9 tips for success from Tony Fadell

June 20, 2014 by  
Filed under Solar Energy Tips

‘I wanted to work with my heroes at General Magic [after I left university] so
I just turned up at their office at 8.30 one summer morning. There were five
people there, who had clearly been there all night. They said, “We’re
not hiring.” Three months later I went back and got a job.’

4. Work long hours

‘We work crazy hours in Silicon Valley; my wife says we’re all kind of
diseased in some way. We’re totally obsessive compulsive – when we see an
idea, we’re like, “let me in, it’s so much fun”. It’s like a drug,
we get a lot of stimulation of this stuff. I used to work about 100 hours a
week; now it’s about 70. But 40 hours? Forget about it. Either you’re all in
or your not.”

Interview with Tony Fadell

5. But make time for your family

‘One day I came home from work with my wife and my eldest boy, who was two,
was crying like crazy. Something had happened and he wouldn’t let go of the
nanny. My wife was a wreck. I thought, “We’ve got to reset this.”‘

6. Use your travels as an opportunity to learn

‘While I was designing my new house I was living in different houses all
around the world. I was like wait a second, they have a thermostat and this
one is just as bad as the US. And oh I’m over in Spain and they don’t even
have a thermostat, but they need one. And in Hawaii there are all these
solar panels, but they’re using trucked in gas. And the thermostat is always
on, pumping out cold air even when the windows are open and no one’s home.
So I realised that everyone around the world has these problems – this is a
world wide problem.’

7. Use your network

‘I’d been in Silicon Valley for over 20 years so I pulled in people from all
over my network. The first ten people worked for free for a short period of
time. A lot of them had made their money at Apple or elsewhere, so they just
wanted to do something that was really cool with people they’d worked with
before and liked.’

8. Think of the obvious thing – that everyone else is missing

‘In Britain heating accounts for nearly two thirds of the energy bill but
everyone ignores the thermostat. I wanted to design a beautiful thermostat
that helps you save money without you making any behavioural changes, which
could be controlled by a smartphone. That was my big idea.’

9. Do it even if it sounds crazy

‘It was a very interesting day when I told my wife that I wanted to build a
thermostat. She was like what, the iPod guy, a thermostat? Are you nuts? And
I explained it to her and she was like yeah you should do this, this is
really important.’

To read more from the Saturday Telegraph magazine visit telegraph.co.uk/magazine

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