4 Lessons Learned Working At Bison & Bird

Sage advice from our CEO

Since I started at Bison & Bird, our CEO Ryan Hopf has been an excellent mentor. Every day he takes the time to deliver life lessons and work lessons to help improve the business and the employees at Bison & Bird. Daily he comes in with a saying for the day, whether that is advice or a difficult question to ponder. Through these interactions, I have learned several lessons that I believe are useful in everyday business life. Some of these may be obvious to you; hopefully, some are new, but it can never hurt to be reminded of some of these lessons.

Lesson 1: "KISS: Keep it Simple Stupid"

A straightforward principle but one that can often be overlooked in a business setting. At least in my experience, many people tend to overcomplicate things, including myself (more often than I'd like to admit). This principle can be thought of in 2 ways. The first is letting perfect get in the way of good. The second is keeping things simple for others when designing products or systems to keep people using them.

It is very easy to get caught up in the cycle of "I can make this a little better... I can make this a little better." But this isn't always the best way to approach something. In a world with limited time and energy, sometimes, and more often than not, good enough can be great. Don't let perfect get in the way of good. Decide what sorts of things in your life will drive value for you. Is this the best thing you could be working on right now? Is there something else I could be working on and making perfect that will be better for the overall product?

Or look at it another way; when designing something for other people, it can be easy to add all these features, all these extra fields for reporting, all these different inputs for people to enter. These extras can be a good thing, but more often than not, the more people are asked to input into a form, the more people have to read, the more features there are, and the less they will be utilized. This can lead to issues with data completeness or wasted time building out those extras. So keep it simple, whats the least you need to make your product or system work.

Lesson 2: "The Most Powerful Algorithm for Daily Life Is: If this... Then That"

In a daily conversation, we were talking about product development for a client. In this product development, we started to talk about an "if-then" portion of the product that would begin what would end up being a fascinating conversation. To any developers reading this, an if-then is probably one of your most used tools to develop products. To any non-developers, this is a way to execute an action based on criteria being met. If this happens, then make this happen. Pretty simple at its core. At the same time, we found that this is not only a development principle but something that all humans do in our daily lives. The if-then algorithm makes so much sense because it is fundamental to our functioning as humans.

Let me explain further. As humans, we love to try and predict the future. This principle is shown in the prevalence of investment, forecasting, weather reports, calendars, or any of the many ways we try to look into the future and organize it. So the if-then lifestyle is familiar to everyone. This power comes into play because there is a way of unlocking a lot of freedom and control by thinking of things through the if-then lens. If I get this job then... If I work harder then... If I read this article, then I may learn a great lesson. We can focus our narrative on how we will accomplish things by simplifying our lives into a simple algorithm. A one-factor equation leads to results by keeping it simple, essentially building on the last lesson of keeping it simple. All you have to do is achieve one thing, which will lead to the results you are looking for.

Lesson 3: "Innovation Takes Time, But When Something Has The Potential And Investment Behind It, It Can Completely Surpass Old Technolgy"

All the other lessons have been verbatim; this one was paraphrased as a conversation about new technology, specifically in electric vehicles. Whether pro-EV or against it, I think this principle is fundamental to forward-thinking in any industry. The conversation began with my skepticism of electric vehicles because of their range and my perception on the overstated positive environmental impact. This idea I had of EVs was much due to my unfamiliarity with them and things I had heard against them over time. But Ryan has an electric vehicle and told me exactly why. His explanation used a different example: imagine if you go back over 100 years. At the time, the Model T was the only vehicle on the road, and most people didn't have one. Most people were riding horses. The benefit was that they were much cheaper and much safer since they couldn't catch on fire; they were faster, did not need expensive ingredients to make them run, and were likely more comfortable since cars had no suspension. These factors contributed to the idea that the horse was better than the car. Over time though, improvements were made, and the car started to take shape. Now, who is riding their horse to work?

This idea stuck with me and seemed to apply to many things that people have written off or been skeptical about over time. Examples of this are the internet and the impact of AI, and now we can turn to examples like Bitcoin and web 3.0 or the electric vehicle.

Lesson 4: "The Work We Do Is Only As Good As The People Who Shake Hands At The End of The Day"

This last lesson is more important for startups and salespeople when talking about shaking hands and making deals, but insert your department's version of how you interact with other people. People are the backbone of any work done in any industry and setting. People can be the most frustrating and amazing things in our lives, but they are integral to our success. The results we achieve are from the people in our teams and the people we do business with. The better people the better the results and the farther projects and products can be taken. There may also be a very frustrating and challenging person to work with, so this can be thought of as a call to action to foster your relationship with that person to try to work out your differences. So much more can be accomplished in teams and when we work together with good people as our clients and try to succeed in this world together. Although it seems like an easy idea, this one seems to be always the toughest to remember and can have the most significant effect on our day-to-day lives at work.

There are more lessons that I have learned at Bison & Bird, but these were some of the fundamental ones that were very important to me in both my work and personal life. I hope they help you as well.

If you are interested in working with Bison & Bird after hearing these lessons, please feel free to contact us. We can be found at our website: https://www.teambisonandbird.com/ or on any major social media platform. Now is the perfect time with the Canadian Digital Adoption Program (CDAP), where your company may be eligible for a grant of up to $15,000 and access to a $100,000 grant.