Sheryl Sandberg on Creating Global Corporate Culture

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Answers by Sheryl Sandberg, COO at Facebook and founder of LeanIn.Org, on Quora.

Facebook's culture reflects our mission to make the world more open and connected. "Be open" has been one of our core values since the beginning. Our openness sets us apart and helps us move fast. It gives people the context they need to prioritize and work autonomously on the projects that are highest impact. It shows even our newest team members that Facebook is their company and they are responsible for our mission and our culture, no matter where in the world they are located.There's no one secret ingredient but here are a few of the things we do to get work done and maintain our culture:
  • We have hard conversations. We know we'll never achieve our mission if we aren't communicating openly and honestly with each other. Honest feedback delivered frequently and with good intent is what helps us build better products and developer develop better leaders. It makes us stronger as individuals and as a team. I believe that if you're not having a hard conversation at least once a month - and doing it respectfully - you're not helping yourself and others meet your collective potential.
  • We use our product. We're Facebook friends with our coworkers (so we know what's going on in each other's lives, no matter where we're located), we use Facebook Messenger to communicate instantly (so we're always in touch), and we use Groups to connect on projects or passions (so we have a place to share information and have transparent discussions).
  • We remind ourselves that our journey is only 1% done. We celebrate our accomplishments but always remember that we're still in the early days of achieving our mission -- we have a lot of work to do, and we're excited about the future.


A: When I joined Facebook there were only 550 employees and late night meetings and all-night hackathons were a core part of the culture. I realized even before I started that I wasn't going to totally fit it. One night as Mark and I were considering working together, I called Mark at 9pm. He said he was at a dinner and asked if he could call later so I told him I'd be up for another 30 minutes. The next morning he reached out asking if I was feeling ok; he assumed that I'd been sick since I went to bed at 9:30pm. I explained that with two young children, 9:30pm was often my normal bed time. I love that Mark is now experiencing parenthood first hand! I don't think he yet has a 9:30 bedtime, but maybe one day he will.


A: I have many role models, including:
My first is my mother, Adele Sandberg -- My mother has the most empathy of anyone I know. She raised her children, taught English as a second language, helped her parents spend their final years in dignity and comfort, and now runs Save Your Hearing, a non-profit to prevent noise-induced hearing loss in young people. She has always contributed to her community and the world. She is my inspiration.
Serena Williams -- Serena is a role model for women and men everywhere. She shows all of us what's possible when you work hard to achieve your dreams. She's also a truly wonderful and supportive friend who shares her strength to lift up those around her.
Salim Habayeb -- Salim was one of the first people I ever worked for. He was a doctor working in global health at the World Bank and we worked on leprosy in India together. He took me to India for the first time and helped me face heart-breaking poverty and illness by combining hard analytics with personal caring. He told me it was ok to cry after a day in a leprosy home, but then to take that energy and channel it into the hard work that could help people in need. To this day I believe that those are the ingredients we need to solve the world's problems.

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