When I was first at Facebook, a woman named Lori Goler, a 1997 graduate of HBS, was working in marketing at eBay and I knew her kind of socially. And she called me and said, I want to talk with you about coming to work with you at Facebook. So I thought about calling you, she said, and telling you all the things I’m good at and all the things I like to do. But I figured that everyone is doing that. So instead I want to know what’s your biggest problem and how can I solve it. My jaw hit the floor. I’d hired thousands of people up to that point in my career, but no one had ever said anything like that. I had never said anything like that. Job searches are always about the job searcher, but not in Laurie’s case. I said, you’re hired. My biggest problem is recruiting and you can solve it. So Lori changed fields into something she never thought she’d do, went down a level to start in a new field and has since been promoted and runs all of the people operations at Facebook and has done an extraordinary job.
If you’re not committed to your life’s work in a company and with people you could endure for decades, are you making progress on it?
By constantly questioning, probing and wondering ‘what if’, curiosity becomes the catalyst for change, breaking down otherwise ingrained and embedded constraints. It is the impetus to creativity, innovation and disruption. And this is the value of curiosity. Its potential is vast.
We need to let robots take over. They will do jobs we have been doing, and do them much better than we can. They will do jobs we can’t do at all. They will do jobs we never imagined even needed to be done. And they will help us discover new jobs for ourselves, new tasks that expand who we are. They will let us focus on becoming more human than we were.
Let the robots take the jobs, and let them help us dream up new work that matters.
The one thing humans can do that robots can’t (at least for a long while) is to decide what it is that humans want to do.
The Japanese have an expression, hara hachi bu, which means, roughly speaking, “belly 80 percent full.” Hara hachi bu is shorthand for an ancient injunction to stop eating before feeling full. Nutritionally, the command makes a great deal of sense. When people eat, their stomachs produce peptides that signal fullness to the nervous system. Unfortunately, the mechanism is so slow that eaters frequently perceive satiety only after they have consumed too much—hence the all-too-common condition of feeling bloated or sick from overeating.
Thank goodness for Percolate, a small but fast-growing company that recognizes that marketing on the “social scale” requires content, content and more content, but only if it passes the relevancy test. Through algorithms, filters and other tools, Percolate scours the web and serves up content tailored to my specific areas of focus that I can review and easily share.
I’m grateful for and a tiny bit envious of this start-up. I marvel at how its founders quickly spotted a need and last year created a company that has scored a slew of clients and, in November, $9 million in funding. Besides that, everything this company does is on-brand, from its business cards and its Daily Brew email to the—yes–perkiness of its staffers.
Claiming to have been born in 1906, Pierre Jean Buster Martin was a 104-year-old beer drinking and chain-smoking marathon runner. He did not include fish, dairy, tea, or water in his diet. Buster smoked since he was seven-years-old and followed a diligent regimen of beer, cigarettes, and red meat. In 2008, Buster successfully finished the London Marathon. When Buster was not training for marathons, he cleaned vans for Pimlico Plumbers in southeast London. On April 12, 2011 Buster finished work, had a beer, and went home. He died that night, at age 104
My agency is no stranger to this, either. For example, we started to see that the creative process and its business model were breaking down the deeper we got into social media. Constant, timely asset creation was mandatory but did not work within “normal” digital operational or financial models. We could not create assets intelligently, creatively, quickly or inexpensively enough to be as effective as we believed we needed to be. So we had to re-imagine and re-invent a significant part of our business to adapt, and our Moment Studio was born. And it, like us, will need to be in a constant state of flux. And frankly, both will always have a long way to go, because we are in the service business, a highly competitive space with downward pressure on margins and rising expectations for leadership. We have accepted that we must remain nimble enough to re-invent other areas of our business in our quest to be the best, and the best option for our clients. That means striving to be the best at disrupting ourselves. The only way to be well positioned for the future is to accept that it is uncertain and to structure your organization as one that is self-disruptive. The only certain part of the future for agencies is that we will continue to get consideration for our most commoditized services. You should not be OK with that.