As part of building a strong and transparent culture, one thing we like to do a lot is take questions from everyone at the company. We are still very young, growing quickly and things are changing fast. We try and make decisions after a lot of thought and we also try to do what is right for our company, our employees and our clients. Nothing else really matters.
Over the past few weeks I read, Lean In, a book I have heard a lot of buzz in the office written by Sheryl Sandberg, whose career I’ve always admired, albeit from afar.
The book was great, and while it is primarily around gender equality in life and the workplace, a very serious topic and one that we can all stand to learn more about, I want to use some of the lessons from Lean In as it relates to the lessons Sandberg learned in scaling a growing technology company. She helped build two of the most impressive companies of our time: Google and Facebook. Her lessons from the book help explain why we make some of our decisions, what it takes to work at Percolate and why we will always do what is right for our clients.
Lesson 1: The most important thing to look for in joining a company: Fast Growth.
In Chapter 4 of her book she talks about wanting to join a technology company. It was 2002 and she had a long list of companies in Silicon Valley that were recruiting her and she had to make a decision on where she was going to go. At the very lowest priority of her organized spreadsheet, because of vague title and undefined role, was a company called Google. She went to then CEO Eric Schmidt and explained her dilemma. The other companies had her managing big teams, with big titles, a defined role and goals. At Google she was the first “business general manager”. When she said this to Eric Schmidt he responded with what she calls, “maybe the best career advice i ever got”:
He covered my spreadsheet with his hand…… Then he explained to me the only criterion that mattered for picking a job was — Fast Growth. When companies grow quickly, there are more things to do than there are people to do them. When companies slow down or stop growing, there is less to do and too many people to do them. Politics and stagnation set in and everyone falters.
As leaders inside the company our goal is to deliver fast growth. If there is fast growth you can grow as people, you can be challenged and you will learn a ton that you can put on your resume as a signal that you know how to build that kind of business.
From Sheryl’s advice, we have to be conscious of two things as we grow our company:
The good news is that most of the time, these two things are actually just one. By that I mean politics are a direct result of slow growth. This is generally why big companies become political, they are slowing down, or more importantly, slowly slipping into irrelevancy. It’s a land grab, fewer important positions and people can get nasty.
As a company we have to always keep our eyes on the opportunities that will drive fast growth, even if they are something we never conceived of doing before. One of the great things my co-founder Noah has taught me is how to question things that I’ve felt 100% sure about. Breaking down what I perceived as absolutes has helped me think in ways I’ve previously thought weren’t possible. This type of thinking has permeated our culture and I believe it has helped us find opportunities. A good exercise to challenge ourselves with is to ask: what is something that we absolutely wouldn’t do as a company and then try to actually do it.
Lesson 2: It’s a Jungle Gym, Not a Ladder
Chapter 4 of Lean In is entitled, It’s a Jungle Gym, Not a Ladder, and in the opening of the chapter she tells a great story from her 2012 Harvard Business School commencement speech:
When I was first at Facebook, a woman named Lori Goler, a 1997 graduate of HBS, was working in marketing at eBay and I knew her kind of socially. And she called me and said, I want to talk with you about coming to work with you at Facebook. So I thought about calling you, she said, and telling you all the things I’m good at and all the things I like to do. But I figured that everyone is doing that. So instead I want to know what’s your biggest problem and how can I solve it. My jaw hit the floor. I’d hired thousands of people up to that point in my career, but no one had ever said anything like that. I had never said anything like that. Job searches are always about the job searcher, but not in Lori’s case. I said, you’re hired. My biggest problem is recruiting and you can solve it. So Lori changed fields into something she never thought she’d do, went down a level to start in a new field and has since been promoted and runs all of the people operations at Facebook and has done an extraordinary job.
Lori saw Facebook as a jungle gym and she took on the challenge and executed in a fast growth environment. There was no clear ladder and that was perfect, it allowed her to fix the biggest challenges the company was facing and it allowed her to take on additional responsibility within the company.
These two lessons are a great way to think about Percolate. We want to grow fast, we want to set people up to succeed and we want to create multiple paths for our employees to grow.
Now with those two lessons behind us, let’s shift the focus to the future and our clients.
To quote William Gibson, “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.”
We believe this quote is true for our clients and we have done our best to lay it out. Stock & Flow. Intersection of cultural relevance and real-time. Scale, Pace and Pattern of media creation has forever changed. Content is the lifeblood of social. And oh yeah, there is this: For every person online, there are two who are not. By the end of the decade, everyone on Earth will be connected. Where will they be connected? On social platforms.
We love the future, we want to live there but it does us no good to live in the future alone. We want to evenly distribute the future because we can all see it and we aren’t going to let any barriers to that future stand in our way.
For our clients and from our site entitled, How We Work:
EVERY STEP OF THE CLIENT EXPERIENCE IS CONSTANTLY EVALUATED. CLIENT HAPPINESS IS WHAT DRIVES US.
With our clients, we take this quote as literally as possible. They are coming from a world where messages lasted months, not minutes. Where reach was defined by cities, not continents and where content was a very expensive story that ended after 30 seconds instead of a continuous, pull-to-refresh, stream of media. The process to build these bridges aren’t easy and we know that. But we also know if we don’t build that bridge, someone else will.
Nothing matters more to me than our employees and our clients. We are aggressive in our viewpoint on where we see the world of marketing going and how we are going to get there. If you like what I’ve said above you will most likely also like working with us.
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