Sunday, July 24, 2011

Google Made Her Rich, Facebook Made Her A Legend

Some people become famous for what they say. The outstanding ones make their quotes reality. Like Sheryl Sandberg. Woman, who has made it last year to #16 place of 50 Most Powerful Women in Business in the world selected by Fortune magazine and this year jumped to #5 place of 100 Most Powerful Women in the World by Forbes (#2 in Business).

In 2007, Mark Zuckerberg, the co-founder of Facebook, felt a desperate need to turn Facebook from a “cool” social network to a real profitable business. Sheryl Sandberg, Google’s thirty-eight-year-old vice-president for global on-line sales and operations, was recommended to him as a potential partner. They started to talk at a Christmas party, they continued their discussions at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in January. The deal was done and Sheryl Sandberg became the first COO of Facebook in March 2008. She started to write a history of a legend for herself.

Influenced By Her Mentor´s Career
Sandberg has benefited from sponsor Lawrence Summers, who was very powerful. First he was her thesis adviser at Harvard Business School. Later when Summers became the chief economist at the World Bank he recruited her as a research assistant. Finally when Lawrence advanced to Treasury Secretary, in 1999, Sandberg became, at twenty-nine, his chief of staff. After the Democrats lost the 2000 election, she decided to move to Silicon Valley to join the technology boom. Sandberg is still very grateful for his support, for encouraging her and helping her to develop: “Nobody can succeed on their own,” she believes.
Risk Taking Business Builder
Sandberg has joined Google even when she knew that they didn’t have a business plan. It was a private company, barely three years old, with no steady revenue stream. Her title was business-unit general manager, even though there was no business unit. At the time, Google had four people working on AdWords, a program for selling the small text ads that appear next to related search results. Sandberg volunteered to oversee sales and operations for the project. Before long, AdWords was making money. Soon, Sandberg was working on AdSense, which placed advertisements on external Web sites, with Google taking a slice of the revenues.And finally she got the AOL deal running. She was tough and fearless.

Profit Driven
Her biggest worry was financial. “There was this open question: Could we make money, ever?” The engineers in Facebook were primarily interested in building a really cool site; profits, they assumed, would follow. Thanks to Sheryl, by 2010, a company that was bleeding cash, when she arrived, had become profitable. Within three years, Facebook grew from a hundred and thirty employees to twenty-five hundred, and from seventy million worldwide users to nearly seven hundred million.

Hands-on, Attention To Detail
 “Sheryl always believed that if there were thirty things on her to-do list at the beginning of the day, there would be thirty check marks at the end of the day,” Summers says. Zuckerberg says he’s grateful that Sandberg “handles things I don’t want to.”

Listening, Approachable And Collaborative
Sandberg began to work at Facebook asking questions and listening. “She walked up to hundreds of people’s desks and interrupted them and said, ‘Hi, I’m Sheryl Sandberg,’ ” recalls Chris Cox, the vice-president of product. She goes around the room and asks people, ‘What do you think?’ ” She welcomes debate.
Being Close To Employees
The people who are her friends at work are her friends outside work. With Sheryl, everything is personal. There isn’t a separation with this thing she does at work and everything else. Sandberg says: “I believe in bringing your whole self to work. We are who we are. When you try to have this division between your personal self and your professional self, what you really are is stiff. . . . That doesn’t mean people have to tell me everything about their personal lives. But I’m pretty sharing of mine.” Being open with your employees, she believes, means that nothing is a surprise to them—even if you fire them.

Helping People Advance
 “A key part of what Sheryl does in her life is helping people advance, to be seen and to be heard,” David Fischer, who was her deputy at Treasury, and has worked for her at Google and now at Facebook, says.

Supporting Other Women In Their Career
Early this spring, Sandberg gathered twelve female Facebook executives for the company’s Women’s Leadership Day. Each of them was expected to lead sessions encouraging all the female executives there to step up “into leadership” roles. Sandberg believes that women need the equivalent of “the old-boys network.” That is why Sheryl is putting together a new-girls network inside Silicon Valley. She invites to her home each month rotating cast of two hundred women for a buffet dinner and to listen to and question guests, who have included e.g. Microsoft C.E.O. Steve Ballmer, the educator Geoffrey Canada, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Being Always Honest
“She builds trust because she’s honest,” Cox says. “People can be intimidated by Mark. Sheryl just cuts right through that.” Summers sees it similarly and appreciates her boldness: “If I was making a mistake, she told me. She was totally loyal, but totally in my face.”

Powerful, Still True To Herself
“Sandberg could go be the C.E.O. of any company that she wanted to,” Mark Zuckerberg says. “But I think the fact that she really wants to get her hands dirty and work, and doesn’t need to be the front person all the time, is the amazing thing about her. It’s that low-ego element, where you can help the people around you and not need to be the face of all the stuff.”  Howard Schultz, the C.E.O. of Starbucks, says, “Most people you meet who are highly qualified and accomplished tend to want to tell you all the things they’ve done and how smart they are. Or they want to impress you. Sheryl is not like that at all.”

With An Unplanned Future
Surely Sandberg is on track to one day become a C.E.O., if that’s what she wants. Or she may decide to return back to a potential career in politics. When she was asked, what she can imagine doing next, she responded simply, “I’m actually quite happy with Mark and the company. I always tell people if you try to connect the dots of your career, if you mess it up you’re going to wind up on a very limited path. If I decided what I was going to do in college - when there was no Internet, no Google, no Facebook . . . - I don’t want to make that mistake. The reason I don’t have a plan is because if I have a plan I’m limited to today’s options.”

During her Barnard´s Speech Sandberg said to fresh women graduates, “Don’t let your fears overwhelm your desire. Let the barriers you face—and there will be barriers—be external, not internal. Fortune does favor the bold. I promise that you will never know what you’re capable of unless you try. You’re going to walk off this stage today and you’re going to start your adult life. Start out by aiming high. . . . Go home tonight and ask yourselves, What would I do if I weren’t afraid? And then go do it!”

Written based on inspiration from following sources: The New Yorker Magazine:, the interviews in various newspapers, TED Talk and Barnard´s Speech.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Going Into Own Business For The Right Reasons

I have recently observed many managers quitting the corporate job for their vision of starting their own Company. Right or wrong, the future will tell. They have to be sure they do not join the entrepreneurship world just because of their need to achieve bigger personal freedom, money or fame. Or because they think they have no other choice and look for an easy escape. These internal, personally driven reasons for launching a start-up are wrong. They are predetermined for failure.
For creating the next big thing an entrepreneur must have dreams that are externally driven, focused around improving customers´ well-being. Only those succeed in the longer term, who look at the outside opportunities thinking about how to best seize them in a unique way. Only those succeed who are making meaningful products and services, who bring the future closer towards the present time. Only those succeed, who are passionate about changing the status quo, about improving the quality of lives of people on this planet.
Formalized Companies purposes bring the visions down to the Earth – for customers, potential employees, business partners or investors. Leaders, who are able to make the purpose clear, inspiring and unique for the benefit of others, eventually surf on the wave of success. Freedom, money and fame come to them only as a bonus, afterwards.
The Company purpose formulation needs to be made prior launching of a new venture. It gives the direction. It guides the investments decision path. It helps customers to understand what the Company stands for, how does it fit in this world.
Starbucks rewards everyday moments. “Starbucks´mission is to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.” “Expect More than Coffee – we are a neighborhood gathering place, a part of daily routine.” (Source:
Coca-cola refreshes the world, inspires the moments of optimism and happiness, creates value and makes a difference. (Source: The Coca Cola Company 2020 Vision)
Apple was never about selling boxes to people to get their jobs done. As per Steve Jobs: “Apple at the core, it´s core value is, that we believe that people with passion can change the world for the better.” … “The goal was never to beat the competitor, or to make a lot of money, it was to do the greatest thing possible, or even a little greater.” (Source: You Tube)
Having the objective of giving a meaning to your Company still does not guarantee lifetime success, but it definitely gives a fulfillment coming from aiming for something more than ordinary, not for self, but for the others.
“In real life being an “entrepreneur” is not a job title. It is a state of mind of people, who want to change the future.“ - Guy Kawasaki
“You should carefully observe, where you heart leads you, then to choose this path and devote your maximum energy to it.” Hasidic proverb

Friday, July 1, 2011

Hot News: Twitter & The Pope

The Pope Benedict XVI.  is on Twitter (@news_va_en). These top news were hot enough this week for a wide twitter community discussion, even though Vatican is already tweeting for some time (until today with 1300 tweets, and ca 65 thousand followers). The spread of the news started only when the Pope Benedict XVI. has sent his first - by his team pre-prepared - tweet from his iPad (great choice by the way…). Becoming the first Pope to tweet in history. Learning “THE” thing:

@news_va_en Vatican - news
Dear Friends, I just launched  Praised be our Lord Jesus Christ! With my prayers and blessings, Benedictus XVI

The Pope received positive and negatives WOWs in the twitter discussion. But what is more important, there is a clear signal, that to be a leader in this world one must participate on Twitter (or Facebook) . To influence the masses while being accessible. To start to understand the youngsters, to come closer to their world.

The Pope became by this tweeting act another role model within the social media world, mainly for the mid age plus generation, that - especially in Europe - still consider Twitter not being their cup of tea. As they do not understand why they should use it. Now they can come closer to the Pope every day. Not only to the Pope, but towards many other gurus and leaders, they can get real time news, from the spot, before anybody else has it.

If an 84-old man of many obligations gets easily excited about twitter (and Facebook and YouTube, where his messages will be from now on posted), when will you?

CNN commentary and video about the Pope tweeting

P.S. By the way -  a great free PR for twitter and iPad!