“The best innovations come out of real problems and real pain.” — Jack Dorsey

“The best innovations come out of real problems and real pain.” — Jack Dorsey

Jack Dorsey is the founder of Square, an app that allows anyone with a smartphone or tablet to accept credit card purchases by plugging in the app’s accompanying device into a headphone jack. Square has revolutionized the way small entrepreneurs conduct business, empowering them.

Last week WSJ Magazine named him technology innovator of the year. The quote above and excerpts below are from his interview with Seth Stevenson. I haven’t posted any Ted Talk Tuesday’s in a while so when I read the article, I thought it would be a perfect substitute.

“Square was invented to cut through the complexities of a different network: the credit card payments industry. Dorsey has an artist friend, a glassblower, whose business was too small to justify the monthly fees and confusing rules and rates of a traditional credit card swipe machine. One day he failed to make a sale on a $2,000 piece because a customer had no cash on her. “That would’ve been enough money for him to live on for a month,” says Dorsey. “The best innovations come out of real problems and real pain. As I was commiserating with him over our cell phones, it occurred to me that we were both holding up to our ears powerful general-purpose computers. I thought there must be some way we could use them to do easy money transfers.””

“[Jack] DORSEY’S OVERARCHING MISSION flows from his urge to unencumber and simplify every corner of his life. For instance, he has no desk at Square. He works standing up at an immaculate, clutter-free table in the center of the wide-open office, typing alone on his iPad, easily accessible to colleagues who can informally sidle up and ask him questions. His daily uniform includes dainty Repetto shoes from France (because, as he recently tweeted, they are “light” and “graceful”) and special open-collared shirts, the provenance of which he refuses to identify (“halfway between a Nehru and a priest’s collar,” as he describes them). This allows him to convey enough formality for meetings, yet frees him from the constriction of wearing ties. He encourages midday strolls outside Square’s offices as a means of inspiration. He leads groups of employees on exploratory excursions to museums or across the Golden Gate Bridge.”

“While Jobs was maniacally focused on Apple’s products—he created new objects with perfect physical form and didn’t worry all that much about how people might subsequently use them to transform society—Dorsey’s vision is more top down, and of broader scope. He identifies big societal roadblocks and endeavors to unblock them.”


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