One of the weirder experiences most of us can relate to is being in a meeting where nearly all of the participants disagree with the decision being made, but the power dynamics keep anyone in the room from objecting. It’s never a great feeling, and it seems to happen for a few different reasons
People with “non-technical” backgrounds (i.e. those who aren’t engineers, data scientists, or similar) often have difficulty directing more technical subject matter experts. Even without directly managing them, people can find themselves managing projects or making decisions that impact what more technical resources have to do. Failure to communicate and establish trust can easily lead to conflict given the gap in shared context between the business and technical side. Some conflicts are inevitable, even desirable; conflicts born from mutual distrust aren’t.
As the company's name suggests, Carey has a sense of humor, but he's also dead serious about making the best products in the world and continuing to push boundaries at the nearly $300 million-a-year business he built from scratch.
Carey's head of corporate communications invited me to interview him after reading one of my articles, and I jumped at the chance to pick his brain on hiring good people, what it takes to earn his trust, and preparing people for leadership. What followed was an unfiltered look into how this CEO (or "Chief Big Ass" as he goes by) sees the world.
Just like you can’t expect even great products to sell themselves, you can’t rely on your work to speak for itself. Good work usually doesn’t speak for itself- you have to speak for your work. Communicating your ideas in a way that resonates with your audience (which implies you’ve thought about what will resonate with them in the first place) shows them that you understand what they care about. To put it another way, it shows that you “get it.” Managers are more willing to take a chance on someone whom they think “gets it.”
I’ve probably singled out thousands of little concepts, quotes, and anecdotes over the years that have shaped how I think about things and surely shaped the way I write. Interestingly, the ones that have stuck with me the most are often tangential to the main thrust of the book. As I was reading Peter Thiel’s Zero to One (which earned its’ share of margin notes), I thought it might be interesting to share a few of the things I’ve come across in my reading which I suspect many overlooked in these books. And so, from my bookshelf to yours, here they are (with links to Amazon titles where applicable):
I’ll say this about bad bosses: they perform a vital role in the economy. By repelling people like Adam who want better for themselves, they inadvertently send talented people out to pollinate other teams, companies, and industries with their brainpower. From a macro perspective, bad bosses may be a net benefit to the ecosystem. Of course, that matters not a bit to the individuals who have to work for bad bosses and the companies that suffer as a result of their presence...
Recently, I found myself in an impromptu meeting at my desk with several colleagues in the midst of a debate over how to implement a new software feature. We needed to reach a decision so that the engineers could get on with their work, but our available options each had drawbacks to consider. As the product manager, I had the final say over how the software should behave, but I couldn’t see a clear winner no matter which way I looked at my choices. The answer was that I didn’t know the answer. Even better, I realized didn’t care because it wouldn’t make much of a difference in the big picture. So I let them figure it out...
Once you become a manager, you are always accountable in two directions: upward to your bosses for your team’s output, and downward to your direct reports who require feedback and coaching. If you have an office with a door, it can be tempting to keep it closed all day just so you can get some work done before six o’clock in the evening. But that’s not the job.
Smart, young apprentice talent is foundational to how most large organizations get work done. Worker bees at the bottom stay heads-down accomplishing tasks; Middle managers make sure the tasks fit into cohesive projects; Senior managers makes sure all the projects come together to accomplish a business plan. As a worker bee, the formula for career advancement can seem straightforward: outwork everyone. Before long however, that formula breaks down. Assuming they advance to the next stage, the people exiting the apprenticeship stage who don’t realize that the determinants of success are about to change can be in for a rough adjustment...