From Reddit to Hipmunk: What We Can Learn From Steve Huffman

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As a general career path, Steve Huffman has had it pretty sweet. He has some pretty impressive skills under his belt and some pretty impressive achievements, too. But as with any successful business man – it hasn’t been plain sailing.

From his role as web developer and co-founder of Reddit, to the founder of new web start-up Hipmunk, although his career path has been full of wins – there have also been a few losses, too. So what can learn from this Internet entrepreneur? And how can we apply examples from his career to our own? Well read on to find out.

1. Think big.

Reddit was a simple idea with big aims – and the company have gone from strength to strength. While it may not be as big as other social networks, never undervalue the underdog. At the time of writing, Reddit hosted an “Ask Me Anything” social conversation with President of the United States, Barack Obama during his election campaign. Just goes to show – amazing things come to those who wait.

2. Be patient.

You may see yourself running the best travel website – but to get there and to reach that point you often have to build your experience in other places. Huffman built his expertise in online thoroughly with other ventures (such as Reddit) before he channelled that expertise into something he was truly passionate about – his travel start-up Hipmunk. This applies to everyone in business – it’s pays to participate in side ventures. It’s worthwhile to get to experience and it will eventually lead you to where you need (and want) to be.

3. When the time is right, sell.

For many people, selling their business is the last thing on their mind. Why would you sell something you’ve worked so hard for? But Huffman proves that selling when the time is right can only be a good thing. Selling online company Reddit at the right time (it was acquired by Conde Nast Publications in 2006) meant that he could then invest his newly found time in Hipmunk – an innovative travel start-up growing fast.

4. Do what you love

If you’re good at something, do it! If you have a skill, embrace it! Huffman has been working on his travel start-up Hipmunk for two years now and it is quickly becoming a leading competitor in the travel market. You’ll excel in something if you care about what you’re doing – so if you’re looking to go into business make sure you’re going into where your skills lie and where your interests lie, too.

5. Get the word out

Since their launch, Hipmunk has not only produced a fantastic website for booking travel but also a business class tool. Why have they grown so fast? Because they’ve been able to get the word out there and let people know about their service. Hipmunk haven’t been shy about promotion, in fact they’ve been avid with advertising and their product has backed up all their claims. They’ve had some great press, with big names like Forbes reporting on how impressive the app has been for them. The lesson here? If your product is good and you believe in it – tell people.

James Daugherty is a blogger(and snowboarder) from the Emerald City who loves surfing the World Wide Web and working in the online marketing world.

5 Reasons a Marketing Career is Awesome

Marketing is truly an exciting and interesting field to be in. Few other careers can offer a combination of so many different disciplines from psychology to art to statistics, all packaged together into one role. Additionally, marketing is one of the most vital functions of a business. Without attracting customers, a business could not survive for very long. Here are some other reasons why a marketing career is a rewarding and smart career choice.

Lots of Learning Opportunities
There are an endless amount of learning opportunities within the marketing field due to wide range of subject areas that exist from search to consumer behavior to advertising. Just within online marketing alone there are so many branches like search engine optimization, pay per click, conversion rate optimization, social media, etc., that it would take a years to master them all. If you have an insatiable hunger for knowledge, marketing can provide you with a virtually limitless amount of material to keep you learning.

Strong Community of Professionals
The community in the marketing industry is very strong and supportive of other individuals in the field. There are numerous associations like the American Marketing Association that promote professional development and hold frequent networking events. The search marketing community and social media marketing community are also very friendly and willing to help others to be successful which makes it easy to develop friendships and find mentors.

Rarely Boring
In recent years the marketing field has undergone a tremendous amount of change. There was the invention of DVR that made it possible for people to skip TV commercials while the Internet has disrupted about every medium of advertising from radio to magazines. With all this change, marketers have the exciting challenge of managing new forms of media and advertising that didn’t previously exist while adapting to paradigm shifting innovations like search engines and social media. It is truly an exciting time to be a marketer and you will rarely find yourself with too little to do.

Make a Difference
A truth in business is that it doesn’t matter if you create an awesome product if no one is willing to buy it. Marketing is the vital function that ensures that there is a intersection of consumer demand and product innovation. Marketing helps consumers find awesome products that they didn’t realize would make their life better. It assists great entrepreneurs with the challenging task of getting in front of the right audience so they can be successful and generate paying customers to fuel growth. An effective marketer can go to sleep at night knowing that they have made a dent in the universe.

Job Demand/Job Security
Although marketing often does get cut in a recession (which is usually a mistake because marketing is a revenue generator) there is currently strong demand across the country for online marketers like SEO specialists. According to Monster.com, “In 2012, leading-edge Internet technologies will again be a leading generator of marketing jobs.” Additionally, marketers are being asked to manage the rapidly growing number of social networks and new marketing tools like remarketing and blogging. It is difficult to remove or replace someone who is managing so many important aspects of a business.

Are there any additional reasons why you think a marketing career is awesome? Please share them in the comments below.

Charles Sipe is an online marketer and SEO Specialist in Seattle and Executive Editor of Cool Marketing Stuff. You can follow him on Twitter at @charlessipe

Jonah Lehrer Talk on How to Increase Creativity

In the following talk, Jonah Lehrer discusses what science tells us about creativity and how that can be applied to increase creativity in the work environment.

Key takeaways:
-Einstein said that creativity is the residue of wasted time.
-Scientists can predict when an epiphany is about to occur based on measuring the brain’s alpha waves.
-Often insights occur when we are away from our desk and not overly focused on the problem.
-A study at University of Illinois at Chicago showed that when undergraduates were slightly drunk they solved 30% more problems than their sober classmates.
-The common characteristic of the most creative individuals is grit.
-Grit is about persistence, stubbornness, and single minded focus.
-Grit is particularly important in creative domains.
-Grit allows you to practice the right way which is not the fun way.
-In field after field, grit is the single best predictor of success.
-We have a feeling of knowing when we know we are close to solving a problem, like when a word you are thinking of is on the tip of your tongue.
-When we don’t feel like we are close, maybe we should relax. If we feel like we are close we should rely on the muscles of grit and stay focused.
-Steve Jobs put the only two bathrooms at Pixar Studios in a central location and it led to more epiphanies by employees.
-Creativity is not about efficiency, it is about serendipity.
-A great trend of the 21st century is a migration to cities.
-In the next 100 years more people will move to cities than in all of human history.
-Since the invention of Skype, business conference attendance has nearly doubled.
-Daydreaming turns out to be incredibly useful. People who daydream more score higher on tests about creativity.
-Study after study has shown that group brainstorming produces fewer ideas than individual brainstorming.
-Our free associations are pretty superficial because they are bound by language which is full of cliches.
-Studies have shown that debate and dissent generates more ideas.

Creative Commons Flickr photo courtesy of Viva Vivanista