Want to Scale? Take Advice From the Founders of LinkedIn, Airbnb and More.

Want to Scale? Take Advice From the Founders of LinkedIn, Airbnb and More.

access_time Jul/18/2017

Editor’s Note: In the new podcast Masters of Scale, LinkedIn co-founder and Greylock partner Reid Hoffman explores his philosophy on how to scale a business -- and at Entrepreneur.com, entrepreneurs are responding with their own ideas and experiences on our hub.

Launching a startup is one thing, but scaling it is a whole other thing.

Just ask Reid Hoffman. As the co-founder of LinkedIn, a member of the original PayPal mafia and a partner at VC firm Greylock, the billionaire entrepreneur not only has experience scaling companies to monstrous levels, but also provides wisdom to burgeoning startups as an investor.

And now he is taking his advice to the masses. As the host of Masters of Scale, a series examining counterintuitive theories to growing a company, Hoffman chats with big-name leaders -- everyone from Sheryl Sandberg to Brian Chesky -- about what it takes to scale a company.

Check out our video for some of the best advice from the series on growing your company.

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This Question Reveals the Truth About Workplace Diversity

Imagine your organization is expanding into Texas, where your goods or services are needed but you have no footprint or name recognition.

The population of the region is very diverse but largely Hispanic, specifically Mexican American. You are responsible for hiring the person to lead the expansion -- to brand the organization, hire direct reports, find ways to connect with customers, and work with local leaders in the communities and government.

There is no internal candidate for the position and the search has been narrowed down to two equally qualified and likeable candidates: a Mexican American woman who has never lived or worked anywhere but Minnesota her whole life and has no knowledge of the target market and a non-diverse woman who has lived and worked with the target market all her life and is well-established in the business community.

Who would you hire?

Did you say the Mexican American? So did more than 80% of the senior leaders -- both in HR and in other departments -- I presented this scenario to. The percentage was over 95% among non-diverse leaders, and after they answer, they all look at my face and say, “Uh-oh, I’m wrong, aren't I?”

Related: Why the Accenture Gender-Parity Target Is Insane -- and Bad for Women

Yes, they are, and so are you if you chose the Mexican American. Here’s why: you were thinking about optics and workforce representation -- not increasing influence. You were thinking about diversity -- not inclusion -- which is why workforce representation, as it is usually defined, solves for quotas and not growth. It solves for diversity but rarely solves for inclusion.

Of course we need more diverse leaders in positions of influence to serve diverse marketplaces. But you think that influence is achieved by hiring a single Mexican American who looks like the market but has no idea how the people in that market live? She’s from Minnesota -- a state that looks and acts nothing like Texas -- but company leaders want to hire her simply because she is Mexican American. The result is that a company hires for representation rather than the best talent for what it is solving for. Representation is about quotas -- not moving all people to the center of our growth strategies. It’s about compliance -- not influence.

I get that organizations across industries from education to healthcare to engineering to retail are facing demands to increase the workforce representation of diverse populations. But those organizations also know the talent pipeline of qualified diverse workers available to fill roles of influence is limited. Those that are available need to be placed on high potential tracks that allow them to earn influence in the organization based on performance capabilities. In other words, organizations need to understand and celebrate how their backgrounds introduce new ways of thinking that promote diversity of thought throughout the organization.

Related: 22 Qualities That Make a Great Leader

To do that, we need inclusive leadership that prepares diverse populations to be successful by embracing authenticity rather than forcing assimilation. Only then can they challenge the status quo and create inclusive foundations for identifying and hiring the most qualified diverse and non-diverse leaders long term. Otherwise, we get diversity without inclusion, and all that solves for is quotas rather than growth.

Simply put, a leader does not have to be a diverse candidate to best serve diverse populations or their communities. In this particular example, the non-diverse candidate was this organization’s path to long-term growth and sustainable inclusive leadership. The usual mindset of quota and workforce representation made this hire a short-term compliance play.

This is why human resources (HR) should not and cannot be responsible for managing all of these change management requirements. Ask yourself how many decisions you have made through the HR, I-have-to-choose-the-diverse-candidate lens? How much has that cost you in engagement and retention, workplace culture, and close-minded decisions, along with all the money associated with those things? Probably a lot.

Related: 5 Ways to Recruit Rock-Star Employees on a Budget

Both candidates may know they need talent to help sell and sustain the company in that market and need to hire talent that understands that market to solve for the opportunity gaps that lead to a long-term growth strategy. But only one candidate has the relationships and understanding in the market and the wisdom to best serve the unique needs of the community to do this, and what she lacks in diversity, she makes up for in diversity of thought.

It is time to disrupt the status quo and reinvent the ways we work and lead. The marketplace has changed, yet our thinking has not evolved. It’s time to embrace a new mindset that moves diversity and inclusion to the center of an organization’s growth strategy and gives diverse talent influence to start growing from the center out, so everyone has the opportunity to be inclusive and influence the future.

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You'll Never Expect Which Generation Has the Most Freelancers Today

Every year, more and more people are joining the freelance workforce. According to freelancing platform Upwork, there were 55 million freelancers in the U.S. in 2016 -- an increase of 1 million compared to 2015.

With freelancers making up 35 percent of the entire U.S. workforce today, there’s a lot to learn about this growing group of independent workers. By surveying more than 6,000 American adults, Upwork partnered with the Freelancers’ Union to release Freelancing in America 2016, a report that reveals surprising trends in the freelance economy.

Related: 5 Steps to Finding Stability as a Freelancer

Turns out, young people are the most likely candidates to join the freelance workforce. Compared with every other generation, gen Zers have the proportion of freelancers in the workforce (47 percent). And they’re not choosing this career path by necessity, but instead by choice. Seventy percent of gen Zers are freelancing today by choice, rather than need. However, that extends to other generations too. In 2015, 53 percent of people were freelancing by choice and not necessity, and this number has increased a whopping 10 percent over the year.

It’s no surprise that more and more people are becoming freelancers -- in fact, more than three quarters of freelancers today enjoy working independently rather than for a traditional employer. And that might be because 85 percent of freelancers describe themselves as “engaged,” while only 68 percent of non-freelancers say this.

Related: Employers Are Paying Freelancers Big Bucks for These 25 In-Demand Skills

So why are so many people becoming freelancers? For freedom and flexibility. The top three reasons people are choosing the freelancing route is to be their own boss, have a flexible work schedule and be able to work wherever they want. Seventy-seven percent of freelancers agree that the career path provides them great work-life balance.

Thinking about hopping on the freelance bandwagon? Check out the infographic below to learn more about the freelancing in America. 

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4 Things You Need to Start Rewarding Yourself For

The problem with millennials, according to people who have never been one, is that they expect praise and rewards for everything. Participated? Medal. Attempted? Pat on the back. Lost? Trophy.

Related: 3 Ways Being a Bookworm Translates to Career Success

But far from breeding laziness and entitlement, as is often claimed, rewarding ourselves frequently and liberally helps us learn new skills and develop desirable traits. When we receive a reward, our dopamine neurons fire up, encouraging our brain to repeat the behavior. Consequently, linking rewards to the completion of a difficult or odorous task helps us master it: this is why we train animals with treats and tell students to place gummy bears at the end of the textbook chapters.

Moreover, praise -- especially self-praise -- is an example of the sort of positive thought patterns that scientists and life gurus keep claiming will make us happier, healthier and more productive.

So millennials may be on to something. While frequent rewarding undoubtedly can create undesirable patterns (dopamine plays a huge role in addiction, for example), it can also be utilized as a powerful motivator and mood-booster.

Considering how many of us claim to be burnt out by our high-stress, high-stakes world, perhaps we could all do with a few more participation medals.

1. Showing up

Few of us feel 100 percent confident 100 percent of the time. While we all have individual insecurity triggers, many people particularly dislike big, public events, such as networking conferences or team presentations. But if you find yourself stressing out about your inability to deliver a gilded-tongued elevator pitch to a hundred different people, dial back the pressure by reducing your goal to one, simple thing: showing up.

It sounds facile. But often just stepping into the situation we're terrified of is the hardest part. Once we're in it, we usually realize it's not as bad as anticipated. Moreover, once we're there we have to act, and this usually kicks our brain into gear in a way that gets us through it.

Related: 4 Career Failings You Should Forgive Yourself For

Because your only requirement was to show up, it doesn't matter if the rest of the event is an unmitigated disaster -- see it as a learning experience which you can improve on the next time around. Because now you've mastered just showing up, you can take on a new challenge. Progressing through baby steps isn't pathetic; it's a tried-and-tested way to actually conquer your fears.

2. Giving it a go

We all know an overachiever who seems to excel effortlessly at everything they turn their hand to. But in reality, the chances of being good at something you're trying to do for the first time is close to zilch. This is because it takes time to learn new things; Malcolm Gladwell famously claimed that becoming an expert in anything requires 10,000 hours practice.

If we only commended ourselves every 10,000 hours, we'd be a pretty demotivated bunch. Instead, aim to see the value in trying hard at something, even if the results aren't as flawless as you would like. Volunteer for a new project or try out a new technique with the view that it will be a valuable learning experience, and refrain from putting pressure on yourself to be perfect at it first time.

Gritting our teeth and getting on with a job, especially when it's difficult, is a good trait to have. If you know you're trying your hardest, be proud of your effort, not just your results.

3. Being a runner-up

The whole point of a winner-takes-all mentality is that it only rewards the very highest achievers, leaving everybody else out in the cold. Unfortunately, there aren't enough superstars to fill every company role, so employers that engage in this sort of reward structure usually end up demotivating most of their staff. This atmosphere is also detrimental to developing new talent, who are not currently on the superstar level but would have got there with the right nurturing and training.

Remember: just because you didn't "win" something does not mean you didn't achieve anything. If you double your sales target but come just shy of your colleague's total, that shouldn't take away from the fact that you've performed extremely well. If you narrowly miss out on a job offer because the chosen candidate has more experience, you can still commend yourself for creating a great CV and honing a strong interview technique.

The only person you should be constantly measuring yourself against is yourself. As long as you're constantly progressing and improving you should be proud of your achievements, regardless of whether other people are "beating" you or not.

4. Not giving up

Sometimes, things just don't go well. Perhaps you're just having a bad day. Perhaps some vital piece of equipment broke or some crucial file got lost. Perhaps you made a stupid, irreparable mistake. In these situations, any sort of productive progress is out of the question, and you'll feel lucky if you managed to keep everything at its original level. Despite your best efforts to fight the fires, you're well aware that the whole situation is going to end up as an unqualified disaster.

Related: How to Make Your Employees More Creative at Work

Even if you had a hand in causing the problem, don't beat yourself up about it. Accept that not every situation can be salvaged, but the fact you're trying to do so is what counts. Dealing with horrible situations is tough, and sticking with it when all you want to do is creep off into a corner and cry is impressive. Not giving up shows that you have resilience and tenacity, traits every employee worth their salt has in abundance. So be proud of yourself.

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How to Spend the Last 10 Minutes of Your Work Day (Infographic)

The last 10 minutes of your day can also be the most crucial. It’s a time where you can prep for the next day, organize your workspace, sign out of email and reflect on what you achieved in the past eight hours. In the end, you should feel confident and proud when you walk out of the office.

Related: 5 Daily Habits That Will Increase Your Productivity Levels

There are a number of different ways you can wisely spend those last few minutes of your work day. For starters, don’t try to cram in a new project or take on a big task. Instead, begin winding down and setting yourself up for success the following day. To prep, craft tomorrow’s to-do list, checking off everything that you completed today so you have a clear idea of what’s ahead.

Related: 5 Habits of Successful People Before 8 a.m.

To reduce any anxieties or stress, organize your desk -- having an organized desk can boost productivity and help you think clearly. Sign out of your work email and chat, so you will let your mind disconnect, leaving all work-related matters at the office. Lastly, you can also spend those few minutes thinking and reflecting on the day. What was your biggest achievement? What do you hope to improve?

To learn more, check out STL’s infographic below.

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Trash-Talking at Work Can Actually Boost Motivation and Performance

From bosses to athletes to even brands, most of us engage in trash-talking occasionally. While this critical chatter might seem like it could have only negative repercussions, it turns out it can spark those being talked about to work harder, depending on the context.

To determine the true effects of trash-talking, Wharton School visiting scholar and Georgetown professor Jeremy Yip and Wharton professor Maurice Schweitzer conducted a number of experiments. Their goal was to uncover the effects that trash-talking has on a person’s behavior, performance, motivation and competitive nature. The pair recently discussed their findings and research paper, “Trash-Talking: Competitive Incivility Motivates Rivalry, Performance and Unethical Behavior,” in an interview (embedded below).

Related: 5 Science-Backed Ways to Be Happier at Work

To Yip and Schweitzer, “trash-talking” is defined as “competitive incivility,” or “uncivil remarks or aggressive communication that is expressed between opponents.” After noticing how prevalent trash-talking is among major brands and CEOs, the professors set out to examine trash-talking in the workplace. The asked a number of full-time employees at Fortune 500 companies to recall an incident of trash-talking at work -- whether it was something they said or heard -- and a whopping 57 percent of participants admitted to trash-talking in the workplace while competing for resources or recognition.

Related: 15 Ways to Drown Out the Destructive Voices in Your Head

So, with a majority of employees admitting to trash-talking, how do these harsh words affect those on the receiving end? Turns out, victims of trash-talking are actually motivated by the insulting comments. In a series of experiments, Yip and Schweitzer studied participants who completed a variety of mundane tasks such as counting letters or moving things around, only to find that when people are in a competitive situation, more trash-talking occurs.

Crude comments like, “You’re a loser. That dollar is mine or I’m going to beat you like a rented mule,” actually motivate the trash-talking target and boost his or her performance. In fact, these negative words can have such a motivational impact that people are even willing to engage in unethical behavior in order to win and prove themselves to the trash-talker.

Trash-talking also transforms a person’s view of their opponent, revving the competitive landscape and boosting that individual’s motivation to win. “Trash-talking shifts targets’ perceptions of opponents to view them as rivals, which in turn, motivates targets to compete harder and perform better on effort-based tasks,” Yip explains in the video above.

However, managers should take note that trash-talking is most effective in competitive situations, rather than cooperative ones. If there’s no competitive aspect, trash-talking has little effect on a person’s motivation to win. So, if you’re in a team setting, don’t waste your time trying to use trash-talking as a motivational tool. The researchers found that victims of trash-talking performed better in competitive settings than they did in cooperative interactions.

Related: Don't Believe Everything You Think!

Trash-talking is also counterproductive when the task at hand requires creativity.

“When employees are working on routine tasks that require effort, exposing them to a trash-talking message that was said or broadcasted from their competitor may actually boost their performance,” Yip says. “But if that performance task is more cognitively demanding and involves creativity, then we would find that trash-talking may actually diminish their performance.”

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