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In Conversation: David Kidder

At Home for the Holidays, STORY’s annual living gift guide, we’ve created a one-stop-shop with over 2,000 items for everyone on your list. This time around, we partnered with Microsoft Surface to help you get it all done in record speed so there’s more time for what’s important: holidaying!

To help you stay ahead of the pack, we enlisted entrepreneur and The Startup Playbook author David Kidder to select some of his favorite things made for innovators, by innovators. Inspired by the new Microsoft Surface Book, the exclusive gift collection features versatile items that work hard and play hard, such as Marshall Headphones, W&P Design’s Carryon Cocktail Kit, a Shingle journal, and (of course) the new Surface Book. They’re all bundled together in the Jack Spade Purpose Tote, made my artisans in Masoro, Rwanda. (If you’d like to purchase the collection – a $3551 value – for $1900, it’s currently available in-store and at Neiman Marcus.)

An entrepreneur in the truest sense, Kidder possesses a wide range of web-based application expertise focused on social, mobile, and digital advertising. He’s the co-founder and CEO of Bionic, an enterprise social innovation platform. We chatted with Kidder about entrepreneurship, indicators for success in the early days of a startup, and his personal productivity hack.

What’s the biggest indicator for success in the early days of a startup?
There is often a high correlation between the Founder’s obsession with the problem, and less so about the solution (idea). They simply will do whatever it takes to solve the customer’s need.  Also, when the company is formed around a deep life experience with the need – a secret – it often leads to success. 

What’s the hardest lesson you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?
That you are more than your company. You have to be both (1) right, and (2) on time. Often you don’t control the second driver, and you can fail. Resetting your life, re-believing in yourself is a very difficult and courageous re-commitment. It was the hardest lesson I’ve ever learned. 

What’s your favorite productivity hack?
I leverage dashboards with my teams. I spend little time managing people, but I am in constant communication and awareness of the efforts to achieve our goals. We operate like the Navy Seals – Team of Teams – and not a hierarchy, but a network. Decision authority is pushed to the edge. My job is to set, resource, and curate to the outcome. 

What’s one thing that we can’t find out by googling you?
I was voted most artistic in my high school senior superlatives. I am far more an artist than business thinker. (This is likely hilariously obvious to the closest people I live and work with…)

Favorite spot in NYC?
Like The Giving Tree, I have the Giving Rock in Central Park near my office in Columbus Circle that I have meetings, take calls, and think on. I am grateful for its gifts.