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TEDxWarsaw - Stephen Kines - 3/5/10

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Hi everybody. My point... I decided that it's always good to listen to your children. I've got this 15-year-old daughter, Sabina, and she's at this stage, which is a very difficult stage for a father, where she has sex-ed classes. So I thought that, you know, the best way to, maybe, explain a little bit about collaboration is to teach you something that my daughter taught me. So I brought a cucumber, (laughter) and I'm going to ask an angel, I would like to corrupt an angel to come up here, to help me with this, because, you know, I've actually been-- sorry, but I've been married for 17 years, so I don't really know too well how to do this, but-- (laughter) Okay, I don't want to insult you, but you know, you guys are the-- This is about, "ideas worth spreading," It's, you know, about technology, entertainment, design. And I'm not trying to say that you're all a bunch of dicks, (laughter) but I want you to imagine that this is you, and we're going to collaborate here, and this is me. So we are-- Do you know which way it goes? Is it like that? Sorry. (Girl:) I think it's the right way. (Stephen Kines:) Okay. Oh, okay, I can manage. Okay. (laughter) I don't need to embarrass the angel. I don't want to corrupt her further than... So... This is me. I'm here to-- As a lawyer, I'm here to give you a level of protection. And... It's really, actually, quite important, because I mean, I know it's about, "ideas worth spreading," but there's a lot of things which you don't want to be catching. The problem is that lawyers tend to do this, and I'm not actually going to do this, because I'm going to, you know, have some reward for you afterwards, but they try and put more of these on. They say: "Well, just in case-- maybe we should just put some added protection and maybe we should have a few more of these," and maybe, just what about the possibilty of this. And the problem is, and unfortunately my faithful assistant wasn't able to find this, I was actually going to bring you a very rotten cucumber that was sort of limp and soft, but if it gets to that point, when you're putting all of these on, this may not stay as hard as it is right now. So... Moving on from that metaphor, and not taking it further, because... I know that we, lawyers, are not very popular, And this already comes from the sixteenth century. And probably sixteenth-century England is maybe not different than 21-century Warsaw. I would like to just clarify something, that the truth of the matter is that Shakespeare had very bad handwriting, and he didn't actually write, "lawyers," he wrote, "leaders." But in any case we get a bad wrap. As a technology lawyer, this is-- I started my-- The past couple of years I was in Silicon Valley, I'm not sure-- Does anybody know, what this is? Yea, it's HP Garage where the idea started. And it's very important for lawyers, technology lawyers, people that are dealing with ideas, to meet you on the ground where you come from. To be with you at the very beginning. That's what it is about collaboration. It means understanding what your business is about. And it's about, actually, finally realizing your potential, where HP is now. Now, when you are a technology company, and you actually get to that point, it's OK to actually take off some of this protection, because when you get married, you don't really need this anymore, right? So if you hook up with a firm like this, you need less protection. But you need to consider a few things. When you are about ideas, you're about-- We're in a knowledge-based economy. This is about soft rights. The paradigm shift is incredible, in terms of most lawyers trying to think about, well there's no hard assets, we're talking about soft assets. But the reality is, this is something that's been going on since the 19th century. Even Charles Dickens had problems in the U.S. back at that time, because there was actually no copyright law. And Mark Twain, who was an American author, didn't actually really appreciate it, because Dickens' books were being sold very cheaply. So there is a benefit to having a level of protection, as long as it's not overprotection. And it's very important for collaboration, between the lawyer and the ideas people, to find that middle ground, and some of our earlier speakers spoke about trust and commitment, to work together. And, as our innovation consultant spoke about a little bit, how do you actually maintain that innovation while growing big? -- And Google is probably the best example of a collaboration of great people that have come together -- and mantain that innovative style that allows your ideas to be shared? And I'm often dealing, actually, with the sale of small companies. I tend to deal with this sort of small-cap 5 mln euro-type valued companies that get sold to a Google-like [company]. And it's very important that when those ideas, and that trust and commitment come into play that they are still able to innovate. And anybody that's been on the Google campus in Mountain View will see what sort of dynamism can be maintained over time. And it can stil exist. But in order to do so-- there's a problem. Right now you've got great ideas but no money. And you might be looking at me and saying: "Hey, you know, I can't afford the expensive lawyer. What do you do?" Well, let's take a look at the freemium model that the Internet works on. And I think that the whole legal industry-- the billable hour is being thrown on its head. And one of the reasons why I, in my 14 years in Central Europe-- I decided to take a couple of years out to Silicon Valley, as they are really innovating in a very interesting way, and they're taking elements from the Internet, in terms of working models. And the freemium model is a great model. So what are the concrete examples of-- We don't have enough time to get into all of the details-- is working where you have a success fee that is based upon, you know, you're a startup guy, you're in a garage, you don't have anything. The lawyer understands that. They have to-- They are an investor. Collaboration is about being an investor, not having that sudden distance, but suddenly it changes the model. And we need to, as lawyers, think a lot more about how we invest and work on this, sort of, model that says, "We need to-- Let's keep it-- Let's not talk about the billable hour at the beginning, and let's not kill the idea before it even gets off the ground." And in Sillicon Valley, this is something that they're doing and it's something that we're trying out in Europe, and in Central Europe, which is, it may be, you know, everybody is excited about the eventual sale to a better platform. Because in the end your ideas are great, but at some point you want the right platform. You want the platform that allows you to spread that idea, that makes that incredible house not just be something which is on a beach in Madrid, great that it is, but to get it mass-produced so that we're all living in something like that. So... We need to rethink the way that we work. We need to spend a lot of time understanding our-- the TED-type people, the people that have ideas worth spreading, and invest our time. And that really challenges a lot of lawyers. And rules, essentially, by and large, can constrict and kill the entrepreneur. And I always have this running joke with my kids, as I say: well, you know what? I know I'm a lawyer and I went to a law school and all that stuff, but you know, I really hate rules. I mean rules are just constricting innovation. And five years ago we started our own law firm. And we took the rulebook, and we just threw it away. We just said: "Hey, let's just-- Why do lawyers have to wear suits? Why do lawyers have to have billable hours? Why do they have to--" And I think that we need to constantly challenge our models, and some of the earlier speakers spoke about that, about how we need to rethink everything. I'm sorry that-- Unfortunately, I wanted to do, as part of "collaboration," because I know nobody gets excited about hearing a lawyer speak, but I had a client, a great Warsaw-based client that has great ideas, and they're doing augmented reality, and they're guys in a garage. Although, you know, there's not that many garages in Warsaw so I think they're literally more like in a building, but-- And they've created some incredible stuff so I'm just going to leave it there as a teaser for the next TEDx event, when we will do a demo of this product, but this is an actual product being produced by two guys in a garage, that can actually take anything which is any kind of surface, so if anybody remembers Tom Cruise in that great movie where he's moving everything around, this is exactly that kind of reality that they can do, and they're starting to experiment that in Poland. Poland is an incredible place for ideas and... Trying to bring that innovation to the wider world, something, I think, which is really exciting. So that's all. The free condoms for anybody that would like, since I don't need them, but there you go. Thank you. (applause) You don't need this. (Ralph Talmont:) We've got Subway coming to serve us lunch so-- oh, incidentally, thanks Subway, good on you. (SK:) We've got an extra cucumber. You might want to wash it. It's-- I don't know if this has lubrication in it... (RT:) We could go on like this forever. (SK:) Yeah. (RT:) So are you, if I may use that word, "advocating," that wise lawyers actually change the business model? (SK:) Yes, I think that if we're wise and we want to survive in the next age, then we deffinately have to. I mean, we have to throw it on our heads. We have to look arond. And there's plenty of great ideas that are out there, but we have to change the way we think. (RT:) Good on you. Thanks, Stephen. (applause)

Video Details

Duration: 11 minutes and 54 seconds
Country: Poland
Language: English
Genre: None
Producer: TEDxWarsaw
Director: TEDxWarsaw
Views: 168
Posted by: tedxwarsaw on Mar 16, 2010

Stephen Kines is a technology, media & telecoms (TMT) lawyer ranked by Euromoney in 2009 as one of the top 10 TMT lawyers in the world.

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events which bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x=independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.*
(*Subject to certain rules and regulations)

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