David Kirkpatrick (left) and Michael Fertik
Founder and CEO, Reputation.com
Founder and CEO, Techonomy
Kirkpatrick: Our next guest pioneered online reputation management as the founder and CEO of Reputation.com. But he’s also widely known as one of Silicon Valley’s most prolific and conspicuous innovators. He was the first CEO to raise his original seed round in actual seeds. He was also the first CEO to offer employer-funded egg freezing benefits to both female and male employees. But he’s best known as the creator of Femto-Management, a radical alternative to micromanagement that has become a global phenomenon. Take a look.
Kirkpatrick: So ladies and gentlemen, here he is, Michael Fertik.
Fertik: Thank you, David.
Kirkpatrick: Michael, thank you for being here.
Fertik: It’s my pleasure.
Kirkpatrick: I know your schedule is packed. I really appreciate you taking the time.
Fertik: Well, you know, I have always appreciated and always loved coming back to Fortune Brainstorm, David.
Kirkpatrick: Wait, no, this is Techonomy.
Fertik: Oh, I didn’t realize you had rebranded it to Fortune Techonomy. Fortune—that’s pretty good.
Kirkpatrick: No, no. It’s not Fortune Techonomy—
Fertik: You know what I like about what you’ve done at Fortune Techonomy, that this venue in particular is so small and kind of inaccessible and fairly unattractive that it makes the feeling very exclusive even though it’s not. And I think that’s an achievement of your marketing campaign. [LAUGHTER]
Kirkpatrick: Listen, this suit you’re wearing, I have to ask you, what is it?
Fertik: Yeah, well it’s become a second skin for me. So I don’t notice it so much anymore. This is a second-generation Femto-capture suit. And I still have the laryngeal transducer here. So the vocal data, the verbal communication data are being captured, but now we have the benefit of my nonverbal communication. So all these data are being collected together and being sent down the pipe to the employee receptor suits so that they can learn both the mind and the body motions at the same time.
Kirkpatrick: Does that mean like if you move your arm, their arm moves too?
Fertik: No, that would be ridiculous, David. [LAUGHTER] Actually, not ridiculous, because twice a year I do choreograph the stage musical with my employees. So having extreme control of their bodies for that performance is important. But day to day it behaves differently. Day to day, the totality of the data are sent down the pipe based on my movements and verbal cues and we’re able to administer the appropriate corrective measures to their behavior as needed.
Kirkpatrick: What kind of corrective measures?
Fertik: Well, just think of alerts. Like on your phone you have alerts that are vibration alerts when you get a phone call or an SMS. These are very similar except they’re extremely tiny, very, very small, very powerful electric shocks. [LAUGHTER]
Kirkpatrick: Well, we have to move on because I want to understand about organic innovation, the movement that you’re so passionate about. So what exactly is organic innovation?
Fertik: You know, organic innovation comes from the fact that we have come to understand that innovation is a top five or seven human need, isn’t it? You have food, water, air, love, companionship, footwear, and innovation. That’s the five or seven—that’s about the list. It’s very interesting.
Kirkpatrick: Well, I mean I don’t know if that’s—
Fertik: And so the list includes innovation, and we now know, based on our obsession and our need for innovation, we now know how responsive Silicon Valley has been. The problem with Silicon Valley’s response has been that we have turned things into innovation that aren’t actually innovation. Talking about innovation, thinking about innovation are not necessarily innovative. Organic innovation is the answer to that failure, that problem. So organic innovation at its core comes from a group of very well crafted, very hand selected digital master artisans who are locally sourcing innovation, heritage breeding innovation, sustainably raising innovation, and small batching innovation. [LAUGHTER]
Kirkpatrick: Well, that’s intriguing and even possibly delicious—
Fertik: It can be delicious.
Kirkpatrick: But I don’t really understand how it works.
Fertik: You know, that’s a very important point. The how is really where the competitive advantage of organic innovation lies. Unlike most forms of innovation, in the case of organic innovation Mother Nature takes care of the how. [LAUGHTER]
Kirkpatrick: Okay, but how is it organic?
Fertik: Right. That’s exactly the right question.
Kirkpatrick: Okay. Well the last thing—the word is you gave quite a performance at the last TED conference, and it has become the subject of a documentary film.
Fertik: It has been become the subject of a documentary film. When I look at TED videos nowadays I find that the focus is on content and I’m much more interested in bringing back the passion. [LAUGHTER]
Kirkpatrick: All right. Well, this is a clip we have from the upcoming documentary CI: Counter Intuition.
Kirkpatrick: Michael, thank you. It was great to have you.
Fertik: Yes, it was. [LAUGHTER]
Kirkpatrick: Thank you, thank you.
Fertik: Thanks very much, David. Thank you.