[TechConneXt Summit] Google Senior Executive Shares the Inside Scoop on Silicon Valley

Google's David C. Drummond

David C. Drummond, Senior Vice President of Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer of the recently renamed Alphabet

David Drummond is one of the most powerful executives in Silicon Valley. He joined Google in 2002 and is now the senior vice president of corporate development and chief legal officer of the recently renamed Alphabet. He also serves as chairman of the company’s investment arms, Google Ventures and Google Capital. As such, he has unique insight into Silicon Valley and the role black entrepreneurs can play in the tech ecosystem.

Drummond was interviewed by Journalist Carlos Watson, founder of Ozy Media, for BE Tech Talk: A Conversation with a Silicon Valley Powerhouse, kicking off the first day of the Black Enterprise TechConneXt Summit.

[Related: [TechConneXt Summit] Day 1: Investing and Ascending]

Here’s some of what Drummond had to say:

On what makes entrepreneurs successful…
No. 1: They think big. Even if you don’t make it there, sometimes along the way you end up doing something substantial. The other thing is they’re contrarian, almost to a fault. When everyone else is going this way, they go that way. They don’t take perceived wisdom very well.

On who shouldn’t be an entrepreneur…
I think there are a lot of people getting into it because it looks like you can do well.  A lot of people don’t have the risk-taking mentality for entrepreneurship, and that’s fine. Risk tolerance is really important. Silicon Valley is like baseball—three out of 10 is good.

On black entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley…
I think it’s the new reality. And we need to accelerate it and push it forward. One of the things about Silicon Valley that I’ve always liked is that it has some meritorious elements; it doesn’t matter who you are, if you build the right thing. They’re brutally honest about performance. But Silicon Valley isn’t immune from the realities of the rest of the world.

On Rev. Jackson’s work to push diversity in tech…
What’s great about it is it forces us to think practically about what it going to yield results. It’s fine to have the right principles, but you have to devote resources to it; just like with all of your other business principles. And you’re seeing lots of startups thinking about diversity early in their life cycles.

On the next trends…
Mobile—this is happening much more quickly than we thought it would if you look at the amount of computing people do on their phones versus desktops or laptops. Most people coming online today are coming online through their phone. It has all kinds of implications for what startups are going to be built and where. Another is artificial intelligence. We’re moving toward this notion of general artificial intelligence, where the algorithms actually learn. They aren’t pre-programmed.

On whether we’re in another tech bubble…
There’s no question that the valuations of some of these firms are astronomical. They’re priced for perfection—if 100% of everything goes right. On the other hand, there are companies that are changing the world in pretty amazing ways. There are a number that look like they’re going to be around for a long time. They have scale, and they’re global, and they delight the user. There’s going to be some carnage, but there are a lot more that will get through this.

On replicating Silicon Valley…
I think this is happening everywhere. There’s nothing in the water in Silicon Valley that is making this happen. The talent, the creativity, the drive, the ambition—those things exist all over the world. There’s a saying I heard: “genius is evenly distributed.” There’s no reason to think this is going to be isolated to the United States, or within the United States to Silicon Valley.

New Lessons to Learn

As a digital lifestyle expert on the Today show, CNN, and on my daily talk show on SiriusXM, I try to do one thing: inspire and educate you on how to use technology to change your life and your business. One thing technology can do is help you be much more productive.

Here are two easy steps to get you started:

1. Start Outsourcing Your Life.
When I say outsourcing, I don’t mean moving your business to India—I’m talking about ways to slow down the clock and regain precious time. First, identify the three most time-consuming tasks in your life or business. Then, make a profile on sites such as Gigwalk.com or Elance.com, where you can pay freelancers to take care of some of these tasks, whether it’s creating a sales proposal or running an errand around town. Yes, I know, this is going to cost some money, but you need to place a value on your time. What’s your time worth per hour? If outsourcing frees you up for a higher-paying gig, then it’s worth it. Or maybe you can buy yourself a couple of extra vacation days.

2. Throw Away Your Pen and Paper.
I used to take notes by hand, just like I used to keep my contacts in a Rolodex. But the world of scribbling ideas on the backs of cocktail napkins is over—I do everything digitally now and it seriously enhances my productivity. One of my favorite apps is Evernote, which you can pick up on every type of computer or mobile device out there. More than just note-taking, Evernote is like a digital organizer for your brain—it lets you quickly jot down text, record audio, even take pictures or video. It’s a one-stop shop for all of your ideas, and it automatically syncs across your devices so you can start a note on your computer at home, finish it from your phone on the train, and have it ready to show a client from your tablet when you arrive. It’s also searchable.

I hope this is a jumping-off point for you to start using digital tools to maximize your life, your business, or your organization. I’m hoping to make you smarter and more successful with each article. As comedian Kevin Hart would say “Alright, alright, alright, you gon’ learn today!”

—Mario Armstrong

Mario Armstrong is an Emmy Award-winning media personality who translates technology for non-tech audiences through his work as a digital lifestyle contributor for HLN, CNN, and NBC’s Today show. Armstrong also hosts the only daily technology talk show on SiriusXM Satellite Radio and is a technology contributor for NPR’s Morning Edition and Tell Me More programs.