Culture And Values At Zapier
Below is an article originally written by Wade Foster, the Co-founder and CEO at PowerToFly Partner Zapier, and published on January 26, 2018. Go to Zapier's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.
We help people be more efficient at work. We want to help you focus on the work that matters and automate the work that's tedious.
Today we serve two million people. We hope to one day serve everyone at work.
To make that happen, though, we have to invest in each other and invest in our team—especially since we're a small, but fast-growing company. Our culture is the primary way we achieve our organizational goals. And the way we've defined the culture is through a shared set of common values that every team at Zapier uses to help them make decisions, interact with each other and our customers, and get work done.
The Zapier Team Values
Each of these values are fleshed out through a simple good vs. bad comparison:
"A successful Zapier teammate does this"
vs. "A struggling Zapier teammate does that".
1. Default to Action
What this means: Most decisions are changeable. It's better to deliver something real today over something maybe better later.
Tips on how to apply this value:
"When I see a problem, I take action."
vs. "When I see a problem, I ignore it because it's someone else's job."
"If I'm unsure about something, I seek out help from my manager or a teammate."
vs. "I don't like to ask questions or raise issues because I'm afraid I'll look bad."
"I prefer to make a quick, decent decision instead of pursuing perfection."
vs. "I hold myself to making perfect or near-perfect decisions no matter the cost."
"When prioritizing my day, I focus on tasks that align with my team's goals."
vs. "I spin up new projects frequently and get frustrated when no one dedicates time to helping me."
"We tackle big hairy problems and take big bets diligently as team."
vs. "I make big, tough to reverse decisions on my own."
2. Default to Transparency
What this means: When working in a distributed, worldwide team staying on the same page is tough. Sharing context, goals, objectives, and in-progress work in public helps us all achieve a common goal.
Tips on how to apply this value:
"I keep my team members in tune with relevant information as it can be appropriately shared with context so there's rarely surprises."
vs. "I hold back information until the very point it needs to be shared, even if it is a surprise to my teammates, that's OK."
"I share my work with my peers early and often so we can course correct quickly."
vs. "I share my masterpiece at the end in a big grand reveal."
"I make it easy for others to follow my work by summarizing tasks accomplished and decisions made, and providing links to source material (such as a Slack thread) for deeper context."
vs. "I share raw notes and all details of my work and decisions, and expect others have the time to consume it all."
"I distill reporting to what's relevant to my audience, linking out to details that are already understood."
vs. "I share everything out of concern my audience might question my decision-making or productivity."
"When sensitive details come my way, I think twice and consult a manager before sharing publicly."
vs. "I share far and wide just for transparency's sake."
3. Grow Through Feedback
What this means: We all have personal goals and ambitions. Let's work together to help us all achieve our goals.
Tips on how to apply this value:
"When I hear feedback, I improve with it."
vs. "When I hear feedback, I disengage."
"I assume positive intent when receiving feedback."
vs. "I feel attacked when receiving feedback."
"When a teammate's work helps me, I say thanks by sharing how."
vs. "I keep feedback to myself."
"I reflect on and engage with learning opportunities."
vs. "I prefer to gloss over missteps or mistakes because it is more comfortable than addressing them head on."
"I participate in other people's development."
vs. "I stay silent to avoid hurting feelings or feeling uncomfortable."
"I provide feedback directly and compassionately."
vs. "I provide feedback without the ultimate goal of helping the other person."
"When change happens, I embrace new opportunities."
vs. "When change happens, I fear for the worst."
4. Empathy, No Ego
What this means: All of our teammates are smart and talented. When we work together we will be successful.
Tips on how to apply this value:
"I work with others to build on great ideas."
vs. "I work alone because my ideas are the best."
"I take interest in my teammates' and users' well being. I know with strong bonds we can go through any tough time together."
vs. "I treat my team as resources to help me achieve tasks that advance my interests."
"If the floor is dirty, I sweep the floor."
vs. "I wait for the janitor to sweep the floor because some jobs are below me."
Sometimes it's not about a big ego. Sometimes we need guidance on how to handle a bruised ego and learn to be forgiving of ourselves to take the next steps. These rules help give guidance for this set of situations:
"When I fail, I learn."
vs. "When I fail, I'm no good."
"I can learn anything I want to."
vs. "I'm either good at it or I'm not."
"When I'm frustrated I persevere."
vs. "When I'm frustrated I give up."
"If you succeed, I feel inspired."
vs. "If you succeed, I feel threatened."
5. Don't Be a Robot, Build the Robot
What this means: Invest in tools and processes that lead to outsized impact so Zapier can be more productive than a similar sized company.
Tips on how to apply this value:
"If I see repetitive tasks, I find tools, process, or code that can help us grow efficiently."
vs. "I keep doing things they way they've always been done because it's familiar."
"If I find something that works, I continually optimize the process."
vs. "When something works, I don't change it in fear of messing it up."
"I'm eager to find a better way to do my role, even if it works myself out of that role."
vs. "I avoid exploring new ways to do something out of fear that it'll impact my role."
"I prioritize effectiveness and impact over perfection and precision."
vs. "I make sure I achieve perfection in my work."
"I seek alternatives to growing headcount, searching for efficiencies first."
vs. "I default to encouraging hiring to solve the problems in front of us."
It's been six years since Sarah Cooper graced us with her 10 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings. But how on earth can we appear smart in our new virtual world, in which for many of us, going to work is just sitting in one long series of probably-not-necessary Zoom meetings?
1. Dial in.<p>Dialing in rather than joining via the link instantly boosts your credibility. Who calls into Zoom meetings? People who are still busy and important enough to be leaving their houses! But you needn't actually be one of those people, or even more than a foot away from your computer to pull off this maneuver. (Remember, this article is called *seeming* smart, not being smart.)</p><p><strong></strong><em>Bonus: </em>If it's a large meeting at which attendance will be taken, the person running the meeting will inevitably ask, "Who's calling in from 443-322-2121?" That's when you raise your metaphorical hand, jump off mute, and say "[Your name] here. Really looking forward to hearing your perspective on [meeting topic]." And voila! You've stolen the meeting spotlight.</p>
2. Don't come on camera—ever.<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQ0ODU5OS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNjMwNjI3OX0.4fLyq2CvkZAJ7n_03esZepY37mOdyGdDdTEUYt5XEU0/img.png?width=980" id="bc7e6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="fbbf21cc5d8c863b30654ae6993b04f5" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p><br></p><p>Much like the "dial in," this technique works because it makes you appear aloof. If <em>The Crown has </em>taught me anything, it's that the key to maintaining a sense of mystique and prestige is to keep people at arm's length—and if you absolutely <em>must</em> touch them, wear a glove.</p>
3. Only communicate via chat.<p>Once you've mastered the art of staying off camera, you can level up by communicating exclusively via the chat box. Don't come off mute at all, even if the speaker asks your opinion. You are the elusive chatter and you will not be forced into actually participating in said meeting.</p>
4. Ask to share your screen.<p>Being aloof is great, but it's all about balance. Sprinkling in some active participation will really shock and impress your colleagues if you catch them off guard, so save this technique for when you've strategically <em>not </em>participated in a string of meetings.</p><p>Spend a few minutes prior to the meeting prepping a few inspirational slides with words like "synergy," "optimization," and "redefining 'culture'", or spend a few minutes poking around in Google Analytics. </p><p>Then wait for the opportune moment to say, "Can I just share my screen for a moment? I have some really interesting data I'd like to share...." and BAM — brilliance established.</p>
5. Show off your Zoom-saviness.<p>Try saying, "You know you can mute people, right?" to the host when they beg whoever's got the lawn mower and crying baby in the background to put themselves on mute for the nth time.<br></p>
6. Create an alter ego.<p>This tactic requires commitment, but the pay off is certainly worth it. Join the Zoom meeting from your normal account + name, and then join it again on a second device from an alias. Have your alter-ego ask some probing or stat-based questions in the chat and have the answers ready ahead of time. It should work something like this:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>Your alter ego Charlene</strong><strong>:</strong> "Does anyone know what percentage conversion rates increased by in Q2?"</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>Real you</strong>: *doesn't miss a beat* "It looks like Charlene has a question in the chat. That would be 36%."</p><div>Never mind that no one on your team knows who Charlene is or why she's at this meeting, they'll be too blown away by your brilliance to notice. (Bonus points if you use this strategy in conjunction with techniques 1, 2, 3 or 4!)</div>
7. Place an obscure object in your background that exudes intelligence.<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQ0ODYxOC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNzk5Njg2Mn0.V9_-3Ij3v_QndseqlrXRt5Nn39EJ97-itjls5zzYPf8/img.png?width=980" id="a369d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="604a2f04b53c2e3bc801bfa5256f367b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p><br></p><p>We're talking a telescope, or perhaps a hardcover copy of <em>War & Peace </em>(no one need know that its only purpose in your life is as a makeshift yoga block).</p><p>If you don't have any suitable props at your disposal, do not despair: download some screenshots of Sheldon's apartment from <em>Big Bang Theory </em>or the chalkboard in <em>Good Will Hunting </em>and use those as a virtual background.</p>
8. Ask "Is this really the best course of action given the current climate?"<p>Economic collapse, COVID, racism… No need to specify whether you're referring to one or all of the above; just sit back and watch your boss squirm amidst the ambiguity.</p><p>This strategy pairs very well with techniques 2 and 3. You can prep additional vague-but-probing questions ahead of time and pepper them into the chat box throughout the meeting:</p><ul><li>How will this scale?</li><li>Do we really have the bandwidth for this right now?</li><li>What's the value-add here?</li></ul>
9. Remind everyone that you have a paid Zoom account.<p>"Oh, it looks like we're getting the 40-minute warning. I have a paid account, do you want to switch to my room?" It's helpful, with just a touch of condescension. Everyone knows condescending people are smart. And everyone knows that people with paid Zoom accounts are super important.</p>
10. Tell everyone you have a hard stop.<p>When pressed for details, share your philosophy on "work-from-home" balance and how committed you are to getting up once an hour to walk to your refrigerator.</p>
11. Ask the screensharer/host to "pull something up" for everyone.<p>Ask the presenter to navigate to a screen that only you know how to navigate well. Laugh maniacally while they suffer from crippling performance anxiety. Let them struggle for as long as is tolerable before saying, "Oh you know what? I can just share my screen if you want. That would probably be easier." BAM you're the hero. Don't worry, no one will even pause to consider that you could have proposed this course of action from the start.</p>
12. Say Zoom fatigue as many times as possible.<p>If you're too tired to employ any of the other strategies, just say "I know everyone is experiencing a lot of Zoom fatigue, so we can keep this meeting short." Then hang up as quickly as possible. Meeting averted! </p><p>After all, there's no better way to demonstrate your intelligence in a virtual meeting than to demonstrate why it wasn't really necessary in the first place. </p>
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