build upon versus at the same time disrupting and being innovative so that we're not, in essence, disrupting the part we don't want to disrupt and at the same time being ready for when the change comes.

 

I think it was Bill Gates who said that at the beginning, innovation is way slower than we think it's going to be. And then later, it's way faster. It's going to be. There's a quote from The Sun also rises for somebody who said asked him, the characters asked, how did you go bankrupt? He said, two ways, first, slowly and suddenly. So that's kind of what happens. I was asked to speak once. I think it was in about 2003 to the Yellow Pages convention, and they wanted me to talk about Search and Google.

 

They pay me a lot of money to speak. And I just wanted to come in and say, Ladies and gentlemen, your test. Thank you very much. But they pay me a lot of money. So I took about an hour to Wade it together for them, and they could have been Google, but they couldn't let go of their old model. Letting go of your old model is very, very hard to do. At Travelocity, for example. We looked out and said, Well, we could be kayak, but there was no way as a public company, we could tell Wall Street we're going to fire of our people and change our business model.

 

It just wouldn't have happened. So I think you need to look at trends and say, Where is the world going and how should I ride along with it? I was at a large insurance convention. I was the keynote speaker, and it was all agents. And the guy from the company said, look, you go out there and tell those people if they think they're going to be selling car insurance in 15 years, their nuts. He said, I can't say that because they're my agents. But you can say that because you're going to get out of here before they kill you.

 

And you know, you look at in insurance the amount I would think about the other day. So I have a very expensive home in a rural community. I pay an awful lot for insurance. I've never, ever talked to that company and even the broker who's a friend of mine, he doesn't call me even once a year to see how things doing. He's just rolling in those renewals, right. So if I don't have any contact, then I really don't care. And there's a new insurance company out called The Zebra.

 

You've probably seen the ads for that all over place. You know who runs that? The guy ran marketing a Kayak. He went over to insurance and said, here's a place where people want a comparison shop, because for most people, it's about the price, particularly now in that business. I know I was with a broker for a long time and like them appear in the mountains, but I can't call him if I have a problem anymore. He really is not in power to do anything. I have to call the company and I'm going to get some Bozo at 800 number who really is just going to read the script and do what they do.

 

So then what's the value add? So it's like, look, here's a crazy story of all things. My daughter ended up being a travel agent. So I spent my whole career trying to put them out of business in share one. Right. And that's because she was a singer and lost her singing voice to lime disease and needed something else to do. And she said, I do this and I talked to her now. She only does super high end work. She is in Beverly Hills, big cruises, go to Africa on Safari.

 

That kind of stuff. And I said, you know, even when you sell to me, honey, I get a bunch of emails and print outs. We don't have a Zoom. We don't interactively use the new tools to sell. You're selling me a 15 $20,000 product here. Come on. What's the 21st century way of doing it? And half the travel agents went out of business for me, not Travelocity and commissions went to zero, but the other half have more. But they need to continue to change. So that's just one example of how we have to use these new tools because our customers are expecting it.

 

Yeah, that's one of the things I know. I talk a lot. I work with a lot of insurance agency owners and their team members, and the conversation becomes exactly what you're talking about. If an app is coming, if Elon Musk car insurance companies coming. I've heard of this. I haven't kept up on it. There's going to be a cool, mis factor to that that some people sign up because it's him. What is it that you have that they cannot get somewhere else?

 

Exactly.

 

Because if it's an even a relationship in and of itself, I mean, we can still be friends. And I'll still go buy my insurance over there. Most people have have gone away. See, later really becomes. Yeah, it's become selfishly. What can you do for me that I cannot get somewhere else? And in that particular business model, there are a small percentage of insurance agency owners what they understand. And some of the companies the banks are doing this to some of them is this basic idea that while the top 3% of the wealthiest are being chased by something like 70% to 80% of the financial services industry or more, you've got this 90% something of the population that doesn't have an attorney, doesn't have an accountant, doesn't have a banker.

 

And if you could help that group manage their credit card debt, compare their insurance, make sure you like you said, do something of value for them.

 

Really be consulted with them and make a difference, because, look, you know, Elon is going to change insurance. For one basic reason. Insurance has been based on actuarial tables. He's going to base it on actual data, your car and how you drive. And because I'm the manufacturer, I know instantly what it costs to fix that car. So I know what my margin is. And I'm going to be the one to fix it. So I'm a one stop shop. I want it's like people think of triple A as.

 

Oh, that's the place you get travel discounts? No, they're a towing company. No, they're an insurance company. But a lot of people don't know that. So he's going to combine businesses in a new way. And why do I need someone to help me? So there is still a great place in the world for counselors, but I think that's a great idea. Can I be your life, counselor? Can I really help you with all these things? You know, I graduated from a Liberal arts College, and I went back and I talked to the College President and said, you know, can we have a course about life?

 

I didn't know how to balance my checkbook. I didn't know I didn't know any of that stuff. And he said, Well, that's not Liberal arts. And I said, Well, I would say it isn't it's not studying philosophy or Greek, but could it be an elective or something? And now we're seeing more of that because people go into the world, not understanding the world doesn't come in operating manual. So how do we get help from somebody I can reach out to? It's a wonderful idea. I mean, it's sort of like concierge doctors.

 

It's interesting. One of my wife's cousins, he's a musician in Barcelona, and he started out really talented guitar player and just a musician in general, acoustic guitar. And he started out playing in the subways in Barcelona because he's from Peru. But he moved there. He wanted to just learn his way. And I remember maybe about five, six years ago, actually, about ten years ago, when the recession was kind of hitting us. I said, how are things over there? He said, Wait, I always have to hustle. Nobody's booking for me.

 

And so it was kind of funny to your point about the Liberal arts here is this person. He is an artist. He is as artistic as it gets. But he was also a realist. I've got to if I'm going to pay my bills.

 

I've got a the the original Gig Workers Singers. I have a friend is a Broadway actor and a Carpenter because I always have to have another job. But he said, Look, I'm selling myself every week. I'm going to rehearsal halls. I'm going to bed I'm putting on my picture. That's entrepreneurship.

 

Absolutely. And to your point, about the counseling piece, I've seen so many people, I use a generic term which people would probably call it something different or similar. Financial life coaching. Those industries have been for years. There's different people, everyone. Whether it's Dan solving the strategic coach for entrepreneurs or Tony Robbins, there's all sorts of different people saying, okay, we want to tie these two together because basically, if even just look at the basic concept of intellectual, emotional, mental, spiritual, you have some people who want just have all the intellectual in the physical dimension over here, sort of very left brain stereotypical Western culture.

 

If other people say, I want to be all emotional and heart centered and spirit center, that's great. But if you're not putting those pieces together, you're either overly analytical or you're just way out in La, La land, as opposed to being able to have the things work together. When you look at a business model, how can an entrepreneur distinguish if something that's coming is disruption or if it's just a fad? So you've got Snapchat, you've got ticktock, you've got club house, you've got all these things.

 

And then, of course, there's all sorts of different examples, electric cars. And how can an entrepreneur who's in a business say, okay, that I don't need to look out for that.

 

What are the obviously anybody can do that is predicting the future. And you can't for the computer. All you can do is look for the big trends and try to say, Can I take a risk a small risk around that trend. And I'll give you a good example. So I have a house down in San Clemente, California, and I do normally a quarter million miles a year travel. And I usually take a car to the airport because I can work in the car. So I used the local limo service.

 

This was about six years ago before Uber was any size down there. And the guy who ran the business found out who it was. He said, what? You analyze my website, and I thought, Well, normally, I charge, like, ten grand to do that. But he's a small business. Okay, so I did. And his website was terrible. It didn't have price. And you couldn't book. I had a lot of great pictures and stuff, and so I sent it into him. I ripped it pretty good. I never heard from him.

 

And his drivers were all complaining this kind of name, any technology. We don't have an app. You know, I have to call them all the time. So one day he was driving me, and I said, you know, Dan, you never talk to me about the website. And he said, Well, you really hurt my feelings. We spend a lot of money on it. I said, Well, money. Yeah, but it sucks. Why don't you let somebody book online? Why are their prices? He said, well, I want them to call me.

 

You know, my price is a little higher, but I hope they would call me and I could build a relationship with them. I said, this is the 21st century. They're not going to call you. They're going to go somewhere else. And so we argued for a while. I said, look, why don't you try this? Open another website called San Clemente Online. Limo use the same drivers, same cars, but have an app and prices in a place to book and run your own competition and see what happens.

 

It's going to cost you less than a car to do this. And he said, Well, I don't know. And I said, Well, how old are you? And he said, 55. And I said, That's too bad. You said what I said because you're not going to own this business is 65. It's going to be gone. And unfortunately, three years later, he went bankrupt because he wouldn't change. It was very clear that this was going to happen. Uber was going to come and kill him. But Uber hasn't killed all the corporate pickups.

 

You know, when I did it, you couldn't even schedule an Uber at 06:00 a.m.. So I was going to take a chance that an Uber wouldn't be there. Right. And it was easy for him to do an inexpensive test. And I think that's true for you. Look at so many restaurants now who may not reopen, they might just be a ghost kitchen and deliver because they're saying, hey, I figured out that can work there. But right now it's one of those deer die moments we have to do or die.

 

But it usually isn't like that usually have to decide. I'm going to experiment with some of these new things and see if they work. Yeah.

 

It's interesting. We'll take risks with of our portfolio with risky stocks.

 

Right. Same idea.

 

But the idea of running a split test and testing and going against ourselves. It's interesting to Kayak.

 

Every day is the test we're constantly testing, continuously failing and always learning. Right.

 

And that's the thing I know in the insurance industry gosh years ago, at least 20 years ago. I remember, in essence, the business model was they're about to pay the renewals. Don't say anything because you might annoy them. And on one hand, I get that because there's a certain group that literally the yeah.

 

Yeah, that'll bail out.

 

But at the same time, you're like, okay, but then when seven years later comes or three years later, whenever somebody else approaches them and they said, Well, when have you talked to your agent? Never. And the whole stereotype that goes with that you've already hit on this. One of my questions was gonna be, should you be looking to disrupt your company or keep things quiet? And definitely it sounds like you're an advocate if you don't have disrupt yourself.

 

Somebody else as well. Look, I was at American Airlines. And I was chief information officer. And Wade had a product online for almost eight years on AOL and Prodigy and. Compuserve called Eg Saver, and you could make a reservation there. But you couldn't book, you couldn't get a ticket. It would send it to a travel agent because we had 40,000 travel agent customers. It was a multibillion dollar part of our business. And one day the travel agents woke up and they said, you guys should shut that thing down.

 

You're selling bullets to the enemy. You know, we don't like this online crap. And Bob Crandal, our chairman, said, no, give it to Jones. She's over there in it used to be a travel agent. He will hide it over there. But he said we should do this because somebody's going to do it. And it may as well be us. And so we brought out a business that directly competed with our major competitor. And they but they got over it because they understood. And we included them.

 

And we built the websites and we did other things. But we also said we had to have to go direct. And as all the major insurance companies, you know, have considered, anybody who has a broker, an agent is considering one, how do we go direct? Because we're going to cut that cost out at the low end. Do we want to do that for home insurance or Workman's. Comp? No. Do we want to do that for a click and buy car insurance? Yeah, probably because because there are competitors out there that are eating our lunch.

 

Yeah.

 

And I think that's the thing, too. It's like anything else you might want McDonalds, you might want Benihana or Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. There's different levels. But being clear about it. And one of the things that I find that try to teach our kids wife and I, we have kids that are 14 and twelve is to say, look, as somebody who's hired virtual workers in different parts of the world, sometimes because it made more sense sometimes because I simply couldn't afford the American equivalent of it. I literally just didn't have the budget for it.

 

And I told my I said, look, for example, I have a small software company. The person that would cost me $75 to $125 per hour in the United States will cost twelve to $15 per hour right now in the Philippines, it depends on the project, but roughly. And you say, okay, so how long is that going to hold up? And yes, this story that we have. And I'm speaking now, even specifically, somebody who's grown up in America, even though I was born outside of it. Well, things always work out for us.

 

So it'll just work out. And it's like, okay. But past performance is not an indicator of any friends and realizing that, well, if there's that many people that are that hungry and willing that something's going to shift. And yet some people are still caught up in what? Well, that's not going to happen. Well, it's always not going to happen until it happens.

 

Well, that's right. It's always impossible until somebody does it, wasn't it Bruce Wayne SaaS? Yeah, that's absolutely right. And it's unfortunate. I mean, I remember going to France 30, 40 years ago, and there were only French cars in France. They wouldn't let the others in that a closed ecosystem. Very good quality of life. Right. And unfortunately, they tore down the tariffs just as we did here. And suddenly life is tough. And now we're all on Zoom and I go to Fiber and get some guy on Mars to work on my website.

 

I don't know where they are. And, you know, that is a fact of life. And it's just I was so disappointed. I remember during two campaigns ago, there were people interviewed and somebody asked Hillary Clinton, what are you going to do about jobs? She said she was in Ohio. She said there's like, a quarter million jobs open in Ohio right now. We just Wade to have the people trained to do them, right. And then they interviewed a guy in Ohio. And they said, Would you move to California for a job?

 

And he said, Well, I don't know. Well, he's nuts. You know, we have to change and we have to move. So it's like the people who you want to bring back coal. Well, forget about the war on coal. We can argue about that. But cold jobs have been going down since 1920, and it's all due to automation. Right. And of the work kill by automation. And you have to look at that and say, I think I better move. I think I better change because this isn't going to work the way it did.

 

And that happened with travel agents when half of them went away. But half of them figured out how to stay. They changed their business model. They became century consultants instead of just somebody who's listing and typing and not adding any value. So I think we've come back to the theme a couple of times, but it's about how do you add value. And if that value is totally squeezed out of your business, I can't be a telephone switchboard operator anymore. You better to look at what the heck you can do.

 

Yeah.

 

I think that's the thing that comes up for a time when I talk to young people. Sometimes we're looking to start a business. And I don't know about you. When I hear the term serial entrepreneur, I got an asterisk like, okay. Does that mean you've started a lot of businesses really successfully? Or does that mean you just jump every five minutes? It could be an it could be either one of the things I just look at say, look, if you're looking for that place where there's this, like milk and honey and nobody discovered it because of technology that no longer exists and I remember when I was working or at least it's a really, really, really small percentage for a very small time.

 

I remember when I was working on my master's degree in psychology. I heard about the exact same trend that happened in the insurance industry. And the trend was that back in the 80s, at least in the United States, when there wasn't as much data flowing, a psychologist could charge pretty much what they wanted. The insurance companies would pay it. And again, the psychologist teachers are telling me that was those were the days.

 

And it wasn't.

 

Hey, were trying to do anybody wrong. They were just saying it was nice when we could help people not be questioned. And the insurance agent saying, Man, I remember those days when I didn't have to come in as much and I could be fishing more and stuff would work or just people were nicer. So there's so many things that have shifted. But this idea of there's so many gurus out there teaching courses or ideas of Instafamous yesterday or whatever it is. And my understand is it still takes at least three to five years to even start building a business.

 

You have to watch your expenses.

 

You still have to watch to venture back companies you need seven years. And of our gun. Yeah, we all hear about the hits, but we don't hear about the crash. It doesn't mean you should be an entrepreneur. And I think the unfortunate thing that happens now, I had actually some guys on the insurance start up in Canada call me some years ago, and they said, Will you come up? There were, like, 100 miles from Whistler in the middle of winter and visit us. And I said no to call you, come to me.

 

And and they had an idea for a kayak if insurance. And one of the things they said is, you know, well, should we get VC money? We can get a bank loan for this. I said, Get a bank loan. Dude, VCs will own you, and they will require you to sell your company. And that's unfortunate. That's changed in the United States because everybody starts a business today with the idea of selling it instead of building it. And even if your VC back, you got to build it first.

 

Maybe you got lucky and sell it. You might end up with a nice little business where you can raise money and run a business. You don't have to sell it. But whatever you do, it isn't going to be kayak was an overnight success in eight years. And we did sell for almost $2 billion. But it took eight years, Wade.

 

Plus, there's the work behind that, people say, you know, well, so and so hit this milestone. Yeah, but they study, they did other jobs. There's different things behind that. And as somebody who one of the core things I do and with this podcast is helping people understand look, first of all, you don't have to make seven figures. Seven figures, as you know, the new six figures, like, oh, my gosh, you make seven figures. Oh, my gosh, wow. It's looking great. And if you can, that's great. But there's people who are making six figures and even five figures that enjoy life.

 

And some of the most successful business models are boring as hell. But that's why they're successful because you figured something out and it repeats itself and something like, Well, I want to sell them like, no, that's the one that gives you the freedom to then work that one or two days a week and then have this other one that if you want to go do fancy stuff the same way again, you would with a stock portfolio with any sort of portfolio.

 

Well, you have in life, some people live to work, and some people were to live. And I'm 72, and I'm still working like, crazy, and I don't need to work. I want to work. So I gave 45 speeches last year and I consulted with companies and I wrote a new book and I did all that stuff. Do I need to have to do that? No, I'm a Medicare man. I don't have to do it. But I want to do it. And other people would say, no, I worked all this time because, you know, I want to Hunt and fish and play golf and.

 

Okay, great. And you can create a lifestyle where you do that all the time, if that's what you want. But you got to decide, what are these you want? If you're going to be an entrepreneur, you are not going to have the golf lifestyle. Okay. You know, go be head of sales for a company that just takes people out to lunch and play golf. That's great. And that may be your thing. Or if you want stability and great medical insurance and terrific benefits, don't be an entrepreneur.

 

That is what you should do. Running your own business is a lifestyle full time thing.

 

Yeah. And when you look at entrepreneurs, a lot of us have this. It's not necessarily to satisfaction. It's a restlessness that we're looking to create a new thing. We're looking to do a new thing. And a lot of people say, oh, it's low self esteem or it's not necessarily that. I mean, sometimes that comes along with it. But there's this sense of I explained to people I see possibility and things. So it's like I can see or as another on my friend says, I've never met an idea I didn't like, okay, there's that.

 

Sorry. That's not good.

 

You know, that's not good. How do you help people see the difference between necessary disruption or necessary change versus just restlessness?

 

Well, it's interesting if you think about the definition of innovation. The one I like is that create creativity is about thinking up new things. Innovation is about doing it. It's by putting an idea to work, and you have to put it to work and get a return and create something. It doesn't have to be a company. It could be a product line, but you better make it work before you move on like a butterfly to the new thing. I was just last hour on the show with several entrepreneurs, and one of them was an inventor.

 

He's invented a lot of home kitchen products and stuff like that. But he, you know, as he invents, he market tests any studies, a lot before he commits. And he does tons of prototypes, and he figures out where it is now. He's invented half a dozen interesting kitchen products. Is he moving from things to things too quickly? No, I don't think so because he understands how to put them together, market them and hand them off to somebody else to build them. And he gives them to, you know, lows to sell them.

 

And that's fine. But he gets to create and do his new ideas all the time. That's different from saying, Well, I'm going to be a banker now. I'm going to make cars and something else. I mean, Elon can do that. But most of the rest of us can't create that many things at once.

 

What would you say is the hallmark tell, tell sign within a company as you're growing a company and you're looking at the marketplace, how do you know what's coming? The disruption is coming. And what's the best way as a practice, whether this be for a large company or an entrepreneur that's starting out or even somebody sidehustle is thinking, okay, I'm thinking of being that disruptor. What is it? What you're looking for?

 

One of the things that I was I had dinner three or four years ago with the term of American Express. I knew he invited me to come to this dinner in Silicon Valley, and it turned out it was a whole bunch of entrepreneurs and his executive team. And he went out to the Valley twice a year to do what's now called the Silicon Valley Petting Zoo, where you go out and you look at a whole bunch of startups. And he said, Look, American Express, our name says what we were.

 

We were a freight company. Now we're a financial services powerhouse, and he's running this multi billion dollar company. He said, I know what will be next, but it probably won't be what we are now. I have to continually take the pulse of what's out here. And he said, Sometimes we get inspired. Sometimes we buy these things and experiment with them, usually kill them, and sometimes we ignore them, and we don't think they're right. And we have to buy them later where they're much more expensive. But if you aren't reading widely, if you aren't understanding how things are changing and testing, then you won't see that disruption until it comes and kicks you in the ass.

 

When Travelocity started. I actually was building airline websites. The Airlines wanted me to build their website. That was pretty funny. And I built a website for American Express, the biggest travel company ever. Well, that's like Target when they outsource to Amazon. I mean, talk about being in the cage with a Tiger, and they didn't change their business model. Now they're totally out of retail travel. They're gone. American Express used to be it in retail. They're done. They didn't want to change. So they're big enough to absorb that blow.

 

Other people are not. So I think you have to keep your ear to the ground. You have to read widely. You have to look at some of these things. I went and spoke at a large insurance company a couple of years ago, and they bought a startup, but they were smart enough to leave it in another town and not absorb it. They said, we want to see what happens to it. And we go over there and we learn and we come back and it's good for us to get over there and see what those guys are doing, but we're not going to kill it.

 

I was at a small computer startup that we sold to American Airlines. The CEO of American said, I have told everyone from America they can't come here for one year. I'm going to send you a CFO and leave you alone because we will kill you. We're going to help you grow. I'm going to give you money. I'm going to have a guy here to watch my money. After a year, they said, okay, pack your bags. You're moving from Tampa to Dallas, he said, now you're big enough.

 

We won't kill you. And eventually we got bigger and bigger. And eventually they sort of dissolved us and absorbed the technology. So that's a real important lesson, because they saw the disruption. They went out and bought the disruption, and then they brought inside.

 

Awesome. So some of the people listen to the show are people who are employees. Are they working for somebody else and they're thinking of starting something. How can somebody start something as a one man show? And obviously we're not necessarily talking about competing with Elon Musk, Amazon or anything. But how can a person start doing research? You say, okay, here's something that is a reasonable like, okay, in my community, I'm going to do this. But to the market, what might be a micro disruption, but something that's big enough and viable enough for me to be as a business that could also perhaps eventually turn into something bigger.

 

Well, what's so exciting now about being an entrepreneur in the century is you don't have to hire a huge team to get started. Travelocity went public with 3000 people. Kayak went public with 200. And today and my son, he was an entrepreneur. At 18. He sold this first video game, went to work for Valve, and we finished College, went to Sony, then to Electronic Arts, where they spent $200 to $300 million on a game. And he quit. And with three of his friends, they formed a game company.

 

And how do four guys do that? Well, they raise money from friends and family. They got money on Kickstarter. Their office was their apartment, their computers were in the cloud, and their customers came from social. Now they ended up they build an awesome game. But they only sold about half a million dollars, which was fine, but not enough to create a company. They created a game. So what happened? He's gotten two amazing jobs since because people said, how the hell did you do that? You're amazing if you built this game and it's amazing game wasn't hit.

 

It's a hit business. Not every movie hit, but he's gone on. Now. He's a senior director. Zenimax, which just sold to Microsoft for 8 billion, wasn't his company. But he got a piece. And so you can experiment small today, you can test things on the Internet, you can use 3D printers to make a prototype, you can go out and try. You can build Internet focus groups. There are all kinds of ways to find out. And there are all these people on Fiber and a hundred other gig sites who can help you do the things that you can't do.

 

So what's the thing? You have to decide? What's my court, what can I do? What am I good at and what I want to spend my time on around the idea. And then, you know, you got to risk some Bucks and get other people to help you.

 

Yeah, I think it's such an interesting time. And if you enjoy the creative process, a lot of entrepreneurs like starting stuff and don't necessarily like running the things that they start right. There's so many things you can do today. And one of the things that I think some people get caught up on is the ego or the cache of sane. I'm an entrepreneur and people say, Well, and you dont want to work dollars for hours. Well, hold on. Leo Messi, LeBron James dollars for hours. Employees technically working out.

 

Okay for him. Not so bad. So a lot of it, I think depends. And I love your example of your son's situation because I think of a friend of mine who was doing a certain type of work. It was SEO work and some other stuff. And he started his own sidehustle. He had some courses he was selling and they were going, okay. And then he got this offer again because of one of his courses to then have this awesome position with the hours, he wants to be able to have time for his family.

 

He has, I think, two children with his wife. And he was telling me he's like, oh, man. And he was talking like, almost. We're talking about the old days, an artist selling out music artists and I'm like, Dude, you're not selling out. You just got what you wanted. It just doesn't look exactly the way you thought it was going to look. And you're getting a little hung up on that.

 

Why? Look, whatever you start, it won't end up being what you thought. Unless you're one of those guys, like on Shark Tank and all the Sharks say, this sucks and you go, no, it doesn't. You're all wrong. Everybody told me wrong. I'm right. And those guys walk away and starve to death because they didn't change. Every startup is a pivot. It always happens that way. You know, a kayak. When we brought out our mobile app, it was early in the mobile days, and we thought it was about urgency.

 

You're going to use mobile because the meeting got out early. You need to catch the next flight or the meeting got out late. I have to stay tonight. Turns out they used it just like the desktop. If we add that short feedback loops. If we hadn't listened and rewrote the product, we wouldn't have 65 million people using that product today. So you have to be flexible. And then you have to step back and say, Did I get what I wanted? You know, I was an entrepreneur.

 

You might say I was terrified all the time. I couldn't make payroll. It was just turned out okay, but it was a horrible experience. You shouldn't be an entrepreneur. Go get a nine to five or right. That's okay.

 

We used to talk about people being sole proprietors or Bob on the general store.

 

You never call them an entrepreneur, but he was here. She was. So it's just a new name. But running your own show is risky. But every company started out as a risk taker. Now, every entrepreneur, I mean, from Fred Smith at FedEx, they told him that I never work to Henry Ford, who went bankrupt twice before he had success. It's always that way. The question in a big company, you have to ask yourself is, would my company approve today the idea that started my company? Or is my company so stodgy that it wouldn't do that, right?

 

And if it wouldn't do that, I better have a hell of a good business for, because it's not going to change.

 

That's great. What's been the most painful lesson you've had to learn either financially, emotionally, in this field?

 

Well, I think it's interesting. The sun is coming up behind my green screen. That's fascinating. Like a green hole behind me. I never been on the air at this particular time. Well, you know, I think it's don't hire your best friend. Hire the best person I know. When I started Travelocity, I hired a guy who I thought was great. He was a really good friend, a business friend. And I put him in a job, and he just he didn't perform. And then I had a hell of a time fire because he was a good friend.

 

And you know, you just have to hire the best people at Kayak. Our CTO was the best hiring manager I've ever seen. And he used to go around the world hiring absolute a players. He wouldn't hire a be player cause a players just play so much better. And when he finished an interview, he'd say, who's the smartest person, you know, and then he go hire that girl, right? And he was just a networker. And so we had a World Series team of Kayak. And that's why we went public with 200 people.

 

And one of the other things we did was all our customer feedback. We didn't have customer support. All our feedback went directly to the engineers and they had to answer them. So they were in touch with the product at a level that engineers normally are not. So our slogan was Give the pain to the people who cause the pain and it worked. I mean, I've seen that too. I was an assessment factory once and there were all these notes posted on the work stations with the tools, the people assembly stuff.

 

It was customer feedback. So it might be a note said that's the most beautiful airplane seat I've ever seen. It was awesome. The door makes noise. It sucks, but they got it back to the person who actually could fix the problem instead of sending out some form letter.

 

It's crazy to me that I'm even reacting to that seems so like mind shattering yet, because not what we do. And yet that's perfectly brilliant. Last question for you. What would be the best advice that you've given your children that they've taken as an entrepreneur? Gosh, don't notice the clarifier there.

 

That's hard to think about. Both my kids are entrepreneurs. My son had his own company. Now he's another one. My daughter just started her own travel company a year before COVID and was doing great now, of course she's closed. You know, I think they both had to listen to their heart. And you know, I never pushed them to be entrepreneurs at all. They both just looked at it and said, I really want to do it. And I think also that they read my books and they heard me preaching all my speeches that I'm okay with failure.

 

You know, I'm okay. Failure leads to success. I mean, Ben Ben's company failed and he got way better jobs. I don't know what's going to happen to my daughter's company coming out of covet, I think should be okay. But that's alright. And they know that they know it's. It's okay to fail and learn from that failure and move on. As long as you don't let the failure to find you. And failure is about learning. It's about opening new doors of startups. Fail. Don't get into it.

 

If you think you're convinced, you got to be convinced, you're the one who's gonna succeed. But if you fail, it's not going to kill you. So just keep going. You don't think of another idea or if you can't take it. You know, there's always 95 awesome.

 

Thank you so much. There's so much in this, and I really love a lot of your perspective because so much of it resonates with what I found is just true. Fundamentally true that people could look at those look to be backwards.

 

I don't know if they are not to me.

 

No, they're good. They're shown right on our disruption off and on innovation.

 

Disruption off is new technologies coming for your company. Ten of them and examples. But more importantly, what to do about it and on innovation is a book about how to build a more innovative organization. They're both 72 three page chapters. You can read them like a snack, and they're available in Kindle and paper. Back end and audio.

 

Awesome. Thank you so much. And we'll put the link for that in the show notes. Thank you so much for sharing your insight with us, Terry, and our audience again, I hope you all who are listing whatever stage you're at. You're taking it because what he shared is just fundamentally sound stuff. As always, look forward to helping you all help more people make more money in less time. Do what you do best so you can better enjoy your family, your friends and your life. Thanks for listening.

 

Terry Jones

Speaker, Author, Innovator, Entrepreneur

Terry Jones is a Digital Disruptor, author and a venture capitalist.
He has founded five startups, with two billion dollar IPOs - Kayak and Travelocity.
He has served on 17 corporate boards.
His success has established him as a thought leader on innovation and disruption.
As a speaker, author, venture capitalist and board member, Terry helps companies use the tools and techniques he has developed to succeed in our fast-changing world.