April 4, 2020
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Blitzscaling 19: Jeff Weiner on Establishing a Plan and Culture for Scaling

– So it is my pleasure and honor to introduce Jeff Weiner. He and I actually have been
hearing about each other for some number of years
before we finally met. I think we were actually at a conference dinner table arranged by Adam and his folk. – Boulevard, brainstorming
session Februray 2008. ` No, this was Kirk Patrick days. – Exactly, and then we
started talking to each other about how it is that we build these amazing products and companies in Silicon Valley and eventually had the enormous good fortune to work together not by accident. So with that, let’s open to so I persuaded you to come
take a look at LinkedIn and try out LinkedIn and you arrived and there’s roughly 400 people at the company. What was the situation on
the ground as you found it? – So it was December 2008, we had about 338 folks and I found an incredibly talented
group, not surprisingly, that Reid and my predecessor
and I had assembled, and even before my first day I had already started to
familiarize myself with the company through Reid, through
some of the investors that were at Greylock, where
I was in EIR at the time, and had recognized that
there was much more to it than met the eye, which is interesting because to this day, when
people come inside the company to interview or they want to
talk about where we’re headed, a common response is, wow I had no idea how much was going on or how
big this could potentially be. So I found an enormously
talented group of people and a platform with almost
unlimited potential within the specific context of creating
value for professionals. Creating economic opportunity
for a global workforce. I also found the situation where there, even though it was 338 people, there were a lot of different
things taking place. There were a lot of bets
that had been placed and Reid, for those of you
who haven’t gotten a chance to know him or first
principles, one of Reid’s first principles is
preserving optionality. I think it’s one of the
reasons he’s been so effective as an investor and it
was one of the reasons I believe that LinkedIn
reached critical mass was because of the various
areas in which the company was investing to see
if they could generate critical mass and scale. At some point, though, there comes a time when you have to ask yourself
essentially the question if you could only do one
thing, what would it be? And that’s another way of thinking about how you define your core and at that point I think there was a good understanding of the potential avenues
the company could take in terms of defining its
core, more specifically, but there was a fair amount
of activity taking place for a company of that size. – And so what did you,
cause part of the reason we open there is not
just the narrative arc, but it’s the scaling arc
because we had gotten to what, in our language, is essentially a village and now it’s a nation, in
terms of the size of the pace, and we were not actually
particularly well set up for really getting the scale. There were a bunch of different,
kind of, internal things that we’re going to go through
some of the specifics of, but how did you look at
that from a scale thing? What were things you said
“this is things I need to do in the first hundred
days, this is what we need to be prepped in order to
do, here’s how we focus.” Go back to then and think
“Okay, this is what I saw “and these were my first hundred days “in terms of what I was doing.” – So the first hundred days
was a lot of listening. So I had a chance to meet with essentially every employee of the
company, certainly every team, either through one on
ones or brown bag lunches. Then we did a series of deep dives for every product line and business line and was just trying to learn
as much as I possibly could about the company, the team, the direction it had been
heading, the direction where people wanted it to go. So there was a lot of
listening rather than develop a hundred day plan. It was make sure I had
a chance to understand where the people who knew the company best thought it was going
and where it had been. At that point, I felt
we were in a position where we needed to make
some choices and decisions about defining the core, and based on my previous experience
at a company like Yahoo, which was involved in a
lot of different businesses by design, I mean Yahoo helped organize the internet for the masses. That was one of the reasons
Yahoo was able to generate so much value so quickly,
but in the later years I think that same advantage,
that same value proposition that Yahoo had established
became an Achilles’s heel because it was involved in so
many different business lines. It invites a lot of competition within each of those verticals and a company that could focus exclusively on one thing within that vertical,
say Google and search or Amazon and eCommerce for example, I think has a much higher
likelihood of being successful. So that was one of the
most valuable lessons I learned while I was at Yahoo and LinkedIn was the next
company I had the chance to be a part of, I did
an EIR stint in between, and I wanted to make sure that we had a very clear sense of what our core was and what it was we were
trying to accomplish. And so one of the first things I did with a leadership team
was codify our mission, our vision, our addressable opportunity, our strategy, our priorities,
our measurable objectives, our culture and our values. And while that may sound like a lot, it’s basically how a company
defines its narrative and it fits all on one page. And you don’t have to
limit yourself to one page but it’s an excellent forcing mechanism to be able to very clearly and simply articulate what a company is about, what it’s trying to accomplish, how it wants to accomplish it. – So go through a little bit
of what those details are because that preparation for that scale was one of the very first
things I learned from you. – So I guess I would start
with delineating clearly between mission and vision,
which a lot of companies have a tendency to use synonymously and I think it’s a lost opportunity. So for me, a mission is
an over-arching objective that everyone at a company
can participate in. It should be measurable and realizable and hopefully it’s inspirational. So our mission at LinkedIn
is to connect the world’s professionals, to make them
more productive and successful. And when we talk about
professionals in that context, we’re talking about an
addressable opportunity of about 780 million knowledge workers and students, pre-professionals. The vision is a dream. It’s true north and if it’s done properly, is really designed to inspire people so they have something to reach for. And historically, at least
for me, a vision wasn’t necessarily something you operationalize or something you plan
around, but it does provide some shared sense of
purpose for an organization. And one of the things that’s
been so fun and exciting about LinkedIn, and
we’ll probably get to it a little bit later, is that
we’re now in a position where we’re trying to
operationalize our vision. We’re trying to operationalize
and manifest our dream, which I’ve never been a part of before and it’s pretty cool. So our vision is to create
economic opportunity for every member of the global work force. There’s over three billion
people in the global work force. So that’s the vision. So I’m seeing some hands, do
you go to folks during class? – [Voiceover] Yeah, I’m
wondering, so a lot of people talk about vision
and mission being important to the very core of the
beginning of the company, how do you know when it’s time to either articulate or do something like that? Why would you maybe wait
to do that in this case? – Yeah, because the question’s on the mic, so I’m not as sure about
the question as you. – Okay, so when do you know it’s time to codify or define mission and vision and how often do you revisit? – [Voiceover] Yeah, why wait? – Why wait, so, I wouldn’t wait. So I think Reid and the
founders of LinkedIn probably had a pretty clear sense of where they wanted to take
the company whether or not it was codified as a
specific mission statement and remarkably you can go back and it’s on SlideShare,
it’s up on LinkedIn, but you can go back and look at Series B. – [Reid] Yeah, Series B. – The Series B deck that
was provided to Greylock. It’s crazy how accurately
Reid and the founders articulated where they
want to take the company many, many years down the road. It’s not surprising if you know Reid and you know the team, but at any rate, whether or not they actually took the time to codify a statement, they
had a very clear understanding of where they wanted to go. For me, coming out of Yahoo
and having seen that situation, I just felt it was really
important to define that as quickly and as early on as possible. It just so happened that’s
when I joined the company it was at 338 people. If I was founding the company today, one of the first things I
would do is codify a mission. – Actually the key thing to understand is it wasn’t that we didn’t
have a mission and vision, although we didn’t articulate them with that kind of language
that’s useful, it’s the question of the format for how it is
you get a common language across people when you’re at
300 people going to 10,000. That isn’t actually as important to get a common language
when you’re 15 people. Through common language
you’re all in the same room. Hello, we’re talking to each other so that doesn’t matter, but
when you’re beginning to plan to get to scale, actually in
fact figuring out how it is you’re going to have 10,000
people on the same language, that was the thing that
Jeff looked around and said “Okay, we’re not set up for that. “We may have the mission
and vision in mind “but we’re not set up for that yet.” And that was, like, basically what you did in the first two months, I think. – Put another way, when your
organization is 15 people, and you’re essentially
all in the same room, that’s your office. If you want to have an
all hands and discuss the direction of the company or revisit the direction of the company, you say “Hey everyone can I get you attention?” That’s an all hands. When you’re 150 people, maybe you crowd everyone into the cafeteria and maybe you’re all in the same floor or not, at 1500 people spread
across multiple cities, you don’t have that luxury. And so things like your mission
statement, your strategy, your target audience, your
core value proposition, your culture and your
values aren’t codified, nature abhors a vacuum. And so do strong leaders. And so they will project into the vacuum what they bring to the
table, and their own wants and dreams and desires and that’s how hyper growth companies can
start to go off the rails, is that you don’t have clarity
around your sense of purpose, what you’re trying to
accomplish and how you want to accomplish it, and so
people start to project into that vacuum the way they
think things should be done. And it becomes very difficult
to keep a group of people on the same page as you achieve greater and greater scale that way. – So let’s shift to culture,
because actually I think one of the, if you look at some of the arc of how you’ve, you know,
some implicit things in terms of what Eric Schmidt said, some very explicit things
Reed Hastings said, some of the things that
Brian Chesky was saying, actually in fact– – It’s quite a lineup you’ve had in here. – Yes, yes. – I should be attending the class. – (laughs) But actually
in fact, one of the, the visible but not often
commented on secrets of how it is Silicon Valley
companies achieve strong scale is actually, they all
have some strong culture. They define it differently,
they implement it differently, but that creation of
culture, which creates a horizontal norm across
the various people, and so therefore you’re
not completely beholden to vertical command
structures as a way of your expanding your bandwidth and
your capacity organization. The culture is one of the
key glues that does that. And that’s actually one of the things that is a key part of the scaling, so you get there, we have a culture but we haven’t actually
really defined it in a way to grow, what are the things
that you started doing to put a culture in place
that would enable scale? – So I think it starts with having a shared understanding of what culture is. So that could be a Rorschach test. So we had a shared understanding. I believe culture is the
collective personality of an organization, and it’s not only who you are, but who you aspire to be. And the aspirational
component is critical. If you don’t have the
aspirational component baked in to the culture,
what happens is you start to define the cultural
dimensions of the company and if you’re not
constantly walking the walk on those dimensions,
then when the leadership gets up in front of the company and starts presenting the culture,
people are rolling their eyes and they start cracking jokes
about the fact that it’s all kind of BS, becomes
like a Dilbert comic strip. When you factor in this
notion of aspiration, it provides and gives
the company permission to not necessarily constantly
be doing everything that it ultimately wants
to do, there’s that aspirational component,
which is we want to reach and ultimately become
that kind of company. I think that’s a really
important part of it. I would also clearly draw a distinction between culture and values, which again some companies have a
tendency to use synonymously, and values are nested within a culture. Values help a company
to define its culture and values, for me, are
the operating principles upon which a company and its leadership make day to day decisions. So there’s culture and there’s values. By the time I joined
LinkedIn, at about 330 people, 340 people, there was an increasing demand for the culture and the first time I was asked that question,
I probably just made a joke, cracked a joke, like
a Dilbert comic strip, because at the companies
I’d been at previously, it wasn’t necessarily something that was of great focus, where a
lot of energy was placed, and as the CEO of the company, I started getting asked that question more often, more and more increasingly which was what’s our culture, and as
I reflected on why people were asking, I realized it
comes back to the same concept that we talked about a moment ago, which is nature abhors a vacuum, and when you don’t have a codified culture and you start to reach
this level of scale, you’re hiring increases, the
rate of hiring increases, and at some point you’re going
to be hiring and recruiting people from companies that
have already achieved scale and there going to bring
their own cultural baggage from the companies that they worked at, where they were inculcated
and they figured out how to do things, and if
the company doesn’t have a codified culture, they’re
going to start manifesting whatever the culture they’ve learned and they’re coming with. This is particularly important when you’re trying to expand globally
and you’re setting up new offices that aren’t in the same place as the headquarters, and
you want to make sure that the leadership that’s
setting up the offices in these remote locations
are good cultural actors because if that’s not the case,
they will set up the office with their own culture and where they want to take the company, and
that’s a very good way of leading to a bad outcome. So, interestingly enough, there had already been
an exercise underway when I joined the company,
a bottoms up exercise which I thought was really interesting, that a guy named Arvind Rajan, who had lead our talent efforts,
he was working on a project where he had identified a few employees and was asking them
about values and culture. So when I got there, I
wanted that work to continue and I sat down with the leadership team and we started talking about
the kind of organization we wanted to be a part of and what kind of personality
we collectively believe that the company should be
manifesting and espousing. And we wanted to make
sure that it was the kind of organization that we
would aspire to work at and that we would be inspired by. And so there was a fair
amount of time spent on word-smithing and
getting that stuff right. Words have power, especially when you are laying the foundation for
an organization like this. With regard to values, I find that organizations that have
the most effective values are those where the leadership, the founders, they are
using as values the things they find themselves, the
mantras they find themselves using most often, because
what’s critical in terms of manifesting culture and
values is walking the walk. So, it’s easy to talk about this stuff and it’s easy to paint your
walls with your culture and values and hand out mouse pads and those lamented cards
you stick in your wallet, but at the end of the
day, if the leadership of the organization is not
modeling this behavior, if you’re not recruiting people against you’re culture and values,
on boarding against it, developing your talent
against it and evaulting performance against it, that stuff’s really not worth the
paper it’s printed on. And so you want to make
sure that you’ve got buy in from your leadership,
that they believe in it, that they’re going to model the behavior, that they’re reinforcing
it and you also have buy in from your broader employee
base that also feels like they were a part of defining that culture and defining those values. – And so, one key part
of this is leadership. So part of, again, one
of the things you started pretty quickly doing and insisting, how do you develop leaders? Like what are the, who are
the key leaders going to be? Are they going to, are we going to define and fit a culture that will then become a horizontal norm, but
also let’s create a way that leaders are improving, we have second bench of leaders, how did you approach the, how do we grow leadership within a company
as we’re gonna scale? – So I guess it begins
with recognition that two of the most important
continuums an organization leadership team need to
navigate as they achieve critical mass and scale
are first, this idea that there’s a continuum
with problem solving on the one end and coaching on the other. And a second continuum where
you have tactical execution on one end and you have proactive
strategy on the other end. And when cultivating and
developing a leadership team, one of the first things
you that you need to do is make sure the leadership
understands the importance of coaching, and what happens
is, more often than not, a startup, say, with
15 people is successful because the founders and
those founding employees are really good at solving
problems and getting shit done. And so as the orginization
continues to scale, they knee-jerk to that
aptitude, they knee-jerk to that skill set. After all, it’s one of the
reasons they’ve been successful. But as you’re adding people
into the organization, as soon as they experience a problem, they come to you as a leader
and if you’re knee-jerking is solving the problem
for them, the next time they experience the
problem, what do you think they’re going to do? They’re going to come right back to you. And so if you can take
the time to start to evolve along that continuum
and recognize the fact that you have a great
skill at solving problems, but you need to really invest
in coaching other people to solve the problems for themselves, that’s where you start
to achieve real scaled leadership level, and it gets even better when you can coach others
to coach their teams. That’s when you achieve true scale. Separately, you’ve got tactical execution and proactive strategic thinking and that requires time. So to make that shift, you know, executing is something that
teams get really good at as they are achieving success,
otherwise they wouldn’t be having that success, and
you have to carve out cycles, you have to, I like to
bake in about 90 minutes of buffer time in my daily
schedule, and that’s time where I can catch my
breath, I can connect dots, I can synthesize, I can
catch up, I can have extemporaneous discussions,
that’s time where I can start to think proactively, and if
you’re not carving out the time to think proactively, it’s
going to be really difficult to lead the organization
because you’re going to be constantly firefighting
and constantly reacting. So you want to be able
to take the time to start to think ahead and so you
can lead the organization in that direction as
opposed to, unfortunately, playing catch up with your competitors, because once you start playing their game and reacting to their moves,
it’s basically game over. So both of these
continuums require a shift when you’re a 15 person
company and what it takes to be successful as a 15 person company, you better be good at problem solving and getting shit done. That’s a huge part of it. You have a vision, you have a concept, you got to build the
prototype, you got to raise the finance, you got to hire the team, I mean it’a boom, boom, boom. As you start to get bigger,
as you start to reach that kind of scale of critical
mass, you need to start to begin that evolution to cross those, at least those two continuums. – And one of the things that actually kind of surprised me as something that would never occur to me, you actually hired some
coaches into the company. So why don’t you say a little bit, ’cause that was the kind of thing, like, precisely kind of the thing a start-up guy would go, “That’s insane,
this isn’t a person “who’s building a product
that we’re shipping, “what the heck are we
hiring this person for?” – It just goes back to the same concept. You know, coaching, I’ve been at companies where you bring in coaches, or you bring in HR experts, or I mean, we’ve all been there and it’s an eye rolling experience and it doesn’t feel
like it’s worth the time and the last thing in the world a start-up that’s just going wants to do is bring somebody in to
do that kind of stuff. But if you want to successfully scale, you’re going to need a leadership team underneath you whose going
to help you make that happen. Otherwise, you’re not going to be able to execute at scale. And once you begin to
recognize the importance of coaching, of
mentorship, of development, of understanding and taking the time to understand what someone
wants to accomplish with their career, their
hopes, their dreams, their fears, their insecurities,
their vulnerabilities, you can start to play to their strengths. You can start to compliment those areas where they need help. And that requires time and it requires people that know how to coach and if you’re fortunate enough, you’ll have a leadership team that inherently is good at coaching. I think you would be, I think it would be an
unusual set of circumstances where an organization
that is just in the throws of scaling would find
themselves in a situation where they couldn’t benefit
from professional coaches. And so in our case, one example would be a guy named Fred Kaufman, who wrote a book called Conscious Business,
and I had a chance to meet Fred at Yahoo, he
was brought in to help, and it was one of those situations where I expected an eye rolling experience. As a matter of fact, I
don’t even think I went to the first session that I was supposed to go to, and members of my team came back and said, “This guy’s
amazing,” and they gave me a handout that had been, I think it was an excerpt from the book,
and it stayed on my desk for a while and at some
point I actually remember flipping through it and I
was like, this is different, and eventually the executive team at Yahoo was encouraged to spend
some time with Fred together and I was extremely impressed and we just developed a friendship. I consider him a mentor, and so he’s been enormously influential
on my career ambitions and what I’m hoping to
accomplish in the way he’s provided some feedback
and guidance there. And at one point, I just
invited him to join LinkedIn and to be a part of
our team and he thought he was done ever working
for a company again, but I think the platform
is so uniquely positioned to help Fred accomplish
what he wants to do, which is, for lack of a
better term, open-sourcing his wisdom and his
experience and the things that he’s written about and sharing that with the professional world,
which he’s in a position to do uniquely on LinkedIn. So, that would be an
example, and he’s been, as you know, he’s been invaluable. – [Voiceover] Hey, Jeff? Yeah? – [Voiceover] So a lot of
these people wouldn’t have had professional coaches in their careers, ’cause a lot of them are students? And you say, well this
guy was really different, can you say different from what? Can you say what it was different– – Yeah, thanks John. So, the way I have
described Fred in the past, so he was, he studied
economics at Berkeley, ended up at MIT, I think– – He was a Prof at MIT. – He was a professor at MIT, I
believe he taught accounting, he ended up doing a bunch of work in organizational development. He is like a Buddhist libertarian and I don’t know that he would officially describe himself as
either of those things, but if you think about first
principles in Buddhism, compassion and things of that
nature and you think about libertarian ideals in terms
of thinking about systems and the way systems can maximize value, you combine that with
his economics background, he’s about the most enlightened
person I’ve met in business. I’ve really never used
that word with anyone else I’ve worked with. He’s enlightened. I know of no other way to describe Fred and it will be difficult
for you to fully appreciate what I’m describing
until you meet with him, and then you’ll sit down with him and he’ll start talking and
about 10 minutes in to it you’re like “Whoa, that’s. (laughs) “Can you say that again?” Every time I’ve spent
time with Fred, literally, without exception, every time
I’ve spent time with Fred I have learned something
that changes my perspective in some way, great or small. How many people can you say that of? So, he’s very unusual in
that respect, very unusual. He’s not a, he’s not a traditional coach in that respect. Interestingly enough, he founded a firm called Axialent, which
was designed to help coach leaders and he
wanted to change the way the business world operated
by virtue of working with the leadership
teams of these companies for maximum scale, and hopefully help these leaders to become more conscious and more mindful. It’s been a lot of fun working with him, we’re very fortunate to
have him at the company. – One way to understand, kind of, run-of-the-mill coaches
and Fred, who is unique, as a difference is typically
run-of-the-mill coaches go, here’s how I try to give you energy, like yeah, you can solve that problem, let me reflect confidence to
her or let me listen to you and then you solve the problem yourself. That kind of thing. Fred actually approaches
it trying to give you conceptual tools in
order to solve problems. So for example, one of the tools that Fred added to his tool chest
as a function of coming to work for you is that one of the things, the final thing you said
to him that got him to get off, he was basically on
a sailboat in the Caribbean, which is what he was
planning on spending all, he still does a lot of
free diving, doing that was he said “Okay I guess
I’ll come work for you.” You said, “Don’t come work for me, “work for the mission.” He was like, yes, actually
that’s the definition of good leadership because
you’re not actually creating a personality
cult, you’re actually saying we’re all working
for this mission together and that’s exactly the
kind of conceptual tool that every leader should
use when they’re trying to chart out creating a culture, right? And so hey says oh, I got to
write something about that. – I’ll give you another example, Mike. One of our favorites that
those of us at the company use quite a bit, so I’ll make this a little interactive, so
it’s in the context of global maximum versus local maximum. And it’s virtually an unsolvable equation in terms of how do you get people within an organization to lift themselves outside of their respective
area, their functional area, for example, their business line to try to maximize value for the overall company. It’s a really, really
challenging thing to solve for, so in all of the time
he spent with a lot of great companies, some of
the most valuable companies in the world, no one’s ever
really been able to solve it, and so at this point
it’s not about solving that equation, it’s about doing it better than your competition. So the way in which
Fred tries to get across how challenging this can
be, or at least the concept is as follows. So, any soccer fans in here in the class? All right, wow. Just out of curiosity, any NFL fans? I’m doing a straw pull now. Any baseball fans? Oh, for some reason all sitting here, there’s a cluster of baseball fans around John Lilly. So, with regard to soccer, what is the job of the goalie? For those of you that know soccer, you can explain it to someone, what’s the job of the goalie? What is that? – [Voiceover] Managing the ball. – [Voiceover] Manning the defense line. – Preventing the ball from? – [Voiceover] Entering the goal. – Entering the goal, that’s a very formal way of describing it, okay. What were you saying? – [Voiceover] To manage the defense line. – Manage the defense line, okay, another one of the
responsibilities of the goalie. Any one else? No one else wants to? What’s that? – [Voiceover] Provide
confidence to the team. – Provide confidence for
the team, okay, yeah. – [Voiceover] Start the offense. – Start the offense with
the outlet pass, yep. Yeah? – [Voiceover] Usually,
the goalie is the captain for a lot of teams so they’re sort of like the lead from behind. – Okay, captain, lead from behind. Anyone else? What’s that? – [Voiceover] Win? – Have you ever heard
this exercise before? – [Voiceover] From Allen. (laughing) The reason I ask is because no one’s ever gotten it right who
hasn’t heard it before. – [Voiceover] I didn’t get
it right the first time. – No one does, no one does, we all say exactly what you, I mean this is a pretty sophisticated group, that
was a great set of answers. It’s usually prevent the
other team from scoring. So I like how nuanced
the responses were here. The goalie’s job is the same as the other 10 players on the field,
it’s to win the game. If the goalie’s job is
to prevent the other team from scoring, then they’re gonna be really interesting in their statistics in preventing goals. Their job is to win the game. If that means the other team scores but they can some how
help out in other ways so that their team scores more goals, that’s what they should be doing. And it’s the same for
every player on the field. And as soon as you start to think your job is solely and exclusively focused on your responsibilities that
pertains to your position, that’s local maximum. And if that’s the way all
11 players on the field are playing, you know what
the outcome’s gonna be. But when a coach gets a group of people buying into a program and a philosophy like a John Wooden, a Mike Krzyzewski, you know, some of the Nick Saban, amazing things happen and you get teams that win and win and win because they buy into the program. They’re buying into something
bigger than themselves. And for us, it’s that sense of purpose. And you know Jeff Beisel
just likes to talk about the difference between missionaries and mercenaries. It’s another way of
talking about this idea of an individual maximizing
value for themselves and seeing the world through their lens versus being the part, of being a part of something bigger than themselves. So that’s an example
of the kind of insight that Fred brings to the
table, and it’s unusual for a coach to be that
insightful that often. – And since we’re on
Fred, let’s go to this, we ordered the questions for this one, let’s go to compassionate management because Fred’s book Conscious Business, high priest of capitalism, but compassionate management. The Buddhism and the libertarianism is also something that you
essentially take to heart in scaling an organization. So compassionate management, what is it, why is it important, how
does it help you scale? – Yeah, so I’ll start
by describing a story. It was a personal experience that I had which is when I decided to aspire to a first principle of
compassionate mangement. And then we can talk a little
bit about the definition and why I believe it’s so
important and so valuable. So, many years ago, I worked for someone, I was part of their staff
meeting and our boss, as a team, was growing
increasingly frustrated with one of the team members who was a really good person and brought a lot to their role but didn’t
do the role the way the boss wanted them to do the role. And so our boss got really
frustrated with them and the frustration came
across and manifested itself in, kind of, this passive
aggressivity where there were jokes made at my colleague’s expense and you could sense
how frustrated our boss was becoming with this person. And it was undermining the
boss more than anything else. And it created a lot of
discomfort in the room whenever it would happen. And it wasn’t constant,
but it happened enough that it was uncomfortable. So during a one on one that I
had with my boss, my manager, on one particular
occasion I said you know, the next time you grow
frustrated with our colleague, rather than make a joke at their expense, rather than, kind of, express frustration and raise your voice, you
should go find a mirror and yell at yourself because that person’s in
the role as a result of you. It’s your choice whether or
not they’re doing that job, it’s your choice as to how
they approach their job, if you don’t like the way
they’re doing their job, you can coach them to do it differently. You can play to their
strengths, you can put them in another role, you can
transition them out of the company. But you leaving them in this
role when you’re increasingly frustrated, that’s on you. And so he thought about it
and said let me give that some consideration, a couple
weeks later he came back and he said I gave it a lot of
thought and want to thank you because you were right, that’s
exactly what I was doing and I’m going to change the
way I’m approaching them, I’m going to play to
this person’s strengths. And as he was saying this, I
realized I was doing the exact same thing to someone on my team. I mean the exact same thing. And in that moment I said I need to manage more compassionately,
I need to put myself in the shoes of the people
that I’m working with. I need to see the world through their lens and their perspective. I need to coach them
where I can coach them, I need to play to their
strengths, I need to understand what it is that they’re
trying to accomplish, I need to understand
what it is that triggers their insecurities or
their vulnerabilities and by virtue of being in
the role that I was in, that was my responsibility. I say aspire to manage compassionately because it’s really hard because to truly be compassionate, first of all I’m not talking
about conditional compassion, so after I’ll talk about
this with a team, often times they’ll come back in a few weeks and say so I’ve got this down when
it comes to the people I really like working with, but there’s this member of the team I don’t really like at all
and I’m having trouble. And compassion is not conditional. That’s when it’s required
most, is when there’s people that you don’t see eye to eye with. And it’s challenging because
we get triggered so easily. We’ll be in a discussion with someone, they may say something that we
feel like is too aggressive, you become defensive,
you put it back on them, and before you know it the
whole thing’s escalating. And often times, in those
situations, rather than assume nefarious intention,
which is what a lot of us have a tendency to do when
we’ve been triggered, when we become emotional, we just
assume the other person’s being territorial or political or
out to get us or trying to insult us, when they
could be having a bad day. Or you may have said something
that triggered something that they experienced long
before they ever worked with you. Or maybe you’re talking about
something that they’re not as knowledgeable about
and so they start to feel a little bit insecure. There’s a litany of reasons the
person may be on the attack. And when you start to feel
that emotion to the extent you can become a spectator
to your own thoughts, especially when you become emotional, which is very, very
challenging but doable, then you can start to
ask yourself why are you responding this way,
what’s triggering you, and where are they coming from. You can put yourself in
their shoes, see the world through their lens, and
you’ll be amazed at the extent to which you can change the
direction of that discussion and that conversation or
that potential argument. One thing that’s important to note here is that there’s a difference
between compassion and empathy, which most people, in at
least Western society, have a tendency to use synonymously. Empathy is feeling what
another person feels. Compassion is a more
objective form of empathy where you see the world
through their lens, you understand how they feel
and then you’re in a position to do something about it
so that you can alleviate their suffering, for example,
if they’re suffering. And the way the Dalai Lama
describes this is this really powerful visualization, not
that it will ever happen to any of us here in Silicon
Valley, but if you were walking along a mountain
trail and you came upon someone who had a boulder on their chest, and felt this sense of suffocation,
the empathetic repsonse would be to feel the same
sense of suffocation, which would render you helpless. Now you’re experiencing
what they’re experiencing, The compassionate response is to recognize that they’re suffering,
that they’re suffocating, maybe that happened to
you at some point, and to actually do everything within your power to alleviate that suffering,
to take the boulder off their chest, and that’s a
really fundamental difference and often times you hear
people talking about the importance of being
empathetic and empathy is certainly a fundamental
building block in terms of compassion, recognizing
what another person’s feeling, but you want to be able to
maintain that space so you can actually do something about it. That’s part of the key. So this all goes into this concept of managing compassionately
and I think if organizations can learn to do this at scale,
it’s a complete game changer. – And how, first, two
sub questions on this. First one is how does
compassionate management help you get the scale? How does it help you
navigate the progression to a scale organization? – That’s a great question. So, I’ve never been asked
about it specifically in the context of scale. So I think it comes back
to this notion of coaching and how organizations that
successfully scale are investing in their leadership and
helping their leaders lead their teams and helping
them coach their teams so that they can lead without
them being in the room. And to the extent you can start
to manage compassionately, you are reducing conflict. And every time there’s a
conflict, there’s gonna be churn and the resolution of that
conflict, the reconciliation of at least two parties that
aren’t on the same page. It takes a lot of time and a
lot of cycles and over time, if that conflict continues to
build, if it’s not resolved, it corrupts the foundation
upon which people are building their relationship and
a huge part of scaling, and we’ve talked about this
quite a bit, in my opinion a huge part of successfully
scaling, I’m talking about some of the most valuable
companies in the world, is trust amongst the
leaders and trust amongst the employees of that organization
who’ve worked together over time, that have each other’s
backs, that have developed a sense of shorthand with one another. They can, to some extent,
predict how someone’s gonna respond to certain situations. And it is beyond a competitive
advantage when you’ve got that kind of trust, when you
have that kind of shorthand and compassion helps develop that. Compassion helps reinforce the fact that we’re all on the same team. That we’re all in this trying
to realize the same mission, the same vision, manifest and execute against the same strategy. So that’s where I think
it can be a game changer. – I think this answers the second part, but I’m gonna ask it anyway just in case there’s anything you would add, which is how does, most people, when they hear compassionate management
tend to think squishy-feely, people like you because
you’re being compassionate, they think it tends to be a
distraction away from a focus on results, and actually
a competitive advantage in winning games, so that’s
part of the reason why they tend to discount it, because
they tend to have this model of no action, in fact
unless you’re just totally barbaric about going for
results, nothing else matters. But actually in fact
compassionate management helps get to results. And some of that you just
covered, but if there was anything you wanted to add to that,
that was actually one of things I thought was a useful
lens that most people don’t frequently think about on this. – I mean, at the end of the
day, I think one of the most important drivers of
long term value within an organization is the speed and quality of its decision making. And you’ll look back on
companies that have created outsized value and they’re
going to be able to count on one, two hands the number
of decisions that changed the trajectory of that company. The challenge is that that’s
retrospectively that they can identify which decisions those were. When you cultivate
trust, when you cultivate compassionate management, you put yourself and your team in a
position where you can be making high quality decisions faster. When you’re not being compassionate, you’re constantly thinking
about why somebody has the intention or the
motivation that they do. Why they disagree with you. You know, where they’re
coming from, what they’re trying to accomplish at your expense. And you start to multiply
that through an organization of hundreds, if not thousands, of people and you can do the math. I mean, it becomes
prohibitively expensive in terms of the cycles that could
otherwise be spent trying to fight against the competitor,
or trying to make a more informed decision or a
better decision, or revisit a decision or learn and grow. So I think it just builds
a very strong foundation regardless. Reid mentioned another
really important point that’s worth calling
out, which is this idea that compassion is a soft
skill, or it’s touch-feely or it’s an eye roller,
this new age concept. The strongest people I know
are the most compassionate. True, unconditional
compassion requires almost superhuman strength and self-confidence and a sense of who you are and not allowing other people to get you to question that and not falling prey to vulnerabilities or
insecurities and those triggers, but rising above it and putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. I’ll give you another
example of where it requires real strength, and one of the
most common questions I get is if you’re managing
compassionately, how do you ever let anyone go? That’s not a compassionate thing to do. It turns out, when someone’s
struggling in their role, the least compassionate thing you can do is have them stay in the role. And for those of you that
have ever worked at a company or been in business, and
you’ve seen someone struggle, it’s actually a really
difficult thing to watch because they lose their self-confidence, they lost their sense of
self and they start to become a shadow of who they used to be. And that energy builds on itself. And they are taking that
energy to their team, they become less effective,
you become less effective by virtue of letting that
person remain in that role and they’re taking that
energy home to their families. And so, by virtue of trying
to turn the other way and allow that to persist
because you don’t want to make a hard decision, you make
it worse and you increase that person’s suffering. So in that particular instance,
the most compassionate thing you can do, A, you
could try to help them learn the skills they need
and provide the coaching they need to be effective in the role. But to the extent that’s not possible, you want to transition
them out as gracefully and constructively and
compassionately as possible. And for anyone that thinks
that’s a touchy-feely thing, or a soft skill, try it
some time because it’s one of the hardest things
you’ll ever do as a manager. – [Reid] So, um. – Yeah, a question? – [Reid] Oh, yeah? – [Voiceover] How does
compassionate management fit with diversity on multiple levels,
not just ethnic and racial, but like, how do you get people
that grew up in a certain socio or historical
context to move beyond that and engage in a compassionate
relationship with people that have a very different
understanding of the world? – So I think, in part through
experience, and I think what you just articulated
is one of the most important reasons to be building
diverse and inclusive teams. So you can learn more
about how other people see the world. And if you’re surrounding
yourself with a homogenous way viewing things, you’re never
going to be in a position where you can better
understand someone with a different perspective. And, you know, we were
talking earlier about one of the most important
things you can do to maximize long term value is make high
quality decisions quickly or with speed and to
make the right decisions, you want the right
people around the table. You want people who
are going to poke holes or play devil’s advocate
and shine a light on things you never could have imagined
or envisioned by virtue of their own experiences
that compliment your own. And if you’re just surrounded
with clones and mini-mes, you’re all gonna be saying the same thing. It creates this cacophony
of oneness, or sameness, and you’ll have no
chance to be competitive in that situation. So there’s a guy on my team,
a guy named Mike Gamson and he was saying he’s not
interested in building out a diverse team because it’s en
vogue or it’s the right thing to do, he’s interested in
diversity because he likes to win. You know, I thought that was a great line. – And actually, as much as
I like the phrase that I’ve never heard before, cacophony of oneness. – [Jeff] I just made that
up, just came up with that. – I like the phrase, actually in fact, part of the whole question
is usually in winning you actually have to be highly adaptive and if you don’t have some
diversity of skill set and perspective that is
communicating and collaborating well together, usually you will
not adapt to some curve that’s coming. Now, it’s not universal
adaptives to everything, but it’s a, essentially like a battle line of some diversity of
skill sets, knowledge, reflexes and then cross
coordination and collaboration in order to figure out how do we adapt, how do we learn as an
organization in order to solve this problem. – [Voiceover] Especially
when you put skill on like a global level,
right, we have cultural and like cultural norms about labor right, and the relationship between them. – Yeah, and that’s why the culture was the first part of
this, because it’s the cross connection and
then it’s a question of okay, how do you get that culture to also be highly performant in
adapting and scaling. – And how do you allow for subcultures to develop in a constructive way? So you were just mentioning this idea of managing a global organization, we’re in 30 cities around the world. When you travel to any LinkedIn city anywhere in the world, you
know you’re at LinkedIn. It’s really special. I think it’s an enormous
competitive advantage. You also know you’re in Mumbai, or you’re in Beijing, or you’re in London because there is this
sense of allowing these local cultures to flourish as well. And the same holds, it’s an interesting metaphor for us as
individuals and employees. So we want to continue to build towards this over-arching culture
that we’ve defined for ourselves at
LinkedIn, but we also want to celebrate individuality
and we want to celebrate diversity and we want
to celebrate the things that make us different. And you’ve got to constantly be striving for that balancing act. – So shifting back to these questions, great question, so what did you track as changing at LinkedIn when you went from 338 people to a
thousand to five thousand to 10 thousand, and as a partial prompt, how did your sense of how
you use communications internal of the company? How did that change and what was the evolution of that tool as
a way of keeping a unified, you know, focus and set
of priorities and actions? – So, the change part
comes back to something that we described and discussed earlier, which is this notion of connective tissue and communication as
an organization scales. So when you’re all in the same room, it’s much easier compared
to when you’re in 30 cities around the world. So one of the devices
that I think we’ve used to great effect, and
it’s not just anecdotal, we do an employee voice survey, we’ve been doing it bi-annually now for many, many years and one of the things that consistently scores
the highest is the fact we do an all-hands every other week. So I do an all-company
all-hands every other week. It started, literally in the cafeteria. We got all 338 employees together, and today it is broadcast to all 30 cities in which we operate and if teams are not in time zones where
they can watch it live, they tape it and they
get together and they do a happy hour at the end of the week. And in that all-hands, we focus on our priorities, our operating priorities. And we walk through what’s happening at the company, for better and for worse. And it’s completely transparent. And that device has proven to be invaluable in terms of the repetition necessary to ensure we’re
all on the same page with regard to the
narrative, mission, vision, value prompts, etc. Shining a light on the
things that are working so we can leverage best in
the straight up practices, so we can celebrate what’s working, so we can provide the
right kind of recognition and gratitude, and
perhaps most importantly to identify when things are not working so we can get everyone in the company chipping in and trying to help figure out how we can improve those situations, how we can learn from them. So I think the all-hands
has been invaluable. The biggest change that
I’ve noticed at various inflection points that
probably would not be too far afield from the numbers that you threw out and one of the most valuable lessons I’ve
learned and one of the most important values that we have
that needs to be reinforced is what we describe as
acting like an owner. And I believe the most
successful companies at scale are companies
where individual employees talk about the challenges
the company faces or the opportunities
the company faces as we and not the company. And when they start to
get frustrated or bothered by something, and a
company that’s going to ultimately, I think, inevitably
experience challenges, they’re gonna say why does the company do it this way? As if the company is
something in the distance, it’s this faceless bureaucratic machine and it’s not them. We’re the company, the
leadership runs the company. I’m not talking about
me or even my directs, I’m talking about the
people underneath them constantly reminding our vice presidents that they run the company
day in and day out. And it’s important to remind them of that because they’re each
going to project their own baggage from when they
worked at large companies where they didn’t feel like
they were a part of things, where they didn’t feel like
they could change the direction of the company, and I
vowed that if I was ever in a position where I was
ultimately responsible for a company, that people
would always feel like they could make a difference,
no matter how big we got. And so reinforcing that, it’s inevitable. You go from, I mean make up the numbers, you go from 100 to 500
to 1,000 to 5,000, etc., and at each one of
those inflection points, you can just feel it. I mean it’s tangible. People start to feel
like it’s this machinery that’s beyond their control,
when it’s not, ever. As soon as you start to think
it’s beyond your control, guess what happens, it’s
beyond your control. As soon as you start
to think like a victim, and not like someone who can ultimately influence the outcomes,
that’s exactly what you become. So if you can flip that
model, and it’s not just about saying this, it’s about reinforcing that it’s the way it works,
where people then feel like they can express the things
that they’re frustrated about, they can come forward with solutions and you will practice those solutions. You’ll execute against those ideas. That reinforces the fact
that we’re all owners. We’re all stakeholders,
this is our company, it’s we. So I think that’s an
important recognition. – I think that’s probably,
unless there was something you wanted to add to the building LinkedIn to a global company, I just figure ’cause I think we covered that,
what are the unique lessons that you’ve encountered from LinkedIn being a combination of both a consumer and an enterprise company having both aspects to it? – One, if you an pull
it off, it’s fantastic. Very high degree of
difficulty because that’s not one thing, it’s two things. And the more quote on quote “things” you try do to as a company, the higher the degree of difficulty. And it’s probably
exponential at some point in terms of the, each incremental thing you add to the company. It’s just that many more
things you need to communicate, that many more things
people need to internalize in grok, that many more things people need to execute against, it
just creates more and more room for error. So in a perfect world,
your company would only produce one thing and it would do it with the smallest team possible and it’s just easier. It’s just not realistic if you’re going to continue to scale. Although, times have changed. I mean, you see what WhatsApp was capable of doing and before that, Instagram, and Mark seems to have a
pattern developing here where he’s acquiring
these kinds of companies. So things have changed, it
doesn’t require the same number of resources, the
same amount of capital to achieve certain
scale, it doesn’t require the same portfolio approach to achieve certain kinds of scale by
virtue of technologies, by virtue of how global
the world has become and interconnected. But, if you’re going to try
to do more than one thing, it goes back to knowing
who you are, what you’re trying to accomplish, and that
starts with your narrative. We are the stories that we tell. So storytelling is the oldest known form of communication, right? Cave drawings, and that’s just innate. It’s just part of who
we are as human beings. And we communicate through narrative. So your mission, your
vision, your strategy, your value prop, your
culture, your values, that’s an organization’s narrative. And you need to define that and codify it and reinforce it and one of
the most important things that we’ve reinforced from very early on, recognizing that we are
trying something with a higher degree of difficulty,
an enterprise business built on top of a consumer web platform, is our most important value. We have six values and
the first value is that our members come first. And when you have an enterprise culture, an enterprise sales
culture, that would not normally be the case, that
your members come first or that some consumer
web platform comes first. What would come first is the next sale and hitting quota and results. And results matter to us. It’s an important part of
our culture and demanding excellence is one of our
most important values, but it starts with members first because we’re unable to execute against any of our enterprise business lines if we don’t have a flourishing
member-driven ecosystem. So our members come first. And the only way we’ve
been able to pull off this idea of building
enterprise businesses on top of a consumer
web platform is because the person that runs those
enterprise sales forces, thousands of people, recognizes that our members come first and he is one of the most steadfast leaders of the company when it comes to manifesting
culture and values. And trust me, he is not
just talking the talk. He manifests it in quite
literally everything that he does. He models the behavior constantly, to the point at sometimes
your’re just like really? But over time, you start
to recognize and appreciate how strong a competitive
advantage you can build as a result of that. And his name’s Mike Gamson and Mike likes to say he’s
not hiring sales people or sales leaders, he’s
hiring business people and business leaders. And he’s not just saying
it, he’s actually doing it and that’s one of the
reasons we’ve been able to pull that off. It’s still very challenging as you know. – [Reid] Yeah, so I just
thought I’d ask a question, oh, go ahead Chris. – [Voiceover] I was just
gonna say, I was just curious if there were other things,
like people with books or any other things
that have been as useful or similar levels of usefulness
to break often to you? – Useful in any capacity? Or useful in a specific context? – [Reid] Scaling companies, I’m gonna say scaling companies because it’s the class. – Okay, you’re saying scaling companies and you’re saying in the
context of being a CEO? – [Reid] Being a CEO is fine, it’s part of scaling a company. (laughing) – Conscious business would have been one of the books, second book would be Art of Happiness, so that’s Howard Cutler and it’s on the teachings
of the Dalai Lama and that was the book where I learned what compassion truly meant as opposed to anecdotally, you know,
projecting my own experiences. That book was a game changer. That book has been on my nightstand since 1998 and I’ve only read it once cover to cover. But I just like seeing
it because it brings me right back to the messages that I learned and took to heart. And then a third book,
which does touch on scale but in a counterintuitive way, and Reid is very familiar
with the individual, a book called Mountains Beyond Mountains and it’s the biography of Paul Farmer, who created an organization
called Partners in Health. And Paul grew up extremely poor, very impoverished in the
South of the United States, was brilliant and had gone to Harvard studying medicine, becoming
a doctor, a professor. And one summer when he was a kid he worked on an orchard and he worked alongside some Haitians, and he was so struck by their values and what was important to them and they way they lived their life. He never forgot it. And when he became a doctor, recognizing that Central
Haiti is literally, for those that don’t know, the poorest place in
the Western Hemisphere. He started commuting from
Cambridge, Massachusetts to Central Haiti and
helping one person at a time with their health care, and then he would fly back. He was doing this on weekends. It sounds insane. And as if that wasn’t insane enough, word started to spread, there were so many people
that started showing up, that he recognized he
needed to build a facility and generate more
resources and so he started this organization called
Partners in Health. And one of the partners
and founders, co-founders, was a guy named Jim Kim, who now is the president
of the World Bank, which is the moral of the story, it turns out that in helping
one person at a time, I mean, he would help one person at a time where he would hike eight hours each way to help one person in Central Haiti, even after he had
established the facility. He would hear about
someone who was very sick who needed him and he would hike on foot eight hours in one direction to help them, hike back, take care of
the rest of the people that were at the facility and
then fly back to his day job. And it turned out that they learned so much about
helping the poorest among us, in terms of their health care, in terms of tuberculosis,
in terms of malaria, in terms of HIV. Jim eventually went down to Peru, he did the same thing. Word spread to certain African countries. I think Russia picked up on this. They just fundamentally changed the way that the World Health Organization, the way the United Nations, the way countries thought about taking care of their poorest. Because historically, the
calculus had always been it’s not worth it from a return
on investment perspective. And by virtue of helping
one person at a time, they completely changed the game. And so the lesson there, and this is why it’s a
bit counterintuitive, is coming out of Yahoo I always thought it was about massive scale and working on platforms
that reached hundreds, back then it was hundreds of millions, now it’s billions of people, and what I learned from that book is sometimes you can
scale on a global basis by helping one person at a time. And that was a complete eye opener for me. – And by the way, just
the parallel for the class to think about this is frequently the way that you get to things at scale is you start with things that don’t scale, and remember what Brian Chesky was saying about what he did early in New York, so there’s this pattern
of starting with things, sometimes the things that don’t scale, and then you getting the thing to scale. And this was the community
health care worker model, and so forth that Partners in Health did. So, I’m gonna ask you one more question. I have a stack, so in case there are limited questions from the audience, ’cause we have about 20 minutes, then I will go back to that. After I ask my question, I’m gonna ask Allen to ask the question that he would’ve asked that I haven’t in this hour. (laughs) Right, since he’s also been
on this journey. (laughs) – [Jeff] You’ve been here the whole time? – [Voiceover] Almost. (laughs) – [Jeff] It’s not like he’s
easy to miss, by the way. – So, I’m giving you a minute to be on the spot, or a second to prep. Being a Product CEO, why is it so critical to success in these companies in the Valley to be a Product CEO, and what is the way that you do that effectively? – So this is a leading question, ’cause I was hired to be the CEO, in part because I am a product person, and Reid and I both share
a very strong conviction that the most valuable companies in Silicon Valley, the most
valuable Internet companies, are lead by product people. You could have been a product manager. You could’ve been an engineer. You could have been
anything that would have developed your product sensibility, but at the end of the day these companies create value through their products. So I don’t think it’s a big stretch. I think the further removed a CEO, or the leader of an organization, is from the product itself, is from the core of how value is generated within the company, the more challenging it’s gonna be for that company to create value sustainably over time. And sometimes you probably have situations with founders that created that first product, and then unfortunately
there’s too many layers that develop between them and the day to day
development of that product. And I think the most valuable companies, I mean, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, you know the names. They’re all product people. First and foremost,
they’re about products. In Jeff’s case it’s about
product and customers. I mean, that is his product. He said, I just shared this the other day. It was a quote from way back when Amazon was first starting and he said, “Amazon wasn’t a bookstore, “it’s a customer store.” I thought that was pretty cool. – [Voiceover] I was
gonna ask about hiring. I mean, obviously LinkedIn had grown tremendously over the past
six years, seven years when you’ve been CEO. And you’ve always said at company meetings that talent was our number one priority, number one principle, to
use the word we often do, so how do you think
about the changing needs for hiring as a company passes the thousand person mark and now is at the ten
thousand person mark? How is the role of hiring different now than it was when you started? – In some regards it’s
not different at all, and I’ll come back to that in a second, and in other regards
it’s vastly different. So the machinery that
goes into hiring at scale once you achieve, you know, critical mass, when you’re at 15 people and you’re hiring single digit people to add to the team, that’s something the team can do. When you’re at 150 people
trying to scale to 300 and you need double the
size of the company, at some point you’re gonna need to have dedicated recruiters. When you’re at 300 and
you’re growing to 3,000, you’re gonna need sourcers, and then you’re gonna need
people to support them, and you’re gonna need
recruiters and schedulers, and the apparatus, the machinery, behind recruiting at scale
is quite substantial, so in that regard that changes. That’s very logical. What shouldn’t change, but unfortunately does, is once you recognize who you are as an organization, your culture, your values, the more you can hire against
your culture and values and not compromise, I think the more likely
you are to be successful. And where a lot of hyper growth
companies go off the rails is they need to grow from 150 to 300 to keep pace with the competition, to develop that next
breakthrough innovation, to hire sales people to fulfill demand, to hire people in G&A functions, to be able to support the
rest of the organization, and without putting butts in the seats, there may be a fear that it’s gonna limit the growth of the organization, and so what happens inevitably, is where as you’ve set the bar very clearly and explicitly in terms of where you wanna
hire, who you wanna hire, the quality of people, the cultural fit, you start to compromise. So for example, you’ll see someone, they’ll come in and on paper, LinkedIn profile for example, they have great skills, but for whatever reason
during the interview process you got the sense they’re
not gonna be a cultural fit. Where an organization’s headed for trouble is when you sit around
with your hiring team, your hiring committee, whatever decision making
process you have for recruiting, and someone says, look at
the skills of this person. We interviewed them,
they’re not a cultural fit, but we’ll make it work. We’ll coach them. There’ll be a process of osmosis here. They’ll just figure out how we do things. And talk to folks who have
hired in that situation and they’ll tell you that
inevitably it did not work out. It actually created a bunch of problems. And where an organization’s in a position where it can scale effectively is the next time that conversation is had, it’s, look at the skills of this person. They’re not a cultural fit, let’s move on to the next candidate. And when your team is
having that conversation without you needing to be in the room, that’s when you’re on to something, and that’s when you can truly scale, at least scale the hiring process. – [Reid] Back first, you. – [Voiceover] So when it
comes to managing people, like I believe LinkedIn has the smartest people in the world, I’m just curious about how do you manage the smartest people? How do you make them (too low to hear). – How do you make them think what? – [Voiceover] How do you make them do things that you feel the
company should be doing? – [Reid] How do you
manage very smart people? I think that’s the simple– – Well the reason I
was asking the phrasing is because I think it’s helpful, so you said, “How do I
make them do the things “that the company needs them to do?” (laughs) – [Voiceover] Like you have a vision or you have an idea of where
the company should be going. – Yeah, yeah, so did you hear laughter
behind your left shoulder? – [Voiceover] I did, yes. – So it was John, I
don’t even need to look. (laughs) And my guess is it was John, and John’s laughing because of when you said, “How do
you make them do things?” You don’t make very
smart people do anything. What you do is, hopefully, you inspire them to want to take action. And it’s the difference
between leaders and managers. Managers tell people what to do, oftentimes without very effective results, leaders inspire them to do it. And I’ve been very fortunate
from a pretty young age to have the ability to recognize
really talented people. People way more talented than I am, way smarter than I am, and once you can recognize those folks, if you can get an understanding of what they want to accomplish, and you can find alignment between what you’re trying to accomplish and what they’re trying to accomplish, and you can authentically get across why it’s such a strong fit, why their skill set, their
unique set of skills, their intelligence, their resourcefulness, their passion, their compassion, how it can be brought to bear, to create this huge amount
of value on a global basis, hopefully they’re gonna want to do that, and hopefully they’ll buy into that. And that’s very different
than telling them what to do. And especially with the kinds of people you were describing, like
the smartest people you know, they’re not gonna respond very well to being told what to do. – [Reid] You, yes. – [Voiceover] You mention
Reid’s first principle of preserving marginality, what are some of you first principles that you always come back to when you’re facing some sort of complex decisions? – So, managing compassionately is my first principle of management, but you asked a very specific question, when I’m facing a complex decision. – [Voiceover] Something
you just come back to. – To not make a decision before I’m ready, which took a long time to realize. Sometimes you won’t
always have that luxury. Sometimes you’re gonna have to make a decision before you’re ready to, but if you’re not forced
to make a decision before you’re ready to make a decision, give it time. Give it time. And I think too often, people rush it. They don’t have the right
set of information yet. I’m not talking about analysis paralysis. I’m not talking about having the perfect amount of information. There’s no such thing as perfection, but oftentimes effective decision makers, they have pretty strong conviction. They’re relying on pattern
matching and experiences. They’re relying upon
people around the table, that diverse set of decision
makers and influencers, and they know, they know, and they’ll make the right
decision more often than not, not gonna make the right
decision every time. But if they’re not feeling it, it’s okay to hit the pause button, and say I’m not ready
to make this decision. And I’m not sure everyone
fully appreciates the fact that they have that ability. They have that opportunity. Also, once you make a decision, if you made the wrong decision, don’t be afraid to admit it, learn from it, and then move in a different direction. And that’s another common mistake, which is you feel like as
the person responsible, or the leader, or the manager, that you can’t show any vulnerability. You have to be perfect. Nothing could be further from the truth. The last thing in the world I want is to be surprised. If teams understand that
things aren’t performing the way they had expected, I want to know that as soon as possible, so we can do something about it, and I want to model that
behavior for my team. – By the way, the one, I think that’s perfectly
coherent and a good answer, but the one thing I actually learned from PayPal days was, when you’re in fast moving, intense, competitive situations,
which startups are, the time frame that you
have to make a decision is the time frame where you will not remove your foot from completely depressing the accelerator. So part of the decisioning I do is, how much time do I have, such that I maintain
entire forward motion? And sometimes it’s, I
make a decision right now. And one of the things I
picked up from PayPal was, I will frequently make
a decision right now and then say, do I have
time to rethink it? Right? And then, Oh I have until tomorrow. It’s like, oh, okay, great. I’m gonna rethink it until tomorrow, which then plays in to what you said, but it’s an interesting play. – Another corollary is that at some point you
do need to make a decision. The worst possible thing you can do is just allow it to sit there, and it just builds over time. And we’re talking about
scaling organizations, those things, they compound and compound. So after leaving Yahoo, I became an EIR. I didn’t know if I was burnt out on Yahoo. It was tough going towards the end. It was an extraordinary experience, and I wouldn’t trade it
for anything, invaluable, but towards the end it
was pretty challenging on a number of different fronts. And I didn’t know if I was burnt out on that specific situation, or I was burnt out on operations, so I wanted to take some
time off, I was an EIR. And then the first day, literally, this sounds like I’m just making this up, but it’s a true story. The first day I set foot at LinkedIn, I couldn’t wipe the smile from my face, and one of the reasons was because we could make decisions in minutes or hours that in previous roles I found companies
requiring weeks or months, if they ever made the decision at all. And to this day, when we’re
able to make a decision, a good decision, we’re able
to make it in a timely way, I start smiling to myself. I’m thinking about, that’s how you do it. Speed and quality of decisions, I can’t emphasize it enough. – [Reid] Second guy on
the aisle here. Yeah. (speaking too soft to hear) – Sorry? – [Reid] Elaborate on it. – Oh, elaborate on it? Oh, economy graph. So I mentioned earlier that we’re doing some stuff at LinkedIn that I’ve never done before, which is trying to operationalize
our vision, the dream, and historically for me
the vision is just that, it’s true north, it’s a dream, it’s not something you actually do. And a few years ago we recognized that we were growing our membership faster than we had anticipated, so when we originally codified the mission to connect the world’s professionals, we had 32 million members
when I first joined December 2008. We recently surpassed 400 million people who signed up for LinkedIn. And a couple of years ago it became clear we were gonna be on a trajectory to exceed the midway
mark to that 780 million. And at that time, granted, once we’ve connected the
world’s professionals, making them more
productive and successful, there’s plenty of work
to be done on that front. It’s not just about connecting
and signing people up. But we did start asking
ourselves what would come next, and where we ended up was bringing our vision to life, this idea of creating economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce, all three billion people, not just knowledge
workers and professionals, or students, everyone, everyone in the global workforce. And so the way in which we decided to go about that, was by essentially digitally mapping the global economy across six dimensions. The six dimensions that
we believed LinkedIn was in a very unique
position to execute against. So the economic graph would mean having a profile on LinkedIn for every member of the global workforce, all three billion plus people. It would mean having a presence for every company in the world. When you include small,
medium size businesses, there’s about 60 to 70 million
companies in the world. It would mean having a
digital representation for every available job opportunity offered by those companies. There’s roughly, we
estimate on the order of 20 million jobs that would
be digitally accessible that are open right now on a global basis. A digital representation
for every skill required to obtain the jobs offered
by those companies, tens upon tens of thousands of skills that you could access
through standardized data. A digital presence for every university, higher educational organization, or vocational training facility that would enable individuals to acquire the skills to get the jobs offered by those companies. And a publishing platform that would enable every individual, every company, and every university to share their professionally
relevant knowledge to the extent they’re
interested in doing so. And then we would wanna take a step back and allow all forms of capital, intellectual capital, working capital, of course human capital, to flow to where it
could best be leveraged. And in doing so, we’re hoping we can lift and transform the global economy. So that’s the economic graph. So when we originally
started talking about that it was a vision. And to some extent it
sounded like science fiction. And what happened was over time it actually started to manifest itself. So we started investing
the infrastructure, the people, the teams, we
made some acquisitions. And what changed for us was asking what it would take to operate at economic graph scale. And I’ll give you a perfect example, when I first joined the company we has somewhere in the order of six to eight thousand jobs
that were posted on LinkedIn. And at some point along the way, we identified an addressable opportunity for professional jobs, high
value, white collar jobs, roughly 350,000, and that grew to about half a million, that was the addressable. We hit about 300 plus thousand and on our way to that number, I think we were around 250,000, I had a meeting with the
team responsible for that, and as I had mentioned on a
number of different occasions, I said, don’t forget, you
gotta start thinking about how we can get all the jobs, 20 million, and I turned to leave the room and it occurred to me, and I had said it on multiple occasions with this specific team
and this specific context, they just thought it was a platitude. They thought I was just kind
of throwing it out there, and so I turned around and walked back in. I said, “You do realize
I’m serious about this?” You could feel it all,
like for whatever reason in that moment it finally
sank into the team that I meant it. And so they went out and developed a strategy and a roadmap to do it. And we ended up acquiring
a company called Bright, brilliant team. And we are now up to five million jobs that are on LinkedIn today available. And we have roughly two and
a half times that amount that have been indexed. And we’re just still
thinking about the best way to offer those up in an index and make sure they’re relevant
and so forth and so on, scrubbing the data,
deduping, all that stuff. And we’re on our way to ultimately the goal is to have 20 million
jobs accessible on LinkedIn. You could do the exact same exercise with the number of members on LinkedIn, the number of companies on LinkedIn, in terms of the skill sets, it wasn’t enough for us to just identify which skills people needed, we ultimately believe that we
should offer up coursework, so that people could learn the skills and we acquired a company called Lynda, which in my opinion was the last piece, fundamental piece of the building blocks that we needed for this puzzle. And the publishing platform started with 500 professional luminaries, that we called influencers, and today well north, it’s probably north of 250 million people have the ability to publish in long form on LinkedIn. And months and months ago we surpassed a million people that had actually taken the time to publish on LinkedIn in long form. So it’s not just talking about it, it’s actually coming to life, and really the only thing preventing us for achieving that scale
at this point is time. So that’s the economic graph. – [Reid] In time. So, here. – [Voiceover] It’s a
question about growing or blitzscaling businesses and managing the acquisition of a new dot com. I believe it’s much more
than selling online courses, so what’s your vision for, you know, there is a convergence of industries (speaking too low to hear) How do you see this going beyond, and even more so, with the complexity of a business, or to be business, because the corporate market’s huge. – Huge, yeah. – [Voiceover] But also the execution of that market is very different, from the execution of the consumer market, which brings a lot of, it’s much more service oriented. Corporations demand much more services than the consumer businesses. How do you actually scale that and what’s the vision? – [Reid] And we only have
time for a short answer, ’cause I wanna do one more question, since a couple people haven’t– – Short answer is a platform approach where Lynda evolves as a true platform, so for any enterprise, any
company for that matter that’s developed its own repository of learning development materials, we want to be able to
enhance those materials by virtue of offering them through Lynda, and that could be solely and exclusively to the employees of that specific company, it could be to members and constituents within that company’s
ecosystem, like developers, it could be to college students, that helps build the talent
band of that organization and better prepares them to actually work at that company over time, so those would be some examples. And that platform approach wouldn’t be exclusive to enterprises. There are content generators, there are events, conferences,
television networks, that I think are very interested in developing learning materials that could also take advantage of that. Is this the last one or you? Okay, got it. – [Voiceover] Can you talk a little about how you identify talent and how you identify
talent at varying degrees, like above average, top 10%, top 5%, top 1%? – So I don’t have a formula for the percentiles per se, that would be an interesting model, sounds like something
Reid would do, by the way. He probably has a construct
in there somewhere in that brain of his. What I’m looking for depends on the role, so broadly across any role, which may be the most appropriate given the limited amount of time. In this day and age,
I’m looking for people that are to your point earlier, extremely intelligent, and not just a kind of
broad based aptitude, or high IQ, people who can learn very quickly, people whose learning
curves are almost vertical, super steep learning curves, who love learning, who love continuous improvement, who love operating within
dynamic environments, who can gain fluency quickly
in terms of new things, who enjoy synthesizing vast
amounts of information, connecting dots, reaching conclusions, and sharing those conclusions and insights with other people. So that kind of intelligence I think is essential. Looking for people who are both passionate about the work that we do and the work that they do, and hopefully there’s alignment there, who, if they wouldn’t describe what we’re doing as their dream jobs, it certainly brings them one step closer to their dream. That kind of passion becomes a huge force multiplier and amplifies the ability for people to create and contribute value. Looking for people who are compassionate to the point we were describing earlier. Looking for people who recognize that despite the fact that all of us are egocentric by nature, not egomaniacal, egocentric, we see the world through our own lens, people who recognize the importance and the value of taking the time to see the world through
somebody else’s perspective and who has some kind of experience, or some kind of recognition of the value and the importance of that, and looking for people that I look forward to working with. You know, I got to a point in my career where it’s just not worth it to work with assholes, and I don’t care how much
value they contribute, and, you know, Reid
didn’t ask me a question that I’ve been asked in a number of different settings
like this fireside chats is what’s the most valuable lesson I’ve learned as the CEO? And arguably the most valuable lesson I’ve learned, which
unfortunately I’ve learned on more than one occasion, is for the baseball fans in
this section of the audience, it’s leaving the pitcher
in the game for too long. So for those of you who are
less familiar with baseball, the metaphor is that pitcher on the mound, potentially even a star pitcher who’s pitching a beautiful game through the first five or six innings, and you can see that the fastball is losing a little bit of velocity and people are getting around on it and maybe even getting
on base a little bit and your team’s still up, manager comes out and asks the pitcher how the pitcher’s doing. And a star pitcher, what do you think a star pitcher’s gonna say? I’m doing great, skip, go sit down. That’s not the manager’s job, is to just ask how the pitcher’s doing and then take it verbatim and sit down. The manager’s job is to assess whether or not the pitcher is gonna be able to win the game and position the team to win the game. The most valuable lesson I’ve learned is once you recognize that someone may not be the right fit for
the role that they’re in, as soon as you ask yourself whether or not they’re the right fit, you
already know the answer. The question is what
you’re gonna do about it. And what I’ve learned over time is that you have a very open, honest constructive conversation,
that’s another value of ours, transparently communicate where your expectations are, the fact that they’re not
meeting those expectations and that you’re gonna do whatever you can to help them get above that bar. You’re gonna provide them all the coaching that they need, but you’re gonna do it over
a specific period of time and you’re gonna be very open with them as to whether or not
you’re making progress, you’re not making progress, and if they’re not, in the most compassionate
and constructive way you possibly can, you
transition them either to another role within the organization or to their next play
outside of the organization. And that is a really key part
to scaling an organization, so it’s not just about
identifying the right talent to bring into the company, it’s also about assessing the talent that you currently have and sometimes making those hard decisions. – And if you, I went over the back story for when I did the share
of the Ronan quote, if there is a question,
there is no question, it was Jeff and I having this conversation actually over dinner. And then the last thing I will say is when Jeff was describing how
he identifies talent, that was the reason, that was about 90% of the description on why I actually recruited
you to be the CEO of LinkedIn. – [Voiceover] How many hours
did you spend with Jeff before you recruited him? – [Reid] How many hours do you remember? – So it was north of 15 to 20. It may have gone to– – [Reid] 30 plus. – 30 overtime. – [Reid] It was 30 plus. – [Voiceover] You reviewed
him for 30 hours yourself? – But it wasn’t, John, the key is that for Reid it may have been an interview, for me it was a conversation and– – [Reid] All the best
interviews are conversations. – Conversations, and, you know, when I
first joined LinkedIn, you can tell a lot about
what’s on people’s minds by virtue of the questions they ask you, and so I kind of keep tabs on the most frequently asked question I get, and shortly after joining the company, by far and away the most
frequently asked question I got was, “So what’s it
like working with Reid?” (laughs) And it was code for, what kind of drama are you experiencing by virtue of being a hired CEO and still having the
founder of the company? And what people didn’t realize was I wasn’t at LinkedIn in
spite of Reid being there, I was at LinkedIn in large part because Reid was there. So I wanted the opportunity to work together over time, and the time that we spent together before I joined formally gave us an opportunity to
build that relationship, and to take a lot of
what would normally be very natural questions in
variability and uncertainty, to some extent we were
able to really remove that and had already developed a relationship based on trust before my first day on the job, so I think that, you know, that was a very positive
thing in retrospect. – And the detail of
that is in the essay of when you’re hiring a CEO, you’re actually hiring a co-founder, which is on LinkedIn if you have interest. And with that, let’s
thank Jeff for joining us. (clapping)

Jean Kelley



  1. Travis Wu Posted on December 26, 2015 at 1:23 am

    This session was definitely a real game changer

  2. Thyaga Venkat Posted on May 9, 2017 at 12:14 am

    There is a difference between an entrepreneur and a professional manager. Only a few founders in the history of silicon valley were able to transform into a leader who could scale their start-ups.

  3. Corporate Finance Institute Posted on May 21, 2017 at 5:06 pm

    Fantastic! This line summed it up very well… "Don't work for me, work for the mission."

  4. Hi Def Posted on June 3, 2017 at 9:23 pm

    One of the best interviews I have ever watched.

  5. krishnateja vunnava Posted on August 15, 2017 at 7:18 am

    woow What a talk. This guy is incredible. Damnnn Jeff Weiner… what a legend…

  6. oxglow trader Posted on July 3, 2018 at 3:35 pm

    great education with subtle tone đŸ˜‰

  7. Mariabuk Lumena Posted on August 1, 2018 at 9:27 pm

    LinkedIn search engine is absolutely awful. Horrendous

  8. Raul Rivero Posted on September 7, 2018 at 9:22 pm

    Managing compassionately, best advice ever. Starts at 30:50

  9. Francois Jonas Lefebure Posted on March 21, 2019 at 11:14 pm

    Jeff Weiner on LinkedIn's Mission and Vision 6:33

  10. Andre Keil Posted on May 31, 2019 at 7:28 pm

    coaching versus problem solving continuum https://youtu.be/cYN3ghAam14?t=1047