BEST OF THE WEB: The secrets behind Jack Dorsey’s success

You wouldn’t guess it, but Twitter chairman and Square founder Jack Dorsey didn’t start off so focused on his entrepreneurial games. The 35-year old dropped out of college twice, wrote software for ambulances and police, and even became a certified masseur.

He even took up some work as a fashion designer.

But as it turns out, Dorsey credits that somewhat erratic schedule for his success, telling a new profile in Forbes that moving from project to project can actually help concentrate.

The side trips are part of the road map; his discursiveness is the obverse of intense discipline. Dorsey is a serial wanderer, mentally and physically, because it helps him concentrate: “The best thinking time is just walking.”

He has worn a trench between Square, his previous apartment around the corner and the offices of Twitter, a few blocks away. Before he starts his day, he runs 3 to 5 miles. He likes to take new recruits on tours of San Francisco.

It’s an interesting comment, considering pundits questioned whether Dorsey would be able to handle the responsibilities of managing both Square and Twitter at the same time. But as he’s shown, both companies have continued to succeed and thrive.

Dorsey comes from humble beginnings, grading from high school in 1995 before a short stint at the University of Missouri-Rolla. But he soon discovered a flaw in the dispatch services used by a New York company. He sent the company notice of the flaw and they immediately offered him a job.

It was here Dorsey started looking for what to do next, working on his own start-up and eventually training to be a massage therapist.

He then went to work at a podcasting company called Odeo, which is where he came up with the idea for Twitter.

The story is well known; he was forced out in 2008 and then returned in 2010. But the real gold here is learning how Dorsey structures his extremely busy week – each day has an agenda.

  • Monday, he says, is for addressing management issues;
  • Tuesday he focuses on product engineering and design;
  • Wednesday Dorsey zeros in on marketing and communications, and growth;
  • Thursday he holds meetings with outside partners and developers;
  • Friday is about “company and culture” and recruiting;
  • Saturday he takes off; in particular he likes to hike;
  • Sunday Dorsey thinks about strategy and conducts job interviews.

And where does the model for his management come from? As it turns out, an industry that’s on the verge of dying – the newspaper. He sees himself as the “editor in chief” of the company, according to the profile, receiving and organising ideas from staff.

And a key to that is transparency, he argues, which leads to some interesting rules.

Dorsey is insistent that everyone who works for him knows what the company is up to and why it’s doing it. So he instituted an astonishing rule at Square: At every meeting involving more than two people, someone must take notes–and send them to the entire staff.

It doesn’t matter what the meeting is about: Bug fixes, new partnerships, pending contracts, a new launch, important metrics. Everyone hears about them. Dorsey says he often gets 30 to 40 meeting notes every day.

What’s even more impressive? Not one leak so far.

This is a story worth reading about management style in the face of extreme scheduling. There’s a lot of good stuff here to apply to your own work habits.

Microsoft’s revolution of design

Microsoft is set to release Windows 8 this week, representing a significant upgrade from its previous designs and a completely new way of interfacing with the PC.

It’s a big step, and a critical one. Apple is driving what it calls the post-PC revolution, and Microsoft has to fight to stay relevant.

And a new piece at Fast Company delves into the push behind its design team to make Windows 8 something really new, rather than just a step forward from what it’s done in the past.

At the centre of Windows 8 is its Metro screen, a tile-based user interface that boasts bright colours and a rigid, clean look. It’s a testament to Microsoft’s understanding of cohesiveness that it’s taken that design across its product platform, including the Xbox and Windows Phone.

This is nothing new. Apple has put a premium on design for decades. But Microsoft has always focused on the hardware – design has always been on the back pocket.

Until now.

The piece profiles Sam Moreau, the director of user experience for Windows, and looks at why Microsoft might be turning a corner when it comes to design.

“With 1 billion users of its operating system, Microsoft’s novel approach to interface design could cause tectonic shifts in the way software of all sorts is conceived.”

Windows 8 may not be the best thing Microsoft has ever produced – but it definitely represents a turning point.

The tech problem exposed by Google’s earnings leak

Last week Google’s earnings report leaked before the announcement was made and the company’s shares fell 8% as a result.

It was an embarrassing leak for the company, but it raises questions about how these reports are handled in the first place – and whether there’s a better way?

As this piece from The New York Times points out, there are some misconceptions about how companies file their earnings reports.

For instance, RR Donnelley, the company that filed for Google, maintains a major share of the market. It typically has access to results for hours before the market sees them and is responsible for uploading them.

That process involves converting files into a different type of HTML system that can interface with the SEC (US Securities and Exchange Commission). But the system also means that once you send it, you can’t stop it from being sent.

And that’s why more companies are using their own systems to encrypt data.

Some of these issues could be resolved by bringing the filings processes in-house. On the same day that R.R. Donnelley filed earnings for Google, other companies including Boston Scientific, Halliburton, Sandisk and Southwest Airlines filed their earnings without using a filing agent.

Some, like Intel, which released its earnings last Tuesday, have been doing it this way for years. Most of these companies use third-party software platforms to handle the filings in-house.

An Intel spokesperson commented that “the more we can control the earnings release, the better off we are”.

Maybe Google should take a hint.

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