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40 under 40: Expert advice, 2012 edition

October 11, 2012, 12:00 PM UTC

Path’s Dave Morin

David Rhodes, CBS News: How to choose a morning TV show segment

There is no formula. There are so many assumptions that go into deciding if something is — or is not — a story. We have a really robust internal discussion. We argue. Then we make a decision. A lot of this is on the fly because it’s news. You never really put it to bed. We’re thinking every day about what could be different and interesting. What’s counter-intuitive? You know, today, why don’t we do something on a “found” kid? Everyone does these missing kid segments, we need to do a found kid.

Dave Morin, Path: How to decide what to share on social networks

I think most people know that when they put something on the Web, it can kind of go anywhere. Figuring out the “what” kind of depends on the “where” and the “who.” So be aware of where you’re sharing information. Some places are safer. Be conscious of who you’re talking to. Not only should you think about what you’re sharing, but who will see it. And be aware of what kind of information you’re sharing, and the context you are sharing it in. Your place of worship, your home, and your workplace are completely different environments. Context is king.

Clara Shih, Hearsay Social: How to be a social business

First, stop thinking of your customers as numbers. They are not market segments or eyeballs, they are people. And many of them are already huge fans of what you do. So reach out to them where they are: Claim your Facebook place, link into LinkedIn, go with the flow on your Twitter stream. You may even want to start Instagramming and Pinning. Don’t just start talking — really listen to what people are saying. Get to know your customers — find out what they like about you and don’t like. Respond when people talk to you (it’s rude not to). Participate, but don’t self-promote. Be interesting or funny or educational — but most importantly, be yourself. When you make it easier for people to learn about you, talk to you, talk about you on social media, they will become fans for life.

Hearsay Social’s Clara Shih

Andy Dunn, Bonobos: How to buy a pair of pants

It starts with the fit. When you try on the pants and look in the mirror, you want to maximize the area of the triangle created by your legs and the ground. Increasing the size of that triangle has the effect of making you look taller and slimmer. The tradeoff is that maximizing that triangle can get uncomfortable if the pants are too tight — so pay attention to how you feel when sitting down. A great pair of pants works well for both the long dinner and a day on the go. You’ll actually feel more confident when you’re wearing such a pair. But they’re hard to find. PS: Wear color, avoid pleats, and have fun.

John Hering, Lookout: How to hack a phone

Take a common, popular mobile app, say Angry Birds. Repackage it with malicious data baked into the code, which you use to take control of the user’s device. Then take that version of the app, which looks exactly like Angry Birds, and post it on the Internet and in stores. Users who download the fake app on to their smartphones think they’ve downloaded the game, but in reality, they’ve let you take control of their phone remotely. It’s a zombie in your zombie net. You can send commands to their phones and it does whatever you want — charge to their account, send data, and if you control enough phones, you can shut down a server by having all the phones send data to the same server. It’s simpler than you might imagine, and it’s incredibly powerful.

Ben Jealous, NAACP: How to rally people

You have to agitate, educate, and organize if you’re going to win. You have to poke people’s conscience, prick their imagination, deliver the facts, and then be prepared to follow through. Before you start each of those steps, listen and pay attention to what people are saying is important to them. To me, rallying people — moving them to action — starts with listening. It starts with discerning what’s important to a community and where their self-interest lies.

Salman Khan, Khan Academy: How to teach a child

The current model of education in no way resembles how students really learn, which is experientially. Give them a context where they can experiment and play with things that motivate them to take control of their own learning. It should be all around creation, like trying to build a robot or write a novel. And it should be self-paced. When I think about the times I really learned, it was when I was taken into gifted classes in elementary school and the teacher asked me what I wanted to do. She would guide me and give me the tools, but then just let me run with it.