Today’s leaders are the drivers of tomorrow’s innovations but they also play a large role in supporting social movements, philanthropy, and giving back to build a better tomorrow. At Cloud 100, we heard what the new guard of tech increasingly wants as told through the stories of four CEOs: Stephen Curry, CEO of SC30, Inc. and athlete for the Golden State Warriors, Eric Yuan, CEO of Zoom, Frank Slootman, CEO of Snowflake, and Jennifer Tejada, CEO of PagerDuty.
They discuss the legacies they hope to build with the companies they’re leading and how their values translate into the change they’re driving and the decisions they make each day. Together these leaders dive into the strategies to future-proof their businesses and the future of the tech industry.
Institutional resilience is now a function of cultural diversity
“When surrounded by uncertainty, values are a foundation to help you weather any storm,” says Jennifer Tejada, the CEO of PagerDuty, whose team has proved remarkably resilient to the changes of 2020. “It’s especially important in times of stress. I can’t imagine trying to lead an organization through this chaos without a very strong set of values that bond us together.”
For Jennifer, strength starts with diversity. “We believe that to get the best out of our people, they have to reflect the communities they serve,” she says. “The best ideas come from diverse teams that feel a sense of belonging.” This matters doubly in times of crisis. But arriving there isn’t simple.
“Anybody who tells you becoming more diverse is easy is either lying or not paying attention,” says Jennifer. It demands you continuously find new ways to demonstrate empathy and role-model vulnerability. According to Tejada, vulnerability leads to trust and trust is an all-important element in creating a culture of belonging.
“What’s worked well in this time is our leaders are being more visible. We’re sharing ‘Ask me anything’ videos from leaders at other organizations and we’re conducting casual, spontaneous skip-level check-ins,” says Jennifer. For these check-ins, they don’t just talk business. They ask, “How are you feeling? How’s your family? How’s the transition? What are you working on? How can I be more helpful?”
“Mental health issues in this environment are real,” she continues. “We can only see a very narrow view of what our employees and customers are going through. As a leader, assume it’s more than you think, and demonstrate you care more than they know.”
In doubt, focus on the customer. Those decisions will always be sustainable
For some businesses, this time has proved challenging not because it’s constricted their activities, but because it’s demanded that they expand their services ten-fold. Practically overnight, Zoom went from being a video conference tool for businesses to a stand-in doctor’s office, yoga studio, classroom, and wedding chapel.
“Our challenge is, how do we serve all these totally unexpected first-time users given there are so many new use cases?,” says CEO Eric Yuan. “I’ve had more sleepless nights recently than anytime before but the good news about it all is that our investment in culture paid off.” By that, Yuan means that he team didn’t crack. Added stress didn’t break Zoom, but allowed it to reform. It’s now experiencing customer growth by more than 450% year-over-year as of Q2 2020.
Eric exemplifies the new guard in his taste for adopting a truly mammoth mission and then empowering the team to imagine how they might get there. “We can and truly do care about every user,” he says “I think about how we can deliver happiness for all those users, all over the globe.”
One key to making such a large mission practicable is not getting too caught up in MBA-isms and overwrought management frameworks. His goal is simple enough to explain to a passerby: “As CEO, I ask, ‘How can we best serve our employees and our customers?’ If you truly care about your customer, no matter what kind of decision you make internally, those decisions are sustainable. The customer will know.”
Recruit people of high-character who don’t care how many minutes they’re played
Many athletes are carving out second careers as venture capitalists and entrepreneurs as they realize that through technology, they can have an impact that transcends their sport. Stephen Curry is a professional basketball player, but he’s also CEO of SC30, the company through which he manages his portfolio of investments. True to his mission and values, he’s bringing the leadership principles he practiced on the court over to build the type of businesses that win championships.
“Whether you played in childhood or today, sports teaches you the discipline of being collaborative,” says Stephen. “You learn to work in a team environment. You learn to hold your own weight and to be inspired and motivated by the people around you.” For him, building a team that works well together is simple: “At the Warriors, first and foremost, we select high character people. You feel it in the locker room and everybody vibes off of that energy.”
“SC30 is like any startup with a strong culture and a small roster. We have to continue to develop no matter what the circumstances are, and we have to make sound investments and have clear stances on social justice,” he continues. “For us, staying true to that is the most important thing we can do, no matter the medium.”
To find the good people that can help you on your mission, you have to model being good yourself. “As a leader, you set the tone. If you do, and you have good people and you set a goal, everybody buys into it, no matter their role, no matter how many minutes they’re played or what they’re getting paid,” says Stephen. “It’s about them feeling valued in the process. They obviously have to have talent. But without good people who can work together, who share values, then you’re going to find more speed bumps than successes.”
Get ahead of transformation in order to drive it
This year has been a heavy one, but in retrospect, CEO Frank Slootman realizes remote work has had hidden benefits. “When we walked out of our offices to do our work at home without any personal contact I thought, ‘How could this possibly work for 2,000 people?’” But the transition has been smoother than expected and it gave Frank an increased appreciation for the unknown and for the power of routine and the culture at Snowflake, the data platform and this year’s latest graduate of the Cloud 100 with its recent IPO.
“What was incredibly important was that as a company, we had structure—set meetings, set check-ins, set process,” says Frank. “So was having culture. It’s the only thing that’s uniquely yours.” By this, he means all companies have access to a pool of talent and capital, but culture is the only thing that cannot be copied or traded. If you as a leader aren’t constantly working on it by setting clear expectations and driving toward objectives, you’re “left with the dregs of what people import from their prior employers.”
“If you’re not going after a culture, you’re defaulting to a suboptimal mode of operation,” says Frank. “That’s why I’m so focused on our culture. It’s not just posters on the wall. The only time you build it is when you put a stake in the ground and act on your values.” How will you know when you have culture? “When everyone knows to stand up and call something out,” he says.
To keep his company’s culture healthy and future-focused, Frank believed it was his responsibility as the CEO to keep up with his relentless habit of asking the hard questions. He stayed curious and pushed himself to spot the moments and opportunities to encourage growth in the organization, so as to not miss out on moments for transformation. Stasis, after all, is something every leader eventually confronts.
“When I coach younger leaders, I tell them they’ll eventually be confronted with the need to transform the business. And the question is, will you recognize it? And if you do, can you execute on it?” says Frank.
Frank goes on to explain that this leadership practice of constantly challenging the status quo is an extension of Snowflake’s product, too. “Innovation is about setting extremely high standards for your product,” he says. “It’s always important to look for opportunities to re-invent and have extremely high standards.”
“I’m still inspired every single day by the late Steve Jobs, who always said, ‘It has to be insanely great, or I’m going to be completely disinterested.’ He actually had more colorful language than that,” says Frank, with a laugh. “In other words, it has to totally inspire; good enough is not good enough. You raise the bar again and again and again, until we, and our customers, are completely blown away by what we’re trying to do.”
Jennifer Tejada (00:12): I’m Jenn Tejada, the CEO of PagerDuty.
Eric Yuan (00:14): I’m Eric, CEO of Zoom.
Frank Slootman (00:17): I’m Frank Slootman, CEO of Snowflake.
Stephen Curry (00:20): Stephen Curry with the Golden State Warriors and founder of SC30. Welcome to Cloud 100. Really excited to have this opportunity. Let’s get into the first question. And I guess I’ll ask the three amazing CEOs that we have with us today. We know 2020 has presented a host of problems and issues, but also opportunities. What’s been the hardest lesson you’ve learned this year, specifically, with everything that you’ve had to adjust to during the year.
Jennifer Tejada (00:53): Well, I’ll take a crack at that, Stephen. Thank you. I think the first challenge was just the sheer volume and diversity of unprecedented problems and challenges that we’ve never seen before all coming at us in a very short time period earlier this year when COVID-19 hit and then dealing with the associated market volatility and economic environment that followed on the back of a global pandemic that would keep any CEO pretty busy.
Jennifer Tejada (01:23): I’ve found that we’ve really had to expand our leadership beyond customers and employees and partners to all of our stakeholders and think first about keeping people safe. Second, about how we can leverage our voices, our platforms, our products, and our technology to try and help stop the spread of COVID and help solve for unemployment and joblessness and some of the challenges that we’ve seen a rise. And third, for me, what I’ve found is being values-driven has served as an advantage. It’s been really important to really understand and listen to our people and to our customers and empathize with what they’re going through and note that every single person is experiencing this environment in this pandemic a little differently. So there isn’t a one size fits all solution to the set of challenges that we have.
Frank Slootman (02:15): I’m actually amazed how well it has worked. And we sort of learned a whole bunch of new lessons in the process. But what was incredibly important is that as a company, if you were more structured, more institutionalized about how you get through today, in other words, having your set meetings, you set check-ins, standard processes, but I will tell you that in the beginning, we all thought this is going to be a matter of weeks and months. Of course, we’re now four or five months into it with no end in sight, but we’ve also much more settled in as a group and as an organization. So we think we can keep this up, hopefully not indefinitely, but we would and we could if we had to.
Eric Yuan (03:02): Zoom’s challenge was centered on how we could serve totally unexpected, first-time users given that there were so many, new use cases of the platform — from online yoga class, telemedicine, online classes, wedding ceremony. There were so many new use cases on how to keep the service up. And it was full of uncertainty. You know, our team worked so hard. I had more sleepless nights than any time before, and the good news is that our investment paid off and no one at Zoom complained. All we can do is to truly care about every user, think about how to truly deliver happiness to all those users all over the globe. That’s the lesson learned. Think about the customer. Think about the employees. You’ll be okay.
Stephen Curry (03:57): Big challenge just in terms of when it comes to our SC30, we’re not on any level like, Frank, Jennifer, and Eric, but in terms of it being a really startup culture with a small roster, trying to keep the chemistry and the culture of how we operate. Kind of to Frank’s point around when you’re not in person and having that connection, face to face, especially in the early days, that was a challenge. And I think a big part of it is how you balance, the disciplines of your day to day, knowing that everybody has their specific roles and ways to impact the direction of what we’re trying to do. And for us staying true to that is the most important thing we can, no matter what the medium is. Whether it’s a Zoom call or an email or whatever the case is, that communication is extremely important. That’s something that you have to continue to develop no matter what the circumstances are.
Eric Yuan (05:04): Stephen, you’re a world-class athlete. As a tech company CEO I can tell you, in addition, to keep working harder, to make our business successful also, I have a dream. If I can have a side dream, I want to be your teammate. You are not only a world-class athlete, a good leader. I think my friend, Andre Iguodala, he speaks very highly of you as his great teammate. Great leader, wonderful father, and also a lot of people may not know that you are also the founder of SC30. I really want to understand how you learn from your experience time on the basketball court to building a successful business.
Stephen Curry (05:51): Sports teaches you so much about the discipline to be able to be collaborative, the ability to work in a team environment, to hold your own weight, to be inspired and motivated by the other people around you. But the one piece that I’ve learned just in how we’ve had success, especially with the Warriors is high character, high quality, good people. First and foremost, that they fill a locker room. Everybody vibes off of that energy. And when you set a certain mission and goal, everybody buys into it, no matter what their role is, no matter how many minutes they’ve played, no matter what they’re getting paid, it’s about them feeling valued in the process.
Stephen Curry (06:32): If you can find as many people that measure up to that, and the leaders exemplify that with everything that they do, for us, that’s what the secret sauce to success. You obviously have to have talent and you have to have skill and expertise, but without good people that can work together, can be collaborative that sharing that same value kind of driven process, then you’re going to hit more speed bumps than successes in our world.
Frank Slootman (07:04): Culture is really the only thing that’s uniquely yours. Companies have access to talent. They have access to capital. They have access to anything, but the only thing that’s uniquely you is your culture, right? If you’re not driving your culture with very, very explicit expectations and objectives, what you get is what people import from their prior companies, right? It may not be what you want, probably isn’t what you want. Right. It also becomes sort of a mix of all different kinds of styles and different organizations in different locations and so on. If you’re not getting after culture, you’re just defaulting to a mode of operation that is going to be highly suboptimal because it can be a one-man or a one-woman mission.
Jennifer Tejada (07:54): Yeah. That totally resonates with me. I think culture is defined by the lowest level of behavior you’re willing to tolerate. Frank, when you mentioned expectations, I think it’s so important to articulate to your team and to your employees what are the behaviors that exemplify the values that you hold true? How do you expect employees, no matter what they’re doing, where they are to demonstrate those values day in and day out? And I think that’s incredibly important in times of stress and in times when we’re surrounded by a lot of uncertainty. I think values can be sort of the foundation that helps you weather any uncertain storm but likewise thrive in an environment like this. I can’t imagine trying to lead an organization through the amount of just change and constant chaos that we’re going through right now without a very strong set of values that kind of bond us all together.
Jennifer Tejada (08:57): Well, Frank, it’s been a momentous year for Snowflake. With everything that you’ve experienced and that’s happened this year, can you talk about your leadership approach? Because you’ve done this a few times before.
Frank Slootman (09:13): I am incredibly focused on the mission. I don’t tolerate distraction very well and to stick with the sports metaphors, it’s not uncommon in sports to see a team go from a losing season to a winning season, literally in one year with the same roster. An enormous amount of progress can be made by the whole mental discipline and mental focus that we have on the job. There is this intangible quality in organizations that can be tapped once you sort of get a sense of how you get to go after it. We’ve done that at Snowflake and obviously it’s a sensational platform, but it doesn’t matter how good your product is. You need to have an organization to match.
Jennifer Tejada (10:05): And what advice would you give to CEOs or founders on how to increase the pace of innovation?
Frank Slootman (10:10): Well, I talk about this all the time, in the world of tech, if you’re not intensely focused on your product, you haven’t figured out yet what really matters. And product is the only thing that matters in our world, right? Looking for opportunities to reinvent, having extremely high standards, I’m still inspired every single day by the late Steve Jobs, who always said, “It has to be insanely great or I’m going to be completely disinterested.” He actually had more colorful language than what I just used, but in other words, it had to totally inspire, otherwise, I’m not interested. Innovation is about sending extremely high standards for your product.
Stephen Curry (10:54): I’d like to toss it to Eric. We know in 2020, how a lot of people have been able to stay connected. If you haven’t used your product through this last six months, then you might be living under a rock. In terms of your company and how you deal with this massive growth and scale, like how do you balance that as a leader of such a massively scaling company?
Eric Yuan (11:19): Stephen, that’s a great question. I would say the product is the number one important thing. When it comes to the product, architecture is a foundation. From our perspective, we feel very proud about our architecture. So Stephen, very similar to your three-point shot, we feel very proud of our architecture. We work so hard because without that your product would really … You would have a problem when you have massive growth.
Eric Yuan (11:52): Also, dealing with this massive growth, for sure, you’re going to experience all kinds of issues. I think got to stay true to your company value and culture, and to keep everything open and transparent. As a team, we’ve got to realize the number one important thing is how to think about everything from the customer perspective. In terms of critically innovate, or offer the free service for schools and to show our care to the community, to society, let everyone at Zoom feel like they are part of the big dream. And that’s a very important for us to capture this massive growth.
Stephen Curry (12:35): Can you give us maybe an insight on how you prioritize those decisions or how you stay focused through what is probably some immense chaos when you’re in these types of times.
Eric Yuan (12:50): How to prioritize is really the key to success. For me, whenever there are very complex problems, I like it to get our team together and not only for me and to trust my team and also put all the problems on the table and look at why we have this problem. What’s the root cause?
Frank Slootman (13:10): I’d love to ask a quick question of Stephen because I get to talk to Jennifer and Eric anytime I want but I never get to talk to Stephen.
Jennifer Tejada (13:17): I won’t take offense to that, Frank.
Frank Slootman (13:22): I may never get that opportunity again, but you know the thing that I always take away from watching your play is, first of all, you’re not the biggest guy on the court. You’re probably a big guy, but you don’t look big on the court because these other guys are so huge and you have this uncanny ability to electrify the team. I mean, you put them into a different mode, like an insane mode or whatever you want to call it. Marshaling that quality in yourself is what leaders have to do anywhere. Right. How do you do that? Is there a switch?
Stephen Curry (14:01): It’s a great question. Because a part of it’s very natural in terms of how I enjoy the game, how I enjoy the ups and downs of being in that leadership role. I love the pressure of it. I love being in that moment where, how I handle a certain situation, a certain decision may influence whether we win or lose. My coach from my college, Davidson college, he always told me, “Help somebody, you help yourself.” And in terms of the power in the collective of when I’m on my game and I’m making all the right decisions and I’m executing my style to the best of my ability that makes everybody else look amazing, which then, in turn, is going to allow me to do what I do best. My role has changed so much from 10 years ago to now, and I think as … You guys can probably speak to that as well, in terms of, as your companies have grown, there are just different demands, but you know, the process of it, if you figure that out, that stays the same.
Frank Slootman (15:08): Well, it’s amazing to watch.
Jennifer Tejada (15:09): Stephen, let’s switch gears towards a topic that I know all of us are very passionate about, and that’s the impact that our companies can have on our teams, our customers, and beyond. You spoke earlier with Frank about, trying to bring out the best in those around you when you’re on the court or in the office. But I also know that you have a unique perspective as someone who’s very committed to supporting social causes and social movements. What do you think the role of leaders and teams in corporations is in terms of thinking about supporting social causes or supporting activation in social movements? What role should a leader be playing there?
Stephen Curry (15:52): A big role, I think in terms of, one, be authentic. I think people can weed through when you feel like you’re forced to do something or forced to speak on something, and it’s okay to take your time to one, understand what the right way to be involved and participate is. For me, the rule is to make sure you’re knowledgeable in what you’re talking about, but make sure you have something to add to the conversation, something to kind of influence change in a material way. And again, it’s that authenticity and being genuine about that process, because I know we all have a lot to offer in terms … I think you spoke about it earlier in terms of being thoughtful about the resources that you have, that you can deploy and the way that your company can solve some tough issues through this pandemic and leaders have to be accountable to that process, to hold their employees, their entire company to that standard, be consistent with that but be authentic.
Jennifer Tejada (16:59): I think I agree with you 100%. making sure that you put actionable and measurable goals in place and checking the progress on those things as you go, just like you would any other business imperative is critical because I think employees can get behind you and it engenders a lot of trust when you demonstrate that you actually want to see outcomes, as opposed to, just be a voice in the narrative. Since you started your own company, how has your perspective evolved on leadership and your role in driving social causes and social movements forward? Has it changed?
Stephen Curry (17:38): It hasn’t changed, but I feel like the perspective of how to move within that purpose has changed. If that makes sense. I’ve always had that on the radar try to find ways especially when it comes to speaking for people that can’t speak for themselves, or find ways to create opportunities for people that wouldn’t otherwise have them. That’s always been a mission of how we thought about any opportunity that we kind of commit to, or start or any idea of vision that we set for what we’re doing. But I think in terms of having those tough conversations, getting outside your comfort zone a little bit, and then holding other people that you’re connected to accountable to that same mission has become more and more consistent. And I think received a lot better than in years past. And that’s an inflection point, obviously three, four months ago, in talking about what racial injustices that are going on in our country and representation in many different industries and creating more pipelines to get more diversity within high leadership positions, but in companies overall. I have a unique ability, I think, to bring awareness to certain conversations and issues when it comes to that and hopefully be better at connecting the dots to make meaningful long-lasting change.
Jennifer Tejada (18:57): That’s great. And I think, it’s been really incredible to watch you go from being a role model for athletes and kids on the basketball court to setting a great example for all of us as leaders and taking a strong position and advocating for change that, to your point, is really important to really timely in these moments. So thank you for that.
Stephen Curry (19:19): Absolutely. I have a lot to learn from the people that are doing it well and have the ability to kind of see the landscape as a whole. It’s been really awesome to see the participation across the board of people in very powerful positions that have access to everything that we need for change to get involved in the fight so that’s meaningful in and of itself to watch that take place more and more, and the longterm effects of what that will be will be amazing to know we were a part of.
Frank Slootman (19:48): You know, companies are microcosms of society, and when you get big enough, and I’ve certainly experienced that in prior lives, sooner or later, you’ll inherit all the problems of society in your company. It’s just a numbers game when that happens. When you’re running a company, you’re basically setting out to be much better than society as a whole, because you have a much smaller group of people, obviously, and you have far greater influence or control in driving a culture that is much more the way it should be, as opposed to what happens in society at large. And I think that’s a great opportunity. When we talk about culture, it’s not just about performance, it’s about behavior. And it’s like how do we get along? Right. That’s an enormous opportunity. I mean, we get to set the standard for conduct and behavior and how people come together on a day to day basis. And I think that’s one of the great attractions I think, of running companies.
Jennifer Tejada (20:47): I agree with that, and I’d add that when you’re a growth company, you have an even bigger opportunity to design the complexion of your company. As you’re adding headcount, it’s much easier to be intentional and programmatic around how you build the tapestry of talent within your organization than when you’re in a slower-growing more static company or to your point broader society. I think it’s a privilege to lead, but it’s also a responsibility on our part to build organizations that sort of represent what we want the future to look like, as opposed to just incrementally improve on the past.
Eric Yuan (21:24): So Jen, you have a great reputation as a great leader in the CEO community. We all feel very lucky to know you because you truly care about others. Whenever we need any help, you proactively help others [inaudible 00:21:42]. Also, PagerDuty has a good reputation. You have such an inclusive culture. [inaudible 00:21:49] quite often you hire employees, how to [inaudible 00:21:54] is totally different. How do you cultivate the same sense of a community during this working from home and full of uncertainty time?
Jennifer Tejada (22:05): It’s not easy. I think anybody who tells you it is easy as lying or not paying attention, but you know, one, it starts with intent. We believe that we will get the best out of our people and that we’ll reflect the communities we serve the most effective if we are intentionally inclusive if we create a culture that is welcoming and helps individuals and teams develop a sense of belonging very quickly. We believe that the best ideas come from diverse teams and people from different backgrounds so we proactively seek both diverse leaders at the board level, as well as at our management level, but throughout every level within the organization.
Jennifer Tejada (22:49): Since we moved to work from home environment and almost a default digital environment, it’s been, it’s been harder, but we’ve had to find new ways to demonstrate empathy, to role model vulnerability, because vulnerability in groups leads to trust and trust is a super important element of creating a culture of belonging. Things that I’ve had to change myself as a leader to really try and continue to create that inclusive feeling within the company is to be much more visible, frequently on videos, doing Ask Me Anythings.
Jennifer Tejada (23:26): But I also can’t underscore the importance of the more casual spontaneous check-ins, really just picking up the phone and calling a team member, checking in doing a skip level, just to see how someone is doing and not asking about the business, but asking, “How are you? How are you feeling? How’s your family? How’s the transition been? What are you working on? What is most important to you? How can I be helpful to you?” Because I think I’m four or five months into this we’re all experiencing a little fatigue, but also we’ve programmatically built creating a culture of belonging into the onboarding process.
Jennifer Tejada (24:07): It’s not enough to just have a balanced and diverse slate. It’s not enough to just have a balanced interview screening panel. You also have to make sure that once an employee receives a job offer in the business, that their experience and getting to know the business and getting up and running within your teams is also inclusive.
Jennifer Tejada (24:27): And then there’s just the constant reminding of your employees in your team to look out for each other. I feel like every town hall, every conversation that we’re having, I’m saying to the team, “Hey, if you haven’t called someone today to check in on them, the person that you used to bump into at the coffee machine or the person you used to slack with first thing in the morning, check-in on them today,” because mental health issues in this environment are real. We have no idea, what they’re going through. And so making sure that there are multiple layers of folks within your teams, checking in on each other is really important.
Jennifer Tejada (25:04): The last thing that I would just add is that we’re always playing the long game. We’re always looking at what can we learn from what’s happened? What’s our vision two or three years from now. What are we going to go do right now to make that happen? If you want to create a culture of belonging, then you better fund it. You better be prepared to have someone who’s responsible for driving it and you need to make it the job of every leader in the business to ensure that those programs get executed throughout their organization. So consistency and standing behind that with resources really matters.
Eric Yuan (25:35): Awesome. Super awesome. [inaudible 00:00:25:36]. Thank you, Jen. Thank you.
Frank Slootman (25:39): There will be, hopefully, a ton of CEOs watching this segment. If you could impart just one thing, not five things, not three things, just one thing in what you think they have to know. It doesn’t have to be, specific to COVID and all that, all that stuff. Let’s have a bigger view of things. What is that one nugget you want to drop in their lap? Like, “This is valuable. This is important. This is what I want to pass on.” You got to do it in like 10 seconds. Just kidding. Yeah.
Frank Slootman (26:15): I’ll start. Okay. You guys can think about it.
Frank Slootman (26:20): The conversation I always have with other CEOs, especially the younger ones, and there’s a lot of young whippersnappers these days as CEO’s. It’s amazing how young they are. They get younger every day it seems. Something will happen as a CEO, you will be confronted with the need for transformation of the business. The question is, are you going to recognize it? Are you going to recognize it in time? Because eventually, everybody will recognize it. The timing is really important, right? And then related to that, the third thing is, can you execute on it? I’ve lived through episodes of where I recognized, where I didn’t recognize it and where I didn’t recognize it in time, and also situations where I couldn’t execute on it.
Frank Slootman (27:12): I tell you what, as a CEO, I lose an enormous amount of sleep and I am enormously paranoid about, am I seeing what I’m supposed to be seeing? Am I reading it? Am I reading it correctly? Right. But the question really is you got to have your antennae out all the time, this paranoia about am I correctly parsing what is happening out there?
Frank Slootman (27:35): And I think it’s a very important question and then your team, they have their heads down. They’re not the ones that are necessarily thinking along this line. It’s only you as the CEO that needs to be hyper-alert to what is going on that it’s going to force transformation. It can be traumatic. It can be just life-changing. It’s one of my favorite conversations because it will test you to the absolute core of your being as a CEO.
Stephen Curry (28:05): That is well said. I would say, I don’t even know how to follow that up. Because that was a … Might be in the middle of that right now. But in terms of when you have the decision that you need to be making, the collaborative process of gathering all the pertinent information, however long that process does take the decision part, when you come up with a decision, the execution needs to be quick and swift and fast so that you don’t lose any momentum on that end and your conviction around it is … You’re the only one that’s accountable to it so you have to kind of go with it and do it quickly and swiftly and with the strategy that you put in place. Then there’s also obviously the trust that the talent that you have on your team or whatnot, will be able to go out and execute it right there with you.
Eric Yuan (28:56): My short answer to that question is to, write down your company’s culture and value. Make it very simple and very catchy, keep investing in that and keep talking about that and your investment will be well, well paid off. Particularly in hard times.
Jennifer Tejada (29:19): And I would add to that, to choose your partners wisely. I mean, we’re only as good as the people we are surrounding ourselves by. And I think that to your point, Frank, sometimes the world is transforming and the business is transforming and you have to change your partners out. And that’s one of the most painful challenges in scaling a company, leveling, and recognizing when you need to make a change. I think we’ve all learned from the hard mistake of not moving on an instinct soon enough, not bringing in the talent you needed early enough. You are never, ever done building a team in high growth. There’s this forming, storming, norming thing. You’re never getting to norming. It’s just not going to happen. You’re going to be forming, storming, going back to forming storming again, so to speak, because of the growth curve and the opportunity that’s in front of you. So choose your partners wisely.
Jennifer Tejada (30:20): This has just been an incredible conversation. I feel so fortunate to have been able to spend the last several minutes with three wonderful leaders in Stephen, Frank, and Eric. I wish the very best for all of the CEOs and founders that have tuned in to watch the Cloud 100 this year. Thank you very much and have a great day.
Frank Slootman (30:41): Thanks, Jennifer.
Stephen Curry (30:42): Thank you.
Eric Yuan (30:43): Thank you.See Less