Five Lessons Netflix Co-founder Marc Randolph Shared with HPU Students

Yesterday, High Point University welcomed to campus Marc Randolph, the co-founder of Netflix and an entrepreneur who changed the way we watch movies and television. HPU students pitched their business plans to Randolph, and he gave feedback to each student based on his experience as an innovator and Angel investor. Randolph also presented to students in the Michael L. and Laura M. Baur Institute for Executive Education in Cottrell Hall and took part in “A Conversation with HPU President Nido R. Qubein,” filmed by UNC-TV in front of a packed Hayworth Fine Arts Center audience. Below, discover a few lessons on leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship Randolph shared with the HPU community:

 

1. Choose something you’re passionate about

“Too many people think ‘problem-solution.’ They say, ‘Literacy in sub-Saharan Africa is a problem.’ Then they try to solve that problem, but they don’t know the first thing about what’s involved in it, where to start, or the possible solutions to try. Whereas, if you pick something you’re passionate about – something you know and you’ve done for a long time – that’s the ideal place to start a business.”

 

2. Do your research

“There are extremely few unique ideas. The trick is to make sure you know if it’s been tried before, and if so, why didn’t it work? You may look around and say, ‘Here’s this really great idea, and wow, there isn’t one already!’ Well, there are two reasons there isn’t one. Either 1) No one really has thought of that, or more likely, 2) It’s because people have thought about it and tried it and it didn’t work.”

 

3. Focus your business

“Right now, you’re all full of ideas so you immediately want to do everything. But there are so many things that will break and will go wrong. You have to stay really focused on the most important piece of your business. One of the skills that separates a really good entrepreneur from a mediocre one is the ability to triage your ideas. From the hundreds of ideas and things that are broken in your business, you have to be able to isolate the two or three that, if you get them right, will make a difference.”

 

4. Be flexible

“The most dangerous thing you can do is fall in love with these ideas when they are babies. You can project on them future greatness. You can say to your ideas, ‘You’re going to grow up and be a Heisman trophy winner, or win the Nobel Prize,’ when they’re infants. But they may grow up in totally different ways. You have to give them the freedom to do that – to grow up and change.”

 

5. Stop thinking and start doing

“Nobody knows what is going to work in advance. The only way to figure out if it is a good idea or not is by taking a risk. Don’t show me your three-year business plan. Figure out ways to test things cheaply, quickly and simply. You have to do something; you have got to try something; you have got to make something; and you have got to build something or sell something. You learn more in one day of doing it than in a year of working on your PowerPoint or practicing your speech and doing your business plan.”

 

Marc Randolph quote

 

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