We exist to help your business
reach its full potential.

What I Learned From Netflix

I attended a fantastic breakfast event this morning hosted by BT Financial Group. The audience was privileged to have the opportunity to hear from Marc Randolph, co-founder of Netflix.

I am very pleased I had the opportunity to attend as I took away some great insights that I would love to share with you:

"If you are not prepared to disrupt yourself, someone will do it for you" – Marc Randolph

Blockbuster was not prepared to disrupt themselves, and look what happened. Netflix ended up being the disruptor, causing an American behemoth to go out of business taking down some 80,000 employees.

Often we think innovation and adapting to change can be difficult to undertake – but it doesn't have to be like that. You don't need to be in Silicon Valley or have a computer science degree. In Marc's view, the three things required to make this happen are:

1. Tolerance for risk: this doesn't mean "crazy" risk, but it does mean be prepared to do something different. An illustrative example that brought this point to the fore is next time you are at a restaurant, order something different. If like many of us you have your usual preferences, break out of that mould and try something different – you just might be surprised, and this could be the start of forming a positive habit in relation to "risk taking".

2. Ideas: this doesn't even need to be an original idea, nor even a "good" idea. Marc challenged us on that – what is a good idea? No one really knows, the proof will be in the pudding once you "collide your idea with reality". Imagine if you did not proceed with an idea you have in your mind because you thought others would think that is a bad idea, or in fact actually told you so. If Marc had have not pursued his idea because he had some doubts, then we would not be experiencing Netflix today.

To reinforce this, Marc cited William Goldman, Hollywood screenwriter, who said (in referring to Hollywood) "Nobody knows anything" – there have been many films where the bigwigs chose not to back the smaller guy and lost out as a result – the Blairwitch Project is a great example. The guys with the idea backed themselves. When the big studios were saying it would not work, the filmmakers did not listen. Sinking $60K of their own money into the project, it has made $250 million . Through this, Marc reminded us that you can't tell in advance what a good idea is – so don't discount your ideas.

A great tip he offered though is to "look out for pain". Not pain in the physical or emotional sense per se, but rather difficult experiences people may have because of a lack of a suitable product or service that has not already been created to deal with that "pain. Another great illustrative example Marc shared- and one we can all identify with I am sure – is the humble paint can.

Why has someone not already came up with a better solution to the painting experience for us – think about it next time when you have to find a screw driver to open the tin, a stick to stir the paint, a hammer to bang the lid back on etc. Surely there is a better way?

It is always going to be hard to answer the fundamental question – "is the idea going to work?" The learning I took away is this – you don't know until you give it a go.

Marc never knew how Netflix would end up, but the most important thing is you need to get your idea out and test it – "validation hacking".

3. The third thing is Confidence – because there will be doubters and and knockers. Be persistent.

Then he left us with this thought – everybody who takes a shower generally comes up with a great idea or two. Often times we get out and forget about it. Well next time when you dry off, go and do something about that idea.


  • General Management
  • Operational

Step In – Step Out Solutions.