Exploring the ‘Why’ behind the ‘What’ and ‘How’ of YO!

  When we moved into our new offices this past Spring, we asked each employee to name five women and five men “who personally inspire you.” We had loose criteria, but one of them had to be, “When you thought of them, thinking of them made you want to be better.”   This list was then compiled into a photo montage, printed in black and white, then affixed to a prominent pillar for all to see.   On my list I had included Col. Chris Hadfield — a proud Canadian, father, humanitarian, musician… and oh yeah, there was that whole astronaut thing he did.   On Friday night, Col. Hadfield did an AMA on reddit and in his usual humble self wrote these words of wisdom for us all. When asked about the one aspect of life on Earth that he appreciated more after having been in space, he replied:
“Orbiting Earth 2593 times, what I really came to appreciate was the commonality of the human experience. From orbit you see the repeated patterns of human settlement and civilization, and inevitably start to sense that each of us inherently wants the same things out of life – joy, grace, time and stability to think, better opportunities for our children, laughter, someone to love. The precept of ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ is one that is taught; it’s not the fundamental reality. Seeing the whole world as 1 place every 92 minutes drove that home within me, forever.”
We have been doing a lot of thinking about our ‘Why’ at YO! and with the parent company Left of the Dot. Why are we doing this? Why are we losing sleep? Why are we building certain features, or why are we forgoing others? Why are we focusing on connecting the next billion rather than on the youth in Canada or the USA (like most others who build apps these days)? Col. Hadfield’s comments helped crystalize the ‘Why’ behind what we do.   This is our ‘Why’…  

We believe everyone should be free to engage with their community, discover new ideas, and make their world a better place.

  As we continue to refine and define YO! – while re-defining what it means to share and connect – our Why statement will be at the forefront of that which we do. It has to. It is what drives us.   From there, a lot of the ‘What’ and ‘How’ will simply fall into place with the hard work of smart and passionate people. The What defines the feature requirements and product roadmap in alignment with our Why.   So ‘what’ are we trying to do?
  • We are connecting people with people, people with things, and things with things wherever in the world they may be in the most efficient and cost effective way.
  • We are building a platform that lets people share and discover digital content in the easiest possible way.
  • We believe that ‘Discover’ is an alternative method of searching/finding (i.e., being able to anticipate what a person wants and needs before they know they need or want it themselves). We are creating a new way for people to search/find on their mobile devices so they have access to information when they need it
  • We believe that letting users discover content that is otherwise difficult to obtain – because of barriers imposed by cost or connectivity – is the right thing to do.
  • We believe that sharing content with others is a form of personal expression – be it the equivalent of a blog on Tumblr, a photo stream on Instagram, a board on Pinterest, or a collection of likes and article shares on Facebook.
  • We believe in providing users with the most situationally relevant content or socially relevant content helps facilitate the discovery process and gives people what they want when they want it.
  • What about being “free to engage”? We believe people need to be empowered to share and connect without fear of being threatened, harassed, imprisoned, or censored. A free and open society is one that empowers the individual with knowledge and information. If information (all information) is free to move, the world becomes a better place.
How are we going to do those seven points above? One of our company values is “Doing the little things right.” In other words, we are going to do the little things right. Repeatedly. Release-by-release. Day-after-day. This means in order to deliver the ‘What’, we need a ‘How’ that defines us:
  • Our ‘How’ is defined by the concept of ‘Speed of Sharing’. We facilitate sharing and discovery in the easiest, fastest, and most efficient way possible.
  • We believe that being connected to the Internet is not a requirement to share and discover content with people around me, so why should it be a limiting factor? By removing the requirement of always-on connectivity we create a decentralized ecosystem that is inherently more secure, more permanent, more accessible, and more efficient (cost & performance)
  • We believe in creating a visual and engaging brand that invites peoples to use and share our apps and ecosystem. If we can’t get people to use it, stay in it, enjoy it, we will never be able to get to a lot of the future elements that will allow us to address our Why.
  As Col. Hadfield has also said,
“There is no one specific path to becoming an astronaut. The best thing you can do is train yourself to enjoy building up the skills that end up defining who you are. Becoming the thing you dream of is a long shot, no matter what. The key is to HAVE a dream, a destination, a personal definition of perfection in life, and then to use that end goal to help decide what to do next. It is not the end goal that changes you, but the summed total of each of the small, daily decisions. Actively pursue your dreams by deliberate small choices – what to eat, to read, how to exercise, what to study, where to go, when to change direction. It’s amazing where all the little decisions can lead you.”
And for those wondering who else inspired our team and made someone’s list of 5 men and 5 women, stop by and ask for a tour.   So what about you? Who inspires you?