Internal Communications and Teamwork are two really important topics and who better to discuss them with than the Microsoft Insiders: Jeremiah Marble and Dona Sarkar.
Jeremiah Marble and Dona Sarkar from Microsoft were such inspirational guests. Jeremiah was Director of Developer Marketing for Windows and was the founder of the windows insider program with well over 16 Million members.
At the time of recording Dona Sarkar was Head of the Insider Program at Microsoft -You know how everyone calls you for tech help like “which laptop should I get” or “do I need anti-virus” The Windows Insiders are a community of 16M+ people who constantly get asked those questions.
Currently, with her amazing team, they are co-creating products and services with these curious, passionate learners to fulfil their mission: to empower EVERY person on the planet to achieve more–that especially includes the next 5 billion underserved people all over the world.
Jeremiah Marble on Twitter https://twitter.com/jeremiahmarble
Dona Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dona_Sarkar
Now let’s dig into this amazing episode!
WARNING — AI Transcriptions Below May Cause Grammatically Correct People Serious Stress and Lack of Sleep!
Nathaniel Schooler 0:10
Today, I’m interviewing Dona Sarkar and Jeremiah Marble. Both are from Microsoft. And Jeremiah started the insider program over there. And now Dona actually runs it. So it’s very interesting. Well, it’s really great to be joined by you both.
Dona Sarkar and Jeremiah Marble 0:40
Thank you so much. So Awesome.
Nathaniel Schooler 0:45
Cool. So you’re Jeremiah. And your is it Dooona?
Dona Sarkar 0:49
It’s pronounced Donna.
Nathaniel Schooler 0:50
Donna it is Donna. I’m not sure as I wasn’t sure. Because of the because of the spelling of your name you see.
Dona Sarkar 0:55
More efficient this way for all you nerds!
Nathaniel Schooler 1:02
You can call me a nerd.
I’m quite geeky. Yeah, I can’t program but I am quite geeky.
Dona Sarkar and Jeremiah Marble 1:11
You say that but that is not true we can teach you!
Nathaniel Schooler 1:14
I would like to learn but….
Dona Sarkar 1:17
We’ve got a candidate
Jeremiah Marble 1:18
Have a candidate.
Nathaniel Schooler 1:20
I’m just not sure to be honest.
Dona Sarkar 1:30
We will make you do the thing
My friend he’s built me a new machine, my new Windows machine. He’s been hassling me for ages to learn.
Dona Sarkar 1:30
Find a new victim.
Jeremiah Marble 1:36
The World of coding.
Dona Sarkar 1:37
Oh, yeah. It’s magical, magical!
Nathaniel Schooler 1:39
So so you guys both run that you’ve created the Windows Insider program, right?
Dona Sarkar 1:45
Well, actually, Jeremiah, and someone else started the Windows Insider program.About five years ago, it’ll be five years in October. He started and ran it for like, what, four years?
Jeremiah Marble 1:57
So about four years.
Dona Sarkar 1:57
And then I came on board about two and a half year years ago. But the starting of the program, he should tell that story because I was not there.
Jeremiah Marble 2:04
So we started out life is essentially an attempt to get lots and lots of data in the guise of making the best operating system on the planet. And we realized that it’s pretty important as we’re building an operating system for everyone on the planet, that we get feedback from not only people who live in Silicon Valley, and Redmond, Washington, but also people who live in Nairobi, or live in Nigeria or people who live in Cambodia. So what are the things that has been probably one of the most gratifying things for me, has been the ability to meet people all over the world and understand how they’re using technology to transform their communities and their lives.
Dona Sarkar 2:45
So started the program. How many people did you think you were going to get?
Jeremiah Marble 2:49
We thought we’d get like five,
Dona Sarkar 2:51
You, your mom, your sister.
Jeremiah Marble 2:55
My three followers. We built the service to scale for about 20,000 – 100,000 people. And then quickly, we realized we were on track to get over a million insiders sign up for the program in the first week.
Yeah, so we rapidly ran around. I ran around and cobbled together a couple more servers to handle the influx. And now we’re upwards of 16 million people all over the world.
Dona Sarkar 3:21
Yeah, it’s pretty powerful. When I came on board, I came I used to work on HoloLens, leading the developer community there. And I’m used to a small, tightly knit audience of people and I knew everybody in the HoloLens community, because it’s a new product. And here I show up, like, oh, how many people do have their like?
Jeremiah Marble 3:39
Dona Sarkar 3:39
8 million at the time was 8 million. I’m thinking that’s a lot of people. But it’s been really amazing. Because we’ve learned that insiders, they definitely want to co create with us, right, they want to give us their input and feedback on products, because they truly know what their communities need.
Like, for example, pieces of feedback we get that are very legit. Are we need windows downloads, three smaller because our network speeds are not that great in Ireland, right; or Australia, or, you know, anywhere in Latin America, most places in Africa. We in Redmond, Washington have never thought about download speeds, because we live in a life of privilege. So they give us that kind of feedback. We also get really amazing feedback from people who are maybe low vision, saying, actually, we need, you know, our narrator tool to read these buttons out loud, or those buttons out loud, and they’re not doing it properly. So we rely on our insiders to tell us how people in their communities use our technology, because there’s no way that we can know how everyone in the world uses our tech. We just can’t know it. So it’s been an amazing learning just like life changing experience.
Nathaniel Schooler 4:44
It’s fantastic. It’s such a big community as well. So you guys, you guys must know a lot about internal communication then.
Dona Sarkar 4:53
Jeremiah Marble 4:55
Yeah. So so in she internal communication, that is one of the things that has sort of helped us get where we are. So there’s sort of, we think of it as sort of ring theory, right.
So everything from getting builds of Windows operating system out to the world. First things start out kind of rough hewn trying to fit it all together and make things work. They’re buggy, and we don’t know exists. And then as it goes progress, the further outwards, it gets crisper and clearer. And things make more sense as it gets more polished.
So with our internal communications, it’s very much the same way. In that, you know, a lot of times we’ll have an idea. So we have an idea that we want to learn more about how people are using their battery. In places that aren’t here, we’re like, we have an idea. We don’t know exactly what to do.
And we’ll kind of work with each other to, to iterate on the idea and who, who needs a battery? Well, people who are offline you Who needs a battery, or people who are traveling well, who were like that, well, entrepreneurs where they’re entrepreneurs, well, there’s a whole bunch here in Redmond. But there’s also a bunch outside in the world, right? We’re the interesting places to go. So okay, let’s go to Nigeria and work with entrepreneurs in Nigeria to understand how they use their battery life. And so if we think about communications is sort of starting from one or two people who want to communicate a message all the way up to who’s going to eventually receive the message who might not be privy to the internal decision making that we had, it’s helpful to think about it in sort of an iterative ring sort of theory that gets better and better and better as it goes along.
Dona Sarkar and Jeremiah Marble 6:25
Yeah, we’re a big experiment learn team, where we’ll try say there’s, there’s a thing we’d like to communicate like:- Windows Insider program wants to encourage our insiders to do social good projects. Okay. We want this message to spread. Yeah. So how do we do it first will create a message and try to flight that message with maybe five people.
Jeremiah Marble 6:50
What does it mean, flighting?
Dona Sarkar 6:52
The it’s like test out this message with five people that we know, we’re pretty close to our team? Right? So we’ll choose like, probably won’t want to our managers, but will choose other be there?
Dona Sarkar and Jeremiah Marble 7:02
Yeah. If you’re listening to you’re awesome, we love you managers are very good people manager, we never keep anything from you ever.
Jeremiah Marble 7:11
Dona Sarkar and Jeremiah Marble 7:12
So we usually would try out the message with a partner, maybe five partner treat teams, right. People we worked with before, people who don’t think we’re crazy all the time. And we’ll get their feedback.
Very shortlist, very short list.
So we’ll get back on this message. And we’ll incorporate it. And we call this process co creating, where we have an idea, we test it with someone very specific five groups of people. And these people are representative of the kinds of people we want to receive this message in general.
Jeremiah Marble 7:44
So in the model on its head, they do they sort of have this amazing idea. And you’d sit in your cubicle and work, work, work. And then when you’re done, you hit send, and it goes out to everybody in the company. But when you do things like that you turn it turns out not to work. So it’s really important to get even even before the idea is fully big, right? And the communications out there, it’s important get feedback and co create with with some people will be.
Dona Sarkar and Jeremiah Marble 8:06
We’ve also learned by doing that it gets people bought into the idea from day one, right. Then suddenly our partners are like:- “Oh, I want to plug into this too. So for example, we had the message of Windows Insider should be doing social good projects.”
Dona Sarkar 8:17
So we reached out to our partners and Azure. And they have this thing called the Microsoft student partners. And they said, Oh, we want to plug into this because we want all of our Microsoft student partners who are the Microsoft evangelists on campuses all over the world, to also be thinking about social good impact, right social impact, how can we use our tech for good, so they said we would love for your insiders to plug into this. So now we are actively building a pipeline by which any insiders who are students can learn all the skills to become a Microsoft student partner as well.
So next ring will be there now evangelizing for us. So when you include people in the messaging, they tend to evangelize because it’s now an us thing rather than like an us thing.
Dona Sarkar and Jeremiah Marble 9:00
To kind of think of CO creation is kind of like rock soup. So I’m kind of hungry. Yeah. What am I going for lunch, I have this rock and have some cabbage. Okay, throw it into a pot of water. Next person comes along there isn’t a carrier. Yeah, nice person, presence and chicken, next person frozen some parsley. Yeah, the other day, you have like this amazing story that I need from but it but it doesn’t start out with only your contribution rates and sort of work with everyone go training amazing meal.
Dona Sarkar 9:22
So that’s our method, it, it tends to work quite well. So by the time it reaches upper management, you know, Satya and co hear about it.
Dona Sarkar and Jeremiah Marble 9:29
We love you it’s awesome.
So by the time it reaches out to you and co there, most people have already heard about it. And they’re not just like, these two are obviously insane!
Jeremiah Marble 9:39
What is going on with these people?
Dona Sarkar and Jeremiah Marble 9:40
So um, so by the time it gets up there, everyone already kind of knows and as bought in.
Jeremiah Marble 9:45
Dona Sarkar and Jeremiah Marble 9:45
And we operate under the assumption that anything we come up with will go external. No secrets, don’t keep we’re extremely transparent people. And every company should assume this. If you write an email, assume it will get read elsewhere.
Jeremiah Marble 9:59
Take a picture soomeone’s kind of like tweet it!
Dona Sarkar and Jeremiah Marble 10:01
Assume it’s going to get leads, I just write it as if it’s some. It’s gonna be in the front page of the NY Times. Always. I know, that’s long shot.
Nathaniel Schooler 10:08
That’s really cool. That’s really interesting. So it’s been like creating like an ice cream or something. Like if you’re, if you’re an ice cream manufacturer, you might run a competition for people to taste an ice cream. Right. So then you come up with the recipe don’t you? Yeah, it’s exactly what you’re doing with internal communications. It’s brilliant. I like it. Yeah, yeah. It’s clearly worked.
With clearly working well, you got so many people involved with that.
Dona Sarkar and Jeremiah Marble 10:37
We’ve learned a lot. I mean, a lot of the best learning we also have a saying:- “Sometimes you learn! Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.” Yeah, we’ve learned a lot, let’s say a lot. We’ve learned a few things. We’ve learned a lot. So in the process of some of the experience that haven’t gone as well, as we had hoped, you certainly learn how to do things better the next time. That’s right.
Nathaniel Schooler 10:57
Yeah, yeah, I’ll believe me. I understand that.
Dona Sarkar 11:01
Yeah, I bet you do. Mr 100 Podcasts in a 100 days.
Nathaniel Schooler 11:05
100 podcasts in very short amount of time. Yeah.
Dona Sarkar 11:09
Nathaniel Schooler 11:11
So in terms of kind of managing teams. Where do you start with that if you want to get something done?
Dona Sarkar 11:21
So the way I think about managing teams is not so much managing, but more assembling a group of the vendors, right. Because as soon as we get into the business of managing that puts the responsibility on me, the manager to manage all these people to do the thing, right.
And it stops being about the individual and about the specialness of this unit we’ve created. So we believe in hiring very diversity, not from just how we look on the outside, but skill sets and backgrounds. So what we do is say:- “What are we trying to do?”
And usually, it’s something crazy and new and potentially frightening. And something we have to communicate to upper management a convincing way. So we’ve learned that if you hire really, really motivated people, it doesn’t matter what skill sets you need to learn, they will learn the skills.
So we’ve learned that as soon as you hire people who kind of want to do the thing, they will learn whatever it takes. So what I tend to do is build up a team of people who have varying skill sets, and varying degrees of interest.
Like, I have a filmmaker on my team. Like he’s just we’re all software engineers, but he’s a filmmaker. I don’t know why I need a filmmaker. But I think at some point, I’m going to need a filmmaker, right?
Nathaniel Schooler 12:36
I need one!
Dona Sarkar 12:37
You need a film maker!
Dona Sarkar and Jeremiah Marble 12:41
And what he brings to the table! You can’t have ours!
Dona Sarkar 12:44
Dona Sarkar and Jeremiah Marble 12:46
But he’s he can convince anyone to do anything, right? Because being a filmmaker, you have to go control these temperamental actors to behave like no budget, no budget, you know, so he can control anyone into anything. And he can organize a group of people to do a thing in one day, long time of time.
So it’s an amazing superpower, he’s got place, he’s a great photographer, and videographer, which is very good skill set to have, when you’re dealing with community of millions of people. I’ve also got like a comic book expert, who is also really into like nerd stuff, that’s very helpful when you’re dealing with the community of nerds, right? I don’t know that much about Star Trek, or Star Wars or all of this, but Brandon on my team is an expert. And then we’ve got Jason who’s done customer support forever. And he’s just like, no nonsense, can get to the heart of a problem in like, two minutes. So these people are super different than me.
Dona Sarkar 13:38
But we’ve hired them to come together to kind of solve this problem of how do you manage this global community of millions of people, and I don’t manage them. Each of us have, like, individual contributor work, my job is to come up with crazy schemes, their job is to tell me no, and also make some of them happen. Right!
So the way I think about managing teams is very much like, figure out what you’re not good at higher for those things, and leave them the heck alone, do not go micromanaging after you’ve hired people who are literally experts in there field.
Jeremiah Marble 14:08
So a couple of things that add on to that. So first, the importance of having a diverse set of folks. Yeah. And that’s that’s not only some of the traditional definitions of diversity and sort of like, where someone grew up? What what what are the set of experiences that led them to this place? What are the things that they’re passionate about? Where did they come from? Right?
So if you even take a bunch of folks who may look the same externally, all of them bring their own unique creativity and passion and some of the some of the outcomes of that is is proven with data. But here are two anecdotes from our team. So we were we were trying to get together and figure out what What color should our T shirt be? Right so very, very important Team T Shirt, what color should our T shirt be? And it’s amazing how many opinions there are.
Dona Sarkar and Jeremiah Marble 14:52
Yeah, so he and I decided we’re going to just make a choice. We’re like red, red is the best wrestlers at on me, therefore, we should always right.
So we’re going to go with red. Yeah. And you know, which is way less boring than dark gray, or some of the other sort of tech techie t shirts, right. One of the folks on my team grew up in Cleveland, he’s African American, and from relatively lower income by background, and he pointed out very accurately that in parts of the United States, someone wearing a red T shirt is proceeding part of the Cripps gang. And so you, you by wearing red t shirt, you’re signaling something that you might not be intending, which is something that I had never thought of it never occurred to me.
Jeremiah Marble 15:30
Literally something that never crossed my mind, because I only been to Cleveland for like three days, right? Yeah. So having having that background, made, it made it possible for us to make even that sort of relatively minor decision of the keep the T shirt color. Another another example was when we were working with a bunch of entrepreneurs in Lagos, Nigeria, one of the social entrepreneurs we’re working with, was working with a band of children to recycle trash. So they convert the trash that was laying around and make it into something useful, like a fuel to cook with.
And so one of the folks on our team grew up in rural India, and she pointed out, hey, we need to be very, very careful, we as Microsoft supporting this particular entrepreneur, because very easily, it can be sort of against child labor laws. And so that’s literally something that we were like:- “Hey, we love recycling, we love the idea of transforming trash into into something good. But like, we never thought about the social implications of supporting.”
So the importance of diversity sometimes comes out in surprising ways. Over and beyond the business outcomes. The second thing that sort of Dona mentioned was the importance of focusing on the individual. So you know, providing some sort of clear framework, here are our goals, here are the ways that we’re proving that we’re measuring that we’re achieving these goals, but then allowing each person to bring their full self to work. And so you know, you might not be expecting a filmmaker who happens to code to bring a tremendous amount of creativity to the project, but just that the fact that they’re able to leverage some of the unique skill sets that are across the board would help out.
And I think one last one last management trick that I’ve sort of learned the hard way, is the importance of providing, you know, like a co creating with them, like, no one’s going to get it right the first time. It is a process of experimentation. It is sometimes you win, sometimes you learn. But sometimes people act in ways that they don’t intend it or they they’re delivering results that are under under what you don’t expect. So the importance of criticizing in private, and taking someone aside and saying, hey, look, here are the expectations that we had. Here, some of the ways in which I think that you know, the results could be better. What are the ways that we can work on that privately. And then when you want to praise someone, okay, you’re doing a great job, you you sing that from the rooftops, you like, Hey, you send emails to everyone, you mentioned them in a team meeting, you send it to their boss’s boss’s boss, and just just praise loudly. And the effect that that having public praise has on someone, it’s pretty, pretty magnificent. So I think those are the three main management techniques that I’ve learned in this role.
Dona Sarkar and Jeremiah Marble 18:20
So I’ve got two more, which are kind of related. One is creating a safe space for everyone to bring their whole self to work, right? It’s a big mission of Microsoft is bring your whole self to work and use Microsoft’s platform to achieve your passion. And the managers really important, it’s really important, because if the managers like, oh, bring your whole self to work, actually, why are you doing that? You know, spare, you need to be working on something that’s not helpful. Recently, we’ve heard of a manager being very critical of an employee, not one, no one on our team, about, you know, working on a person’s personal passion project at home, and then talking about that passion project at work. Like, oh, I, you know, I didn’t know you were working on this creative front. How dare you have a life outside of exactly. Oh, make sure. Are you sure you didn’t use any work time for this? Blah, blah, blah, I’m like, I’m sorry. But that’s really, very, very bad behavior. I consider that to be incredibly disrespectful, because this is like saying, oh, you’re a parent. You are not here exactly. At 8am. You know, how dare you? Right? That’s that kind of have you changed too many diapers in your spare time?
Exactly. Exactly. So if the exception, not the not the norm,
But it really isn’t an exception when I hear it and makes me really angry. Because what you’re saying then is don’t actually bring your whole self to work. Right. So we are firm advocates bring yourself to work. The other one is understand the currency of the human. So each person, each person we manage or lead or have on our team have a different currency for what motivates them. Right. Some it’s more opportunities. Others it’s fame, its fame, right? Like, I will drag you on stage and put a spotlight on you.
So some people that’s that’s our favorites. Right? Some people hate that. They’re like, Don’t make me feel Oh, no.
Yeah, like we have someone on our team named Blair, where he does not want frame
Blair we are looking at you. Yeah,
Sorry Blair, glad you’re here to work, though, he doesn’t want me to drag him on stage. He doesn’t want me to, you know, petrified. He doesn’t want me to announce them on Twitter, he doesn’t want these things. He wants to do a good job and be rewarded for his good job very quietly, quietly. So it really is the currency of the human that’s been my latest learning is the way I like to be rewarded is not like how everyone else likes rewarding. So it really comes down to a conversation with the person to ask a really important question, which was when you did good work, what was the best reward you’ve ever gotten?
Nathaniel Schooler 20:43
Since I am there anyways.
People keep that to me. And
I’m like, I’m like, No, no, another one.
Dona Sarkar and Jeremiah Marble 20:55
So yeah, that’s one thing we’ve learned, which is, figure out someone’s reward currency. And use that, right? Because many people it’s, oh, I want the freedom to travel. Or I want the freedom to buy new hardware, like people have the weirdest currencies, or I want to be involved in other teams, businesses, like if someone if my managers like, hey, I want you to get involved with x teams meetings, I’m like, why are you doing this? To me? To him, this would be the great best reward in the world. I’m like, Why are you giving me more? Me? No, not. me.
You know, Brandon on my team, if I go involve him, and Hi, Brandon, if I involve them and other teams business, he’s so happy. I’m like, hey, do you want to go see what the XL team is doing is I’m like OMG.
Meanwhile, if you wanted me to go to the Excel team’s leading no offense Excel team, I don’t really want to go. Right. So it really is the reward currency. And it is so important for a manager to understand that for each person, and take the time to do it. And then life becomes way better for everyone.
Nathaniel Schooler 21:58
Wow, that’s you. Interesting. That’s fantastic.
Jeremiah Marble 22:06
You only have one hour, you know!
Nathaniel Schooler 22:08
28 Minutes we’ve got 28 minutes. Yeah.
Dona Sarkar and Jeremiah Marble 22:11
Yeah, let’s go. But no.
Nathaniel Schooler 22:13
So this leads beautifully into interpersonal skills, right? I’m trying to work on mine. I’m not gonna lie. I don’t come from a big business background. I don’t get out enough. I work too hard. I probably don’t talk to enough people. And I get nervous. I say this Jupiter things? Yeah, I might get emotional and Right, right, the wrong email, right. And I’m sorry for that. I’m trying to get better. Right. So interpersonal skills, are just continual learning. I like we realize that we’re not perfect. We’re human. Right. And we’re trying to get better. Yeah, I mean, that’s my attitude.
Dona Sarkar and Jeremiah Marble 22:53
Yeah, yeah, I think for me, I constantly am learning, let’s say, you know, not not a ton of wins a whole bunch of little. One of the things that I work at a lot is just trying to listen more. I try whatever I can not to impose my point of view, I always have a point of view, I always think that my point of view is rights. I always think that, you know, I am better informed than everyone else in the world, I am biased. But I tried consciously to work on, on just listening more. You know, it’s surprising, just the things that people will tell you just by asking them like:- “What’s it? What’s a Why is this important to you?” Right, shut up! And then then I tell you why it’s important. And if you’re listening, you know, certainly there’s some amount of Guile And guise, and people don’t say exactly what they mean.
But to some extent, if you just ask people that question, they will they will tell you the answer, they will tell you who they are, because no one ever asks.
And that you know that the under underlying motivation that over time with like all these things, like listening, more co-creation, and just the making a safe space for someone to be themselves creates this really richness that you can have the ability into to your point, you can send someone a short email, if you have a deep amount of trust with that person. Like, hey, I need you to do this right now. Trust me, yeah. But if you don’t know that person in and we get those text all the time, and we do them, right, yeah. But if you don’t know the person, you’re like:- “Wait a second, you just send me an email, and I don’t really know you that well. And now I’m worried like, oh, what do you do you think badly of me, like, Did someone say something and it sort of unlock this spiral on you.”
Whereas if you, if you put in the time you put your money into a relationship bank, then on those times when you need to make a withdrawl becomes way easier. So listening more, putting more time into understanding what someone’s currency is reinforcing that, you know, putting, putting more work into a relationship, even a relationship at work and you know, we end up spending a lot of time at work. And so the more that you invest in any relationship, the better it tends to get, even if even if it’s sort of difficult person to work with, like, Hey, you, you you at least develop a regression respect for the other person. So listening more trying to understand what their motivations are, what the currency is, trying to invest in that relationship where you can, you know, help help us make the communication and helps make the interpersonal relationships a little bit better, the more you put in.
Dona Sarkar 25:20
So mine is, you know, people use that line. Like I’m not here to make friends.
Oh, yeah. I’m always there to make friends.
Dona Sarkar and Jeremiah Marble 25:32
I’m like, good luck with that buddy. I am always Always your friends. I’m like, What? I’m at a zoo with a bunch of strangers. I’m here to make friends.
I know. It’s like dressing like your best spend
Our lifetimes are at work, I spend the majority of our waking hours at work. Why would you not make friends? Are you insane? That would just be the boring. Right? Everything is then a confrontation or something? A friendly conversation. So I think first thing I do is make friends with everybody. I’m like, tell me everything, all of it.
The whole enchilada, she always says that. I said to him, too. So I want to know everything about this it’s very human because I love humans.
They’re so interesting, why we do things, how we do things, what is our reasoning? Like what is our technique and our method and I always love to learn from people about what, why they’re doing it and how they’re doing it. Right. So I always like to move to a text texting relationship as soon as possible. What’s the text message so texting relationship is like, email is boring. And for like, you know, old people, like me!
Dona Sarkar 26:34
He sends email to people I don’t even listen to.
Jeremiah Marble 26:38
I read them apparently.
Dona Sarkar 26:39
So I don’t read anyone’s email, I move to a texting relationship where we have each other’s phone numbers, and we text each other. You notice that everyone in the world has your email, but very few people have your phone number,
Jeremiah Marble 26:51
And the people that do are either prank callers or you trust them!
Dona Sarkar and Jeremiah Marble 26:54
The people have your number you would trust right? So my goal is always to have people’s number in my phone and have my number in their phone. So once we’ve reached that point, I believe we trust each other. So that’s my metric. Like do they have my number? And often it’s as simple as like, hey, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I’m like, Oh my god, I love talking to you. This is super interesting. Can I get your number so I can text you random shit of your times? And they’re usually like, okay, sure sounds good.
But it’s it’s usually like, you think like I’m kidding,
Dona Sarkar 27:22
Dona Sarkar and Jeremiah Marble 27:25
I would do that. You are gonna get cat videos Nathaniel.
Nathaniel Schooler 27:29
Wait, wait, wait, wait, I’ve got something I’ve been saving for the cat.
Dona Sarkar and Jeremiah Marble 27:37
My friend made it for me.
That is the best, it’s cool.
Jeremiah Marble 27:49
I was I was impressed me let me let me say this I was impressed by the Tower Bridge behind you but but!
Nathaniel Schooler 27:54
That is the icing on the cake so that must have a name. What do you What is your name?
This is just this is just the finger.
Jeremiah Marble 28:00
Yeah, bring out a finger so anyone that’s that’s not watching this and listening.
Nathaniel Schooler 28:06
3d printed middle finger!
Dona Sarkar 28:10
The finger everyone.
Nathaniel Schooler 28:13
Yep, no problem is I’ve got this childlike mentality You see.
Jeremiah Marble 28:17
And everyone has at every opportunity.
Nathaniel Schooler 28:20
But, what you do though it with interpersonal skills? How do you how do you mix that you try and communicate on the childlike?
Dona Sarkar and Jeremiah Marble 28:29
Yes, I have to you have to because ultimately everyone’s an imposter. It’s all story, right? We all feel like we don’t belong here. It’s a fraud. And we got here by accident. Everyone. Someone made a mistake in hiring. Yeah, right. There’s a lot of people made a mistake in hiring.
Jeremiah Marble 28:43
I’m sure Satya wakes up Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft.
Dona Sarkar and Jeremiah Marble 28:48
Well, tell him I did I get here. He also doesn’t say:- “What the hell?” But I say Hell
Dona Sarkar 28:54
No, he probably like meditates and thinks about this.
Dona Sarkar and Jeremiah Marble 28:59
But you know, every everyone they say CEOs have the worst imposter syndrome because they’re like, what incarnation am I doing running this billion dollar company? hundred hundred billion dollar company.
Nathaniel Schooler 29:07
Dona Sarkar 29:09
It’s a big company. But I believe that most people have imposter syndrome. And when you connect at that level, I open with vulnerability like, will you help me with this thing? Because I have no idea what I’m doing and you seem to know. And everyone’s like, never wants to help.
Dona Sarkar and Jeremiah Marble 29:23
Everyone wants to help. And I’m like, this is awesome. You are so helpful. Thank you. You open with vulnerability and you close with gratitude. And I think it works every time.
Nathaniel Schooler 29:33
Yeah, it’s what my dad told me. He went because he had a winery back in the day.
Jeremiah Marble 29:40
Nathaniel Schooler 29:41
So I grew up. I knew I liked you. Yeah. Well, I grew up in in the middle of Sussex, in the middle of the woods. And when I was six years old, my dad decided he was going to build a winery on top of my mum’s vegetable garden.
He’s from Connecticut. Yeah. And he basically he dug this massive hole in the ground with a digger and hired some builders. And then they and then they built this barn, moved this barn a 16th century barn from 20 miles down the road and put it up and had a winery there you see.
Dona Sarkar and Jeremiah Marble 30:22
Did he tell you about it first or was it a secret?
Nathaniel Schooler 30:25
Oh, no, I don’t think well, they got divorced A few years later.
I think that probably had a lot to do with it to be fair, but he always you have used to we used to supply the Historic Royal Palaces and then like, Mead to the states like honey wine, we used to sell it in all the fine restaurants in New York. We were in Whole Foods.
Dona Sarkar and Jeremiah Marble 30:53
I’ve always I would love with Ethiopian food. I’ve had it
Nathaniel Schooler 30:55
There we go. I bet you’ve read Beowulf, haven’t you?
Dona Sarkar and Jeremiah Marble 31:00
Nathaniel Schooler 31:01
You’ve read Beowulf?
Jeremiah Marble 31:02
She is not that old.
Nathaniel Schooler 31:03
Okay? So you see my Dad’s theory was that old English?
Cuz my dad went to school in America, right? And he said, Oh, well, everyone will have read Beolwulf. So they know what Mead is.
Dona Sarkar and Jeremiah Marble 31:16
Now gotta gotta got it. Yeah, we know what mead is. She says, I know, honey wine is
Dona Sarkar 31:23
I didn’t know what Mead is. What is Mead.
Dona Sarkar and Jeremiah Marble 31:32
So open with vulnerability be like, I don’t know what I’m doing.
Nathaniel Schooler 31:36
Dad, what he used to say was, he would say he would go up to someone and he’d be like, I know what I need them to get. I know what I need them to do. All I need to do is I need to tell them, I’ve got a problem and ask them what the solution is. And then they get to suggest the solution that I know is what I want them to do anyway.
Dona Sarkar 31:55
Nathaniel Schooler 31:56
That’s exactly what you’re saying. Right?
Dona Sarkar and Jeremiah Marble 31:58
Yes. So we call it that? Here we go.
We call it the currency of the human identity. So here, oh, I have a talk on this called “How to Get Anything You Want” One or two thoughts. and higher basis of the talk is this. It’s that when you have something that you need done, right, like I need Jeremiah to give me $1 million. Nope. Sorry. Okay. So I need Jeremiah to like, actually, here’s, here’s a real thing. I need him to make a list of the cities that we need to do a dev event at. Here we go, so there were doing an event in June. That’s not far. Yeah. This one needs to choose the cities one. How about London?
Okay. Okay, perfect. So I need him to choose the city, not choosing because he’s doing other things. Now here, like work. So what I would do instead of being like me, hey, Jeremiah, I need you to make a list of cities, blah, blah, blah. That’s a lot of me, me me forever. So what I do is I figure out the currency of the human, what are Jeremiah’s goals? What are his motivations? What are his conflicts, right? So he goal is that we have to teach everyone in the world to cook, his motivation is he deeply believe that everyone should have an equal opportunity to technology.
The conflict comes from Yeah, the conflict is that it’s really hard to do, really hard to do that. So how do we do it through local events? So what I would do is say, hey, Jeremiah, you know, I’ve been thinking about that goal you have of teaching everyone in the world. Making sure everyone in the world has the equal opportunity to learn tech skills. Oh, well, that is my goal. That is your goal. So I know that that’s your goal, and how’s your progress going on it? And he’d be okay. Yeah, I’m like, I know, we talked about those local events you want to have in many, many of those local event and someone had mentioned you want to do them in June?
Yeah. Like, Oh, cool. Awesome. So is that something that you’re still planning to do to achieve your goal, etc, etc? Is there any way I can help? Yeah. And then he’s going to be like, I guess I should make a list of all we should make a list of cities. I’m like, yeah. And he’s come up with this by himself by myself. Yeah. I think it’s always using their words, classes. So big, figuring out their words and using their words back at them. So However, he says his goal, I say it back at him. But it takes a little bit of stalking, right, you need to like research this person researching,
Jeremiah Marble 34:13
Dona Sarkar and Jeremiah Marble 34:14
So if you know, it takes a little bit of stalking this person engaged in like, what, what words they use and what they care about? My thing is, if you don’t know the currency of the human, you’re not in a position to influence right?
Nathaniel Schooler 34:27
I get it. Right. Yeah.
So this fits into teamwork. We got 10 minutes for the five minute relaxed conversation
Dona Sarkar and Jeremiah Marble 34:39
We have been relaxed anyway.
Nathaniel Schooler 34:42
Anyway, to be fair, yeah.
Dona Sarkar 34:46
What do you want to talk about with teamwork?
Nathaniel Schooler 34:47
Well? Where do you start with with managing not not managing a team? I mean, like, you said, You said that it starts with choosing the right team, didn’t you? That’s, what you started with. So first of all, okay, you’re obviously going to work out what sort of team you need to deliver the kind of projects that you need to deliver, right? So once once you’ve worked that out, and you’ve got your team members, okay, how do you kind of gel them all together? to work together when they’re all totally different people?
Jeremiah Marble 35:27
Yeah, so I think one of the things that is most useful when when working with the team, so so so first is having a clear goal. What why together as a team, are you there to witness sports championship I you there to, you know, deliver a certain thing by a certain day that you’re there to make a report or you’re there to teach the world the code? Like, why are you all in in the place working together.
Dona Sarkar 35:48
So if everyone’s not bought in on that, you don’t have the right team?
Jeremiah Marble 35:51
No, you don’t have the right team. And there’s a whole bunch of things you can do at that point. But But step one really is have a common goal, have something that you’re aiming for. Step two, is we sort of talked about attracting a diverse set of folks who can represent a whole bunch of different viewpoints, and bring them on and hopefully have them passionate about about the same end result. Third, is create the sort of safe space for them to be themselves and they can bring their whole self to work, and you know, be part of the team and achieving the business results, as well as feeling like they’re empowered to do the things that they really want to do. And then at that point, then it’s sort of like, foster an environment of trust, says that people actually can deliver feedback, not everyone does their best work every single day. Not every resolve is exactly what you want.
Trust that someone will tell you when they think that you’re, you’re going slightly off course. And Second, you also want to be able to trust that that conversation isn’t the end of the relationship, and you have to quit and do something else. Right. So fostering an environment of trust says that you respect them as a person, you acknowledge that everyone has days when they are the family are sick, they are their families, or work or worried about something else, like, make sure that they they can they can really be themselves at work, and then provide a framework for them to achieve the things that you need, like, Praise publicly criticized privately. And then at that point, then it sort of kind of runs itself, you know, the management and teamwork are kind of the same thing. And in a well oiled machine. So you it’s way less, “Hey, I need you to deliver this report by five o’clock today.” It’s more like:- “Hey, what can we together do to accomplish our goal?” “Hey, we have a very important meeting tomorrow wouldn’t be awesome to have a pre read for for the person we’re going to meet meet with?” “Oh, no, we probably need to send that to them soon. Who’s going to do that? Oh, you’re going to do? That’s awesome. That’s great. Can you help with that? I’d love to help you with that.
And so it’s sort of like, it’s not. It’s not, you know, an iterative process. It really is the entirety of trying to achieve something like what one thing goes on the other and you know, single thing stands by itself.
Dona Sarkar 38:05
So one thing I like to use, I haven’t done not not done a very good job of it is that thing where you say, this person is the owner? This person is a contributor. This person is an improver right, clarifying the roles. Yeah, clarifying the rules. I feel like that’s the biggest issue in teams that usually happens. People are like, no one knows who owns it. Oh, no, that’s not my job. Or it’s like, oh, it’s not my job, or I think I own it, or I think I own it, all of this. My thing is who was fired? Right? It’s forget all this ownership, business ownership. Sounds fun, being fired is not fun.
So it’s like, don’t be willing, something that you’re not willing to be fired for. Right? I ask everyone, if this thing doesn’t get done, who is fired? And it shouldn’t be everyone in the room? That’s not very good. It’s usually me, I’m like:- “Okay, I’m fired.” Ownership, I think of as like, who was fired, contributors are not fired. They they contribute, and they only contribute once the owner says:- “Okay, here’s what we need.” contributed. And approver is usually like some upper management somewhere. Right.
So that’s how I think about teamwork is breaking it down. And this is a really good reminder to actually do this with my team, like, now, we have a new set of projects on such and such, and maybe for you guys to do is to say:- “What do you what do you what do you own as and what are you fired for? If it doesn’t get done?” “Who are the contributors? you list them!” Like the owner decides, these are the contributors and contributors, if they don’t contribute, they’re also part. And then the approval should be like someone, maybe not you every time, right? Maybe they’ll approver or should be someone else. But that I feel really helps with autonomy. And I found that when people have autonomy to do their work, they actually do really good work. And it doesn’t have to be huge autonomy, oh, here’s a, you know, $10 million and do this work.
Jeremiah Marble 39:42
I would love $10 million.
Dona Sarkar 39:44
I would love that too. But usually, it’s like your job is to write the weekly newsletter every week. It’s our job to help you get the content, if you need help getting the content, tell me, but I’m going to rely on you to write the weekly newsletter that goes out every Friday, right? And you own that we are all contributors. And the approver is probably just yourself, unless you’d want someone else to be approved. So I found when you put it on the owner to decide all of the other roles, it actually works out incredibly well, rather than me assigning all the roles, right. So in teamwork, it is. For me, specifically, it’s about empowering others to make their own decisions, and make their own choices over who they want involved in their business in the first place.
Nathaniel Schooler 40:24
Right. So it’s less about management and more about being right. Exactly.
Dona Sarkar and Jeremiah Marble 40:29
Yeah. inspiring and inspiring. And one of the things I’ve learned the hard way is often have to do step one with them. Right? So say, Well, I want to starting things is heard starting is hard. So a lot of people get paralyzed because they want to do it perfect. So often, I will do the shiniest first draft you’ve ever seen. Authors term? Yeah. Author term shitty first draft. It gives them Hemingway, how can you not like it did not come from it came from the draft, first draft of everything you should Ernest Hemingway came from Anne Lamont. No.
But Okay, so we really needed to do this newsletter? So I wrote the first version. It wasn’t good. It was like, here’s some sections words, go here. tweets go here. Something goes here, like seven different colors. Putting the framework in helps someone like oh:- “I see which direction”
Jeremiah Marble 41:12
Because then you can iterate you can shape it
Nathaniel Schooler 41:16
Yeah, getting your hands dirty to show them what to do. Definitely. It’s really important.
Jeremiah Marble 41:22
Nathaniel Schooler 41:23
Yeah, it’s a bit it’s a bit like what I’m doing. Like, you know, when I move forward to my Podcast once I’m actually nailed the total process, right? So that I can actually delegate really easily, then I will hire someone to do some of the bits but the thing that I don’t trust people enough.
This is all it takes is for you to like, like say someone said something to me. Normally I don’t do video, right? So we’ll have like a conversation and they might say something to me, and they’ll be like, don’t share that. So then I have to go in and edit it. It’s like well, going back into edit that I may as well edit anyway. Yeah, I mean, the best people so like I absorb that information.
Dona Sarkar 42:05
Nathaniel Schooler 42:13
You have come highly recommended. And you have been to Cambodia Dude!
Jeremiah Marble 42:19
Dona Sarkar 42:23
Nathaniel Schooler 42:24
That makes the teamwork, right. The interpersonal skills, the communication, all of that stuff. It makes the teamwork because you are understanding like about their backgrounds? Or what what drives them as individuals? Yeah. And then bringing them on board with the bigger goal of the company’s mission. Right and then the project as well because it all needs to fit in together, doesn’t it?
Dona Sarkar and Jeremiah Marble 42:49
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