Steve Hoffman has been in China lately promoting his new book, *Make Elephants Fly*, and has been making the rounds on Chinese social media WeChat as well.
Recently he posted this advice for startup founders:
> Don't ask your customers what products they want. They won't be able to tell you. They probably aren't product designers and can't imagine the future.
> Instead ask your customers what outcomes they want. What problems are they having? What can be improved? What tasks take up too much time?
> The key is getting your customers to describe the outcome they are looking for. Then your team can align the product or service that will achieve this outcome.
This advice echoes what we try to teach through our workshops and student programs. We always start with a user profile; what are they trying to accomplish, and what problems are they encountering in that process? Only later do we start brainstorming what products or services might provide the benefits they seek or relieve the pains they face.
A helpful resource for this process is the Value Proposition Canvas from [Business Model Generation](https://strategyzer.com/books/business-model-generation). It provides a simple framework for composing your value proposition, and ties right in with the companion Business Model Canvas.
So, rather than ask what products your customers want, ask them what outcomes they're looking for, then build what helps them get there.
During his talk at TEDxYouth@HSEFZ on Sunday, September 17, Nick shared stories of his family and lessons learned from growing up in a diverse environment.
As the theme was Epilogue, Nick gave his advice for audience members to reflect on their lives and synthesize an epilogue that summarizes the key principles of the main story while also leaving room for a sequel:
- Find your conviction
- Own your decisions
- Live a life for others
Thanks to the organizers at No. 2 High School Affiliated to East China Normal University for the invitation!
Nick shared insights on what it's like to work in China as a foreigner and also gave advice to other expats preparing to interview for jobs here.
The 2017 International Talent Salon was organized by [HelloCareer](http://www.hellocareer.cn) and took place on Friday, September 15 at Le Meridian Hotel in Shanghai.
Watson is the first incubator leading to a degree for the world’s most promising
next-generation changemakers and social entrepreneurs.
From the Watson [website](http://watson.lynn.edu/prospective-students/):
### Scholar Selection Criteria
We are looking for early stage social entrepreneurs, innovators, and changemakers with a bias towards action. We do not select based on GPA, SAT scores, nationality, or ability to pay. We look at the whole person, and evaluate each application using three main criteria:
#### The Person
- Gritty Idealism: Watson scholars are idealistic in the sense that they believe they can make the world a better place, but gritty in that they aren’t afraid to start and bootstrap a solution in a resource-limited environment.
- Entrepreneurial Courage: Ideal candidates protect their courage by demonstrating that they are not afraid to step out of their comfort zone with a bias towards action. They are simultaneously driven to protect the courage of those in their community through support and peer-to-peer mentorship.
#### The Idea
- Addressing the Root Cause: We evaluate the extent to which their entrepreneurial idea addresses the root cause of the problem they are choosing to solve – and how well they have articulated both the problem and the solution. True social change is never achieved by creating “band-aid” solutions.
- Viability of Idea: We look at how likely it is that the applicant’s venture will succeed. Does the applicant have a solid idea and model to develop, advance, and eventually scale?
#### The Stage
- Life Stage: Students can apply to Watson for their full Bachelor’s degree (3 years) or the semester incubator before (gap year), during (semester away), or after their undergraduate studies (pre-career semester).
- Project Stage, Early Prototyping: The students we select are early stage in the development of their ventures, but in most cases, strong applicants have already implemented at least a prototype of their idea.
If you're fearless, not afraid of the limitations that some may try to place on you because of your age or experience level, and willing to take big risks to solve big challenges, then Watson might be the program for you.
Watson is hosting a prospective students Basecamp Weekend this November, inviting all young, impact-driven social innovators – high school, community college, gap-year, or university students – who are interested in the Watson method. For an entire weekend, participants will be immersed in the world of social innovation education while getting to know our current entrepreneurship scholars from 13 countries and visiting our campus.
All interested students are invited to attend our Basecamp weekend. Register to attend [here](http://watson.lynn.edu/basecamp-application/), and top applicants will be selected to be “Basecamp Fellows” – meaning that they will be flown in from anywhere in the US for this two-day Boulder Basecamp. Other attendees will arrange their own transportation.
See the weekend itinerary [here](http://3w5be11baopnpmsuc2s9a1hd.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Basecamp-Itinerary-2017.pdf).
**Dates:** November 10-12, 2017
**Location:** Chautauqua Park, Boulder, CO
**Requirements to Register:** Young individuals with an interest in social entrepreneurship and a passion for social change.
**Basecamp Fellows:** Basecamp Fellows are the top selected prospective students who fill out the form to attend Basecamp. We will fly several students to Boulder for this weekend of learning and being immersed in the Watson experience.
**What it covers:** The Basecamp weekend has no cost. Attendees will come to Boulder for a two day Basecamp and will stay with current students on Watson’s campus to learn the fundamentals of social entrepreneurship and be introduced to the Watson model and method. Food and lodging will be covered for all attendees.
**Why basecamp?** We want to jump-start the journey of next generation social entrepreneurs through a two-day basecamp for prospective Watson students.
#### Fill out the [attendance form](http://watson.lynn.edu/basecamp-application/) by November 1, 2017 and email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
The judges chose [Inspiring](http://site-132380-9719-8471.sxl.cn/) because they clearly identified and communicated a problem of social significance in both China and the U.S. - education inequality - and designed a creative way to address it. Inspiring will now receive US$1000 and two weeks of professional mentoring to build a prototype of their idea. Congratulations to Inspiring!
The judges for the competition were:
1. Matt McKenna
- Executive-in-Residence, Global Social Enterprise Initiative
- Senior Advisor, Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative
- Former Senior Vice President, Finance, PepsiCo
2. Katherine Liu
- Founder & Managing Partner, CanAsia Consulting
- Co-Founder, Centerstone Partners PE
- Former Senior Manager, KPMG
3. Eoin Brown
- Student Outreach & Partnerships Director, Minerva Project
4. Kevin Iraheta
- Business Development, Pique Scholarships
- Administrative Assistant, Global Social Enterprise Initiative
Many thanks to our judges and all our participants in the U.S. and China. We look forward to running the program again next year!