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Some stimulating reading and videos ahead of Wavelength USA Tour 2015!

Wavelength USA is one of our two annual study tours. Wavelength USA gives our participants unique opportunities to get inside some of America’s most pioneering and successful businesses and into the heart of the digital revolution in Silicon Valley.

Here we have gathered links to content relevant to Wavelength USA. Some are specific to the companies we are visiting, other stuff is more general analysis and commentary about the Valley and innovation. We don’t agree with everything collated here but we hope there is plenty to whet your appetite and give you some meaningful context and provocation for our adventures on Wavelength USA. Enjoy!

Southwest Airlines “And that’s a powerful lesson for any company: price matters, no doubt. But so do people, first and foremost.” This LinkedIn piece zeros in on the key importance of Southwest’s culture to its enduring success.

Here is a short video interview with Dave Ridley (who will be hosting us in Dallas).

Umpqua Bank Umpqua Bank has shown an ability to delight customers and avoid the censure that has bedevilled its bigger competitors. Its rise is evidence that a small bank can indeed be different. It must now prove that a large one can be as well, argues The Economist in this article.

Silicon Valley This is a very engaging lecture by Steve Blank on the ‘secret history’ of the Valley, its roots in military research and the Cold War, and how the unique mix of government money, entrepreneurialism, and academia created the foundations of today’s tech scene. Well worth finding the hour to watch it (perhaps put it on your desktop and watch it on your flight).

The likes of Uber and AirBnB can be great for consumers and investors and both companies have truly ‘disrupted’ the taxi and hotel industries. But are these ‘middlemen’ platforms so great for the people who do the work? Read more here.

Andreessen Horowtiz We are spending our last day of Wavelength USA at the Menlo Park HQ, at this hottest of venture capitalist firms. Here is a short video interview with the two founders on why they set up the business and why they are different.

“We’re not funding Mother Teresa”, says Mark Andreessen in this fascinating New Yorker profile. “We’re funding imperial, will-to-power people who want to crush their competition. Companies can only have a big impact on the world if they get big.”

Andreessen’s partner at A16Z Ben Horowitz gave a funny and insightful speech to graduating students at Columbia University. His advice is ‘don’t follow your passion, follow your contribution”. Watch it here.

And, finally, a fierce counterblast by Andrew Keen against what he sees as the male, tech, monopolising, winner takes all, optimism of the Valley. Keen – who has been dubbed the Silicon Valley Anti-Christ – in his book ‘The Internet Is Not The Answer’ argues that the Valley destroys jobs, exacerbates inequality and undermines privacy through its ‘fetishization of disruption’ .Here he is talking about all that.

Google Great article on Google X, Moonshot Thinking, unlearning traditional approaches to creativity and how to fail quickly. Alberto Savoia will be talking to us about ‘pretotyping’ with us at Google’s mission control in Mountain View. Here is an article he wrote on ‘entrepreneurial innovation at Google’.

IDEO CEO Tim Brown – who we will meet in Palo Alto – on moving from ‘design’ to ‘design thinking’ and, in this excellent TED Talk, urging designers to think much bigger and deal with problems which really matter. He references Aravind in India and one of our USA participants, Dr Aravind Srinivasan, is from this amazing social business in India so make sure you find out more from him during our week together.

LinkedIn Reid Hoffman, co-founder and Silicon Valley’s best connected man, reflects here on the start up days of his world-beating company.

Safe travels and see you soon.

Adrian & Darren

P.S. One last thing, here is a fascinating Ted Talk on how to listen better.


Want to know more about our USA study tours? Click here to find out more about where we are going in 2015 and how to join us.

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