The 3-Time CEO That Turned MongoDB Around
EP 84 of The Logan Bartlett Show: Untold stories from tech's inner circle
Dev Ittycheria is the president and CEO of MongoDB, his third public company as CEO. In this episode, Dev shares his take on AI, the real job of a CEO, how to build a culture where the best ideas win, and many other lessons from scaling MongoDB to a $25B company.
✉️ Episode Memo
Mindset shifts from being a 3x CEO
Most people go through massive imposter syndrome when scaling a company, as you can't magically learn everything the instant venture capital flows in. As a first time CEO, Dev felt enormous pressure to know everything about every facet of the business. He soon realized this mindset can be frustrating to your team and lead to micromanaged decisions. Now, Dev recognizes leaders don't need all the answers. Instead, surround yourself with the right team, ask insightful questions, and keep an eye on key priorities.
On sharing bad news fast
“Bad news travels very slowly up the organization, but very quickly down the organization.”
Good news always finds its way to you, but bad news often needs to be sought out. Whenever Dev hears bad news, he immediately assumes he’s the last to know and that it’s much worse than what someone initially said. People are generally wary to share bad news because they’re afraid of the consequences. To avoid elevating problems, don’t punish the messenger. Instead, create a culture with regular inspection of projects, forecasts, and teams to identify problems faster.
In addition, leaders shouldn’t sugar coat or hide business issues, as people see through the cracks. To build credibility, talk about the real issues alongside the good news, and make a plan for talking about them.
The best leaders are incredibly self-aware:
People often perceive themselves more favorably than how others see them, leading to a gap in self-awareness.. A slight difference in perception is expected, but a vast difference can be problematic. Exceptional leaders are able to accurately recognize their strengths and flaws, as “they can see what messages are landing, what messages are not landing, and how they have to adapt their style.”
Overall, a really fun conversation with one of the absolute best operators in tech.
⭐ Highlight: The One Skill That Makes or Breaks A Leader
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