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Ben Silbermann Quotes

Ben Silbermann

Ben Silbermann quotes: Prince of Pinterest on partners, biz, confidence, the future of search, and more.

“Just build things and find out if they work.”

“My general advice is: keep going, because usually the inertia of your own insecurities and people around you is something that should be pushed back against… keep going even though there are a lot of things that are telling you not to.  The reason there’s no simple answer is because it’s kind of told in retrospect.”

“When entrepreneurs ask me, that’s usually what I tell them.  You should bias toward keeping going unless you’re not personally in the position emotionally or financially where you can do that.”

“If Google teaches you anything, it’s that small ideas can be big.”

“I thought Google was the coolest place.  People there were so smart and they were all doing these really interesting things.  I just felt really lucky to be a part of it even in a small way.”

“The companies that I really admire the most are the ones that have a deep visceral understanding of why people use their service, and they figure out ways of making money that are completely consistent with how people are feeling and what they are doing at the time.”

“Most people generalize whatever they did, and say that was the strategy that made it work.”

“At a small company, so much of the trick is focus.  Not only can you only do a finite number of things, but you have to do them in the right order.”

“I think anyone who makes products has this simultaneous joy and, almost, shame looking at it.  You look at it all day and all you can see is all these things you want to make better.”

“There’s a lot of pressure to look like the last company that was successful.”

“Don’t take too much advice.”

“I always just want to move along to the next step.”

“One of the things I’ve learned is to be receptive of feedback.”

“People say doing a startup is like a marathon.  It’s actually a road trip at night with no headlights.  You think you’re going to Toledo but you’re actually going to Miami and you might not have enough gas so you might need to buy gas from someone who might take you out if you aren’t driving well.”

“I really believe that the raw ingredient of any creative business is the set of experiences that the team has, the set of skills.  I think a simple fact is that if you have a different set of experiences based on how you grew up or how other people perceive you, or if you have a different set of skills, that will produce a better company.”

“We just felt like if every day we were getting a little bit closer to something that we would be really proud of, we would never regret the time we’d invested.”

“You plant some seeds and pull out weeds that aren’t working.”

“There are a lot of really valuable services that are always pushing you to communicate with other people.  But there are relatively few services that are about helping you be the person you want to be and fulfilling your ambitions.”

“Really great people, they actually want to work on hard problems.  A lot of the most talented and driven people, they’re not super deterred by failure.  So if you put out a really big challenge, I think they get really excited by that – they say, ‘Hey, why not, let’s go give it a shot, and if we fall short on that, at least we took a shot at doing something really important and meaningful.'”

“We believe innovation happens when disciplines knit.”

“In technology, people are very, very fast to declare something a winner or loser, like, ‘That’ll never work,’ or ‘That’ll take over the world.’  The truth is always somewhere in between.”

“I looked for people I wanted to work with and that I thought were talented.”

“I looked at three or four things that I really valued in people.  I looked for people that worked hard, and seemed high integrity and low ego.  I looked for people that were creative, and that usually meant they were really curious and had all these different interests – really creative quirky people that are excited about many disciplines and are extraordinary at one, tend to build really great products.”

“I always read about these stories of entrepreneurs – it’s like they’re in the desert with no water, and they’re the ones that survive.  But I’ve been really fortunate to have people on my team who are optimistic about the future and who know that if you work through hard times that there’s usually something good at the end.”

“As the company goes farther along, your aspirations therefore get bigger.”

“I was obsessed with this idea that these things that you collect, they just say so much about who you are.  I can’t say it came from hard-nosed business analysis.  It was just something I really wanted to see built.”

“When we talk to people about Pinterest we often describe it as not a social network.  Social networks are about communicating with other people.  Pinterest is really about planning and getting ideas for your own personal life.  With social networks, it’s them time.  With Pinterest, it’s me time.”

“I use Pinterest for everything.  Book collections, trips, hobbies.  It’s all there.  I planned my wedding on it.  When I had a kid, I planned all his stuff on it.  So it was nice to discover that I wasn’t the only one.”

“The way we make money is advertising.  And the reason that advertising has always made sense to us as the right model is that people come to Pinterest to get ideas.  Ideas for their home or ideas for clothes.  And what they really want eventually, after they get inspiration, is to figure out, ‘Where can I buy that?’ or ‘Where can I make that part of my life?'”

“We need to keep focusing on building the next set of things that would make our users really happy and really love this service.  There will always be competitors that are copying what have already built and have shown is working.”

“I used to wake up and look at our analytics and think, ‘What if yesterday was the last day anyone used Pinterest?’  Like, everyone collectively decided, ‘We’re done!’  Over time I got more confidence.”

“No amount of technology is going to change the fact that people process information visually.”

“A lot of the future of search is going to be about pictures instead of keywords.  Computer vision technology is going to be a big deal.”

“As a kid, I always idolized entrepreneurs.  I thought they were cool people in the way that I thought basketball players were cool people.  It’s cool that some people get paid to dunk basketballs, but I’m not one of those people.”

“It takes time to figure out how to not go to your job in the morning.  All of a sudden you have a lot of time and no structure.”

“Yeah, I mean my life is pretty… I mean, it’s exciting, but I don’t know that it’s conventionally glamorous.  I drop my kid at daycare in the morning and then go to the office.”

“My parents are doctors, both my sisters are doctors, so I figured I’d just be a doctor too.  Sometime in my junior year, I had this sudden realization that maybe that wasn’t for me.  I was sort of lost at sea.”

“So many things that I was excited about as a kid were about proximity.  The idea that somebody could grow up in rural Iowa and be into break dancing because of YouTube – that was a really simple, profound idea.”

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