How to find and keep True North | Susan Wojcicki – Masters of Scale


Susan (YouTube CEO) was raised in the valley area as her dad taught at Stanford. She decides to not pursue her PhD but get an MBA instead. She gets married, buys a house and decides to rent it out to manage the mortgage better.

A common friend connects her to a startup looking to rent-out office space. The cofounders were still living in their dorms. And guess who move into her garage – Sergey and Larry!

The Google team expands, moves out of her apartment, and are looking for a marketing director – who do they hire as employee no 16 ? Their ex-landlady – Susan Go to the episode

Susan finding north stars masters of scale
Source: Masters of Scale

There is no True North, really. Just agree on one.

One of the things I love about Masters of Scale, is when Reid goes geeking into the depths of a concept. E.g. in this one a physicist from Oxford shares that

  • As a concept the north for any rotating body was assumed by the right hand thumb direction when the curled fingers are aligned in the direction of rotation
  • Since the earth, solar system and even the Milky way Galaxy all rotate the north poles of each could vary (and they do – the galaxy’s north is inverse of ours)
  • But since this discovery (about the galaxy’s direction of rotation) happened much later, it is now accepted that the earth’s north is assumed the standard. (watch the cool graphic below)
  • Same applies for business, What works for one company or one stage of the business may not work for another. Decide your own true North and stay the course. Go to the episode

When there is no map, use the compass

The North Star is so close to the North Pole (which in turn is along the axis of earth’s rotation) that it almost stays constant. Providing a good proxy for navigation.

Finding the North Star (could be values, metrics etc) is critical at any stage of the business. Knowing it clearly can aid in smarter decisions and better alignment.

Google had a very clearly articulated mission – be the best in search. This made most of their product decisions easier even when they were contrarian. E.g. no sponsored results in search, showing relevant/targeted ads, building own advertising system etc.

Go to the episode but before that, what is your North Star?

These are my notes of interesting Podcasts. The inferences I have drawn may not be what the host/show/guest intended for. So beware






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