Questions and Answers with Jack Dorsey
Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and Square, spoke to us before giving a talk at a weekly dinner at YCombinator
What can the world look like in 10 years?
It is clear that all the technologies that make our world feel small and rather cramped really excite me. It is amazing how far we have come - over the past six years I have developed a much deeper understanding of life in Iran thanks to the observations of how people act on the network, confronting the government and the rural population of Iran, which is of great importance. Technology allows people who remain fairly limited in their capabilities to act globally.
The software will also continue to invade the world of real things. What happens around virtual reality is simply amazing. Minimizing elementary objects is what I think we will continue to see for the next ten years. And interestingly, I would rather have fewer real things.
What is the most helpful tip you've ever received?
Pay more attention to the relationship between people, and not just to individuals. We often think about the professional qualities of people hired, but we do not sufficiently appreciate how they affect teamwork - strengthen or weaken it. But relationships created by people are the basis for the functioning of any company. If the team relationship is strong, then this makes better each individual person in the team. Otherwise, everything goes with braking.
I made a mistake several times when I didn’t understand that some person had a bad influence on team relationships, and I didn’t leave quickly with such an employee. It is really not easy to fire someone in every way, but sometimes it has to be done, and when you understand the positive side of such an action, it helps to get through some pain.
How have you changed in ten years?
I am much more focused on the present. I think that we were more focused on the future, instead of just doing what is in front of our eyes, and I think that technology plays a role in this. I admire how we can influence our realities based on what and how we think about things.
Living with a sense of longing for the future or constant peering into the past, not paying attention to the present - this is actually detrimental. My business is better if I focus more on what is in front of me at the moment. My business is better if I am really doing the present and don’t think too much about the future. Living more real and becoming more conscious of ourselves is one of the most difficult things we all face.
If you hadn’t been working on Twitter and Square, where would you be?
I love development tools, so I would work on a tool that would help people do something more than they could do without it. Mental health is also really interesting, especially because there is so much that we don’t know. I’m interested in everything related to thinking, and I believe that what we do on artificial intelligence and machine learning is aimed at a better understanding of ourselves. Ultimately, I think that all these things, like a mirror, show us ourselves and our values.
Which book has influenced you the most?
"The Old Man and the Sea" by Ernest Hemingway.
I keep coming back to her. I love her honesty, conciseness and poetry. In my opinion, it shows a universal struggle, which is repeated again and again in many narratives, both about fictional events and about real ones.
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman.
I love poetry. Poetry is akin to programming — it materializes extremely abstract concepts into some medium that can be interpreted. This creation can become his own for a person and give him better, more creative answers to the questions that life gives rise to. In fact, I’m interested in everything that helps us to see ourselves at least a little more.
Whitman is also an interesting personality, a bright entrepreneur. He himself produced 35,000 copies of Leaves of Grass. The book was published during the Civil War, and it was sharp, raising many questions. She examined racial, sexual, gender equality - all at once! And Whitman was engaged in it until the end of his life - he added, edited, released new editions. Most people read the last option, but I think the first option is actually the best.
The impact of each line in this poem, as in some outstanding program, is staggering.
What would you say today to yourself - very young?
Weigh, think, compare - look for balance. When I was young, I did not understand the value of exercise or health and how it affected my intelligence. I think it was useful for me to try all the extremes to find the balance that I have now, but I wish I had focused more on being healthy then. A healthier lifestyle ultimately makes me more creative and supports whole-thinking.