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Caught in the Net

Much like a 5-year-old, my nightly routine consists of refusing to take myself to bed when I’m tired; instead falling asleep on the couch with all of the lights on until 2 a.m., when I finally stumble into my bedroom too tired to brush my teeth. 

I’m turning 30 in October and don’t see my behavior changing anytime soon. 

But it’s really not my fault! Like any normal human being, I subscribe to Netflix. And Netflix, as we all know, is just slightly less addictive than nicotine. 

Fortunately, we have someone to blame. His name is Marc Randolph and he’s indirectly responsible for your steep decline in productivity. 

The co-founder and former CEO of Netflix changed the way Americans consume media with a start-up that tackled everything plaguing the video-rental model in the mid-90s. Over the next 20 years, Randolph’s disc-rental service evolved to the iteration we know today—and the binge-watching culture that followed.

So sorry, every book I’ll never read.

At the 2016 NAA Education Conference & Exposition, Randolph will share his lessons learned at Netflix, offering insight on idea generation, transforming challenges into advantages, and solving one problem at a time.

units: It seems difficult to sell an idea or concept when some iteration of it doesn’t yet exist in the marketplace. What was your experience in getting the right people on board for Netflix without a model to reference?

Randolph: The original idea you come up with almost never ends up being what the company ultimately looks like, so if you try to sell people on a specific idea, you’re going to ultimately disappoint them. Instead, you need to sell them on going on the ride with you; on celebrating the ups and downs and twists and turns of the journey, rather than the destination. Generally, you’re saying, “Let’s go do something fun together. Let’s solve a really hard problem together.”

Next on their list to solve: How to encourage Lauren to prepare for bed before she’s comatose. 

units: What’s the different between a good idea and a bad idea?

Randolph: No one has any way of knowing in advance what’s a good idea. You don’t know until you try it, so instead you have to get good at trying lots of things quickly and cheaply. The flaw is people who are in love with their idea and can’t move on to the next or adapt. 

In general, ideas that require you to get to the future for it to work are bad ideas. People love apps like that, but they’re useless right now. Something that hasn’t been tested in front of real people is a bad idea. So is an idea that someone has no real permission to do. Someone may say they have an idea for solving illiteracy in Sub-Saharan Africa, but they’re not a teacher and they’ve never been to Africa. 

The best ideas are those where the person has a very intimate understanding of the problem they’re trying to solve. It’s something they bump into themselves, and/or they really know their customer. Still, there’s no guarantee it will work.

Better to just spend your time on the couch then, no?

For the full interview, check out “The One To Watch” in the May issue of units Magazine. And don’t miss Marc Randolph’s Game Changer session, Netflixed,” June 15 from 4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. at the 2016 NAA Education Conference & Exposition in San Francisco. Register today

Lauren Boston is NAA’s Staff Writer and Manager, Public Relations. Unsurprisingly, she writes a lot—most often for units Magazine and as a weekly blogger for APTly Spoken. She enjoys making people laugh, sharing embarrassing childhood stories and being the (self-proclaimed) Voice of the Apartment Industry. She welcomes feedback, unless it’s negative (in which case, please keep it to yourself).