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6 Counterintuitive Rules for Being a Better Manager — Advice from Lambda School, Quip & Facebook

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This article is a lightly-edited summary of the key takeaways from Molly Graham’s appearance on our new podcast, “In Depth.” If you haven’t listened to our new show yet, be sure to check it out here.

If you’re a long-time Review reader, you’ll probably recognize Molly Graham’s name. We’ve interviewed her four times — which very well may be a record — simply because the advice she has to share is always top-notch, expertly threading the needle of refreshingly simple yet still highly tactical.

That’s likely due to the fact that she has an incredible stable of startup experiences to draw from, the kind of stories that are unbelievably helpful for founders and startup leaders to hear. Graham got her start at Google, and followed some colleagues over to Facebook in the early days, where she helped kickstart the HR department (working on early performance management, compensation, and employee engagement systems), and also pitched in to tackle Facebook’s phone and mobile strategy. She then joined her Facebook colleague Bret Taylor’s new startup, Quip, to figure out the business side of the SaaS product, which sold to Salesforce in 2016. After helping to spin up the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, Graham consulted for a number of startups, including Lambda School, where she recently signed on full-time as the COO.

Here on the digital pages of The Review, Graham has previously shared candid advice firmly rooted in the many paths she’s tread over the course of her career, touching on everything from managing your emotions and the struggle of giving away your Legos, to codifying company culture and setting up your first comp system. The arc of her career in startups may not follow a straight line, but there’s a common thread to pull on. As Graham puts it, it’s her love for the “messiness of scaling” and figuring out what it takes a startup to go not from zero to one, but from one to two.

Today’s conversation is focused on what that incredibly challenging phase looks like from the manager’s perspective. Effective management isn’t a topic we’ve covered extensively with Graham yet, but it’s a subject she has strong opinions on and a vast well of experience to dip into. She’s seen time and time again how so many startup mistakes come down to oft-neglected general management issues.

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