Julie Zhuo Profile picture
22 Apr, 13 tweets, 3 min read
Companies are like people.

Not sprawling networks of people (though technically that's right)

Rather, thinking about a company as an individual makes many things easier to understand.

Pick the company to join like you'd pick who you'd want to hang out with every day.

Companies have personalities, just like people do. Some companies are flashy and dramatic. Others are staid and quiet. Some live in the future, constantly tossing out new inventions. Others are ruthlessly competitive.

Like with people, all strengths have shadow downsides. Apple's quality and cool comes from a secretive, top-down culture.

Zoom's focus on superior tech leaves it lacking when it comes to product features.

Deciding which company to join is like deciding which person you'd want to date.

1) Are their strengths attractive to you?
2) Are their values aligned with your values?
3) Can you live with their flaws?

If you don't think a company (or a person) has flaws, it's a sign you should do more research.

Ask the founders directly, if it's a small company: "What would a keen critic say about your company?"

Speak with ex-employees if it's a bigger company.

No company does things 100% the way you'd like them to (unless you are the founder, and even then, teams ), just like not all of your friends think exactly the same as you.

But shoot for at least 80% alignment on your company caring about the things you do.

Of course, you first need to understand what *you* care about:

1) How do you stack rank the following: learning, compensation, mission/impact, environment/colleagues, recognition/status?
2) When were you the most fulfilled? Why?
3) When were you the most miserable? Why?

Yes, you may encounter a 'bad apple' at a company that does not represent its general values.

But the presence of more than one of these folks suggests there's something about the culture that incentivizes or at least tolerates such behavior.

Don't believe hype about companies. It's like celeb stories. Remember when @taylorswift13 was a snake and then Miss Americana?

A company is never as good as they praise; it's never as bad as they malign.

Press comes and goes; sharp strategy and steady execution always wins.
There is no one "best way" to be a person, and there is no one "best way" to be a company.

Great leaders can be extroverts or introverts. Productive people might work mornings or evenings.

So take any company's "ultimate playbook for success" with a grain of salt.

Sure, a company's success can inspire you. There are lessons you can admire and incorporate.

But treat it like an IG influencer telling you how she cooks delicious healthy meals in 20 minutes.

It's not the whole story, and it may not fit your situation.

Companies evolve and change, just like individuals do. They make mistakes. They collect stories. They try to do something valuable with their existence. They compete for the affections, wallets and attention of their audience. If they become irrelevant, they die.

This is, of course, a simplification.
But at the end of day, companies consist of people with a shared sense of identity.
Get to know that identity as you would any new person you meet. Dig into their character. Make sure it's a relationship you want to invest in.


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More from @joulee

8 Apr
One of the stories we used to tell in the early days of Facebook was how a small, two-engineer project came to dominate the entire photo sharing landscape in the late 2000s.

Thread 👇 1/10
Let's zoom back to 2005, when pre-mobile Internet photo sharing services were one upping each other on storage, features, and slickness.

Across Photobucket, Shutterfly, Flickr and Picasa, there were high-res uploads, preview navigation, theme tags, search by color, + more

Facebook Photos, built by a scant team over two months, was extremely bare-bones in comparison. It only supported low-res photos. No comments. No likes. It didn't even have a nice full-screen view.

There were no bells and whistles, save one...

Read 11 tweets
1 Apr
"You were at one company for nearly 14 years?!?!"

Yes, I'd say. Here's why:

1) I loved the people
2) I was continuously challenged and learning
3) The mission spoke to me
4) I felt deep loyalty

But there was another big reason that was hard for me to admit then...

The hard-to-admit reason was this: my sense of identity was deeply tied to my job.

I felt I *belonged* there.
I had a great career there.
I'd made many wonderful friends there.

And so, it was terrifying to imagine: who would I be if I *didn't* work there?

"My identity = My job" is a common thought pattern for folks (more likely founders or young) who...

1) have invested tons of time/capital/energy into the job
2) are ambitious
3) are recognized for their job
4) have mostly work friends
5) believe deeply in job's mission

Read 10 tweets
25 Mar
I've participated in too many conversations about the role of design / pm / eng to count.

Of course there are differences.

But every tech manager role, regardless of discipline, ends up converging at higher levels.

What does this mean for you as a manager?

Thread below 👇
If you climb the management ladder to the very top, guess what? You’re the CEO. And you manage *every* function.

So if your goal is to be CEO someday, or even VP or director within your discipline, you need to get out of your box and learn how other disciplines work.

The most thoughtful designs don’t get used if engineering doesn't build them.

The most sophisticated algorithms don’t help people if they can't be put into a clear product.

The tightest roadmap doesn’t get you customers if the experience isn’t good, or you can't sell it.

Read 10 tweets
19 Mar
You're in a panic.

Your launch date is in a week. Your whole team's credibility is riding on your collective ability to make it happen. Leadership is Eye-of-Sauron-ing this project.

There's just one problem.

You suspect the product sucks.

What do you do? A thread 👇 (1/9)
Prior to a launch, saying "Our product sucks" is not what your tired, overworked colleagues want to hear. But if you feel this way, you need to bring it up.

Align the team around the launch goals. Ask: "What are we aiming for?" Then frame your concern around that.

Ex... (2/9)
"We want to fail fast and get learnings asap" → Are we well set up to get new learnings if we already know so much is broken?

"We want to make a big splash and get tons of new users" → Will these new users retain if our product is buggy?

Read 9 tweets
12 Mar
Seven incredibly non-intuitive things about growing your career, a thread 👇
The people whose careers you admire and study the most are the ones your own career starts to emulate.

This seems like a great thing, until you realize along the way the downsides that come with that kind of career.

Every glamour has its price.

We think the most confident person in the room is the one who sounds the most polished and certain.

In reality, the most confident person is the one who most readily admits and accepts *all* their flaws / mistakes.

Imagine how secure one must feel to do that.

Read 8 tweets
5 Mar
My co-founder Chandra Narayanan's quote has become something of a product-builder's mantra for us: Diagnose with data and treat with design.

There is so much packed into those sentences! Thread going deeper 👇 (1/15)
First: "diagnose with data." The job of data is to help you understand the ground truth of what is going on (with your product, user behavior, the market, etc.)

Typically, we humans run on intuition, a rudimentary kind of pattern-matching. This is insufficient in many cases.
Intuition works if you've studied something deeply (think Serena playing tennis.) But it does not serve you well in:

1) Making decisions for contexts you don't understand
2) Generalizing predictions at huge scale / complexity
3) Optimizing the impact of many tiny decisions
Read 17 tweets

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