The Tim Ferriss Show #369: Kevin Systrom — Tactics, Books, and the Path to a Billion Users

Full podcast here.

  • Book recommendation: Principles by Ray Dalio.

  • When we started Instagram it was just me and Mike. Two people. When you are small you don’t have time to make things complex. You have time to make things work. Don’t over-optimize. 

  • Do the simple thing first. That has value both in life, finance, and work. 

  • An example of the power of simplicity: The app I was working on that eventually became Instagram was called Bourbon. We actually got to the idea for Instagram by taking away features from Bourbon- not by changing it all. 

  • How weird is it that I’m so into reading that I read a book about how to read a book? Book recommendation: How To Read A Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading 

  • My bedside table is stacked with books. Books on mathematics, politics, flying, piloting, quantitative finance. I don’t have a job right now so I’m plowing through books. 

  • Someone should write a book on all the bad ideas amazing people have had. There is no Midas touch

  • I wasn’t willing to listen to feedback until I had a few failures. Everyone has failures. Not everyone matures to accept feedback. 

  • Instagram wouldn’t be where it is today if I had listened to most people

  • I don’t know if there is a secret to getting back up other than creating no choice but to get back up. I didn’t have another job. What was I going to do? 

  • How to create a great team: Hire people so good that you’d be willing to work for them one day if they started a company. 

  • Book recommendation: The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement. The main thesis of the book is that any system is most constrained by the slowest process. 

  • The slowest part in the company is always going to limit output. 

  • The one area I want to spend way more time on is history. Including biographies. Our lives are really short compared to recorded history.

  • I read this great book called Lessons of History. It’s short. You could read it in a day.