🚀 Breathe.



The best way to earn trust and respect is to go through some really hard stuff together, like project fails. Are you going to join us in the failure? Or are you going to distance yourself and throw us under the bus? I've learned over the course of my career that mistakes and problems are great opportunities for people to see what you're made of, and how you handle that.

In this episode

The psychology of the workforce has shifted. 

How can leaders and organizations approach this?

In episode #133, Steve Cadigan shares how to lead from respect, build trust, and create growth opportunities and how organizations can re-engineer roles and build alumnae communities to retain top talent in today’s rapidly changing workforce. 

Steve Cadigan is most known for scaling Linkedin from 400 to 4000 in 3.5 years as the first CHRO hire. Steve has worked in 5 different industries and 3 different countries while also leading dozens of acquisition integrations all over the world. 

Steve shares his insights on the importance of having mentors and the right people around you. He also talks about being technically superior in executive functions and how hiring on what people can learn rather than what they know can lead to delivering growth experiences. 

Tune in to hear all about Steve’s leadership journey and the lessons learned along the way!

Like this episode? Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review and share the podcast with your colleagues.


Being the youngest in the room and leading from respect


Deliver growth experiences


Growing from 400 to 4000 in 3.5 years


Workquake and how the workforce is changing


Big company myth


 Contractor vs employees


Having a personal board of directors



Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  00:17

Steve, welcome to the show.

Steve Cadigan  04:30

Great to be here

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  04:31

Yeah, this is super exciting. There’s gonna be a lot of really great stuff to talk about. You were LinkedIn first chief HR officer, to your talent hacker advisor to companies like Twitter, Salesforce, we work many governments, we were just talking about all the different countries that you get to travel to. And of course you wrote the book work quake, embracing the aftershocks of COVID-19 to create a better model of working so Steve lots So for us to talk about, and I know that there are certain hot button issues that we can talk about for a long time. But before we dive into any of that stuff, can we rewind all the way to the beginning and talk about, you know, when you first started to manage or lead a team, were there any mistakes are things that you tend not to do these days or big insights that you could share with the with the listeners here?

Steve Cadigan  05:26

Yeah, so many, I think I didn’t appreciate when I was first, assuming the role of manager that having mentors, coaches and support around you is probably more important than being the right decision maker. And that gathering input is extremely important. You know, I thought I had to role model being right all the time, in the early days. And that was putting unnecessarily burdens of stress to be right. And it’s impossible to be right. Like you’re on your own. So I was probably the first one, I also stepped into a place I’m sure some people can resonate with this my first time leading people, I was the youngest person. For years, I was always the youngest person leading people who are more senior to me in age, and or education and experience. And so that was really uncomfortable, you know, at first, and then later, my career became the oldest guy in the room. So it came full circle. But, you know, that’s a rite of passage. You know, I think what I learned pretty early on is, you know, this is a game early in the face of leadership of building trust and followership. And that leads me to probably the second big lesson for me was learning to lead from respect than from friendship. And when you’re a co worker, an individual contributor, you want to get along with people, and you want to be a good team player. And you learn pretty quickly sometimes when you’re a manager at first, that delivering difficult news, difficult feedback is not easily done, when you’re coming at it from a friend, you know, but when you’re coming at it from a this, I’m trying to help you try to help the organization help you improve. And it may not be welcome. You don’t always do that. When you’re a friend, you know, you’re worried about hurting someone’s feelings. But when you are playing from a point of respect, I think you can land the messages better and people do. At the end of the day, I think respect leaders who will deliver hard news versus always say, Hey, you’re great, love you Good job, way to go Aiden, you know, good job. Instead of like, Hayden, you know, that last meeting, I observed you kept talking over some people, you weren’t really including the whole team in the conversation, were you aware of that, you know, and if you want to really inspire your team, you might want to, you know, be more aware and, and listen a little bit more than always having to, you know, speak over people. So that was a big one man learning, moving from that. And I still struggle with that sometimes, you know, because I think we all want to be liked, in general, as human beings, and getting comfortable with learning how to lead from respect versus just being like, it’s a big leap,

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  08:03

I think, like to tie these two things together, you know, managing people that are more experienced than you. And also leading from a place of respect, I think, you know, maybe that comes a little bit more by default, because how could you not respect someone that knows more than you and is more experienced, and I mean, the respect angle allow you to also do a more effective job of leading people who are more experienced and clearly, you know, have done this more than you have?

Steve Cadigan  08:33

Well, that gets into a domain that I think some people and might you, including myself really uncomfortable with this, if you’re particularly if you’re leading engineers, generally over the course of my career engineers, most of the time will only respect a leader who’s technically superior to them. And having a leader who’s not technically superior gain their trust and confidence does take some time. And that usually, I’ve found over time, because most of the time you walk into a team, and they’ve been doing this work before you got there. And they built, you know, what you’re trying to help them take through is the pathway to respect comes from listening and respecting their intelligence and their intellect, and trying to understand where they want to go and what they want to do. And also showing them that you can advocate in places in the organization where maybe they were feeling frustrated, or disconnected to that you’ve got you’re bringing an arsenal to help them realize a greater platform, and a greater possibility for success than they might have without you. Right? Whether you fully understand all the details of what they’re doing. So it does take some time and it it’s worth investing in. And this is probably the Another mistake that I probably made was believing that the respect was there just out of my position versus having earned it over time, you know, and what I have found is, the best way to earn their trust and respect is to go through some really hard stuff together. Like someone a project fails, and they’re looking at you like you’re gonna be blame us, are you going to take that you’re going to take the fall? Are you going to join us in the failure? Or are you going to distance yourself and throw us under the bus, right. And this is one of the things that I’ve learned doing lots of many mergers and acquisitions over the course of my career is mistakes, goofs, problems are great opportunities for people to see what you’re made of, and how you handle that. And so not to go manufacture those, but welcome those as moments of you being able to model how you can build trust and respect. And in those moments, so it’s not easy to do eight. And obviously, you know, there’s no shortcut here, but just, you know, respecting the folks around you, and not always taking the easy path and in owning things, that sometimes, you know, you could easily blame someone else, because you didn’t have anything to do with it. But hey, it’s your team. So you got to, if you own it, I think you’re going to build trust faster.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  10:51

Yeah, that’s a really good way to put it, especially how you were saying that you can’t just assume that the respect is going to be there on day one, and you actually have to, you know, earn that respect. And, you know, maybe the next time that there’s a problem or challenge, you might say, Hey, this is an opportunity for me to earn some respect and show up in the right way. So I think that really puts it well. You know, it is very true, what you’re saying about engineers like to report to people that are technically superior, one of the things that, you know, I find is that even in some other functions, like when you think about, say, you’re going to hire an executive, you know, as part of the team, and you have different people who are a part of that team and are going to have this new boss. And so they might also want, you know, something similar in that, you know, it would be great if this person was technically superior, from the perspective of I want to learn, you know, from that person. And so if I guess you have a team that might think that, Oh, I’m not going to be able to learn from this new person that is being brought in, is that setting up, you know, that leader coming into that role into, like, a bad place? Or do you think like this being technically superior, or, you know, technically more expert is not a major factor for an executive function,

Steve Cadigan  12:15

I think if you can earn the trust and respect of people who have more technical competence than you, that is a huge win. And it is one that’s very sticky. And I think you can achieve that through a couple of different ways. One way that I’ve done it is, if I’m not technically superior, is to show a real interest and to try to learn and get up to speed quickly, but also show that I have an arsenal of things to help the team and the product in the roadmap that maybe don’t come from being technically superior maybe comes from political, you know, collateral that I can apply to get us more resources, get us more funding, get pushed out the timeline, you know, and support their point of view. And that’s really, really helpful. And or I can go find people that I know, to come in and help grow the team’s technical capabilities, right? Because that is a real hunger. I think that is one of the things I talk about my book I talk about a lot with clients is, I think people are more loyal to learning today than they are to accompany. And if the company can deliver the learning and the growth and the new experiences, I think people are going to be more quote, loyal. But it’s to the learning. In a world where the skill gaps are growing faster than they ever have. Jobs are changing quicker than they ever have. I think people are worried. The longer I stay, the more I may be fearful that I’m atrophying. And so we all have to do that. And we have to build learning into jobs. And that I think is probably the biggest thing, Aiden, when I look at the future of leaders and the future of managers, it is not just delivering an output, but delivering for the company, but delivering an output of growth experiences through the delivering the output to the company of new tasks, new teams, new domains that they haven’t been exposed to before, could feed that thirst to learn and feed that sort of desire and recognition that jobs are really changing quickly. You know, having recruited for 35 years, I can tell you that the shelf life of the accuracy of a job description is probably about two weeks, and then the job changes. And so I think we’re heading towards the domain, which gets me really excited talk about things that I could go on forever about which is I think in the very near future, we’re going to hire people more based on what they can learn than what they know. And because jobs, companies industries are evolving faster than ever before. And so that’s really fundamentally unsettling for a lot of people who like consistency and reliability. To say no, I want to know that someone can do this. But you also know that John is going to change in a week in a month in here. So let’s make sure that we’re serving our confidence level being there for that person’s ability to grow and self teaching and also deliver that in the job.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  15:00

You know, this is super interesting. I love the phrase that you use, which is delivering growth experiences. I feel like, right after this podcast, I’m going to tell my you know, all the managers in the company, your job is to deliver growth experiences. And yeah, just basically hiring people for their ability to learn makes so much sense in this environment. So let’s talk about one company definitely wanted to talk about LinkedIn, because you all grew from 400 to 4000 people in three and a half years, and obviously, and then some. So in that environment, I mean, you’re doing a lot of hiring. And, you know, one of the things that, you know, I assume you’re also doing a lot of is also hiring execs. So I’m wondering, like, what are some learnings about like the, you know, executive hires that you would have made during that time, that did really well, and we’re able to grow with the company. You know, throughout that time, what are some learnings that you’ve had, in that process, the

Steve Cadigan  16:01

biggest mistake that I made and CEO at the time, Jeff Weiner, we felt horrible about this mistake, but we both recognize that we made it is when we started to see some growth, where, you know, I started where six year old company, 400 people, and we started to see where maybe this, you know, this bird is going to fly like, we might be able to do something really great here. We started talking big numbers, like, hey, we could be a million dollars in revenue this year, we could be a billion dollar value company, let’s go hire people who know how to lead like that. Let’s go hire people who know how to lead at scale, because none of us have ever been in this industry before there’s a new industry, LinkedIn at the time was new. And we you know, all of us are managing more people, more resources, more budget than all of us had independently ever before in our own career arc. So this is kind of new. Here’s the let’s go hire some people that teach us how to do this. And at the time, there were very few Hyper Growth success stories. There was VMware and Google and all the founders of Google were, you know, taking care of their yachts and their islands. Not interested in coming to coach us. And VMware was just sort of settling in. But all the companies that are you know, successful. Now we’re going through that at the time, you know, the Salesforce is the, you the Twitter’s the Facebook, we’re all like elevating going through this craziness. So we didn’t know hypergrowth at that point, right. And so we made a huge mistake. We hired people who’d managed billion dollar businesses to come in, we didn’t hire people who built billion dollar businesses. And they came in deer in the headlights, so like, Hey, I’m gonna need three assistants. And like, you don’t get any assistance. We don’t have executive assistants just like we are scrappy. And they didn’t know how to do that. And they hadn’t built the billion dollar business, they just led a billion dollars. So they, they came into an already formed ecosystem. And we’re looking for builders, we didn’t get that until probably the second big failure, and it’s on us we smell bad. And the people who ran out the door with their hair on fire, not understanding, you know, what did I do wrong, like you didn’t do anything wrong, we both didn’t understand the fit that we were each looking for. And so that’s a big lesson, I will tell you, I would double down on people who can build companies, rather than people who have led at scale. You know, if you’re going through that growth, now, you need builders, because it is a completely different skill set than someone who’s led, you know, a billion dollars at scale. So that was probably number one. The second thing is you cannot tell the LinkedIn growth story without recognizing that we were in the middle of an arms race for talent, where Google and Facebook and Twitter, were going through these Apple, you know, million dollar signing bonuses and just nuts stuff. And it still happens today, to a lesser extent, but back then it was the Wild West. And we were arming our competitors to hire against us. That was the irony. Like I’m selling the LinkedIn recruiter product to Google. And you know, I didn’t want to, you know, I told him, No, I told my sales guy and like, don’t don’t sell him the product. I want to have the ocean all yourselves. And that put real pressure on us because we could see we had all the data who’s hiring at scale? And who’s hiring more than us? And how many recruiting resources do they have? Because we could see all the LinkedIn profiles and all that. And so we were trying to look for the right formula, but we couldn’t pay them. We couldn’t benefit them. We could not work environment them. All we could do and this was probably the biggest lesson, which surprised us. I mean, I’m a human resource guy from the beginning of my career till today. But we all discovered that culture was our competitive advantage. And we never thought that was going to be the advantage. It was like, Oh, look at our investors. Look at our roadmap. Look at the product plan. Look at the incredible talent we have here. That was all good. But everyone could outwork us on all those, you know, we got a cooler plan. We got to we weren’t an unsexy brand for the consumer compared to the Facebook and the Twitter and the Googles at the time. And so what we had to get real clarification around. And this is really important message for those of you who are struggling to recruit against, quote unquote, sexier brands is really understand what problem you’re solving. And we, when we recognize the problem that we’re solving, helping people find their dream jobs. And the debt problem was the same as the problem we’re saving for our employees come here, and this will be your dream job and help build, you’d have the access to people to find their dream jobs, then we got real comfortable. So Oh, making more money is more important to you. Okay, well, then you should go over to Google, because they will definitely pay you more. But we’re solving this problem, and it’s worth solving. And no one’s ever solved it before. Sec, get you excited? You want to be part of a small team going at this? Or do you want to go into some huge big ocean, where you know, Facebook, hire 800 people just like you every year. And if that’s where you want to go, great. But you’re gonna be one of 50 here, you know what I’m saying. So it’s a much smaller scale, more intimate, more opportunity to really put your fingerprints on it. So those are the two big ones, I think Anat appreciating that we needed builders. And then second one was recognizing that culture was our competitive advantage, that were never going to help me Google was making more money in a day than we made in a year. I can’t, you know, companies would say, Hey, Steve, we want to take your center and the sushi chef like Google, I’m like, well, great, give me that revenue that they have. And I’ll get that for you. And we’re like, we just can’t, and then getting caught, here’s the other third leg of the stool, which is you have to at some point, get comfortable at not everyone’s going to want to work for you. It’s okay. And if you try to convince someone to go work for you against what they want, that’s going to last you about three or six months, and then they’re going to go, and now you’re way behind the curve, because you thought they’re gonna stay longer. And so you know, getting really clear on who’s probably going to stay longer, and understanding their aspirations, and do they line up with your needs? Really, really important. You know, and it seems so obvious, but it’s not, because you’re so desperate for people. And today, it’s even harder to find the quality people because the pool of people isn’t what it was. And COVID, as you probably know, shut down immigration, global integration, immigration a lot in the US where I spent a lot of time, three years in a row, we stopped the immigration of about 2 million people coming into the workforce. And that is substantial, you know, and that’s why countries like Canada, countries like Germany, say if we don’t bring in half a million new knowledge workers to our economy from outside our economies at risk every year, right. And so that’s a, and that’s what you know, when I look at what’s in front of us right now, that’s super, super interesting. But anyway, back to your sort of the tactics of that those are some big lessons from my LinkedIn experience.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  22:41

Yeah, those are really great lessons. And it’s very interesting. I love the one which is okay, you’ve managed a billion dollar business, but you know, you didn’t build it. And so you know, a lot of the the lessons that you need for someone to have learned, maybe it’s not, it’s not the right time for that executive, it might not be the right fit. So one thing that I mean, you touched on it briefly. So we should probably talk about the book book came out in 2021. And you reminded me earlier that it is 2023. So just a little over a year now. So tell us about why you wrote that book, like what is the main theme of the book and who should read it.

Steve Cadigan  23:21

My book is really an attempt to address a dysfunction of frustration in the world of work that I think we’re, you know, we have a model of work that was built for a much slower pace of time. And that is, the kind of people you hire, how long you expect them to stay, or we think about careers. Organizations that I’ve been working with the last 1015 years are frustrated, people aren’t staying as long. Why is that happening? You know, that young generation? And what I tried to do in the book is really lay out like, no, there’s a lot of factors contributing to why people are moving, and maybe that’s not so bad. And maybe, for you to keep people for you to thrive in this world of work that these people not seeing as long as they used to, maybe Well, the problem we should be solving is not how do we get people to stay longer? It’s how do we create value, when people are staying for shorter periods of time and expect people are going to go and care about them the whole career, not just when they work for you. And so the trigger for me was, I left Electronic Arts, I moved back to the states from Canada in 2008 took a job with Electronic Arts and 2008 the second mortgage crisis my I was going to EA to do acquisitions, and the budget for that disappeared when the second mortgage crisis hit and we’re like, we gotta hold on to cash. We can’t go buy Activision or we can’t go buy, you know, take to interact. It was we wanted to at the time, they wanted to buy some really edgy games. And so my job changed. And I became interested in looking for a different job, and I’d only been there a year. Well, LinkedIn found me and said, Would you come be our first chief HR officer? And I’m like, wow, you know, I’m in Silicon Valley opportunity to take a private company public who would want Yeah, let’s go. And I had no idea, you know, if LinkedIn was going to make it or not now, it seems like a, you know, a no brainer. But at the time, it wasn’t a no brainer, even to our investors. And so I left in EA made me feel bad about that, like, where are you leaving, like, before your two year anniversary. And it was like, for me, it revealed the hollowness of how many employment relationships start, which is, hey, you commit to say you’re a longtime, I’ll commit to employ your longtime, we both know, we probably won’t follow through on that. But let’s start the foundation of our relationship on a, you know, a paradigm that we know is kind of false, you know, rather than, Hey, come here and have a great adventure. And if there’s a greater adventure for you, then we’ll support you on that, or let’s try to care about each other for the entirety of our life cycles. Whether we stay together or not. It just seemed like we need to have more honest conversations. And that was a real moment for me where I said, Hey, I think I’m seeing enough frustration that I think we need to start reframing this. And really, the book is was the beginning of a conversation, not here’s all the answers to how you thrive in the future work. And honestly, I finished it before COVID. And then when COVID hit, but I was like, Oh my gosh, I can’t publish a book in the future work without COVID Somehow, and I didn’t know how it’s gonna play out. And honestly, I had to draw a line about six months in a COVID. Like, I can’t, I gonna have to say, I think COVID is going to be around and it’s going to accelerate all the stuff that I’m talking about. So let’s just go. And we’ve debated that, should we have COVID in the subtitle or not, you know, because you don’t want to have something in there. That’s going to be like, I don’t know, if you remember SARS, that was a big deal in early 2000s. And it was only around for like a month. And COVID wealth. Here we are three years later, it’s still a big part of our reality. So but yeah, that was the big inspiration. And also, I wanted to, you know, push people, leaders, you know, a little bit more around being more thoughtful and creative around talent strategies.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  26:59

Hey, there. Just a quick note, before we move on to the next part, if you’re listening to this podcast, you’re probably already doing one on one meetings. But here’s the thing, we all know that one on one meetings are the most powerful, but at the same time, the most misunderstood concept in practice and management. That’s why we’ve spent over a year compiling the best information, the best expert advice into this beautifully designed 90 Plus page ebook. Now, don’t worry, it’s not single spaced font, you know, lots of tax. There’s a lot of pictures. It’s nice, easily consumable information, we spent so much time building it. And the great news is that it’s completely free. So head on over to Fellow.app slash blog to download the Definitive Guide on one on ones. It’s there for you. We hope you enjoy it. And let us know what you think. And with that said, let’s go back to the interview. Yeah, this is really interesting, because I remember I forget what the name of the book, Reed Hoffman had was, but he, I want to say, is it the Alliance where he talks about the tour of duty duty? Yeah, that was the first time that I heard about this concept. And it seems like where, you know, people do tours of duty, and then they’re done. And then they move on. And this is something that you also talked about, which is just this concept of preparing your employees to leave. So it almost seems like it’s a I mean, you recognize that it isn’t inevitable ability, like most people will not stay at a company for their whole lives. And so what are some things that, you know, knowing that, that you would maybe behave differently as a manager as a company, like if we took that viewpoint of, you know, people will do a tour of duty for, you know, a handful of years, maybe less than a handful, and then move on what changes?

Steve Cadigan  28:55

I think there are a few things. The first is, if I ask any leader in any industry, in any geography of the world, what’s your biggest problem? They’ll say, people are not staying as long as they used to. If you ask another question, which is I think, bigger than why is that happening? Which is Do you think this is going to change in the next five or 10 years that people are going to stay in companies longer? Everyone will say, No, I think people are going to continue to stay shorter. I said, So then the next question is the what can we do? So that that doesn’t hurt us? Right? Keeping trying to keep people longer, I think is playing defense, I think expecting that they’re going to go is playing offense. And so what does that mean for leaders? That means? Are you building jobs? So take someone who years to understand how to do the job, or can you ramp them up? In three to six months? Do we need to re engineer roles and assignments? So that it’s not some huge long horizon? Are we accelerating team building and onboarding? Are we building alumni communities so that we’re harvesting knowledge even after someone’s left and bringing them into Making a difference. One of the six companies I’ve worked for my career reaches out to me regularly, that’s LinkedIn. Hey, would you give us feedback on this new product? We’re thinking about? Would you come in and coach one of our employees? Will you, you meet with some of our interns, they want to get a, you know, perspective around what the company was like when you were here, just all kinds of things. And they give me LinkedIn features on my account that the general public doesn’t have. How do you think that makes me feel it makes me feel really, really interested in helping that company succeed. And so that’s, you know, I think what things we can do as leaders is, don’t just lead the people that you have lead coach, mentor, the people that used to work with you, maybe they’ll come back. And if they don’t, maybe they’re going to be a positive influence for you. So it’s sort of seeing the bigger picture, right and widening our horizons in our peripheral vision. When we think about talent, that’s one reengineering work and architecting jobs, so that people can see, you know, it doesn’t take forever to learn something. If you’re actively recruiting college students right now. And you ask them, What does a long commitment look like to you? You’re gonna hear like, nothing longer than two years. It’s Whoa, a year Whoa, I don’t know, when that’s fascinating, you know, and it’s not right or wrong, or good or bad. It’s just, I think we need to appreciate the psychology the workforce has shifted. In the biggest thing driving that, I believe, is that we have more new industries being created today, than any time in history. And it’s fundamentally exciting, but confusing to people who’s starting their career journey going, which path should I choose? It’s really, really hard. And so for you to think that your company and your role and your job is going to outshine the greater choice universe that people have, like, I grew up recruiting in Silicon Valley, it’s a career candy store. I know, I’m not going to be perfect for everyone for every moment of their career journey. So I know it’s gonna happen. I’ve accepted it. When I go out there on the world and talk to banks, healthcare, you know, education institutions, they have not ready to accept that yet. No, no, no, you’re gonna stay here forever. No, they’re not. And look at health care. What do we have? Like, I don’t know, whether you’ve got an aura ring on or a whoop or something? Or, and yeah, yeah. So that whole industry didn’t exist five years ago. And now it’s big, along with genetic testing and 23andme. So think of all the nurses that are burnt out with their travelscoot. Hey, would you like to take a call from Aiden and his jury? He’s got a question around, you know, he’s seeing a reading on his heartbeat, or his temperature that you know, now you can do tele telehealth, and that wasn’t available just a few years ago. So that is fundamentally, you know, shaping how I think we need to think as leaders, like expect it, and appreciate it. And don’t build something so complicated, that if if you do that, if you build a really complex system of work, that takes people a long period of time, you’re going to get hurt. Because when someone goes, a lot of people are not going to know how to do that job. And so it’s going to set you back, you see. So that’s, and that is not fundamentally comforting to hear that. So speak here today. It’s not, right. And that’s why I speak at conferences, schools, universities, and governments around the world. But I firmly believe that in my core that this is true. And if you go through all the pieces that are happening, people will slowly go okay, now I get it. Now help me understand, how do I get from here to there? Right.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  33:19

Yeah, and it’s really interesting, because, you know, as someone who, you know, I would say, I probably lived half of my life proximately in the in the US, and then half in Canada now is, like, I’ve seen it from both aspects, right. So when you are outside of the Bay Area, Silicon Valley ecosystem, you know, companies will look to that area and say, Wow, look at the companies there, like employees have such short spans at each one of the companies. And it’s like only two or three years, whereas in the rest of the world tends to be a little bit longer. And they like it hasn’t necessarily conversion to that that same trend yet, but it is, you know, on that path. But it’s definitely interesting to see that now that’s happening more and more in other places, as well. One thing that, I guess comes to mind is, and it’s very interesting, like I was having this discussion with someone else on our team recently, we not only maybe, you know, expect that people will stay longer, but also when we’re looking at candidates, it is a thing that people question, oh, this person was only there, you know, a year and a half year and a half year and a half this person seems like a person that does a lot of, you know, jumping around from position to position. And these are kind of like some of the memes and things that you know, exists because that’s the way that we’ve looked at jobs in the past. But maybe if you do that and you look at that as a bad sign, you may lose out on some really good talent.

Steve Cadigan  34:51

That’s right. That’s right. The psychology of the workforce is is truly changing. And many of those people who weren’t there for long periods didn’t Leave by their choice. Um, we’re just seeing dozens and dozens of announcements this week of organizations letting 1000s of workers go, whether it’s Amazon or Salesforce, or any whole host or coin base, what they announced another 20% staff reduction. And so a lot of folks are out in play right now through not because of their choice, necessarily. And then companies like, Well, why are you leaving? Well, there’s no promise that I’m not going to be let go in the future. So I’m going to go take advantage of my opportunities when I can. And I think it was something we talked about a little bit earlier, which I think is really, really important here is, I think the universe of choice is fundamentally making wonder, did I make the wrong choice? Am I growing as fast as I could, and this transparent world of work that we live in, where I can see what you’re paying, what they’re paying, what their culture is, like, and so forth, it’s given me a bigger set of data to consider when thinking of where I want to go work. That hasn’t settled yet. That’s why you know, when I was in a board meeting recently for a company in Canada, or sit on the board, the human resource leader said, Well, here’s our turnover numbers. And I said, I don’t even know what to what those numbers mean anymore. I can’t remember what it was, it was like four or 6% ago. And they’re feeling pretty good about I go, Really, that’s a good number. I mean, I don’t how do you know? What is the right number? I don’t know. And they hadn’t thought about that. So don’t present a number and be excited about it unless you have some meaning behind it. Because that is really in flux right now. Right? In terms of, you know, I don’t know what it looks like. But, you know, the ultimate measure is how’s the company doing and are people feeling like there’s new experiences, if no one’s leaving, there’s no new experiences for people to grow into. Right? Here’s another one of the fundamental flaws of work as we’ve defined, if you look at a company org chart, which is a pyramid, okay. And you look and you’re on the bottom of that pyramid, and you look up, okay, your frontline employee, and you look up the pyramid, what do you see? less opportunity? That’s what you see. And when you look out on the open market, what do you see more opportunity? So I mean, let’s just be honest here, how can you begrudge someone for wanting to explore more opportunity? You know, and I am with you on this notion of, well, I want to know, someone has worked some seasons in an organization, and they can build something sustainable over time. Right? But what if their managers changed five times in six different rewards? You know, it’s like, okay, they left, but they were left a crap show, you know, like, the company didn’t know what it was doing. They should have left, you know, I’m saying, so we’re assuming that, you know, someone’s leaving, that is a good environment, not always the case. Yeah,

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  37:40

I think I just go back to what you said earlier in the conversation, which is delivering growth experiences, right? Like, if you feel that you’re, you’re able to grow in this role. And it seems like more and more people are optimizing for learning opportunities. It’s this company, it’s that company, at the end of the day, you’re solving a problem? And are you excited about that? Does it present opportunities for you to grow? And if it does, then, you know, that’s a place where you want to say, and just with your example of 46%, which I think most people would say, Oh, that’s really, really good. And it makes sense that that company was proud. But you know, the opposite end of it would be Oh, like, maybe maybe it’s not good that everybody’s staying maybe, like, maybe there’s opportunity,

Steve Cadigan  38:26

maybe we’re overpaying the market. I mean, there could be all

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  38:29

you could take both sides of the argument. But I think it’s a very good thing to hear you say, or it’s very insightful to hear you say that, you can’t just, you know, throw out a number without having a very specific opinion on, you know, why that’s good or bad. And these numbers fluctuate. And it just depends, right?

Steve Cadigan  38:47

And I think that number means different things, at different times in the economy at different cycles of your evolution of growth as an organization. One of the things you mentioned earlier, we didn’t go in there, but I’ll bring it up now is one of the problems we faced when we were growing fast at LinkedIn. Was this perception that we’re a big company now? Oh, you know, and I started to take on this informal role of what I call myth busting. So we will say, Well, we’re a big company that always Oh, lots of meetings, lots of meetings. Okay, well, don’t schedule any meetings, then. What? Yeah, don’t schedule meetings. Oh, then they go over too much email. I go, okay, stop sending email. I didn’t tell you to send email. Where are you sending email? Then it was and this is a big one. Are all the big manager jobs or executive jobs are being filled by outside the company? I was like, Okay. So what I started to do every month when I was in front of the employee, we’d have monthly all hands that sometimes it was every other week, I would track that. Here’s all the leader jobs that were filled, how many were internal, and how many were external. And by the way, if we’re going to go into new markets, we’re going to take on new things. We need new people with new experiences to teach us and guide us right that if we’re just thinking we’ve got everyone and organically. It’s going to figure this out. I think we’re naive, right? So just helping educate and give people the data, right. But that myth of oh, we’re a big company, you know, that’s real when you go from 400 to 4000. And if you don’t talk about it, I think you wind up running the risk of spinning people and narratives, taking control of what’s really happening. And the CEO bless his heart, Jeff Weiner at the time, we would do listening tours, and we would hear we were listening people’s lives. Okay, what’s going well, and what could improve? Let us know, you know, and that’s when we use some of these myths would come up. And like, we heard too many people from Yahoo. Is that what you just said? Okay. Well, why is that a problem? I’ll go look what happened to that culture? Yeah, I said, but they left that culture, because they recognized, it wasn’t what they wanted to. So you’re begrudging them for that? Like, how do you know they built that culture? You know, and so we’re having people like, Oh, I didn’t think about that. Right. Yeah. Yeah, the

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  40:52

concept of myth busting on a company level is super interesting. And, yeah, I guess. And it’s very interesting, because at some point, you talk about, you know, our company has these advantages, because we’re a startup, it’s an intimate group of people, and then you get larger, and then you have to now, you know, recalibrate your messaging, and it’s really good to hear some of the things that you learned, you know, as part of that, one thing that I also wanted to ask you about is, so now we’re in this world, it was a crazy, I mean, what a crazy few years, it’s been, all of a sudden, it seemed that nobody could hire fast enough, everybody was competing for talent everywhere. Now, a lot of places have, you know, hiring freezes and their layoffs. What do you see in the environment going forward? And companies that are going to succeed? Like what are the things you think that successful companies at varying sizes need to think about more are things that they should do really well, at in order to succeed in the next few years,

Steve Cadigan  41:52

I think organizations need to become much more clear, thoughtful, intentional, around resources. There is again, another broken concept, I think that we’ve inherited over time, which is the only way for me to build a company is for me to own people and be dedicated to me full time. And that is just not true. You can have dev teams, helping you on pieces of projects in different parts of the world that you can employ that are not going to be a full burden, you can have huge teams of you know, independent contractors, or temps and so forth, helping you different pieces. And there’s this whole, you know, economy that’s growing, where a lot of really good technical talent is going wanting to be independent. And there was a really interesting article that came out a few months ago, the Wall Street Journal, and I thought I knew the answer, they went to these top technical towns, where are you going on your own? Like, what? And I thought the answer was independence, freedom, autonomy. No, it was the growth curve of dealing with new clients and new experiences, was thrilling. That was the one thing they said they loved more than anything was, Wow, I get to meet these new, I get to go in these new industries, these new verticals, new people, these new cultures, and it’s really a thrill for me to, you know, raised my learning curve beyond just my domain of my product expertise. I’m doing that in different kinds of places, which is really tickling some or scratching some itches that I didn’t know that I had. That’s really interesting. So I think when I look at the future, I think we’re going to have to deal with what I call more permeable boundaries, have your job as an organization is to create value, not to create value with just people that are fully dedicated to you. Or as Elon Musk says, you’re all in on us on me exclusively. I mean, you know, there’s a lot of futurists who are a lot more, you know, further ahead in me than I am on this where they think, you know, most people are going to have like six or seven, eight jobs at the same time. Like, I don’t know if that’s gonna happen in my lifetime, but I’m starting to see more and more people now. Canva is a company right? Now they say, Hey, would you like to be an employee or a contractor? Here’s to offer letters. So you know, you tell us what you want to be?

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  43:50

Oh, really? Can you maybe that’s very interesting. I hadn’t heard that. What is a difference at Canva, for example, between a contractor and an employee, in that case,

Steve Cadigan  43:59

well, they’re going to the compensation plans that are offered are just different, right? If you’re full time and in, there’s going to be more, your salary will probably be less, because they’re going to cover some benefits and some things like that. And if you’re independent, they’re probably have a higher number, because you’re going higher dollar figure, because you’re gonna have to solve that the equity is probably a little bit less if you’re independent, because there’s not an expected long duration of your engagement there. So maybe they’re going to shorten the vesting cycle on some of those. And they don’t do it with all roles, but the ones that are harder to recruit from, they’re saying, We need someone to help us with this. If they have other things we’re doing. We’re good with that. And that is so inspiring that they have the confidence that hey, we think we’re worthy of the greatest people wanting to work for us. So we’re not threatened, that they have other people that they’re working for now. It’s an intellectual property lawyers nightmare come true. They want people fully dedicated to them to them, but that’s sort of silly in the US courts right now. There is a proposition that is being debated around a noncompete He claws. I don’t know if you if you’ve seen this, but it was a news day that noncompetes like, why do they exist? Like, it shouldn’t be the case, people should have the right to work anywhere, anytime. So a lot of these traditional models are getting attacked, to give people more freedom in US sports, for example, in colleges, there has traditionally been this expectation that if you’re a top tier athlete, that if you change schools, after committing to a certain school, you have to sit out a year before you can play again. And then COVID change that, because they will Well, let’s give people the chance to move around. And now that they’ve changed, they will never go back. And more and more students who are bringing in lots of revenue to these schools, because everyone wants to go watch the football or the basketball, you’re now moving around, like, way more than they ever did before, because they just changed the rules. And they should have the right to do that. But the traditionals like, well, that’s not cool. Well, so what are the coaches of these sports teams having to do, they’re having to teach simpler offenses and defenses. In a reality where the players are not staying for years, like they used to, they’re saying one or two. And so they have to learn, have to do a simpler offense and a simpler defense to have to onboard them quickly. And that, to me, is sort of a really good Bellwether, in terms of what I think the corporate world is going to have to see is like, look at what they’re doing over here in the sports world, and I’m a huge athlete, fan of sports. And I take a lot of my lessons from that universe, that I think, you know, the working world can really benefit from what is very, very interesting.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  46:33

Yeah, you know, this is I mean, it’s one thing that I know you talk about a lot is, there’s going to be a lot of change, there’s going to be instability, and leaders just need to prep for this, you know, see this is, I mean, so many great things that we’ve talked about today, you know, starting from how you surrounded yourself with mentors, so that you didn’t have to always be right to delivering growth experiences to I love the all the tips and tricks around hiring xx and all the stories from scaling LinkedIn. This is this has been an incredible conversation. One of the questions that we like to add on is for all the managers and leaders constantly looking to get better at their craft. Are there any final tips, tricks or words of wisdom that you would leave them with?

Steve Cadigan  47:19

I guess I would say along the lines of one of the things you covered around getting mentors and coaches, there is a free on the on the web, there’s a concept called the personal boardroom, where there’s two women that I’ve worked with, in the past built this notion that you know, just like a company, you if you consider yourself an entity, you should surround yourself with people who challenge you people who can pick you up on your down people who can inspire you people who can, who are see things completely different than you people who can give you an attaboy pat on the back when you need it. And they classify about 11 different roles. And I think I never thought about getting my own board of directors. But when I read that I was like, I sort of have that, you know, and I don’t believe in one mentor for your whole career. And we should probably should have lots of different ones so and that just such a good reality check in what feels like a fast changing complex universe that we’re trying to do the best that we can within. The more people I think we have around us, I think the the easier it’s going to be read off and said, a lot of times today, success is driven by not what you know, it’s who you know. And I really believe that.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  48:27

Yeah, that’s great advice and a great place to end it. Of course, we will also link to your book work quake in the shownotes. And everybody should check that out. And Steve, thanks so much for doing this.

Steve Cadigan  48:38

Yeah. Thanks for having me.

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