Monthly Archives: January 2010

The other side of the boardroom

I always wonder how other people see me. It’s a natural curiosity (see: googling yourself) that most people don’t want to admit. Often, the challenge of putting together a good picture of how we are seen is because it’s hard for us to be not us.

The Cheezburger Network’s Board of Directors is the one and only boardroom experience I have. While things are going well, I feel that it’s important for me to know how other Boards operate (so I can get ideas, experience something new, and make meaningful contributions) but I know that being on the other side of the Boardroom allows me to see myself with more objectivity.

As a board member, here’s what I can offer:
1) Everything I know about being a start-up CEO and growing it to profitability.
2) Everything I know about making the hard decisions as a person.

So, I am actively looking for a board seat at another startup as an outsider. The criteria for me is simple:
1) It cannot conflict with my responsibilities at Cheezburger.
2) The startup must have E&O insurance.
3) The company must be committed to good corporate governance.

The Zappos Tour and Us

Ben Huh at the Zappos Tour

One of the fundamental changes that technology brings us is a change in the way we do business. One of the least-understood impact of such change is a change in culture.

When I went down to Las Vegas for CES, I was invited on a tour of Zappos by two Vegas social media starlets Bill Cody and Chris Rauschnot. I started the Zappos tour with a healthy dose of skepticism: “they can’t really love working there that much, could they?”

I’ll cut to the chase: I walked out a believer with a handful of business books from their free library and an appreciation for the blank slate technology has given entrepreneurs like us.

The most important thing I learned is that Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, had an opportunity to reinvent the way shoes are sold as a result of the Internet revolution. But rather than using technology to define the business, he used the technology to enable a new culture in customer service — by re-examining every little detail. (If you want to read more about the Zappos culture, I would recommend that you Google it. There’s been enough written about it to fill several books. Then go take a tour and see for yourself.)

The most direct reaction from my revelations at Zappos would have been to run to the airport, draft a long email on the flight and implement the practice by edict. Wouldn’t that have been easy and effective? But most importantly, it would have been a waste of time. Cultural changes don’t work that way.

Coincidentally, for weeks before visiting Zappos, I have been obsessed with finding The Cheezburger Way to do recruiting and hiring. It’s been priority #1 for me for weeks.

So, on the way home from Vegas, I took a deep breath and decided that culture was best built by the people who work here — so I started asking our team questions about what kind of a company we wanted Cheezburger to be and we started experimenting on our recruiting process, because that’s where it all starts.

It may be subtle and hard to notice, but this job listing for a “Supercharger” is the result of 6 weeks of interviews, research and soul-searching. Can you spot the difference?

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