Dan Rose Profile picture
12 Mar, 17 tweets, 4 min read
I learned about leadership & scaling from Sheryl Sandberg. My direct manager for 10+ yrs, we spent countless hours together in weekly 1x1s (she attended religiously), meetings, offsites, dinners, travel, etc. Here are some of the most important lessons I took away from Sheryl:
In one of our early M-team offsites, everyone shared their mission in life. Sheryl described her passion for scaling organizations. She was single-mindedly focused on this purpose and loved everything about scaling. It's a huge strength to know what you were put on earth to do.
Sheryl implemented critical systems to help us scale - eg 360 perf reviews, calibrations, promotions, refresh grants, PIPs. She brought structure to our management team and board meetings, hired senior people across the company, and streamlined communications up and down the org.
Sheryl told Mark the things he didn't want to hear. As companies grow, people don't want to give the CEO bad news. Mark knew Sheryl would never worry about losing her job or falling out of favor. And over time Sheryl taught me and others how to be truth-tellers for her and Mark.
Sheryl refused to participate in late night meetings. She had the confidence to admit she went to bed at 10pm and told Mark she'd be happy to meet when she woke up at 5am if he still hadn't gone to bed yet. Her vulnerability was inspiring and signaled strength not weakness.
A few months after she joined the company, Sheryl told me she was planning to give me more responsibility (yay!). But first she wanted to make sure others were seeing what she saw in me. This was my first 360 performance review and it changed my life. I shared the story here:
Every 6 months for the next 10 yrs I received a detailed perf review from Sheryl, and she always sat with me to deliver it. She also insisted on receiving specific feedback for her. She took feedback incredibly seriously, in both directions. Her poster read: "Feedback Is A Gift"
Occasionally people would ask to meet with me after getting tough feedback from Sheryl. I would always share the story of my very first performance review and explain Sheryl's philosophy of constant, real-time, direct feedback. It wasn't always easy to hear, but it made us better
I frequently received emails from Sheryl with subject "You!" It might be a note (cc Mark) praising me for something. More often it was a note (cc me) to someone on my team (often deep in my org) praising them for something. Those little notes meant the world to their recipients.
Sheryl responded to all of her email. Many companies have a culture where execs respond selectively, but this makes people feel small. If Sheryl didn't have something to say, she would still respond "thanks I'll think about it" or cc someone else asking them to look into it.
I remember after Sheryl wrote Lean In, she lamented to me that she could no longer personally respond to every fan email because she was overwhelmed. Rather than ignore them, she implemented a system to ensure they always received a response from her team (and often from her).
Execs often fall into the trap of only managing rather than doing. Sheryl insisted everyone on M-team do "real work." She never stopped taking sales meetings and she praised me for personally negotiating big deals. She encouraged all of us to be practitioners not just managers.
Sheryl & I disagreed early on about a decision. I thought Mark would agree with me so I went around her to make my case. She sat me down and explained that if we were going to work together she needed to be able to trust me. She invited escalation but insisted on transparency.
We faced a tough situation with a partner and one of their board members asked Sheryl to meet. She invited me to join but I demurred, I knew this would be a contentious mtg. She told me about one of her colleagues in DC who testified when nobody else wanted to - "step up, own it"
Sheryl organized trips for M-team to visit other companies we admired (she has incredible CEO relationships). We visited Walmart, Samsung, P&G. We did a mini bootcamp at Quantico Marine Officer Training Center. There was countless lessons and lots of bonding on those trips.
Sheryl was a demanding boss who held me to a high standard. She got upset when I failed & pushed me to step up my game. And she celebrated my successes. She always had my back, I knew she would fight to the death for me, and I could always trust her. She taught me to be a leader.

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More from @DanRose999

18 Feb
People often ask me to compare working for Bezos vs Zuck. I worked with Mark much more closely for much longer, but I did work directly with Jeff in my last 2 years at Amazon incubating the Kindle. Here are some thoughts on similarities that make them both generational leaders:
Jeff was 30 yrs old when he started Amzn, and he was 35 by the time I joined in '99. Mark started FB at 19 yrs old and was 22 when I joined in '06 (and is now 36!). After I joined FB, I shared with Mark that I thought he most closely resembled Jeff among all the tech founders.
They both lived in the future and saw around corners, always thinking years/decades ahead. And at the same time, they were both obsessive over the tiniest product and design details. They could go from 30,000 feet to 3 feet in a split second.
Read 12 tweets
3 Feb
Andy Jassy launched my career over 20 years ago. Here's what he did and why I will be forever grateful to the new CEO of Amazon:
In my first year of b-school I desperately wanted an internship at Amazon. They weren't recruiting from Michigan so I asked everyone I knew if they had any contacts. My parents' friends' daughter's boyfriend had gone to b-school with Andy Jassy, early marketing manager at Amazon.
I begged for an intro and he connected me to Andy who was gracious but said they were too heads down to think about summer internships. I asked Andy if he would get lunch with me if I showed up to his office in Seattle. He agreed, and I flew to Seattle over Xmas break.
Read 12 tweets
24 Jan
I learned an important lesson in business when I launched a new retail category early in my career at Amazon: Fail Fast! I spent 18 months shipping a product that should have taken a few months, delaying the oppty to learn and adjust to our initial failure. Here's what happened:
I was originally hired at Amazon on the business development team. After a year I got recruited to help ship a new computer store and run merchandising. I jumped at the opportunity to launch a new business and learn new skills. Amzn was great at creating these opportunities.
Two weeks after joining the retail team, I was in a meeting presenting our pro forma P&L for our computer store launch. I was forecasting inventory turns and gross margins. It was exciting to be thrown into the deep end. I felt like I was at a start-up inside of a start-up.
Read 14 tweets
8 Jan
I was at Amzn in 2000 when the internet bubble popped. Capital markets dried up & we were burning $1B/yr. Our biggest expense was datacenter -> expensive Sun servers. We spent a year ripping out Sun & replacing with HP/Linux, which formed the foundation for AWS. The backstory:
My first week at Amzn in '99 I saw McNealy in the elevator on his way to Bezos' office. Sun Microsystems was one of the most valuable companies in the world at that time (peak market cap >$300B). In those days, buying Sun was like buying IBM: "nobody ever got fired for it"
Our motto was "get big fast." Site stability was critical - every second of downtime was lost sales - so we spent big $$ to keep the site up. Sun servers were the most reliable so all internet co's used them back then, even though Sun's proprietary stack was expensive & sticky.
Read 15 tweets
13 Dec 20
I had a December tradition at Facebook of delivering a one-hour "end of year talk" to my org. The topics changed each year but the common thread was a reflection on life and work outside of our day-to-day. Here's a high-level summary of some of the themes I shared in those talks:
One of my favorite books is Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. We all have activities where we are in a flow state. For me it's surfing - when I see a wave on the horizon coming towards me and suddenly I'm lifted up - I'm not thinking of anything else in that moment.
When we close our eyes and imagine our flow state activities, most of us picture things we do in our free time - cooking, rock climbing, music, writing, etc. But when we evaluate our waking time, most hours are spent at work. What would it look like to experience flow at work?
Read 16 tweets
21 Nov 20
A few days after I joined as head of biz dev at Facebook in 2006, MySpace announced a partnership w/Google worth $1B. I sent an internal email suggesting we pursue a similar deal and Zuck gave me a hunting license. Here's how I signed the biggest deal of my career with Microsoft:
Microsoft had been left at the alter with MySpace. They bid more than Google for the right to run banner ads, but MySpace was owned by NewsCorp and Rupert liked Google better. Ballmer was reportedly very upset about losing, so my first call was to some folks I knew at Microsoft.
MySpace had 10x more users than Facebook at the time, but we were #2 and growing. I told Microsoft we could be their “rebound date,” but they had to move fast because Google was also pursuing us (which was true). I didn’t mention we were wary of Google’s competitive ambitions.
Read 13 tweets

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