20VC: Twilio’s Jeff Lawson on What It Takes To Create a Tribe, How To Create Anti-Fragile Organisations Through Decentralised Decision-Making and Why Values Are Nice But Principles Are Better

Posted on 28th June 2021 by Harry

Jeff Lawson is the Founder & CEO @ Twilio, the company that allows you to unite communications and strengthen customer relationships across your business. Prior to their incredibly successful IPO in 2016 Jeff raised funding from some of the best including Bessemer, Union Square Ventures, Redpoint, Salesforce and Founders Fund to name a few. Before founding Twilio, Jeff was co-founder & CTO of NineStar, founding CTO of Stubhub.com, co-founder, CEO & CTO of Versity, and one of the first product managers for Amazon Web Services.

In Today’s Episode with Jeff Lawson You Will Learn:

1.) How Jeff made his way into the world of tech and startups and what that founding a-ha moment was for Jeff with Twilio? When explaining new ideas to people, what signals to Jeff that the idea is resonating? Are there clear indicators an idea is not resonating?

2.) Leadership: What does great leadership mean to Jeff today? How has Jeff’s leadership style changed and evolved over the years? What does Jeff believe is the key to great storytelling? How has the leadership style required, changed in a COVID world? What have been the biggest inflection points in his leadership?

3.) Culture: What does Jeff believe are the 3 key ingredients to company culture? How can leaders create a tribe that people associate with? What are the biggest lessons we can take from sport and religion when it comes to culture building? At what points has Jeff been concerned about the Twilio culture? What did he do to rectify it? Why are “values nice but principles better”?

4.) Decision-Making: How has Jeff created a culture of decentralised decision-making? What has Jeff done to ensure the best ideas rise to the top? In what ways can leaders ensure people feel safe to be bold and go big, without the fear of failure? How does Jeff determine when to give or remove resources from new ideas? How does Jeff think about the importance of “focus”?

5.) Diversity: Frank Slootman previously said, “diversity should not override merit”. What are the core problems that Jeff has with this statement? How do Twilio construct their recruitment pipelines to ensure diversity? Why does Jeff believe the secret to human assessment is one of “miles travelled”? What are the signals of this?

Item’s Mentioned In Today’s Episode with Jeff Lawson

Jeff’s Favourite Book: Made to Stick: Why some ideas take hold and others come unstuck

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