The guest Dj mix for today's post is from some friends of mine that Dj together under the name "Acid Boyz". I'm listening to this set while I build this post, and I hope you will enjoy it while you are reading it!
The Acid Boyz are part of a Burning Man camp that I am very inspired by, called "The Kazbah". The story of the Kazbah gives us a powerful lesson in innovation and execution. The dream Kazbah had was to bring the biggest laser to Burning Man, this laser would shine up into the night and be a guiding post to find your way to the Kazbah, and also to help the Kazbanians find their way home after a long night wandering the playa. It was this initial idea, this dream that took flight, that has created a community of people who have come together in order to bring this vision into reality. Year after year the idea transforms, the laser gets bigger, the pyramid taller, the guest Dj's more world renowned. This is the power of innovation and flawless execution, on the playa you become recognized as an example and a leader, your camp grows, more people want to help and contribute. In the real (or "default world" as burners like to say) world you win customers, dominate markets, and increase the value of the company.
We will get to execution second but without innovation, much of what is executed upon - no matter how well executed, will mean less. What is innovation? What inspires innovation? What is the value of innovation? More importantly, how can a corporation foster a culture where innovation is truly a core competency rather than being bantered around on slides for investor presentations? Innovation in a corporation is a powerful tool, it's a too that's used to create and take market share, create more barriers to entry, to continually be in front of and surprising the competition, and wowing customers! It's the power to completely re-imagine a product or market in a way that's never been done before, with the result being to shift the market in the companies favor through sheer imagination combined with flawless execution.
What is so interesting about the Kazbah project, as with so many successful projects, is that the motivation, inspiration, passion, and innovation are divorced from personal financial gain. We can observe that the reasons people get so passionate about these projects is that as humans, we value community, self-expression, recognition of work, and being a part of making something that is much bigger than any one person could accomplish on their own. The opportunity to be a part of a team and create something new and fresh, larger than any one person could do alone is very exciting. This is exactly the reason that I love working at Vantiv.
As a product owner, I know that it can get complicated working with cross functional engineering teams, going through intake request processes and supporting a variety of technology stacks. It took me about a year of accomplishing (seemingly) very little until I realized that it was up to me to take the reigns, take the initiative, and push forward my vision. These teams welcomed me with mentor-ship, respect, and most importantly; genuine support of colleagues. I cannot emphasize enough of the importance of talking with others to get their help. I can truly say that at Vantiv we have a culture that fosters innovation, and encourages creative thinking outside the box.
My background has been almost entirely in start-ups as a founder, co-founder, early employee on the engineering team, working with or as a part of small engineering teams always with lofty goals to change the world. In most cases things did not pan out. However, you learn so many things along the path as an entrepreneur and participant in the start-up scene in the Silicon Valley. One thing that I am so grateful for at Vantiv is to be part of a larger, more mature organization, that is still able to be nimble. Because of our scale, the possibility that I can personally impact the US economy in my role at Vantiv is real! The teams I am surrounded by inspire and encourage me to dream big and bring my passions and innovative ideas to the table. I know I am not alone because of the people I work with - many of us feel this way!
Ok... some how this post has turned into a cheerleading exercise for the HR department of Vantiv...
In payments today, there is nothing more important to a company like Vantiv than fostering and executing on innovation in payments. We at Vantiv are a large and entrenched legacy player and because of these facts, we are especially targeted by those that would innovate around us, nibble away at market share, and look for ways to dis-intermediate our position in the various value chains where we are a participant. For this reason, innovation as a practice is something we invest in, I encourage you to take a look at our Money 2020 Hackathon page, this is really exciting and we sure do put our money where our mouth is!
So, my inspiration for starting to write up this blog post to begin with was that I was driving to and from the Apple HQ today for some meetings about what Vantiv and Apple are working on together to bring mobile payments to more consumer experiences, and I had a little time to listen to some of my favorite payments podcasts. I wanted to share a few thoughts and encourage you to check them out.
Cardmaggeddon.... I love Brett King's Breaking Banks podcast. These guys spend a lot of time joking around and sometimes I wonder if I'm just wasting my time listening to their inside jokes. One day, they'll have me on the show and I can really raise the bar on humor in payments, because, these guys have set it really low! On this episode it was awesome because as guests they had Faisal Kahn and Brian Roemmele from another of my favorite podcasts, "Around the Coin" as guests. What was so fascinating about this episode is that they had a variety of guests from around the world talking about when plastic cards would disappear. I learned so much about the culture of payments and how different it is in places like the UK, Germany, France, Pakistan and more. For example, I had no idea that eCommerce transactions in Germany are almost all pay upon receipt! That means that you get your goods, and then you have an invoice you pay to the company, there is very little online credit card processing - fascinating!
This episode is also what inspired me to start thinking about the pace of innovation, and to start thinking that as the technology from other regions of the world make it's way into the US market, we need to be on the lookout and be quick adopters of the coming innovations, because we are uniquely positioned to facilitate integration of new payment technology into the specifics of the US ecosystem.
Speaking of specifics of the US ecosystem... let's talk about ACH...
As mentioned... this is one of my favorites, the guys from Around the Coin rarely fail in delivering a fun and educational podcast. When they have me on, we can talk about my rarely comment lol ... so... Until I listened to this episode, I had no idea why bank to bank payments take 3 days. It seems completely insane! Well, looks like we've made a breakthrough and the US finally has same day ACH. To the payment geeks in the house, and let's be honest... who else has really made it to the end of this blog post... rejoice! But... the question remains, when will the US catch up and make real time payments a reality? Let's put our innovators hats on and start working on building our own Kazbah!
For more music from the Kazbah family, check out their soundcloud here: