Spotlight, Review, Excerpt & Giveaway: Birth of a Unicorn: Six Basic Steps To Success by Heather Wilde

Book Blurb & Info

Birth of a Unicorn: Six Basic Steps to Success is the story of what it takes to found a billion-dollar company — also known as a unicorn. It’s told from the perspective of a founding employee, and shows the years and years of emotional strain, stress and dedication that building a successful company takes — and a framework to follow if you’d like to try it yourself.

In this book, you’ll find the true story behind one of Silicon Valley’s famous companies on its rise to the top. Peek behind the curtain as you see the highs and lows from an insider perspective, on the roller coaster that is the start-up life. What emerges is a lasting friendship, a billion-dollar company, and an understandable framework of success for you to replicate.

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Toot's Review by Betty Bee

“There exists a connection between each of the basic human needs. I would not have been able to take the leaps into the uncertain territory without the benefit of certainty. There is a similar relationship between the need for Significance and that of Love & Connection. Finding the balance within oneself and these two needs can be difficult as they are both strong; however, there can be a certain symbiosis if two people form that bridge. And sometimes, by paying attention to one need, another may be filled.”

The incredible story of one woman's journey to tech start-up success, 'Birth of a Unicorn: Six Basic Steps to Success,' by Heather Wilde is a whirlwind story from start to finish.

Wilde is a tech CEO and a motivational speaker (among other things) and she and her husband are largely responsible for the app Evernote, which is a wildly popular note-taking app. From her roots working on one of the first online gaming start-ups, Wilde takes you on a journey through her work life, offering nuggets of wisdom and advice along the way.

At one point, she and her husband basically gave up everything to move to Mexico and live on a sailboat so that they could begin working for Evernote. Wilde talks a lot about risk-taking and learning to work with your fear and anxieties surrounding big life changes in this book and I can't imagine a better source for this type of advice, since she has pretty much done it all!

Every chapter begins with a hopeful quote from a famous author and, at the end of the book, there is a short quiz that helps you discover what your basic needs are so that you can figure out how to fill them.

I enjoyed this immensely and I'd recommend it to anyone who is interested!

Book Excerpt

In “Birth of a Unicorn”, Heather Wilde gives an insider perspective into what it takes to build a “Unicorn” company, each step of the way.

I had been working at a boutique game studio near Boston, MA since 1999. We had released some cult-favorite games designed for online play. There was only one catch—after 9/11, people were not in the mood to play games anymore.

For a month or so after the attack, people would log in to the server for our main game and sit in the chat area, not playing any games—they would go in and start talking to each other. We noticed this trend spread to our other games as well. Overnight, we had become a group therapy chatroom service.

Any profits we had made selling expansion packs and sets dried up right away. We had to do something.

I had an idea to try to turn things around. I had a theory that if I could shift the mood of the conversation, people would start playing again. Our latest release was a Star Trek game, so I pulled aside our CEO, Shawn Broderick, and asked him if I could add a mini-game in the chatroom.

My idea was simple: I wanted to write a game that would ask trivia questions and keep cumulative and all-time scores. I wanted the all-time scores to be appended, and there to be three-question rounds so people could win prizes that would be useful within the game.

At the time, this was revolutionary. There was no “online” to speak of, and multiplayer games were barely a blip.

Shawn said, “Sounds good.” He was a man of few words, so this was high praise.

I pulled aside a co-worker, and we started working on it immediately. We were immersed in Star Trek history and other books for a week to get a list of over 5000 questions and answers to load into the system. Ten days later, we loaded it into the system, and I announced it on our forums, our website, and in our newsletter. I even cross-posted it with our other game that was sci-fi related, in hopes that the fuss would make people register for our Star Trek game.

It worked.

Within one day, the game came back to life.

Someone even created a flash-based website and a set of memes for the Trivia Bot.

I had struck community gold!

It was awesome; until we noticed the trends.

People still were not playing the *actual* game. They were not buying sets or pieces. They only registered accounts just to login and play trivia, and then sat on our servers for hours—sometimes days—at a time to do it.

As my friend Phil Libin likes to say, “feedback is good for telling you what you’re doing wrong, but a terrible indicator of anything else.”

And boy, did we get feedback. We had a lot of it, from all sides—and it was all encouraging. Customers and journalists alike told us how great we were doing. They gushed at how excellent our products were.

On a personal note, my colleagues hailed me as a fantastic, resourceful wunderkind. Every day I was told I was changing the world of online games and making an impact. It seems such an easy thing to say in hind- sight—people were just polite, or they were encouraging us out of love, or duty, or friendship. But honestly—that is useless in business.

We needed to know what our faults were to correct them, and be better, do better, make the best product.

For every one person who has an issue and voices it, there are at least ten times that many who do not bother to speak up.

Author Info

Heather Wilde was the eighth employee of Evernote, where she oversaw the company’s growth from thousands to 100 million customers. She has published popular games, trained Fortune 500 brands, advised hundreds of start-ups, and managed some major non-profit programs. At her non-profit, Serenze Global, and as a fractional CTO through her company ROCeteer, her award-winning work keeps the Unicorn Whisperer constantly traveling across the globe to find the next unicorn.

Website: https://heathriel.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/heathriel
Twitter: https://twitter.com/heathriel
IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm7705219/


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