GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving talks about transformational leadership
Blake Irving, GoDaddy’s CEO, speaks at Optimove Connect 2017 about how beliefs can make or break your company
Hello. So funny story about Jesse Heiman and Bar Refaeli. Guess how many takes they had to do before they shot the final. Anybody?
Twenty. It was Jesse Heiman’s best day of his life. I’m telling you right now, man. It was unbelievable how excited that guy was. Bar, not so much. In fact, we had shown Bar a picture of somebody different and said, “Well, this is who’s going to be on set with you.” And then we head faked her and it was this Jesse Heiman guy.
She’s like, “You’re kidding me, right?” No, that’s the guy you’re going to be kissing all day long today. All right, so what I’m going to cover today is a couple different kinds of leadership, transformational, transactional. We’re going to go through cost-based and business space change. And go through a little bit of storytelling. And I know this is an unusual way to start a story, but I’ll do it anyway.
You learn a lot about somebody on a golf course. My mom used to drop me off when I was 11 years old. I was a super hyperkinetic, I had a boatload of energy. She didn’t want to hire a babysitter for me, I think. So she would drop me off at the golf course in the morning with a sack lunch and pick me up at night.
And in the daytime, I would walk around this golf course with grownups all day long just hitting a golf ball. You know, I didn’t get very good at it. It’s still pretty bad, but I’ve learned something that you learn a lot about people on a golf course. You’re with them for four hours at least, sometimes longer, and you learn if they cheat, are they too hard on themselves?
Do they have unreal expectations of their ability? Are they kind? Do people treat them like they’re nice? You can just see all of this on a golf course. Okay, now, I just laid that out because I’m going to go into some other storytelling, but that is relevant because roughly, I guess it was 2012, fall of 2012, so 5 years ago.
I was about to pull the trigger to be CEO of a company that was in the Silicon Valley, a more traditional tech company. And I got a phone call from a Heidrick & Struggles headhunter who said, “What do you know about GoDaddy?” And I said, “Well, I know a couple things. I know I have 48 domains that I own under their management.”
So I own 48. I had 48 ideas that I’m going to turn into something big someday. That’s how it all works. How many people here have domains? How many people here have domains with GoDaddy? Almost the same amount. So we have actually 70 million domains under management now, so there’s a high likelihood that you’re a customer of ours if you’ve ever been in that business where you host a website.
The interesting thing was I said, “Look, I know what they do I know about their commercials. Like, the commercials make no sense to me and they kind of offend me a little bit, and I know the products aren’t that good. So why do you guys want to talk to me?” They said, “Well, look, Bob Parsons, “this gentleman that you see here, who is a legend and I’ll explain why.
This gentleman built a company out of his own pocket, never took a dime of venture capital, grew it to a billion dollars. And so this headhunter says, “Are you interested? Maybe they’re looking for a CEO. They want a product guy.” I have built products my whole life. I said, “Yeah, you know, sure. I’ll look at it but, you know, I’m not interested because they’re so controversial, you know. They’re not very well-liked. You know, my family thinks their commercials are horrible and that’s how they represent themselves so I don’t know. What should I do?”
He was, “Well, let me send you this document.” Sends me a document and my mind explodes. Billion-dollar company. Almost what? $150 million in free cash flow, had about 3,000 employees, had built a billion-dollar company, 80% aided brand recognition in the United States, 85% customer retention, and LTV to CAC of 10X, lifetime value to customer acquisition cost at 10X which is insane, insanely good.
And I looked at these numbers and I thought, “Holy crap, their products aren’t that great and they’ve been able to do all this with unbelievable marketing.” Bob is a brilliant marketer. And I thought, yeah, you know, “I should take a look at this.” So this man actually grew his market share in three weeks by 20% by doing a Super Bowl ad that was incredibly controversial.
You all familiar with that campaign? Anybody? So he did a Super Bowl ad that had a woman that was making fun of the Janet Jackson faux pas from the year before in the Super Bowl. And it was so offensive, so offensive that the network called him after the first commercial and said, because he bought two spots, they ran the first spot and they said, you know, we had so many people calling the network telling us how horrible this is that we’re not going to run the second spot.
But we feel so bad about it, we’re going to credit you with the first spot. The Super Bowl ad, that’s three million bucks back in the day, he didn’t pay for it. Not only that, because he had the ad pulled, he got to go on, like, a three-week press tour talking about the ad, talking about what he knew about it and his comments were this.
“You know what I know about the Super Bowl? They’re mostly guys watching it and they’re mostly drunk. So that’s what I did. I ran it that way.” Brilliant marketer never took a dime outside capital and he sold to private equity KKR, Silver Lake, TCV for $2 billion.
And they wanted a product guy. So I said, “Yeah, I’m interested.” Well, okay, so I started talking to the board. I had conversations with them. They asked me what I wanted to do. I told them what my investment thesis was. I said, “Look, if I was going to do this, like you guys have made a billion dollars, you’ve never left the United States.”
I said, “I’d grow this thing globally. I’d flatten the platform. I’d hire good product guys. I’d open offices in Santa Clara, in Sunnyvale, in New York, in L.A., Seattle. I’d go get the best possible developers I could get, I’d change the marketing and flip it around so people saw what we did and who we do it for, and who we are as a company because the people that I’ve met don’t look like how we’re portraying ourselves publicly.”
I said, “I think I’ll do all that.” So the board said, “That’s cool. That’s our investment thesis as well. But you’re going to have to pass the last hurdle. You have to meet Bob.” Because Bob and I are very different guys. Where did I meet Bob? On a golf course. So I asked the board, I said, “Look, I’m going to meet him, but I want to know a lot about this guy.”
And so I know from my past that I’m going to know more about him on the golf course than any other place. So I spent five hours with him on a golf course. Walking around, we talked about people we knew, we talked about stuff we like to do, he was so kind, he was funny, he was a reverent. He didn’t have high expectations of this game, he shouldn’t have.
He was just such a nice guy and everybody who came up and talked with him, talked with him with such deference and love. They just really liked the guy. And so we didn’t talk at all about business, and then we came in and had lunch, and we started talking about the business and what I perceived it could be, what he had built, how he had built it, just unbelievable story of entrepreneurialism.
Just incredible. And I said, “You know, I think I’m going to do this.” And so I did it, and I jumped in knowing full well that I was going to have to do something that was a pretty tough putt. You know, it’s a 50-foot putt that breaks 15 times and I was going to have to transform this company into something that was global and something that was much, much bigger, that had a bigger vision than being a domains company and doing, you know, shock and awe ads.
So let’s just talk about transformation for a minute. Oh, that’s the American in me going and hitting the wrong button, sorry. So this guy is James Burns. I know he looks like somebody from “Game of Thrones” or “Lord Of The Rings,” but he’s actually a presidential biographer. He’s a brilliant guy, and he came up with the notion of two different kinds of leadership.
Transactional leadership and transformational leadership. Transactional leadership is the kind of leadership when you kind of know what the course of the company is. You need to instill processes, you need to make sure you’ve got discipline, that you’ve got a product pipeline, it’s not about cultural transformation. It’s not about how you transform the company and people’s minds and tell them you’re something very, very different.
Transformational leadership is about changing the bedrock of the company in people’s minds externally and changing it internally inside the company, and changing the way employees feel about it. Two very different concepts, both are required in different types. This required transformational leadership, it required a transformational leader which I have been doing in a number of companies over a really long time.
So two concepts, transactional, transformational. Another concept to get your hands around is think of business and culture. There’s business transformation and cultural transformation, they are both required.
Business transformation is a completely different thing where you’re thinking about how am I going to grow this thing? What am I going to do to make people think about this business differently? And then cultural is, how can I make the people inside believe it and what can they link into? What can they sink their hands into that says this is more important than just a business. This is something that changes the world in a fundamental way.
Because that’s what everybody who really wants to work at a company for a long time wants to do. They want to work on something that is meaningful, not something that just makes money and produces great results. That’s transactional. You want to have great results, but you also want to produce something that has more inside so when people spring out of bed in the morning, they’re not thinking about how many dollars they’re going to make for the company, they’re thinking about how they’re going to change a customer’s life.
Those are two very different things. I’m going to tackle both of them independently and how we went around doing this over the last five years. And I’ll give you some results of where we’ve ended up today in the last five years. By the way, I retire December 31st. Just heads up. All right, going to get used to that. Okay, so what do you do?
You start with a vision hypothesis. And a vision hypothesis is where you say to yourself, “Okay, what can this thing be?” I believe, and this was my vision hypothesis for GoDaddy, I believe this can be the largest platform for people that have an idea and want to turn it into something real online. I think that’s what this company can be and it can do it globally. Now, when you’re doing a vision hypothesis, you can’t just sit there, you know, delusionally on your couch and say, “Oh man, we’re going to be this giant global thing.”
And then just start writing about it. You actually have to convince people that it’s right. But while you’re convincing them that it’s right, you also have to be asking them questions, “Am I delusional? Am I out of my mind?” “Does this make sense at all?” So that’s what I started doing. I called the smartest people I knew, I called people I know hate everything, or at least every idea I’ve ever had.
I’m just looking in the audience. Anybody here that’s hated every idea ever? No emotion at all. So, you know, and I started asking questions, I think this could be this giant small business platform. Like nobody’s actually done this as a global level. There’s a lot of fragmented guys out there that are doing it. You know, the average revenue per user we get is pretty low.
It’s like 150 bucks a year. I don’t think it’s interesting to Amazon, or Microsoft, or Google. I mean, do you guys think I’m nuts? So I’m calling these guys that I know are smarter than me that are in Microsoft, and Google, and Yahoo, and eBay, and PayPal, a couple of financial institution. I’m asking them, they think I’m nuts. Then they’re going, “No, man. That actually can work.”
And so you take that feedback and you start testing it. You start working hard on testing it and you actually start digging into the company. Now, when I’m having those conversations with those folks and I’m asking questions about what they think about this hypothesis, what am I doing simultaneously?
I’m recruiting them. So as I was asking these guys that I had worked with at other companies over the course of my career, I’m saying, “Is this something you might be interested in?” This company’s only valued at $2 billion dollars right now, and I think this is a $20 billion evaluation. That’s a pretty big kicker. And if we do this thing that’s really interesting and we actually change the world for these tiny businesses that want to do something bigger, we actually might be able to make a lot of money for a bunch of investors, you know, and maybe even ourselves.
But the thing that’s going to get people springing out of bed in the morning is a vision that is about changing the world. So, bringing it into the company and starting asking those questions to folks inside the company. I took the job, I’m there. Vision hypothesis tests out, all the smart guys think it makes sense.
I’ve actually hired five of the people that I tested, James Carroll, Elise Murphy, Arnold Blan. Some guys in the audience know these people, and on, and on, and on at three layers, four layers deep. And then I start talking to people inside the company.
And here’s a weird thing. Now, let’s talk about… That’s business transformation, right? Talking about business transformation, talking about something that’s bigger than life. When you start talking to folks who have been in a company that long and have been in a domains business and didn’t think of themselves as a platform for small business, they’re looking at you like, “What the hell are you talking about, man? We’re the biggest company in Phoenix, Arizona.”
That’s where the company was and I remember having a conversation with a developer saying, “Hey, you know, man, we’re going to have to start hiring developers from the valley.” And he goes, “That’s the only place we hire from.” And I looked at him kind of cockeyed and I thought, “You guys haven’t hired anybody from the Silicon Valley.”
He goes, “Oh, the Silicon Valley?” I thought you meant the valley of the sun, Arizona. That’s where we are. I’m like going, “Okay.” So we have some possible cause for me to be concerned at this point. So I start asking these guys, “What do you like?” and I’m a very disarming guy, I’m like, “What do you like about the company? What do you think is awesome? What do you think sucks? What do you think is horrible?”
And they look at me and they go like, “You know, you’re the CEO, I can’t tell you what I think sucks about the company.” And so I started out saying like, “Okay, I’ll tell you something that sucks. Everybody in this company has to fill out a timecard.” The CFO came to my office on Friday, the CFO.
You know, this is a over a billion dollar revenue company. Comes to my office and goes like, “Dude, you haven’t signed my timecard yet.” It’s my first week in the office. I’m like, “You have a timecard? You’re the CFO. How many hours do you put in a week?” “I don’t know, 60, 80. I don’t know, a lot. I put a ton of hours.” So why the hell are you signing the timecard? “Well, because, you know, if people don’t sign timecards, we don’t know if they’re working when they’re supposed to be working.”
So, oh no. So we got a little trust issue, I guess, right? Is that why there are locks in all these different places and nobody can get into the exec area? So I start telling the story to guys. That’s just stupid it makes no sense. And what I found is really interesting that culture is this really weird thing that employees tend to do and you might do this at your company too.
You have a table and you have this beautiful crystal pyramid on the table and you go, “That’s my culture, these are my cultural values and my beliefs and they’re so wonderful. This is what our company is. Look how great it is.” Now, it turns out that this little crystal pyramid goes actually underneath the table and there’s all kinds of shit underneath the table that nobody will talk about, especially to the CEO, unless the CEO starts taking cracks at it.
And all the guys, every man, every woman, that I talked to in the company would say to me, “Well, yeah. The timecard thing’s totally stupid. I don’t understand the locks. You know, the commercials really embarrass me. You know, what I don’t understand is why do we only have like 15 developer guys that are actually working on stuff and everybody else is just trying to keep the equipment up and running? Why haven’t we actually gone on the public cloud? Why haven’t we opened a data center on the East Coast?”
Just on, and on, and on. And listening to these guys, it was like, “Yes, they want change. They’re ready for change.” So digging in deep, getting that stuff going allowed me to start taking some pretty big steps inside the company to make some significant changes. And make it safe for all of these people that are coming in from other companies to feel safe and say, like, “We’re going to make changes, you’re going to love them.”
You may not love them, You may not like them, you probably want to work somewhere else if you don’t. But this is going to be something that’s transformational and this company is going to look a hell of a lot different five years from now, and 10 years from now than it does today which is a Phoenix-based domains business. So, that’s vision hypothesis, that’s testing it, that’s getting it into places where you can get your company’s employees excited about this before you even unleash it on customers.
And then the next step is actually writing it down. I don’t know how many of your companies you actually write stuff down in prose versus PowerPoint. What I found is that PowerPoint is, I think, probably one of the most dangerous tools on the planet where people will shorthand stuff and then just fill in the blanks depending on what audience they’re talking to.
And so I’m a huge proponent of, like, you put together and we used to call it 2/20/200, two-page vision document that you give to the entire company. Everybody in the company reads it. 20-page document that you give to the top guys in the company that allows them to have, you know, meat and understand what’s actually happening.
They can fill it out. There’s enough there that they can actually start making some guesses. And then you do a 200-page operating plan that you do every year. You change that two-page document hopefully very little because if it’s a strategy document, it talks about the strategy, it talks about what the organization looks like that’s going to deliver the strategy. That should not change very often, maybe once every four or five years.
The 20-page document shouldn’t change either. It should actually have a couple of nuances, you’ll go back and you’ll look at that thing every year. Make nuance stuff that happened competitively in the marketplace, maybe some economics happened that were different than some of the hypotheses you had initially and they didn’t test out. And that 200-page document changes every year, every single year. And write it down in detail, it actually forces you to commit.
And if you have a PowerPoint and it’s just a bunch of bullet items, you’re not committed to it. You’re looking at the audience you’re going like, “Okay. Here’s what the bullet says, “and I’m just going to start filling it out with real, you know, kind of meat, depending on who I’m talking to. So we actually went into gruesome detail and storytelling about who our customer was.
We segmented our customers into psychographic segments versus vertical segments. We went into you’re a nascent, you just have an idea. You’re small and hungry. You’re up and running and dreaming big. You’re established and content. you’re an e-commerce customer or you’re somebody who does a domain investing. And that cycle changed the way that we thought about our customer, changed the way we defined, and then we tested that hypothesis on what our customers look like globally and said, “Oh shit, this thing is actually homogenous around the world. We can go do this everywhere.”
We started there, one of the most important pieces of that document was having a vision that was just super powerful, that was just…made people go like, “Man, that’s awesome.” It started with a vision and then went down into granular detail on what that looked like. The vision statement in that document was bigger than life.
It was radically shifting the global economy towards life fulfilling, independent ventures. For people that have, you know, a desire to do something on their own, they don’t want to work for somebody anymore, they want to go out and work on their own, or they were fired and they lost their job or they had a second kid and they couldn’t work and they want to go do something by themselves.
And it turns out that people really want to do this. Now, it’s a hard thing to metricize because what you have to do is go look at the world’s GDP growth, 10 years hence after doing something like this and saying, “Wow, people are actually enabling folks to go get online, build their own business, work for themselves at a rate that’s never happened in the world before.
It’s not going to be just us, it won’t just be GoDaddy, we’re going to be the first guys who actually say this is going to be where we’re going. And I’ve spelled it out and talked to… I’ve talked to Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, about this stuff and they think it’s real. They just don’t know if the customer makes, you know, spends enough money to make an important tool.
But it is a powerful changer that the company got behind, so, boy, that’s really exciting. I want to figure out how to go do that. And then we have a lot of metrics that sit underneath it. Now, that’s business transformation. Now, there’s another thing that I talked about which is cultural. And cultural is interesting because you have to pick, I believe, I posit, you have to pick a cause that resonates with your customer base, resonates with your company, and is solving something that’s good that actually forwards your business.
And then you have to be a beacon for the cause, you have to be the person that will get up on stage and talk about it and push it really hard and say, “This is where we’re going.” In my case, and what mattered the most to me was changing the game for women in technology. Women engineers insanely underrepresented, less than 20%of engineers in the Silicon Valley today are women.
They’re not paid equally, there’s no pay transparency, it’s a major issue. You know, World Economic Forum says, you know, “Overall, globally, we’re 70 years away, 170 years away from having equality between the sexes in pay and rights.” And even in our most advanced places, Silicon Valley I’ll use as an example we have some huge issues.
Many of which now, thank God, are actually being talked about openly. But this became a very big beacon for us. What percent of small businesses, folks, are run by women? Guesses? Seventy, a little high. Fifty-eight percent globally, 58%. So if we can actually say to women, “We’re your supporter, “we’re not going to use, you know, shock and awe, misogynistic advertising to actually go forward our products.
We’re going to represent you in commercials that show you as a strong business person doing the right thing, fighting the good fight, and we’re going to do it in a funny and humorous way, but that’s what we’re going to do. That’s the easy part. So we did that. And I actually, personally, put myself out in a couple of places to let people know that we were going to be doing this.
Got support from the board, they said, “Yup, that makes sense. Let’s go for it.” And we started doubling down and actually participating in a lot of things. I want to talk real briefly about why this matters as much to me personally. So my sister was sort of my doppelganger, she was a few years younger than me, and she was one of the world’s foremost researchers on the media’s effect on women’s body image and self-esteem and its likelihood to create anorexia or bulimia in women.
Tragically, when she was 37, she was pregnant, about two weeks away from giving birth, had so much blood in her system that her aorta ripped and she passed away. And her daughter passed away. And my pledge to her was that I would do everything in my power in my business to forward women as much as she tried to help their cause when she was fighting for something that was incredibly right.
And so I took that personal cause on, didn’t think when I took this role at GoDaddy that flipping the advertising from using women as part of the shock and awe to, like, valuing them and then making sure that when I hired, my first chief technical officer was a woman, my first board director was a woman, to actually start putting my money where my mouth was and getting the support of my board to say, “Yeah, that makes a lot of sense and I get it.”
So incredibly, personally important and I posit that if you’re going to take something on as a leader in your group, whether it’s a small team or whether it’s a whole company, and our company now is around 8,000 people, it has to resonate with everybody and it has to be incredibly personal and very valuable, which, for me, it really is.
And you actually have to do real representation. So we established something called GoDaddy Women Technology, and I remember standing up in an all-hands meeting because we had this thing called GoDaddy Girls which were kind of, you know, T-shirt wearing, people dancing at trade shows and stuff. It’s like “Okay, we’re not going to do that anymore.”
We’re going to have GoDaddy Women and you’re it, and you’re engineers, and you’re accountants, and you’re finance people, and you are marketers, and you are the lifeblood of us and we want more of you working in a very diverse set of roles across this company. And we’re going to do a lot to get us there. GoDaddy Women Technology, this is Gail Giacobbe, she’s SVP with us as a software developer running all of our UX and our experienced teams for development.
Incredibly powerful woman. Another woman, Lauren Antonoff, along with her runs this thing and we bring together women and men to talk about issues and actually talk about what we’re going to do in the future and what we’re doing right now to solve some of the issues that the entire industry has. It’s not enough just to get folks inside the company talking about it, it’s getting folks outside the company talking about it.
So this is Maria Klawe, Maria Klawe is the president of Harvey Mudd University which is a university which transformed itself from having 15% women computer scientists to graduating 50%, which is sort of where we want to be in the world. If we had 50% of women actually being computer scientists today, the half a million jobs in the United States that go unspoken for in computer science today would be full.
We wouldn’t have the issue, but we do. This woman, I asked to come speak at GoDaddy Women in Technology when there’s no evidence, we haven’t put any points on the board yet, with the exception of a couple commercials that we’re shifting the company. And a woman named Sabina Nawaz who was somebody I mentored at Microsoft very early in her career, 1992, that’s how old I am.
And spent time with her, she became this incredible, powerful woman who actually managed to hold together all the exec team and she was mentoring the entire exec team when I left the company in 2007. She was Maria Klawe’s exec coach helping Maria get through some imposter syndrome things.
You guys probably know what an imposter syndrome is, we all have it from time to time. And my first conversation with Maria she goes, “You know, I just told my husband I was going to talk with the CEO of GoDaddy, and you know what he said to me?” No. “GoDaddy, that’s a horrible company.” Because of everything he’d seen on TV, because he didn’t know what was happening inside the company, he didn’t know what we were going to do over the course of the next four years.
And so that conversation actually led Maria to go out, “I believe you.” She introduced me to Telle Whitney, the CEO of the Anita Borg Institute which holds the largest computing conference for computer scientists in the world. It’s mostly women, it was 8,000 women, or 18,000 women in Orlando this year, 12,000 before that in Houston, 8,000 before that, so it’s growing at a pretty big crack.
She came and talked because now she believed it. Madeline Di Nonno who’s the head of the Geena Davis Foundation came and talked. We had a number of women CEOs come and talk and they start getting it, and then I was asked to speak at a male allies panel at the Anita Borg Institute where I had death threats. I was told I was a pig because of all the stuff that had happened at GoDaddy.
How dare I even show up at a conference for women in computing. And, you know, sometimes you just got to stand up and say, “Eh.” You know, I had a special, you know, detail that were there to make sure I didn’t get killed which was good. I appreciated that, but I actually went around and had a session where it was the CTO of Google, of Facebook, of Intuit and me talking about how we support women and what we do.
And a woman named Robin Hauser Reynolds who did a documentary called “CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap,” anybody seen this movie? Go see this film. It’s a documentary, incredibly powerful, it’s about how the bro culture and technology has sort of taken over and kind of pushed women out. “Brogrammers,” it talks about, and making that something that is actually very real.
It’s not made up, it’s a real thing. And so she came up afterwards, she goes, “I heard your story. I totally believe it. Would you mind being the executive producer on this film?” I said, “Yeah, sure. That would be awesome.” Then the next year, I end up doing a keynote with the CTO of the United States, myself, and a woman who is talking about personal transformation, Clara Shih, who is a very fine entrepreneur in the Silicon Valley, talking about country transformation, company transformation, and individual personal transformation.
And that is in the course of three years. Now, if you kind of look back over time, the company has…And I’ll just give you some quick numbers. Remember where I started. Phoenix, 3,500 employees, very different. We’re in 60 countries worldwide. We’re not a billion dollars, we’re 2.6 billion dollars.
This is in five years. We have employees in almost every country in the world, 1,100 just in Europe alone. We’ve been voted as one of the top 12 companies for technical women to work in. You know, sharp contrast to four or five years ago, because people believed it. And your job when you’re trying to be a transformational leader is to be a belief creation machine, that’s your gig.
And sometimes you have to do extreme things to be that person and it’s uncomfortable, and people give you death threats and call you a pig, and do all kinds of crazy stuff and it’s worth every freaking minute of it. Because that’s how you actually transform a company both business and culture. And if you do it right, they go hand-to-hand and they actually build on each other.
And I’m leaving in December, but the next guy who’s coming in, Scott Wagner, an incredibly capable CEO, is totally committed to what we’re doing across both our business transformation, cultural transformation, he’s just going on with it. This is something we did at the Grace Hopper where we actually didn’t just talk about how many women we have, which is a typical number that most Silicon Valley companies do, we actually went down to the detail of talking about how much they were paid by job position across the company.
And then we found out that, boy, they look like they’re paid about the same. Thought, “Wait a minute. I bet that the women’s promotion trajectory is slower than men’s. Went back and researched that it was true. We changed some things, some practices in the company that were actually slowing women’s promotion trajectory and we now have 30% more promotions for women than we had in the previous year.
Just because we took a critical look at it, we got the entire company behind it and said, “This is what transformation looks like. If we do it for our company, we can do it for the entire industry. Let’s do that.” And really, you know, I talked about doing something that feels like it’s bigger than just driving a business. That’s how you get employees aligned behind you and how you get them feeling like, “Goddamn, I want to work here.
I really want to work here, because you’re committed, everybody’s committed, we’re all trying to get things that are done that are really good for the world, but letting entrepreneur become their own boss and helping a class of society, a gender on the planet that has been underrepresented in the technology that should be frankly even with men. And it hasn’t happened. If we went back to the ’80s, 20% better than it is today because of the brogrammer stuff that happened in the ’90s and the early 2000s.
So at how the world should be framed, I think, really really matters, and there is a woman, pretty controversial, actually, occasionally a woman named Margaret Mead who had something that she said that I believe to this day. It was my one of my sister’s favorite quotes. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
And if you have just a few people, let’s say, 8,000 that believe some stuff can actually happen and be dramatically changing for individuals who are trying to do things that are different, they’re trying to be their own boss, they’re trying to figure out how to make their family capable of having a meal. Maybe it’s, “I want to have Fridays off,” maybe, “I want to have my children work for me.”
And by the way, while you’re doing that, you’re actually trying to solve a bigger problem that’s representative in the valley and in other places. That really matters. But I just ask people to do is when they’re thinking about this stuff, if you have picked something, keep your foot on the accelerator, keep going forward and don’t let people tell you it’s stupid, it doesn’t make sense, how dare you.
Just pay no attention to it and just drive through it and I think you’ll all be in a better place. Maybe you’re doing it already, and if you are, thumbs up. All right, I’m totally done.