VP Of Meta: Running A Trillion Dollar Business With An Incurable Illness: Nicola Mendelsohn | E169 | Transcription
Transcription for the video titled "VP Of Meta: Running A Trillion Dollar Business With An Incurable Illness: Nicola Mendelsohn | E169".
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Zach was 11, he's our youngest. He asked me if I was gonna die. Finish me off. As Facebook's vice president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Nick here is one of the most powerful women working in tech. Facebook is this huge company, a prospect of leading so many regions. Is there any element of, "What the fuck am I doing here?" You don't climb Everest. You get to base camp one, and that's your thing. Certainly in chaotic moments, it's like what are the things you can control in order to either get out of the chaos or to hit the north star. So this meta shift, people are understandably scared. Do you have any concerns that we're taking away what it is to be a human? I think it's an important question, I think... Three years into your career at Facebook, and then you get some awful news. I got the diagnosis that I had follicular lymphoma, which is an incurable blood cancer. So we gathered the kids on the Sunday morning. I just couldn't get the words out. And I told my story on World Cancer Day. So many people sharing having a similar disease, but we're scared to show that because it was a sign of weakness. I mean, it sounds ridiculous, but there are still companies where that sort of behavior is happening. We often don't put the discipline into our personal lives that we do in our work lives. And often our work lives are dictated by others. These things aren't mutually exclusive. So without further ado, I'm Steven Bartlett, and this is the DiR of a CEO. I hope nobody's listening, but if you are, then please keep this yourself. Nicola, you've had an extremely extraordinary career.
Personal Journey And Professional Experiences
What made you the person you are today? (01:45)
I've followed you for many, many years, for many, many years. I think about six or seven years throughout my career. And I've watched and I've also gone back and looked at the previous 21 odd years you spent in advertising and agencies, because my background is in advertising and agencies. My first question is, when you think about why you, why you were able to lead that career, what are the circumstances of your early years that went into shaping who you became and the success you then saw for the next 30, 40 years of your career? Well, first, can I just say I'm so excited to be here in your dining room and having this conversation with you. And fear of this turning into a great big love in. I've been following you too. So yeah, I couldn't be more thrilled to have this conversation. That's a great big question to start with. I think from a very early age, I was always very curious. I was always that kid that was putting their hand up and just going, well, hang on, what about, can I ask a question? And to be honest, it didn't place so well in school. The school that I was at at the time really just wanted like a cookie cutter that you came in, you learnt by rote, you passed your exams. And I wanted always to just push the question a little bit, understand a little bit more. And I think that kind of desire for knowledge, that curiosity, wanting to know what might happen is probably been a part of shaping who I am. Do you know where that came from, that curiosity? Did it come from somewhere? Did you have brothers and sisters? Yeah, so I grew up in Manchester. I have a fantastic family, a family of two brothers, parents, all connected, grandparents in and out the house every single day. And my mum worked, my grandma worked. And so my north star at the time was just kind of a very busy household, people coming and going, but people always there for one another, people supporting. And I believe I think that anything was possible. My parents were caterers. And they used to do functions for extraordinary people, celebrities, prime ministers. And so I grew up just seeing that even extraordinary people are just people. I was a graph driver, I was working as a waitress for them. And so I saw that and I saw people. And I think if you take the fear away out of people, however successful they are, I think it allows you to think yourself about what you can learn from them and then what you might be able to apply to yourself. Were you a confident child? Yes, I was. Yes. What evidence do you have of that? If you look back on my school reports, talks too much. I think if you're not confident, you probably don't talk too much. Ask too many questions. I wasn't fearful. I wasn't afraid. It's funny because as you say, when you're younger, those things are often looked down upon, even the phrasing of that, too many questions. Yeah, and especially for a woman or a girl at the time. I remember, yeah, there was a really particular incident when I was 15. It was the parents evening where you, just before, as it was, O levels, I was the last year of O levels GCSEs. And you go in the dining room and it was with both my parents from teacher to teacher. And this was a really important moment for me as a child, where the Latin teacher literally started to shout at my parents and told them that if I didn't change my personality, that I was never going to get on in life. Can you imagine being told that at 15? And it hadn't been such a good parents evening, I'll be honest. But I saw something in my dad that day that really has always stuck with me because he turned around and he turned to her and he said, "I want to be really clear," he said. I think it'll be my daughter's personality that gets her on in life, not what she does with Latin. And with that, he was like, "We're off." And so I went with my parents and we left, but I just remember thinking, "He's got my back. He sees something in me that she doesn't." And it was a real seminal moment for me as a child growing up. What was that Latin teacher referring to when she said, when she was talking negatively about your personality? What was it in your personality she didn't like? She didn't like the questioning, she didn't like me. And really trying to get to grips, not just learning the language by rote, but actually understanding much more about what the Romans were doing and what we learned as a result, but that wasn't her job. Her job was to teach her the language, not to teach us more on the history and that side of it. And I was really interested in that and she didn't like that. At that age, if I'd asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up, what would you have said to me? That time I would have probably said an actress. So yeah, I was always in the plays, I was doing performances, and I was told at school that I wasn't very good. I wasn't clever, I wasn't going to pass my exams. With hindsight, I think there was probably some antisemitism that I experienced at school and a few particular incidents that stick out. But, and so I thought my life was going to be on the stage. A few particular incidents that stick out. Yeah, I had, I'm religious and I observed the Sabbath and that meant in the winter months that I would go home early from school. And we had a couple of teachers that would always insist on starting the new topics on a Friday afternoon. And when my parents, and they could have started the topics and, you know, who starts new topics on a Friday afternoon? That's not a good thing for anybody, you know, it's the end of the week people are tired. My parents went in and to ask about it, and they were told very clearly that if my parents insisted on taking me out, what, you know, that was our problem, not theirs. And yeah, I, that was one thing that I had that stuck in my mind. And another thing I had, I had an English teacher who used to mark me down. And my marks were really low. I was like two out of 10, three out of 10. And I was in a good school and these were not my marks. My parents, again, my parents, this kind of a thing here that they were backing me. They actually took my English book to one of my brother's teachers and said, what do you think of this work? And they said, we don't understand the marks. These are the marks of a child that, you know, this is an A student. But my confidence was so smashed by these teachers telling me I wasn't good. I wasn't smart that I, you know, didn't think that I would maybe even do A levels, never mind going to university at that time, which was kind of the normal for that school. And as it turned out, I left school at that school at 16 and went on to college. And I got an A in my O level in English and actually decided to read English for a Dine levels, got an A, and actually went to university and read English and, you know, did an English degree. I actually went back to my school and I think about this now and I can't believe I did it. When I got my A and my place at university, I went back to the school to that English teacher. And so I rocked up and I said to her, I've come to see and she was like, as you can imagine, quite shocked. And she goes, why are you here? I said, I've come to tell you that you could have destroyed my life. And the power that you wielded on others really could destroy. And I said, you know, you really came close with that with me and taking away a dream of mine that might never have been realized because I always love reading and passionate about books. And I just needed to tell her that. And I felt better for telling her that. Never saw her again. What did she say? She just looked at me shocked her. And, you know, I think back now with the benefit of age, it was quite a shocking thing to go and tell somebody that, you know, their own biases and prejudices and the power that they wield could destroy a life. In comparison with the best of teachers that it can inspire and lift up and to make you something make you believe in yourself more, that wasn't some of the experiences I had from some of my teachers. More broadly, what does that say about the education system? Because I, I mean, I feel a similar way. I was always did bad in school. There was two lessons that I would never miss, which was business and psychology. But other than that, I would not attend. So, and it wasn't, I wasn't a rude kid. You know, I went back and I've spoken at the school multiple times now. And when I go there, they say you are a really nice guy, but a useless student. And because of that, the sort of implicit message of, of being a useless student, and the idea that the A grade people are going to be rich and successful and happy, and then everyone else, you're going to have to settle for something else. You're not going to go for, for a kid, that's such an easy narrative to believe. It's almost amazing when you hear that someone went through that and they didn't believe that story. It's such an impressionable age. Is there something that we can do to remove, I don't know, grades altogether, or to stop people like you who went on to have these phenomenal careers, potentially falling through the net because of one bad teacher or one bad grade, or believing a narrative about themselves based on any of the above? So I think it, that's a big question. And I think there is, there's a lot in there to impart, but I think having people believe in you at a young age is really important. And not everyone is as fortunate to have a family that is as loving and as supportive as mine is. And so people look to people like teachers, kids look to teachers to be those people for them. And on the whole, I think teachers do a phenomenal job. I mean, a really, truly extraordinary job. But some kids slip through. And I think it's on all of us to think about what more we can do to be able to help kids to really realize their full potential. Because you're right, how many more are out there that could be doing the most extraordinary things if someone just says to them, I believe in you, I got you, I think you could do this. At what point then did you choose advertising? This one's really simple. So I went through university doing, I actually did English and theatre studies. So I was acting and I actually had a place at drama school at Central School of Speech and Drama. It's a great school. But I shared that I'm religious and I observed the Sabbath and I quickly realized that a life on the stage is not very compatible with wanting to observe the Sabbath. So I also saw that friends of mine who were acting were pretty miserable because there's so much luck involved. They were trying to get the equity cards, they were working in remote parts of the UK trying to get a break. And I just didn't want to roll the dice and have so much of my life dependent on luck. And they were great actors and great actresses. And at the time I had a friend who was a year older than me, I called Neil Marcus, who had got a job in advertising in London. And I was, wow, I've never heard of such a job. I didn't know anybody growing up in Manchester that worked in the creative industries. It wasn't a known thing and it wasn't a thing in my school from a career's advice that they gave you that there were such jobs. And yeah, I'd always loved the creative industries. I loved theatre, I'd love, you know, draw, I love fashion, I love film, I loved all these things. So when I heard what he did and that you could get paid to do such a thing, I was like, that's the thing I want to do. So that's how I got embarked on it. And then I did my research, which back in the early 90s, comprised of going to a library and getting hold of the magazines, the trade magazines and working my way through them to understand the great agencies. And so I applied as a graduate trainee to get on a scheme and I got into bottle-bocal Hegity, which was the one I wanted to go to. Acting drama theatre, all these things, in hindsight, has the skills that taught you played a role in your career? Yeah, definitely. I think all everything that you do makes you who you are. And so I actually think the skills of acting is something that all kids benefit from because it gives you confidence, it gives you confidence to make a presentation, it gives you confidence to make a pitch. These are some really vital things when it comes to, you know, working in business. Acting also gives you the skills of working in a team. You're relying on each other who's going to finish the lines. The makeup artist, the directors, the producers, you're all working as one to be able to come together and realize the potential. So yeah, definitely. All those things definitely helped. You spent the next sort of 20 years from that first sort of grad, is it a grad internship?
What did you learn from working in the marketing industry? (14:52)
Yeah, no, yeah. Spent the next 20 years working in advertising. Interesting industry to work in. You stayed in there probably a lot longer than I think I could have because, you know, there's lots, especially when you're working agency side, there's a lot to deal with. You rose within that industry very quickly as well. But when you think about that period of your career, what did that really teach you in terms of yourself, leadership skills, and everything in between? What was the? So many things. So definitely took me leadership skills. And, you know, you start early on working for others, but then you, as you rise through the ranks, then people work for you. And I was always very keen to learn from others that were doing it. And I, you know, I spent the first 12 years in advertising working for bottle, Bogle and Heggity. So I learned from some of the very best craftspeople in the industry, both from the business side and actually the creative side as well. I remember when I left there and I was taking on my first really senior position at Gray, that I actually went to see someone called Stevie Spring, who was a woman I hugely admired, and now as a dear friend, to ask her what I should do, what advice did she have? And she said to me, "Nicole, you really need to think about every aspect of when you're talking to people, not just what you're saying, but how you're saying it and how you're using your body language and other things as well, because people are going to judge you. They're going to pick up on everything that you say." And I thought that was good advice that nobody had ever shared before. It was also the first sort of time that I started to get 360 feedback on, and so that I could learn about how others perceive me, because how you think of yourself in your head is very different to how other people can perhaps think about you. So it was actually making sure that I was developing the muscle of leadership as well as I was going through the different roles that I have. So yeah, it took me a huge amount. What were some of your weaknesses in that early phase of your career that you really had to work hard to overcome? You talked a bit about body language, and I'm not sure if that was a weakness. And then was there anything that you initially struggled with being in that agency sphere working for someone else? Yeah, I think not trusting my instincts, trying sometimes to be something I wasn't. BBH in the 90s was super cool. Everybody was wearing 501 jeans and white T-shirts. And honestly, that wasn't a really good look on me. And so trying to emulate what others were doing, rather than just trusting me and actually having the confidence. Now, this is kind of a weird one, because I already told you that I thought I was a confident person. But having, and I've really realized that this is something that women do more, which is having an exhaustive conversation in your head before you get your point out, and then the conversations moved on and you've missed it, or someone else has made the point. And not realizing that I had a seat at the table, because people were interested in what I had to say, and not to be so fearful not to get those points out. So that is definitely a skill I honed as I kind of went through my career. Why do you think that that issue is more prevalent in women? I think it's a fear of getting it wrong, being seen as being stupid. Yeah, I think those are things that we're challenged on from a young age. And it's something that if I could go back, I would definitely speak up more. I would share my voice more. I would bring my opinions to the table. I think women do struggle with that. And certainly talking with women about this issue, especially if I'm talking to younger women, they're nodding away. And it's like, just put that imposter syndrome away. It's really not a good thing. It doesn't help any of us. In that period, if I'm correct, you kind of went through three different agencies. Started at that first one that I cannot pronounce, went to Gray, which I can pronounce. And then Karma, yeah, Karma. Yeah. Was the third one. Why did you move every time? What was the reason for you to move on? The first time I moved was because I'd been there 12 years. I looked up above me and all the people that had been my bosses 12 years earlier were still all my bosses, and were always going to be my bosses. So I kind of reached a point where I really didn't think I was learning as much as I could and should, and actually started to think about maybe there's a life outside advertising. And then actually it was somebody else that came to me. I called Gary Lace came and said, "Look, you're at the coolest agency on the planet. I'm just coming to Gray as a change management kind of mission. I want you to be on that mission with me." And he goes, "I know people will sort of laugh because you're at the coolest and this one isn't, but wouldn't it be amazing if we could do that?" And I loved that vision because I thought, "Yeah, why would I swap one Gray agency for another Gray agency? Where's the learning?" That curiosity thing again, right? And so I went and did that. And honestly, that was one of my steepest learning curves as from a leadership perspective and from a business perspective, how we changed that agency around in the five years that I was there. And then it was another kind of moment of serendipity where at Bennett Gray for five years it had been independent and then it sold to WPP. So the change was kind of coming. And I got a call from a guy called Ben Bilbel, who was one of the founders of Karma Rama, and said, "Could I have a cup of coffee?" And I said, "Yeah, definitely." And I always, whenever people ask me that, I would always say yes. I was like, "You never know, interesting things always happen when you meet interesting people. Ben's interesting." So I go and meet Ben, and I was totally hoodwink because the other founders of the agency were there, said and Dave, I was like, "Okay, what's this?" And they said, "Oh, we're here to see if you want to be our fourth partner." I was like, "Oh, I didn't see that one coming at all." And that had very much been a boutique business, a lifestyle business, and they wanted to significantly grow it. And so I joined that agency and the day I joined there were 12 people sat around the table and the day I left there were 250 in five years. Didn't it sell to Accenture? Yeah, it did. A couple of years ago it did. So that first, was it eight and a half years at that agency that I can't pronounce? Tell me the name of it. You can just say BBH, Barval, Bogle, Hagerie, 12 years. I was 12 years now, which is a long time in Adland. Which is a long time in anything. I guess. A lot of people, especially, I don't know if it's, I don't have the data, but these days, I think amongst our generation, the thought of doing 12 years at one place is quite inconceivable. Why did you do 12 years there? And would it not have made more sense to, because there's often this narrative that if you swing more from job to job, you can get higher faster? Would it have not made more sense to just, you know, do a couple of years, then move on? So there was a lot going on in my life in that 12 years. So I got married. I had three of our four children while I was there. And also I absolutely loved the agency and the job that I did. So I started off as an account, as an accountman, but actually, I moved into new business and new business. It just gives me a thrill. It always has because you're meeting new businesses, you're learning about those businesses, you're meeting new people. There's the pitch. I love the thrill of the pitch, the chase and all of that. And so it constantly felt like it was a new job. And especially because I had three maternity leaves during that period as well. I grew as a person each time I had my babies. People often don't think that, but you learn new things about yourself. And so I came back each time refreshed and excited. But as I said, by the end, after the 12th year, it was like, no, this was time, time to do something new. And Kamarama, the agency where you were the fourth partner and the owner, at some point in that journey, you get a call from you get headhunted by Meta.
Joining Facebook & leading the EMEA market (22:30)
Well, Facebook, Facebook, so it's 2013. And the agency is going brilliantly. And I am also the president of the Institute of Practitioners in advertising. It's the trade body for the ad industry. And I'm the first woman in its almost 100 year history to take on that role. And my whole mission was about making the UK the most digital minded digital first country, because I could see that the opportunities there for the industry were going to be huge if we could capitalize on what was happening in Silicon Valley. And so yes, I did get a call. Carolyn Everson came and it was another cup of coffee, which she actually said, would you like breakfast? So I go for breakfast. And we'd met through an awards thing a year or so earlier. And it's very American. And I'll never forget, we're in the IV. I'm surrounded by literally everybody I know. And she literally comes straight out. I've got my water. I'm drinking my water. And she goes, Nicola, I'm here to see if you're interested in heading up a mirror for Facebook. And I literally splurted water out. And I said, Oh, no, no, I don't think so. Why? What are you talking about? And she goes, Oh, and she said, Oh, well, people have suggested your name. And I've been looking for a while. And I said, I've got camera armor and it's going great. And I said, I'll tell you what, let me think about it. So I went home that night and I spoke to my husband, John, he goes, you nuts. He said, and put it in context. It was just after Facebook had floated. Hadn't been going so well. I was a huge fan of Facebook though. But I felt a deep connection to all the people that we'd hired at camera armor, you know, 250 people that relied on us for their mortgages and were part of the vision and the dream there. But I gave it the overnight and I woke up in the morning. And I thought, actually, this one's now got my, you know, I'm excited about this. I can start to imagine what that could do. Because I'd always loved tech. I'd always been interested in it. And this would give me a ringside view. So I said, all right, I'm interested. And then that's where we had a whole recruitment process and ultimately got the job. I'm going to be honest, that doesn't sound that breakfast at the Ivy doesn't seem to sound like the most well thought through pitch. Yeah, that's how it was. She should maybe smooth, she moves you a little bit first. Yeah, it was direct. It was direct to Norlin. Yeah, I quite like that as well, I have to say. And that prospect of becoming the head of EMEA is that's terrifying. That would be terrifying for anyone. The prospect Facebook is this huge company. It's hugely socially significant. It's now public company, the prospect of leading so many regions. Terrifying. You know, most people would would be overcome with imposter syndrome, probably. It's not how I saw it. I just saw it as a huge opportunity. I loved the products. I mean, so it started with something that I absolutely passionately believed in. I was a huge fan of Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg before I had the job. And so to have the privilege of to work for two of the finest leaders that have ever worked in business ever and to work so closely was just an extraordinary opportunity. And it was so early on. I mean, I remember we haven't opened a lot of the offices back then. London only had a couple of hundred people working there. And so it was really early. It was really scrappy. I'm good in that. I'm good in kind of bringing people together, setting out what the objectives are, working towards what the vision should be. And I knew the industry. Okay. This was my industry. These were all the things that I love working with some of the best and the most smartest of people. But when you start that job, it's a public company. It's, as I said, hugely socially significant. Is there any element of what the fuck am I doing here? Oh, yeah, of course, completely. And, you know, joining, you know, I thought I knew digital before I started. And then I really got to understand. And those first few months, and I think this is true for anybody that comes and joins Meta, you literally feel like you're drinking from the fire hose, you have got information coming at you left, right in center, you've got to make decisions quick, quick, quick on the decisions. And I find that quite exhilarating. And I'm a great writer. I write things down. I'm learning. I'm processing in terms of that's how I retain knowledge. And just for energizing, I hadn't felt like that since some of the very early days in my career. And I still feel like that today, I have to be honest. When you think about taking on a new role in your career, is there some kind of framework or principles or characteristics you're looking for when you're making that decision? I get asked this a lot when I meet people that listen to this podcast or when they DM about they're at that kind of crossroads where they're trying to weigh up one of two options. What advice would you give? So I definitely always research the business, which is obviously what you would do. But then I'm very into also understanding it better by having lots of cups of coffee with people that are in and around the business. And it's a two way thing, especially at a senior level where they're interviewing me, but I'm also interviewing them. And I've got my list of questions and really wanting to understand what's motivating, what they're looking for, is it what I'm looking for as well and squaring that. And then writing lists, the pros and the cons of why this may or may not be a good thing. And picking up also the challenges that people have as well so that you're very clear going in, what are the things that need to be fixed? What are the things that shouldn't be fixed that are working really well and where some of the other opportunities are? And then I often go back after a few months into them and just reflect on what I've written and see what I've done as a result. And how much does the family play a role in that decision? You spoke about going and speaking to John about it. Huge. I was huge. I mean, up until this point, I'd largely been UK based. I did Europe as well, but I'd largely been UK based. I didn't travel a lot. John traveled more. We've got four kids. And so it was very clear to me that if I was going to take on this role, that it was going to mean a lot of travel. And how did I feel? I'd also been working four days a week up until this point. And because that was something I had done when Gabby, my RLDist was one. I just didn't feel that I was getting being good at anything. And so that was something that I'd taken on. So it was going to be a really big change. And John and I really sat and talked about it. And he went just go for it. He said this up. He said, I'll route myself more at home so that you can go and do those things. And we made a kind of thing between ourselves that I'd always make sure wherever I was in the world, I'd come home for the weekend and that we'd always have the Sabbath together. We'd always be there as a family together. But in the week, I would travel. So yeah, it wasn't just my decision. It was a joint decision. I couldn't have done it unless I'd have had his full support. On that point of working four days a week when Gabby was born, what was behind that decision? Give me some colour there. I felt that I wasn't being a good wife. I didn't feel I was being a good mom, a good kind of family member, good friend. Just work was all consuming. And I needed just a bit more time to be able to do the things that I also that were also important in my life. You get one go at this thing. And so I worked out that actually I probably just needed the Friday. If I had a Friday that I could do the things that I wanted to do. And remember, this is pre-tech, all this stuff. We didn't have tech at all our fingertips and everything. And so I went to talk to my bosses and they're actually incredibly open about it. They cut my salary by 20% of course, but they got me for I did the same job in essence, but did it in four days through the discipline that I applied. And so that's where it came from. And honestly, it was one of the very best things that I ever did. It did mean that I took some changes in my career though. I think back now, and I didn't push myself to do a CEO job when I was in agency life, because I felt that I probably needed to be there five days in order to do that. But I have no regrets about that because the experiences that I did as a result of having that time, I think fulfilled man also made me who I am. There's a huge importance for, and when you said that, I was just thinking about how self-aware it is to really tune in to what matters for you. Because it's so easy and tempting sometimes to just try and take on more and try and get the highest sounding status job you possibly can to be a CEO, even if it's, and I think about this a lot in my career that sometimes I just maybe need to pause and think about what, how I feel and what really, really matters to me as opposed to just being dragged by what I think I'm supposed to do, right? Yeah, I think that's true for a lot of people. And I think it's, we often don't put the discipline into our personal lives that we do in our work lives. And often our work lives are dictated by others. Here's the part that you'll climb up off you go. And actually just stopping and going, what matters to me in my whole life? And I was always really clear, my nusset I was always my family. John and I always wanted to have a big family for kids. That was really important to be around for them as well. I love the fact that our kids are old and they choose to hang with us is a real source of pride and joy for us both. So being as intentional on the personal side as on the work side, these things aren't mutually exclusive. You might have to trade things at different times, but if ultimately the person feels more fulfilled and happy, then surely that's a good thing, right? It's very rare for people to turn down a promotion, which is an interesting concept. I actually remember the day where I offered our marketing director the chance of, I know I had a marketing the chance to be the marketing director of the whole company. And I remember them saying, no, thanks. And as a CEO, you take that one of two ways you think, and this is just being completely honest, is this not an ambitious person? Do they not like it here? But when I spoke to this individual to find out the reasoning behind their decision, I just had the most amount of respect for them. I respected them so much more because of that self-awareness to know that they, in their personal life, they wanted something a little bit different. And also, the person communicated to me that he didn't feel like he was quite there yet. And it was just, I will never forget that day because it only ever happened once. And we employed more than 1,000 people over the last 10 years. So it's just, and I don't think it's a conversation people have enough, which is like, you don't have to accept the next rung on the ladder, just because it's the next rung on the ladder. And yeah, I agree with that. And actually, it's something we've really gone deep in at Metat because what that often means is you take somebody from doing a job they're brilliant at, and they love, and you put them into a role often as a people manager, because people manager means success, right? Where they're not as good. And so it doesn't work for anybody then. And so we actually have something which is an individual contributor, where you can rise up as an individual contributor, be very, very senior, but not have to manage loads of people because that's a totally different, and I've never heard of that before. I think it's really a fantastic concept for keeping and motivating great talent. It is, because much of the reason it's what people love their work is because of the relationship they have with their peers. And when you move them to management roles, those relationships are somewhat changed, often broken. So it makes a lot of sense. You get three years into your career at Facebook, and then you get some awful news. Yeah. So I am 45 then in November 2016, and living this amazing life, right?
Your journey with cancer (34:27)
I'm flying around, the kids are thriving, family's great, and I'm busy and feeling great. And I had this little lump in my groin, tiny, like the size of a pee. And honestly, wouldn't have thought anything of it, but I have a really good girlfriend who is a doctor, and I just mentioned it to her, literally impassing, like I wouldn't have gone and seen a doctor for it. And she goes probably nothing if it's still there. Let me know in a few weeks. And it was, so I went to see her, and she put her hands on me, and I saw in her eyes that she wasn't happy about it. And I said, what is it? She goes, I don't know, but you need to see someone. I don't know what it is. And she sent me to a doctor, who turned out to be the wrong doctor, but he was a kind of collegeist. And he said, he said, you're fine. He goes, but I literally had my coat on. He goes, but you know what, while you're here, he said, we should just do a CT scan. I thought, okay, I was by myself, because I really didn't think it was anything. So I went on how to see T scan, which is quite an intrusive thing if you're not kind of expecting it. Invasive. And then I went home, didn't think anything of it. It was a Friday. And got home and put my phone away because I was busy doing other things. And then I remember I picked up my phone and there were so many missed calls from my friend the doctor and also from this O2O7 number, which I didn't recognize. And I can still remember the feeling of just being physically sick. And I went up to see John and I said to John, I think this is going to be very bad news. I'm going to phone Lisa while she's my GP friend while you're with me. And she just said, have you spoken to the doctor? I said, no. She said, I'm coming over. Honestly, she lives around the corner. It was the longest five minutes of anyone getting to me. And she told me that the scan had shown that I had tumors everywhere, all over my chest or underarms everywhere. They didn't know what it was. And that began the process over the worst weekend of our lives, googling everything, trying to work it out because you can't see confidence, you can't see doctors at the weekend. Nobody's around. Have to wait till Monday morning. Had a whole fiasco of going to meet a surgeon, trying to take one of the tumors out, but they wouldn't take it out because they didn't know which was the one to take out. And it was just very frustrating. And being a person that's very used to, like you, knowing what you want to do, getting in control, making things happen, you just couldn't do anything. We had to wait till Monday morning to go for a pet scan to understand it. And then over, it was just all just so much information. And also, we didn't want the children to know because we didn't know what it was. And so it was just John and I sort of isolated working through all of this. But within a few days, it was, I got the diagnosis that I had something called follicular lymphoma, which is an incurable blood cancer. Most people that have this, it can take two to three years to get diagnosed. I got diagnosed in five days. And it was a shock. It was, I'm thinking about it now. And I still can't believe what I'm telling you that this is something that happened to me and is happening to me. Yeah. How does the world you look out upon look differently through that period of your life, that weekend? Because you've gone from flying around the world, thinking about a particular professional challenge and life is normal. And then boom. I did a lot of crying. I cried so much. I mean, it was a physical thing. I just remember it being very physical, the feeling I couldn't sleep. I actually lost half a stone in one weekend. And then I just remember thinking on that Monday morning that that's not me. I mean, I catastrophized everything because of course, when you hear the word cancer, tumors, cancer, we knew it was bad before we knew what it actually was. I went to all the worst places in my mind as to what was going to happen. Fast forward, I was going to have chemo, then it wasn't going to work, then I was going to die, then the children would be left alone. It was just horrific, absolutely horrific. The games your mind can play on you or that you are allowed to play on yourself. And I remember thinking on that Monday morning, I actually did my hair, did my makeup and said, I'm going to face this in the way that I face everything. I'm going to take it one day at a time. And whatever the cards I'm dealt with, I'm going to make sure I live the most with what I have. And I'm never, ever going to allow myself to go back to that weekend that I just had, which was just horrific. And it didn't. And so I took it on, understood what I had, and then had to start to process that and then start to tell people, because you're right, on that Monday, I was supposed to be flying to China. And so I couldn't do that. And so I had to tell my bosses that I wasn't going to be able to have to tell them the reason why or what I knew at that point. And I will always be unbelievably grateful to Cheryl Sandberg for literally just saying, we're here for you, whatever you need. We've got your back. And that was for your boss to tell you that is the most important thing in the world. I'll never forget that. That conversation with your kids. Worst conversation of our lives. We gathered, it was about, it was a week later, and it was deliberately a week later, because Danny, our number two was just 18 that weekend, and he'd had a big party on the Saturday night. So we didn't want it to spoil it for him. And so we gathered the kids on the Sunday morning, all sat around the table to try and tell them. And I actually, I couldn't, I just couldn't get the words out. It was horrific. You know, in a moment you change your kids. You take, you know, they've got this life. And in that moment you bring a different dimension into their lives. John had to, he had to tell them I couldn't get the words out. Zach was 11 at the time. He's our youngest. And you know, he just, he asked me if I was going to die. Finish me off. Finish me off. How does someone respond to that? It took me back to a conversation I had with my mum, when my mum found a lump in her breast when I was younger. And it was the first thing I thought. I must have been about 11. Must have been about 11 when I got that phone call. How does a parent deal with that conversation within 11 year old when they asked that question? There's no right and wrong is there on these things. What I said to him was, I hope not, going to try my best. And what I promised them that day was that they could always ask me anything. There was never a question that they couldn't ask and that we would fight it as a family together and we would learn about it together. And it wasn't a secret and there was no shame. Sometimes there's a shame with these things. Especially, it was particularly difficult because nobody had ever heard of this cancer and the fact that it was incurable. So all that language with cancer that we knew of we're going to beat it and cut it out and do those things. Couldn't say those things. This was going to be a journey and this was now going to be a part of our lives. And yeah, I think probably changes at all a little bit that day. The word incurable is a hard word to accept, especially when you have the type of personality that I can tell you have. It almost seems like control is, when I hear that word, it's like the control is taken from me. Because when I was reading about your initial response to receiving that diagnosis that cut it out, the tak it will be my response. Yeah, it was. That was part of that weekend where I was just trying to find a surgeon. I kind of felt if I found that surgeon and they cut it out, then that would be on the path to curing it. Because in that moment, they thought it might have been a breast cancer that had spread. So they were going at it that way. But actually it turned out it was a lymphoma that happened to be around the lymph nodes in the underarms. So it was a whole new language and vocab is to try and understand what it means to have an incurable cancer. And then to start to understand that this one didn't have much research. And so all the questions you want to ask is, okay, so if I have treatment, how long is that going to last for? And how long will I be clear for? And you go into a remission and then it comes back and there's just no knowledge and no information in the way that you want to have that knowledge. And so I think that I think one of the challenges of that word incurable is that it's always with you. And there's not a day that I goes by where I don't think about the fact that I do have a blood cancer. And that the risks, especially through the last two years that we've had with COVID have been very challenging for me and the family up until the point where better treatments were available for people like me. In these moments, both professionally and personally, there's a, there's sometimes a desire to be strong on the outside, a brave face. Yes, and no. I was very, look, I didn't, I never made this a secret. And in many ways, I couldn't have suddenly disappear from work because people knew I was having tests. And so I told, I told my team straight away. And people are wonderful. You know, people like, we're here for you. What can we do? What do you need? I was like, I don't know at the moment. And this cancer, as I said, is quite different in as much as I didn't even have treatment for 18 months, because what, what is understood is the fact that because there's, we can't cure it. And because there could be new treatments, then the doctors do this thing called watch and wait, where literally they watch and they wait and they, they see what's happening or as patients call it, watch and worry. And you have scans and you have blood tests. And then they'll come a point, maybe that you'll need treatment. And my point came 18 months after that first diagnosis, where I was just unlucky that it grew around my kidney area. Some people can go several years without needing treatment, but they said I could have, it would, it would give me kidney failure. And so they deemed that I should, I should get the treatment there. That was a blow. And the only reason that was a blow that moment was because I thought I was going to get two years. That's a kind of the average after, if you get an early diagnosis, when I got 18 months. So that was a blow. And then I had six months of chemotherapy and 18 months of immunotherapy treatment as well. And it was, you know, I did well, not everyone does as well as me. It, it put the cancer into a form of remission. They call it no evidence of disease. But you know, no chemo is fun, that's for sure. What kind, did you get any psychological support throughout this process? Because we talk a lot about the physical symptoms, but the mental, the mental difficulties, I mean, are just quite honestly like, unimaginable. I just, all of the words you've used and the context of the family and all of these things, your team members, was there some kind of psychological support that you sought out in therapy or other? Actually, there wasn't. But I also think it was because I was so open. You know, you talked about, did I put on a brave face? I think the hardest thing I did was when I told my story more publicly. And I did it in two parts. The first part was when I stood up, we used to do an end of year conference in a Mia, where everybody flew in. And I stood and told my story to everybody. And that was one of the hardest things I've done with the story of the diagnosis. And I wept on the stage. I mean, I literally had tears coming down my eyes as I did it in front of everybody that worked with me. And people just inundated with me with hugs. And you know, that thing is, oh, don't hug me when I'm crying. It's going to make me cry more. That happened, but people were so, so supportive. And then again, when I told my story on World Cancer Day in the February, I was just inundated with support and love from people. People I didn't even know. And so many people sharing the story of having a similar disease or incurable disease that they've not gone public on for a variety of reasons, whether it was fear of it was largely to do with work actually, largely to do with they won't get that promotion if people think they're weak physically. And so they live with this extra burden of having an disease and putting on a brave face, hiding doctor's appointments. I never had to do any of that. And so I felt strong mentally the whole way through this. I got my head around the cards that have been dealt with to me. And as I said, I was never going to go back to that weekend. And so I made sure that I protected myself through the things that I did, through the things that I could take control on in order to get that. But I know that's not true for everyone. And I certainly know that through one of the things that we did was to grow this group on Facebook called Living with Follicular Lymphoma. It's almost 10,000 people now, which I kind of pinch myself, because it's the largest gathering of people that have ever existed with Follicular Lymphoma and could only have happened because of Facebook. But the mental challenge and the anguish that people in the group talk about every single day, that haunts me. And that sort of drives me to do the work that I do in terms of trying to find a cure. It haunts you. Yeah, because people, I know how blessed I am. I'm blessed with the job that I have, with my family, with my faith, with my community, all those pillars that support me and make me who I am. And I know how lucky I am to have that. And I read every day that so many are not. The group acts as a support for them, because you don't want to talk to somebody else that's got a different cancer. It's not helpful. You know, I had that in the early days, a lot of people with breast cancer wanted to tell me their story. And it's actually, thank you, but it's not that helpful. I need to know people that are two years ahead of me on this journey who've got Follicular Lymphoma, that I had the treatments I have will have. That's the best help and support possible. Was there ever a decision you made about whether to continue with work? Because this is, I know this is a question you've kind of been asked before about whether you, you know, some would assume that if they were to get that diagnosis, they might retract from work and just stay home.
How did it impact your work & life? (50:47)
What was your thinking around that? It honestly never occurred to me. And I think I'd been very intentional in my life about the things that matter to me and the things that I wanted. And I love what I do. I absolutely love my job. It is a lot of who I am. It is something that gives me huge energy and, you know, helps me on my own journey in learning. So it never occurred to me that if I was well enough that I would carry on working. And work out, you know, I was asked to, you know, take the time off, whatever you need to do. I was like, oh, no, no, I don't want any time off. I want to do. I want to keep things as normal as possible, because I feel pretty blessed with the life that I have. And if I'm well, I want to do the job. And thank God I have been well. And even through the chemotherapy, I was able to work, which is, can often be a surprise because there's different types of chemotherapy. And thankfully, the one I had is not, didn't react to severely to me, as some people have with theirs. I didn't lose my hair, for example, which I know is a hugely traumatic thing, especially for women. And so, I was able to work, but to do it in different ways. On that day, when you get that message from the doctors that there's no evidence of disease, and that your follicular lymphoma is in remission, how is that day? How do you remember the day? I do. And honestly, it was a bit of an anti-climax, because it only meant for now. And so, I'd sort of, I'd gone into that meeting going, either way, manage your own expectations, so you're not disappointed. And so, if I didn't build myself up to go, it's going to be good. It's going to be good news. I was like, this is just going to be what it will be, and you'll deal with it. And I think that really helped in terms of the management of the expectation. And so, when he told me that, I was like, that's good. And he goes, "Won't you more happy?" I was like, no, that is good news, but there's still a journey ahead. And I want to find, I want to be part of the team that finds a cure for this thing, so that other people don't have to go through these meetings. Like you and I are going to have to have. Must be a nice conversation to have with your kids, though. It was good news. You'd sort of get halfway through. They'd done a scan to say it was going well. And so, they'd sort of drip-fed that information. But I didn't allow myself that euphoria of, "Yay, I didn't do that moment." And that is quite a weird thing, if I think back on it now, because of the nature of the person that I am. I am quite celebratory. I am kind of that person. But that one was a meal or more muted. It certainly was, more muted. To me, it doesn't entirely surprise me that that was your reaction, because you talked about it being a process of expectation management. And one would assume that if you can control your response to good news, it also helps you control your response to bad news in the same way. To me, I've done that in the past as almost a defense mechanism. Yeah, it is. It's a protection. It definitely is a protection thing. Because if I was going in, they were going, "I hope it's good news. I hope it's good news." And it's not. I'm just going to be flawed, right? And so, I already knew what the worst thing could be. I've got an incurable blood cancer. That's not going away. But it would just be, "Let's see where this next part of this journey takes me." How did that news impact the way that you saw your life? And because, for me, the pandemic and watching what happened to the world and seeing how that there was this tectonic plate underneath all of us that I'd never realized called our health, that I, as a young person, had never even realized was there or could move? And that if it did move, in fact, my whole life sat upon it, my career, my relationships, my family, everything, my goals, my ambitions, my future was all sat on this thing called health. And one day it shakes and you didn't know it was there. How does that change your view of your life and the decisions you make? Yeah. And in many ways, our family had a trial run on the pandemic because going through chemo, you have to be super careful. I mean, we had the masks and the sanitizer at the door back in 2018 for anyone that came into the house. I didn't go to the theater. I didn't go out. I didn't go on planes, etc. So I had to be super, super careful because my immune system was shot to pieces. But actually, I didn't make a lot of major changes. You know, a lot of people that get a diagnosis like this do look their life in that moment and go, "Well, getting divorced, spending all the goft of Vegas." I didn't do any of those things because I think I've been very intentional about the life that I have and been very purposeful about some of the choices that we've made together as a family. And so, now there was none of those kind of crazy things. Did it change how you allocate your time at all? Did it? Yes, I did. So I took control of some of the things that I could control. And so, there was enough evidence knocking around about lifestyles and diets and things like that, especially with a disease which is about the immune system, about reducing inflammation within the body. And so, I had a shocking diet. I was really not very good at exercise, i.e. I did none whatsoever. And so, I did build that into my life. So, yeah, they were, I guess, some pretty big changes then that I did make. You talk about being intentional about your life. What does that mean to you? And why is that important? Yeah, I actually practice something called vision writing, which is you write as though it's a year from now and you set out looking back on the year you've just had what you're going to achieve. And all the research says if you write stuff down and you share it with people, you're more likely to do it. And I do it around my personal life. I do it around work. And then I do it around community. And I take people on the journey with me, you know, to help to work out what it's going to then I write it down and then I then I share it. And that's really helped me to be really thoughtful about what I want to do in the next year. And certainly with the family, it's involved a huge amount of travel. We absolutely love traveling and seeing different places and exploring. And it's we sit together and we kind of go, what do you want to do this year? What are the things? And when the kids were smaller, you know, some of the things that they wanted to do were kind of little things. I remember there was one where I think Sam just wanted to go and have a Chinese meal. I'm like, yep, we'll have a Chinese meal. And his brothers and sisters laughing at him for going, you know, you're underplayed. That was anything. Anything. What are you fancy doing? You know, different personalities of the children coming through. But I think I think that that has made a difference. I read about some advice that Cheryl Sandberg had given you around that time about not engaging in secondary worrying. Yeah. What is that? Well, the secondary worrying is what I was talking about, which is, well, I'm going to have chemo. It's not going to work. I'm going to die. John's going to marry a wicked woman. Children are going to be miserable. Boom. I'm exhausted. And it's miserable and depressing. And that's just giving the power away. And she was right. I mean, it was such good advice just to kind of to say that don't allow yourself to do that. And I think, you know, I think that is something that people do with bad news. You know, you take yourself into a different place of all the things that could go wrong. But I think people do that in all aspects of life. If you go for a job interview, you know, you start to worry about not getting it. Well, that's not going to be very helpful, is it, in terms of how you're going to present yourself? So yeah, good. You write impacts performance, but also that mental torture. Yeah. Which we're choosing, you know, to inflict upon yourself just makes the whole process miserable, doesn't it? Yeah. And we'll do that. Oh, yeah. It's easier said than done sometimes. It's so easy to say than done. But there's I often, you know, people ask me about advice for like moments of chaos. The only advice I've ever been able to conjure really is trying to plant yourself as much as you possibly can in the present moment and that which you can control. Yeah, totally. I'm absolutely, I heard a great speech years ago from a guy who'd climbed Everest who basically says you don't climb Everest. You get to base camp one. And that's your thing. And then you work at how you get to two and you never climb Everest. You go from point to point. And certainly in chaotic moments, it's like, what are the things you can control? And what are your small milestones that you need to get to in order to either get out of the chaos or to hit the North Star? Do you see that in great leaders within within Facebook slash matter? Oh, yeah, definitely. I mean, you know, having, you know, Mark Zuckerberg pivoting the whole company as he as he did last year, changing the name of the company and going, this is what we've done for the last 17 years. Here's where the new thing is going to be. This is where we're going to go. That's bold. That's extraordinary. So few leaders do something like that. I mean, it's one of the reasons that I love what I do is get to learn and be inspired by him. What's he like? Oh, he's incredible. Absolutely incredible leader. He sees things that others don't necessarily see.
Mark Zuckerberg & company culture (01:00:04)
And he's always right in those things in terms of what he plants, in terms of where the North stars are. No question. And then he's really clear. He gives very clear direction as to what's important, what matters, where the trade-offs are going to be, and what he expects of people. And I think having that clarity of, you know, the things that we're going to measure the company against or the individual against, those are really important things. And you know, growing up in agencies as we both did, those were things that didn't really exist. It was all done on touchy-feely, how's that person doing? And if you weren't, you know, if you weren't kind of in that crowd, then it was hard for people. Whereas, where can you imagine you've got really clear objectives as to what you need and should do. And the fact that everybody has done means that we can point towards the North star. And in this case, the building, our part in the building of the metaverse. When you talk about he, you know, he has this very high conviction, and he can see things that a lot of people can't see, and then it's proven right. What are the key moments of sort of self disruption where you think he was really right, right? He was exceptionally high conviction to the point that it probably didn't make sense to a lot of people, but it was proven to be correct. It was mobile the first. Yeah, it was. I think mobile is the first time that we, that strength of leadership and that pivot really came through and in the actions that he had, because lots of leaders talk stuff, but then don't follow through with the action. And the fact that, you know, back in 2012, 2013, Mark turned around and said, you know, Facebook was built late, so it was built on desktop. It wasn't mobile first. We need to shift the company to mobile. And so the product guys were still coming in with desktop innovations, and he stopped them. And like, you know, for two weeks, he didn't have any meetings because nobody had any mobile application to share with him of how this was going to work. And so by being really clear as to what the expectations were, people were able to move very quickly in terms of what the deliverables. And we've seen it time and time again since then. So, you know, the shift to video, the shift to stories and now the shift to reels that we're going through the short form video now is another one of these pivotal moments that we've seen. In big companies, it's hard to get, I mean, you know, it's hard to get that agility and innovation often to keep up with a changing world. For many reasons, I mean, people have come to work, they're qualified in one thing, they've done it their whole life. So it's understandable why there might be friction and reluctance to go from being like a, you know, a developer on desktop to mobile. Like, that's not what I do. I don't know it. So, there's so much friction and resistance. How does how does Mark and Facebook and how does the company overcome that? You talked about being very, very clear. What does that mean in practical terms? Does that mean like, you will be fired if you don't? Or does it mean? No, I think it's more about the culture that's created that allows people to fail and talking about that with openness and vulnerability. If we try this and it didn't work, but if we're not setting ambitious goals, then we wouldn't not be failing. We have to fail as a tech company to get to those bigger North stars. But the key thing is to make sure that we're taking the learnings from those failures and then applying it and telling the stories of those things as well. So you create a safe environment for people to go, well, I'm going to do this thing and I'm going to go all in because this is my hypothesis of why it will work. And then if it doesn't, to have the self reflection to go, why didn't, what can we learn? What's the debriefing that needs to happen? And we take learnings from so many different places. You know, the military is a great one that, you know, when operations don't, all operations, good and bad, they debrief directly after. That's kind of a muscle that we also have as well. And that just keeps making us better. On that switch from web to mobile, let's say, I'd read that market basically said I'm not taking, and you kind of alluded to it a little bit there, but I'm not taking any meetings until people start bringing me mobile products to look at. Is that true? Mm hmm. Yeah. Because that for me is one of those, that's a very practical thing where a lead it goes. I'm so high conviction that I'm no longer going to take meetings about the old thing. Absolutely. And that's, that for me is an example of what I was talking about, like, in a very practical sense. That's, that's a very high conviction thing to do. Absolutely. And a different example of it is, on the shift to live video, when that was first becoming a thing, Mark called what we call a lockdown and moved resources on the engineering side from whatever they had been working on. And it's not like those things weren't important that they were working on to be able to then work on this product. So convinced was the oven. And when we go into lockdown, it's kind of, it's like hackathons, it's day and night, people are kind of going for it. And it's, you know, you set a clear time period with the deliverables and, and the expectation when the deliverables happen. And when it, when Mark might present his vision for these sort of tectonic shifts that are going on in the macro tech environment that he believes are important to Facebook, how does he communicate that to everybody to bring them along? Yeah. Because often leaders, when they, when they have a vision in their mind, they'll just go, we're going to do this. But I think bringing people along is, is, is a process of explaining and inspiring. Yeah, it is. And, you know, he does a weekly Q&A for the whole company where the company can ask anything. And it's interesting because, you know, we're learning as a company as well. We're 17 years old. Some of the questions get repeated week in week out because you got new people coming. And so now we answer some of those by, by writing about it, but he's very open about it. And he talks about what we're learning. He brings in other leaders to share how they're doing on some of the, the challenges we have, you know, after every earnings is, you know, a company meeting where we setting out the vision as to where we see the next year. So everyone's really clear about what the North Star are, what the priority areas for the company are, and what everybody can do to contribute their part to each one of those company priorities. So this meta shift, I think it was very, surprising to a lot of people because it's one thing to, you know, add a new, I don't know, product to a company, but to change the name is a very high conviction statement about the future.
From Facebook to Meta & what is the Metaverse (01:06:20)
I mean, it doesn't get more high conviction than that. Can you tell me about when you first heard that Facebook was changing into meta, your initial thoughts about that and how it was delivered to the company? Yeah. So I found out earlier, I was one of the team that obviously found out a bit earlier. And I just remember just going, oh my God, I absolutely love this. And it basically picks up on a lot of what we've just talked about. I love the boldness. I love the name, absolutely love the name. I saw that it addressed pretty quickly, you know, some of the challenges that we saw about the fact that, as I said, the company, 17 years old and started just as Facebook. And we had Facebook as the company and we had Facebook as the biggest app. But by now we were all these other apps as well, Instagram, WhatsApp, you know, portal, Oculus Quest, etc, Messenger. And there was a lot of confusion around it. So I thought not only did it solve that, but then to show us a kind of a new North Star for the company. It'd always been a social technology company. And this is kind of a new way of how people are going to communicate, live, experience in a whole new way going forwards. And we're right at the beginning of it, right at the beginning. When you first hear that, those are not slightly terrifying. No, it's so totally exciting. And because we're now in a really interesting period, which is, we're old enough to have seen what, you know, the first iterations, the first couple of iterations of what the internet were. And we're now at the beginning of this third phase, the metaverse web3, all of this coming together that wouldn't have been possible before, because the technology wasn't there. And a lot of the technology still isn't there. We're talking about something that's still going to be probably five to 10 years off before that really immersive experience for many is realized. And so to be right in at the early doors, I just think is super, super exciting and to be one of the companies that will hopefully help to shape that. What is the metaverse? It's funny, because it almost reminds me of like early, you know, early web one and web two, people ask the same questions over and over again. And I've watched the like news anchors saying what is internet anyway? And then stumbling towards the question. And I see this a lot. We're all struggling in some respects to find a nice definition. But in Facebook's definition, what is what is the metaverse? Yeah. So it's the next iteration of the internet, one that is much more immersive, one that can allow you to do things that you couldn't do, perhaps in real life, or enhance that. And it's going to be a continuum of things. It's not going to just be one thing. People often think it takes you straight to this VR immersion, but actually it's a continuum of everything from how you use your phone, you know, it uses AR VR, uses AI. And it's going to in the same way that, you know, that web two has impacted so many different aspects of our lives. So this will too as well. I know you must be I'm going to make a presumption. I know you must be sick of the questions around the negative consequences.
The good and the bad of the digital world (01:09:32)
Like with web two, we I think we conducted an experiment about social media and social networking, because the technology enabled us to. So we had these, you know, initially we had desktop computers, then we had mobile devices, the internet got really good. The social networks emerged from friends to bebo to my space to Facebook and all of that. And in hindsight, we've now learned about the role that these tools play for better and for worse in our lives. Because of this new web three metaverse technology, being perceived as being some kind of like headset you'll don and you'll go into this other planet where you'll be doing much of your social interactions that you do in real life now in this virtual world, people are understandably scared. They're scared because they're already seeing their kids glued to social media apps and TikTok and Instagram and Messenger and Snapchat or whatever. And they're thinking, well, they're going to be wearing a headset and, you know, some virtual on some virtual planet. You're a parent. Is there not? And I know that you care a lot about your own kids screen times, because you've said that before. It's one of the things that you're very particular on, especially with the youngest of your children. Do you have any concerns that we're going more and more into a digital world that's taking away the what it is to be a human? So we're already in a digital world. And so that's a fact and that's a reality and how we live within that, I think is the important question. And our vision of the metaverse isn't one where we're going to increase. It just is more about that the time that you spend online can be so much more enhanced. But to be clear, there is nothing better than sitting with you in your dining room right now. That's fabulous, right? The fact we can have a hug and all the rest of it, those things are great. I never want to replicate that. But if you have got the ability to be able to step into another world to see things that perhaps most people would never be fortunate enough to see, the barrier reef, Machu Picchu, wherever those things are, that's pretty extraordinary. How we educate in the future, you can't change what's going to happen when it comes to technology and progress. But I think there is another aspect that I think that we've learned from what's happened in the last 20 years, which is that technology can be used for good and bad. And so let's get ahead now, early doors, before this thing is fully realized. Let's create guardrails, which is something that we as a company are doing. We're putting money out there, working with academia, working with governments, et cetera, to start to work out what the guardrails should be. So it doesn't come as a surprise that it's actually something that we can build for intentionally from the get-go. It's a huge opportunity as well as in it for society. It's a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs, for the builders of the future. It's a huge opportunity for brands. Yeah, this is just so exciting because it is going to impact everything. I think about the fact that my grandchildren will finally learn in a different way than I learned at school, and the fact that they will be able to have an immersive history lesson or immersive geography lesson where they can actually go for a scuba dive, swim, and see what the coral reefs are like or walk down the streets of ancient Jerusalem as it was then and have that brought to life. That looking up and looking around and seeing what that, totally going to disrupt education in a positive, exciting way. But already seeing how it's impacting for good things like the health industry and medicine where we're seeing surgeons now already training and doing operations in VR and practicing, and the stats are saying that they're coming out as better surgeons than people that are just getting the odd body that they can kind of experiment, and that kind of makes sense as well. And then from the business side, when you asked about brands, the opportunity is going to create for creators and whole new jobs that we can't even imagine yet that don't exist. I think the crater economy is going to be something that we're going to see a really significant uptick in. More people being able to make money through creativity. I think that's really exciting. I get all the excitement. What we learned from the last 20 years of the internet is that there's always a cost. There's always a cost. When you're thinking about what the downsides are, what are the things you're guarding against? What are the things you're thinking, okay, we need to make sure that we build with this in mind. Because I don't think we did that over the last 20 years with the internet. I don't think we built very intentionally over the last 20 years. Yeah, I think it's an important question. I think about the fact that we're being very intentional. We're building diversity and equity into all of our products and everything that we do. So I am unbelievably proud of the fact that you go in today and you want to create your avatar and those over a quintillion different versions of avatars that you can create. I don't know if we would have had that 10 years ago. The fact that you can have that can be very intentional about some of these things that people can represent themselves as they want to be represented I think is really important. Normally, years ago, you would start with, it's a white man and then you would go from there. Well, that's not very inviting. The emojis are the same. Yeah, so it's a journey. I think those are some of the things. Another one that we've been very intentional about is about protecting physical space because you have the ability in the metaverse to feel the social presence. I mean, that's one of the amazing things about it that you genuinely feel like you are in the presence of someone and hanging out with them. And so being very clear and one of the things we've built is a personal boundary space so that people can't come into it. It makes you feel like you've got about four foot around you. And if they come too close, you're kind of pushes them out. That's a pretty cool thing. Then of course, you get the feedback that people go, well, what if I want to hug someone in? I'm like, oh, we just built that product so you don't have to. So then you have to build different things in as well because you take the feedback. But it's building those things early, I think makes a difference. And we know now we've got enough information and data from the last 20 years to be to understand a lot of these things.
Mark Zuckerberg’s real personality (01:15:42)
Mark Zuckerberg has been a character that has been the public perception of him has been written by the media. Often, I'd say almost always unfairly in my opinion. As someone that knows him, how does that make you feel? Because I'm just going to be completely honest. Look, I know a lot of people won't have sympathy for someone. That's a billionaire and that whatever. But I don't know how a human being deals with that amount of constant, constant attack. I don't know how they do it. I mean, I keep Priscilla right there and my kids right there and not turn anything on. He is passionate believes in the vision, the mission, the ability for people around the world to be able to connect together for businesses, small businesses, the smallest of businesses to be able to have the same abilities to reach customers as the largest businesses in the world always could do. And that sort of evening out of things all over the world. He passionately believes in that. He's driven by that. And then, I think about Mark as you said, the husband, the dad, the son, extraordinary human being. And the fact that he's pleasure to give that to all of his money away to charity, to cure diseases. I mean, I think it's pretty extraordinary to have made some of those decisions in the way that he has. I personally find him inspiring. I find him courageous. I find him kind and caring. But most of all, I find him inspirational. Do you think he's misunderstood? I know him to be the man that I just described him to be. And so I'll leave others to judge that. Interesting. Because I don't know him. I think he's misunderstood.
Protecting young children online (01:17:47)
I think that's largely because, and I know this is super unpopular, but I just don't really care. I think it's largely because having spent 10 years working in social media in the internet, building companies in the space, living and working in San Francisco and in the valley, when I see it in reality in the day-to-day work of my life, then what I see in the headlines, there's a huge disparity between the two. I've been critical of all social media platforms for various reasons. I've got big concerns. And one of the ones over the last couple of years that I've been more engaged in is just the psychological impact of comparison and what that says about ourselves and seeing this person on Instagram and making me feel in fear about myself and my self-esteem and what we do about that. How do you think about that as a parent and a mother? That particular issue of the social experiment of our context now being a billion people as opposed to just our little tribe, which it might have been one day when we were most human on in Africa. I think for one of the things that we've done, and this is an area that, of course, we take unbelievably seriously, we start with the fact we don't want children on the platform unless they're over 13. I think that's really important. And we do a lot to take kids off that are younger than that. And we can pick that up through things like AI, etc. But it's also working through some of the tools that we have for kids as well. I mean, we have parents hubs. And I think it's important that people know that these are places that parents can go to get the resources to understand how to have the conversations with their children as well. We have things that we work very closely with charities all over the world, especially when it comes to young people. We've created products that say things like "take a break" and that you can set time limits for yourself and give yourself a nudge. We've got things like, if it looks like someone's going to write something mean, it gives you a nudge and go, "You sure you want to write that?" And so we're working with those charities, as I say, and we're doing constant research with young people as well to make sure that we're understanding where people are today. And of course, we're very clear on the fact that we want them to come on the platform to connect with their friends, to connect with the music and the sports and the things that they care about, but also the fact that we can provide the resources for parents as well. I think that's also important. Do you think, do you see a lot of these challenges as trade-offs, as in, in order for me to be able to connect with my sister who lives on the other side of the world when she's in Japan living there? There are trade-offs of that because I have to, on many of the social platforms, I have to expand my context to a point where I am going to potentially start involving in sort of negative comparisons about myself. Do you see what I mean? In order to have some of the wonderful things, I mean, I guess this is life. In order to have some of the wonderful things we seek as humans, there's always some kind of trade-off we have to make. But I think it goes back to you're in control of the things that you follow, you're in control of the people that you want to engage with on there, and you can be very choiceful about that. And so, you know, I look at my, you know, if I think about my Instagram or my Facebook, it fills me with joy because they are my friends and my family and some are all over the world now and living in different places, given that I'm living in a different place. And just to be able to have that community and that sense of togetherness is something I could never have had. And especially through this last couple of years where we physically couldn't see people for so much of it. I mean, thank goodness for Portal, quite frankly, because that became a regular thing in my family in terms of how the grandparents could connect with the kids, could connect with the different children where they were at different times. That was something that was really important. Same with my parents. My parents have a Portal and buying them an iPhone and then being able to use WhatsApp was completely changed our family.
Personalised advertising and businesses (01:21:45)
You've got a family group? Yes, we have. So for one Christmas, what's it called? Bartlett's. One Christmas, I bought my dad an iPhone and up until that point, he didn't have Facebook or anything. So him getting Facebook was the first time he started to connect with the kids after they'd all gone to university. And then when I bought him an iPhone, then I bought my mum an iPhone the following Christmas. That's when they really stayed in touch and then they got a Portal and then that's when things really changed. And it has had a huge impact on us because my parents live several hours away from their kids live all around in every corner of the world. So that has brought our family a lot closer. And also, there's been a big conversation recently, which is I've been heavily inspired by to be involved with, which is about personalized advertising. Being someone who now is on the receiving end of a lot of business pitches over the last two years, I've had, I think the biggest single issue that small businesses have said to me, that is affecting their business, I'll say before all of the supply chain inflation stuff has been the change to the personalized advertising problem products on Facebook. I, my personalized advertising now works is less effective and harder to track the attribution and the return I'm getting on my spend. And a lot of this is because of changes that have happened to iOS. What's your, what are you saying? What are you hearing? What is your take on that? Yeah, so you're absolutely right. The changes that Apple made in terms of what they allow to happen really impacted small businesses. And that was something we were very vocal about and something that we talked about. And it was almost as though there was this thing that you couldn't have personalized advertising and privacy. You absolutely can. And it was almost as though personalized advertising isn't a good thing. It's a fantastic thing. You know, I think about, you know, my own personal feeds, the fact that I get to discover brands and businesses that I would never have known about. That's a really good thing because it's good for the business because you're finding the new customers. It's good for the customer because you're finding new things as well. And it's good for the other people that never see those ads because they never should see them because they're not relevant to them. I saw recently a, I don't know, you are a dog lover, aren't you? I've got a course I knew you were. So there's a dog hotel that you can go to endorse it. Now, that's a great ad if you want to send your dog to Ghana, have a kind of a staycation and go and get made up. And it's run by a wonderful woman who has foster children as well. And they are all working together running this business that advertises on, totally on Facebook, I believe. And the business has grown extraordinarily that they now employ seven more people as a result of it. Now there is no point advertising that to a cat lover or to somebody that doesn't have a pet. That's pointless. But it's that personalization that works. And that's one of the things that I think has been so fantastic about the meta platforms is that it has allowed small businesses as well as large, but really significantly small businesses to be able to reach customers that perhaps might not have known about those products, not necessarily just in the cities that they live in, but actually in other countries around the world as well where people want those products. And we're constantly refining, you know, and improving the attribution and the measurement that you that you just talked about, and we're seeing some really good results accordingly. Heal our sponsor here on the table is a prime example of that. Hell is about it. Any opportunity to. But I have to say the response where I'll get destroyed by the ASA. But they are a prime example of that. Their business heavily grew off of personalized advertising, finding people that are really, really care about being, you know, having an intentionally complete diet and that we're looking for. Let me just read off the back. We're looking for this kind of product that is plant based that is gives you your protein and all of those things. And they went from being a UK startup to the fastest growing e-commerce company internationally, according to the Sunday Times, very much aided by personalized advertising on social media and Facebook in particular. And even they have seen the negative consequence of the changes that have happened. It's really, really startling because it's a one sided narrative, I think, in the press largely. But when you when you are someone like me who spent who is pitched thousands of times a month by small businesses, and you ask them the question, what is the thing you're struggling with now? And it's the same answer every time over the last two years. That's when I realized that that there was a problem here and that there was a second narrative and a conversation we needed to be having. I want to get some advice from you about work.
Your core strengths and importance of being yourself (01:26:35)
I know most people listening to this will really be in awe of the career you've had and trying to take some actionable and more actionable advice from this conversation as to how they can have a similar career, how they can be successful and whatever endeavor they're pursuing. When I was thinking about some of the advice you've given previously, one of the points you'd said is about really understanding your core strength and your core skills. Why does that matter? And how does one do that? And what does it mean to understand your core skills and strengths? I think it's about understanding what you enjoy. I think it starts there. And then whether you're playing what you're intrinsically good at in with those areas as well. Because actually, sometimes people are good at things but don't enjoy it. And so ultimately that will not make you as fulfilled or as happy as you can be. Often you're not the best judge of yourself. And so finding people around you, either family and friends, but actually also work colleagues that can start to say, "What is it about me that's good? What is it about me that maybe isn't so good? Help me, help me understand those things better." And then you start to create a stronger version of yourself or vision of yourself that you can then can work through. I've always through my career had my own sort of board of advisors. It's an informal thing. When I'm doing different things where I need a different point of view or perspective, I'll put people around me and ask them for advice, mentors, sponsors, you know, fashionable words that get used. But it's really people that perhaps are a couple of years ahead of you or older that kind of done these things before to learn from and to be inspired by and to change them around as well. I think those things help. What are your core skills and strengths? Others will say, but I think it's around that I start that I lead with empathy and that it really matters to me to understand who the people are that I'm working with and what motivates them and what doesn't. And to have a different style that can work with each of them to motivate them to be the very best that they can be. I'm always looking to understand that. I think I set pretty clear deliverables and expectations and I really spend the time with my core team. I absolutely believe in the frequency of a regular one-to-one meeting where we can learn to get those constant updates where I can give advice. But I've always got the clear North Star. I've always got written what I think the deliverables will be. I'm not afraid to pivot and to change my mind if I see evidence and data, there's a poster at Wall Data Wins arguments. I like that because I think it's true that you can really look at something and know. And then if something isn't going well to stop it and to have the humility to say we tried something, it didn't work. And then to be able to move forwards and to role model that as well and not to be afraid to say, I did that and it didn't go so well, let's now go and do, let's go and do something else. There's a few of the things. Others will add other things I'm sure. Also, you know, to have some fun along the way, I think that's really important. I think when I first started work, there was this thing about works really serious and it is serious and it matters. But you spend your most amount of time with the people that you work with. And one of my other favourite posters is that meetings are made for laughter. And so sometimes if you can just take the tension out and just break it a little bit, I think that's something that's important as well. I've heard you give the advice that it's important to bring your whole self to work as well. I think that is also kind of counter narrative in the sense that people think they should just bring their professional self to work or their boss self to work. Why is it important to bring your whole self to work? Because if you're trying to be, you know, other things, you're just not doing a very good job. And if people don't know what else is going on in your life, I mean, look at all the things that we've talked about today. If people didn't know I had, you know, I was dealing with health issues at different times and maybe my performance wasn't so good at that time, then I'm going to be judged unfairly for where I am in that time. As opposed to, let's just have an honest conversation. I'm old enough now I'm 50, but I remember some of the days of the women that came before that would leave a hamburger and a coat on the back of a chair to pretend they were still in the office when actually they popped out to go and pick up the children or do something, but were scared to show that because it was a sign of weakness if you were actually being a mom. I mean, it sounds ridiculous, but there are still companies where that sort of behavior is happening. And so the fact that we can be in 2022 and it's still taboo to talk about a disease that you have, or it still can be in certain companies taboo to talk about the fact that maybe your parent isn't well or your child isn't. I mean, that's crazy. So allowing the space and the culture within companies to be who you are and to know the things that matter to you ultimately allows people to be higher performers, which ultimately means that they'll do better in their jobs and they'll be happier in their lives. And do you think that's it? There's a real responsibility for the leaders at the top of the organization to lead by example there. Yeah, I absolutely do. And again, here's where the data wins arguments because if you have more diverse boards at the tops of companies, you have more successful companies. And I do think there's an element where you bring, where you don't have groupthink and you have different people around the table, it brings in some of these types of ways of being and ways that form a culture. Culture is formed top down and bottom up, but so much of it is from the cues of the leaders at the top as well. So showing that vulnerability being so open, bringing your whole self allows other people to do so as well. And your career is a real testament to this next piece of advice, which is about asking for what you want.
Personal Growth And Self-Realizations
Growth moments & speaking up for what you want (01:32:30)
People don't do that either because people think they should take what they're given. But having the, I don't want to use the word courage, but because it doesn't seem like quite the right word, but asking for what you want is scary for a lot of people. And if there's a lot of threat and risk associated with that, how has that been important in your career? Yeah, I think it is. But I think it's also about doing your homework, knowing what matters to you, knowing what's important, questioning if these are the things that matter to you and these are the opportunities you want. This is the pay rise that you think you should have. I mean, my first couple of pay rises, I just said, "Thanks, that's great." I mean, that's terrible, right? I had absolutely no idea of what my own worth was. And so I just said, "Thank you." I never went in in those early pay rise conversations once a year, reviews to think about was I happy on the accounts that I was on. I just said, "Thanks." I would not give that advice to anybody. I just wouldn't. I think that's a terrible thing to do. I think you should know those things. And then the onus is on you to make sure you do their homework on your career because nobody else is going to do that. And also to not assume that people know what you want either because sometimes you do know what you want. And you're sat there going, "I hope they're going to suggest it and not to say it." People don't do that because they are scared. And again, I go, "What's the worst that can happen?" You can ask for it and they'll say, "No." And then you've got a judgment call. "Do I want to stay in a place that said no?" Or, "Are they giving me a trajectory for what I need to do in order to get there?" Or, "Actually, is this a wake-up call to say, "Actually, maybe I should look at something different." What do you wish you'd said in those pay rise conversations? Not just thank you, but I've been out and I've looked at the market and I understand now that my value is this. And these are all the things that I've done that I'm really proud of and that I've been successful. And these were the KPIs that I think that you set me. And thus, this is what the equation should be. And then probably there'd be a bit of a negotiation, but at least I'd be in with a start, right? Whereas I had to know, I was just like, "Thanks!" What if your boss turns around and goes, "You're out of your mind, get out of your knickler?" Then I think you have to go, "Why do you think that?" Because if you have the data to say, "Well, other places don't feel that and here's all the reasons why I feel passionate and proud of what I'm doing, show me the path that gets me there." And so if it's a yearly pay conversation, maybe look to see if you could do something in six months or set out other criteria in terms of what matters and what's important. A quote from you. "The times I've grown the most have been the times where I felt most nervous. The times that I thought I wasn't going to be able to do it." Those growth moments throughout your career were you felt most nervous. Yeah, I think what we've talked about them, each of the firsts of the jobs, I think, were definitely. Another one was when I took on my first position, if you like, in the industry, which was when I was asked to be the president of Wackle in the UK, which is the Women in Advertising Communications of London Club. It's a 100-year-old networking club for women in the industry that's gone through its own metamorphist. And so suddenly I'd gone from being knickler in just in an agency to having this position across the industry to inspire women, to bring women together and to chart what it means to be part of a women's club in this era and what needs there might be. And so, yeah, I practiced, I prepped, I really thought long and hard. A lot of the things that we talked about, I went and met all the past presidents. I got the advice from them as to what they wanted. I talked to existing members what they wanted. So I really did my homework so that when I came to that moment of setting out my vision for the year as to what I was going to do, I felt prepped. I was still nervous. It's good to have those nerves, right? But yeah, do the prep and I think it helps. Those nerves, a lot of people, they tell themselves a story about those nerves. The story being, I'm an imposter. And I, "Imposter syndrome seems to be such a frequently asked question of me and from this audience. It's like, how would you deal with that?" People think, I think they think that imposter, that feeling of nerves, which is that I think that they're reading into feeling like an imposter is signed to retreat and to get back into comfort. Get back into certainty. No, for me, it's a rush of adrenaline. It's the moment before you do something to go, "All right, you've done the prep, you've got this. It's good just to kind of get ready. It's like a getting ready moment and then you go." And then it kind of helps. It helps you go there because I think if perhaps it doesn't happen, then maybe you're not going to be on your A game and maybe that's not a good thing. Did you sleep with the phone by the bed? In and out is the honest answer. In and out. So I was really good when the kids were younger about putting it into the hallway. And as I've started to travel more, it is a bit too near, if I'm honest, because I'm doing that excuse of it serves as my alarm clock. Because I heard you say that you advise people to keep a physical alarm clock. Yes. Which we haven't yet. No, we've got them in certainly at home. We've got them. But if I'm on the road, yeah, it's definitely next to me. I had a few words to say about one of my sponsors on this podcast. The tectonic plates in which we build our business can shift overnight. And with the world, we live in getting increasingly more digital. It's never been more important to be connected. And that's why I've partnered with Vodafone Business. They offer reliable and critical connectivity to run your business. Their network is even used by core services such as the police and the NHS and the ambulance service because it's unbelievable. Their broadband comes with a minimum guaranteed speed as well, which is something I think I'd wish I'd had throughout my career. So you're never lagging behind. And on top of this, they give you all of that sort of extensive business expertise you need when you need it to learn more about how to find the right type of connectivity tailored for your small business, along with free resources, insights and one-on-one advice from digital advisors, search V-hub by Vodafone. And you know, this book I have here, Make It Work, Lessons From Life in Business.
New book & encouraging females to set up business (01:38:49)
She Means Business. Now, she means business is a joint initiative between Facebook and the Federation of Small Businesses and the British Chamber of Commerce to encourage female entrepreneurship. Why is that so important to you? So, She Means Business is something that we set up in 2016 in the UK. But it's actually now something that runs all around the world. And it's a matter-enabled program, which is to basically encourage more women to set up businesses because women actually set up businesses at half the rate that men do. And so in the last five, six years, we've now trained over a million and a half women, equipping them with digital skills, giving them new networks to be able to get out there and to feel confident in setting up their businesses. The reason this matters is, I mean, there's so many reasons. It's important to me because, you know, being a mum of a girl as well as three boys, I want Gabby to have exactly the same opportunities as, you know, my boys do. And so much of society has said that can't be so, whether it comes to the allocation of funding for businesses getting set up, whereas you look for role models out there. And so this book we created was deliberately designed for people younger in Korea to be able to look up because the importance of relatable role models is so, so important. If you can see someone just above you that's done it, then it will give you the inspiration to think, well, maybe I could do something like that too. And so this book brings together very successful business leaders, but also women that are just starting out with new businesses as well. The likes that have come from Instagram, the creators, like, you know, Grace Beverly, who I know you know and have interviewed, so that they can see that it could be possible for them to do so. And they share their advice, they share their top tips, they share the things they wish they'd have known in order to inspire the next generation. And this is just not a nice thing to do. This is something Alison Rose, who is the CEO of Nat West Bank, she did something called the Rose Review. And she said that if women were to set up businesses at the rate that men are setting them up, it would add £250 billion to the economy. So we need these women. We need these women to go out and set up businesses. And honestly, it's one of the best things that I get to do in my job is to go and meet these women that have set up businesses and have been empowered because of our platforms. What are the barriers in their way to close the gap on that disparity? And I'm thinking of this also from the context as a male employer, how can I be more of an ally and supportive to my colleagues who are women, who might be a victim at certain times to, like, unconscious biases? Like, what can I do? You can call it out. I mean, one of the things that we see more than anything around a round a table is look for the woman who's not speaking. I mean, sometimes they even physically do it. They don't take the seat at the table. Cheryl Sandberg talks about this, you know, on the lean in. It's like, first of all, make sure you're actually sat around the table. Don't take one of the seats that are at the back of the room. Then if you're not hearing from different people, and this was really noticeable through the pandemic on Zoom, the people that just sat there and were quiet, I think that the owners actually should be on the leader to say, I'd love to hear your point of view on that. What do you think? And invite them into the conversation. I think having more senior women in a company tell their story and make an intentional space for the younger women in Korea to be able to hear. Those are the things that I think are also important. And then for you to say where you didn't get it right, where you might have had moments where you had your own learning moment that you're not afraid to share and give resources, give resources. I mean, Wackle does an amazing, amazing training day every year where you come and you just listen and you laugh and you cry and you're inspired by the women that are basically sharing their stories. In the research, I read that you'd found that women's confidence falls between their late 20s and their 30s pretty significantly. Why is that? Yeah, there's a lot of things that are going on at that time. And it goes back to, it's a time where a lot of women drop out. It happens to do with having babies, maternity, etc. And again, as an employer, having strong policies in this area, you create the most loyal of talent that wants to come back if they feel that they've been part of it. I've promoted women then when they've been on maternity leave on a regular basis because they think if you've got top talent just because they're out for a few months, doesn't mean that they shouldn't be rewarded for what's gone on before. So having those behaviors that people see, but it's actually not just about the women as well. It's about the men. If you've got paternity policies, I remember a conversation I had with one of my senior leaders where he hadn't taken his paternity leave. And I said to him, if you don't take your leave, none of the men that work for you will be able to do that. He really didn't want to do it. I sort of had to force him. And he took his time. I took a couple of months and he came back after me and said, thank you. He said, if you hadn't have said that to me, I wouldn't have done it. And honestly, it was the very best thing I could have done for me and my family. And he said, I'm going to talk about that as a learning moment for himself, but also to give the guys a moment to go, you're not going to get fired if you go on paternity leave, that's going to be OK. On that point of parenting, one of the things that I'm definitely guilty of on this podcast is asking that question about balance, about work-life balance. And I've heard you talk about this. There's when I asked that question, there's definitely a presumption that things must be out of balance. And I've heard you say that that's not a great question to ask. So I thought, OK, I'll stop asking that question. But you've asked it now because you've raised it.
Work-life balance (01:45:01)
Well, I watched the video upstairs of you saying that. And I thought, fuck, I've been asking everybody that question about balance. Why is that such a bad question to be asking? It's a bad question to ask because it's normally only asked to women. Yeah. My husband, who also has four children and a big job has never been asked that question ever. And he does conferences and podcasts and all the rest of it. So it's a woman's question. And the assumption behind the bias is that if I have a job, then I must be a bad mum. That's really. And so even the simplest of things like that is a bias that we have to call out because it just puts that another level of guilt onto the woman that she doesn't need to have. Now, if you say how you can ask the question in a different way, top tips for these things, et cetera. And in many ways, that's been the nature of the whole of this conversation. But is that one just? It just irons me. I raise it because I have to. And I remember one of my guests made a very similar point. And they said, no one's ever asked Joe Rick Joe Wicks, who's got I think he's got three kids. And I was a good friend of mine, three kids. I think he's got four from the way how he does it. How'd you do it? Oh, Joe, how'd you do it? No one's ever asked him that. And it's completely true. It was a real moment for you. I go, fuck, that's so true. There's a real, I don't know, there's a real prejudice, I guess there. There's a real assumption there, which is really, really unhelpful. And it's a sign of a broader kind of bias that exists in our society. We know when you look, you look forward at the next chapter of your own life. There's so much change going on. You're such an innately curious person. What do you foresee? What are you, I know that I hate to assume that people can figure it all out in in advance. But what do you see in the next chapter of your own life? So, well, I'll start with the deeply personal, which is that I hope that I will be blessed to be lucky enough to be a grandma at some point. And I'm saying now, kids, if you're listening, no pressure, get there in your own time. But family is really important to me. And I think there is no one richer than someone that has a multi-generational family. So, I hope that I will be blessed. I hope that through the work of the foundation that we've created to find a cure for follicular lymphoma, that we will find cure or cures in my lifetime, that matters hugely to me. And then I look forward to you and I doing another one of these in the future, where we're doing it in the metaverse from different parts of the world. And we're doing things together that we never dream that we might be able to. We're all the foresight that we have with the knowledge and intelligence and the awareness of what we see that actually will be even more extraordinary when this fully realized version is built. And I know you're going to be in there and I know you're going to have a world that's going to be all singing and all dancing. You'll have your dining room in there. I'm looking forward to visiting if you'll have me. Of course I'll have you. Thank you. We have a closing tradition on this podcast where the last guest asks the next guest.
Our last guest’s question (01:48:03)
I know I'm nervous about this. Sometimes we have some very easy questions. So, is there something you associate with a key moment of hardship in your life? A certain song, playlist, smell, food that takes you back to that moment. It's a strange one actually. It's a pair of soft tracksuit bottoms of all things because to have a pet scan you need comfy clothing and you need things without metal in it. And I didn't have a pair of sweatpants that had that. And so I had to actually go and buy some on the day before, on that Sunday before the Monday. And so whenever I see them and they're in the bottom of the wardrobe, it does just take me back to that moment. And so, yeah, who'd have thought? A pair of sweatpants. Do you keep them in the wardrobe? Yeah, they are there. I didn't throw them away. It's quite weird that I haven't thrown them away, right? You've ever considered throwing them away? No, it hasn't occurred to me. Maybe I'm going to go home now and actually chuck them in the bin. I'll leave that choice to you. Nicola, thank you so much for your time. I know how important that is to everybody, but especially someone who's so incredibly successful and has this huge company to drive forward. Thank you so much for your honesty, your wisdom, your vulnerability. All of it is so incredibly important. And the work that it does for the listener, the value that it brings to the listener, the value that it brings to me as someone that gets to interview and you and pick your brain, is hard to quantify. You are just a one-of-a-kind inspiration to so many. I know you're a huge inspiration to Gabby, who is upstairs because I've heard that talked about as well. And to so many others, I actually messaged my team beforehand and said, and I've never done this before, I said, "Nicolas, coming. You all need to make sure you hear this." So I'm sure they're riddled up and down this building on all the screens we have up and down this building watching. And I've never done that before. I said this. I think the quote was, "You'll never be able to get this kind of business advice, leadership, experience, regardless of what you paid for it. So make sure you're all tuned into this one." And I really, really mean that you're a tremendous inspiration for so many reasons. And you buck so many important narratives that have to be bucked. You buck so many narratives that have to be bucked. And one of them is just your style. This idea that you've led with empathy and empathy can take us to the top is I think an important message to hear because sometimes we think that we've got to be a little bit more nefarious in order to climb in our careers. And you are a shining example that that is not true. So thank you for the inspiration. Thank you for your time. Thank you for your openness and thank you for being here today. Oh, and thank you for having me. It's been emotional after that. Thank you. Thank you. As you might know, crafted one of the sponsors of this podcast and crafted are a jewelry brand, and they make really meaningful pieces of jewelry. And this piece by Crafted, when I put it on, for me it represents courage. It represents ambition. It represents being calm and loving and respectful and nurturing, while also being the antithesis of that. Seemingly the antithesis of that, which is sometimes a little bit aggressive with my goals and determined and courageous and brave. The really wonderful thing about Crafted Jewelry is it's super affordable. It looks amazing. The pieces hold tremendous meaning and they are really well made.