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Marissa Mayer’s Tardiness at Google

'Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo' by Nicholas Carlson (ISBN 1455556610) Tardiness has a detrimental effect on the organization. Tardiness is a display of disrespect. Establishing ground rules, documenting violations, using an official discipline process and identifying larger workplace issues can go a long way toward correcting issues with executive tardiness.

Per this noteworthy anecdote from Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo by Nicholas Carlson:

The other factor compounding Mayer’s coldness was that she had the awful habit of being late, all the time.

Every Monday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. California time, Mayer’s staff would gather for a three-hour meeting with the boss. Mayer demanded all of her staff across the world join the call, so executives from New York, where it was 6:00 p.m., and Europe, where it was 11:00 p.m. or later, would dial in, too. Inevitably, Mayer would show up at least forty-five minutes late. Some calls started so late that Yahoo’s executives in Europe didn’t hang up till after 3:00 a.m. their time. Mayer had approximately two dozen people reporting to her during her first year at Yahoo. In theory, she was keeping up with each of them in a regularly scheduled weekly meeting. In practice, she would go weeks without talking to people because she was so busy.

For a while, each of those two dozen people thought that Mayer was just picking on them, individually. The people who had been at Yahoo before Mayer joined assumed that this meant she was going to fire them soon. The people Mayer had hired into the company, including HR boss Jackie Reses and CMO Kathy Savitt, were even more puzzled. Why had they been hired only to be ignored?

But then, during one of those long waiting periods after 3: 00 p.m. on a Monday, a conversation unfurled that revealed all. Making small talk, one executive said to another: “Did she cancel one of your one-on-ones again?”

A third jumped in: “Oh my God, she does that to you, too?” It turned out that everyone in the room and on the call had been canceled on by Mayer, frequently.

Mayer was also constantly late to product reviews. The meeting would be scheduled for 2:00 p.m., and around 2:15 p.m., Mayer’s assistant, Trish Crawley, would come out and say, “Really sorry. She’s going to be late. We’re not sure when she’ll get here.” Then it would 3:00 p.m. and then 4:00 p.m., and then Crawley would come out and say the meeting was canceled.

The standard joke was that if you had a review with Mayer, you should expect not to know when it was going to be and that it would change at the last minute. It was annoying for people who worked in Sunnyvale. It was brutal for remote teams in India and Europe.

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Posted in Leaders and Innovators Management and Leadership

Susan Decker Got an Internship Doing a Magic Card Trick

An noteworthy anecdote on Susan Decker from ‘Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo’ by Nicholas Carlson:

'Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo' by Nicholas Carlson (ISBN 1455556610) During her first year in graduate school at Harward Business School, Decker interviewed at a small investment bank called Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette.

Decker hadn’t held a full-time job between college and graduate school, so, on her resume, she listed some of the odd jobs she’d done for money. One of them was “professional magician.” It was a stretch. Decker had once performed for a bunch of six-year-olds and made a little money.

Of course, the DLJ interviewers asked her about her magic skills.

Decker was one of those shy people who force themselves to dive into uncomfortable situations because they know that’s the only way they are going to get what they want out oflife. Decker dove in. She said to her interviewers: “Would you like to see a trick?”

They took the bait. Decker said she had an invisible deck of cards in her pocket. She made a show of taking it out and handed it to one of the interviewers. She said: “Pick a card, any card.”

She said: “What’s the card?”

The interviewer played along, made up a card, and said, “It was the eight of hearts.”

Decker pulled out a real deck of cards from her pocket. She fanned out the cards-only ene was face down. Decker turned it over: the 8 of hearts.

She got the internship.

Susan Decker Got an Internship Doing a Magic Trick Susan Decker most famously became president of Yahoo! Inc. and was passed over many a time for the role of Yahoo’s CEO. During her stint at Yahoo, while reporting to a revolving door of CEOs, she defended Yahoo’s business model. At a keynote for the 2008 Advertising 2.0 New York conference, Decker remarked on the transformation in the advertising industry as well as the opportunities and solutions for advertisers, ad agencies, and publishers. Decker asserted that new advertising products, technologies and platforms will make it more efficient to reach consumers. Decker also talked about the importance of striking the right balance between monetization and the customer experience:

Yahoo! is helping to accelerate the transformation of how display advertising is both bought and sold … First, we are developing the technology, products and platforms that are designed to help advertisers find the right audiences and publishers find the right advertisers. Second, we are partnering with publishers to secure and monetize inventory that advertisers and agencies find desirable. And third, we are partnering with advertisers and agencies to channel demand to the right consumer.

Susan Decker holds independent directorships at Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, Intel, Costco, and LegalZoom. Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett’s business partner is also on the board of directors at Berkshire Hathaway and Costco. Bill Gates is also on the board at Berkshire Hathaway. His father, William H. Gates Sr., is also on the board at Costco.

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Posted in Education and Career

Ex-Google’s Marissa Mayer on Nine Principles of Innovation

The last decade’s most remarkable business story has been the rise of Google as a dominant force in computing. Whenever a company becomes wildly successful in a brief span of time, it naturally becomes an object of fascination for corporate executives and even the general public.

Marissa Mayer on CreativityMarissa Mayer, then Vice-President for Search Products and User Experience at Google, and presently CEO of Yahoo, shared nine guiding principles of innovation that have helped her succeed with Fast Company:

  1. Innovation, Not Instant Perfection. “The Googly thing is to launch it early on Google Labs and then iterate, learning what the market wants—and making it great. … The beauty of experimenting in this way is that you never get too far from what the market wants. The market pulls you back.
  2. Ideas Come from Everywhere. “We have this great internal list where people post new ideas and everyone can go on and see them.
  3. A License to Pursue Your Dreams. “We let engineers spend 20% of their time working on whatever they want, and we trust that they’ll build interesting things.
  4. Morph Projects Don’t Kill Them. “Any project that is good enough to make it to Labs probably has a kernel of something interesting in there somewhere, even if the market doesn’t respond to it. It’s our job to take the product and morph it into something that the market needs.
  5. Share as Much Information as You Can. “People are blown away by the information you can get on MOMA, our intranet. Because there is so much information shared across the company, employees have insight into what’s happening with the business and what’s important. … It allows us to share what we know across the whole company, and it reduces duplication.
  6. Users, Users, Users. “In a truly virtual business, if you’re successful, you’ll be working at something that’s so necessary people will pay for it in subscription form. Or you’ll have so many users that advertisers will pay to sponsor the site.
  7. 'The Google Guys: Inside the Brilliant Minds of Google Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin' by Richard L. Brandt (ISBN 1591844126) Data is Apolitical. “Run a test on 1% of the audience and whichever design does best against the user-happiness metrics over a two-week period is the one we launch. … We probably have somewhere between 50 and 100 experiments running on live traffic, everything from the default number of results to underlined links to how big an arrow should be. We’re trying all those different things.
  8. Creativity Loves Constraints. “People think of creativity as this sort of unbridled thing, but engineers thrive on constraints. They love to think their way out of that little box: ‘We know you said it was impossible, but we’re going to do this, this, and that to get us there.’
  9. You’re Brilliant? We’re Hiring. “There is this amazing element to the culture of wanting to work on big problems that matter, wanting to do great things for the world, believing that we can build a successful business without compromising our standards and values.

How Google Fuels its Innovation Factory

  1. Innovation, not instant perfection.: Google launches early and often in small beta tests, before releasing new features widely
  2. Ideas come from everywhere.: Google expects everyone to innovate, even the finance team
  3. A license to pursue dreams.: Employees get a “free” day a week. Half of new launches come from this “20% time
  4. Don’t kill projects—morph them.: There’s always a kernel of something good that can be salvaged
  5. Share everything you can.: Every idea, every project, every deadline—it’s all accessible to everyone on the intranet
  6. Worry about usage and users, not money.: Provide something simple to use and easy to love. The money will follow.
  7. Don’t politic, use data.: Mayer discourages the use of “I like” in meetings, pushing staffers to use metrics
  8. Creativity loves restraint.: Give people a vision, rules about how to get there, and deadlines
  9. You’re brilliant, we’re hiring.: Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin approve hires. They favor intelligence over experience
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Posted in Airlines and Airliners