At Meta we celebrate Metaversaries on the day people joined 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. On MV4 I posted about 4 things that I took away from year 4.
Today I’m celebrating MV5, a BIG milestone, even in a big company like Meta. In 5 years I grew significantly as an individual, a product leader, and a leader in general, and have been quite successful. So I decided to sum up this exciting, challenging, and rewarding period, and offer 5 tips for success, for product leaders in “big tech” but also for everyone:
1. Success is never a straight, clear line.
“The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis’. One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis be aware of the danger, but recognize the opportunity.” – John F. Kennedy
I’m sure you know the viral drawing. Sign up for the hard problems and projects. Avoid “shiny object syndrome”, and instead focus on getting consistently better over a long period of time, tackling harder, bigger problems and project.
2. People tend to overlook and undervalue relationships. With COVID, hybrid and remote working models, online async tools, it’s easy to undervalue and overlook personal relationships. But relationships are key for success at any scale, definitely on a BIG scale. The (sometimes hidden) cost of bad relationships, or even non-existing relationships, is bigger than what most people estimate. Invest in relationships – get to know the people you work with; make sure your partners and stakeholders know you and feel comfortable to reach out to you; help others – you never know when they will be able to help you.
3. Take your PTO. Yes, it’s THAT important. I’m actually on one today. Lucky for me I’m working in a great workplace that not only provides employees with lots of PTO, but also encourages them to take time off, so that they can de-stress, clear their minds for a few days, and return to work with renewed energy. While I am not a huge fan of the marathon analogy, working in tech – especially over a span of more than two decades – often feels like an endless set of sprints, where the only way to win is to take the time to properly recover before you head out again.
4.Know your “Captain”. Organizations, especially big ones, often feel ike a big ship. Big ships need a strong engine, and a great Captain. To succeed on such a ship, you need to get to know your “captain” – learn what their goals are, understand their needs and work hard to fulfill those using your “engine room” team. This means that most of your job as a leader is to translate and communicate, from the “captain” to the “engine room” and back.
5. Understand how things work and why. I’m a strong believer of Chesterstone’s Fence, a simple rule that suggests you should never destroy a fence (or change a rule or alter a process) if you do not understand why it was created in the first place. It’s often very tempting for opinionated leaders to provide feedback or suggest changes without really understanding how things work and even more importantly – why they work the way they are. Instead I try to focus most of my time on the understand part – asking questions a lot more than answering them, and striving to get to the why. Only when I feel that I really know why someone made a decision (or process), I would offer a change or conclude that they might be wrong.
It’s really hard to believe it’s been 5 years. I am deeply grateful to be working in an amazing workplace that keeps challenging me, allows me to grow and also rewards me for success, and to be working along the most amazing people who support me in my journey – managers, colleagues, team members.
As I’m headed for a new year at Meta, and a new Jewish year – Shana Tova, a good year, for all of us! 🍏🥂🙏🏻