Thursday, June 8, 2017

Riding on Adversity (What you can learn from Uber's CEO)

Headlining and spearheading (not sorry for my investment banking jargon, folks) the June 1st '17 Fortune magazine portrait is an excerpt from Adam Lashinsky new book, Wild Ride: Inside Uber's Quest for World Domination. The article title is Riding Shotgun and is about Travis Kalanick (TK), Uber's CEO. Adam Lashinsky is a Fortune magazine executive editor. Everybody knows or should know what Uber is, Uber latest valuation is a whopping $ 69 Bn. Uber operates in 496 markets (cities) worldwide -2016.

On this blog I'm giving tips on how to rise above the crowd, how to conquer your limits, your limiting beliefs and those people standing between you and your goals. TK  is shown to be ambitious to a fault and an all around alpha -male. In his article previewing his book, Adam is trying hard to answer the question "Is TK really an 'asshole' ?" Adam Lashinsky did his research on TK, studying him for over a year.

Quoted from the article: "He likes to play it loose, to at least affect an air of spontaneity." -Spontaneity or the illusion of it is very important in the likeness quotient of a leader. We are told TK does not disappoint.

TK has some austere office settings on the 11th floor that houses Uber's hq. that he calls the "cave". This minimalist office setting "is a metaphor, because when you  have hard times you're in the dark literally in some dark place." So TK arguably harmonizes his exterior to his interior environment.
On the 5th floor Uber has sci-fi themes inspired conference rooms and hallways that lead there "being confusing". Adam says in TK's view "disorientation is good".

"Everybody's got their red line." (push-over limit). "You might find you've got more under the hood than you thought." A leader that can push through the limits.

Bradley Tusk (a consultant who has worked for Uber in the past) is quoted about TK: "He understands to achieve really big things, you're going to piss a lot of people off." Let's be clear. That is a truth speller but only stated as a truism. No hard facts there from Bradley Tusk's NY Magazine interview.

"Someone willing to say exactly what he thinks, empathy be damned, will be judged harshly." Welcome to my world, Travis.

After the walk with the Adam, TK summons a ride that understandably concludes in the requisite popularity nod. (TK back and forth with the driver on what were the driver biggest pain points).

Uber nowadays seems busy dealing with the concerns of a big company: presumably unhappy people, people allegedly misbehaving, unwanted media attention.

Reality check

For a company with 12,000 employees, 215 employment claims of harassment [or otherwise ] is a very low rate. Out of these 215 alleged claims some 100 have been investigated resulting in 20 [up to 37 in some reports] layoffs. Is there a snowballing effect coming ? I don't think so.

The real problem with Silicon Valley employment practices

The problem in Silicon Valley isn't sexism as you are led to believe from the headlines. The problem in Silicon Valley is elitism bias where hiring is done routinely and exclusively from the top seven BS (Business Schools in this context, although it could also mean bullshit): known as the M7 schools: Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Kellogg, Booth, Columbia, and MIT Sloan. A friend of mine told me Google doesn't hire you unless you went to one of those schools. If that is true, it is sad. If that is true, it is discriminatory against some of the best people. TK is an outlier, he went to UCLA, not Stanford. Could it be that's one of the reason the Valley doesn't like him ?

But nobody cares

The human resources problem in the technology world is a secret that nobody talks about. It is a secret kept under wraps, shared by many, if not most, in the tech industry.

Hear me out

What do you do if you didn't go to the M7 schools ? 

What do I do, Mr. President and CEO ? Turn into a cow and eat grass ?  Eat s**t ?

I care because I look to equip the least favorite ("underdog") fight the incumbent (boss). The incumbent know they have an unfair advantage (whatever it may be: genetics, education, wealth, situational) -which to them is fair. To you it is not. How do we sort this out ?

Adam Lashinsky is taking pains to portrait TK as aggressive, insensitive, whatever. I feel it would have made more sense a title like "The tech CEO who didn't go to Stanford." I mean, where have you seen a successful and non-aggressive CEO ?  In Alice in the Wonderland ?

To quote Lewis Carroll in Alice in the Wonderland: "If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?


  1. Max,

    You're doing a great job !

    However, you need to know your blog has been blacklisted by certain individuals in position of power, some of which work at major publications, but once I name them they'll know who I am.

    You need to watch yourself !

    1. TallWatchDog,

      I said the world is full of assholes. I knew this was going to happen. Nothing unusual.

      The road ahead is paved with roadblocks, there's no such thing as easy victory.

      I said I will give you tools to "take it to man", and I deliver.

      Thanks for the note.


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