What I Learnt from Jay Samit’s Webinar

First published June 1, 2016


Jay Samit. Serial entrepreneur. Former head of major entertainment labels including Sony, Universal and EMI. Self-starter. TED Speaker. Professor of High Tech Startups at University of Southern California. Author. Why am I featuring him on a “medical” website?

Because great ideas come from anywhere, and inspiration knows no boundaries. Some of my biggest heroes have never been known for their medical achievements. And when I started reading Jay’s book, “Disrupt You!” (“Disrupt Yourself!” in Australia and other regions), I knew he was using “disruption” not as a buzzword, but as a teachable, adaptable concept that brings clarity to problems I’d thought were unsolvable, and to dead-ends with hidden paths.


Jay Samit webinar hosted by Startups Innovation. Photo: StartupsInnovation.com


Jay’s book is filled with examples from his work in the entertainment and computer industries, and from his knowledge of other companies. He begins from his childhood growing up in Philadelphia, and leads to his career in Los Angeles and beyond. He lists examples of Airbnb’s success; how NASA disrupted research & development by creating an open-access patent library; and on a personal note, Bill Clinton phoning him to help roll out Internet in classrooms across America.

The idea of disruption is that once it occurs, the industry it occurs in is changed forever. Think music and downloads; medicine and antibiotics; taxis and Uber. The core concept of Jay’s teaching in his book and webinar lies on understanding the links in any industry’s value-chain. Disruption occurs when you’ve identified which part of the value chain is weakest, and is thus “ripest” for disruption.  Jay describes the chain being made up of Research & Development; Design and Production; Marketing and Sales; and Distribution. So, how can you figure out which link to disrupt in an industry?

“The only two things you need to succeed are Insight, and Perseverance,” says Jay. An Insight may come in an instant, or it may take days of contemplation or years of hard work to arrive. Then, to grow from an Idea, you need to bring that Perseverance to the table.  

“You suddenly realise big ideas attract big minds,” Jay added. Sharing your idea helps each link in your value chain. Speaking of links, he suggests LinkedIn- “you can find experts in any field, and ask for advice- start a conversation, and connect with experts all over the world. You can’t do it by yourself.”

How can your idea be disruptive? “The first thing is to figure out how you can solve problems for others, and that will attract success. Every problem is an opportunity in disguise,” he said. Disruption from technology can bring social impact. Jay mentioned a startup which 3D-prints prosthetics for childrenSomeone went to Disney, got a licence for Star Wars, Ironman, Frozen and other popular shows. This disruptive yet simple design change not only helped kids get well-fitting prosthetics, but also de-stigmatised their prostheses and helped their emotional perception of their disability. 

As webinar facilitator and author Alistair Schneider of Startups Innovation said to Jay: “From your book,ideas don’t need to be complicated.” You don’t need to invent a new computer to innovate. A whole industry in accessories and dust covers for computers, keyboards and smartphones rose from the more expensive hardware they’re meant to house. It’s much easier and cheaper to prototype ten-thousand dust covers than ten-thousand of the latest laptops.  Jay’s friend did just that; the success of his covers was such that, “despite never learning how to use a computer, his first company was sold at age 30 for USD135million.”

Jay teaches his proven business model as being Social, Local, and Mobile. If you can prove it’s usable and scalable in one city, or town, you can adapt it to other cities.  

How can employers allow employees to excel and help intrapreneurs lead? “You have to change the culture that’s afraid of making mistakes. If you’re not making mistakes, it’s because you’re not trying something new. Success comes from trying something new. If you’re not creating value, your job will be eliminated.” 

Jay warns against getting too comfortable even after disruption: “It’s really the illusion of security that robs ambition- because given the circumstance you WILL be disrupted.” He used Kodak as an example- Kodak refused to branch into digital photography, sticking with traditional film, and unfortunately, losing its spectacular market share as a result. On a personal level, you may face this if you’re worried you’ll lose your job, your steady income, or other comforts by leaving work to start on your idea. Ambition is thwarted by fear, and disruptors learn to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. 

Finally, Jay predicts that “wearables will change the medical industry.” Anyone can see this from any industry.  The challenge will be to ethically and responsibly manage consumer and medical-grade wearables. 

To view the exclusive replay of Jay’s webinar, visit YouTube, or listen on SoundCloud. Startups Innovation are a startup education platform based out of Boston, running regular webinars on disruption and innovation with startup experts from all over America. Their founder, Alistair Schneider, is also the author of book “Fast Lane: Start Ups Innovation,” a handbook on startups available on Amazon. We thank them for the opportunity to cohost Jay’s webinar.

Jay can be followed for daily advice on Twitter at @jaysamit. Learn more about him at jaysamit.com