4 Things I Took Away From Year Four at Meta

At Facebook Meta we celebrate everyone’s FaceMetaversary, the day they joined Facebook Meta. On my 1st Faceversary I posted the 10 things I learned during my first year at Facebook. For my 2nd Faceversary I posted about the 10 things I unlearned. On my 3rd year I posted  about the 3 things that defined my 3rd year.
As this is now somewhat of a tradition, I’ve decided to wrote another post in the series, despite being on a long vacation, and this time – the 4 things that I took away from year 4 at Meta:

1. It’s all about people: working at a fast-paced, always-changing, highly-demanding work environment might sound intimidating to some, challenging to others. But this is what I love about the profession I’ve chosen and the types of companies I chose to work at. To be not only successful, but also happy, at such a work environment, and for a long time, you need great people around you. I’ve built teams before, in some cases from zero; I’ve joined teams that were already established; I had to layoff people and replace them – I’ve been around the block a few times. The one thing that stands out at Meta is a truly unique collection of great people that I’ve had the privilege to work with and have around me. People you can count on. People who have your back. People to take on great challenges with. People to celebrate wins with. People to fail with. And if you are fortunate enough to have great people around you most of the time, then time does fly, and you can practically achieve anything you set your mind, and your team, to do.

2. Hard work, consistently, for a long time, pays off: In one of the early Q&A sessions that Mark holds for the entire company he was asked what it would take for the company to be successful. In hard times, for the industry, the company, my team and myself, I’m often reminded about his answer – it takes hard work, done consistently, over a long period of time. After 20 years of career, I can testify that – sadly maybe for some – this is indeed the secret for success. Yes, you can be successful taking some shortcuts, gaining some quick wins, but in the long run you realize that like everything in life this not a sprint, but a marathon. And the way to win is through hard work, day in day out, for a long time. After which you start to reap the fruits, to enjoy the success. Especially in an environment which appreciates impact, and acts accordingly when it comes to compensation and promotion. An environment I’m privileged to work in.

3.Work hard, play hard: Working hard consistently is not simple. This is why playing (hard) is as important. Celebrating wins, enjoying time spent together socially, being able to enjoy the fruits of success, having fun together as a team – all of those are critical to sustain a consistent level of effort, of dedication, of teamwork. And it’s not just the investment in the events themselves. It’s the acknowledgement that it’s OK to stop from time to time and smell the flowers. I’m thankful that I had a lot of such opportunities this year, some great events and some awesome parties, to enjoy with my team.

4.Embrace change: In this day and age, and definitely in the industry I work in, nothing is certain and nothing is fixed. Change is happening, and it’s happening a lot. In some cases faster than one would imagine. You fail fast, and you try something new just as fast. Which means you need to adapt to change, embrace it. A change doesn’t have to pull the rug under your feet. It usually means that a lot of possibilities are now open, a lot of opportunities to chase, a lot ways you can improve.It’s been a year filled with changes, and I’m happy to say things turned out for the best in the end of the day. Maybe not the way we (or I) originally planned, but most of the time you don’t really know what’s at the end of the road. You just need to learn to stop being afraid.

This has been another great year I will always look back to with pride and a smile. And I continue to be grateful to the people who help me in my journey, as I’m headed for another year at Meta, filled with new challenges, and as this also marks a new Jewish new year, I wish everyone – myself included – Shana Tova, a good year.

3 Things that Defined My 3rd Year at Facebook

At Facebook we celebrate everyone’s Faceversary, the day they joined Facebook. On my 1st Faceversary I posted the 10 things I learned during my first year at Facebook. For my 2nd Faceversary I posted about the 10 things I unlearned. To sum up my 3rd year I decided to write about the 3 things that defined my experiences this year:

  1. Repotting: I was introduced to this term by Guy, who has been somewhat of a mentor for me at Facebook and whom I replaced in my new role early in my 3rd year. “Repotting” is most commonly associated with gardening – taking the core plant and introducing it to a new environment or a bigger pot as a way to encourage additional growth. John W. Gardner originally introduced the repotting theory in 1964 as a way for revitalizing creativity and energy. Gardner suggests that “Repotting” – changing roles, workplace, career focus – is an effective way to  revitalize creativity and energy.  The most significant growth and potential come from being challenged. New experiences and challenges require creativity and engagement.  Planting one self, along with the roots, the leaves, the green and the yellow you have accumulated, in a new, exciting environment is beneficial for both you and the new “pot” you find. And this year I learned how much this is true. I changed my team, my product, my responsibilities. A new org, a new manager, new stakeholders. A new domain. But in the same company, with the same culture and processes. Which allowed me to best utilize my experience and past learning to grow and positively impact everyone around me. The fact that Facebook allows employees to move between teams, between roles, is a real privilege, and I’m grateful that such a great opportunity has come my way.
Houseplant Repotting, Explained - Visit the plant experts at Platt Hill  Nursery
  1. Mission: One of the main reasons for choosing the product and team I joined early this year was its mission. It’s easy to dismiss the importance of a company or a team’s mission, to underestimate its value. But from 20 years of experience I can clearly say that when people have a strong sense of purpose, they are more content, more satisfied, more engaged. It’s easier to identify with the mission when you are the founder. In a larger organization high meaning and high purpose are key to high performance and high satisfaction. A meaningful purpose balances an ideal goal with realistic capabilities, a dream with actual resources, and a commitment to long-term goals with the necessity to pivot as situations change. A meaningful mission aligns everyone, including culture and strategy, and creates a strong sense of personal fulfillment. In one of the “sell” meetings I had, a very experienced VP told me that this is the most meaningful thing he ever worked on. All the people I talked to emphasized the mission and what it means. It was very easy to relate to, very encouraging to join. A year later i still feel charged by the mission, despite the last year being a true rollercoaster. When everything around you changes so rapidly, when ups and down occur so frequently, it’s the mission that keeps you going. At the end of the day it’s probably the one thing that really matters.
Academic Mission | yagoe
  1. The new normal: I joined my new team while WFH. I took the decision while WFH. It’s not easy, but as soon as I realized THIS is the new normal, I understood that this is yet another thing I would have to adjust to. It took a while for me to meet my team in person, but where there’s a will there’s a way. A year later I still haven’t met my manager in person, as well as many of the key stakeholders and leaders who I work with very frequently. Most of the meetings this year where over VC, including 1:1 meetings, which means I had to build personal relationships remotely. But as time passed and I realized it might take long before this reality will change, and adopted this as the new normal. It has its advantages, it has clear disadvantages, and it’s the only normal we have, so we should simply make the most of it.
May be an image of bottle and indoor

This has been a great year. And I am grateful to the many people who helped me make the transition work and push onwards and upwards to beat my expectations yet another year.
Can’t wait to to see what the next year will bring!

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!

10 Things I Learned During My First Year At Facebook

At Facebook we celebrate Faceversaries, the day you joined Facebook. Last weekend I celebrated my 1st Facerverary.

The reason I love this tradition is that it’s a great opportunity to celebrate the contribution of each person to the success of the company and of the team he belongs to, and also a good excuse to ponder about not just your achievements during the year but also what you learned.

So what did I learn in my first year at Facebook?   Here are 10 things:

  1. Working with great people is an amazing experience. It’s hard to explain how challenging, and fun, it is to lead a team of talented people, each in their own domain. To work with people who push you to succeed, not by pushing you from behind but running in front of you. To learn, to listen, to grow. 
  2. It’s all about high standards. Everything done in Facebook is of the highest standard. Without compromise. It starts from recruiting, open position the can remain open for months but no one will dare to compromise on a candidate that is not a perfect fit. Everything we do is of the highest standard. Even the food (oh, the food!), everything. During this year I had to apologize, in a few occasions, during the production of various events, that we simply don’t know how to organize something that is not 100% perfect. For a long time I told myself this just privilege. But when you take a good look at successful companies, when hear those entrepreneurs discuss their learnings, you realize there is no other way.
  3. Transparency is power, not a problem. Almost everything on Facebook is transparent. To any employee. It enables anyone to give feedback, state an opinion, suggest a solution. During the weeks I joined Facebook there was a vicious attack of leaks, that naturally were filled with negative incidents without context. During the weekly Q&A, which I attended, Mark was asked whether it was time to restrict the transparency to stop the leaks. He answerd: “We recruit the best people in the world. Not giving them all the information is like tying one of their hands behind their back.”
  4. Feedback is a gift. You hear it a lot when you’re at Facebook. It’s hard to explain how essential feedback is in the company culture. It means everyone, and that means any one, is expected to give feedback when there is any, to any one. I remember a few friends in pilot training who told me how embarrassing it was to give feedback to a high commanding officer flying with them. At Facebook you give your manager feedback twice a year, you give peer feedback, you give feedback to the people you collaborate with. It comes from the right place, of constructive feedback, and with respect. People give feedback to others who give them service, to the chefs in the cafeteria. People learn to receive feedback, to learn from it, to improve. To realize it is indeed a gift.
  5. “The best way to complain is to build things.”. This James Murphy (LCD Soundsystem) quote appears on many Facebook walls around the world. Everyone knows that people in tech like to complain. At Facebook you’re expected to do something about it. And it works great. Tools being developed by frustrated employees, team offsites, sport classes, meetups. They are all being built and organized by those who care, by those who want it to happen. 
  6. “At Facebook nothing is somebody else’s problem”. This is another mantra that you can find on many Facebook walls. Pretty soon you realize you have no one to complain to. Realized there’s a problem?  It’s partly your responsibility. To inform, to sort out, sometimes to solve, to organize. Add that to the James Murphy quote above, and you wind up with an organization where the employees are greatly responsible for their quality of lives, for their work environment, for the culture of the site, of the company. Yes, without any “well-being department”, HR, operations or anyone else you normally blame or throw the responsibility at. 
  7. You can dream big inside a company. I’m an entrepreneur. In the last decade I realized it’s in my DNA. All of the above would have been a little meaningless for me, if the place I work in wouldn’t allow anyone to dream big and pursuit their dream. Each with his own interests, each with his own domain, and what they like to experience, to achieve. As long as you are willing to make those dreams a reality, of course. You got that part already, right?   And so I found myself many times during this year working on making my dreams reality, with loads of support from the great people around me. And boy, this is the best feeling ever, when you see your dream materialize, together with awesome people who help you along the way.
  8. Trust your employees and great things will happen. A lot of things are being done differently at Facebook. I’ve run a few companies already, and I know I would have been extremely cautious about running such an open culture that is based on fully trusting your employees in any aspect of their job. It’s basically “we trust you, do whatever you feel makes sense”, and it applies to everything. And in return you get a work environment where employees invest a lot more than anywhere else, care about their work and their team, feel that they belong, strive to be the best and do their best work. Because they are trusted.
  9. With great power comes great responsibility. Sorry for being a bit of a cliche. I didn’t mention any challenges or hardship, so here goes. Leading a product at Facebook means getting great power. You literally can influence the lives of millions. And as such it comes with great responsibility. Not just because of the extreme level of scrutiny, but also because knowing what your decisions impact is a significant burden. It really helps to be surrounded by people who are focused on doing the right thing. And when you do the right thing, it’s much more enjoyable to succeed.
  10. Say thanks. I did learn to say thanks even before Facebook. But here also it is amazing to see how hard the organization is working to get thanks inside the culture, the day-to-day life. In how many organizations do you see employees thanking the culinary team for the feed they ate today (yeah, food. It’s a big deal here)?  They thank the organizers of an event they attended, that person who helped them fix some problem, a team mate who gave them the right tip or invested valuable time in helping them. There’s even a #thanks bot that counters the thanks and informs your manager when someone thanks you 🙂

Last point is a great opportunity to thank the many people who made this year so unique and so awesome.

One year at Facebook. I learned so much. Can’t wait to continue and learn next year!