Be a startup! #DreamforceLesson1

This year I’ve had the great opportunity to go to San Francisco and participate in Salesforce’s annual event Dreamforce. The event is about to start and I cannot wait! Beyond enjoying the traditional keynote from Marc Benioff as well as product demos I’ll be joining power sessions with Steve Young to talk about leadership and learning about storytelling from Pixar. It is going to be incredible. I know the event hasn’t even started yet, but last night I learned one very big thing. So here is my lesson #1:

The « new era of work » is not a myth, it is very, very real

For several years we’ve been told that the world of work is changing, that millennials have vastly different expectations than previous generations, that companies have to rethink how they work with and develop their employees, etc. I know all this because I’ve been talking about it myself for some time now as well as incorporating it into my work at Talentsoft. Even though I know so much about the new era of work there is something truly special about seeing it in San Francisco on a massive scale with hundreds of different companies.

Since I arrived in SF I have seen the new era of work everywhere, from the companies I see to the people I talk to. Earlier today I decided to grab a burger before going to bed (the fact that I’m writing this at 4:24 AM is proof that burgers, unfortunately, do not cure jet lag). While sitting at the bar I noticed a couple of people discussing Dreamforce and decided to join the conversation. One of the gentlemen in our new group of friends was a young, 21-year-old Dutchman who had been working for a small company in Malaysia for the past two years. Three weeks ago he moved here to SF to work for a small 24-man startup. He told me that the startup CEO had just invited him to help create and build the company’s European subsidiary.

The company is so excited about having him on board and working on this that they’ve booked him 35 nights at the Clift Hotel (probably one of the nicest places to stay in SF) to ensure he’s as comfortable as possible as he works on this. While my new friend found the hotel to be a little too posh he seemed to be happy to get used to it 😉

You might be wondering why I’m discussing the luxury hotel journey of a young man working for a startup, but I’m doing it because talking with him served as yet another reinforcement of my belief in the new era of work. The new generation of employees has incredible flexibility in where and how they work and an ambition to do work that is meaningful and full of responsibility. Younger people aren’t afraid to move from The Netherlands to Malaysia to San Francisco because, in the words of my new friend, “you can make friends everywhere.” Job security and salary are important, but even more important is “the project looking great” and being excited about doing it. Building on that, one of the most important things was knowing that he could “go straight to whoever I need to to work on things. There are no politics, instead, people are open. I can even tell the CEO that I disagree or feel something is wrong.” When I mentioned that some people might be surprised to find a 21-year-old living out of a luxury hotel room and creating a brand new subsidiary to launch in Europe he just replied, “as long as you bring added value people (colleagues) don’t really care.”

Employees like this young man represent the new era of work perfectly. They aren’t as concerned about the job security of salary (although those are of course still important) and instead want to focus on being passionate about what they are working on and getting the responsibilities they feel their effort and talent warrant. Why force someone to wait fifteen years to take on a major project if they’re capable of doing it now? That’s how the new generation of employees feel and that’s how a lot of the successful startups in San Francisco feel as well.