Friday, August 15, 2014

Jeff Weiner and The Voice of a Public Company

So last night's Pando Monthly was another interesting experience, notable for both it's similarities and differences. Previously, I attended the Max Levchin event in part because I really wanted to see the guy I'd read about in Juice and Founders at Work and in part because I happened to be in the city that week for a conference. The audio that night made it a bit of a struggle to hear some of what was being said, but all in all, it was quite enjoyable.

The driver for last nights event was Linked In. Having burned through The Alliance book recently, I was curious whether Jeff Weiner would share any additional interesting insights on the culture at Linked In -- sort of a third party window into values and ideology.

The event was hosted at Rackspace in San Francisco. As with many of these events that take you into the offices of businesses in the city, it's always amusing to see the office itself. Near the bathrooms there was the bike rack room, filled with bikes hanging there. And in the hall on the way into the bike locker, they had a bike stand and a complete set of bike tools -- now this is an office I could work in.

The Pando Monthly experience is also a great chance to see the embodiment of the writers you often read. While you feel like you know Sarah and Paul from their published content, there's still sort of an eery celebrity vibe that it's hard to let go of when you're in this kind of event environment. And whenever I look at Sarah, I can't help wondering whether I might have seen her at the P&H -- or whether I was already here in the Bay Area while she was hanging there.

So Jeff Weiner made for an interesting Pando Monthly event. It's always a strange and amazing story, the path that brings us to where we are at this moment. And while Sarah is often able to bring the interview to unusual places with some unexpected topics and questions, it was also kind of funny watching as Jeff Weiner remained consistently professional. Even. The voice of a large public company. Everything he said, every response felt measured. Within the lines. On the record.

Not that that was a bad thing. It just makes for an interesting contrast to what we sometimes see in public figures -- or people from the start-up world aspiring to be big. Instead of inflammatory comments or some level of churned up drama, Jeff Weiner delivered in the thoughtful spokesperson role. He was personable enough that you felt like you were listening to him -- not a sanitized presenter version -- but still careful and precise. A benchmark representation of how to be the voice of a public company.

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