The Netflix culture – a myth or a must for company growth and sustainability

This time my topic is around company culture and in particular the culture of Netflix. Also big apologies to those expecting my next post on blockchain, please have some more patience, it is almost there, and I just could not hold on to share this Netflix jewel.

My personal experience and believe is that culture does not come from senior management or below but is set by the founders and the CEO (if not the same). In that respect, Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, gave a stunning example on culture and leadership by putting it altogether in a not so short presentation (you will find it below). He published the actual presentation in August 2009 when most of us were worried about the financial meltdown and existential topics. May be this is why it took so long for people to actively talk about it (or maybe it is just my humble me noticing it just now).

Reed Hastings made it clear that instead of nice sounding values (and often fake ones), he has designed the actual ones for his company. And so that there is not too much interpretation involved, he added plenty of examples :-).

“The actual company values, as opposed to the nice-sounding values, are shown by who gets rewarded, promoted, or let go.”

Takeaway I: The nine Netflix values are as follows:

  • Judgement
  • Communication
  • Impact
  • Curiosity
  • Innovation
  • Courage
  • Passion
  • Honesty
  • Selflessness

Reed has explained pretty well what each one means so please take a look in the deck, below you will find just my own takes coupled with a bit of commentary.

For me values such as Judgement and Communication point towards resolving the plague of each business – employees NOT being empowered to make decisions and communication flowing efficiently. But there is a catch – this of course is only possible if the people in place are AAA professionals. Else said (Takeaway II):

“Great workplace is stunning colleagues”

and

“Unlike many companies, we practice: adequate performance gets generous severance package”

and

“We are a team, not a family – we are like a prosports team, not a kid’s recreational team”

Takeaway III: Reed also references to The Keeper Test manager case. This is something I have vaguely practiced but never managed to summarise it so crisp: if somebody tells you he/she will leave, are you going to fight hard to keep the person?

At Netflix internal attitude such as “cutthroat” or “sink or swim” are not tolerated. Yet, this can apply only for a AAA team that will tolerate fast learners or otherwise

“Sustained B-level performance, despite “A for effort”, generates a generous severance package, with respect”

“Sustained A-level performance, despite minimal effort, is rewarded with more responsibility and great pay.”

The focus on high performance comes on a seemingly scientific measure:

“In procedural work, the best are 2x better than the average.”

“In creative/inventive work, the best are 10x better than the average.”

Takeaway IV: The Rare responsible person – yet another ingenious concept. Reed is referencing to the rare type of attitude towards self improvement, self motivation and that can even be spurred in people that pick someone else’s trash in the office and throw it away.

Takeaway V: When company grows, it often fails to add proportionately top talent to its workforce. Sometimes I even believe managers are afraid to surround themselves with top people and see them as a threat. The solution – grow talent density faster than complexity. In other words outgrow complexity created by growth by hiring top talent at a faster rate than the growth itself (as much as you can).

Takeaway VI: Netflix is not in a safety-critical market such as running nuclear plants so it rather focuses on rapid recovery. This for me translates quite clearly to the Facebook’s Motto

Move Fast and Break Things

But at Netflix, also Fix fast. 🙂

Takeaway VII: Another interesting point is the Netflix approach to working hours and vacation: No 9am to 5pm work policy, no vacation policy. Practically no tracking, yet people are actively encouraged to take generous retreats and come back with fresh ideas. And on top

“Career “Planning” Not for Us”

Netflix has dismissed formalised planning including mentor assignments, rotations, multi year career paths.

“High performance people are generally self-improving through experience, observation, introspection, reading, and discussion.”

Takeaway VIII: Managing through context

High performance people will do better work if they understand the context. Highly Aligned, loosely coupled … approach for corporate team work.

and

Investing in context means – frequent department meetings, being open about strategies and results.

Takeaway IX: (Last one 🙂 Always pay top of the market and do not connect payment with the well being of the company as times change but you can be successful only with top talent.

payment is aligned with what the market pays and what would cost to replace such a person.

and

… side effect is that rarely there will be a higher offer if somebody wants to leave.

and

it is tolerable to talk to other companies and then talk to your supervisor about your actual market value

This is all from me for today. Hope enjoyed the read and I will follow up soon with my next article.

P.S. All citations above are courtesy of Reed Hastings.

A bit about ISTA 2016, the killer of Slack and Blockchain

ista crosslend

This November I came back on stage at the ISTA conference 2016. The 2 day event gathered quite a crowd of geeks from the software industry and in particular from Bulgaria. Hosted in the top notch Sofia Event Center and with a great view to the Vitosha Mountain, the event allowed me to dust out after such a long break. In about an hour I walked with the audience through the evolving online consumer behaviour, and how the internet and ecommerce proliferation have opened the door for a whole new myriad of financial services innovations. That eventually brought me to cryptocurrencies, p2p lending and ultimately securitisation services through CrossLend. What struck me is that the hardcore financial language didn’t scare off the audience. I was actually a bit afraid that my topic might be too softy, yet the insights of how we run our IT operations rounded the talk and instigated plenty of questions from the audience. So all in all, a great event, amazing people and in support of a noble cause.

Another thing that I cannot not resist to mention is the lack of excitement in the media about the advance of a Slack killer from Microsoft. And from Facebook. And… no more big players, for now. So the rumours were true. Microsoft released its Teams product and bets it could beat Slack in their own game. Instead of buying Slack, MS goes for its own product for a second time in recent years. And it certainly has a scalable channel to get a sizeable chunk of the collaboration market. Same time there is the not so old mishap in the recent history of the company and namely building an awesome mobile OS, appealing mobile devices and still not succeeding to beat its equally powerful competitors. What failed MS was the lack of apps. What may fail them again is … the lack of apps (Slack has 750 of them). Yet, the main differentiator seems to be video calls capability. Well, yes, you may say we cannot compare Slack with Microsoft due to their vast difference in size. But keep in mind that Facebook has also launched Workplace and has won over 1 000 business clients. This is gonna be a heated one. Agree?

And finally, a bit about Blockchain.  It is officially my new darling to explore and you will probably get fed up with me writing about it again and again. Just saying 🙂

VCs spend an average of 3 mins, 44 secs on a pitch deck. What is the perfect deck then?

dollar-1164990_640DocSend recently published their findings from a research on the pitch decks of 200 companies raising funds. The companies raised a total of $360m so I believe this research could be treated as pretty representative.

Respected companies like Sequoia have long published their dream pitch deck.  Yet, DocSend has brought a bunch on insights that should be considered.

Here are the most important take aways in brief:

  • Seed raise takes 3 months on average.
  • Seed firms provide higher rounds with fewer meets than angels.
  • More meetings does not mean more money. 20-30 meetings should be enough.
  • Average time an investor spends on your deck is close to but under 4 minutes.
  • The perfect deck should be 20 pages or less.
  • Your deck should be mobile friendly, 1 out 8 investors views it on mobile.
  • The Sequoia suggested model seems to be ubiquitous in the industry as there were almost no big deviations on the slides required and their order. Check slide 7 for more info.
  • Investors spend most time on Financials, Team and Competition slides. If your financials are not ready yet, better do not include as they will be seriously scrutinized.
  • Do not include your deal terms in the deck.

 

Spicing up your LinkedIn profile – nifty icons and bullet points

The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that people should care more about their profiles in business networks rather than anywhere else (including their resume).

So while refreshing my LinkedIn and Xing profiles came the obvious need: “How do I add bullets to my LinkedIn profile?”

Getting Bullets on Your LinkedIn Profile

Actually there is no such thing as “bullet points” within LinkedIn. And you can do no formating. This is all.

Just kidding!

The simplest way to add some new symbols is to copy and paste them from somewhere else. In this case my blog. 🙂

So, just select (highlight) the symbol you want to use, copy it and paste it in LinkedIn. You can copy it by clicking Ctrl-C or right mouse clicking on the highlighted symbol and choosing COPY from the right mouse menu. Paste it by clicking Ctrl-V or right mouse clicking and choosing PASTE from the right mouse menu.

Of course, when pasting in your LinkedIn, you should have clicked on your profile and switched to edit mode.

And here are the symbols:

Stars:
★ ✪ ✯ ✰

Arrows:

☛ ☚ ☜ ☝ ☞ ☟ ⇨ ► ◄ ► »

Traditional bullets:

■ ♦ ◆ ●

Ticks:

✔ ✘ ☐ ☑ ☒

Email:
✉ ✍ ✎ ✏ ✑ ⌨

Phone:

✆ ☎ ☏

More:

♬♪♫ Ѫ ☮ ✈ ♥ ☠ ☊ ☗ ♘ ♝ ☃ ☂ ☁ ☀ ☺

If you really like it Klicki bunti, you can use these to make lines:
☲☲☲☲☲☲☲☲☲☲☲
▄▀▄▀▄▀▄▀▄▀▄▀▄▀▄▀▄
▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬
▓▒░▓▒░▓▒░▓▒░▓▒░▓▒░

♬♪♫ Ѫ ☮ ✈ ♥ ☠ ☊ ☗ ♘ ♝ ☃ ☂ ☁ ☀ ☺

Hope you did not turn your profile into a Christmas tree. In fact, I used only two of these.

 

Yep, you can lose your notes in Evernote

Evernote is one of the apps that shape my day. Keeping notes is easy and fast, categorizing and finding what you need is a no brainer. In sum, I love Evernote.

But I had quite a hiccup with it in February. Long story short, an important note of mine disappeared. Irrecoverably. So now every time I use Evernote I ask myself if my data is actually safe.

It all started one day in February when my Mac asked me to update some apps. One of them was Evernote. It is not something unusual so I said yes as usual.

The update started and Evernote crashed. After the update reopened and I could use it again.

Murphy´s Law

An hour later I was looking for an important business TODO note that I update daily. It was THE NOTE from all of my notes. Surprisingly was not appearing any more and I could find a version from December only. After some searching I had to revert to the support line.

Support Fiasco

What I was not suspecting at this time is that my support experience will take quite some time. After sending several support requests and getting no answer. I ended up in some kind of support forums where I got an answer almost immediately but it was not an answer that can solve my problem. After several days of waiting and re-sending my case I finally read that paid clients get better support. So I joined Evernote Premium.

This is where I felt – ok, I was not paying so obviously cannot expect special treatment. Yet, solving a technical issue and specifically data loss should not be something limited to paid membership. In the end Evernote is all about data and there is an established belief that your data is safe in the cloud.

Now that I was a paid member, I had the pleasure to talk to a human being and actually very amiable person by the name of Ben.

Data is Gone. With the Wind

In a matter of several days Ben walked me through all hidden places of the system, asked me to check logs, visit the web version, change settings. But in the end had to admit that my note was gone. Irrecoverably. Ouch, that hurt.

Apparently the note had no ID inside the Evernote cloud and once the app crashed and restarted the note was deleted.

As said, I love Evernote but this incident shook my flawless perception of the product. They lost my business planning from last months plus tasks for next several months. I eventually recovered stuff from here and there but there was serious damage caused.

In my humble opinion number 1 priority of a cloud company is to ensure its users data is safely and securely stored. All the rest of improvements and gimmicks I am getting for years are rarely having any impact on my usage or speeding up my work. I still don’t get it how is it possible to have such a problem in a mature and established product but shit happens.

End of Story

Ben gave me 6 months free Premium membership. I did not get use of it. Still using Evernote though.

Which alternative products do you use? And is there a good alternative to Evernote?