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如果你相信,就不算说谎

Marc Randolph 2011年05月17日

网飞的一位共同创始人说,产品和营销都是很重要的,只要你同时相信这两者。

    上周,我的一个朋友公开叫我是“卖吆喝的”,我想他的确切用词是“世界级大话王”。

    他是对的。事实上,我很愿意公开表明这样一个观点:拥有建造现实扭曲力场的能力,同乐观精神一样,都是企业家最有力的武器。

    这种能力对我来说的确有效!它帮我说服了一些明星员工离开了老公司舒服的岗位和我们一起打拼;让大型跨国公司和我的小小的初创公司共同进行营销活动;并且让最好的投资商拿出真金白银,赌我们的公司将会大有作为。

    尽管我的朋友说对了,但是他只对了一半。舌灿莲花当然是很重要的,但更重要的是你必须有好的产品。

    14年前,当时网飞公司刚刚诞生几个月,我需要为我们的网站、电子邮件和法律文件等选择一个研发代号。当时我绞尽脑汁想起一个朗朗上口的名字,我的一位导师给了我两条很有用的建议:

    “首先,选一个非常差劲的名字,差到哪怕你找不到你的真实域名的时候,你也不想用这个名字。其次,选一个有意义的名字。这是一个很好的方法,如果你的想法中真的有很重要的东西,那么这个名字会把每个对你的想法感兴趣的人都号召起来。”

    于是我给它起了个代号叫“狗粮”(kibble.com)。这样一个代号能推广出去吗?那还用问!

    不过我之所以选择“狗粮”这个名字,却是为了一个更重要的原因。我是想让它提醒我(以及网飞公司的每个人)永远不要忘了美国广告业的一句老话:

    “不管广告做得多好,如果狗不吃狗粮,就不算成功。”

    换句话说,你必须两手都要抓,产品和促销不可偏废。牛排不光烤得要好,声音也要烤得好听。产品本身和宣传语都很重要。

    然而在硅谷却并非一直都是这样。我在上世纪80年代末第一次来到这里时,硅谷的等级制度是非常严谨的。工程师就是国王,产品就是王道。

    当时的硅谷是美国有史以来最接近真正的精英社会的地方。如果你是工程师,那么最重要的就是你写的代码的质量。你长相如何、穿戴怎样、笑容好不好看,全是不相干的事。这么说吧,90年代初期,我在软件公司宝蓝国际(Borland International)工作。当时工程师们在三楼享受有窗户和阳台的大办公室,但像我们这种做市场和做销售的,只能待在楼下不通风的小隔间里。

    不过慢慢地,天平开始朝着另一个方向倾斜了。例如有一年,好消息从天而降——我们的一款产品赢得了《个人电脑》杂志(PC Magazine)的技术卓越奖。我们兴奋极了,于是纷纷去看这个奖项前几届的得主是谁。在我们阅读历届获奖者名单的时候,你可以感觉到兴奋感正从房间中流失。谁?什么?他们不是两年前关门大吉了吗?哦我的天哪,这个奖真是个死神之吻!

    随着软件被卖给那些从不认为自己是技术人员的人,有一件事也突然变得明显起来:你需要一些人,以顾客能听懂的话,将软件卖给顾客。于是硅谷的企业突然流行从宝洁(Proctor and Gamble)或高乐氏(Clorox)这样的公司里挖来一些产品经理,为自己服务。

    这让工程师们很抓狂。不过当你有铁的试验数据摆在面前时,那么有些事情哪怕再荒唐,人们也不得不信——比如同样一个产品,放在蓝盒子里卖的销量是放在红盒子里卖的两倍。这让他们的头都要炸了。一方面,他们知道,盒子的颜色对产品本身是起不到一丁点儿作用的;但另一方面,他们也确信,数据是不会撒谎的。在苦苦思考几个小时之后,他们只能承认,也许我们这些做市场的人也是有些价值的,要么就是施了什么魔法——或许兼而有之。

    这些时日以来,人们经常可以在《黑客新闻》(HackerNews)看到对“反营销论”的盲从情绪。有些营销人员也没有意识到,负责技术方面的共同创始人对于他们的成功来说有多么重要。事实上,技术和营销人员都需要对方。我们一直都是这样,以后也一直会是这样。

    如果你说的每句话都是大话,那么做一个“世界级的大话王”并没有任何意义。最终你还是要交付产品的。抛出一个好的概念当然很重要,但最终你必须要构建这个概念。

    所以变得自信一点吧。你完全可以靠舌灿莲花来铺就你的梦想。但是你要做好准备去支持这些梦想。

    网飞公司创业之初,我曾对自己想招募的新人说过这样的话:“我能预见到,我们公司的股票有一天会涨到100美元。”几年后我向一个面试官讲了这个故事。他问道:“你难道不觉得很好笑吗?像这样对人说谎?”

    我想了一分钟,然后我说:“如果你自己真的相信,那就不算说谎。”

    更不要提或许这件事最终真的能变成现实了。

    本文作者马克•兰多夫是在硅谷有多年经验的企业家、科技高管和初创公司顾问。最近马克成为在线电影和电视流媒体服务提供商网飞公司的共同创始人,并担任了该公司第一任首席执行官。

    译者:朴成奎

    Last week, a friend of mine publically called me out as a Huckster. I think the exact term he used was "world class bullshitter."

    Well, he was right. In fact, I'm happy to go on record as saying that the ability to create a reality distortion field is right up there alongside optimism as an entrepreneur's most valuable weapon.

    It has certainly worked for me! It has helped me to convince superstar hires to leave comfortable positions, get huge multi-nationals into co-promotions with my tiny startup and get A-list investors to bet their real-cash-money that my company might be the next big thing.

    But even though my friend is right, he's only half right. It is certainly important to be able to talk a good game, but you've got to have the goods too.

    Fourteen years ago, when Netflix was only a few months old, I needed to choose a codename -- something to use for our test site, our email and our legal documents. As I was struggling to come up with something catchy, one of my mentors gave me two great pieces of advice:

    "First, pick a name that's so bad, that you won't even be tempted to use it when you run into difficulties finding your real domain name. Second, pick something meaningful. It's a great way to start aligning everyone around what you think is really important."

    So I called it Kibble. Kibble.com. Like the dog food. Unlaunchable name? You betcha!

    But ultimately I chose Kibble for a more important reason: It was to remind me (and everyone else at Netflix) never to forget that old Madison Avenue chestnut:

    "No matter how good the advertising, it's not a success if the dogs don't eat the dog food.

    In other words, you have to have both. Product and promotion. Steak and sizzle. Substance and spin.

    It hasn't always been like that in Silicon Valley. When I first arrived here in the late 1980's there was no question about the hierarchy. Engineers were king. Product uber alles.

    At that time Silicon Valley was the closest thing this country has ever had to a true meritrocracy. If you were an engineer, all that mattered was the quality of your code. What you looked like, dressed like or smelled like was irrelevant. It got to the point that at Borland International, the software company where I worked in the early 1990's, that the engineers were the ones who got the big offices with windows and balconies on the third floor. Us marketing and sales guys were in the airless cubicles below.

    But slowly and surely the pendulum began to swing back the other way. One year, for instance, we got the great news that one of our products had won PC Magazine's Technical Excellence Award. Flushed with excitement, we rushed to see who some of the previous years' winners had been. As we read the list, you could feel the excitement draining out of the room. Who? What? Didn't they go out of business two years ago? Oh my God, this award is the kiss of death!

    As software began to be sold to people who would never consider themselves technical, it suddenly became clear that you needed people who spoke their language. It became fashionable to hire product managers from places like Proctor and Gamble. Or Clorox.

    It drove the engineers crazy. It was best when you had iron-clad test data demonstrating something purely ridiculous; like that software in the blue box sold twice as well as the exact same product in the red box. It made their head explode. On the one hand, they knew with absolute conviction that there was absolutely no reason why the color of the box should make the least bit of difference. But, on the other hand, they also knew with absolute conviction that data didn't lie. After puzzling over this paradox for a few hours they had no choice but to conclude that maybe us marketing people had some value. Or practiced a kind of black magic. Or both.

    These days, the soft bigotry of anti-hucksterism can be seen every day on HackerNews. And there are still plenty of hustlers not quite getting how important their technical co-founder actually is to their success. The truth of the matter is that both sides need each other. We always have and we always will.

    When it comes right down to it, being a world-class bullshitter doesn't mean anything if all you ever spout is bullshit. Eventually you have to deliver. Pitching a concept well is certainly important, but ultimately you have to build it.

    So be confident. Spin some dreams. But be prepared to back them up.

    Back in the early days at Netflix, it wasn't unheard of for me to tell prospective hires that I could see our stock going to a hundred dollars someday. I was telling this story to an interviewer a few years later when he asked, "Don't you feel a little funny? Lying to people like that?"

    I had to think for a minute. Then I said, "It isn't lying if you really believe it yourself."

    Not to mention if it eventually comes true.

    Marc Randolph is a veteran Silicon Valley entrepreneur, high tech executive and startup consultant. Most recently Marc was co-founder of the online movie and television streaming service Netflix, serving as their first CEO.

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