10 Things I Unlearned During My Second Year At Facebook

WFH 2nd Facerversary

At Facebook we celebrate Faceversaries, the day you joined Facebook. On my 1st Faceversary I posted about 10 things I learned during my first year at Facebook.
For my 2nd Faceversary I decided to post about things I unlearned, a term I actually learned about in my 2nd year. Unlearning is the process of discarding something that you learned, preconceptions or misbeliefs. Alvin Toffler said: “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn”.

So here are 10 things I unlearned in my second year at Facebook:

  1. Diversity and inclusion. It’s really easy to forget how privileged you are when you’re a male, raised where I was and by who I was. in fact through most of my career I was surrounded by people like myself, so i didn’t really have to bother with issues like diversity and inclusion. And it worked pretty great. Or so I thought. Only at Facebook I realized that diverse teams actually do better, that diversity and inclusion start at the top of the funnel, that you need to work hard if you want to change the current landscape. I’m really happy to be working in an environment and culture that actively encourages and pursuits diversity and inclusion in all aspects of the day-to-day work.
  2. Feedback. In most companies there are usually two types of feedback, the “Sorry, but it’s not working” that usually comes way too late, and the “Wow, that was amazing!” which is flattering but there’s not much one can do with it. At Facebook you might notice the sign “Feedback is a gift” around the office, and what I had learned is that providing short, actionable, timely feedback to your colleagues, and actively asking for such feedback from them, is very important, and if given with respect and good intent can help the everyone improve themselves, which in turn improves everyone’s work.
  3. Authenticity. It is very common to have 2 personas in life – one that is personal, and one that is professional. At work you dress different, behave different, talk different. But why? At Facebook I manage to bring more of myself to work every day, and I am inspired every day by others who do the same. People promote causes that are important to them, are not shy of expressing their believes or exposing their way of life. They are being honest with their struggles and their challenges, especially in a time like this, and this makes the work environment a lot more intimate and also a lot more interesting. 
  4. Find your passion. To most people it would seem counter-intuitive that a company, or a manager, would encourage their employee to find their passion. But at Facebook I was had found that you can pursuit your passion with all the support, and even the resources, to do so. In the last year I finally started a podcast, lead various initiatives of supporting the community, was able to share my Product experience with others and actively mentored new product managers in Tel-Aviv and London. There is probably nothing more rewarding than finding what makes you tick, and following it through.
  5. Everyone is struggling. The last 6 months have been rough. COVID-19 has introduced a lot of challenges, and personal struggles, that one might have been able to hide until then. At Facebook, because of the authenticity and openness that is core to the culture, it is much clearer that everyone is struggling with something, and that’s OK. Once you realize it is not shameful or embarrassing to share about it, then the struggle in many case becomes a little bit easier, and sometimes you can even take comfort knowing others are coping with similar challenges themselves.
  6. Purpose. In your work, especially if you’re building products, t’s really easy to invest yourself in the “what”. At Facebook I re-learned about the ”why“ – why am I working on this? why does this matter? what purpose are we trying to pursuit? When the task, the product, the mission is meaningful, when you’re serving others or serving the greater good, it allows us to feel more connected. We have an inherent desire to be part of something that’s bigger than ourselves, and when you can see the impact that you have on another person, another community, on the world, that carries a lot of weight.
  7. Leadership. I could say I’ve been a leader for more than a decade now. But I think that only at Facebook I saw for the first time what leadership really means. Leading a large team without authority is always more challenging – and more rewarding – than leading a team that reports to you or works in your company. And witnessing how other leaders, those who work alongside you, those who lead you, are conducting theirselves and their teams, is a truly inspiring experience, and one that will definitely help me become a better leader.
  8. Take care of yourself first. Remember that airline safety video we all hate? The one that shows you the exits and tells you how to buckle your seat belt? Well, here’s one thing that these videos always emphasize, and we tend to forget in real-life: take care yourself first. In many companies the culture revolves around “the team”, how “there’s no me in team” and how you should always think of the benefit of the company before your own. At Facebook, although the company definitely emphasizes how we’re all in this together, and how we all work for the same mission, it’s always clear: you first need to think of your own safety, your own health, your own well-being. You and your family, of course. And in the last 6 months this was even more clear than before. I feel privileged to work in such a work environment, and can’t imagine ever working in a different one. 
  9. Clear communications. I proud myself as a “communicator”. This should be probably clear, if you’re reading this. And still only at Facebook I learned how important clear communication is, and how hard it can be to communicate in a concise, accurate and extremely clear manner. I can contribute a lot of this unlearning to the constructive feedback I got, the effective training, and great examples I am reading on a regular basis. Communications skills are a great power, and clear communications are a super power.
  10. Expectations. Meeting, and even exceeding expectations is the best way to conduct yourself. But to do so you need to know what is expected from you – in your position, in a specific project, in a specific task, and then meet those requirements as best you can. Knowing what is expected allows you to be determined and motivated to meet those expectations, as well as committed to exceed those as much as possible. While this may seem trivial, I don’t think that I ever had expectations defined so well, so clearly and so effectively, as they are defined at Facebook. It’s key to the performance review, to any progress review, to any feedback conversation, to any conversation. Knowing what are the expectations from me allows me to create my own standards, improve my skills and differentiate myself. Expressing the expectation I have from my team and from the people I work with allows them to do the same.

This is also a great opportunity to thank the many people who helped me beat my expectations this year.
Can’t wait to see what the next year will help me learn and unlearn!