Probably the best statement on culture I've read recently.
Teams are complex beasts, and they get more complex the more talented people are in them. Managers need to be very mindful of those complexities when they form or change teams.
If this also means I'm replaceable, so be it.
To me it either means that the employer is worried about its employees walking (as you suggested), or that the employer wants to minimize the effects of discarding the employee. In the first case, it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. In the latter case you'll achieve what you're after, but not how you planned. Instead you're minimizing the current value and productivity of the employee, meaning that when you fire him/her, the impact will be minimal.
The moral of the story? Limit the scope of your documentation, and place high emphasis on that limited scope. Instead of worrying about how you'll replace someone when they're gone, worry about whether or not you're putting them in an environment where they can perform to the potential of their unique abilities as an individual.
(And don't even get me started on the whole "No documentation is better than bad documentation" thing.)
The "culture icons" of the first bubble are actually red-flags in some situations.
There is a balance of providing real perks, while being on a startup budget, and using fake incentives to lure in talent.
The fact is that you will have both long-houred positions and people who will work 8-5 only. Both are valuable employees, and their commitment should be based on their productivity and value - not in how much free/extra time you can get out of them.
As people get older, they have kids and they have out-of-work priorities.
This does not make them less of a person/employee/resource.
If you require your employees to work ~12 hour days - then maybe you should be able to actually pay them for each hour of work.
You are also very likely doing something terribly wrong and your employees aren't being very productive.
It won't happen quickly but I believe that the median age of engineers will dramatically increase in the next decade. We won't be looking for ping pong tables, we'll be looking for day cares.
It's much more difficult to communicate and sell your culture to the people you are wooing. Perhaps we as applicants really need to take the initiative in calibrating ourselves to look for such culture fit. (Having worked at two places now, I now see this as my top priority that I'm willing to trade in 10~20% of compensation for. Hopefully I can act on these words!)
I think the general takeaway here is not that X is inherently bad, or Y is inherently good. Rather, it's that you need to know yourself, know the culture you're trying to create, and know the people you're trying to hire, rather than trying to imitate whatever perks happen to be trendy at the moment.
People have lives, hobbies, different interests. The best companies are those that have a management team that embrace peoples differences, nurture where needed, give space where appropriate, and cultivate a culture where people feel like they are contributing in the way they best can and allowing them paths to grow.
Let's not rewrite history here. Sheryl Sandberg and Dave Goldberg both go home at 5:30, but neither are even close to founders.
I don't mean to diminish their accomplishments, but "built a billion dollar business" is misleading.
Pretty much every web app is a "take input and stick it into a database".
Could a rough prototype of a survey system be made in 4 hours? Possibly, but to state that the entire app could be built in 4 hours by a "junior programmer" and claim their executive team is selling BS is offensive and asinine.
In one case we quoted for a job, were told someone else offered to do it for half the amount, and had the client come to us 6 months later and beg us to redo it from scratch.
Underestimating complexity is extremely easy.
E.g. your "two pages PHP script" that can be done in four hours is not going to be account for hosting it, for templates for various design needs, for proper analytics afterwards. If you have to spend 4 hours every time recreating it, and then additional time afterwards for analytics, that very quickly becomes worth paying for.
The title is completely misleading.
A. It implies that Dave Goldberg is a founder of SurveyMonkey and built the company from the ground up. He didn't.
To quote the company website :
In 2009, an investor group led by Spectrum Equity
Investors acquired the Company and appointed Dave
C. Lastly, SurveyMonkey is not a "Billian-Dollar" business, as the video states in OP link, they did $113M last year in revenue (which is greatly respectable) but a far cry from $1B.
It's also worth noting that as fuzzy as valuation numbers often are, SurveyMonkey is currently doing the "providing liquidity to equityholders without doing an IPO" dance. They are well past the point where they could be getting their valuation from a publicly traded market cap. They're very probably worth what they say they are.
The best company culture I ever worked in was the early startup days at EnterAct, the Chicago ISP I ran technical operations for. Instead of an office, EnterAct bought a large apartment on the north side of Chicago (for a time, one of the founders had a room in it, but it was mostly occupied by the company). The founders were married and routinely (like, weekly) had friends/family over for dinner.
If you have a reasonably small team (like virtually every startup does) and you acknowledge that many on your team have families, you can put effort into integrating families into the company. Create times when it makes sense to have people's kids in the office. Make dinners. Take little trips. Pay for real health insurance (I KID I KID).
How weird is it that it's less odd to see someone's dog next to their Ikea desk than it is to see their 4 year old?
There is work - and there is life. Your work can be fun, fulfilling, challenging. But there should also be things you do which define you outside of the workplace.
I definitely wouldn't want to be in a family where my life revolved around my parents' work.
My life is based on my family, then work. I love what I do. But I love my family more.
And, as a family man, I don't want people bringing their dogs OR their children to work. If I had to choose, I'd put up with kids before pets.
It's also helpful for the founding team to keep in mind that employees are human beings with human needs, and not Gravatars with particular Github histories.
As I look around today, I'm not working on what I was working on five years ago. I'm not working on what I was ten years ago.
But my family is the same family. My daughter is barreling towards college and my wife and I have a few more grey hairs, but we're all still here. Most projects have been completed, faded into digital dust in my mind and I've kept on going. But my family and the life I built outside of those projects is constant.
I know this only comes as the wisdom of age, but every time I hear about startup culture I snicker. Because in reality I pound out work. A lot of work. A TON of work. I take pride in the fact that I smoke young kids and their recently acquired ruby skills or whatever they have.
And I get home by 5:30 on most days, too.
I would find either of those things in a business odd. Maybe I don't understand because I'm a young guy but I don't see how integrating your employees family's into business life is helpful. I've never found the mixing of business and personal relationships to have any positive effects.
Could you give a couple of examples of how a business which incorporates employees family's is beneficial?
I'm not a fan of dogs in the office during the day to begin with. Maybe it doesn't make sense to have kids coming in after school, either. But if you're regularly going to have people working into the evening out of a sense of shared endeavor, integrating kids into that (maybe they can do their homework, or play video games in the corner, or just eat a shared meal there) doesn't seem crazy.
I concede that you have to plan this out in advance; you can't just take an already-running open plan office in San Mateo and say "bring your 4 year old to work any time" and have that work out.
Having a 4-year-old in the office all day while people are working is negligent child care, except in cases of temporary emergency.
Dogs can nap on the floor for 8 hours and be happy and not bother anyone.
I think the idea of work-life separation exists for a reason. You cannot have your cake and eat it too.
But understood the original premise more along the line that if the office is geared for it you can integrate work and life in other ways, such as eating a family meal at the office now and again, so you maximize the time you can spend with family even when you need to work late - not using the office as permanent every day daycare.
> You just give the kid some crayons, an iPad of Dora videos
> and some fruit roll-ups and they are occupied for the afternoon.
Funny the number of parents I know who have done exactly what you're claiming impossible.
I was always surprised by the kids, because they were really quiet. My own kids are very noisy and would not belong in an office, but these kids were sticking around for an hour or two between one event and another, completely unnoticed by me until I saw them. It's no skin at all off my nose and benefits my coworker in some way, so more power to him.
For one, it's more humane. Family businesses, and businesses with close relations, have worked for centuries in other fields.
So why not in software/tech?
Of course if "making it big by any means" it's what motivates you, then don't do it. The family/close business is more like the highly successful restaurant that refuses to even become a chain.
I remember him once telling me to properly install the IEC receptacle in some equipment I was building, because "(5 y/o) is going to be helping me plug and unplug stuff when we do field tests."
"SurveyMonkey is an atypical technology company. They’ve been profitable from almost day one."
If you've got a company that clicks from the beginning there are many things that you can do that won't follow a typical path. Most companies aren't profitable from day one. They need every advantage they can get. And you do need to work long hours. (Noting where Mark Cuban didn't take a vacation for 7 years and guess what I didn't take one for about 6 years iirc.) This isn't to say that you can't carve out time for family (you may be able to and it may give you better results it's possibl) but the reason you are successful has to do with many things that are beyond your control.
Goldberg could build Survey Monkey differently because he was on to something that clicked and, apparently that was highly profitable as well. A rising tide floats all boats.
Which is to say that there are some impediments to feeling much sympathy about the unfairness of it all when people in the SOMA startup orbit talk about how they don't have the luxury to get home for dinner with their kids, because they're metaphorically trying to keep both feet on the gas pedal. Well, they chose to do that; not only that, but statistically, they're probably going to fail like the rest of new businesses. There's no valid imperative that demands that they make that choice.
Mark Cuban's BROADCAST.COM seems like a great example of the "speculatively ambitious" model.
It's something that was enabled by the current generation of software/internet/mobile startups that don't require much capital equipment or on premise IT infrastructure. It's difficult to do this running a chip startup, since you need all sorts of prototyping/testing equipment even if you are fabless.
What's interesting is that FB isn't listed as an investor in their $800M round. I wonder if that would have been a conflict - I can imagine it musta been.
But I wonder how awkward it was for Google to be an investor and not FB.
Or are they hypocritical?
>"It becomes tougher when it’s necessary to fire someone who’s performed well at their job, but isn’t able to grow with the company. For a startup to scale to a successful larger company, the people need to scale, too."
In some cases, such employees might not take seeing a senior employee hired above them well. They might dislike being passed up for a promotion, but lack the maturity to understand why.
>'The ancient Greek aphorism “Know thyself” remains good advice for CEOs. Every manager has weaknesses. Identify them, and hire people who can compensate for them.'
Sounds like people who are admittedly good at their job could be fired for taking issue with the hiring of a manager who they're expected to compensate for.
Perhaps I'm reading too much into this, but I'm truly sick of the notion that workers serve their manager, not the other way around.
In the vast majority of companies in the US, workers generally serve the owner of the business they work for, and the managers are expected to carry out the will of the owner (directly or indirectly).
There are a few counterexamples proving that businesses don't have to follow this model in order to scale, e.g. Valve. But Valve is (a) fanatical about hiring, and (b) rolling in so much money that they won't have to make any tough decisions in the near future, e.g. laying off part of the staff to keep their company afloat (which can destroy the sort of culture necessary to sustain the model you're describing).
In the US, the incentive structure for a modern business penalizes letting average employees make major company decisions. One reason is because average employees often lack the motivation to carry out their vision through completion, or have unrealistic expectations. In other words, most mid-to-large businesses are penalized for trusting employees to do things other than what they're told to do (or received approval to do). It's hard to define that as anything other than servitude.
One way around this state of affairs is to work for a startup. When a company is small, such political scaffolding is unncessary.
Several out of work as Valve makes 'large decisions' about its future (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5215891)
Politics requires only three people.
There seems to be a bit of a contradiction in this article between the 'hire people who will grow into your culture' and the 'fire anyone who falls out of line with your culture' points being made.
Would like to point out that people like that work well in the current environment with startups and the reward system (and age group as well). In more traditional business, particularly small business, someone who is "smart, talented, and motivated" tends to leave if not given an ownership opportunity in the venture or a path upwards (which may not even exist.). In other words in a traditional small wholesaler or even a small retail chain or manufacturer it can actually be problematic to hire people who have those qualities if you have no place to put them or aren't growing in a way that they can take advantage. Actually better (from my experience) to go with the b players who may be smart, have experience and have less motivation and ambitions.
What is this culture that Dave has created? Is it a culture of everyone else does the work and Dave sits back, or is it a culture of everyone gets to go home at 5.30 regardless of looming deadlines or workload? It's a lot easier to go home at 5.30 when everyone else is doing the work.
"Goldberg leaves work at 5:30 PM every day to spend time with his family. While he does get back online after he puts his children to bed after 8:00 PM, he sets an example that makes it easier for the company to build and maintain its workforce."
If he didn't do this, many employees would implicitly feel compelled (even if the CEO "says" that everyone should leave at 5:30) to stay much later than 8:00pm.
His behavior is definitely something we can learn from.
the content of the linked article contradicts that implication directly.
it's a misleading link. that is a bad thing.
But I do contend that being able to work 4/12 hours at home versus all 12 hours at work is a substantial improvement for both yourself and for your family (especially if you have young children).
I agree. Completely. My employer gives me similar freedoms (assuming something isn't actively melting down at 5:00 PM), and I can say that it has contributed to the strength of my family and marriage.
Many nights I don't get back online at 9:00 PM, but knowing that I can be productive and be present for my family is an enormous perk.
an opinion either way on the work schedule has so little evidence given this article that it would qualify as a value judgement.
this article is a successful individual expressing mostly value judgements about his work philosophy.
my first conjecture is that folks clicked on the link because of it's sensational headline.
my second conjecture is that folks upvoted it because the value judgements in the article aligned with the value judgements of the community at large.
i would love to discuss work from home policy with you. i don't believe this article contributes meaningfully to that discussion.
The battle that a lot of people have to fight is that they have to stay till 8-9 for the sake of appearances, then they got home when the kids are asleep and they have nothing to do but veg out on the internet until bed time.
If the boss keeps strict 8-9 to 5:30 "face time" hours, that can greatly free up everyone else to allocate their evenings in a more suitable way.
I can understand someone doing this out of personal preference, but is working late considered the norm and is expected by the employer?
Almost as if you were applying to a part of the armed forces and had heard horror stories about what was required and then found out that "members of the coast guard get generous leave time to spend with their families".
It's certainly an interesting positioning/differentiation move that they're doing vs the standard "top VC" pack.
There's a lot to be said for a great work ethic and productive work culture, but it doesn't have to come at the expense of having a home life. I like that Dave Goldberg mentions family obligations - at my previous job I would basically not have seen my daughter during the week. That is no way to live.
Startups often get away with this because they're staffed by 20somethings who either don't have any better place to be on a Thursday night than in front of their giant monitor, or they value being able to get in at 1:00PM (or to randomly take a day off to go rock climbing) more than they value having a predictable schedule that permits a home life.
That's fine (except for the bit about startup employee equity upside) for young startup employees, but it's also easy to see how it creates an environment that (probably pointlessly) discriminates against people that have families.
Addendum: In Japanese corporate culture, subordinates can't leave before their bosses (this is the unwritten rule, which I broke all the time, but that's another story). Exacerbating this is the fact that many managers have strained home lives and don't want to go home early in the first place. But the few enlightened managers make it a point to leave early, because they know that unless they leave early, none of their team members can!
Short commute. :)
I really admire this long term thinking. I am transitioning off of a project that for 5 years tried to 'make it big' as soon as possible never taking the time to think about continually getting better.
Five years later we have created a lot of code but our process and culture have gone now where.
Which is it? Or does he live next door to his office?
unreal, do people still fall for this bullshit?