Marissa Mayer Drops Mad Wisdom at Dreamforce –


Marissa Mayer impressed the fuck out of me at Dreamforce today. She was the afternoon keynote. It was called a keynote, but it was more of an interview with Marc Benioff,’s CEO. I would have preferred Benioff sat on the sidelines for this one and let Marissa control the stage. Inspite of the format, Marissa nailed it, “it” being leadership and running a company. The theme in her responses to Marc’s questions was to be deliberate (without saying is specifically). In Marissa’s case is is being deliberate in design and deliberate in engagement with employees. She never once used the word deliberate, but it was clear that’s exactly what she has been at Yahoo since she took the job.

There are lot’s of leadership books, execution books, how-t0 books etc. (which I love by the way), yet in the end there is something very elegant in simple choosing a direction, philosophy, approach and being very deliberate in it’s execution. With Marissa, this starts with being deliberate in design.

“What good is something that’s useable if it’s not useful” say’s Mayer. She nailed it with this response and she says it all starts with being simple. You have to understand how users “use” your products.  You have to be a user of your products.  It was refreshing to hear her say this. Surprisingly, it’s not uncommon for leaders to NOT use their own products and therefore they are out of touch.

To prove her point of simplicity, Marissa gave the example of a Xerox copier. If you walk up to a Xerox copy machine and you have no training and even if you’ve never seen a copy machine, you’ll know what to do. Just hit the big green button. According to Mayer, too many companies trade simplicity for sophistication and that leads to isolating customers. If Mayer had her way, she’d like to see the proverbial big green button on everything.

In addition to being deliberate with design, Mayer impressed with her leadership approach. Mayer is very deliberate in her commitment to listening and engaging with employees. She spends substantial time at the “ground level.” The most compelling example was her PB&J initiative, problems, bureaucracy, and jams. PB&J allows employees to post the issues that are getting in their way or preventing them from getting things done. As the issues get voted up, they receive points. As an issue gets a certain number of points and passes a threshold it gets addressed.  PB&J gives employees a shit load more involvement in clearing the hurdles to getting their jobs done. Taking things to the next level and really pushing the envelope, Mayer now has employees create the board slides. Yes, her quarterly board of directors slides — impressive. The point, it keeps leaders aligned with the business and the ground level.

As sales leaders we have an obligation to be deliberate in our approaches to growth, change, innovation, revenue generation, team development and more.  In the sales world, we need to go on more ride alongs, we need to listen to the sales people, we need to be deliberate in getting their feedback. What’s happening to the product? What’s going on in the sales process? How is the product being perceived? How are customers using the product? What are sales people struggling with? Is our message resonating, etc? Our jobs, in many ways are no different than Marissa’s. We are responsible for revenue. We are responsible for customer engagement. We influence product development. We need to be deliberate in HOW we get the information.

I like the lens Marissa looks through. I like the filter she sifts through and so should you.

I’m curious what do you do deliberately? Where should sales be more deliberate? Leave your answers in the comments. I think there is some good sharing opportunities in this question.