An Interview With Former Google UK MD Dan Cobley
What have you found to be the biggest differences between working for a huge organisation like Google and starting your own venture?
Google is pretty nimble for a big company, but there is nothing like the pace of a start-up. The biggest difference with a start-up is the ability, and the absolute need, to have a hypothesis on a Monday, design a 'prototype' experiment on a Tuesday, run it on a Wednesday, evaluate it on a Thursday and by Friday you have decided whether to change your whole direction based on the learnings. Exhilarating!
How do you see consumer behaviour changing over the next 5-10 years?
Consumer behaviour will change in unimaginable ways. The global online population will double. We'll see almost everything (cars, homes, clothes, supermarket items) being internet connected. People's use of banking and finance will be turned upside down by 'fintech' innovators. And a whole new raft of companies that don't get it will go the way of Kodak, Blockbuster, Borders and Nokia.
How did you get into corporate speaking?
I was already doing a fair bit of conference speaking when I was invited to do a TED talk. With over 1m people choosing to watch my TED talk on Physics and Marketing, I soon got lots of enquiries about speaking on a range of subjects. Now, most of my talks are about the impact of digital on business, innovation, and lessons from nearly a decade at Google.
Who are your role models -- in business and in life?
Maverick physicist Richard Feynman is number one. I can never hope to get close to his intellect, but I can try to emulate his passion to challenge conventional wisdom, to never stop learning and to make everything fun. In business I admire the brave entrepreneurs who are driven by a passion to get a better product or service to as many people as possible - Page, Jobs, Dyson...
What piece of technology could you not live without?
My smartphone!. Without it, I am literally and figuratively lost. The smartphone, plus the ubiquitous cloud connectivity that drives it, is the biggest force of change in the modern world. I'm also fond of my electric toothbrush!