How actions define company culture

Startup for Startup

17/03/2021

Hi, everyone. You’re with Startup for Startup, the podcast in which we at Monday.com share knowledge, experience and actionable insights among startups. Together with me are Eran Zinman and Roy Man, co-founders at Monday.com. And we’re going to talk today about culture. So we’ll start by discussing and describing what is culture in our perspective, and part will be dedicated to the six values that are at the very core of our culture here at Monday.com. So what is culture for you guys?

Roy (00:41):

I see it as one single most important asset in the company and that’s what defines all the decisions we make on a daily basis. The culture we have is what people do, how they think, the decisions they make. And I think like even before going deep into answering that, we need to understand that every company has culture. It’s like, it’s not a thing that we either have or don’t have. It’s like every company makes decisions. Every company has a lot of people and those people behave in a certain manner. Okay? And what works for some person will not work for someone else. And then people find that they fit for a company, they like working there or they feel comfortable operating in that company. And that’s the culture.

Lior (01:33):

Eran, what’s culture for you?

Eran Zinman (01:35):

It’s easier for me to define what a culture is by saying what it’s not. It’s not a poster on the wall. I’ve seen a lot of companies do that, like sit down and try to figure out what they want their culture to be. And then they print a bunch of posters on the wall and then it’s the reality and what’s written on that poster is not the same thing. And people call bullshit like super easy, because at the end of the day, and this is where I get to what culture is, culture is how you act. How you act on your day to day, on small decisions. How you act on bigger decisions. What kind of role model you are, and the managers and everybody else in the company are to new people that join a company. And people see that in minutes and align or don’t align, but at the end of the day, it’s about action.

Lior (02:35):

Let’s go one level deeper. What are the actions? If I want to understand what’s the culture in a company, what do I look at?

Roy (02:42):

Some things are felt when you walk in the door, how people treat you, how they treat each other, those kinds of things are more obvious. But the things that are less obvious and are actually, it defines a lot is as Netflix put it, it’s like the, who you hire, who you promote and who you fire is the places that you’re measured the most. I can give an example. It’s like if you meet in an interview or a super talented person, like can really push things forward but you understand they don’t really work well in a team, they will put others down and take credit. I don’t know, like you understand-

Lior (03:29):

No, I understand that kind of person.

Roy (03:30):

… it’s not a fit for the team and you choose to take them anyway because it’ll promote you in the short term. Okay? And you don’t see the longer term, then that’s a decision you made and that’s what will define the future of the culture. And as you have more people like that, this will be the culture, less teamwork, more ability.

Lior (03:53):

Yeah. And I just want to add, because when you’re saying it now, it sounds like you’re judging this kind of decision. And for some companies, these are the people that they need. Like, this is what they want for some projects, for some … It’s not like right or wrong that we’re trying to say here. I can see how-

Roy (04:10):

You’re right, but I am judging.

Lior (04:12):

So talk about it.

Roy (04:14):

Because first of all, like you can look at it and maybe it’s a personal perspective. Okay? I think, and that’s like our belief here and a lot of researchers that show that as well, that a team works better when everyone is pushing towards the same direction, no one likes working in a place where they don’t feel comfortable in, they don’t feel they contribute. And you have like someone that is like constantly thinking that they are great, okay?

Lior (04:42):

No, right. Now you’re painting a different picture. All I’m saying is that like for, let me try and be very concrete, maybe early stage of a startup, you don’t have teams formed yet. You need someone just to take something and push it forward. And you found an excellent person. And you know that later they might not be the best team people, you might make the decision on that day. And later on two years later, you’ll never hire this person because it won’t fit anymore.

Roy (05:06):

Okay. But then, so in that place I’m not judging. And I think a lot of managers, leaders learn along the way what they are willing to carry on their backs and what they are not. Okay? And sometimes it’s hard because at the end, like let’s say two years in, they figure out, you know what? That’s like hurting us. They might need to fire that person and they hurt every other person on the team. Okay? So it’s like a tough call towards like different [inaudible 00:05:40]. Like either I keep hurting everyone, they come in the morning and it’s like, someone sucks all the oxygen out of the air or I hurt them by firing them. Or sometimes it’s a positive thing for everyone, but so you end up owning and getting the results of the decisions you made.

Roy (06:00):

And I think that’s part of shaping the culture, the decision you make and the mistakes you learn from and where you want to show yourself. But at the end it’s, the culture are the people. Like the people in the company are the culture. It’s not like you, it’s not the poster on the wall. It’s not like only management, it’s everyone together and that’s what gets shaped.

Eran Zinman (06:24):

I like to look at it from a perspective of a new person joining the company and as a new person joining, imagine that you walk into the office and you’re very alert about everything, how people greet you, what’s the atmosphere, are people smiling? What’s the dynamics like in a meeting room.

Lior (06:50):

What’s the information that has been given to you?

Eran Zinman (06:52):

Are people being transparent? Are you talking about problems? Is it very based on hierarchy or people get to say and argue in front of their manager? A lot of small details that dictate to you as a person because people adjust. Most of the people assuming that during the interview process we identified that this person is a good fit for the company. And I agree with the saying that there isn’t a good culture or a bad culture. There is a culture and there’s people that fit the culture and there’s some people that might not fit the culture. It doesn’t mean that they’re-

Lior (07:29):

Bad people.

Eran Zinman (07:29):

… bad in any way. It’s just a matter of fit. But I think that people, when they actually are in a company for a few days, a few weeks, obviously there’s things you find after a few months, they get all the small details. And then they know if the culture that actually happens matches the culture that the company kind of says it has.

Lior (07:56):

How is the culture formed? So we said one way is for people to sit down and think about it and then just tell it to communicate it to everyone else. What was our case?

Eran Zinman (08:07):

I think some of it is based on the character of the people that start a company, which is the founders, but also the founding team. So you can still say it ties to the people you hired. I always say that the first 15, 20 people has a huge effect on the culture of the company, not just the founders. Those people play a very significant role in shaping the culture of the company and looking back at us as a company, back in the days, we didn’t sit down and said, look, let’s try to define our culture. We just acted in a very specific way that made sense for us. And then later on, we found out that we had a culture, so it was very genuine you could say. We acted how we believed that we should act, and it was true to our values. And then people started to say, oh, you guys have a good culture or identified things that we should fix. And then we did like a reverse engineering process where we try to kind of normalize that and say what our culture is.

Lior (09:16):

Is a culture essential for success, like for the success of the company?

Eran Zinman (09:21):

Culture is required for you to be successful, but I would say having only a good culture is not an indication for a successful company. You might have an amazing culture, but the company will fail. But I think that every company that is successful thanks to brilliant products and opportunity in the market, whatever it is, if it doesn’t have a good culture-

Lior (09:44):

It won’t last.

Eran Zinman (09:44):

Yeah.

Roy (09:45):

So again, we’re saying good or bad, but I think like good is there for a specific market or industry. So for us, as an example, I always feel fortunate that every person here, because of the scale, it’s a cloud software. It’s like we build the company around the product and we care mostly about the product, that every person can make a massive impact on the company on their own. Like it’s not true for every industry that any persons that joins the company can change something that makes like, I don’t know, 10% increasing conversion to pain. Like it’s not … and here it happens a lot.

Roy (10:24):

I think like if you look at it from a business perspective, okay? Or like from a successful selective as you said its, is the culture here fit to meet the challenges of what we’re going to face. You can look at other, let’s say cultures of people climbing the Everest. Okay? They need to be of a certain type of like mentality to be able to go through that. So I think in let’s say startups in the beginning, uncertainty is definitely something you need to work with, while in other industries like certainty is what you need to work with.

Lior (11:01):

Right. Different levels of resilience, yeah?

Roy (11:03):

Yeah. So success comes for the right fit of culture to the right challenge.

Lior (11:14):

Now, let’s just start to describe and discuss the six different areas that we define. I wouldn’t even call them values, again it’s more of compasses that we have, and we hold.

Roy (11:24):

Yeah. But let’s understand how we go to them. Like we looked back into what we did and made decisions too, and said like, okay, this is something we believe in, obviously, because we’ve done so many things to support it.

Lior (11:35):

Right. So let’s formalize it. So for us culture, in Monday.com is ownership, inclusion, being product centric, being customer centric, being impactful and doing things with a certain speed.

Roy (11:52):

Actually I think the first one we started with and that was clear for us is product centric. Like we started from the point that we wanted to make a great product, a product people love. This is where we started off before we did anything, because we figured like that this industry of, let’s say, work, work tools, needed something that people like using, like on your personal life and consumers started products. And this is kind of like where our passion started for it. And we said, how and I remember like all the decisions we’ve made since the beginning was around, how do we put ourselves in the position as a company that we will be forced to create a good product?

Roy (12:43):

So I’ll give an example. So in the pricing, in the early pricing that we set, we didn’t do a free tier and we didn’t want to do sales in the beginning. Why? Because we knew that if you started to have a really successful salesperson, they will sell things you don’t have and then it would be something that a good deal, a big deal and you will feel compelled to create those features that they promise. And that for us, like this kind of way to create a product, it’s not the best way to create a good product people love, it’s a way to create a good sellable product. So we wanted in the beginning not to have that.

Lior (13:28):

What I’m learning from what you just said now is that, decisions is a good framework to look at your culture. So you just said, okay, how do I know that I’m product centric, the decisions I have to make around that will have to be aligned with like what I want my product to be.

Roy (13:43):

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Lior (13:43):

Right? And if you made a different decision, then it’s not your culture anymore. So that’s like for anyone who’s listening like to ask, what decision do I have to make? And then if I take a left or a right, now I know what’s the culture I picked.

Roy (13:54):

And it’s not a one decision. Like one decision is kind of like a small step into the future decisions and if you either make a mistake, it’s fine. You can correct your course, but eventually if you step enough time towards a certain direction, that’s it. This is who you are.

Lior (14:12):

Right.

Roy (14:13):

And then you need like a massive amount of energy to change course.

Lior (14:15):

To change, yeah.

Roy (14:16):

And it’s, again, another mistake, another mistake all the time, it’s like change course-

Lior (14:20):

The culture you have … Yes.

Roy (14:20):

… it’s what you … And this is by the way, what makes a company fit for a certain area and then the conditions in the market change and their culture is not fit to handle that sometimes.

Lior (14:33):

Eran, what other decisions have you made in the past to support our culture of being product centric?

Eran Zinman (14:40):

Roy touched on a big decision that we made. But I think a huge part of it is, is about a lot of small decisions that we make. Everybody here in the company, first of all, it’s the type of people we hired. The developers that we hired and the product people that we hired and the designers that we hired, when we interviewed them, we look for people who have empathy toward users, that care about user experience, that care about the actual people that will use the product. And that’s a critical part of that and then do another discussion, every time we had to make a product decision, should we do this or that, we never look at what will maximize revenue? What will make people buy the product more. We always ask, what’s going to be better for our users? What’s going to be more delightful for them? How can we make this experience better for them? How can we make the product more beautiful? And how can we minimize the amount of work that people do in order to get value from the product?

Eran Zinman (15:41):

So a lot of decisions, a lot of discussions around that really shaped how people think about features and how to deliver new stuff into the product today. And also I think a huge part of that is the fact that our success of the company, our main KPIs is WAP, which is weekly active paying people. And I think this is a message for everybody in the company, is a huge thing to say, the product is the most important part of it, we want our customers to use the product and enjoy using it on their day to day.

Lior (16:14):

So I think this is very tied together with a matter of value that we talk about, which has been customer centric. So why don’t you just continue to the next one.

Roy (16:22):

Yeah. And I think that customer centric and the product centric is like-

Lior (16:28):

A reflection.

Roy (16:30):

Yeah. Monday the company and Monday the product is with the same values. So like we had like some examples of like bureaucracy in the product. Like I tell you in the UI, like don’t go here and go with that because it’s like why, we don’t want that. So that’s also within the company itself, we don’t want those things. At the end a lot of our values in the company-

Lior (16:54):

Are tied together.

Roy (16:55):

Yeah, went into the product itself. And customer centric is also something we’ve decided in the very early beginning that we wanted people as part of the product to feel that there are people behind the product, that we’re not just like letting them deal with it and like there are no people [banned 00:17:14]. And we saw, like we chose deliberately that the support and customer success and everything we do around that is not a problem we need to solve. It’s like something we believe in, we want to do, we want to talk with customers. We want to help them solve their problems. And I think it shows, like this is the decision we’ve made in the beginning, we hired the right people. And then we ended up with that team building like the best KPIs for customer success in the industry, we answer within 10 minutes on average. We try to exceed what they expect and really help, and we care about that and all, like every problem they have. So I think that’s something we kind of like, that’s the fruits of making that investment in the beginning.

Lior (18:09):

Early.

Roy (18:09):

Yeah. It’s also investment, like you’d say in money, in hiring, in like being intentional about it, but it started with the value because otherwise we wouldn’t make that investment.

Eran Zinman (18:20):

The way I look at it is that at the end of the day, we want our customers to be satisfied and to have a feeling of trust, to feel there’s a person on the other side, that they have somebody to talk with and they’re not left alone with their problems, either with the product or with their own company, their own processes. We want them to feel this, Monday is a person they can talk with anytime at night, during the weekends, whatever they want. So we build the company in a very specific way that the message that we deliver to everybody here in the company is we invest in this, we want to hire as many people as we need and we want to do what’s best for the customer. Not what’s best for saving costs or optimizing our bottom line as a company.

Eran Zinman (19:12):

A few examples of, apart from the fact that we want to answer in a very short time, we want to be available 24/7, is also the way we coach people in customer success and in sales. And one of the main messages that we say to everybody that joins the company is listen, if you were in a customer success team and somebody reached out because they’re not using a product anymore and they want to get a refund, even though they don’t qualify in the 30 days refund policy, let’s do that because we want them to be satisfied. Even if they’re not a customer anymore, it’s not just about customers. We look at it as a long term relationship that we create with them. Everybody’s an ambassador of the company and the product, and the same goes for the sales team.

Eran Zinman (19:54):

A part of how we coach people in the sales team is never sell something to a customer that they don’t need. So never suggest a tier that they don’t need, never suggest more users that they don’t need, because at the end of the day, it’s a longterm play and we want them to be happy. And we, in a way optimize what’s good for the customer over what’s short-term, it might be good for the company. Yeah. I think this ties really nicely to ownership.

Lior (20:31):

Ownership. Yeah, let’s take it there.

Eran Zinman (20:33):

If had to put it in one sentence is to give people the power and ability to make their own decisions. So we’re talking about ownership that people within Monday has to make decisions, make mistakes, make decisions, basically decide on their own and-

Lior (20:51):

And move by the way, just behave.

Eran Zinman (20:52):

Yeah, in order to move forward. This is a, it’s a tool in order to move forward faster on their own and take ownership and responsibility for what they do. And I think this is a very strong value for us in the company, wherever you are. You might be in R&D, sales, marketing, wherever you are, our goal is that you will have autonomy to make your own decisions, make your mistakes and be able to be successful on your own. And for us it’s a critical part of the company when it was small, but I think it’s become even more critical as we scale the company. Because I think what slows company down as companies scale is the fact that decisions need to go up in order for people to move forward. And it’s always bureaucracy. It’s always slower this way, and it’s less empowering because you feel it’s not up to you and somebody else made the decision and you just need to comply.

Eran Zinman (21:54):

So the way we build the company, the way we structured, the way we use measurements and KPI is to enable everybody in the company to make their own decisions, good or bad. And the message that we convey here is we trust you. We hired good people and we trust you. Some people will manage huge budgets in marketing, some people can deploy a code that affects all users and some people can make decisions for huge customers, but the message is we trust you and we give you the tools to make your own decisions.

Roy (22:26):

And that’s like actually autonomy, which is a big part of ownership, and I can give like an example, another example of ownership, which would be like, what is not ownership? Like if I’m doing something that someone else thinks is right and I disagree, but I have to do it, then in the beginning, in a conversation, a meeting, whatever, like I might think I understand what they wanted, but at the end when I come to a decision that I need to make, I wouldn’t know what to do, I’ll be dependent on them. Okay? So if someone told me like, do this because I know what’s right and they didn’t persuade me, they didn’t explain, they didn’t get me to be on their side, they took the ownership away from me. And that’s a very negative thing for us.

Roy (23:15):

So the way we built a lot of the things we do around here is around, I know it’s a different value, it’s like inclusion, but in order to get ownership. Like I need to persuade you, I need to explain what I want for everyone to be aligned so they can take it from me. And I would … So a lot of times I’ll give an example for like, where do you make mistakes all the time? And it took me a while to get the hang of it. Like we talk about something, everyone get excited, great. We go and do it. And then they come to me with a question and I answer it, boom! Like they didn’t understand the answer, but they thought, okay, it’s probably good and went on and do it. And then I become the bottleneck.

Roy (24:01):

Every time they need something from me, then they need to come to me and I become the bottleneck, I own it. Or I see they’re going down a path that I think is wrong and that’s hard for managers. Like let’s say I have more experience, I know how to help them, what is the difference between guiding someone and helping them evolve and learn, between telling them what to do?

Lior (24:24):

For me ownership is one of the biggest things here at Monday. I know I had a big transition to go through when I came here, so just to share my perspective, two things that, to add to everything you guys said, first that it’s across the board. It can be a person in the company for two weeks that are now owners of something and they can make gather the information they need and make other people work whether they’re in the company for five years, whether they are the VP of something. So if you’re an owner of something, you’re the person to drive it happen. And I think this is something that really crosses all hierarchies and departments. It doesn’t matter if this person you’re going to work with, they might be from a different department and you’ve never talked to them in the past. You’re an owner of a project, you’re going to make it happen.

Lior (25:13):

And it comes also with a very big sense of responsibility. And I think that it’s very confusing in the beginning when you are an owner of something, doesn’t mean you’re doing it on yourself and by yourself and alone, you can be a part of like 10 people team. But this meeting that you described before Roy, that everyone’s talking about something and we leave the room, so the at Monday to make it happen is that someone will look at someone else and say, so you’re the owner, right? Like someone’s looking at someone and making sure that there’s someone, it will go to sleep at night and care about it. Because if we’re all just talking in the room and we live it together equally, it’s not going to happen.

Roy (25:49):

So it became a language.

Lior (25:51):

It is a language. Right? And going back to Eran’s point that it comes with trust. Like sometimes again, I see it many times when there’s a new person to the team, but there are an owner of something and you don’t know how they’re going to execute and you got to trust them on big stuff.

Roy (26:08):

And that’s why I think in many areas that we can, we build like confidence level within people. We give them ownership in something that is like small and can be guided and then like bigger and bigger things. Because like, again, that has to do with scale. Like for something that someone used to do when we were smaller, it made a certain impact on a certain number of customers that we could fix or solve or whatever. But now, like they might deploy something and like hundreds of thousands of people are out of a tool that they work with every day for like, I don’t know, five minutes.

Lior (26:50):

Two seconds.

Roy (26:51):

Or two seconds, it’s like-

Lior (26:51):

Not acceptable.

Roy (26:53):

Not acceptable. So how do we build a level of confidence and how do we do it gradually? So we need the system to support it. We need to think about those things when we hire people, what are the stages they will go through in that area? We need to invest a lot of energy into maintaining our ability to keep ownership for people and train them into the place that they are. Because we had a few years to ramp up to this situation, they need to ramp up to this situation in a month, so how do we do that within a month? Okay? So it requires a lot of energy.

Lior (27:29):

The next one would be inclusion.

Eran Zinman (27:31):

Yeah. So I think when we talk about inclusions, there are a few parts of that. One huge thing is transparency, which is something that we believe in as a company. We mentioned a few times before in our podcast, but in essence it means that everything in the company is transparent to everybody. When we say everything, we mean everything. One exception, which is people’s salaries. Apart from that, everything is transparent. Numbers, revenue numbers, how much we spend on marketing, conversion rates, everything you can think of, company valuation.

Roy (28:08):

Money in the bank.

Eran Zinman (28:09):

Yeah, money in the bank. How much we spend.

Lior (28:11):

Board meeting.

Eran Zinman (28:12):

Board meetings, everything. So that’s one part that contribute towards inclusion because people feel, they know the numbers, they know the metrics, not just feel, but actually know. The second part of that, is the fact that we try not to lend decisions top to bottom. So it ties to ownership which we discussed, so people can make their own decisions. But even when we try to kind of move stuff from, the minute we try to make decisions for management, we always try to involve people. We always try to say, and this is not just us as founders, it’s every person in the management team and every manager and everybody else in the company, try to explain the reasoning behind what we do and why we think this is what we should do. And even then we always ask, what do you think? Like, do you believe in that? Do you have a different idea? It’s the whole way of presenting ideas, discussions with people and the sentiment of everybody’s equal.

Eran Zinman (29:23):

My opinion is as good as yours, hierarchy doesn’t matter here. Everybody is smart. Everybody has good ideas, so we want to include everybody. And I think this even goes behind the company itself, we also try to treat the same way with our customers. So one interesting example which I remember is when we rebranded as a company.

Lior (29:50):

We changed the name of the company.

Eran Zinman (29:50):

Yeah. We changed the name of the company from The Post to Monday. And then we said, how can we include our customers? We don’t want them to hear this from a press release one day on one of the news websites, we want them to know even if it’s a few days before. So we actually involved them in the process. We said, “We’re thinking about rebranding, these are the options we’re thinking about. What do you think? What is the feedback that you have?” And we kind of risked something because they might have leaked the fact that we’re going to change the name, or it won’t be a surprise anymore, but we wanted them to feel part of it because they are part of it. And we notified them a few days before and I think this kind of show one example of how you can include your customers as well. And for them to be part of what are you going through.

Lior (30:44):

Two more doodles just to add to what Eran said before. So first, a quick example of how we give rationale to everything we do. So even in a feature update that is shared with the company. It starts with a rationale, with the test that was made, with the reasons we have to think that this is something that is going to be meaningful to our customers. It’s never like, hey guys, here’s an update. Here’s a new feature, go and find out why, everyone has to understand the reasoning behind something and so that they can actually come with ideas and become part of it I think. The second thing about transparency that I like a lot is that it puts aside, or it puts outside the door, this dynamics of like thinking what each person knows in the company. Like if you sit in one room and you go to a different room, you can talk in the same way you just talked. There are no like-

Roy (31:37):

No politics.

Lior (31:38):

… hundreds of versions of things and politics, everyone knows one thing, and this is what we’re discussing and you don’t have to keep in your mind like different versions of stories for different people.

Roy (31:48):

It goes to many lengths because we don’t have two budgets, like one for the company and one for the board.

Lior (31:56):

And one for the board.

Roy (31:57):

We have one truth and that’s kind of, I think-

Lior (32:03):

It’s very powerful.

Roy (32:04):

… around gathering information, there is a lot of politics that are from who knows what, and who’s where, and like, once you get that out of the way you win in a lot of things.

Lior (32:13):

Right.

Roy (32:13):

But it’s hard. As Eran say this all the time, you’re being challenged all the time because people know everything as they happen a lot of times before you know. So why is that happened? Like, I don’t know. So on the other hand, it’s like, we don’t know, let’s figure it out together. And people take ownership on understanding because like we are not in charge of coming with the answers. And I say, we, I say like it’s throughout the management of the company in every level, like go figure it out. You have the same tools as I do, help me figure it out.

Lior (32:49):

Which brings me to the last point, we take it for granted. Eran, can you talk about Big Brain in the context of transparency and inclusion, which is a very big effort we have in the company?

Eran Zinman (32:58):

What we do in order to be transparent, is a lot of things. We have dashboards around the office showing metrics and numbers. We have a daily SMS sent each morning to everybody in the company including our investors by the way, that shows all the numbers from yesterday. And the huge part of it is Big Brain, which is our internal BI tool, that all the information is available to everybody in the company, no permissions, no special screens. Everybody sees the same thing and everybody have access. So basically all the information, it’s not just that it’s been transferred, it’s also been accessible for everybody to consume in a very easy way on a day to day basis.

Roy (33:42):

It ties to a larger subject of like transparency. It’s not enough that the information is available, it has to be consumed. It has to be accessible in a way that people can understand and not just like, here’s a file somewhere and these folders are public. So we need to put a lot of energy into explaining it to people. And then as the company scales, there are just too many things in details.

Lior (34:09):

To the extent that we support an internal initiative that is called Data School, to make sure that everyone knows how to use the internal tools that we built.

Roy (34:17):

That’s inclusion, by the way, like the Data School is a great initiative that was not like a …

Lior (34:23):

Was started by a designer, a product person and a programmer and like a developer, three amazing women that just peached it to you and you guys said yeah, go do it.

Roy (34:35):

Of course.

Lior (34:35):

Of course. No, but this of course is part of the culture, really. Because they spent a lot of time working on that and then they spend a lot of time training people in the company to know how to work with data.

Roy (34:46):

So it’s more inclusion than transparency because they wanted to include everyone, and that they did not come with the background of a data analysis and writing SQL queries, like really querying data. Like what I said before, like there is a problem, figure it out, do you have the same tools as I do? So you have access to the same tools, but you might not know how to use them and that’s the idea behind the Data School. So it’s like to me ties, if you have transparency, this is like more the inclusion part.

Lior (35:19):

Wait, and I think you touched on something else that is interesting to add, which is the price you pay when you choose a value. And there’s another example I remember for transparency is that on our last round that we raised money, some people actually were just walking around the office, happened to talk to press and the fact that we were raising money was leaked to the press, to the Israeli press way, way too early and we were not ready for that in any kind of way and information wasn’t even right. When I remember how we sat and we tracked things back, then we said, okay, it happened because we let people walk around the office and they hear everything and everyone knows everything and there are no secrets and this is a price we are willing to pay, right? Like this is the conclusion we got to. Next will be impact, what’s impact guys?

Eran Zinman (36:14):

Yeah. So I think this is, kind of ties everything together. But the message here is that we as a company, this is what we optimize for. We optimize for, we want people to make an impact. An impact is a very vague term. Like what is impact? It might be different things to different people, for somebody in R&D it may be a new feature that they launched that impacted a lot of users. For somebody in the growth team, it might be that they improve a metric or the product team. From somebody in sales it might be that they closed a huge deal that we never had before or a customer from a new industry that we didn’t have before, but it might be also be internal. So it might be somebody from customer success who improve one of the processes that made 60 people, 10% more efficient.

Lior (37:06):

Or someone from the operations finding the next office and enabling our growth.

Eran Zinman (37:11):

Bottom line the way I describe it is that you made something meaningful that changed the company. And I think the change part is very important because the message here is that we want you to change. To change who we are, change our abilities, change the value that we give to our users, as opposed to being very static as a company saying, this is what it is and you need to feel your role, we say the opposite. We want to change, we want to adopt. We want to be better all the time and the way we guide you is that you need to try and think what you can do in your own domain, or even outside your domain in order to make such a change.

Roy (37:53):

And to support that, and you say like change and only is what? Or someone needs to do a lot of work all the time in areas, so how do you know what impact is or not? So the answer is-

Lior (38:07):

Is it hard work, that’s what you’re saying. Is impact meaning hard work?

Roy (38:10):

Also, hard work. So like you might do something that changed like, I don’t know, reduces the number of tickets in 10%, or you don’t do it and answer a lot of tickets. But I don’t think people can understand how to reduce it by 10% without answering a lot of tickets. Like you need to really work hard, but the moment you recognize something, we want people to be able to make a change and make that impact. And that’s what we’re optimizing for. And another perspective on that is like time. Everyone can work really hard and long hours, we don’t believe in that, like working long hours to achieve something, you need to be fresh and smart and make smart decisions. That’s like way better and something I learned throughout time with my work in Monday and even before, is that they’re 24 hours in the day. Okay?

Lior (39:09):

Surprise!

Roy (39:09):

Surprise. But if I work harder to achieve more, there is a limit to that, okay? I can do that. I can let’s say work really, really hard and accomplish more, but there will be a limit to that. And now my question is, am I going to be on the edge of like my exhaustion all the time that I need to let things go? Or if I understand that, I need to let things go because I have limited resource as one person in terms of time, then why not take a step backward? And then why not take a step backward? Like I can be smarter, a step ahead and save my time to be able to, if I choose the right things to work on. If I don’t just like go through the motion of what I did yesterday and I rethink it all the time and try it out.

Roy (40:00):

And there are people who are really good at it and there are people who need to learn it and like need to … and I’ve been to those places in life where I needed to put myself in the exhaustion period to understand that this is not what’s helping me. Okay? For developers, we have a, it’s a joke, like after 6:00 PM, you write the bugs that you need to solve in the next morning. So it doesn’t really help you to stay-

Lior (40:28):

To push it.

Roy (40:28):

Yeah, because like you’re just hurting yourself.

Lior (40:31):

So for me, it’s very clear that impact doesn’t come necessarily from hard work. You can do something very small and very smart and it can be impactful, but it must be doing, like the one underlying thing that I learned here about impact is that if you sit in a room and you talk all day and you understand your fears and the limits and the cost of things, this is never going to create any impact. And you’re not going to understand by the way, what’s really limiting you if you just talk about it. So I think that to coach people on impact, the first thing we tell them go and do. Like from the first day, onboarding time, take a task and just do it. Like don’t succeed. Don’t think, just go and find out what it is that you need to make it happen. And I think this is where people start understanding that it’s not motion, as you said before, Roy, it’s not like, oh, I’ll be busy all the time and this is impactful. No, it’s not.

Roy (41:26):

And it’s not like don’t succeed, it’s like, don’t try to avoid failure by thinking a lot and planning, just do things.

Lior (41:34):

Don’t freeze because you don’t know what’s the next thing to do.

Roy (41:36):

Because like planning, and again, that’s true for our industry. Again, aviation, don’t plan, think and then like a plane crashes and then you learn something, not good. For us we’re able to do that.

Lior (41:47):

I don’t think it’s black and white. I don’t think we ever say don’t plan, we just say, don’t sit all day and plan and think that you’re going to make impact out of that. Right?

Roy (41:54):

Yeah. And that brings us to the next value point, which is speed, that ties really closely to impact. We see speed in everything that we do as a value. Again, if you took the last example, I can do things faster or invest less time if I think smarter. Speed is important for the product, the first thing, it needs to load fast. It needs to be really quick. Like I would do a hundred more things with any system if it’s really fast, rather than wait even three seconds between clicks, so that’s the value there. And it has to do also within what we do, what you said, like do things. So the speed of from an idea or something I want to do to the-

Lior (42:51):

Execution.

Roy (42:51):

… actual beginning of the execution.

Lior (42:54):

Right.

Roy (42:54):

Okay? So like, what is the length of time that you sit around thinking about something before you did some action? Because like after the first action, you’re like a hundred times more informed about problems and the real scenario than you were before, so it’s just like reducing that gap of starting something is super important and that’s speed as well.

Lior (43:14):

I felt it very much when we started planning conferences for the first time last year and people had this immediate reaction of, wow, that’s plenty for six months. Why? Just because you plan big conferences for a long time, like weddings or something and then we said, “No, let’s do it in six weeks.” And the result would have been just as good, that’s the point. We did it in six weeks, we learned what we needed to do. So for the next one that will happen in six months, now we are more knowledgeable and we moved and we actually made impact. So I agree that speed is something at the essence of everything we do. And we try sometimes to push also, I think, right? We do challenge that on the edges.

Eran Zinman (43:53):

Yeah. I think it’s also one of our beliefs is that to be successful as a company, you need to move fast and moving fast is having high volume of execution and at the end of the day, you need to deliver fast or you need to fix bugs fast. Everybody appreciate when your fast, because well, the message you deliver is that I appreciate your time. And I think the same apply to our customers. And not only that it applies to us as a company and how we operate, we also take this to the product itself. So the value of speed is also something that we try to make sure that the product itself, the time it takes it to load, how smooth is the scrolling, how fast the system reacts when you click on a button, it’s very important for us.

Eran Zinman (44:39):

And it ties into the same value. We respect our customer’s time. We don’t want any customer of ours to wait for Monday to do anything for them. We want everything to be instant because again, the message is we appreciate your time. We want to be in a position where we save you time and we’re not costing you any delays.

Roy (45:01):

And I’ll give another example of speed that is like really management and how you work, is that if you take a long time to plan, you get married with the ideas you have, and then you’re more scared of failure, you’re more attached. People argue more and you’re more scared about failure because you invested more time in it. So if you just like start doing something, then people are less married to their idea, it’s easier to let go of things and try them out-

Lior (45:30):

And change.

Roy (45:31):

… and change and work together.

Eran Zinman (45:32):

And you can always blame that you didn’t have time to plan, you know?

Roy (45:34):

Yeah. But it doesn’t matter because you can just like move forward and do it again. So again, you need to be able to just move forward and be able to do it again, which we are like in anything we do, we see. And it’s a question, like doing billboards or buying ads in the subway, really, you want to fail at that? So the failure is that you didn’t do something as impactful, but you did it and you learn like a hundred different things and the next one is really amazing. And that’s what happened for us.

Lior (46:05):

Which connects to something else we say about speed, which is keeping the beat and cadence. I think this is something else.

Eran Zinman (46:12):

Yeah. So basically for almost everything that we would do, we want to have a cadence, which dictates the amount of changes that we expect in a certain time. So just to give a few examples, we have a cadence where every week we release a new iPhone and Android version. So it kind of sets the mind of people that work on the mobile app that they need to deliver changes in the course of a week. We expect a certain quarter to deliver X and Y features to the product because this is the cadence that we set for ourself. We have a biweekly iteration planning for our R&D. So all those things kind of set expectations of how many changes do you expect in a specific timeframe and this set the tone for the speed of execution and is-

Lior (47:01):

And learnings as well.

Eran Zinman (47:02):

Yeah. And it’s a great method to make sure that you keep the same speed as you wanting to have.

Roy (47:09):

And we also invent cadence where it’s not so natural.

Lior (47:12):

Right.

Roy (47:12):

Like let’s say we have that conference example you gave. So it’s a conference. You would expect like, okay, let’s list this stuff we need to do, everyone do it. Like we’ll see the times that it needs to converge and then see it. And then what happens usually is like people are disconnected, they’re not aligned. Someone did something, it wasn’t clear. So how do we-

Lior (47:33):

[inaudible 00:47:33].

Roy (47:34):

… where do understand that people are not aligning? We did something else that we didn’t really understand. So what we do usually is have like a short time that you said for executing and then meet every day in the morning, every day, you sync everyone and it’s important that everyone on the team understand what everyone else is doing and that’s not intuitive.

Lior (48:00):

No.

Roy (48:00):

Like I do the design, what do I care about the catering? What do I care about the content if I’m doing something else? So you care because you understand more, you understand what other people are doing, you understand the urgency, the importance of what you’re doing. So there’s a lot of valuing in like creating a beat every day around execution, that you’re thinking that way and that you know that whatever problem or question you have, you’re going to ask it tomorrow morning and have it in the same hour. And it’s like creating-

Lior (48:34):

The beat.

Roy (48:34):

… its cadence and beat. And it’s this …

Lior (48:39):

Another example that I see is that we have a project called Stories Worth Telling on which we bring to Israel, to our Tel Aviv office three customers every month and we ask them to tell the story and their journey with our product and our platform. And I think we can all say that we haven’t cracked this initiative fully yet, but we insist on bringing them every month. And so the team working on that, they never stop thinking on how to improve that. It’s not like something they do once a year and then, oh, thanks God, it’s gone and next year I’ll think about how to improve it. Every month they have this cycle of having to go through this thing so it will end up working very, very quickly.

Roy (49:20):

It’s a good example, because we set it up in a beat and it was hard. And the people that started to do it, wasn’t here for a long time in the company. And they tried to make it perfect. Okay? And I tell them like, we wouldn’t learn the right thing so let’s just do something. And we did it within a month and then we understood like a hundred different problems we didn’t think of before. And some problems we didn’t understand before, but the second one was really good.

Lior (49:48):

And the third was better and better and better because you have a beat. I think this is it. We’re very much open for any questions. Right? Follow up questions on that. So thank you all for listening. Thank you Eran and Roy for being here today with us.

Roy (50:04):

Thank you Lior.

Eran Zinman (50:05):

Thank you Lior.

Lior (50:05):

Thank you. Bye.

Here is the full episode

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