Today, Uber’s new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi addressed employees at our headquarters in San Francisco and around the world.
He said: “It’s great to actually meet the people who are here at Uber—every day bringing their passion to make this incredible dream come true and really grow this company that’s changing the world. For me, it will be awesome to meet you over the next year and two and three. My goal is to know as many of you as I can and to get more and more people involved in the dream of Uber.”
Below are some additional highlights from the meeting.
Three things employees should know about Dara
“First, I am going to be totally transparent with you. I am not going to B.S. you. The thing that I’ve found in life and in management is that the higher up you get in an organization, the less you really know about what’s going on. Because people start holding back, and they are afraid to tell you what’s going on. The only way that I’ve seen to combat that is to be absolutely honest with you and to be completely straight and authentic with you. Hopefully that will allow me to deserve the same right back from you. I’m not going to B.S. you and I will ask you not to B.S. me.
Second, I’m a fighter. I’ll fight with you. I don’t like war metaphors, it’s kind of a male metaphor, but we’re in a battle here and I think everybody knows it. Just know that I’m here, I made the decision, I am all in and I’m going to fight for you with everything in my body. I hope you’ll join me in that battle.
And last, I will know that I’ve succeeded here if everybody in this room and who is watching all over the world knows they can contribute to the success of Uber in their own way. Everyone’s different, everyone has their own skillsets—if you’re numerative or have a higher EQ, if you’re here in the US or in a global office, if you’re a dev, if you’re in marketing, if you’re in PR, or ops or regardless of your gender or your beliefs—everyone is going to participate and contribute in their own way. And if everyone feels like they can and they can be themselves but they can also be Uber, then I know I’ve succeeded. That’s my goal.”
On his personal experience
“I’m really fortunate to get to where I am today. The experience of my family losing everything when they came to the U.S. really shaped me. I saw my family losing everything and you know what, we rebuilt a life. That has allowed me to be comfortable with taking risks and taking decisions without worrying about things too much, because it will be OK in the end…
To me, the American Dream means to me is that if you work hard and if you respect the rule of law, you can have any opportunity here. And that there’s no one who structurally has an opportunity that you don’t. I know that that’s not a reality, but that’s certainly what the American Dream represents, and it’s incredibly powerful. And it drives so many people here into this incredible country. I’m the result of it. I’m so happy and thankful that we didn’t decide to go to some other country. It’s just dumb luck. And that is a powerful thought not just within the country, but at a company. That is, if you put your best foot forward, you’ll be appreciated, you’ll succeed, and you’ll ultimately be happy with what the results are.”
“I actually think that the skill of listening is something that is not taught enough in business. When you’re a manager, you talk about managing and presentation skills. There is so much focus on presentation skills. There is so little focus on actually sitting there and listening to someone. For me, the lesson was Barry Diller, who was the chairman of Expedia. That man is the best listener I’ve ever seen. He’s watching, and he would tell me [when we were talking], if sometimes I was feeling uncertain—he would say “No, no, no, you’re uncertain about what you’re saying, what is going on there?” He would scratch beneath the surface to get to the truth and get to what I was really feeling. You usually got to a much better answer there.
I think so much of managing is about making decisions, but you want to take input anywhere you can, and then finally make a decision by getting the team aligned and “go”. I think that as people move up in the world they think it’s their right to talk a lot during a meeting. But when you talk a lot during a meeting, the team tends to lay back and become more passive and expect all of the decisions to come from you, and that’s not a great way to run a team. So you’ll see me sitting there asking you lots of questions and listening intently, because that’s the best way to learn and that’s the best way I think to get a lot out of teams…
For me the passion is succeeding with teams. I get the most satisfaction when my teams actually do stuff that I’m not directly a part of, because that means you built up a team that is aligned, smart, that is making great decisions, that’s innovative. That’s where I get my charge and energy out of. So, my goal #1 here is to get to know the [Executive Leadership Team], add some important folks together, put a team together. I just love succeeding with teams; it gets me jazzed up.”
“Pay the bills and take big shots”
“Especially in times of trouble—and right now Uber is in some trouble as far as public perception goes—you really want to focus on the core, and the core of this business is what’s going to pay the bills. Once you’re paying the bills, then you can have projects. And there are real projects here within the Uber portfolio that are projects where you’re shooting for the moon. Those are projects where you don’t have an expectation of immediate return. You can take much much more risk, and if you fail it’s OK because you have this core business that’s constantly paying the bills, and you’re not risking the business. I’m always looking to build this portfolio of activity: this is a mainline business that’s going, and off of this mainline activity you’re taking great big shots that can change the world. Hopefully we’re get that balance right on a go-forward basis.”
On work-life balance
“You have to understand that at Expedia we were in the business of selling vacations. So we kind of had to make it important to encourage people to go on vacation because it was our business. It is amazing how hard it is to convince folks that they have permission to go. I think that you get so much more in return from working smarter, working more collaboratively and working together in a way where you are dead honest with each other—without that kind of positioning and taking the politics out…
I think there is so much you can do about optimizing the workplace—how people relate to each other so that it is not about the number of hours of work that you put in. I put in a lot of hours and the job requires a lot, and sometimes you have to do the job at hand. But I do think that so much of the other stuff—how you feel about coming to work, how you feel about your team, how you feel about your compatriots—is also based on how happy you are. We want to create an environment where people are happy to be here because they become better teammates. We want to create an environment where people who have different lifestyles can adjust. If you have kids, are a working family, if both of you work, there may be demands on your time and there may be kinds of schedules that you can’t keep. It’s completely in our interest, in order to attract and retain the best talent in the world, to create an environment that is flexible and an environment that works for different people.”