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Lady Gaga – Revisited

By Shlomo Maital


In 2011 and 2012 I blogged about pop singer Lady Gaga twice.   Once about her passion and connection with her fans (she records songs after long exhausting performances, capturing the intimate link with her audiences) and once about her foundation.   Apparently even serious NYT columnists like Nicholas Kristof and David Brooks share my interest.   Today’s International New York Times has a wonderful David Brooks column about Lady Gaga, who was given an award together with Sophia Loren, Herbie Hancock and other main-line celebs.

   Lady Gaga’s speech was tearful.   She recalled her childhood.   “I suppose I didn’t know what I would become, but I always wantedto be extremely brave and I wanted to be a constant reminder to the universe what passions liks like. What it sounds like. What it feels like.”

   Brooks expands on what it means to be passionate. “[People with passion] somehow get to the other side of fear. They get beyond that fog that is scary to approach. Once through it they have the freedom to navigate. They opt out of things that are repetitive and deadening. There’s even sometimes a constant recklessness there, a willingness to throw their imperfect selves out into public view while not really thinking beforehand how people might react.”

   “Gaga is nothing if not permanently out there; the rare celebrity who is willing to portray herself as a monster, a witch or disturbing cyborg — someone prone to inflicting pain. Gaga is her own unique creature, whom no one could copy.”

     I think we can all learn from this flamboyant pop singer known as Lady Gaga (whose real name is Germanotta).   Be yourself. Be fearless. Try things. Get through the fog of fear and uncertainty to the otherwise, to the shores of Creativity Land. Be like Gaga. It’s worth a try.


Technology comes LAST

By Shlomo  Maital     


  My wife and I are in Brazil; yesterday I gave a seminar at Univ. of Sao Paulo, titled “Technology Comes Last, Not First”.  This was hutzpah, impudence, because it was a seminar for Management of Technology.  When you see a surgeon with a medical problem, they often recommend surgery. Naturally. When you study Management of Technology, they teach you – well, how to manage technology. 

   But the audience got the message and understood.  And it is so simple.

   Great startups begin by identifying an unmet need.  This is done not by asking people what they need, but by keen close detailed zoom-in observation and listening – not a skill engineers tend to have.  Only after a clear unmet need is identified, should technology be pulled in,  and only technology that can simply, quickly and appropriately be applied to meet the need, as part of a sustainable business. 

   I’ve seen countless startups driven by genius engineers, who create magical technology (recall Arthur Clarke, “truly advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”),   and launch a startup, and – their technology meets needs that do not exist at all.

    How do you find a true need?  Maybe, you YOURself need it.  And if so, others do too.  Spanx started when Susan Blakely needed something to tuck in her bottom. The technology?  Spandex.  She made a batch and knocked on doors until it began to sell. She’s now a billionaire.  Lady Gaga records new songs after exhausting performances, in her bus.  Technology? Her engineers insist, you cannot record high-quality sound in a bus.  Lady Gaga?  DO IT!!  Because she needs the inspiration and immediacy of her audience.  Sound studios are sterile.   

    The paradox is:  Technology-driven startups cannot be led by, driven by, and directed by, technology, even though they are generally led by engineers.  The principle is:  Start with Why!  Why make this?  Who needs it? Why do they need it?  Only if you have very strong clear answers, can you proceed to the technology that will satisfy it.  This is so simple. Yet violated by many businesses and entrepreneurs,  for big and small companies.

Blog entries written by Prof. Shlomo Maital

Shlomo Maital