Reflection on Living a Culture: 100+ days at LinkedIn

December 12, 2012

A few weeks ago I hit my 100-day mark as the head of LinkedIn’s Global Talent Brand - a good reason to do some reflecting. One thing I realized is just how much I’ve learned about our company in such a short time - not just about what we do, but about the way we do it. I can only attribute this quick cultural ramp to the consistency of character that I see in my colleagues day in and day out. We live our culture. We walk the talk. Is it cliché? Yes. Have I had a bit of KoolAid? For sure (and it’s delicious). But is it all true? Oh yeah.

Two of the most prominent live-the-culture moments of truth for me have centered around Collaboration and Transformation, both of which happen to be core to LinkedIn’s culture. Almost every company out there has a must-play-nice-with-others imperative for its employees; there’s little you can do without it. But what happens when you specifically hire for this imperative, and retain for it too? I found out on one of my first days at LinkedIn, when I got invited to sit in on a meeting, something about an Idea Bank, where folks were putting the finishing touches on an internal platform for ideas. Only later did I learn that this bunch – people from all across the organization – were the ones who had come up with and executed on an entirely original innovation platform called [in]cubator, galvanizing executive-level support, and spurring the creativity of hundreds of colleagues who have since contributed to it.

Furthermore, the purely professional definition of Collaboration is augmented at LinkedIn with a dash (or a cupful) of compassion: people look out for one another. When I needed resources for a fledgling Talent Brand initiative, a colleague not only offered give me access to some of her team, but coached me on how to make the transition more fluid. At first I wondered what I was expected to reciprocate with, but there was no expectation – just the spirit of collaboration.

Transformation is another word that you hear a lot of at LinkedIn. We are, after all, changing the way the world works. But here, Transformation starts with the individual. We are all called upon to transform ourselves, and LinkedIn has put itself on the hook to help make that happen. Mike Gamson, our SVP of Global Solutions, once told me that one of his main goals is to ensure that the career trajectory of every LinkedIn employee is positively affected by their time here. He drew a handy graph to illustrate his point, and I now carry my own rendition of it wherever I go. I have heard dozens of stories reflecting this commitment, but unsurprisingly, the one that hits closest to home is my own: my career jumped from Management Consulting to Talent Branding. Why? Because the very first question my LinkedIn recruiter asked me during our very first conversation was: “What are you passionate about?” By enabling me to transform my career, LinkedIn has placed its bet on me, and empowered me to transform so much more to come. (Watch out, world.)

Mike Gamson Transformation Graph

It’s true that it’s part of my job to look for the authentic ways in which LinkedIn expresses its culture. But I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way. In fact, I know I’m not, given our placement on Glassdoor’s 50 Top Places To Work list, as voted on by our employees. Many of the reviews reflect the elements I’ve described above. If any of them resonate with you, feel free check out our Careers Page, or connect with a current employee through your LinkedIn network. And when you do, ask them for their own take on our culture – I’m sure they’ll have some stories to share.