Zoomtopia 2017: 5 Tips From Bay Area CEOs

Company culture, values, and goals all sprout from a founder’s mind. Founder’s typically become the CEO that leads the company to the goals they dreamed of achieving. Strategizing operations and maintaining a healthy work environment are the duties that stay top of mind.

In my recent trip to Zoomtopia, Zoom’s first annual conference, I left with some valuable tidbits from a few Bay Area CEOs: Greg Schott from Mulesoft, Peter Gassner from Veeva Systems, and Todd McKinnon from Okta. The panel was led by Zoom founder and CEO, Eric Yuan. A really inspiring 45 minutes with the ability to see into the minds of such high ranking professionals. They went over company culture, balancing home life and building new projects which we will get into now! (These will be fairly random but we’ll get through a wide range of topics, bare with me.)

1. Implement A Company Culture

It was agreed upon all four of the CEOs that implementing a strong and apparent company culture is an ingredient to a thriving company. One of Zoom’s values is happiness, which we saw a lot of at Zoomtopia. They wanted to make sure that people working in their buildings were getting what they needed and that employees were working on things that made them simply, happy.

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As a CEO, they lead this concept and allow it to spread through all the spaces of the company. They talk to all levels of employees from managers to interns to janitors and ask what they think of X, Y, and Z. Envision your ideal company culture and start exuding those vibes, you’ll see that production and the health of your company changes.

2. Take Out The Annoying Things

This tip is pretty straightforward but when you’re running a company, big or small, some nuisances will be forgotten and left alone. Take out those annoying little things that take up space in the company. That can physically be a fax machine from a decade ago or a project that just never seemed to get its wings. Take them out of the equation, clear your head, and office space. A simpler landscape will allow you to focus on the most important things while leaving room to add to the projects you see going forward.

3. Create Work/Personal Boundaries

Two of the three CEOs on the panel agreed that taking undistracted personal time was another important part of their lives. Allowing themselves to really not think about the work and be with their family keeps them sane. This balance is important in all lives because if you’re working nonstop and not enjoying life’s blessings then what are you working for? While the third CEO and Yuan listened, they too did agree that they should take more time for themselves to spend with family and friends. Knowing when to draw the line between work and home keeps things organized, even the President gets off at 5 PM!

4. Allow Wacky Ideas To Flourish

I bet in the late hours of the night, you’re working on your fifth cup of coffee, and your slightly delusional ideas come to mind. One of them may click and at that moment you swear you have just created the next slices bread. Obviously you write that down and go to sleep to wake up another functioning human being. Looking back down at your notes you see that same idea and wonder what the hell you were thinking. Before you crumple that page up and throw it in the bin, consider it! You may have been half awake but thinking twice about these ideas can blossom into something really successful.

Some ideas are really just useless but for others, try giving them legs and see how they run. In your next meeting, don’t be afraid to let someone go on with a personal project and see how it goes. Google makes sure that their employees spend a certain chunk of their workday doing something they like and now we have Google Drive!

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5. Don’t Generalize Your Company

Your company is unique and there is nothing else like it. There may be competitors that offer a similar product but you understand the value yours could bring to the market. It’s dangerous to generalize other companies to yours because it can loop you into a cycle of paranoia. While a slight case of paranoia is good and keeps you working, don’t dwell on another company’s peaks and valleys. Stay focused on what you’re doing but stay updated on the market. You’ve seen in time and time again with examples just like the tortoise and hare.

That’s a few of the great tips I learned at Zoomtopia! I was happy with the great panel and goodies they were giving out. There are a few more tips on my list that I’d be glad to share so let me know in the comments if you want them. Thanks and good luck!

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