Manager Success Blog

People Operations

Here’s What ‘Don’t Fuck Up the Culture’ Means to Airbnb’s Mark Levy

In October, 2013, Airbnb’s cofounder and CEO, Brian Chesky asked venture capitalist Peter Thiel for his single most important piece of advice. His reply?

“Don’t fuck up the culture.”

Fastforward to today, and Airbnb has created one of the most well-known and respected company cultures in the world. We wanted to know what “don’t fuck up the culture” means to the company now that they’re a global, multi-billion-dollar organization.

To find out, we talked to Airbnb’s Global Head of Employee Experience, Mark Levy. Having led human resources and people operations at massive multinational corporations like Levis, Gap, and Best Buy, Levy is no stranger to engaging diverse and growing workforces.

We asked him to tell us more about his role at Airbnb, give advice on how to scale culture as you grow, and to share which companies he looks to for inspiration. Here are some of the highlights.

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People Operations

MetaLab’s Founder On Their ‘No Asshole Policy’

MetaLab is an interface design company that specializes in taking ideas from “napkin sketches” to fully realized digital products. In addition to working with clients like Slack, Tumblr, Facebook, YouTube, and TED, they’ve also developed their own products, including Flow and Pixel Union.

The company was started nine years ago by Andrew Wilkinson, who strongly values culture and is a thought leader on entrepreneurship. One of the interesting choices he made early on was to keep the company based in his hometown of Victoria, BC, a small city on Vancouver Island, even as his clients grew to include Fortune 50 companies and Silicon Valley giants.

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Resources for Managers

Why Giving Feedback Right Now is More Compassionate And Effective

Annual performance reviews, quarterly checkins, and even monthly or weekly one-on-ones are great, but they cannot replace the impact and importance of continuos, ad hoc feedback.

Too many managers and leaders wait until scheduled appointments with employees to deliver feedback. If you aspire to create a workplace that values empowerment and growth, these scheduled time slots should be reserved for checking in with employees on their goals, career development, and wellbeing, and serve as an opportunity for them to bring up any issues, solutions or ideas they want to share.

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People Operations

What We Learned about Culture from Zappos’ Christa Foley

Zappos, the famous online shoe retailer that was acquired by Amazon for $1.2B in 2009, has one of the most talked about company cultures in world. Fascinated by their unique approach to business, I wrote a profile on their culture a few weeks ago based on information from dozens of articles and blog posts. Yet the more I read, the more I wanted to know.

I wanted to learn more about how Holacracy actually works, what kinds of people thrive in a self-managing environment and how to find them, how Zappos’ life coaching program works, and what elements of their culture haven’t received much attention but are worth exploring.

I’m humbled and grateful that we had the opportunity to connect with Christa Foley, a “Lead Link” at Zappos Insights.

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People Operations

Why Basecamp CEO Jason Fried Believes 40 Hours Is Plenty

In a world that increasingly values hustle and glorifies burnout, it’s refreshing to hear leaders speak out against philosophies that advocate working yourself to the bone.

Jason Fried is one of those leaders. He’s the co-founder and CEO of an incredibly successful tech company called Basecamp, which was started in 1999, and continues to thrive today.

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